New Orleans Needs Museum Of The Normal

The newly opened Paraplex in New Orleans is designed to give visitors a sense of the paranormal. Commentator Andrei Codrescu says, however, what people call "the other world" is the everyday world in New Orleans. He says the city is more in need of a museum of the normal.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block. The Paraplex opened in New Orleans last week. It's a museum devoted to what's politely called the paranormal.

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Unidentified Man: Have you ever seen something you couldn't explain, dreamed of being able to predict the future? Is there life after death? The Paraplex, the world's first interactive paranormal complex and science center, 4800 Canal Street, New Orleans.

BLOCK: Well, commentator Andrei Codrescu heard about the Paraplex, and he finds it redundant.

CODRESCU: There is no question that in New Orleans, what people call the other world is our everyday world. My apartment in the French Quarter had a ghost who liked to appear at midnight on New Year's Eve in the fountain, in my courtyard, in the form of a young woman who sang the Chinese national anthem, in Chinese.

My son was a ghost tour guide in the Quarter for a year, and every story he told, including the ones he thought he made up, turned out to be true. For instance, he told about a dream he had of a white-clad figure walking the roof ledge of house on Rue Royale. And then, we read in a book that the mistress of a French aristocrat, wrapped in a bed sheet, had jumped from that roof and is often seen walking around.

There are backyards with voodoo shrines in them that are found covered in blood and chicken bones in the morning. Our politicians are regularly bewitched by fairies who turn into prostitutes. Almost all of our elected officials use black magic to get into office. And, once they get there, they owe some pretty serious gratitude to ghouls, ghosts, ogres and invisible mafias.

With Mardi Gras, everything unreal becomes real. And people who put on feathers, for instance, can't remove them when the season is over and have to go to their day jobs for a year, wearing body stockings to smash down the rebel feathers all over their bodies.

Nobody in their right mind - as if such people ever existed here - believes that the floodwaters that drowned the city in Katrina can be kept back by anything but prayer and luck. Relying on the Army Corps of Engineers is more laughable than the trickle down, voodoo economics - that was not real voodoo, the way we know it.

Voodoo is here is called hoodoo, and it's the real thing. Do we need a museum of the paranormal? Hardly. We need a museum of the normal. Now that would be something to see.

BLOCK: Andrei Codrescu is author of "The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess." He calls New Orleans home.

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