A Vieux From Toulouse

The Vieux Carre Commission drives around the Quarter searching for a business throwing a coat of paint on their front door. They stop, take a photo of the work being performed without a permit, writes a violation, levies a fine, and demands that the person appear before them and grovel for the next permit.

A VCC inspector strikes fear into hearts of French Quarter businesses in the same way the East German Stasi police would as they rolled up to a Berlin bookstore. If a comedic version of a dystopian future was to unfold, it would be those who are in charge of preservation who would the rule the future with a historically accurate iron fist. An all powerful and omnipresent bureaucratic blue-haired lady with a clipboard, no mercy.

Art by Eric Styles.

The same City Hall houses city engineers (building inspectors). Evidently they are the more elusive of the two entities. They’re able to sign off on permits without even being in that part of the city and, at times, they’re able to perform the duty from the comfort of their very own living rooms.

An 18-story building under construction, a house of concrete cards being assembled by dozens of workers; its collapse aided by steel towers spinning over one of our busiest intersections. If the paint color of wooden shutters are so precisely and staunchly regulated, then this site must have a city official on premises daily, waiting to pounce on the most minor infraction.

“Want to pour a 100 tons of concrete? With dozens of workers on site? Sure go ahead. We won’t even pop by to say Hello.”

Two different departments, both in City Hall. If the city engineers had been even half as zealous, half as tenacious as the VCC, the Hard Rock Hotel would probably be completed by now.