Members of the Krew of Mondo Kayo Social Marching Club march through the rain during the Mardi Gras parade on March 4, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Fat Tuesday is the traditional celebration on the day before Ash Wednesday and the begining of Lent. By Sean Gardner/Getty Images. Meanwhile, Richard Campanella celebrates the city’s much-maligned Bourbon Street:
Las Vegas has been called America’s most honest city for its undisguised pursuit of profit. Perhaps Bourbon rates as our most candid street, for the clarity of its deal: accessible pleasures offered for a price to the passing parade. For all its flamboyance and swagger, Bourbon Street is one of the least pretentious places in town. It’s as utterly uncool as it is wildly successful, and in an era when “cool capital” is increasingly craved and fiscal capital increasingly scarce, there’s something refreshing about a place that flips off coolness and measures success the old-fashioned way: by the millions.
Not only does Bourbon Street not try to be authentic, it doesn’t even think about it. If, as Sartre once said, “you seek authenticity for authenticity’s sake, you are no longer authentic,” then perhaps the opposite is true as well. For all its ruses and illusions, Bourbon Street puts on no airs, requires no subsidies or handouts, has no need for the kindness of strangers, and lets the loquacious literati and the fuming fundamentalists fulminate alone. What you see when you peer past the neon is exactly what you get.