Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"That's so...Kansas City."

From an unusually good slice-of-New-Orleans-life post on The Gambit's blog. Honestly, this piece is "Confederacy of Dunces" good. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

There is a certain flavor of bizarre situation that I like to think is only served up in New Orleans: A box of crawfish sits outside a bar with numbers written on their backs in white-out so that the patrons of the bar could while away the previous night betting on crawfish races. The staff at a gas station on Esplanade gets a fancy LED light sign to announce deals on cigarettes and whatnot only to realize that they don’t know how to program the thing and resign themselves to the test message that the guy who installed it (apparently named Mike) programmed in: “MIKE”, it flashed, “MIKE, MIKE, MIKE”. Nagin laughs as he points an M4 rifle at police superintendent Warren Riley.

This is the stuff that we tell each other over beers, the hilarious antics of the city that keeps us going despite all the sadness we endure, the bureaucratic bs we’ve come to be familiar with, the violence we feel threatened by and all the other crappy things about living here that I know I don’t need to remind people of. I mean sure, there’s the music, there’s the food, there’s the parades, there’s the stuff you see in guide books, but the real character is so much deeper than that, and it wells up at unexpected moments on random street corners. It reaches out of unexpected places, like the wild excitement in an old man’s eyes, like the absurd mirror you turn on yourself when driving around mid-city looking for Guinea Pig food.

And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this stuff happens other places. Maybe right now someone’s finding a terrarium full of ferrets on the street and going, “Golly, isn’t that just so, so…Kansas City?” Hmm, it could be, but I don’t think so.

Reminds me of the time I was coming to work and this harried looking young black guy approaches me. I, my experience being what it is, got a little apprehensive at the focus and speed with which he was coming. As he gets about 10 feet away, he pulls out a tie and asks me if I know how to tie one. Turns out he's got an interview in five minutes, probably at a nearby restaurant, but doesn't know how to tie a necktie. Seeing me, dressed in business casual wear appropriate to this office, he figured I did. So, I put it on myself and tie it and give it back. He says thanks, and walks off to his interview. I go into the office. Again, maybe this stuff does happen other places, but I doubt it too.