Jackson Square: French Quarter Fest 2008
I used to really look forward to French Quarter Fest. This was true even by the time of my (relative) adulthood when it had already mutated from "Dutch Morial's idea to draw local people back.." to the Quarter into a major tourist-facing annual event that can draw over 700,000 attendees during a single weekend. I always liked being downtown, anyway. This can be an uncomfortably small town sometimes and the mix of locals and tourists in the Quarter lent it a more open feel. It made for interesting people watching. Through the late 90s and early 00s, even as record numbers of tourists poured into the city, there was still somewhat of a sense that it was, in fact, our city.
That's a bit different now. As the number of annual visitors continues to grow, policymakers introduce new planning, traffic, and policing initiatives designed to isolate the Quarter as an exclusive and culturally sanitized tourism and entertainment zone.
As a consequence, events like FQF begin to feel more and more like Jazzfest which, as we all know, is NOLA Disney at its height. Restricted access, overpriced food and drink, no cultural signifier goes uncommodified, etc.
Another thing both festivals have in common now is they are each subject to "Clean Zone" ordinances that restrict non-permitted street vendors and other kinds of solicitation on nearby streets. Which is how stuff like this can happen.
Charges were dropped Thursday (May 3) against longtime environmental activist Luke Fontana, who was arrested at French Quarter Fest on April 13, according to a clerk at the New Orleans' Municipal and Traffic Court. Fontana had been charged with not having the proper permit or business license.Now you may be thinking an anti-pipeline protest doesn't mix too well at French Quarter Fest Presented By Chevron. But everything kind of worked out there.
The 78-year-old president of Save Our Wetlands Inc. said he had set up a table on the French Quarter riverfront during the popular spring music festival to solicit new members for the organization, which opposes the planned Bayou Bridge crude oil pipeline that would cut across the Atchafalaya Basin. Fontana said he was offering lapel buttons, logo-marked umbrellas and T-shirts as membership bonuses. He said that nothing was for sale.
A cargo vessel crashed into a pier near the Nashville Wharf along the Mississippi River late Thursday morning (April 12), causing fuel to leak into the river and flow past the French Quarter Festival.
Around 10:30 a.m., the Coast Guard received a report that a Singapore flagged general cargo ship named PAC Antares had hit the pier and was leaking high sulphur fuel oil into the river near mile marker 100.
Anyway, we decided not to buy the Jazzfest tickets this year so we probably aren't going out that way this weekend. Not unless I can come up with something to sell between now and Sunday.