Happy Mardi Gras

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by Sam Winston

The question of the day; Is the New Orleans media seriously out of touch with the people or have New Orleanians officially entered into denial?

From the front page of the Times Picayune to National Public Radio violence and Mardi Gras stories are intertwined. "Marred" was the actually the word of choice but citizens quoted aren't buying it.

"It's a family party in this area," said John Wilson, 47, who was cooking burgers along the uptown parade route. "We come every year and have never had a problem."-AP

There was also the not-so-subtle suggestions of the NOPD

"'The violence that happens along the parade routes here and in the city (is) not surrounding parades, it's not surrounding parade goers,' said Sgt. Joe Narcisse of the New Orleans Police Department. Most of the violence is related to drugs or personal grudges, he said."-NOLA.com

And from the Police Chief himself

"All of the shootings, Riley said, were 'a result of young, brazen thugs who have run into each other' and are trying to settle disputes, some dating from before Hurricane Katrina, with guns easy to hide in baggy pants and hooded sweatshirts."

Did I miss the random searches and metal detectors on the parade route? That would explain why the baggy pants and hooded sweatshirts were so devious, unless we couldn't describe the violent offenders without also throwing in some profiling and stoking some prejudices.

The crowd at Galatoire's wasn't hearing any of it either.

"It's a different vibe this year," said Simone Rathle, a publicist and Louisiana native who flew in from Washington, D.C., for Friday lunch at Galatoire's. She wore a bright pink feathered hat. "It feels like everything is back."

Or perhaps best said by a spokesman for the packed out Hotel Monteleone,

"'People are just happy to be having a good time and quit worrying about other things, like insurance companies and contractors,' she said"


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