The other side of New Orleans

by February 17, 2008

By Sam Rubenstein

Flashy lights, drunk people, superstars walking among us. But it’s not all fun and games. After the dunk contest was creeping to a close, we had to walk back to the hotel cause the media transport from the arena to the hotel was to put it gently, a huge clusterf–k.

For the partying portion of the evening our group split into two. Khalid and Lang hit up the more exciting NBA star hosted party events, while Ben, Aggrey Sam, and myself did the Bourbon St. thing. It sounds weird to say this but drinking a hurricane and walking down Bourbon St. with the beads flying around and strippers running through the streets was the tamest part of the trip so far. New Orleans is a strange place. In the interest of balance, I would like to share a tale of adventure from yesterday morning…

As you know by now, we had to rent a car in Baton Rouge to drive here, and that car needed to be returned a few miles away from out hotel. I drove there, dropped it off, paid the ridiculous bill, and the whole process took about 15 minutes. I stepped out into the street to look for a cab or think about walking back, and as is prone to happen I was right in the middle of a feed the hungry parade. So I marched with hundreds of 12 year olds for a few blocks, behind the marching band, and then they suddenly turned left.

I was all alone on “the wrong side of the tracks.” This was not the touristy safe part of New Orleans. There is a place that is called Tent Town I believe, where the homeless live in tents under the freeway. It was a lot like the current season of The Wire, where the lying reporter spent the night with Baltimore’s homeless. One guy seemed to be walking straight at me. I’ve been in bad neighborhoods before, dodged muggings, been chased. But this time, I tensed up and I really thought he was about to stab me…

No knife, no stab wound.
Back to work. By work I mean brunch.