Austin: Decadance & the Search for Answers


Have you ever considered the reality of your life? Even better, have you ever considered the reason you live your life the way you do?


Sitting in a bar on a Saturday night listening to the best jazz crooner in New Orleans (in my opinion, which is moderate at best), I started wondering these exact questions. While taking sips of wine one of my housemates purchased, I kept mulling over these very persistent questions. Personally I am a questioner, which therefore leads to many needed answers. So I walked into the less crowded section of the bar, and lit up a cigarette to ease the thought process. While watching the smoke form figures that would make a geometer’s mouth water, I could just not form answers to my nagging questions. An answer finally came, but before I could really put words to it, it left me. Possibly my most infuriating moment.

Tour of the city and the Southern Decadence Parade

So upon arriving in the Kingdom of New Orleans, we were met with a tour. A tour of the lower ninth ward. It took about twenty minutes to reach this neighborhood from the airport, and when we got there, I still did not know that we were in the lower ninth. Imagine a very dense neighborhood with houses only separated by a five foot strip of grass. This is how it was.

What I saw instead was a field.

A field with four foot tall weeds and giant slabs of concrete.

Little to no houses.

Four years after the hurricane and yet there is still nothing.

Photo by Allie Utley

Photo by Allie Utley

Now I know what you might be thinking, “But Austin the reason there is still no houses is because everyone down there is lazy, and they just want other people to do the work for them.” I’m sorry to inform any of you (that is if you think that way) that there is so much more involved. A little known fact is that the city of New Orleans actually put a tax on people’s yards. So if they did not mow or at least trim their yard a one thousand dollar fine was given to them. ( I think that was the right amount, I’m typing from memory here.) Most of the residents in the lower ninth did not return for several weeks, so when they did (if they did), not only were they met with a house that was uninhabitable, but also a thousand dollar fine. (Yet again I think that is how it went, if you really want to know I will get my facts straighter and get back to you.)So after the tour, the rest of my week went by in a daze of meetings, dinners, and settling down in our new house. That is not very interesting, so I’ll spare the details.

Southern Decadence Leather

Photo by Allie Utley

What was interesting though was Sunday afternoon. This past afternoon is what is referred to as Southern Decadence Weekend. If you have not heard of this, it is basically Mardi Gras. A Mardi Gras for the homosexual community. Yes that is correct. Let me say this, it was a blast. Loud music booming from every bar on Bourbon St, cat calls, and yes more leather than you can shake a stick at (pun intended). Oh my was it interesting. Let me tell you, you do not know the meaning of awkward until you are trying to weave your way though a crowd with a big, topless, hairy man behind you telling you to “keep moving your cute butt forward”. I mean this guy was so close to me I could smell his breath. It was a combination of the cherry blow pop he had in his mouth and the hint of cheap liquor.

Southern Decadence Balcony

Photo by Allie Utley

And the parade, wow was that fun. Hundreds of dressed up men walking through the streets handing out beads and taking pictures with the crowd (yes I got/did both). They even had a marching band in the middle. That was a little dangerous because some of the crowd had slipped into the street and the band was swinging around while playing, so me and two other housemates almost got decapitated by trombones. But the atmosphere of that parade was so exhilarating; it would have been worth it.


Sitting here listening to the lullaby of sirens and cars driving through the puddles of the rain that fell earlier, I am pleading with my mind to surrender the answer. Why do I live my life the way I do? But while I am trying to find my own answer I start to think back to the tour and to the parade. Why do they live life the way they do? Is it (as in the case of the parade) to have as much fun as one can before their time on this planet is done? Or is it (as with the city of New Orleans) to make money/ “better their city with the fine money” they are trying to get? The questions are always infinite, too bad the answers are not.


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