This is the second part of my Kind of New Orelanian interview with Rachael Kansas. Check yesterday’s post to read my introduction to this new feature and learn what brought Rachael back to New Orleans, two years ago.
You went to Ben Franklin High School. I know it’s a really big deal here which high school you went to and what that says about you. What’s the stereotype of someone who went to Franklin?
Is it? It’s a public school, right?
It’s a public school, but it’s a magnet school. We were all over the news in the last 3 or 4 years—we were number 16 in the nation, so it’s a smart school. You have to test to get into it. It’s the best public school in the state, pretty consistently. We don’t have a really strong football team or anything, but we have some sports that we are good at. I know soccer is a big deal. But so is Mu Alpha Theta.
I know you’re a big Saints and Hornets fan, but there’s not a lot of Hornets fans out there. I feel like your family is really dedicated. What is it about the Hornets that you love?
I don’t know, it’s just something fun to do to mix up your week and go to a game. It’s really interactive. You’re a lot closer to the action. It’s a smaller, more involved experience to go to the game. Also, the sport is great, although I think the NBA shouldn’t have as many games in their season.
A lot of people say that New Orleans isn’t a two-sport town, it’s a one-sport city. But I’ve seen when the Hornets have been in the playoffs, how much enthusiasm people could have for it, so I don’t know—I think people are out doing too many other things to get excited. But, it’s a long season with a lot of games.
Speaking of the Saints, what do you think of the whole bounty thing?
It breaks my heart. On the one hand, I know it’s probably true that every team in the whole league does it to a certain extent. But it hurts that we’ve been doing it and got caught. It’s sad and I’m really upset that they haven’t been able to sign a contract with Brees. And, then, of course Sean Payton lied to everyone and Goodell.
In a perfect world I would love to see Goodell to have to hand over the Lombardi trophy to Benson in the Superdome next year, despite all of the scandal. That would just be the ultimate like, F-you man. We still did it.
It’s easy to see why the Saints are so beloved post Katrina and the Superbowl win. Do you remember it being as big of a deal growing up?
Growing up the rule was that if we didn’t sell out the Dome, they wouldn’t show the game on TV. It’s ridiculous to think of now tickets go for so much and we have a full, sellout season every year. But growing up, if we didn’t sell out they’d only play the games on the radio. It was like punishment if we didn’t buy tickets. We’d have to sit at home and like listen on the radio, which my dad always made us do. My family was always out fishing on the weekends so we didn’t go to games growing up until more recent years. But, yeah, we were always Saints fans.
What are some touristy things in the city that you’ve not done?
I’ve been plantations to before, for weddings, but I’ve never been on a plantation tour. I’ve never even been to Oak Alley. I know I’ve been to Jean Lafitte Park for something in elementary school. But I’ve never been on the traditional “swamp tour.” But I grew up going out in the marshlands with my dad on a boat and seeing alligators and nutria, and fishing and crabbing. It seems silly to pay to do something that I did all the time with my dad. But maybe it’s different to go on a swamp tour versus being out in the marsh.
There’s definitely a lot of places where growing up I never went to, but I go there now. Like, I never went to the Bywater growing up. And now I go there all the time.
One of the things I’ve been very preoccupied with is that New Orleanians have this kit of things they bring out with them, especially in the summertime. They have a hat, their koozies and fold-out chairs. I know you keep koozies in your car! Is there anything else you don’t leave home without?
Bug spray. I am really prone to getting chewed up alive by mosquitos. I have one to two cans of bug spray in my house and my car at any given time. They come with me in my purse.
The bugs or the spray?
Both. If I were more responsible, I’d probably add sunscreen to that list.
What do you like about living in Mid City?
I love Mid City. I love that it’s a neighborhood that people are so proud of and a real community. I love all the little historic homes. The people that live here are just real local, been-in-Mid-City-forever types. When I moved in—and I’ve lived in a lot of addresses across the country— I got four housewarming gifts from different neighbors.
I love that I can walk to a couple places. I love taking the streetcar. I’m a big streetcar rider for Saints games, for Red Dress Run, for Running of the Bulls, for Mardi Gras Day. Basically any time I know I’m going to have a couple of beers, I’m going to take the streetcar downtown.
What do you do with your Mardi Gras beads?
I don’t bring them in the house. Every year I only physically walk in my car or my house with something unique. I’ll catch a lot of beads, but I’ll leave them at my friend’s house, or put them on other people or on someone’s gate. You know, the gates on St. Charles that will all have beads on them anyway. At my friend’s house she’ll put out trash cans and I think she recycles them.
What’s your favorite Mardi Gras parade?
I like Muses because it’s like the beginning of the big weekend. It’s fun to see women partying at night. My dad’s in Endymion, so that’s my favorite. It’s always a good time to be out at the parade or at the Dome. There’s something different because it’s such a big parade, the floats are incredible, it’s the only one in Mid City and my dad’s in it. I get like, real excited. Real crazy. Endymion is definitely my favorite.
What do you hope for the city?
I hope for the same thing everybody else wants… better education and less crime.
What about recycling? People in San Francisco would judge you for not saying that.
More recycling! How could I forget? And, also, I hope that real estate prices continue to go up and up and up.
Does anything in the city surprise you anymore?
Um, not really. Last year I saw a guy in costume in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week. He was waiting at the busstop and I just thought “Eh, New Orleans.”
Actually, I’m surprised when people are rude! I’m like, “Why are you being so rude? There’s no reason to be rude!”
I feel like people here are really assholes on the road. Why is that?
Yeah, they are. See, I’m not surprised by that because we’ve always been notoriously bad drivers.
I always wonder– if everyone here is so nice, why are they dicks in the car? If you put your signal on, they speed up!
I know, people are so rude in the car. It’s weird. But if you were stopped in traffic for two hours, you would roll down your window and become best friends with the same guy you were calling an asshole ten minutes ago.
This interview has been edited for length.