Today’s column is dedicated to those whose voices Super Bowl XLVII did not hear.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad the Super Bowl was here. The fans were nice. The music and food at Super Bowl Boulevard was awesome. And we now have a Loyola streetcar line. (When I asked a colleague if she thought it would have been completed without the pressure of the Super Bowl, she fixed me with a dead stare and replied, “You do know that the Interstate work around Baton Rouge began when Napoleon still owned Louisiana?”)
Still, as I walked around this weekend, I was struck increasingly by those voices that were not heard. The ones crowded out by the frothy, frenzied and somewhat embarrassingly insecure spin that overwhelmed our city with the force of a 400-year storm.
To those voices that were not heard, I dedicate today’s column.
I dedicate it to the hotel housekeeper who works in a mid-sized French Quarter hotel for $8 an hour. The housekeeper whose shift was cut in half, two days in a row, because scores of guests who had pre-paid the four-night minimum stay simply decided not to show up until Saturday afternoon. Losing $800 or more of your pre-payment isn’t that big of a deal, I guess, when you’re paying in excess of $1500 for one seat to one game. But losing 8 hours of work is a big deal … when you make $8 an hour. Somewhere amidst the tall tales of economic impact, I sure hope someone hears the voices of these $8 an hour workers … and fills their wallets.
I dedicate this column to the residents of New Orleans, especially those within and immediately surrounding the Orwellian named “Clean Zone.” I listened to Mayor Landrieu’s post-Bowl press conference on Monday. I listened to him justifiably thank the NFL workers, the government bureaucrats, and the construction workers who helped make the Super Bowl possible. Not once did his prepared remarks include a “thank you” to the residents of New Orleans. Speaks volumes, doesn’t it?
Finally, I dedicate today’s column to New Orleans herself. For one week, the powers-that-be tried to transform her from a living, breathing place into a sanitized, scripted backdrop. But, she’s resilient, this city of ours.
That’s why, if you listened closely, beneath the weeklong attempts to Disneyfy Jackson Square, you could hear her.
If you listened closely, beyond the white tents and VIP events that separated the 2 percent from the 98 percent, that cordoned off the well-coiffed stars from the nitty-gritty city, you could hear her.
If you listened closely, in the sudden darkness of the Superdome, you could hear her.
You could hear our great scoundrel of a city. Chuckling. At man’s latest attempts to control her. To define her (“It’s always the men,” she’d sigh).
And, if you put your ear right next to her heart, you could hear her say, “I am not Orlando. I am not Las Vegas. I am … New Orleans.”
May her voice be heard. Now and always.
Brett Will Taylor is a southern Shaman who writes Love NOLA weekly for NolaVie. Visit his site at ashamansjourney.net.