Friday, December 25, 2009

New Orleans: Day 2

Today I went to the Lower Ninth Ward to check out the "Brad Pitt Homes" -- homes built by his Make It Right Foundation. The New York Times recently ran an article on them.

I decided to skip paying for the bus tour of the Ward -- it's $35 and the reviews were highly iffy.

The houses are very cool; they all have an avant-garde look, but because different architects designed the homes, there is lots of variety.

The Times articles says the homes have been criticized for placing form over function -- had the destroyed homes been replaced with the same style of shotgun homes, many more homes could be built for the same money as the Pitt homes. The shotgun homes are hideous. When you build a neighborhood that looks like a ghetto, it's going to become a ghetto. People do not have any pride in where they live; they do not take care of the neighborhood. Pitt's homes are all clustered together; despite the barren landscape that surrounds them, the cluster looks like a warm and inviting place to live. It's a clever way to reinvent the neighborhood.

As for the rest of the Lower Ninth Ward, it was pretty desolate. It looks like most of the debris has been cleared. There are still some dilapidated homes that have yet to be torn down, but the landscape is mostly populated with empty lots where houses used to be.

There were some other white people driving around in cars doing the same thing as me, but none of them got out of their cars (even though I had my car, I took the bus there so I would have to walk -- I thought that was the best way to get the full experience).

After the Ninth Ward, I took the bus, then the trolly to the Garden District to see the homes of the rich.

The neighborhood lives up to its name -- there are trees and plants all over the place -- and the homes are very impressive. There were a lot of other people out looking at the homes -- with most things closed on Christmas, I guess this was one of the only activities to do today.

For lunch I found a sushi place -- Montgomery doesn't have much sushi (at least nothing I would eat), so I haven't had any since I left Philadelphia in October. I used the opportunity to stock up. I ordered a 18 piece sashimi tray. The sushi chef thought I was nuts. He kept telling me that the tray was meant for two people. Before he started making it he wanted to confirm that I really wanted all of that fish.

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