Maybe it was a typo. I could've sworn that when I got an email asking me to write this story, I saw a zero where, apparently, there wasn't one. So I did what they asked me to do. Or what I thought they asked me to do. And that's how I ended up filing a column this week .... about the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
DATELINE NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans region will host a series of events this week and next to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the deadly storm at the dawn of the 21st century which decimated entire neighborhoods and left many at the time to speculate whether the region could survive as a habitable community.
With a current population of just under 6 million residents, that all seems a quaint notion now, particularly since rising water levels from the Gulf of Mexico have consumed every beach resort from the Florida Keys to Bay St. Louis, thereby establishing St. Bernard Parish as the South's premier waterfront destination for high-end travelers.
Few would have imagined back then that high-rise condos, casinos, gun shops, two dozen Naked Pizza franchises and the Big Easy Roller Girls' controversial, taxpayer-financed geodesic domed stadium would grace the palm-lined neutral grounds of Good Children Drive — returned back to its original name from Judge Perez Drive, shortly following the election of Da Parish's first-ever elected African-American parish president, Clarence Nagin IV.
Just across the parish line, in the Lower 9th Ward, New Orleans Mayor Manny Chevrolet will lead a host of regional and national VIPs in a ribbon-cutting of Petro World, the oil-themed amusement park Disney officials spent 50 years fighting to get built here. Exciting new rides include The Blowout, The Top Kill and Rig Collapse. Customers are required to wear Hazmat suits, and a park highlight is an exhibit featuring petroleum-based reproductions of extinct animals from the region — quaint and unusual species known as crabs, blue heron, shrimp and ersters. Urban legend has it that people around here once ate this latter species; that was, up until Avery Clementime Doucet — the last man who knew how to open one of these creatures to extract its "meat" (an occupation known as "shucking") — died 26 years ago.
Thousands of New Orleanians are expected to turn out for the Lower 9th Ward event, which will feature a second-line parade led by the newest member of the legendary Andrews musical family, Vuvuzela Shorty. Expected guests include President Chelsea Clinton, her second wife, Jill, and the cast and crew of Real World: New Orleans, now entering its 64th season and permanently filmed here since the New Orleans City Council lowered the legal drinking age to 12 back in the late '30s.
This season's cast is the first in several years to include an openly heterosexual male cast member. Crazy things are expected. The group will live in the former Penthouse Suite of the old 136-story Trump Tower on Poydras Street, a once-glistening landmark on the downtown skyline, down on its luck since two more W's, three X's, a Y and two Z Hotels opened nearby.
The presence of President Clinton is expected to draw tight security from Blackwater Inc., the international mercenary group to whom the law enforcement of New Orleans was outsourced when the New Orleans Police Department was permanently disbanded back in 2014, an event that former Police Chief Warren Riley says he had no information about until 2016.
Following the second-line parade, the city has invited as many residents as can fit onto the 4 acres of green space that remains of City Park to enjoy a commemorative concert, featuring eight-time Grammy winner Jayden Spears and Amanda Shaw, a recent inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, now permanently relocated to New Orleans ever since the city of Cleveland traded it — along with the Cuyahoga River, the Cleveland Municipal Orchestra and three public libraries — to New Orleans for the contractual rights to Hornets All Star point guard, CP4 and power forward CP5. According to salvaged online compositions from New Orleans' last known daily newspaper, The Times-Picayune — yes, that was its real name! — their father, CP3, was an actor in the famed Star Wars movie series.
Admission to the concert is 140 Euros. Children under age 12 admitted free. The final act of the evening will be Chris Owens.