In New Orleans, trash is collected twice a day, every day. I know this because Lord Chaz told me so. Lord Chaz, who states that he is a card-carrying Republican and worked on both Reagan campaigns, Lord Chaz who has a daughter who is twenty-one and about to go to law school, Lord Chaz took me and a handful of others on a walking tour through legends of ghosts and vampires of the French Quarter. It was entertaining and exciting and thrilling, all through the haze left by a Hand Grenade &tm on an empty stomach and an afternoon's wander through the French Quarter. New Orleans, despite trash collection, is still dirty.
The French Quarter - Le Vieux Carré - is as dirty as the rest of New Orleans, filled with tourists carrying plastic cups of beer and littered with the unmistakable decay of the city. There are strip joints and Hustler clubs and more bars on Bourbon Street than I cared to count. Everywhere there is the reek and whirl of a flashy-dress pimp just beckoning in: tu viens, chérie.... It is Place Pigalle all over again, it is Las Vegas and Niagara Falls in full dress gear.
But it is more. I walked down streets drenched in Louisiana sunlight and looked at what I saw. Wrought iron railings coiled around galleries two and three stories high like complex serpents, leaving patterns of sigils, initials, organic lacework lush with flowers. Stark brick walls climbed high, shutters clinging to them in desperate battle against the lassitude of humidity, worn and weathered, in need of paint, in need of love. Spikes snarled outward, mindless defence against intruders and barrier to escape. And flowers were everywhere.
It is a gem, this place, beyond the dirt of existence and the filth that existence brings with it. There is mystery and wonder in it; a cornucopia of history, creativity, antiques snd artistry and flowers and people. It is beautiful. It is lush and wondrous and surprising and fulfilling.
Look beyond, O Best Beloved. Look beyond.