The week of Katrina I remember watching Ted Koppel on Nightline every night. Their hour of coverage was the most relevant TV I saw all week. One night Ted asked Wynton Marsalis what he most feared, other than the loss of human life. Wynton responded that he feared that they would rebuild the Epcot Center version of New Orleans. Then a couple of weeks later I read an op/ed piece in the Chicago Tribune where a retired developer said they should move New Orleans a few miles inland, build a new casino and put a Dixieland band in the lobby. Exactly.
Well, lucky for the rest of the world, the folks that are hanging in there are doing it right. The best thing we can do for them, in addition to volunteering or donating to the service not-for-profit organizations that continue to help, is to be tourists, bringing our cash and credit cards to the city. Believe me, you will get your money’s worth. And I always encourage extravagant tipping. Every little bit helps.
A few years ago I went to hear Tom Piazza speak about his book Why New Orleans Matters. That book is still in print, and available at your favorite on line store. Worth reading. When I go for Jazz Fest every year, I’m eager to hear stories from the locals on how they’re doing. They always appreciate that we care. So get on down there, have a great time, don’t worry about your cholesterol until you get home and ask a local how they’re doing. You might just make a new friend.