Sunday, January 8, 2012

Big Easy

Now that I have broken the news about my upcoming trip to Africa, and after watching the New Orleans Saints offensively dominate the Detroit Lions in the NFC Wildcard playoff game, I figured it would be a good time to introduce the subject of my upcoming New Orleans trip to my blog followers. For four days, including Fat Tuesday, I will be enjoying the Big Easy with several of my good friends. This will be my third time traveling to NOLA. The first time, I went for the exact same amount of time (Saturday through Wednesday morning) and the second time, I went for three months. Although it's hard to say definitively, considering it is the only city outside of CT that I've lived in, New Orleans has become my favorite city in the US. I love the sports teams, even though the Hornets are poorly run and got rid of one of my favorite players ever, CP3. I love the food, even though it is the reason that the life expectancy rate in New Orleans is considerably lower than the rest of the US. I love the music, even though I can't name any of the artists that play there. The weather is perfect during the time I'll be there, although not too fun in the summer. And I simply love the people and the culture; I can really appreciate a population that moves slowly and avoids doing anything productive. They have that perennial underdog attitude and spirit; they have survived so many hardships with a good nature that it's impossible not to root for the city to succeed. What other city responds to one of the worst (man-made) natural disasters by saying, "Fuck it. We ain't cancelling our damn party"? There's just so much to love.

I will be there for Mardi Gras again, but even during the rest of the year, there is a festive, jovial atmosphere (I'm talking about the tourist areas, not the poor areas, obviously...not a lot of smiles and bright beads in the 'Nolia projects). New Orleans is the place everyone goes to let loose, to shrug off all the social restraints and truly enjoy themselves with no inhibition. Now, that approach doesn't really work well when you're trying to run a city, but it sure is fun as a visitor. Even the police officers break free of the usual expectations of "upholders of the law" and do whatever the hell they want. It's absolute chaos...and I love it.

I haven't been since Katrina, so I'll be interested to see if there's any difference. However, I'll be in the French Quarter the whole time, with my mind (and eyes, and camera) on other, more bouncy, things, so I don't know if I'll get a good sense of the daily operations of the city. This will not be an educational trip, unless you consider comparing the size, shape, smoothness, firmness, jiggle-ocity, and length of exposure time of the female Mardi Gras-goer's chest-pillows "educational". So, yeah, I guess it is an educational trip. 

Learning is fun!

I will not be starting a separate blog for this trip, as I believe the style, tone, and language of this blog fit perfectly with that of a trip to Mardi Gras with my boys. Of course, in order to document this trip, it means I will have to remain somewhat cognizant, at least long enough to write a few blog entries, or at the very least, take some notes for blog entries. Or, I can just watch all the video footage afterwards and make something up to fill in the blanks. Whatever happens, I can't wait. 

This. This will happen.

Mardi Gras is meant to be a release, a Dionysian, id-fueled celebration leading up to Ash Wednesday when we repent for all our sins. Now, I've forgone the tenets and beliefs of Catholicism some time ago, but I appreciate symbolism, and the symbolism of this trip is spectacular. As I get older, I'm supposed to accept more responsibilities and overcome my youthful indiscretions. I don't know if I'm ready for all that, but I know that opportunities like this one will arise less and less the more days I spend on this planet. And the older I get, the less I need to party for 4 days straight, let alone 3 months straight. But on this trip, I will let it all out, and then reflect upon my actions (and my life in general) when the trip is done. Not because of Ash Wednesday, but I don't deny it's influence on my self-reflection. Then, when I return, I will prepare for a more noble adventure in Africa, and maybe even a more noble journey through life itself. Not that I'm never going to party again (and party hard for that matter); in fact, partying--and relaxing--are an important part of living a happy, successful life. But there needs to be a balance between partying and living responsibly, and as you get older, the balance (should) tip towards the side of responsibility and positive, productive actions. 

Responsibility and productivity, as displayed here by Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa.

I am always looking to improve myself, and possibly the world around me, and I think both of my upcoming trips will help me on my road to self-improvement, if not quite global improvement. Human beings are complex, with characteristics that are often contradictory, and I think people would be better off if they accepted the contradictions within themselves. I feel that I have many different aspects of my identity (Professor and Thuggy being only two) and I have become a happier/better person by embracing and expressing the different parts of my identity. I love partying and living for myself, but I also enjoy working to help others. There's nothing wrong with doing both, as long as you find the right balance. I think I've balanced the two pretty well throughout my life, and I look forward to the challenge of maintaining the proper balance from now until the day of my jazz funeral procession.

I Love You All...Class Dismissed.


J.J. Treat said...

Sarah and I were down there in May for her cousin's wedding... the traditional/old-fashioned wedding procession down Bourbon Street was a blast. But shocking as this may be to hear: Bourbon Street at night really wasn't my cup of tea. In fact, I was actually appalled that you guys brought my mother (my MOTHER!) there.

Prof.Thug. said...

Not surprising...your mother has always been more fun than you. I'll be sure to send you a nice postcard from the Garden District.