One of the biggest news stories of the moment is that Hurricane Katrina seems to be headed straight for New Orleans. Since much of the city is below sea level, it's long been known that a direct hit from a really strong hurricane could leave a good portion of the area underwater. A mandatory evacuation has been ordered, but plenty of stranded tourists (the victims of cancelled flights and empty car-rental lots) will have to wait it out in places like the Superdome, which has been designated as an emergency shelter.
Hurricanes are unpredictable, so there's always the chance it could veer off in another direction or even lose steam before making landfall (which is scheduled for sometime tomorrow morning). Still, it's chilling to imagine that, in the city that's one of my top vacation destinations, some of my favorite places--Preservation Hall, the Cafe du Monde, Cafe Maspero, the Hotel Monteleone, Copeland's--might sustain severe damage. Much worse, of course, would be the potential loss of life.
So if you're the praying type, remember the Big Easy tonight; I know I will. It may have a (not entirely undeserved) reputation as a den of iniquity, but it's also possible to completely bypass said iniquity and still have a great time; the music and the food guarantee that by themselves. Sure, it's a funky, gritty place, but that funkiness and grittiness are what make it so special. It's one of the spiciest places in our American casserole, and I for one hope to wake up in the morning and find out that Katrina has landed elsewhere or at least muted her bluster a bit.
IRONIC QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market. The Cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It closes only on Christmas Day and on the day an occasional Hurricane passes too close to New Orleans."--from the Cafe's website.