Someone once asked Mark Twain if he thought there was life on other planets. He said he was certain of it because they were using Earth as their insane asylum.
It isn’t clear if Twain made that comment before or after visiting New Orleans, but my best guess is it was after.
My mother, one of the sanest people residing on this planet, still lives in N’awlins, as the locals pronounce it. My wife and I visited her last month and a small portion of our itinerary included a trip to the French Quarter, an experience which helped illustrate Twain’s point.
One expects to see some weirdness on Bourbon Street which, everyone knows, features the most raucous vices in the French Quarter. Weirdness just goes with the territory. What caught my attention this time, though, was not one or two, but upwards of five people roaming the area who were outlandish enough to stand out even there.
Those of us who grew up in “The Big Easy” in the 1950s and '60s never really heard it called that. The most common reference was “The City That Care Forgot.” It seems to me as appropriate a nickname as ever. The aforementioned folks were walking demonstrations of that theme. Clearly, they weren’t in the habit of caring much what anyone else thought of them.
They weren’t violent by any stretch of the imagination, so they had that going for them. They just said random things loudly to no one in particular. One did so while walking normally for a few steps before stopping and dramatically pointing at items of interest known only to him and his Creator.
This occurred during the middle of the day while the sun was high in the sky. Just after we got back home to Ada, word came that 10 people had been caught in a blazing Bourbon Street crossfire between two crazies. The time of the violence was approximately 3 o’clock in the morning.