Man, is it steamy out here this afternoon. And why not? It’s late summer in the deep south’s marshy lowlands. There’s been a blessed weeklong dry spell allowing the floodwaters from the latest vicious storm to recede. I’m swatting away another ravenous, hummingbird-sized mosquito and keeping an eye on the raggedy thicket of brown grasses off to the left. If that isn’t the perfect home to a horde of gators, then I’ve never seen one. The iced beer goes down like life-nourishing holy water. A palpable sign there’s a God after all. I’ve changed shirts twice and I’m soaking through a third. Most of the guys don’t even wear shirts. Of course, most of the guys aren’t sixty. I misplaced my six-pack decades ago. A few too many six-packs, I suppose. The girls aren’t wearing much either. Their glistening contours are everywhere I turn. Milton was right about ‘silver linings.’ The energy is picking up in the joint, the crowd thickening, the din intensifying. The tall pole lights emit their wavelike, flickering beams through the stifling heat. A fog has
10 MUST-TRY RESTAURANTS (& WHAT TO ORDER) New Orleans has serious soul. Its rich heritage and distinct culture are discernable with all five senses. There’s music everywhere! And not just classic New Orleans jazz. Ten-piece brass bands congregate on street corners, and talented, solo rappers spit beats (the city gave us Lil Wayne, after all). I can’t imagine a quiet New Orleans. There’s a celebration for everything, and the city goes all out. New Orleans remains alive 24 hours a day, partially because the nightlife rolls straight into the morning. Beads aren’t just prominent around Mardi Gras: If you look up, you’ll likely find a few strapped in the trees and balconies year-round. La Nouvelle, as it once was called, is dressed in history; the diverse architecture reflects the city’s unique past. Its earliest roots were with the French (1718), overlain by the Spanish and personalized by residents from the Caribbean Isles. By the time Americans took over in 1803, each culture had left its distinctive mark. You’ll notice brightly painted Creole cottages in the French Quarter, and the most
I imagine myself to be one of a minority of people who prefer New Orleans in the morning. Give me bright sunshine, with palm fronds glistening, the heat and humidity already both menacing and languid, the streets webbed with runnels of fresh water dripping from hanging ferns and washing away the vomit of the night before. Few places blend garbage and beauty so well as New Orleans—no place does better, except maybe Naples, Italy. The garbage makes quite a few visitors nervous, especially folks I have known from the Midwest. But garbage is an important part of the city, and really it is hardly fair to separate it from the city’s haunting European-style beauty. For there is a lovely aesthetic in the gleaming black of 40-gallon garbage bags filled to bursting with the left-overs of some of the finest restaurants in the world. Piled in mute excess, even in the Vieux Carré, bulged like old-time friars dozing into accomplishing daylight, they emblematize the genuine love of pleasure over work and efficiency the city has always been better at than the
The Stand Up Economist “I spend a lot of time with kids, so it’s great to be here with you adults today. At my age, ‘pulling an all-nighter’ means sleeping through the night without having to get up to pee.” “You’ve put me up in a wonderful hotel, just beautiful. The towels are so fluffy I could barely close my suitcase. Thank you, it’s really working out for me here.” “By the way, did you know that ‘La Quinta,’ in Spanish, means ‘Next to Denny’s?’ Most people don’t know that.” “The economy and stock market are very late in this cycle. As evidence, I’ve made so much money in the market I pay someone to walk around with my Fitbit.” “But things are getting concerning now. For instance, I was watching CNN, and Wolf Blitzer’s report on the economy was making even me nervous. And by the way, if my name were ‘Wolf,’ the last thing I’d do is grow a beard.” “My theory on the interest rate cycle of the past forty years is that rates have been a
The walls shook as the ferocity of the Cat 5 hurricane bore down on the old wooden structures in the historic French Quarter. As water began to flood the buildings, wall panels began ripping off piece by piece as poor souls witnessed their lives being swept away by one of the most destructive hurricanes of the century. A City Underwater New Orleans, August 29, 2005 — forces of nature had decimated the city and robbed the population of its beloved lifestyle. The faithful had no churches in which to worship. The athletes had no fields or stadiums in which to practice. The old men had no park to play their chess, and the already hungry and impoverished parts of the city had no clean water to quench their thirst. On this fateful day, even hope had drowned in the floods. This soulful city found itself underwater as its citizens, frazzled, pleaded for help. Thousands were stranded in arenas while others yelled and created SOS signs on their rooftops. The Big Easy fell victim to bad levees and poorly maintained infrastructures.