Ahhh, the long-awaited New Orleans-hosted Superbowl 2013 is upon us. It has been an interesting week, watching the action increase as this weekend drew ever more near. Last weekend, we rounded the bend into Jackson Square and came upon a very floodlit St. Louis Cathedral. Lit up for the benefit of all the news and camera crews that were already running around, I have to say that it looked pretty awesome. (Until, of course, you got in the sights of the lights themselves and found yourself blinded like a doe-eyed mammal in the trajectory of a semi…) Personally trained to never turn down a good lighting opportunity, I took a couple of shots of dat – I’ll bust those out sometime soon.
Working in the CBD, I was able to scope the hubbub all week. Someone on Twitter (it was an RT by someone else and now I can’t find it and I therefore cannot give credit for this observation but if they see this please feel free to holler in the comments) pointed out that New Orleans was looking very much like the Hunger Games…and I could totally see it. Everything down there is divided up into these color zones right now…temporary stands in blue, yellow, etc. that have arrows pointing to key things that visitors want to see, along with maps so they don’t get lost. The color-coded zones really DO have this “run around and find your safety point” sort of vibe to them, so I found the comparison pretty accurate.
The crowds grew in density as the week blew by. So did the traffic. Thus, insert small rant here:
Never get me wrong. I LOVE living in a city that has things Happening all of the time. I love the energy and the buzz out on the street. I love feeling like I’m on the map. I LOVE living someplace that is truly unique and interesting!!!!!
However, when you’re workin’ every day and just trying to function and get places on time, the traffic backup is NUTS. No biggie for me half the time – I just listen to WWOZ and look around and go with the flow. BUT…holy sh*t did I have an epic case of sticker shock when I pulled into my usual parking lot on Tuesday. Like most folks that work in a downtown area, I have to pay to park. (Pay to Work, some folks say.) Again, no biggie. It was always my dream to work in the CBD, right in the middle of my beloved city, so paying for parking is really not an issue for me – just part of the game. Especially at a nice mellow $8 a day. And then I innocently, in my morning routine, amble peacefully up to the parking stand on Tuesday to THIS:
Really? REALLY???!?!?!?! Those were my options. The problem being that 9 hours a day doesn’t cut it with my work schedule. I’m there at 7:30 in the morning, and sometimes I’m there until 6:00 at night (often earlier, sporadically later). This meant that, for three days, I had to feed the parking monster twice. At $15 a pop. THIRTY BUCKS A DAY, folks, to do my job in the city I love. These parking companies love to squeeze out every last little drop of moolah that they can in times like this – you wanna visit or come down for the action? You have to put your car somewhere, you have no choice but to pay for it. I also caught word that the parking company was maybe even doing this to deter visitors from parking there…the other issue being that sometimes lots fill up and the working folk have nowhere to go. Charge a ridiculous amount, people stay away, leaves the room for us. Absurd, though, since that means that WE’RE the ones gettin’ screwed! Ha. Hahaha. Ha.
Anyway. I am exceedingly lucky to work for folks that take care of their people. Being freshly hired, I was with our benefits gal going over all the options, and parking contracts came up. In conversation, I told her what I was paying. Long story short, she is a rock star – effective yesterday, my parking contract started (the monthly fee of which is even less than what I was paying a day reasonably) and, outraged at the injustice of it all, they reimbursed me the difference between what I was normally paying and what I was paying per day this past week. Rock Stars. Amazing company, all is right with the world.
I think that, even if justice had not been served, the whole debacle of Jacked Up Event Parking Prices would not have kept me down for too long. Things like that are part of living in a madcap crazy exciting place. So we move on to yesterday, where I nestled my vehicle in my monthly contracted parking spot, did my job, and then lo! Friday afternoon was upon us.
I was out and about a little early yesterday afternoon because I had to haul arse in a timely manner to get BACK across the Causeway before the road closed off at 6:00 in Mandeville for the Eve parade. That being said, the Friday of Superbowl weekend was too huge a lure to NOT at least take an extended route back to my lot once I was off work. I just wanted to pop out and see what was what and feel the vibe before heading across the lake. So I did a loop up Carondelet, spit out on Canal St., and then back up Baronne.
Coming out onto Canal St. from the internal workings of the CBD is akin to stepping out of a dark cave into the floodlights currently in Jackson Square. The nature of downtowns is that of eternal shade (and frequent wind-tunnels). To suddenly find yourself on this bustling border between the CBD and the Quarter can be disorienting. So I emerged into the light, had a brief pleasant greeting sort of conversation with an NOPD officer (whereupon I discovered that, due to my wanderings, I’m starting to be recognized, which shocked me), and had a gander at the mayhem. There’s that traffic thing:
Lots of happy bustling about-to-get-drunk folks wandering around. In my near-future life, of a Friday night such as this, I will phone J to meet me down there after work just to get our feet on the street and have an Experience. As it was, though, there was no chance in hell I was going to find myself cut off from the town in which I currently reside. So, after a handful of WHO DAT conversations hollered across the street with some folks on Baronne (did I mention that practically the entire population had their Saints gear on yesterday? It was awesome), I hauled tookas home. Actually, there was no hauling…everyone else had the same idea. I stop-and-goed my tookas home. Ha!
And then J and I went to the Eve parade. This is the only Mardi Gras season where we’ll be living in Mandeville – never waste an opportunity to experience a parade! Eve was awesome. We were situated in at the beginning of the route. The floats, one by one, stopped right in front of us. We scored some serious loot, some really good treasure pieces. Great vibe, excellent time!
So, you know. You start the week off pissed because you’re paying thirty bucks a day to stash your car somewhere so you can do your job. And you end it with a ridiculously fun parade and a smile on your face. And we’ve only just begun – there is SO much to look forward to in the week (s) to come. There is so much to look forward to in my whole entire New Orleans life.