It’s not “N’awlins”, however much you want it to be.
It’s not “New Or-LEENS”, unless you need it to rhyme in a song or poem.
It’s New Orleans. Pronounce without over-pronouncing. Then, you might be close.
I had all this stuff written, but it didn’t feel right.
Today, I just wanna remember these good things about my most favorite city on Earth.
When Hannah came to visit me for the first time, she took a red-eye into New Orleans. Our hotel wasn’t ready till 4pm, so we took naps on the benches in front of the cathedral. Then we went and got beignets from Cafe du Monde and sat by the river, in the grass. It was perfect.
My 21st birthday was spent handing out toiletries and what not to the homeless. It was cold. I was naive then, but it was meaningful for me at the time. I’m sure they didn’t mind. I went to a jazz club off Bourbon. “Hey man, there’s pride on Bourbon Street!”
Being the designated driver for some family members the December after Katrina. It was a ghost town until you hit Bourbon. Weird times, but memorable. Luckily, no one threw up in my Aunt’s SUV. Also, we came back home with a bike wheel.
There was the pigeon that pooped on my dad’s head, after him teasing that it was probably going to happen to me.
There’s the many field trips there as a kid. To the Audubon Zoo and the aquarium and IMAX.
When my dad was married on a steamboat. (That happened to be a surprise…)
One of my prom’s happened on a steamboat. Can’t remember if it was the Creole Queen or the Natchez.
The many random trips from Hattiesburg to New Orleans. Or for that matter, any random trip to New Orleans.
Cafe du Monde.
Abita on the street.
Anything alcoholic on the street.
Daiquiris. Paired with music that’s loud as hell.
But really, this city is so much more than the sum of any one person’s experience. And if you’ve been at any point, you’ll understand.
I hold it close. And at times, quite literally, wear it on my sleeve.
Happy Birthday, New Orleans.
And thank you. Have one on all of us.
(preferably a sazerac…)
And here’s to you, Alan Richman.