A Vieux From Toulouse

What happens to a city that depends on a sole industry? Look at Detroit in the 1980s when the market turned to Japanese autos.

Tourism, a recreation historically reserved for the decadent bourgeoisie with too much money and too much time. The ancient Greeks and Romans would travel to the Seven Wonders of the World to view the legends for themselves. Medieval Christians, Buddhists and Muslims would go on religious pilgrimages to find connections with their God. Eighteenth century robber barons could spend months on transoceanic luxury liners or in private train cars to explore the known world.

French Quarter tourists come here to binge eat, binge drink, gamble and cheat on their spouses. We have nothing else to offer to the world. 

Perhaps it would be best for western culture if we stop viewing tourism as an entitlement and a see it for what it is: a narcissistic self-indulgence. Just something to boast about on social media, glad you took lots of pictures because you don’t remember a damn thing that happened.

Some complain about millionaires, but then go into debt trying to emulate their lifestyles.  They hate the rich because they are jealous of them. Traveling is nothing more than an unneeded luxury that has been pushed on us by corporate manipulation. Airlines, hotels, cruise lines, resorts, local tourism committees and multinational theme parks entice us with commercials of good looking couples strolling hand in hand on beaches at sunset.  The CEO of a credit card company can afford to go on exotic vacations. He can do so by the money made from those who cannot afford it but think they are entitled to it.

“My car may not be paid off, but I’ll drop $5,000 on a week visiting a carnival of vice.”

Spare me the bullshit . “I love to travel and experience new cultures”; a ghost tour, buggy ride and perhaps a quick walk through a museum all with a ridiculous drink in your hand. I never hear people talking about wanting to visit Saudi Arabia or Egypt; there’s no booze there. Las Vegas or Amsterdam are usually at the top of the list. That’s fine, that’s how we make our living. Let’s not be pretentious about being culturally important. We are not needed, our industry is completely disposable.

Any city that depends on a sole industry is a stage set for economic disaster. New Orleans recovered quickly after hurricane Katrina, it may take many years after this disaster.  Anyone who squanders thousands of dollars on a vacation of hedonistic exploits are financially foolish. “I can’t afford to be unemployed!” No, but you could afford to take a week off to go to the Bahamas six months ago.

“I work oh so hard, I am entitled to a vacation!”

It’s only been the past few generation who have had this kind of access to tourism. Even now, it’s only just for a sliver of the population. Let’s visit this exotic third world nation and toss coins to the kids and film them scrambling to pick them up. We’ll feel like Hollywood stars as the service industries cater and kiss our asses for the pittance tossed to them. (But to those people, it’s a large sum of money.)

With so much conversation about changing to a Green Economy or a Socialist economy, we in tourist-dependent areas should be talking about a varied economy. It’s like a mill or mining town, all aspects of the local economy revolves around just one industry. The mill closes, the mine becomes barren and everyone is out of work. That’s what happened here.