Who Dat? Nobody! Redemption, at last. Monday, Feb 8 2010 

I don’t think there has ever been an American city that could have as much going on as once as New Orleans. And this is a city that thrives on special occasions.

OK, first of all, this is the first big weekend of Mardi Gras parades and celebrations. Then there is this election to choose a successor to Ray Nagin. So, let’s throw in a little thing called the Super Bowl  for the neer-do-well local team — just to make it interesting.

So, Monday has dawned. New Orleans has a new mayor. Multiple opponents. No run-off, First white mayor in 32 years, but one who received a majority of the African-American votes against a black opponent. It helps that the new mayor, Mitch Landrieu, is the well-connected son of the last white New Orleans Mayor, “Moon” Landrieu.

Then there’s this little thing called Mardi Gras. Parade times, along with mass schedules had to be rearranged to accommodate the Super Bowl. What a pain. The normal parades took place, although crowds were a little thinner than usual. Sunday parades included one of my favorite, the Krewe of Barkus parade, themed: “The Dogs Go Barking In.”

BUT, and I must repeat, BUT, the Super Bowl and the Saint’s definitive victory is the exclamation point on the weekend, if not, in fact, that of an entire decade. It’s as if the remaining water left from Katrina has been drained from the streets of New Orleans. The city is back. The people are looking forward. The sadness is over. If the Saints can overcome four decades of football futility, the city can overcome four decades of decline.

This is a time for the city to celebrate. But what this may represent, is a far more significant reason for New Orleans to celebrate. It is back! Big time.


Who Dat Say They Gonna Replace Ray Nagin? Saturday, Feb 6 2010 

Some things are normal in New Orleans. Krewe members are gathering bags of throws to distribute at Mardi Gras Parades. Dog owners are preparing costumes for their pets so they can march in Sunday’s Krewe of Barkus parade in the French Quarter. But wait, the Mardi Gras parade schedule has to be rearranged. Churches are altering mass schedules. And school on Monday; don’t count out on it. So Mardi Gras, mass, and school all take a back seat when the Saints are playing in their first Super Bowl.

But something else of importance is happening this weekend. Today, New Orleans is holding an election to see who replaced Ray Nagin as mayor. Eight years ago, businessman Ray Nagin was swept into office because he was not a career politician. He would bring business sensibilities to city government and had no history of personal entanglements that would lead to corruption. History may or may not disprove these assumptions.

So, all eyes are not on this race. There’s a lot at stake, but the election is far from being on the front burner. Early voting has been strong, but that could be because voters want to clear their weekend to follow the festivities. So what’s at stake?

Much rebuilding needs to be done, and electing someone with political connections appears important to most. And race, whether from post-Katrina demographics or Ray Nagin-fatigue, doesn’t appear that important. The most promising African-American candidate withdrew, leaving Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu as the odds-on-favorite to follow Nagin. In fact a low turnout could make him outright winner without the usual runoff election.

The result: the first white mayor of New Orleans in 32 years. But a pedigree that makes him a politically-connected him one. His sister, Mary, is the senior U.S. Senator from Louisiana. And his father, Maurice “Moon” Landrieu, was the last white mayor of New Orleans. In fact, one of my favorite spaces in the city is the green space along the river know as the “Moon” Walk in his honor.

So, while krewes march through the streets. And the Colts and the Saints prepare for battle. New Orleans will also be electing a mayor. And while neither as colorful as parades, nor as exciting as the Super Bowl, the election will have significant impact on the future of New Orleans. For more on the election, click some fine analysis from the New York Times here.