Yesterday was Fat Tuesday in the French Quarter. As you know, I find it hard to let a perfectly good “Fat Tuesday” slip by, without so much as a comment. This year it’s especially sad, since the parade celebrations were marred by tragedy. I heard on the news that six people were shot along the parade route, after the Rex parade went by, along St. Charles Avenue, on the edge of the French Quarter.
The French Quarter is one of those places that is uniquely American. My overseas readers might not understand this, but the French Quarter is, in many ways, a physical manifestation of the American Dream, at least as the dream was, in the post-war era of the 1900’s. Immigrants coming to America, starting a new life, working hard, building something for their families and their future generations, all living together in a sort of cultural “melting pot.” Today, that “melting pot” is a little tarnished, the great “American Dream” has faded a bit, and we’ve all become, in many ways, a culture of entitlement. The young folks in America, even in this current climate of recession, don’t really understand what it is to face that kind of a struggle. In many ways, that’s a good thing-our fathers and their fathers before them wanted us to enjoy this, a “so called” better life. But, in some ways, we take things for granted. We bring guns to schools and parades, we use too many drugs, watch too much TV, and never read a book or see a play anymore. The once great “American Dream” is a bit relegated to the pages of our history books. We’ve taken a back seat to our own consumerism. Just like the French Quarter itself, it’s a bit sad to see those once great hopes and dreams, not even fit to “shatter,” instead just sort of “decaying” from the inside. It’s a rotting sort of “funk” we’ve left ourselves in and, I hate to say it, the only way out is to pay better attention and shake ourselves up out of it.
In many ways, what happens in the French Quarter and New Orleans is a sort of microcosm for what’s going on all around the country and maybe even the world (in places like Iraq.) Too much violence and bloodshed, not enough responsibility and consciousness. Fat Tuesday will roll on, the time of Lent will now come to be, but there is no easy fix for any of these issues on our horizon. All we can do now is hope to learn from our past mistakes and all try to work hard to make a better tomorrow.
This image is not a “new” image. Nothing about it is “fresh.” It’s actually a left-over image, one I had not processed from my first trip to the French Quarter. Today, for the first time, I’m able to see something new in it, and that’s why I posted it, to mark this year’s celebration of mardi gras. I wanted to be able to see something new in the old, and I hope, for this “Not-So-Fat-Wednesday” you can see that too.
Until next time…