I was about 5 years old the first time I visited The Magic Kingdom. Having grown up in a small Kentucky town, population - 830, you can imagine my wonderment at seeing Disneyworld for the first time. It truly was a magical place to a little country boy who'd seen nothing but tobacco fields his whole life.
We stayed at the newly built (1971) Polynesian Resort and I can still vividly remember eating breakfast with my father in the resort's main restaurant while watching the monorails slide in and out of the building. I thought it was just about the neatest thing I'd ever seen...and actually, it may still be.
The Disneyworld monorail
I have this thing for monorails. I actually got a bigger kick out of riding it than the rides at the park itself...well with the exception of maybe Space Mountain...and the Haunted Mansion (although I think I got scared and cried). I can still remember the smell inside the monorail and how refreshing the air conditioner felt coming out of the vents below the windows...it was July in Florida and hotter than hell. The view was spectacular...even sitting backwards.
I remember listening to the recorded announcements explaining how in the future, monorails will be built around the world and become a primary means of transportation. I was daydreaming of jumping on a monorail from my little Kentucky home and heading off to Florida whenever I got a hankering.
Driving back to Kentucky from N.O. last week...I had that daydream again.
One thing about Louisiana which has always irked me is the phenomenon of what seems to be a cumulative self-esteem complex of it's inhabitants. It's like we've been told we're at the bottom of the barrel so many times we have just come to accept it as inevitable. I think we have developed a hive mind inferiority complex and it's so bad....it seems we have lost the ability to even dream. I think we cover this attitude up with sarcasm and dark humor...we laugh at our problems and make fun of our plight, ie. "Vote for the crook...it's important."
I don't know about anyone else...but I'm pretty sick of this. I don't think it's funny anymore. Corruption, crime, poverty, and poor education just don't make me laugh...no matter how you package it.
I want to dream bigger dreams...I want to believe this city and state can do better than worry about what Mississippi is up to and if they're one upping us. I want to think about what Tokyo is doing...what Dubai is doing...what Seattle is doing...then I want to do something none of them have done.
Shortly after the storm there was much talk and speculation about rebuilding our crippled city into a greater vision than what it had become before the storm. Engineers and architects from around the world were salivating at the very rare chance to rebuild a major American city. I remember seeing sketches of entire communities on stilts, homes built into levee walls, renewable energy power sources, etc.
What happened to those daring visions of a new New Orleans? It would seem the only thing we're talking about now is duct-taped pumps, corrupt, idiotic politicians, and a spiraling crime rate. What happened to the dreams? It seems the demons of self doubt have crept back in to our collective minds and now we'd be happy to just settle for working street lights.
Maybe I'm a fool, but I still have a dream.
There was some talk about building a light rail train system after the storm that would connect the state's major cities: Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Lake Charles and Shreveport. What a great idea...but why not dream an even bigger dream? What if we built the largest elevated mag-lev monorail system in the world. Why a mag-lev monorail? Because it's cooler than the other side of my pillow and no one else has done it.
An artist's vision of a futuristic suspended monorail...makes me think of Lake Pontchartrain
Can you imagine an elevated monorail that runs over the wetlands from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to Lafayette? People would ride it just for the view. It would go a long way to exposing the beauty of our wetlands and help promote our need to restore them. It could possibly remedy our airport localization issues as well....if you could hop on the monorail at Louis Armstrong National and be in Baton Rouge in 15 to 20 minutes...why build another airport closer to Baton Rouge? Think about how much of a tourism boost it would provide to B.R. and especially Lafayette. We could build a second stadium in Shreveport for the Saints to play a couple times a year...hop on the maglev monorail and be there in a couple of hours (traveling at speeds of 100 mph +). Think about what it would do to bring our state together...I would bet within 20 years, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida may even build their own systems and link with ours....but we would be the leaders...something we've never been. We could develop the mag-lev factories in Alexandria and/or Lake Charles and build an entirely new industry...as the system grows, we would become the hub for repairs and new vehicles. Who needs a Boeing factory when we've built "The Bayou Bullet" with plans to expand across the nation and perhaps North America?
Ok...that's it...that's my dream. Whaddaya think?