OK, I’m just going to come right out and say what all of you are thinking: Is NOLA really going to be able to get her hot mess of a self together in time for the Super Bowl?
I mean, for months it’s been impossible to drive and text around here. But these last few weeks? Good grief! There are parts of Syria that are easier to navigate.
Driving home from the Garden District yesterday, my car had to first climb up and over the lone strip of asphalt at Caliope and Anunciation, then navigate the lane closures on O’Keefe like it had been shot through a pinball machine (not to mention literally duck under a low-lying piece of machinery that — without warning — swung over and out across traffic). Next up was the daily guessing game of what I’d find along the streetcar repairs on Canal.
Finally, I breathed a sigh of relief as I turned off Rampart into my Treme neighborhood, knowing that I had to face only the familiar black hole potholes and not the now-you-see-them, now-you-don’t construction crews. Why? Why because, as the city sees it, tourists never come to Treme, so why bother doing repairs?
Seriously, is it possible that even Mitch Landrieu has taken on more than he can chew in this gynormously ambitious effort to repair every sidewalk, repave every road, fix every street car and plant every mother-loving palm tree possible in the Quarter and the CBD in advance of Super Bowl XLVII? Which is less than nine weeks away!
9 weeks, people. 9 weeks. That fact would give Rahm Emanuel, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Menino pause. And they’re mayors of cities that actually function.
This is New Orleans. It took nine weeks to get our Hurricane Isaac debris picked up.
What happened here? Did someone dare the mayor — this mayor of all people — that he couldn’t get things fixed in time?
Has Mayor Landrieu suddenly become like the bride who swears she will lose 25 pounds before her wedding and then, 48 hours before the big day, realizes she has 33 pounds to go? Is he really trying to make our city one of those brides who, rather than ask the groom to love her as she is, wedges all her unfullfilled promises into a girdle that looks great for a few hours, and then explodes all over everyone during the first dance?
Now, we all know Mayor Landrieu. Which means we all know the answer: Yes, he is.
He is going to make sure things look good, even if, upon closer examination, they’re not. It’s already happening. Take Royal Street in the French Quarter. All that repaving the City has done? Well, it has made for a smooth ride. So, that’s good.
But, upon closer examination, you’ll find that, along the 900 and 1000 blocks, the middle of the freshly paved road is 2-7 inches higher than the sidewalk. And there’s no break between the newly paved road and the sidewalk. Which means that, when the next big rain comes, the good people who live along those blocks will be able to closely examine 2-7 inches of water flooding into their homes and places of business.
Now, I know the Super Bowl brings a lot of money into any host city. And I know that Mayor Landrieu loves this city deeply and passionately, but … this compulsive, get-it-done-at-all-costs approach does make me scratch my head and ask about possible misplaced (or downright MIA) priorities.
And it makes me wonder.
When the city picks up the money left on the nightstand after prostituting itself for a week to the NFL, when it opens the door and comes home to the folks who actually live here, the ones who pay taxes and vote, will it be able to look itself in the mirror and answer this one question: Was spending a week in bed with Roger Goodell worth it?
Brett Will Taylor is a southern Shaman who writes Love: NOLA weekly for NolaVie. Visit his site at ashamansjourney.net.