Monday, 11 April 2011

Reflections on New Orleans

As with all long distance travel you get the opportunity to sit around for long periods in airports. Which gives you time to type up your thoughts.

Like Costa Rica New Orleans has one famous battle, - the eponymous one in 1815 which cemented the reputation of Andrew Jackson. It's a battle with a lot of mythology about it. I have an excellent book on the subject, called “The British at the Gates” by Robin Reilly which basically proves that all that you know about the battle is essentially wrong. Except we did lose.

Andrew Jackson is quite big in New Orleans. Here's a picture of his statue in Jackson Square. If you look closely you can see his feet of clay. I've never really understood the hero status accorded to Jackson. I did quite a bit of study on his career as part of my degree and it seems to me that he did more harm to the US than good. His one military victory of note was fought after the war had ended and so has no historical importance. As a result of his victory large numbers of freed slaves were sent back to plantations. As part of his presidency he put back American economic development back 50 years because of his obsession over bank specie (don't ask) and caused the Civil War to be delayed 20 years thus ensuring it was fought with serious modern weapons leading to a considerably higher death rate.

Any how, back to NO. It is quite unlike any place I have been. Well, the French Quarter is. Every where you turn there's someone performing in the street, music, magic, whatever. Most of the music is trad jazz and so gets a bit wearing after a while, but we really enjoyed these two girls and bought a couple of their CDs. They're called Tanya & Dorise and they have a myspace page which is something you young people will understand.

I was sort of ready for the music, but the art came as a real surprise. It varies in quality, but a lot of it is really good.

Anyway, that's enough of that. The conference was very useful, workwise, and we got to see a lot of NO, eat too much and drink moderately. And suffer karaoke. All in all not a bad week.

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