I took a jaunt down to the Bourbon Street tourist trap yesterday just to get a sense of how the tourism industry is doing. Since I was never here to see this place pre-Katrina ("PK") I can't say whether the business has recovered or whether there are fewer tourist than usual during the summer. The place is packed, though.

People are smoozing, chugging daqueries, and gawking up and down the 5 or 10 block radius of Jackson Square and the French Market. There's a really interesting example of disaster capitalism to be seen down in the French Quarter also. It's not the disaster capitalism of big crony corporations (for that, check out Naomi Klein's article in the Nation http://www.thenation.com/doc/20050502/klein). Rather, it's disaster capitalism from the competative sector of small highly competitive businesses - souvenir shops.

Every shitty thing that happens to New Orleans seems to get emblazoned on a T-shirt and sold to drunken tourists. There's "Willy Nagin and the Chocolate City" poking fun at the mayor's now (in)famous comments about New Orleans' complexion. There's some rather racist shirts commenting on the influx of migrant/immigrant Latino workers into the city "FEMA = Find Every Mexican Available." And, it just wouldn't be N'awlins without some blatently sexist shirts, thus "Katrina blowjobs" and "construction hookers" (incidentally, my new roomate who works in the construction business says that many of his workers spend their weekend money on prostitutes and booze, if that gives the hooker construction T-shirt any more context).

My favorite - actually the only T-shirt I like whatsoever - is the "Make Levees Not War" design. The logo and slogan is spreading across town in stickers and window signs also. People here in NOLA know why there's not enough money to rebuild...


kristy said...

did you know the fleur de lis was a branding for slaves? it's another one of those pervasive new orleans symbols that needs to be exposed and done away with

Anonymous said...

D, how many people like yourself, those investigating the state of the city and the process of rebuilding, are there? What are your earliest impressions of how you are received? How heavy is your whiteness?