I am now in New Orleans, have been since yesterday morning, and I’ve fallen in love with another city. Of course everyone always says New Orleans is great but it’s a rather different thing to hear about something and to experience that thing for one’s self, isn’t it?
There seem to be three or more different New Orleanses: Poor New Orleans (Lower Ninth, etc.), Middle- and Upper-Class New Orleans (most of the housing, the Garden District, etc. ranging from areas which are quite a bit like East Nashville or Charlotte’s Thomas Street area to neighborhoods which are more like Nashville’s Belle Meade or Charlotte’s Myers Park), and Bourbon Street. Of course you’ve all heard what Bourbon Street is like (although there are far more strip clubs than I had thought there would be).
But even though there are these different areas of the city there is a mood that pervades the whole place. It’s a sweaty mood, buzzing with energy that starts in the Upper-Class areas, builds in the Lower-Middle Class and Poor areas, and finally explodes across Bourbon Street like fireworks in its numerous neon signs. Starting as a sort of French-Caribbean-Southern Genteel thing, it reaches an animal ferocity on Bourbon Street, appealing to the basest and most human feelings inside us. There are of course different important elements of the human condition which need to exist, like wanting to help one’s fellow man and things like that, but the kind of ultimate human-ness which is so obvious on Bourbon Street needs to be acknowledged sometimes, I think. At the very least it needs to be seen as reality, and something that a person can allow and learn from and deal with.
Also, as a final word, my classmates and I discussed this a bit and it turns out that having a plastic cup of beer out on the street at any time of day in any part of the city feels like the most natural thing in the world.