Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cultural economy run amuck

I'll admit I'm not a fan of the various "ghost tours" floating about the French Quarter. They're cheesy. They're more or less the opposite of informative. Plus there's something kind of sad about the sight of a group of 20 to 30 adults being led around a city like a fourth grade class on a field trip to the box factory.

On the other hand, there's a theatrical element one has to admire. The really hammy ones bring a kind of circus carnie aesthetic which can be fun if you're into that sort of thing.  And, really, there are worse ways to conduct tour groups through the Quarter than the minimally invasive method of forced marching.

But whatever we think of these operations, there are probably very few of us who would condone regulating them by the martial tactics employed at the taxicab bureau
Accustomed to telling horror stories for money, French Quarter tour guides did it for free outside of City Hall on Friday as they protested aggressive and allegedly violent permit-enforcement measures and called for the firing of Malachi Hull, head of the city agency that regulates them.

Nearly 100 tour guides and cabbies denounced tactics used by inspectors with the city’s Taxicab Bureau, alleging a month-long harassment campaign aimed at appeasing Vieux Carre residents bitter over the number and size of street-clogging tourist groups.

Among the protesters was Wendy Bosma, who claims taxi inspector Wilton “Big Will” Joiner tossed her against a car and wrenched her arm, causing severe bruising, while wresting her permit from her during a night tour on Nov. 9.
On the other hand, maybe the problem is just that they're harassing the wrong ghost tour.
The seven men in custody in connection with the suspected arson of LeBeau Plantation in Old Arabi apparently were looking for ghosts, according to St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann. The sheriff said the men had been smoking marijuana and drinking in the vacant house.

One of the men is from Arabi, one is from Gretna, and the others are from Texas, the sheriff said.
Update: I knew there was something familiar about a rogue ghost tour among the ruins.  Those of us on the senior circuit might recall this story from September 2005.  A San Francisco news team covering the National Guard in New Orleans after Katrina had the guardsmen go on a "ghost hunt" through Sophie B Wright School which they were using as a station at the time.
(CBS5) The presence of the supernatural and the influence of voodoo long have been synonymous with New Orleans.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, members of the U.S. military are saying that there's something spooky going on and it's not just images of death and destruction that's haunting them.

By all accounts, the Sophie B. Wright Middle School in New Orleans sits empty and evacuated except for military personnel who have taken over the campus as a staging site for missions around the battered city.

But the men in uniform have the feeling that they're not alone. It prompted a chaplain to utter this directive: "In the name of Jesus Chris, I command you Satan to leave the dark areas of this building."

Said Sgt. Robin Hairston of the California National Guard: "I was in my sleeping bag and I opened by eyes and in the doorway was a little girl. It wasn't my imagination."

Hairston wasn't the only one seeing things. Spc. Rosales Leanor had her own close encounter.

"I was using the restroom and I just saw a little shadow," Leanor said. "Kind of looming in front of me."

Another member of the Guard unit said that she saw and heard a little girl laughing when she opened a closet that contained cleaning supplies.

At a Baton Rouge marina, boats were strewn like trash, but not a shred of paper could be found. Except for the pages of a Bible that was found by a soldier. It was open to the Book of Revelation.

At a nearby church, nearly destroyed, another Bible was found, showing the exact same passage from Revelation.

Like the power of nature, there is a power at work in New Orleans that defies explanation.
While they were doing this, most of us hadn't even been allowed to come back and even check on the status of our homes yet.  I hope they had fun.  Glad they didn't burn the school down.

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