Is New Orleans A Greedy Little City?
By Thomas Emmon Pisano
Amidst the beauty and charm that has been traditionally the City of New Orleans lays a ravenous monster waiting to devour everything it encounters. This is a creature so hideous and insipid that one must be inebriated in order to deal with its presence and latitude. Everywhere you look the prices of ordinary items and services are three to five times what the fair market value is of anywhere else in the nation. Sure New Orleans is a tourist destination and sure you have to pay for fun, but seriously, do you have to fleece everyone who enters the city gates? And sure this city is recovering from one of the worst nightmares in history, but people should we not show a little restraint and compassion towards the 'people' who visit our fair city?It is in my opinion that this city, during its recovery, has become like a greedy child, who has suffered and now has a big table of food in front of it. It cannot get enough and out of fear is now gorging itself on the fatted fare. I say slow down and take a deep breath and enjoy the gifts that nature has given to you. Do not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, allow people to come here and enjoy the city that is a wonder.And if people think they are having a good time for a fair price, you are going to make more money and have respect in the bargain. Sure I know that New Orleans has traditionally been a city which hustled the 'Rubes' and strip the unwary, but now there is a chance for this city to show off its heart and get a reputation for a good time without the worries which have been associated with "The Big Easy."Like many entertainment destinations, New Orleans has its problems, like street thugs and the homeless asking for money on every street corner. There is also the fact that the locals are keen to spot the tourist, which habitat this city by the millions, and put the 'false face hustle' on them. In other words if you are not a local you are going to be put through the hustle, the game for cash. No matter what it is; barkers at the front doors of clubs and restaurants or the hansom cab drivers, 'out of towners' are made to feel like they are prey of some kind. They are just faceless pockets full of money, and not people, they haven't the time to worry about feelings or honesty, just what they can get from you and yours. Mostly I get the feeling that New Orleans has a hunger it cannot satiate no matter how prosperous it will become. The legal and the illegal rackets are everywhere, the pitch to sell, or acquire is a constant every day occurrence, even for the most high minded of merchant. Rent, food, transportation all come at a premium and if it could be sold at a higher price then some New Orleanian will figure out a way to hustle it. Please don't try to defend the city which always has it's hand out, I have been living here for a month and I have found that there are two things which will matter to the people of New Orleans; how much money do you have in your pockets or how much work can you do for very little pay. Here in New Orleans people have a tendency to be standoffish and a little cold to outsiders until they get to know them. But sprinkled in that mix of indifference is a layer of kindness and generosity, really; generosity. I guess that some of the people here in this city remember what it was like to be scared and alone. Sometimes we learn our lessons well and pass the goodness on to our fellows. To get back to the original question is New Orleans hungry and greedy? It saddens me to answer this, but in my opinion, I feel that New Orleans is suffering from malnutrition of the body and soul and needs to relax and not be so needy and greedy. To let the people come and give and partake of the city without any pressure or hard sales. With the coming advent of corporation takeovers here in the French Quarter and the rest of the city, we can expect more and more cold and icy winds being blown our way when it comes to things like prices and employment. I have been listening to the rumor mill for the past two months and rumor has it that the gaming companies and syndicated organizations are coming to build gaming houses like those that they had here in New Orleans in the old days. Wildest place West of the Mississippi, that is what New Orleans will be known for; a Wild West Town for sure. There will be a lot of gambling tax dollars, but what will happen to the real culture, which is inherent here in this antique city?Some of this will be grand and some of it will bring with it some of the undesirable things any Wild West town has, but as the lawlessness increases so should the peacekeeping forces that will keep the crime in check somewhat. As the economy begins to stabilize so should the price gouging and black market type dealings, which have settled over the city since the storm caused the city to shudder from fear and pain. Most residence have found their way of dealing with the prices for food and necessity, they shop wisely, and at places that are selling to the local businesses. Shopping outside of the city and looking for bargains are just a few ways in which money is saved here in this tourist destination. And when you find a good deal tell your friends what you have found so they can enjoy the windfall as well. Remember that word that use to be used so frequently here in this city of New Orleans, what was it that word? It meant a little something extra, a gift, a token of appreciation from the retailer to the customer, what was that word? Ah, yes; Lagniappe, yes Lagniappe that's the word. Generosity, New Orleans you must not forget generosity and compassion. What would life be like if we didn't walk a mile in our brothers shoes once in a while?Of course there are those who are just naturally born greedy and will not change no matter what; like those parking meters in the French Quarter or those gaming machines that we all know are designed to get our money but still we are drawn to them like moths to flames. There is always the chance that one of those damn machines will pay off and give back some of the money that they stole over the years. Finally, let me say a word about honesty. If New Orleans becomes a city of thieves it will attract thieves of all kinds and after a while we will have nothing here but the dregs of all walks of life, you can then say good bye to a place to raise children or a place in which culture and achievement are important values to strive for, and excellence will be developed for all the wrong reasons, dishonesty. Our city must send a message to our children and they must know about drinking and its dangers and know that there are balances to be had and that moderation is the rule.
|Cabildo Alley toward Royal Street in French Quarter. New Orleans, Louisiana|
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Mr. Thomas Emmon Pisano, an electronics-engineer-turned professional writer, serves as US correspondent for The Seoul Times. A New Jersey native he has lived in California. He has started his writing career in 2003 and has authored four books including “No Murder Too Small” and Big Crimes Small Miracles.”