So, you’re headed to New Orleans for a vacation. I’ve never been there myself, but I’ve seen some movies, read a lot about it, and I order the N’awlins Skillet at Applebee’s all the time. Here are some things you’re going to want to know.
There’s this one area of New Orleans where they’ve created a street canal filled with
bourbon. This was done to celebrate the the patron saint of New Orleans, “Mardi Gras.” Mardi was French, born on a Tuesday, and was very fat. The Greeks called him “Bacchus,” but the French had to make up their own name for him (they do that). Every year, people from all over the world come to New Orleans on Mardi Gras’ birthday, drink from the street of bourbon, and wear masks so their bosses won’t recognize their pictures that will end up on Facebook and Twitter.
New Orleans is also the only man-made island-city in the continental US. It is surrounded by a lake, a river, and the ocean. Since it’s below sea level, they had to build a giant wall (called a levee) around the city to keep the water out, otherwise, the water would seep in and seriously dilute the bourbon canal. The wall also helps keep the alligators out. They’re very thick in some places, and they live in swampy areas called “Bayous,” where it’s hard to distinguish between land and water. Despite the gator danger, some brave locals like to take their boats out into the water to go fishing. Sometimes folks fall in, at which point, they’re pretty much gator food. “Bye, you” (Bayou) is about the only thing left to say at this point. Late at night, if you listen carefully, you can hear the ghostly cries of the souls lost to the Bayou: “Aiyeeeeeeee!”
Some of the best music in the world comes from New Orleans. It’s a wonderfully inclusive musical culture. At any given moment, any old anybody can start a parade just by blowing on a trumpet. They even have a very “special” kind of musical parade reserved just for second chair band students. They call these groups “second line,” and they’re just so cute. Whenever I hear the second line, I just wanna reach out and squeeze some cheeks and say “Keep trying! You’ll make it to the first line soon!” There’s also Cajun music, which is good for dancing and storytelling, though it’s hard to understand the words, so I’m not entirely sure about the storytelling part. Zydeco music is a little like Cajun music, only faster, and they borrow some of the off-duty second line drummers and saxophonists to fill out the sound a bit. It’s still hard to understand all the words.
You’ll want to know about the Cajun people when you visit New Orleans, as well. The Cajuns are basically French Canadians who left Canada in search of decent spicy Mexican food. They got in their boats, and ended up at the end of the Mississippi River (New Orleans). There, they discovered crawdads, shrimp, turtle, and even some alligator, mixed it with Mexican spices, and created many wonderful new Cajun dishes: gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice. My favorite is “Étouff, eh?” This genre of food is also referred to as “French-Mex.”
The New Orleans healthcare system consists solely of shamans and psychics. In fact, the head of the New Orleans Medical Association is a rather famous shaman-psychic: Miss Cleo.
She rose to power with a welcoming open-door policy which allows her patients to call her 24/7, 365 days a year. Despite no documented cases of actual medical, psychic, emotional, or other assistance, Miss Cleo continued to rise in popularity, and cared for a good number of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Children.” Miss Cleo later moved to Seattle and took up acting, but her legacy remains. The Voodoo Children remain in New Orleans, and many have opened their own private “medical offices.”
I hope this has been a helpful summary of New Orleans for you. In closing, my Bibliography:
- Easy Rider, the movie
- Applebee’s N’awlins Skillet, menu description
- The internet
- That one song about the Bayou they play on Sesame Street
- A strange dream I had after buying a sparkly red accordion from a neighbor’s yard sale.