Monday morning I woke up with a crusty old ’90s grunge rock song rattling around in my head, which I suppose isn’t too big of a surprise. It was “Overblown” by Mudhoney. And unless you were or are a student of grunge, which I kind of was, or spun the soundtrack to the movie Singles more than a handful of times (guilty) you might never have heard this jangly noise bomb. It drives a careening beat and rhythm accompanied by these opening lyrics:
Everybody loves us
Everybody loves our town
That’s why I’m thinking lately
The time for leaving is now
Hey, hey, hey, hey (x4)
It’s so overblown
That’s right! In the history books of the future, New Orleans will be remembered as the 21st century American city that trounced the second decade, the comeback kid of the first quarter of that century. And I love it. But I also kinda hate it. So it goes. That said, I ain’t going anywhere. In fact, in case you missed it, everybody is moving here. Apparently, we’re the fastest growing city. This on the heels of being the strangest. And also having an NFL quarterback making the highest amount ever. I say, “For now.”
All these -ests. Fastest. Strangest. Highest. Overblown(est)? Hell, yes. People are moving here; it’s true! And some whitebreads that once wore some beads on Bourbon St in the hot July heat might also think that unusual and therefore strange; or maybe they just read about it. And yes, Mr. Drew will be paid handsomely for his goods and services over the next 5 years. Ain’t saying he doesn’t deserve it; I’m saying who cares? Why does it matter? I say what’s been said before: more money, more problems.
A double edge sword, all this attention is. But does it keep you from being held up while you wash your car late evening, the only cool part of a New Orleans summer’s day? Nope. Will it lower your property tax? Most definitely not. Might it fill every remaining hotel room and otherwise undesirable hovel for a hundred miles Superbowl weekend 2013? Duh. As my neighbor says “The propaganda machine must be manned at all times.” Any press is good press (I guess), but it won’t make you safer or lower your taxes.
But at the end of the day wouldn’t you rather those things than a flash in the pan? Maybe? All these -ests don’t last forever. And it would be a lot less interesting around here without them. Of that you can be certain. Even then, we’d likely all be standing around complaining, wishing something would happen. Like maybe a grandiose Hollywood wedding. Yes! That’s what we need! More attention!! Stop it already. Leave Branjelina alone. Let them be wed in peace. After all, that’s why many stars come here, to escape the hyper reality their lives can be.
So let’s bring our lives back to reality too. Maybe my fill in the blanks might then be peppered in real. Where the tax bills slap you in the face like the broken streets that can pop the chain off your bike. Where the summer heat will cook your gourd like a slow, meandering streetcar makes its way down the avenue. Before you know it, you’re there. And before we know it, the population will be ratcheting upward bringing all kinds of new car traffic and misunderstandings along with it. No, you can’t turn left. Or right. Unless there’s a green arrow. Welcome to New Orleans! Now, let’s talk about how I can tell you where ya got them shoes…
Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and the Du Mois gallery on Freret Street and father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also writes an occasional real-estate blog at villererealty.com and shares his family’s adventures via pedicab on Facebook and Twitter.