1929 Educational Film Still at the Presbytere at Jackson Square


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?

Cargo Bike at Jackson Square


Today’s ride took me down to Jackson Square where I met I. to help her out with her bicycle survey that she’s doing for the Metro Bicycle Coalition on bike parking. There are no bike racks in the Quarter, and parking down there is way too much of an adventure. I know that, but do I really *know* that? Where do peoiple want to be able to put their bikes? Would our bikes be safer if we locked them up to racks? How far are people willing to walk from rack to destination? I asked a lot people those questions today, and I had a lot of people pretend I didn’t exist as I attempted to flag then down. It is an odd sensation, having people make eye contact with you but refuse to even suggest they hear you or recognize you as a fellow human being. How’s about we not do that, even if we are tired of being asked? It must be much, much harder to ask. Anyway. I saw lots of bikes and lots of bikers today, including this one in the Square. That guy’s towing some serious cargo. I want there to be room for everybody’s wheels. I sat on the steps of the Cabildo for a break, watching Critical Mass gathering, listening to a surprisingly good band, and counting the number of folks who wanted to pet that one dog–what is it about jowls? I do so love living in a world with so many different kinds of people, many of whom will wander through the square on warm spring days like this one.

People and Signs at the Oil Protest in Jackson Square

I broke one of my regular riding rules today–never start a ride in the rain. But I needed to get to the Quarter for today’s oil protest, and I most certainly wasn’t going to drive a car down there. I was soaked and muddy by the time I got there, but a quick towel-off at a friend’s house, and I was good to go. Continue reading

Rally for the Gulf Coast at Jackson Square

Man, I was sore today! I played racquetball yesterday. I’ve never played before. I spend an hour or two riding my bike, but there’s no lateral movement at all in biking. There’s a lot of lateral movement in racquetball. I am entering a new world of crosstraining. Anyway. I took the bike out for a very slow ride up to campus to do some research and then headed downtown for a rally. Continue reading

Plant Climbing a House in the Treme

Oh, it was sunny today. Cool and sunny. My final grades were due today, so I hopped on the Surly, put on a song, and headed to campus. I’ve been feeling a little off lately; I think I just needed a fast pedal in the sunshine and a little bike dancing. After cleaning up after the semester, I headed down to the Quarter, mostly just so I could ride my bike around. Continue reading

Waterfront Employment Center at Chippewa and Orange

Waterfront Employment Center at Chippewa and OrangeToday’s ride took me down to the Mississippi River to watch the sun go down over Jackson Square and the light change colors over the water. I started the ride without a plan and, I must admit, a little bit sad that I wasn’t riding around Austin. Continue reading

Jackson Square Crowds at French Quarter Fest

Crowds at French Quarter FestThe weather reports promised thunderstorms today, but the sun was out, and despite a late night, I was up for another bike ride.  I rode down to the Quarter to see the crowds out for French Quarter Fest and hear a bit of music.  I, like lots of folks, can’t really afford Jazz Fest, so I really appreciate this free party.  I snapped this picture of the many people crowding in to Jackson Square, with the church and the Cabildo in the background.  Isn’t it beautiful?  Continue reading

The National Guard at Jackson Square

Today was my first full day back in New Orleans, and I spent much of it on N.’s bike, riding around to see what folks are up to. The rush of being back to the city and seeing it relatively unscathed is wearing off, and today I found myself feeling profoundly sad. Continue reading