Prologue: Each Saturday at noon on WTUL 91.5 FM in New Orleans, Mark Tobler’s DJ set almost always opens with John Hartford’s song “Back in the Good Old Days.” The song is a projection of a future population residing at a city dump, and while there — though they may imbibe as a community — the topic of discussion and conversation will be remembering when things were better and wondering how things became what they are.
The 21st century has been a veritable roller coaster thus far for the Crescent City. Storms, diaspora, growth, crime, food highs, political lows, Hollywood South, hospital hubbub, even an entrepreneurial hotbed too. It’s downright dizzying at times. And then there’s our blight — and the quest to remedy that scourge, often via demolition. We as a city often decry the Big Easy brand as slipping away via noise ordinances, smoking bans, whatever legal challenges and changes that float through City Hall. But removing the landscape in the name of the greater good? To be sure, there’s no faster way to becoming Anywhere, USA. Continue reading »