Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Orleans

Why I Love New Orleans and What Must be Done

New Orleans is the richest cultural town in America. Its tradition of jazz, Cajun food, and party atmosphere cannot be beat. Moreover, it is a city that is unique in that its best traditions were born and bred on our own soil. Yet 3 years after the hurricane we still have not rebuilt Charity Hospital (the parish hospital that provides medical services for the indigent) and USA Today reported earlier this week that over $300 million in disaster relief has gone undistributed for necessary repairs. How can this happen in America ? Why are we as fellow Americans allowing this to happen ? Where is the shovel ready stimulus package money going ? Rather than build a new plant in Virginia, why not start by strengthening on a massive scale the levees that are suppose to protect our country’s most culturally unique city ? Who hasn’t come to New Orleans for a seminar ? Outside of Vegas, no venue comes remotely close to the perfect place to combine work and play. Our government turned its back on New Orleans before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. We need to make New Orleans a government priority, not just for the citizens of New Orleans but for the rest of us that value the diverse culture that makes our country so great. Lawmakers, take heed and action. Fellow citizens do your part by coming to New Orleans with your own stimulus package. No city ever needed it or deserved it more. Now for why I love New Orleans…

The European row style buildings and quaint cottage industry feel of the French Quarter makes one feel they have left the country back to a time where one expects to see a colonial dressed in a powder wig and knickers round the corner. The streets are lined with restaurants that open up to the warm, breezy atmosphere by numerous open French doors. The shops are filled with trinkets designed to make one happy: colorful beads, boas, party hats and shot glasses of every make imaginable. The character of the people are as colorful as their beads. Smiling men and women of every persuasion beckon you into their lair of either food, music, or bar (many of which offer 2 or 3 for 1). Just walking down the street one hears the notes of saxophones and trumpets fill the air (my favorite jazz is in the open brick courtyard of Steamboat Willie’s on Bourbon where he has been playing many a night for many a year). Breakfast is superb at Petunia’s and The Coffee Pot3, just to name a few. Jazz brunches at The Court of Two Sisters and Palace CafĂ© (love to listen to the Michael Buble sounding jazz band) take dining to new pleasurable heights. I love to spend my lazy afternoons after a leisurely Cajun lunch (my favorites to include boudin, red beans and rice, crawfish etoufee, turtle soup, and shrimp remoulade) and specialty drinks or a bottle of wine lounging out on either the lawns or wrought iron benches of Jackson Square reading a book while looking up at the supremely beautiful landscape of the majestic Andrew Jackson statue, steepled church and blue skies while hearing the Queen of the Natchez steamboat coming in on the Mississippi tooting its horn and music amidst the jazz coming in from all directions on Jackson Square where street performers and artists congregate. The shopping is unique and includes everything from old gun shops, antiques (the best are on Royal Street), vintage clothes, praline chcocolate shops to a store selling antique toy soldiers. If this is sounding like something that would only appeal to the senior crowd, just wait until you hit Bourbon Street at night ! What other city in the world can you walk down watching women flash their wares for beads and it is tradition ! Modern shopping and movie going is just down the street at the 3 storied chic mall where one can buy the finest New York fashions. Most of all, I love the people of New Orleans. They are the most openminded, good spirited folks you can find this side of Amsterdam. Meals with friends in this city last hours over a good few bottles of champagne and wine topped with bread pudding and coffees ending with shots and beers on Bourbon Street where everyone lets their hair loose (the late night pizza and Lucky Dogs you get on the street and in bars are superb). If I hadn’t been born a Texan, I would like to have been born in this city where life takes on a flavor of ‘reward yourself because there may not be a tomorrow’. At the end of the day, it is good to remember you can’t take it with you. New Orleans is my heaven on earth. It’s where I unwind after a season full of trials, seminars or on vacation. I haven’t even gotten to the local cigars they make here or the darling trolleys they use for mass transportation or their riverboat rides or casino gaming. No list on the pleasures of New Orleans would ever be complete. I encourage everyone to treat yourself to some much deserved living by visiting this bastion of pleasure and creating your own list. Most of all, do it now- not just for you but for your fellow New Orleanians that make it happen when they still need it most. Happy Mardi Gras 2009 !

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