Happy Mardi Gras, St. Paddy’s Day, Super Sunday and all the other big New Orleans parties. We have a unique way of celebrating here, from parades and debutantes and meetings of “royal courts,” to throwing cabbages, to roasting “Hogs for the Cause.”
New Orleans is certainly the city that care forgot, but in a lot of ways, I think forgetting about our cares with the party is damaging our quality of life.
There’s nowhere else like New Orleans, our joie de vivre is comparable to none, but I can tell you from experience that a lot of the money that is spent partying comes at a dear price when it comes to education, city infrastructure and actually supporting our culture.
The oft-described “Mardi Gras mentality” means that we party our asses off, and then pay for it later. This may be how it’s perceived outside New Orleans: one day a year to splurge and then we buckle down for Lent. But in reality, we know that in New Orleans, that’s not the way it is. We live for the party; in fact, our culture is built around the party. And we party all year, not just on Mardi Gras Day—locals and visitors alike.
It’s a live-for-the-day mindset and a “think about it tomorrow,” Scarlett O’Hara way of life. Look at the problems we have with our sewer and water systems, which must work properly so that citizens (and visitors, our economic lifeblood) can enjoy a basic quality of life. You can also see it in the streets, education, zoning, etc. We’ll band-aid it today, and think about it tomorrow.
It’s awfully easy to see that no one has given much overall serious planning to preserving and growing our musical and cultural heritage. Musicians make the same amount of money playing club gigs that they did 20 or 30 years ago, sometimes less. We still don’t have a viable music industry and music education is still woefully inadequate. I myself have been working on this for 35 years.
We have to stop living for today and think about what’s going to happen to our citizens 10, 20, 50 years from today. We owe it to our kids, and yes, we also owe it to anyone who is responsible for creating the music and culture that binds us all so closely to this place. We need goals, vision, strategy and implementation to really thrive and prosper. And that could mean less time living only in the moment and more time planning for the future.