I’ve been texting friends to say today is Mardi Gras day
people get up at sunrise dress up in skeletons masks
and parade around making noise, banging drums
to remind every one of their mortality.
Wake up and live Today!
I was lucky enough to be awakened to day and so here I am living.
my heart is kind of sore. I don’t know I’m tired of being poor.
Yesterday I was driving around up town up and down Magazine Street, where there are a number of crosswalks. And every single person in the crosswalk had to wait until there were no cars, or risk their lives running…
I had stopped for someone and the bus coming the other way, a city bus, ran right through the crosswalk which has someone in it… on the other side, sure, thank God.
But even the city bus drivers do not stop for people in the crosswalk.
They had a kind of dismissive campaign with a goofy looking guy on a bike “it’s the law” or something like that. He was at the crosswalk.
you kinda want to run him off the road.
no just kidding.
But I had a thought.. not a complete thought but a thought.
This local custom runs both ways. People are very
courteous drivers here, for the most part. They
will wait for someone trying to get onto the lane,
for the most part. On the other hand they don’t like
to be honked at. They will not turn left onto one
of those little patches of ground that has its own
light. But they Will Run the light if they are
waiting there… case in point, the patch of ground
coming off the free way at Esplanade and Claiborne.
they run the light instead of waiting for it to turn
green. It’s a custom. If I wait for the light the
people in back of me will honk and gesture to go through.
So there are local driving rules which seem to preempt
the law. People park right up to the curb. Unless you
have out of town license and then they will ticket you.
I know, I had a rented car. Or else the ticket lady
just likes the corner I live on…
So my idea… I see that… doing it Your way is the
local way. But I disagree that courtesy should be
disavowed when it comes to pedestrians. Children, moms,
grandmas, no one should have to run for they lives at
the crosswalk, nor should they have to wait for all
the cars to go by.
I suggest an incentive program, to get people to stop
at the crosswalk. What would it be? Hmm. Take pictures
of every time you stop at the crosswalk, send them in to
NOLA magazine and get some kind of something. I also suggest
a punitive program, which adds some cameras to the crosswalks
and gives WARNING tickets to every single car that does not
stop when someone is waiting at the crosswalk. There have
been tragic accidents on the larger roads, like St. Claude,
and whole families with strollers and dogs try to cross
from the other side to the other side. Two sides of town,
one black and one white… The white side has more crosswalks
but no body is stopping. The black side has the center island
so you can aim for that when you run. But I see people out
there with little children, and the cars come fast from
Arabi, over the bridge, where they have been waiting patiently
for a long, long time for that bridge to come back down. They
are usually kind of pissed and drive very fast from Poland
on down to Desire. We need crosswalks with lights and
someone policing it, ticketing, at least till it gets going.
Then, why can’t a special observation team of police be appointed to this task, in designated locations, making sure that cars are paying attention. Their pretense in uniform, the lighted crosswalk, all this, could begin to condition the population to being more attentive, responsive to the law, courteous to their fellow citizens. Soon they will stop at crosswalks, or at least slow down.
Our local crosswalk guardians are only there to observe, make notes if necessary. They can take license numbers… or not… but they report as to the effectiveness of the campaign. You employ local people, good all around. I have not thought it out in minutia, it’s just a thought. Better to do something than nothing. People think of all these reason why an idea won’t work and then talk themselves into inertia. Lets try something. A billboard evidently is not going to get people to realize that they are threatening the lives of people every single time they do not stop at the crosswalk. And to be honest, sometimes I don’t stop because I am afraid I am going to get rear ended by someone. How would that work in court, I wonder? I stop because it’s the law, then the pedestrian won’t walk because the other side of the road is not stopping, and then I have stopped for no reason. I mean we got to get this thing under control.
Meantime, a new year, a chance to foreswear, or prewar or just swear. Fuck it, you say? Nah. Not time for Fuck Its.
Today it is the time to say a prayer for what we have.
I know its been a hard year for some, in inexplicable ways.
We have lost some great friends this year. Here, locally.
And out there. Dan Hicks, a friend of mine and an artist
I admired. Allen Toussaint, a great musician, he too has
found a better world made of non-linear visions and infinite
possibilities. And Davie Bowie. I have this delayed reaction
thing to trauma. I deal with it, do what must be done, do not
feel until later, much later, on a quiet morning. Then… I remember.
Remember the loss, and be at peace with the beauty of being a carbon-based entity.
Good is still to come and you will be needed to help others. Especially at the crosswalk.
Watch for skeletons
Happy Mardi Gras