K-Ville: That’s what they call the city these days, short for Katrina Ville.
In the days that I’d spent in NO, I walked around and the streets of central New Orleans are exactly as you imagine them to be. French buildings three stories high, large barn door entrances off of streets, courtyards, riverside cafes and bars, you’ve seen it all before in movies and on TV.
But then there’s the other New Orleans, past the centre.
Venture out, and you’ll find a city where there is a yellow line that runs across the fronts of all the abandoned buildings and houses. It’s Katrina’s flood mark.
It has this eerie quality to it. On one hand it reminded me of when you see fossils in a museum like a starfish or something trapped between two lines of history, packing it in, immobilizing it forever.
On the other hand, there was a kind of modern art feel to it as well. Like a giant installation piece. If you stood at the right place, you could see the line unbroken, even though it passed over houses 10m from you and 100m away, a clever perspective piece.
The artist was no longer in residence, but it was a heady reminder that we are all here on this planet at the mercy of mother nature. Or maybe at her amusement.
The boundless oceans held back by man-made walls, the shifting tectonic plates under our bitumen roads and concrete buildings, the downpours and snowstorms that bucket onto cities, paralyzing them.
I think of the tsunami that rolled over my favorite islands in Asia, literally wiping away hotels where I had holidayed, I think of the…
Christ! I need to get into an outfit, drink a cocktail and get frivolous. I hope Michael is back at the hotel with outfits. And a bottle of moonshine.
Michael as it turns out had outdone himself. But I didn’t quiet see the genius when I first got back to our room. On the bed lay some well nasty track suit pants and flannel shirts, wigs and Baseball caps. Um, ok, what are we…?
Michael then pointed to two A4 sized black picture frames. Still don’t get it…
Then he lays the master plan on me.
We dress totally trailer trash, complete with mullet wigs and then have a sign each hanging on our fronts that say “Jaden James Federline Spears” and “Sean Prescott Federline Spears” with “LAPD 2037” underneath ie, walking mugshots of Britney Spears’ kids’ future.
I hug Michael, get busy with a magic marker on the signs and in no time we are walking to the party, suitably bedecked. But I have that panic that washes over anyone who finds themself in a strange costume in a strange city going to a strange party.
What if no one gets this? I mean, people to look at us, read the signs and put it all together in their heads. Heads that are swimming with alcohol and God knows what else.
I have a last minute urge to throw it all in a bush, before we round the corner and come face to face with New Orleans off its face.
We walk up to the costumed throng waiting to get in. People turn and look, wondering who these rednecks are that have turned up at the big gay bash. They look at the mugshot signs, they look back at us.
Oh dear, maybe this is only funny in front of a hotel room mirror.
Then one skinny queen, dressed as Catwoman, shrieks, “Oh, My, God! OH! MY! GOD! WHERE IS MY CAMERA!!!!”
In short, we were a hit. I doubt even Britney herself had that many photos taken of her that night, wherever she was, probably driving drunk with her skirt hitched up, feeding her kids KFC with eyeliner down to her toes.
After much encouragement, we even got up onstage in the costume show in front of the thousands of revelers. I doubt anyone beyond the front two rows got it, but to really make it sick, we had a brotherly kiss on stage. With tongues. And two rednecks kissing on stage under spotlights at a gay dance party even managed to raise cheers from the chemically challenged people at the back.
Ah, New Orleans, where I have yet to draw a sober breath.