[Dixielandjazz] N.O. Report
tcashwigg at aol.com
tcashwigg at aol.com
Thu Jan 18 23:22:23 PST 2007
This came up when I Googled "Dixieland"...
"The French Quarter Is in a Funk
Jan 17, 2:41 PM (ET)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The hookers are back on Bourbon Street. So are the
drug dealers, the strippers with names like Rose and Desire, the
out-of-town businessmen, the college students getting blitzed on
candy-colored cocktails and beer in plastic cups.
But a closer look reveals things are not back to the way they were in
the French Quarter. Sixteen months after Hurricane Katrina, New
Orleans' liveliest, most exuberant neighborhood is in a funk.
"The money's not the same. I remember when I made $1,200 a night,"
Elizabeth Johnson, a manager and dancer at a Bourbon Street strip
frowning at another slow night. "I know girls who used to never let
people touch them, and now they're resorting to prostitution."
Robert Boudreaux, a beefy hotel bellman in an olive green vest,
the street with folded arms and said: "Very boring."
The Quarter still has its characters - palm readers, magicians, street
musicians, mimes. But the cheap fun is largely confined to the
these days, and seven-day-a-week stores, restaurants and clubs such as
Preservation Hall are cutting back on their hours. The nonstop party
The "cams" - real-time camera footage of Bourbon Street, shown over
Internet - are dull on weekdays. Dixieland bands play to empty
"The Quarter rats are drunk and high still, but they're less drunk,"
said bartender Dawn Kesslering.
In the Lower Quarter, the district's residential half, where people
walk poodles and neighbors share clothes lines in galleried
old-timers do not see as much zest around them.
"It's become far more homogenous, far more middle-class than
working-class," said John Dillman, who sells used books. "It will look
like Boca Raton. A version of Boca Raton that has risque."
In truth, the French Quarter was largely untouched by Katrina's fury.
But it suffered financially anyway.
Some nightspots really are gone. O'Flaherty's, an Irish pub known for
its soul-warming reels and TVs tuned to World Cup soccer, is gone. So
too is the 125-year-old Maison Hospitaliere, a nursing home that began
as a home for Confederate widows. Bella Luna, La Madeleine and the Old
New Orleans Cookery - some of the popular eateries - fell victim to
Katrina. The Little Shop of Fantasy, a Mardi Gras mask shop run by two
sisters, cleared out of the Quarter and went online, like so many
Quarter businesses. And after 83 years, Hurwitz Mintz shuttered its
flagship furniture shop on Royal Street.
Since Katrina, the real estate market has been in flux, and rents have
gone through the roof because of the overall shortage of housing in
In the French Quarter, there are twice as many condos for sale, from
before Katrina to about 180 now. Some people are moving out; others
trying to take advantage of the housing shortage by converting attics,
parlor rooms, stables and slave quarters into condos.
"I'm paying the most rent I've ever paid, and I've got the smallest
place I've ever had," said Bob Clift, a portrait artist who waited in
vain one recent day for customers under the live oaks on Jackson
Square, outside St. Louis Cathedral.
A familiar face in the Quarter for 37 years, Clift said he is planning
to leave the city after paying about $1,000 a month for an
room. "Poor people can't live here anymore," he said. "Including me."
After Katrina, waves of hurricane refugees and looters filled the
French Quarter's streets. Then, soldiers in red berets and boots took
Bourbon Street by storm. Then came the world's journalism corps,
construction workers and prostitutes.
But now it is so quiet, many people feel afraid to walk the streets at
"I live by myself with my dog, so I really have to be careful," said
Mikal Matton, a saleswoman at a jewelry shop. "That really bothers
Because of a spate of robberies, some stores and bars are locking up
early. Several street shootings, a fatal stabbing and a murder-suicide
in which a man murdered and cooked his girlfriend have put residents
"I'm taking gun classes now," said Mary McGinn, who works for a French
Quarter real estate agency. She said she a mugger knocked her down
18 outside the gate to her home, and she hit her head on a concrete
step. It took 35 staples to close the gash.
"He got $60. Whoop-de-doo!" she said, gamely smiling in a neck brace.
Police blame the spike in crime on the storm.
"Some of these areas the criminals used to hang out in aren't there
anymore, so they're coming down to the French Quarter," said Capt.
Kevin Anderson, the Quarter's police commander.
But he insisted the Quarter is safe, largely because there are 45 more
officers on patrol than before the storm. And he said crime is down
from 2004 in all categories except assault.
"We're dealing primarily with a perception problem," he said. "When
someone gets shot in the French Quarter, it's not just national news,
it's international news." "
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