Monday, February 18, 2008

Halftime of all halftimes

It was a defining moment. What started out with a jazzed-up introduction of players like nowhere else featuring the Rebirth Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins and Trombone Shorty, climbed to the penultimate of heights with a halftime show to rival even those put on by the fabled NFL. The musical fireworks were shot off in volleys from the keyboards of Harry Connick, Jr., Dr. John (Mac Rabennack), Allen Toussaint, Art Neville, Ivan Neville, Ellis Marsalis, and Jonathan Baptiste, truly the best that New Orleans has to offer to the nation in thanks for the ongoing rebuilding efforts. The 2008 NBA All-Star Game is over with the East squad claiming bragging rights with a 134-128 win over the West, yet the musical notes still linger. I am glad to acknowledge the play of Cleveland's own Lebron James netted him the MVP award for the game. His 27 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds were bound to please my good friends in King James's Cleveland, where I stayed some 20 months just prior to and following Hurricane Katrina. But Chris Paul and David West of the New Orleans Hornets created local pride, too. Paul's 16 points, three rebounds, and the game's highest total assists for a player at 14 were not bad for his first time All Star appearance. The $90 million pumped into the local economy will be warmly welcomed as was the previous huge infusion of cash due to the All State Sugar Bowl and BCS Championship Series Bowl games. The USA Network just announced that its "Character of the Month" isn't a character at all; it's New Orleans. With such good will and the coffers filled, can there be any question that the Queen City of the South has finally arrived and is back to its previous glory? To that question all I have to do is offer a tour of the Ninth Ward, Gentilly or Lakeview areas. I need not do anything more than show the rows of houses still standing that have had little or no work done on them since the storm. I need to only show the empty lots that formerly held beautifully appointed homes laid waste by the bulldozers. I need to only point to the horrible condition of the roads across most of these areas or to point out the missing trees and foliage that formerly graced front yards and city streets. Yes, we are enjoying record success in the Big Easy. But please remember we have so much further still to go.

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