Sunday, October 02, 2011

Big and easy... to dislike

I've been living in southern Mississippi for two years now and I can count on one hand the amount of times I've been in New Orleans. People down here rave about it. I have friends that go from Biloxi all the time. Some from Florida. It's an aggregation point for people all looking for... something. I will admit that structurally and architecturally the city is absolutely gorgeous. I love the old European ornate facades on the building and all the wrought iron work throughout. Walking around during the day to take pictures, for example, it's a nice place, but as far as I'm concerned, that's as far as it goes.

Other than that, I don't understand what's to love about it. The people there are awful. For starters they are rude to out of towners, which is amazing for a town that thrives on tourism. The shop owners are ok, but the people on the street are just generally bastards. They go where they want to go and if you're there - too bad. That's the reputation that New Yorkers have because we move fast. We will swerve around you, not bowl you over.

Speaking of the world bowl... that's how the city is shaped, AND it's below sea level, AND the Gulf of Mexico is on one side AND Lake Ponchartrain is on the other. Fill a sink with water and submerge a bowl and see what happens. I'll wait. Back? So that was Hurricane Katrina. When you did it, were you surprised at what happened? They were. I understand that Katrina was the worst hurricane we've ever seen but that bitch COVERED the Gulf of Mexico. People were told to bug out while they had a change. They didn't and then they complained. Are you kidding me?

I'm not sure I would have known the difference before or after Katrina came through. If you've ever been on Bourbon Street after dark it's a disaster anyway. It is covered in shit (literal horse shit) and smells like urine. You'll more than likely step in vomit if you go down a smaller side street. Drunk people clutter the streets to the point you can't move. You wear things you don't particularly care about in case they get ruined. And then there's the nudity. Believe me, I love a topless lady as much as the next guy, but drunk, sloppy yanking your shirt off for plastic beads while being groped or licked by strangers (as is a common scene there) is just pure filth.

The language is the other thing that bugs me. It's a combination of southern and French, infused with just a bit of uneducated and it's called Cajun. Cultural pride is awesome. Believe me, I love my ethnicity and heritage and the culture and traditions that come with it. I have an Italian flag tattooed on my forearm. But culture cannot trump the ability to interact with the public at large. Your language and speech patterns may be part of your culture but you thrive on tourism so be able to speak to tourists and have them understand your words.

While we're on the topic of language, let's talk about your football team. For starters, the Saints are not the best team ever. They were the worst team ever (all 43 years of their existence) that had A good year. So, back to language and football. "Who Dat?" is not awesome. You wanna know who dat is? Dat is the guy that sound like he can't pass 2nd grade English. Dat is the guy that I wouldn't hire to sweep the floors. After they won the super bowl, "Who Dat?" became "Two Dat!" which obviously didn't go very far. It just sounds uneducated and ignorant.

Every place on Earth has its share of people who act that way. The difference is that New Orleans (pronounced, and sometimes spelled, as Nawlins by the locals) is PROUD of it. They are resistant to bettering themselves and appearing more productive. I have no love for that city and don't understand those that do. I'm not faulting or condemning. I just don't get it. I've asked bunches of that frequent the city, "Why is it cool?" and they say a) because it's awesome (not an explanation), b) because there's no place like it (there's no place like prison and that's a good thing. Still doesn't tell me why New Orleans is cool), c) they talk about the nightlife (which you can get anywhere and you said there's n place like it). I have not yet gotten one person to really explain the infatuation. Cuisine would be a partially acceptable answer. The French inspired, Cajun cuisine is fairly unique, but nobody has ever claimed it in conversation with me.

I guess living here on the Gulf Coast I hear about New Orleans constantly. I Get told I should go more often. People get irritated with me when I say "I'm not interested" and I get responses like, "What's wrong with you? It's awesome. You need to go." If you know me then you know that forcefulness gets you nowhere with me. I do not NEED to go. There's nothing wrong with me. I have an opinion and it differs from yours. Move along.

Save critical comments. It's a personal feeling. I don't like the place. I stated why. If you like it, go there and hang out. I've been. I've checked it out. My decision has been made on first hand information, not blind hate for something I've never seen. It is what it is.


Anonymous said...

I have been to New Orleans one time! Yes I was to young to party or enjoy it since I was in High School and there as part of the March Band for the parade but I was grossed out by the sight of it all.. Mom said she would take me there when I turned 21 and I laughed and said NO thanks!!! I have to agree with your blog!

Anonymous said...

I get it New Orleans isn't your cup of tea. But your whole comment on Katrina would be the equivalent of someone doing a home experiment to explain WTC towers. It was tasteless and classless. Had you lost people to Katrina I am pretty sure you'd be a little more sensitive and respectful.No mention of music in the article either. So because you don't like blues/jazz it rates no mention or adds no value? In my 20's I loved N.O. for its party hard attitude, I was young and it was a place where I could let it all hang out and get crazy drunk and laid, a domestic version of Cancun. In my 30's I fell in love with music and the cusine of the city because as I matured so did my taste. In my 40's It was the architecture and history of the city, its ability to recover from Katrina plus my past memories that made me fall in love all over again. So there is your clear definition of why one person loves this city.- Dan Rodriguez

Jason said...

I actually dig Jazz, but my disdain for the city is greater than my enjoyment of jazz. I'm not a fan of what happened during Katrina by any means, but any time someone tells you to leave to save yourself and you don't leave, you lose the right to complain in my book. The solution was given, you chose not to take i.

As far as recovery goes, you should spend time here on the gulf coast. New Orleans gets next to no respect from nearly every surrounding town. Years after the event, these towns picked up, came together and fixed their city while NO was still waiting for gov't assistance. And many other towns were/are not better off financially but made it happen. And countless military friends deployed to NO to help with Katrina relief efforts and got treated like shit by the denizens.

I love the architecture, as I mentioned. As hard as I partied in my early 20s (the same age range when I first saw Bourbon St), I couldn't stand to be there for the filth and crowds (no stranger to crowds being from NY, but NO crowds are awful).

I dislike the cuisine but don't hold that against the city. Just not my cup of tea.

You love it and I can see why. That's the answer. A clear cut definition of why it moves you. You're the only person who has been able to articulate that, of all the people I've polled.

Anonymous said...

Gulf ares other than N.O. got tons of Govt aid due to having republican governors (do your research, don't believe the hype especially Miss and Ala)everything else is your opinion which is your right ,especially in America, which I respect.I have relatives who live in Hurricane Zones and without transportation (ie a car or some other vehicles) people were left stranded like the folks in hospitals ,old age homes and disabled vets. That was the greatest failure, - DR

Jason said...

My research consist of first hand experience the eyewitness accounts of people I've known almost as long as you that also live in areas from Houston across to Tallahassee. While there may have been a disparity in financial restitution, there was a difference in effort as well.

This piece was not about Katrina and hurricane zones (I live in one), or the failure of FEMA. It wasn't politically charged.

I get sold on NO every day. I'm not a fan. People get belligerent telling me I that SHOULD be. I'm not. It's that simple. Some people don't like vegetables, other's don't like action movies and some just hate country music. Nobody pulls that "you have to like it" shit about that.

I like the architecture of the city. I like the history. Current day social scene is disgusting. Cuisine doesn't appeal to me. The place is constantly filthy.