Well, I never thought it’d happen to lil’ ole me but my new book, Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour, has been on Amazon for almost a year now and it’s still a bestseller, in the top 5 in its category!
Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour Remains Bestseller on Amazon!
So here’s an interview I did with monster Internet maven Dion GeBorde about alla dat.
Click the Buy Now button below to get your copy of my bestselling travel guide
Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour
It used to be $0.99. Now you can get it for only $3.47.
But hurry, I may be raising the price in the near future. So now is the time to get it.
Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. You can get a free Kindle reader for your computer. Download the Kindle app. for your Mac HERE. Download the Kindle app. for your PC HERE.
It’s been ten years now since Hurricane Katrina barreled through New Orleans causing the badly designed, poorly built and terribly managed federal levee system to fail. We all know about the terrible flooding that ensued, the lives lost and the billions of dollar in property damaged.
New Orleans is still working it’s way out of the mess. Everyone who lived here during that time has their own story to tell, some more dramatic than others.
Denise Lewis Patrick has written Finding Someplace, a novel for young people about those fateful days. It’s an easy read and one that I found difficult to put down. It tells the story of Reesie and her family who live in the Lower Ninth Ward and what they have to endure when the hurricane hits the city.
Creative, imaginative Reesie is just about to turn 13, and the day before the storm hits she and the family are making preparations for a big blowout birthday party for the next day. Of course, the reader knows what is about to happen, that Reesie’s dreams are about to get shattered.
The author very successfully builds an intense feeling of suspense and doom which anyone who has lived through a hurricane is familiar with, especially one as huge and destructive as Hurricane Katrina. I could feel my chest tightening and pulse quickening as I read for I’ve experienced several hurricanes myself.
And we all know what happened in the Lower Nine when the canal wall broke and buried most of that neighborhood under water. Through circumstances beyond her control Reesie is stuck there and makes it through the storm in the house of her elderly friend Miss Martine. The house is flooded and they have to bust a hole in the roof to survive and eventually get rescued.
The story picks up a few months later when we find that Reesie has moved to New Jersey with her mother. Her father, a New Orleans cop, has chosen to stay in the city to help with the recovery, a choice that has irked Reesie’s mother and caused a rift in their marriage.
Although this book is meant for young people, it’s a great read for older folks as well. The characters are expertly drawn, the buildup to the storm is rich and suspenseful. The follow up a few months later when the characters are dealing with living in a strange and different culture, New Jersey, gives you the feeling of what it was like for many people to have to leave their beloved home and try to make it somewhere else, even if only for a time.
For those who don’t know about Hurricane Katrina this is a great introduction to it. For those who do, it provides a visceral story of thousands who experienced the drama and suspense of dealing with the hurricane and being uprooted from New Orleans, the place that gives them life and fills their soul.
You know we all talk about New Orleans culture and what it is and all the different aspects of it from the food, music, architecture, way of life. And most folks who come here see it as a beautiful city worth visiting because it is different and colorful and interesting, the can eat great food, and party down.
James Carville Quote About New Orleans Culture Nails It
But I think what a lot of folks don’t get, and I would include some New Orleanians in this as well, is that although we are a city, a three hundred year old city, we also are very different from the rest of the United States.
Most locals don’t realize this till they move away, feel strangely starved for something that is almost intangible, and then get sucked back to the city and finally feel as if they are really living again. If you were to ask a died in the wool citizen of this burg what they owe their allegiance to first it would be New Orleans, then Louisiana, then the South, then lastly America.
And what Carville so succinctly points out and what really makes us different is that culturally we are really not American. We are made up of French, Spanish, African, Italian, Irish, German culture and blood.
And, yes, you could say that about other cities in America as well, but because we’ve lived in the swamps, essentially an island, at the bottom of the country for so long that we have been able to stew in our own juices and produce something that is unique, our ancestry something we still revel in and embrace.
Although politically I’m on opposites sides of the spectrum from Mr. Carville I gotta say whenever he talks about New Orleans he is usually piquant and right on.
So yeah as he says, “When you go to New Orleans you are not just going to a city, you’re going to an entire culture,” he nails it.
If anyone had any doubts that New Orleans is a world class Mecca for talent well the argument has now been settle with SmartAsset naming the Crescent City the number one place for young creatives.
So Which is the Number One City for Young Creatives? New Orleans, Of Course
Musicians play on the streets of the New Orleans French Quarter, a quotidian, ubiquitous sight.
Huh, can you imagine that? Of the top ten list where even Los Angeles and New York don’t even make it, New Orleans is considered number one. What’s fascinating is that Salt Lake City is number two. Here’s what it says on SmartAssets website:
The birthplace of jazz, New Orleans has long been considered one of the country’s best cities for musicians seeking inspiration and an audience. While it remains one of the world’s top music cities, it has emerged as a great place for all kinds of creatives. Indeed, going by total employment, the single largest creative profession in New Orleans is acting. There are 1,900 full time actors or actresses in New Orleans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What I’m amazed at here is that acting is the largest creative profession in New Orleans. I know since Hurricane Katrina theatre companies have exploded here and according to reviews have excellent productions. Hm. Coulda fooled me. I would have thought that musicians would have topped the list. But no, it’s actors.
It also seems that all the arts here have blossomed since the storm.
Loyola University has a very good music program that attracts people from all over the country. I discovered this SmartAsset story on the university student newspaper’s, The Maroon, website. It tells of a student, Pamela Nions, who moved here to go to the school.
Nions, a music performance graduate student at Loyola, decided that after living in Inkster, Michigan for many years, moving back to New Orleans was key for her acoustic calling because of the city’s leading music programs and idiosyncratic cultural sphere.
“For decades, academic institutions like Loyola University, have been – and will continue to be – directly influenced by the New Orleans multi-cultural scene because of the city’s rich historical heritage,” Nions said.
In the same article the Chair of Loyola Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, Georgia Gresham, says:
“On one side you have the alumni who stayed to create their own companies, such as the Cripple Creek Theater Co., in order to raise the city’s positive creative profile; and on the other side, you have artist from all around world who migrate here because they are allured by New Orleans’ leading contemporary culture,” Gresham said.
Gresham, who’s been part of the Loyola faculty for 25 years, frequently talks to her students about the principle of being cultural chameleons: to always appreciate the classics but to avoid separating themselves from being who they are at all costs.
“People here are a reflection of what’s truly happening in New Orleans: a rebirth,” Gresham said.
Don’t know what it is, perhaps being on the edge of a swamp and at the base of the Mississippi River, but almost from the founding of the city New Orleans has attracted creative types.
Of course we all know New Orleans restaurants and New Orleans food is known and celebrated the world over. For the last hundred years or so lots of books have been written about our food culture along with numerous cookbooks. Novelist Steven Wells Hicks has done something a little different from the norm in his book 25 Definitive New Orleans Restaurants.
Get this book to learn the fascinating ins and outs of New Orleans restaurants
You Can Get (Almost) Anything You Want at 25 Definitive New Orleans Restaurants
To be honest when I was sent this book to review I put it off for the longest time, it just did not seem that interesting to me. I thought, why write a book that’s about just a handful of New Orleans restaurants and bars? Some of the them I’d never even heard of before. Well, as the saying goes, you can’t always tell a book by its cover.
I have nothing against the cover, looks nice and clean and informs the reader of the gist of the book. But one evening I put my trepidations aside, cracked the book open, and was pleasantly surprised from the first page.
Hicks, a transplant to the city, has chosen several of the most famous and popular New Orleans restaurants, along with several I didn’t even know existed! Ha, and me supposedly being this big expert about all things New Orleans. Well, I guess I’ve now been shown a thing or two.
The author writes in a fun, engaging tone about his experiences in each one. He adds to that the history of the place, its fascinating personality and the cast of characters that make up the owners and its patrons thus providing a microcosm of just what makes the city of New Orleans unique in all the world.
Author Steven Wells Hicks brings his novelist skills to writing about his favorite New Orleans restaurants and bars.
Being a novelist he is able to write vividly with wit and humor with a novelist’s flair. This makes the book enjoyable to read. And to be honest, I’ve been reading it very slowly, sometimes only doing a chapter or two a night.
And he does not sugarcoat things either. When he talks of Antoine’s, yes that venerable place, he provides a brief fascinating history but in giving his overall review does not pull any punches. He acknowledges that local patrons have been pretty much aware for several years now that the food is not what it used to be, so he recommends eating there for lunch simply because prices are a lot better than in the evening.
Besides giving reviews on some of the famous places like Mandina’s, Galatoire’s, Willie Mae’s, and Mosca’s he also gives his take on neighborhood favorites like Clancy’s, Rocky and Carlo’s, and others.
Some I’ve never heard of like Cafe 615 (“Da Wabbit”), Sal’s, and Seither’s out in Harahan. And for the last restaurant he reviews Tujaque’s which, sadly, has seen a lot better times and, as he indicates, is in need of a complete overhaul.
I remember when we had a small family reunion of sorts years ago we all ate upstairs in this historic old joint, a place original intended to provide cheap meals for dock workers back in the 1800s. We sat at a big round table in this small room where the floor tilted to one side. Some of the young people with us were kind of freaked out by it, but the adults thought it was cool because it was just the character of the place and added to its quirkiness and sense of history. It was a four or five course meal as I remember and was okay.
He finishes the book with reviews of twelve bars around the city, and I must confess that most of them I had never heard of and now reading about them am tempted to make a pilgrimage to each one.
He does mention two of my favorites: Napoleon House, in my opinion the best all around bar in the city with the added bonus that it also serves good food, and Arnaud’s French 75, a classic, cozy, elegant place, an oasis from all the hubbub in the Quarter. To me it’s the kind of place that’s best enjoyed by dressing up a bit, sipping on a Sazerac (one of the best in the city) and engaging in quiet conversation.
He points up other bars like Cosimo’s (did Oswald plot the assassination of JFK here?), Marky’s Bar, The Blind Pelican that are not on my list of bars I knew about or even heard of. But he writes about them engagingly enough to make me want to try them out at my next opportunity.
The back cover says this book is “required reading for serious food fanciers planning their first or fifty-first pilgrimage to the undisputed Food Mecca of the Mighty Mississippi.” I would also have to add that it should be required reading for locals too.
For a New Orleanian it provides a fresh insight into our favorite places, for visitors it provides layers of wonderful history and tidbits that makes being a customer at these places that much more fascinating.
25 Definitive New Orleans Restaurants is a great guide book for Crescent Cityrestaurants and bars and would make a great gift for visitors and local alike. Click this link to get it here.
New Orleans is coming up on the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the destruction that was wrought by the failure of the federal levee system.
What’s interesting, and it might lead you to believe that there are really no coincidences, is that the root word for Katrina means “cleansing.”
New Orleans Reinvented Ten Years After Hurricane Katrina
Now, of course, it’s tragic that people died and thousands lost their homes and livelihoods. But I think it’s always useful to consider, besides what was brought by the wrath of God, the opportunities that have been offered to make New Orleans a much better place, not only for its citizens but for business and education as well.
And like the Phoenix New Orleans has definitely risen. And I think a lot of it can be owed to not only the resilient people of region but also those thousands from around the country and the world who were willing to volunteer their time and efforts to help bring the city back.
I believe it’s come back in a big way. And this little video is a testament to that.
Since 2005 J.P. Morgan Chase has invested over $34 million in the city of New Orleans and in organizations like the New Orleans Business Alliance, Foundation for Louisiana and the New Orleans BioInnovation Center as well as other entrepreneurs and innovators.
“It is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than own the entire state of Ohio.” — Lafcadio Hearn…. New Orleans is one of the most magical cities in the world. There is something about this city that has a tendency to take hold of you and won’t let go. If you are born […]more →