Metropolitan Human Services District

My, how we love our characters in New Orleans. Which is a good thing. 

Locals still talk about Ruthie the Duck Girl, even though she died in 2008. In my neighborhood of Tremé, we have a tall man with a scraggly beard who pushes a grocery cart around, having random conversations with a street corner. Or an empty can. 

We celebrate these characters. We tenderly laugh with them. But we don’t always see that, underneath the eccentricity that makes for a funny story, is often a mental illness that is anything but funny.