As many of you know, Mayor Nagin's friends threw him a party this evening, to honor him with an award for Excellence in Recovery, a phrase I generally associate with Lindsay Lohan and Brittany Spears. When people began to express their outrage, the awards committee (a photographer named Bernardo) specified that the party was really intended to honor everyday survivors. The owner of the Penthouse (in the Ritz Carlton) where the party was to take place announced that he considered it public space. I guess I missed the day when he handed out keys.
So, people gathered at the hotel, with signs, and with a box of fake Oscar statuettes, which I somehow ended up giving out. I gave them to bloggers, to women with strollers, to people who are actually trying to find reasons to continue contributing to New Orleans. With one award left, a party guest traded his engraved invitation for a statue. Go up, he said, adding, I'm just going for fun. In fact, the small sample of people I talked to admitted they were only attending for free food and drinks.
I went around the crowd, trying to get others to use the invite, which specified no dress code, no rsvp, and admitted two. No one wanted to go. I ended up in the elevator with Chris Rose, a local columnist, his date, a friend and a random couple, who, like most, admitted they were in it for the drinks.
We rode up the elevator taking bets on who would be tossed first. I flashed my invite, walked in, looked around and then was notified by an NOPD officer that my friend had gone to the bathroom. I've been at many functions, both high and low, and never had the cops tell me with my companion was peeing. So I went out to look for her and then began to wonder if something had happened to her. When she reappeared, so did the cops, who told us we needed to leave immediately. Who instructed them, I asked. Bernardo, I was told.
So, I guess the fact that I teach high school, and college, and volunteer on several nonprofits, and recently bought property, and frequently encourage the support of outside agencies and volunteers...etc--all that is just proof that I'm impeding the recovery. Meanwhile Nagin's bogus award is somehow a sign of progress. I guess there must still be some NOAH designated federal funds to squander. Good luck guys!