Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My Favorite Third World Country - Louisiana

Just spent a weekend in hell. No, I didn't see any birds there.

Took a trip with Michelle and the babies to her ancestral homeland of Louisiana (make that incestral homeland for all the cousin-marrying yokels and kin of Jerry Lee Lewis). You'll recognize Louisiana as the setting for those 3 am commercials for "Girls Gone Wild" with Snoop Dogg (a reference I'm throwing in mainly to boost my blog's hit count). Sex sells in Louisiana...or at least sex toys sell - can't miss those big billboards along I-10 for the fabulous Adult Superstore. And then there are all the signs for casinos and crawfish, cajun this and cajun that. Just try finding some food there that isn't lethally overspiced and full of goddamn crawdads.

Looks like Lousiana's federal highway funding (like all the money it received for levee maintenance) must have been spent somewhere else. Every road in the state is cracked, rippled, and potholed - major highways included. The buildings aren't in much better shape. Everywhere you look there's peeling paint, slouching roofs, and mold. Anywhere else they call it decrepit, but here it passes for quaint and charming. But Louisiana is a land rich in opportunity. A guy could make a fortune selling burglar alarms. Not that crime is the only industry. Lousiana gets most of it's revenue from gambling, crustacean mining, speeding tickets issued to Texas drivers, and misuse of Federal disaster aid.

Which brings me to Katrina...the best thing that ever happened to Louisiana. If you lived through the storm and didn't get two years of free housing and a plasma screen TV out of it you simply weren't trying. And now after a couple of years of living rent-free in FEMA trailers they are suing the Feds over exposure to formaldehyde. They'll probably squeeze enough money out of the government for a new car and Xbox 360. Katrina is the gift that just keeps giving.

But what Louisiana is really all about is fun. We didn't find any, but then you have to go to the right places. We were at the Holiday Inn in Covington, which is most assuredly not one of those places. Of course we could have found fun as close as the local drive-through daquiri bar (it's Ok, they don't promote drunk driving because the straws they provide are wrapped and not put in the drinks).

For sheer quantity of fun Bourbon Street in New Orleans would be a good place to start, or at least to start drinking, and since the drinking age is 18 you can start earlier. I think the best way to describe New Orleans is as the Deep South's answer to Las Vegas, only seedier (and that's saying a lot). Used to be you went to Las Vegas to gamble, drink, and see tits. Now they're trying to clean up its image and make Vegas more family-friendly - out with the wise guys and hookers, in with Disney on Ice. New Orleans is still refreshingly naughty (and just as slimy) as it ever was. Drinking. Puking. Tits. Snoop Dogg. Bead sluts. Not a family place. They say "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." but what happens in New Orleans gets hacked up, tossed into the swamp, and the alligators do the rest.

By the way, Michelle gave me permission to rip on Louisiana. And I do like the place - for most of the above reasons. I'd even go back again, particularly if she makes me, which I fear she will. Thank goodness I like swamps.

The only birding I got to do on this trip was at high speed looking out the car window. Closer to home I saw an Osprey over Riverfront Park in Beaumont on Tuesday. Not a year bird, but a good bird for Riverfront Park, which despite it's location on a river is generally more of a pigeons-and-grackles sort of city park.


At 12:17 PM, Blogger Texas Travelers said...

Right after college, I spent 2 weeks in the Army Reserve in La. It wasn't so bad if you don't mind sleeping on the ground with the coral snakes.
That was a great story. Troy

At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow... im from greensburg... & just to let you know... i went to school with the kids of the people that own Linda's Toy Box [the adult superstore]. That school was pre-k through 12th grade with just over 500 students. I happen to like all the potholes [keeps me awake when im driving home at 3 in the morning]. If you would have gone a little further off the beaten path, you wouldn't have thought about selling alarm systems. My closest neighbor is a mile away. We don't need alarm systems. We don't even lock the doors. In my neck of the woods, we are honest and hardworking. Our whole huge extended family lost money during Katrina, and none of us lived in Fema trailers. And yes, the drinking age might as well be 18. I'm about to get a margarita from one of those drive in daiquiri shops you like so much.Oh yeah, our food isn't overspiced, your food is underspiced. & if your wife is from louisiana, does that make her a cousin-marrying yokel? We may be a little bit backwards around here, but i promise we have more fun.


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