Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Settling In

Wow. The weather in New Orleans mirrors the culture. There is none of the melancholy "drink coffee or kill yourself drizzle" of Seattle here. Instead, like a Baptist choir, God let's his presence be known through dramatic bouts of intense heat and unbelievable downpours. The picture above was taken from my balcony and the river seen is the street in front of my house. People routinely have their cars flooded and have to just buy new ones. I am in the honeymoon phase of my time here and still enjoy these storms.

Every Sunday in October you can go to Louisiana's Maximum Security prison to see the famous Angola rodeo. Having been to some rodeos in Montana, it is safe to say the horsemanship and overall cowboy skills are not what the crowd comes to see here. Instead, the attraction seems to be watching men with nothing to lose risking their lives for a shot at glory.

The events are comical, and the danger is high. My favorite was when they released a bull with a coin tied to his forehead and then announced that any convict who could grab the coin would be rewarded with five hundred dollars. Dozens of prisoners went toe-to-toe with the bull, with several taking bone-crushing hits. When one of the men got crushed early in the competition, a concerned silence fell over the crowd. Within moments, the announcer hollered "How about them LSU Tigers!" and the spectators roared with approval.

This city is cool. It seems there is always something going on. From rodeos to concerts to film festivals, even this home-body finds himself leaving the cozy confines of home. We are both starting to make some friends here.(Well, I have ONE) The next blog will post some of their pictures. The biggest news, for me at least, is that we recently joined the gym here at Tulane. After over a month of inactivity, this access to tennis, basketball and swimming is a much-needed outlet.

I've tried to carve a personal niche for myself in this city, while remaining open to new things. So far, I have probably erred on the side of doing what comes naturally; reading, sports, etc., but hope to explore other aspects of the city soon. It appears that unless an effort is made, it is quite easy to get tracked into a lifestlye here largely dictated by wealth and race. For living in a city of over 70% blacks, I find myself largely surrounded by whites. And while I don't see myself joining a brass band or dancing to Soulja' Boy anytime soon, it wouldn't hurt to get a little more soul in my step.