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.
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Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour
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OK. So here we go. I’ve interviewed people over the years about what they’ve been doing for this blog about New Orleans so I thought what the heck, I’ll just interview myself about my bestselling travel guide: Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour. Instead of doing it all at once, which would make it really long, I thought I’d do it in installments.
My Own Personal Interview: The Whys and Wherefores of My Bestselling New Orleans Travel Guide – Part One
Here’s my bestselling New Orleans travel guide. Notice how slim and light it is.
There are so many other travel guides to New Orleans why did you decide to write another one?
I felt that what was missing was a guide actually written by someone from here, who lives here and loves the place. You know most travel guides are not written from a native’s eye view because they are compiled by people who are just visitors. And the guides are usually huge with small print, just too much to filter through.
I remember years ago I took a trip to Greece and I had one of those huge travel books, I think it was the Lonely Planet.
OK, in some ways it’s good to have such a book, I think, it’s thick and chock full of information about things to see, places to stay and eat and all of that. But I think the problem with such huge books is an overabundance of information. It’s just too much.
Good Luck and the Tourist Police That big, clunky book did kind of help me out in another way, though. When I got off the place at Athens I headed to the tourist office where you could talk to the tourist police. Yes, they called them tourist police, they even had uniforms and badges. There you could get ideas and advice on places to stay and things to see.
I walked into the office and a couple minutes later in come these two young good-looking women from Chicago, one white one black, the beset of friends and they’d been on a massive tour traveling in one direction around the world. They had started west and were just coming from China, where they said was really hard finding that country really dirty where most of the men, as they told me, were pigs.
I was holding in my hand this big Lonely Planet guide book and asked if they could borrow it for a bit. So as they were standing there eagerly paging through it we got to talking and decided we’d all take the bus to the center of Athens and look for a pension.
We found a pension right in the heart of the city, and got a room with three beds. That afternoon we walked to the Parthenon and had a great Greek dinner that night. The next day we left before sunrise and took the subway train all the way to the port and hopped a giant 5 decker ferry out to the islands.
An Unexpected Adventure So that began my three week vacation with these incredibly smart, very nice and very fun girls. We made it to the island of Santorini, found a place to stay for one night with three beds, busted our guts telling Seinfeld stories, as that show was very popular at the time, and went out to eat that night.
Then the next day we gathered our stuff and took a bus out to Oia which is on the western most point of the island. We found a big one room apartment with a balcony and stayed there for a week doing almost nothing but reading, doing a little walking and exploring and drinking grapefruit juice and vodka on the balcony each afternoon as we watched the stream of people come from miles around to see the sunset at the western most point of the island.
So, had it not been for that big bulky Lonely Planet travel guide we would never have met. So something good and unexpected came of that.
My take away from that is remembering how big and bulky that travel guide was and how the book was not written by natives at all but by travelers. This gave me the idea of writing my own travel guide about New Orleans. What you want is something from a native, someone who knows a place inside and out and can really recommend that best places to go, the best restaurants, the kind of stuff natives enjoy. That’s really how you can learn a city.
Of course, I have nothing against these big bulky books, now with the advent of digital books it makes it no big deal to carry around of these big guides in your smart phone. But there is still the challenge of too many choices. And I like the feel of a book anyway, which is why I turned my New Orleans travel guide Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour into a paperback.
If you ever thought that New Orleans living was a world apart from the rest of humanity then all you have to do is see how we celebrate two Saints this time of year to prove you are right. We got your St. Patrick’s day where we have marching groups and parades when cabbage and veggies enough to make a soup are tossed from floats.
Wild Food and Abundant Altars of St. Joseph in New Orleans
Then followed closely on it’s heels is St Joseph’s day, March 19th, where all over New Orleans churches and homes sponsor elaborate altars chock full of all kinds of artistically designed and edible foodstuffs. These offerings are in honor of St. Joseph who Sicilians believe rescued Italy from a terrible famine.
Days and days and thousands of man/woman hours (I would guess mostly woman) are spent in preparing and setting up these over-the-top culinary tributes.
These alters remain up for many days so the populace can come and pray, gawk and take ganders of the wild and reverent nourishments.
I thought it was a mistake to change the name of the New Orleans Hornets to the New Orleans Pelicans. I think there is something to the importance of the team names to how successful they are. Think about it, when they were the Hornets they were a great team. Hornets fly around, zoom in and sting. I mean who isn’t afraid of a hornet?
Is New Orleans Pelicans Mascot Pierre the Scariest One in Sports?
Now we got the Pelicans. Those big lumbering birds are not scary at all. I mean who wouldn’t want to have one of those land in your back yard. But their original mascot was really scary looking and creepy. As the video above shows.
So bowing under supposed intense pressure from the news media and fans they came up with a redesign.
The upgraded version of New Orleans Pelicans Supposedly Less Scary Mascot Pierre.
Really? Do you see much of an improvement here? Well, I guess it is a little better.
Everyone knows that crime has been on the upswing in New Orleans recently. Even though murders are down all kinds of other crimes are up. The excellent A&E show Nightwatch shows the good and dedicated men and women of our emergency services with that unique New Orleans twist that we seem to put on everything.
An Upbeat Gunshot Victim: New Orleans EMS in Spotlight in A&E Show
This clip shows a guy who could have been another murder victim but fortunately his wound was not life-threatening. Warning: this clip is a little bloody.
Here’s hoping that one day these shootings and murders will be a thing of the past.
New Orleans and Louisiana is now known as Hollywood South. The reason this has happened is simple: several years ago some smart people in Baton Rouge decided to offer tax credits to film companies to come here and make movies. And television and movie companies have flocked here ever since.
Golden Goose Gumbo: How Some Louisiana Politicians Want to Mess with Hollywood South Tax Credits And Kill the Goose That Lays the Golden Egg
Brad Pitt in Killing Them Softly, filmed in New Orleans 2012
But there are some in our state government who think Louisiana is being too generous with these tax credits and want to scale it back. This is a bad idea. To explain let’s start with an analogy, shall we.
Golden Goose Gumbo: A recipe for starvation
Take one goose efficiently laying golden eggs and let people who don’t know much about geese discuss where the gold comes from.
Let them decide that as the goose lays the eggs the secret must be inside the goose and they must get the secret.
Kill the goose and chop it up fine, cook it down and give as many as possible a bowl to sample.
Engage in lots of talk about how nothing special was found inside the goose and with the goose gone there are no more golden eggs coming your way.
Well that is what some in the state of Louisiana want to do with the film industry. Louisiana is booming right now, filmmakers love to shoot here, actors and crew are re-locating here we truly are becoming what we have called ourselves for years, Hollywood South, the other LA.
But some politicians seem to think the state is being cheated, no other way to say it. Hmmmm… a multi million dollar business in Louisiana has a whiff of corruption about it, who heard of such a thing!
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that cheating on the tax credits is acceptable or should be accepted but with one state film commissioner already sent to the stripy hole for this very crime it is not exactly unexpected and it should certainly be dealt with.
That said some lawmakers are looking at the whole idea of tax credits for the movie industry, a system by which if a company spends more than $300,000 in the state they get about 1/3 of the tax the state collects on the goods and services they bought for the production back to the company.
This does not affect the tax the state collects from suppliers based in the state, nor workers based within the state nor any of the goods and services by those workers while in the state. So why in heaven would you want to cut this subsidy which WILL make film companies think twice before shooting here if it goes through?
Well, one reason is that some might think that the movie industry is now so established here that it has come to stay. Forget it. The fact that we now have studios and sound stages and great crew WILL NOT keep movie companies here if they think they can get a better deal elsewhere.
We are now eating someone else’s lunch because the state made it very attractive to come here and if politicians now try to claw this back it is more than likely that there will be a loud sucking sound as all those jobs and all that CASH disappears across the Georgia border.
Some people think it can’t happen. They are wrong. Just a couple of months before Christmas there was lots of buzz about the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie being shot here, remember?
I had friends in the business locally assuring me that it was a done deal and pooh poohing my words of caution that my friends in other parts of the country were not so sure. Well now we are sure Pirates 5 is going to Australia.
Because the production company was given a $25,000,000 subsidy to go there. Think about that for a moment – the people trying to attract this movie away from us thought it worthwhile giving the company twenty five million dollars to shoot in their neck of the woods. What does that say about how much they expect to make out of the movie shoot?
Is it really ‘costing the state money’ to give companies back 1/3 of the money they pay in taxes? Well, I was working in London in the 1980s when the British government thought it was. At the time quite apart from all the British movies (the James Bond series etc.) many of the blockbuster series were based out of London with studio work done in England.
All the original Superman movies, Star Wars, Indiana Jones were being shot in some of the biggest studios and utilizing the biggest costume houses in the world. And when the tax subsidies went it was like a light switch being turned off. Things got so bad that the famous Pinewood Studios was dark for a month, nothing shooting there for the first time in its history.
So be under no illusion, it CAN happen here.
Louisiana is an incredible place to film, we have been blessed with a state with more faces than Lon Chaney, but the people who make the decisions about where a film will be shot are not here, they are in Hollywood and they care about the bottom line – money – and who will give them the best deal.
If it is not us they will go with whoever that is.
When we have some of those people here, executives sitting in offices who can look at a script and say “Yes, we are making this” then we will have a permanent film industry.
But remember today these people are in Hollywood and they are not making their movies at home, they are sending them to Louisiana. This will continue as long as they get the best deal here and they don’t give a fig for anyone’s state budget deficit.
So please don’t anyone fool themselves into thinking Hollywood is going to pay more to come here just because they like working here. They can work in Georgia and come here on the weekends if that gets them a better deal.
And if the politicians in Baton Rouge mess with our tax credits then Hollywood South will be truly gone with the wind.
Tim Pickles is an English writer, producer, director and sometime actor based in New Orleans since 1988. He has also worked as a historical re-creation director on many productions, and has written several works including New Orleans 1815, Malta 1565, and several chapters in the recently published The Battle of New Orleans Reconsidered. He is president of the Louisiana Living History Foundation and produced the recent re-enactment of the New Orleans campaign for the bicentennial on the new Battlefield Park, which was constructed specifically for this purpose and is now available for annual re-enactments and as a film set.
In August will be the tenth year anniversary of the flooding of New Orleans caused by weak and improperly designed and built floodwalls after Hurricane Katrina. This video shows exactly how it happened.
Astounding Video Shows the Flooding of New Orleans After Katrina
This video is from Harry Shearer, the actor and voice of many of the Simpsons characters, who is a part time resident of New Orleans. Several years ago he made The Big Uneasy, a documentary about how the city was flooded.
One popular misconception is that the flooding of New Orleans was caused by Hurricane Katrina. It was not. It was caused by the incompetence of the federal government by way of the US Army Corps of Engineers who built our modern levee protection system. I’ve written about this repeatedly in this blog.
It is important that others around the country know what caused the flooding of our fair city: waste, incompetence, corruption and negligence from the mind and hands of the Corps of Engineers. Millions upon millions of dollars were spent to build these supposedly modern structures. And billions of dollars have been spent to supposedly rectify their mistakes.
You can ask most people who live here if they feel safer. I would bet that a majority of them would say no. We have the illusion of safety with these massive projects that they’ve built. But how can you really trust an organization that built some of the pre-Katrina flood walls out of sand. I mean really – sand?
If you live in another part of the country why is this important to you? Because the Corps has hundreds of projects all over the nation and you just may be supposedly “protected” by one of them.
It’s just an opportunity to be aware and stay vigilant. Does the federal government really have your best interests at heart?
“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 →
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