Monday, December 20, 2010

A city of the future in love with its past: New Orleans

Shanghai, China is not New Orleans, LA.
Say what you want about the Chinese, but I think they can build a city.  Their architects craft cityscapes informed by the aesthetics of 1930s pulp science fiction magazines.  As much as I like old places, I daydream what it must be like to stroll around Shanghai.

The lady of the house has lived in China, in a city of several million that you've never even heard of.  China is like that, a riddle wrapped in an enigma, going its own way unperturbed by the rest of the world.

New Orleans is like that too though more low-slung and closer to the mud.  I think everyone in the world has heard of New Orleans.  If not, they have at least heard of Louis Armstrong who was the biggest hearted man you could ever hope to meet.  New Orleans is like that too.

New Orleans doesn't seem to be a place of soaring ambitions with anything to prove.  It hunkers down to do what it does best, live the best life available while darning the consequences.  Things usually work out for the best, at least eventually.  Rallying against any setback, Orleanians know how to play the hand Fortune has dealt them and walk away pleased, if sometimes a bit lighter in the pockets then fuller in spirit.

I was talking to a bald man with a head shaped like a bullet.  He said, "I was born and raised here.  I lived in Chicago for awhile and I hated it; too cold and the people were the hardest people I've ever run up against.  I lived outside St. Louis too for a few years.  Man, I couldn't wait to get back to New Orleans.  Now that I'm back I'm never going to leave.  I love it here."

I've never lived in China nor St. Louis.  I spent a few months in Chicago and left unimpressed.  I've only lived in New Orleans six months and I feel like this guy.  I love it here.

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