Vines on a Blighted House at Mandolin and Cartier

Finally, a new rear tire procured and mounted. I swear, being without the Surly for two days turned me into a total crank; I was desperate to take the bike out for a ride today. The weather was that perfect late summer sunny, and there were two parades downtown and the promise of a long afternoon without destination or rain forecasts–my favorite. I rode down to catch one parade, and then the other, and then the first one again. I headed toward the 7th Ward, up St. Bernard. I took a turn and ended up in a neighborhood I wasn’t familiar with, an increasingly rare treat. I took this picture of a house on Mandolin near Cartier because it was so out of place on the rest of the block where people seemed to be back and rebuilt. But this house is slowly being taken over by that vine twisting up the windows and over a storm drain that couldn’t stop the flood that left it here, like this. There are over 60,000 blighted properties in this city, and all of them are in neighborhoods that are trying to be home again. I kept pedaling, out past Lakeshore Arena and through Pontchartrain Park, and then to the buffered bike lane on Gentilly Ave. and back to St. Bernard to find parade number two again. And then I was pushing my bike through the crowds, and watched two men run by me, ripping their shirts off. Seemed strange on this day when everybody seemed to be taking their time, lingering, swaggering–nowhere to be and all day to get there–but heck, people have all kinds of hurry. And then the man with his arm around a woman who seemed to be crying, but there’s plenty of crying when we all started drinking in the morning. And a chorus of whispers that somebody’d been shot, but you know how talk is, and crowd logic. But then I was pushing my bike up the sidewalk and seeing blood spatter, trying to push my bike around, but there’s no way “around” splatter, and I saw the crime scene tape and rushed by, trying not to see. And there were people taking pictures and people muttering and people crying and police cars everywhere and so many children being hurried away, and so many lives permanently and irrevocably changed. So, so sad, on this beautiful day with so many reasons to be thankful, that it had to end like this.

One thought on “Vines on a Blighted House at Mandolin and Cartier

  1. As close as I hope you ever get. Sorry about the trauma, Kate, but your instincts were right – keep moving and get out.

    Be safe, beautiful biker.

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