Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Brief Aside for 29 August 2013

So, I don't feel like there's an awful lot to add to Scarlett's updates (this is not-Scarlett). Most of what I could share that is specific to me would probably not be super interesting to a general audience and has 100% fewer babies in it (for now).

I don't feel like I have any particularly suitable words of a memorial nature on this day, but I did want to maybe write a little something about a certain 295-year-old. If you know what day it is and don't know what I'm talking about, well, I guess that's OK. Just don't tell me.

So, in my not-so-vast experience, people tend to either love or hate their home town. I'm sure there's some people out there who feel apathetic, but I don't know that I've ever met one. Let's say you fall into the first camp; you probably have a whole list of reasons why your city/town/patch-of-nowhere is the best or at least among the best. Folks from New Orleans are basically the same, with a small difference: I think probably many people who love, say, Chicago or Nashville or, I don't know, Boise would say "Sure, Chicago/Nashville/Boise is my favorite city, but I'm sure other people have good reasons for disagreeing or might like other cities for different reasons." Again, speaking in generalities, New Orleanians know that there is a very simple explanation for why you don't think New Orleans is the best city in (at the very least) the US. You are wrong. I would say that we don't hold it against you, but that's not really true. We don't think you're stupid, necessarily. More likely, we just try to figure out what character flaw you might possess that would lead you to such a patently ridiculous conclusion.

Maybe you just really really like paying a lot for mediocre food. Maybe you hate live music and/or festivals. Maybe you went to the French Quarter and threw up one time and think that's all there is to do. Maybe you prefer to live in a place that's sanitized for your protection (does that phrase still appear in public bathrooms? Or is it like the picture of the floppy disk on "save" buttons now?). Maybe you're a racist. Maybe not.

It seems to be especially common in Germany (although by no means exclusively here) for nearby towns to have not completely friendly rivalries over which should be considered better. Are you from the wrong side of the Rhine (i.e. across from the speaker)? The only suitable gesture is a disdainful shake of the head. Or, in the US, I'm aware of rivalries between Seattle and Portland or Boston and New York. Or LA and New York. Or probably lots of other cities and LA and New York. Probably there are a number of cities who consider themselves rivals with New Orleans, or at least deserving the same level of appreciation. Rather than try to explain how the sort of NOLA resident I've been describing might feel about such claims, I'll share this quote. When asked to comment about the Saints' rivalry with the 2000 Rams, Joe Horn said "I don’t see it as a rivalry. In a rivalry you go back and forth. I win one, you win one. We've beaten them three of the last four. They've got to do better than that to be our rivals." Mobile likes to say that they have the first Mardi Gras celebration in America. I suppose this may be true. But if it is, shouldn't they be better at it by now? And that's not really to knock Mobile, but apart from that last sentence, you'll rarely if ever hear a New Orleanian comparing Mardi Gras-s (Mardis Gras?); it just wouldn't make sense. I won't dignify the other city that springs to mind by mentioning it.

Anyway, so if for some reason you're still reading, why am I writing this? Do I just feel like I don't get enough opportunity to be belligerent at work? Maybe. I have enjoyed other cities I've visited and lived in. But I've never watched a band play their only three songs on the concrete slab that used to one of the band members' home (while drinking red drink) in Boise. I've never stayed up until I was half-crazed so that I could make signs for (and not accidentally sleep through) a parade in Mobile. I've never listened to a (probably objectively shady) guy recite Poe while reclining on a motorcycle in Chicago or New York. I've never eaten found bananas or accidentally gone to a blues and barbecue festival or been the worst Bishop or played really ill-advised graveyard sardines anywhere but in New Orleans.

If there's a point in here somewhere, I think I've probably made it. This is far from the most eloquent tribute imaginable, and there are folks who are significantly more hardcore NOLA than I. But in case you've ever gotten annoyed with a New Orleanian for expecting you to agree that there's no city like ours, try to be understanding. Not everyone knows how to handle being right.

1 comment:

  1. For better, worse, indifferent or all the above, there is no other place like New Orleans. Wear it well.