Robert E. Lee is off in storage, and the New Orleans traffic circle that bears his name is now a blank slate. And you know what happens with blank slates: People start imagining how to make them less blank.
This week, after Fats Domino died, an idea started rocketing around social media: How about filling that empty space with a memorial to the beloved, home-grown rock-and-roll pioneer?
Domino's legacy couldn't be more different from the Confederate general's, or the movement that led to the erection of a statue in his honor in a city with which he had no personal connection.
Domino was world-famous but never wanted to leave, not just the city but the struggling Lower Ninth Ward, where he rode out Hurricane Katrina. His music not only crossed but helped break down racial barriers. And besides, what sounds more New Orleanian than making plans to meet at Fats Circle on Fat Tuesday?
After more than nine hours of labor, workers successfully removed the statue of Robert E. Lee from his pedestal at Lee Circle on Friday...
Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr., the pianist, singer and lifelong New Orleanian who was among the …
Not that a re-imagined Lee Circle would have to honor just one of the city's towering musical figures. Domino's death is a reminder of how lucky people here are to have such legends living in their midst. Memories of treasured personal encounters flooded the internet this week, just as they did when Allen Toussaint died in 2015.
The space's fate will likely be up to the next mayor and City Council. So far, about all the candidates have said is that they'd like to create something unifying, and this would fit the bill. Outgoing mayor Mitch Landrieu, who led the drive to remove Lee and three other monuments of the era, has floated the idea of installing a fountain, and that would actually work with the musical theme.
Maybe we could call it "Pete."