|Corner of N. Tonti and Barracks Streets, New Orleans, LA|
Let's face it; Wewoka, Oklahoma is nobody's favorite city, at least nobody that I've ever spoken with, and that's including the people who live there. I'm not saying I don't like Wewoka. Far from it. I'm just saying it is far down on my list of favorites.
A lot of places are like that.
When the tide goes out, that's when you'll see who's naked. I had no reason for typing that except that it popped into my head just now.
Apropos of the conversation, I decided to list five things today that I like about New Orleans, five of the things that make this my favorite city. Lists are good ways to build blog traffic but you have to put the fact that you are featuring a list in the title. Otherwise, nobody knows you're giving away a list. Nobody's ever said I was savvy about these things. If you happened to land on this page by happenstance, more power to you. Maybe you'll browse the deep archives we maintain for your perusal. Maybe you'll be tempted to visit New Orleans. If you are tempted, I can tell you that reason number 6 of why I love New Orleans is because La Belle Esplanade is in New Orleans. You'll love La Belle Esplanade.
Let's begin. We are going to proceed without illustrations. You'll have to use your imagination until you get here.
Number One: Just before the wee small hours of the night turn into the wee small hours of the morning, if you are on City Park Avenue in New Orleans, your eyes will be drawn to a beacon that never dims its neon: Bud's Broiler. It's a 24-hour hamburger stand. Step in for a Number 9 with onions, an order of fries, and a frosty bottle of Heineken. Life doesn't get any better in a city that refuses to keep normal hours or normal habits.
Number Two: You can't get a good bagel in New Orleans.
Sure, there is Humble Bagel on Freret Street, but they keep funny hours that I can never keep track of and Freret Street is far out of the way. Plus, their bagels are very puffy; they hardly have a hole.
Sure, there's Manhattan Jack, but just about every woman in there is wearing yoga pants, not that that matters because every scruffily bearded man in there is staring at his phone. And don't forget the slow discombobulated service, but hey, they have an iPad instead of a cash register!
Sure, there is also Maple Street Patisserie and Deli on Eighth Street of Magazine. I had a bagel there this morning and it was a predictable disappointment. I was walking past a trash can after finishing half the everything bagel I had purchased and I thought, "I wouldn't mind throwing this away." So I did.
This isn't New York. You shouldn't expect good bagels in New Orleans, and I no longer do. That's one reason New Orleans is my favorite city. I am forced to accept New Orleans on its own terms. It's liberating. I don't need to go to Panera Bread Company on N. Carrollton Avenue---their bagels aren't any good either.
[We interrupt this blog for a short commercial message featuring Joanne Worley...]
Number Three: Whenever we're in the Riverbend, which isn't often enough and looks nothing like Fodor's describes, Frau Schmitt and I like to stop at Cooter Brown's. They serve the best pastrami sandwich in the city, and they have a very extensive beer selection, but the reason I like Cooter Brown's is the collection of celebrity caricatures that line the walls around all the rooms. These are celebrities I know, like W.C. Fields, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Gleason, and Albert Einstein. They don't have Miley Cyrus, at least not that I've seen, though, I have to admit, I have only the vaguest idea of what Miley Cyrus looks like nowadays. Cooter Brown's is also justly famous for its oysters. 'nuff said.
Number Four: Oysters with caviar. I was just talking to a guest from Japan and she asked me for a good seafood restaurant. I don't recommend it often, but I recommend it often enough because I do enjoy the Bourbon House, even on a bad day. Is is the greatest restaurant in New Orleans? No. Not by a long shot. But, the Bourbon House does deliver good oysters, especially when they are delivered with a little spoonful of caviar on top.
[Another commercial message featuring the inimitable Joanne Worley...]
Number Five: In New Orleans, people dance like nobody is watching. People live according to the dictates of their hearts. Faith, hope, and charity are a way of life. Whether you are a gangster or a comedian, whether you are a banker or a busker, whether you are waiter, a secretary, a carpenter, a shoe store clerk, a supermarket cashier, a bricklayer, a plumber, a stripper, a gutter punk or a minister, you do your best to be the best New Orleanian you can be. We are all in this big shebang together. Be nice or leave. Most people who move to New Orleans stay.
Whatever you are known for best, be it a comedian or a gangster, you know how to dance like you mean it. It's all jazz in the end. Every day is a joyful improvisation. And there is tap-dancing, too.
If you want to learn more, come to New Orleans for a few nights. A longer visit is better than a shorter one. Better a day in New Orleans than a week wherever else you are thinking of visiting. A week in New Orleans will inaugurate a new chapter in your understanding of life. New Orleans air sets a soul free. Take a deep breath and be careful what you wish for. It'll be better than good.
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade
...Like Kleenex Tissues, the only real choice.