1929 Educational Film Still at the Presbytere at Jackson Square

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The sun has come out, the sun has come out! I wheeled my bike out of the apartment this morning and was shocked by how different everything looked in sunlight, and by the immediate need to put on some sunglasses. I pedaled to the Lower Garden District for a lovely brunch with A. After a quick stop at her place to see her cats–we are both resolute cat ladys and proud of it–I rode back down to the Quarter. I’m a Friend of the Cabildo (pardon my brag), so I decided to stop in at the Presbytere to avail myself of my membership privileges. After waiting behind some Swedish tourists, I got my free member ticket and headed into the Katrina and Beyond exhibit. I have been to this one before, but it definitely deserves multiple viewings; it is a really tense experience. Today I watched the entire 1929 silent film about New Orleans pout out by the Eastman company. It is all about what a beautiful place New Orleans is, the romance of our sultry air and elaborate ironwork, our outdoor restaurants and eclectic architecture. It showed our prime spot as a port, with easy access to the Mississippi, over 40,000 miles of railroad tracks, and a direct route to markets in the U.S. and around the world. And there was, of course, video of Mardi Gras parades. The last words of this silent film were, “Romance, work and play combine to make the charm of New Orleans.” True that. The rest of the exhibit makes claims not unlike this old movie, and the new film installation at the end of the exhibit echoes many of these scenes (though the 1929 movie didn’t make me cry). We are not telling new stories, though the old one about how great MRGO is doesn’t quite resonate anymore. Yes, world, New Orleans has a right to exist. I checked out the photography exhibition upstairs, but the Mardi Gras stuff just seemed out of place with the mood I was left in, so I headed home to work out of the sun before a longer ride tonight. If only they’d figure out how to put some bike racks in Jackson Square. Seriously, folks, we can park bicycles without ruining the historical look of the place, right?

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