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What’s special about New Orleans?

What is it about this city that keep us here?  Not our elected officials, that’s for sure.  Not the poor education system.  And not the arduous task of rebuilding a city that was already in bad shape before we got slammed.  It’s something indescribable, as Chris Rose eloquently points out.  One thing about New Orleans is that it engages your attention in strange ways, or as Rose writes: "You can’t sleepwalk here; you will fall into a pothole."

I don’t want to live in a city that makes it easy for me to muddle along.  So, if potholes will keep me on my toes then so be it.  There are a lot of things here that make life special  I have my own list, but what do YOU think makes New Orleans special?  Please leave me a comment.

P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.


  • Loki says:

    Here the history is not dry as dust. It is a damp, sticky, sultry vapor that you inhale with each breath.

    It is the 200 year old house that your friend lives in, shaded bu live oaks and festooned with night blooming jasmine.

    It is the combination of hope and despondancy, joi de vive and awareness of mortality.

    New Orleans is a semi-retired Lady of The Evening, chainsmoking on her porch while drinking mint juleps and telling tales of bedding french royals and Edwin Edwards. Aging and covered with makeup she still sports a shapely figure and her flirtations make you pause. Now seh is in intensive care, but still demands her cigarrettes, coffe, and booze. Between dizzy spells she still spins amazing tales, the truth of which is inconsequential.

  • amieo says:

    New Orleanians celebrate the sacred and the profane in unison… live it as no other city in the USA can or will or could if they wanted. I miss it.

  • Scott says:

    New Orleans has always been a mystical, magical, majestic place. Some people say that since the storm, New Orleans has lost her charm. While this may be partially true, a New Orleans with only a quarter of it’s charm is still 10 times more charm than any other city has. There is just a way of life here that is more vibrant and exciting than any other place. People here know that life, love and happiness come before work. Those are the things are the most important in life.

    Great job Ernie! Hope to see you soon.

  • Fervid says:

    Good points, all. I’m from Seattle, which is one of the sleep-walkingest towns in the US, at least for the generally fortunate class. Garrison Keillor even once said something similar in his “Mr Blue” column for, and I found it so true. You can get along fine here just muddling along, and so one tends to sort of slide down that chute, whether one means to or not.

    I think this is why I love New Orleans so much, cause I always WAKE UP down there. But, lazy as I am, I still live in Seattle.

    Thinking of you all a lot these days,F.

  • John says:

    Good post, Ernie. I also liked Nola Mom’s post on the Katrina anniversary. (

  • Lisa says:

    The people…. I know thats what everyone says, but there wouldnt be music and food and parades without each of the individuals that contribute to those things. The New Orleans people are unlike any I have met anywhere. Incredible hearts and spirit.

  • Everything, if you think of it, or many things at once make NOLA special on the US and world cultural map. It’s a special mix, a jambalaya of cultures blended into one, history, music, humidity, low grounds, levees and hurricane season, French/Spanish/English/Creole/Cajun, streetcars and St. Charles Ave., the French Quarter and the Superdome, potholes and jazz, laced balconies and shotgun houses on brick foundations, and more.