Danced with Death
From The Washington Post:
It helps a little bit, even as your heart is breaking over those TV hurricanescapes of New Orleans under water, to remember that "the city that care forgot" has always danced with death. New Orleans was born amid ghastly yellow fever epidemics, where corpses stained with black vomit were piled on carts to be hauled to above-ground crypts. The sepulcher flower vases bred the fever-freighted mosquitoes. Climate, Catholicism and voodoo shaped the city, along with Latin fatalism, languorous hedonism and an atmosphere of poignant and elegant decay. It's no accident that Anne Rice lived there to pen her vampire tales. And yet, inseparable though they may be, New Orleans has always been more about the dance than about the death. Somewhere in the shade of its majestic live oaks and the shadows of its lacework balconies, among the saxophone riffs in its echoing alleys and the soft magenta glow of its crape myrtles at twilight, the flickering ghosts that haunt New Orleans whisper huskily of sweaty, sensual love and the promise of enduring memory. Even the street names whisper promises: Desire, Amour, Abundance; Pleasure, Treasure and Joy.