Tuesday, August 30, 2005

New Orleans: Vulnerable, Irreplaceable

It's Hard to Imagine New Orleans After Katrina


    Jeff Fisk, who has lived all his life in Deerfield Beach, is a yard supervisor at the United Parcel Service hub for deliveries from Pompano to Delray.

    Last year, this slender working man spent many off hours researching, designing and making a costume to transform himself into the 400-pound Fat Bastard, the repellent Austin Powers character.

    It was foolishness. But there is a rational explanation.

    He was giving his all for Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

    In the past 10 years, Fisk and a number of his friends have traveled almost every February to New Orleans' prolonged party, a week or more of drinking, dancing, costumes and debauchery.

    The South Floridians are such regulars they've been admitted to a "krewe," a semi-select organization that stages the parades and costume balls that have been the city's signature since the 1700s.

    "We've been kind of welcomed with open arms," said Fisk, 45, of his reception into Krewe Tuck.

    Michael Bowders, 42, a fellow krewe member from our parts, said "It doesn't feel like people have the same walls between the social classes as they do here.

    "My friend who's close to a millionaire will go down to a bar and drink and talk with a homeless guy, and it's no big deal.

    "And then there's the architecture," added Bowders, who manages a camera store in Fort Lauderdale.

    "My friend Jeff and I just love to walk around and we look at the intricate detail, and we love it.

    "But it's got me so worried," he added. "Everything is made of wood ..."

    I knew what he meant.

    It was a day for worry if you love New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina was roaring through Louisiana.

    They call New Orleans the city that care forgot. But with winds blowing away sections of the Superdome roof, it looked like care was finally catching up.