Over the course of the last week, I was able to spend a lot of time in New Orleans. Sure, I spent most of it in the Marriott Hotel on Canal Street in the various business sessions and awards banquets for Sigma Pi Fraternity, but I did get the opportunity to walk around the city a little bit.
Anyone who has been to New Orleans can automatically tell you that I was not amid the devastation from Hurricane Katrina. I was in the French Quarter and spent quite a bit of time on Bourbon Street. But even on Canal Street and in the French Quarter, you can see the effects of the hurricane. Pretty much all of the sidewalks on Canal Street are being ripped up and replaced due to damage from the storm. The most striking thing about being down in New Orleans, though, is the huge police presence all over the city.
I didn’t get to take a picture of it, but the New Orleans police and Louisiana State Troopers are literally lined up car after car on Canal Street. I asked one of my undergraduates who lives in Mississippi why they were all over like that and he said that if they weren’t there, the entire place would be rioting. Weird, huh? A year ago that city was beaten up by a hurricane and still, even in the “best part of town,” there is a need for increased police presence. The excessive presence on Bourbon Street I can understand – that makes sense. But it really is a shock when you drive up and down these beautifully decorated roads and see state troopers all over the place.
Bourbon Street was a lot of fun. I guess the only way to describe it is to say imagine the best party you’ve ever been to and imagine it starting around 6pm and going straight until 4 or 5am. That’s no lie, people. The party does not stop on that street. The shot girls are kinda pushy. They take the shots and pretty much put them in your mouths and shove them down and expect to get paid for it. All you have to do is bitch about not paying for a few minutes and then pay them and they’ll leave you alone. But I think everyone was taken aback by the forwardness of those shot girls.
And they don’t look like the girls that are serving shots in New Jersey – that’s all I’ll say about that!
The locals are all nice people. The hotel staff was great as was the food. Actually, the food was phenomenal. I’m not big on pork, but we were served a piece of pork that was just out of control. And the hotel had a buffet breakfast and lunch option with the best food out there. We went to a local place called “Evelyn’s Place” and had gumbo one night…but we were really drunk and Miss Evelyn started projectile vomiting at the end of her bar so we sorta high-tailed it out of there as soon as we could.
Another thing that was interesting about the trip was the New Orleans airport. Not only is it small, but it was pretty much empty. If anyone wants to know whether or not people are flocking back to that city, just go stand in the airport. It was eerie, especially since I’m used to dealing with the Newark Liberty International airport.
In any event, it was a great trip. The fraternity provided a great atmosphere for the alumni volunteers as well as the undergrads and it was a great experience overall. I’m thankful to be in such a great fraternity with such great men of all ages. The view that one has of this great fraternity becomes only more passionate as you attend these national and regional events and I’m glad I could have been a small part of the Convocation in New Orleans.
Now…back to work!