Monday, April 03, 2006

A VooDoo, "I DO"

My cousin's wedding was the first time I had ever experienced anything voodoo and my guess is that it would be the last... The experience, as I said before, was something unique to New Orleans and it's traditions, with the Voodoo priest and the Second line dancing through the streets of the french quarter. It was very interesting but I think the photographs will explain my experience better then my words... so Enjoy

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hurricane Katrina: The aftermath

Blog Question #5:

Although I felt awkward doing it, I asked a few people about their personal experiences with Hurricane Katrina. I asked my cousin Kerrison Black, whose whole business was there and whose wedding was postponed because of the disaster. I asked my hairdresser, whose shop was in the basement of the Omni Hotel and I asked a young girl who was the shop keeper to a tobacco shop off of Bourbon.

My Cousin Kerry, owns a Production Company called SuperFly productions which is based almost completely in The center of New Orleans. The news of the Hurricane was extremely difficult for him and I had his people back up all electronic info and send it to New York where he would be staying for the duration of the Hurricane. However, he told me that it was in fact not his business that he was worried about but his November wedding that he and his fiance had been planning for over a year. There was nothing they could do and shortly after the Hurricane, Kerry asked his fiance whether or not she still wanted to have the in New Orleans. She told him that there was no other place where she could have a wedding like the one of her dreams so they waited until March to say their "I dos"

The next person I spoke to was my Hairdresser, Charles who ran the Keefer Salon in New Orleans in the basement of The Omni Hotel... He told me that he left when he heard that it was a level five, but did not expect to come back to an apartment with one wall missing and his place of work, underwater till early february. He told me that they had just opened the week before I had gotten there because before that, the bottom floor smelled completely of damp moldiness. He said he himself had to go down there and start salvaging what he could because non of his co-workers would be back for another month.

The last girl I spoke to was a young lady who originated from Chicago but seemed extremely adapted to the unique New Orleans way. She had purple and black hair and had a bull ring hanging out of the center of her nose, but she was very nice, none the less. She told me that about two weeks before the hurricane, for no reason, she told her roommate she was going to go back to Chicago for a about 2 months to see her family. She had set up a job there and she packed her stuff and left. Her roommate decided that he was going to move in with a friend and split the rent since she had gone. After the Hurricane the pair found out, that the roof of the the top floor apartment that they were living in had caved in during the storm. If either had been there, they would have been trapped and most likely died. She said if this were to happen again, she would stay, just far enough out of reach so that her cats would be safe...

"The failure to adequately respond to the devastation caused by Katrina has had disastrous environmental and health consequences. Thousands upon thousands of residents continue to suffer exposures to contaminated soil, unsafe water and toxic mold, and the federal government is doing next to nothing to remedy the situation."

Jim Frederick, Assistant Director of the Steelworkers Department of Health, Safety and the Environment. (Source:

Day 4 Plantations and The Bayou

Blog Question #4: What expectations, ideas or images do you have of New Orleans?

To be honest, I have been to New Orleans before and loved it there when I went... So had no preconceptions of this city. I love the people, the culture and the atmosphere of this quirky little place. The French Quarter and the Garden Quarter are the only two places in New Orleans I was familiar with in advance. But going to the Swamps and the plantations was a new and very cool experience for me. Being in the Bayou was something I had always wanted to do, and am glad I got a chance to on this travel.

New Orleans is interesting because it has a culture and an atmosphere unique to any other place in the whole United States. The residents of this wonderfully quirky city are extremely upbeat and happy people and I believe their ora and attitudes are contagious. It's a city deeply rooted in traditions and superstitions, like voodoo and witchcraft, magic and religion, which makes New Orleans one of the most mysterious places to visit. I couldn't wait for my friends and I to visit.

New Orleans is famous for it's night life on Bourbon Street... a popular tourist trap but well worth the 10 dollar hurricane drinks to hear the different genres of music blasting from all the bars and all people, of all different ages and races enjoying themselves together. It is truly a party you wouldn't want to miss. The Energy is high

"It [Mardi Gras] is a thing that could hardly exist in the practical North....For the soul of it is the romantic, not the funny and the grotesque. Take away the romantic mysteries, the kings and knights and big-sounding titles, and Mardi Gras would die, down there in the South."

-Life on the Mississippi (Harper & Brothers, 1896), by Mark Twain

Day 3 CNN and Coca Cola

Blog Question #3

To me, neither CNN or Coca Cola are considered southern. The reason why I say this is because before this trip, if someone had asked me where either corporation’s headquarter was located I would have never even been able to guess that they were located in the south... Instead, I have to say that both seem to me to have more of international presence.

CNN- Was very cool to see because it gave you an inside scoop on what goes on behind the scenes... I had no clue that so much went into one program and how quickly everything occured. I also enjoyed it because you saw all of the Talking Heads doing their jobs right in front of you! That was so cool... CNN, has always been to me to be at the front of all international affairs, It is the channel that I turn to when any large event has occured... especially since my favorite talking head, Richard Quest works for them. I think that it is hard for a corporation to have southern roots if is dealing mainly in issues and stories that happen all over the world.

Coca Cola- I think that compared to CNN Coca Cola is way more tradtionally rooted in the south, with the soda counters in the drug stores and all the original advertising having a traditional southern appeal or setting. I feel that Coca Cola can really say that it belongs in the south and that the headquarters might be out of place anywhere else whereas, CNN could be situated anywhere and wouldn't look awkward.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Day 2 Martin Luther King Memorial Park

So yesterday was our first day out and about and my day started pretty early because my biological timepiece was not yet adjusted to E.S.T. I hung out with Liz and Lilly at breakfast and we chatted and poured over gossip mags I had purchased the day before. Then I got ready to go out and explore what was around our hotel... The concierge directed me and Marc to the Phipps mall where we hung out and ate lunch at the food court... I had a southwestern burrito and Marc had chinese, I must say it was very tasty! The nwe had to return to the hotel to meet up with the professor to go to the Martin Luther King Park... The journey there was long but it was definitely an experience and we really familiarized ourselves with the Public Transportation in Atlanta. When we arrived to the original Ebenezer Church where Dr. King Co-pastored and grew up it was quite a powerful experience, especially because Coretta King (M.L.K's wife) died this year... just a few weeks ago. As we continued to the Center, I got a real idea of how important Dr. King was to the Black Movement, and how responsible he was with the power he held. I learned there that he got the idea of passive resistance from Gandhi and went to india for a month as a guest of Nehru to study it further. After this we saw the tomb where he and his wife were burried we saw a small display of his personal effects and another display of Gandhi and his teachings... this was an incredible experience for me and one which I will not soon forget.

"I have nothing new to teach the world, truth and non-violence are as old as the hills" -Gandhi

"Injustice Anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" -M.L.K.

After our trip to the Martin Luther King Memorial... I came back to the hotel and started to get ready for dinner with Marc at a restaurant called Roy's, asian/hawaiian fusion cuisine. We didn't know where it was located but we soon found out that it was right across the street from the hotel. It was very nice and our food was excellent. Although the restaurant was located at the bottom of an office building I have to say it was very good.

Blog Question #2:

To be honest, Atlanta kind of shocked me because I had the idea that it was seen as the “Heart of the South” and when I arrived there, it looked like we were in any large city. Truly, I though “I could be in Chicago, Dallas or South Bend, Indiana.” Atlanta was a prime example of “Urban Sprawl”. You couldn’t go anywhere without a car and even the city center was spread out. Something I noted was what a drastic difference a few blocks made in their city center. We walked from The MLK Jr. National Historical Sight back to the financial district and we went from rundown, low-rent housing and people collecting on the street to, just a few blocks later, the towering sky-rises of their financial district. The only place I have ever experienced extremes like this is in New York City, when you walk from Harlem to the Upper East Side.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Day 1 Welcome to Atlanta

K... So we finally arrived in Buckhead Atlanta! After a nice long wait in the Airport for our 3 syrian girls to be interrogated, we finally made it onto the MARTA (Nice term for Atlanta Subway System) and to our hotel... Our Hotel, which is called the Spring Hill Suites, is situated if front of all the shopping places, so dad...I am sorry in advance! Last night, we went for our very first Group dinner at a place called The Rock Bottom Brewery! It was very nice and the food was very "down home". When started our walk back, we were alerted by a 24 hr. Super Market called "Kroger's" (I love America) and a group of us attacked it for the things we had clumsily left in Lugano, and I indulged in the my secret addiction... Gossip Magazines! SO overall my first day in Atlanta was filled with excitement, gossip and good food, I hope the rest of the days are as good as yesterday!

Blog Question #1:

Before I arrived in the south I thought there was going to be more down home, country meals like chicken and biscuits and I though that the experience was going to be more country like in the movies…with beautiful, sprawling plantations and interesting vegetation, with an over emphasis on the civil war and it’s continuous impact on this part of my country. I guess I felt that there were still going to be hints of traditional southern culture. Well, my preconceptions were, for the most part, wrong and to be honest, southern culture has neutralized from the days of gone with the wind. But, what I did notice was that music has really come to the forefront of southern culture. I mean, it has always been there, but now Country music is the international passport to the South. People anywhere can capture the essence and feeling of the south by listening to anything from Louis Armstrong and Elvis Presley to newer faces, like, Shania Twain and Keith Urban.