From the spring edition of Southern Breeze Magazine, a nice article about New Orleans and its residents:
Like Clark Kent’s transformation into Superman, Ritz-Carlton server Daniel Victory shows his New Orleans pride
Maybe it’s always been there, but maybe it’s become more apparent since Hurricane Katrina. One thing is certain: New Orleanians love their city! And they don’t care who knows!
You see it on car bumpers: a slogan touting the Crescent City or the ubiquitous fleur de lis. Ahhh, those fleur de lis…they’re everywhere and not just on the baseball caps of New Orleans Saints fans. It has become the unofficial logo of this city that came so close to…well, we all know what could have happened. As bad as Katrina was, all New Orleanians hold one truth self-evident: it could’ve
been a lot worse!
The old saying goes that “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” almost happened. Luckily, New Orleanians do know what they have—a one-of-a-kind culture like nowhere else in America. Sure, they celebrate Mardi Gras in Mobile and you can get great shrimp po-boys in Biloxi and jazz fills the streets of St. Louis and Memphis…but it’s just not the same. It’s just not New Orleans.
New Orleans has inspired writers as diverse as William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, John Kennedy Toole, Mark Twain, Anne Rice, and legions of others. Singers, songwriters, and musicians have memorialized its people and places through the ages from the smoky sounds of Louis Armstrong to the revelatory soul of the Neville Brothers to Harry Connick Jr.’s silky crooning to the rollicking rhythms of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band or the Southern fried rock of Gov’t Mule. Strains of jazz, blues, rock, country, soul, R and B, Zydeco…they all coalesce with the heavenly aroma of the food that is only one part of the city’s distinctive magic.
And do I need to even discuss the food? I thought not. The term “culinary tourism” was created for New Orleans because where else would you rather be and spend your entire vacation sampling one mouth-watering delicacy after another? As for before and after dinner drinks: Hurricanes? Sazerac cocktails? Dixie Beer? It’s all good!
But all of this—the music, literature, food, drink, culture, architecture—would not amount to a pile of red beans and rice without the people. New Orleanians are proud, resilient, and a force to be reckoned with. Strike up a conversation with any local—native or transplant, it doesn’t matter—and you would think they all work for the Convention and Visitors Bureau!
But they all have one thought in the back of their collective minds they dare not
utter: “We almost lost it all.” True, some scars are far from healed, neighborhoods still stand in a “Katrina time warp” and they grieve for a city that will be
whole again. And while New Orleanians have always had a celebratory spirit, they fight just as hard to bring back City Park, Lakeview, and all their brothers and sisters scattered across the country.
Proud without being boastful, New Orleanians have rallied around their city and each other. As the population begins to inch upward to pre-K levels, old businesses
reopening bigger and better than before and new ones moving in, the streets, restaurants, shops, museums, parks, schools, theaters, and hotels are flooded
with old neighbors and new friends, natives and newbies.
After a recent trip to New Orleans, I started to lament the brevity of
my visit before I got across Lake Ponchatrain. I finally started to understand Satchmo’s jazz classic…now I know what it means to miss New Orleans (but I’ll be heading back as soon as I can!)
—Mark A. Newman
Mark said this article will be online in the near future, but I just wanted to share it now.