A Dollar for Your Thoughts: The Big Easy

For every story I get in the comments section (stories about trips to New Orleans, Mississippi, whatever. Hell, it could be about jazz, being big and easy or binge drinking for all I care) I’ll donate one dollar to the Red Cross. It’s up to you, kittens. This is so unbelievably easy. Plus, I really, really like stories.

Edited to add: A very, very good friend of mine informed me of something tonight that I hadn’t realized. He said that I might receive more stories if I remove the part about donating a dollar. He said, with respect, that it felt a bit weird having someone tell him where to put his dollar. And I have to say, while the idea had never occurred to me, I have to agree. That being said, I am just asking for stories. Forget the dollar donation, I just want your stories. So, if you have them, share them. Sometimes I kick myself for not thinking things through. This has proven to be one of those times.

39 Comments

  1. I’ll go first.
    My story can be read about here. Oddly, my only experience with New Orleans was with a woman named Katrina who died earlier this year. (That’s why I suggested they stop naming hurricanes after people. How hard it’s been to hear her name over and over again and in such a devastating way.)
    As one might imagine, I have been thinking about Katrina a lot lately and that trip and the time four of us drove down south to spend 4 days in New Orleans. (I’m even writing a story about it.) Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction.

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  2. My only trip to NO was for a conference. Orthopedic research conference to be exact. Now the thing you should know about research conferences is that they are mostly about free dinners from companies and blowing your whole per diem on booze. It was crazy times with beads and Huge Ass Beers and karaoke and trying to stay awake during the presentations while hung over and on very little sleep. But my most vivid memory of the Big Easy (unfortunately) is watching my drunk, 50-something boss do a body shot off a woman that could have been his daughter. Bleh.

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  3. OK, in order to squeeze another dollar out, here’s my lame story about not going there.
    My little sister was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi, when she was in the Air Force. I wanted to go visit. My wife, who’s black, flat out refused. She said she hadn’t ever lost anything in Biloxi. She also said that one of her relatives had literally fought WWII……in Biloxi.
    So, we never did go. Still, she has no problem with the idea of visiting N’Orleans, and I hope we will be able to go there in the next few years. It’s got an appealing reputation for food, music, and life on the wild side.
    (P.S. Daily Kos is back up, for all your political discussion needs.)

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  4. I vacationed in New Orleans a few years ago. I wrote about it here.

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  5. I visited Mississippi when I was in college. I went to visit friends – Ky, Doug, and Tim – who attended Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi. I remember flying in from Texas on a little prop plane. There was a good rainstorm pushing us around and I thought we were going to end up in the trees. I was so thankful to get back on the ground.

    Because it’s a religious school, I couldn’t stay with the guys. Instead, I stayed in a guest room in the girls dorm. It was very lonely at night after my friends dropped me off.

    There was a great, great little coffee shop that Ky worked in. I think all we did that trip was hang out at the coffee shop and go driving in the woods. There apparently wasn’t much to do in Clinton or we were just content to be together.

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  6. i used to watch a lot of “cops” and when i saw the ‘on location in new orleans’ episode, i decided it was so crazy there that i would never go. now i wish i wasn’t such a pussy.

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  7. My first trip to New Orleans was at age 20. I wasn’t quite old enough to drink, which makes New Orleans a very frustrating place to be. I attended a conference for art educators. One of the evening events was held at a factory where they make Mardi Gras parade floats. We got to wander around, look at all the old floats, and learn some of the float-making techniques. It was amazing to see them so close up when I had only seen them on television before.

    I was probably the youngest person at the conference, since I was still in college and studying to be an art teacher. I was definitely the only person with pink hair there. But one of the benefits of looking odd was I stood out. Standing out usually means you meet people you might not otherwise. (Or at least it did for me.) I remember that a group of us went to an art opening at a gallery in New Orleans. At the gallery, I met some local artists who worked with YA/YA – Young Aspirations/Young Artists, Inc. Before I knew it, my friends and I were being whisked away to the YA/YA headquarters down the street. There we got to see first-hand what an incredible program it was. Definitely the highlight of that trip.

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  8. Wonderful idea, Mihow.

    I went to New Orleans with my parents when I was 14 for a vacation. It was the first place I ever saw strippers undressing in the windows, pimps in purple fur standing on the corner, ate wonderful strange food (coming from Wisconsin) like beignets, po boys, and alligator meat. I learned learned about Jazz at Preservation Hall and my parents bought me a signed George Rodrigue print as an early birthday present. I saw little kids standing on buckets dancing wearing taps on the soles of their sneakers for change and met some wonderful people.

    I know it’s been said over and over but It truly is one of the most unique cities in the world and I fucking hope to God I can bring my kid there some day to experience all the same things that make that city rich with culture and great.

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  9. Years ago Kerry presented a paper at a Kate Chopin conference in Natchitoches, La (in the NW part of the state). We rented a car and drove down, and used the trip as an opportunity to see New Orleans. We were there at the same time that the NCAA was holding its final four basketball tournament, so the place was PACKED, and we soaked up the environment in our modest graduate student way, ate beignets at Cafe du Monde, and made a pilgrimage out to Avery Island (home of Tabasco Sauce). I also hit the confederate museum and some other civil war sites (including Vicksburg).

    Years later I had the good fortune to spend about 10 days in NOLA on two trips within three weeks when I was part of a dotcom. I remember showing up in town and pulling an all-nighter in the hotel working on demo code while EVERYONE else in my company was out at Antoine’s living it up (so I ordered surf and turf from room service). Later I got a chance to enjoy great food, music and a lot of booze and dancing. On my second trip during that period we stayed at the huge hotel across the concourse from the superdome. I ended up gambling too much at Harrah’s, and my dot com folded before I could get my expenses reimbursed. It was on this trip that I came up with the best insult I ever made. We were eating at the Commander’s Palace and marvelling at the huge bowls of turtle soup. As the waiter added sherry to the VP of Sales’ soup, he explained that the bowls “looked big but they were really shallow.” To which I responded “Just like Ken!” (the VP of sales).

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  10. I just got back from a vacation that was originally planned a year ago for the gulf coast of Florida. Then hurricane Ivan came through and destroyed the house we were planning to rent. So we just moved our plans to the gulf coast of Alabama. Then when Katrina came through, a week before our trip, we once again lost the house that we had rented. The rental company offered us our money back or a different house in the City of Orange Beach that hadn’t been touched by the hurricane.
    It really came down to the Friday before we left when we decided to go. We were torn between many issues: Were gas prices and availability going to be an issue? Were there going to be grocery/water issues once we got there? Should we even be going on vacation and enjoying ourselves while there are so many just struggling to get by? Would we just be in the way? I think our decision was based on the fact that we hadn’t gone on vacation in two years, and I realize this may sound callous, but i really needed a vacation.
    On the way we saw lines for gasoline, stations shut down, abandoned cars on the highway, cars filled with people towing cars filled to the brim with clothes and household items, and many many trees just ripped down. When we got down to the highway that ran parallel to the beach, many of the houses were destroyed, missing walls, roofs and windows, or covered in sand. Its just so weird to see those things and then a house virtually untouched a few feet away. While we were out shopping one day, the girl at the counter said that this was usually their busiest weekend out of the year (Labor Day Weekend) but because of the hurricane, no one came. It actually made for a relaxing time on a beach that we had all to ourselves. The city had an 11:00 curfew the first couple of nights we were there, which left us in the house playing drinking games resulting in what was truly the most traumatizing events of our whole vacation…

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  11. I’ve never been to New Orleans, but 6 years ago I sent my parents there for their 30th anniversary. They still talk about the trip… the food, the music, the architecture, the cemetaries. That was probably one of the nicest things (money-wise) I’ve ever been able to do for my parents. I’m glad they got the chance to visit New Orleans. They had talked about it for years.

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  12. My story sucks, but it’s still a story – I’ve never been to New Orleans and that makes me sad, because I’m wondering if I ever do get to go, will I ever be able to capture the spirit that was there before Katrina?

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  13. Between the guilt and the Toby comment, here’s my NO story. My parents took us on vacation there one summer when I was about 8. Being 8 and 10, my sister and I were obviously not allowed to go inside the bars in the French Quarter. But, my parents wanted to try a hurricane (I forgot about those drinks being named such until now) so badly, they left the two of us sitting on a curb on the street while they went inside and had their liquor! They still have the souvenier glasses to this day. You can tell how old I am by the fact that my parents weren’t arrested for this!

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  14. Awwww, y’all, I didn’t mean to sound threatening. And believe me, Toby Joe is way too busy to ever figure out who is who on here. So I guess I’m a liar. I do, however, mean it; I will give a dollar for every story told on here. It’s not that I’m looking for traffic, as I’m not made of money, I am looking to hear about what other people have to share and sometimes I get really, really tired of hearing myself.
    I’m sorry if I came off as bitchy. If you knew me personally, you’d know I never meant for it to be anything than other than what it is—a way to give people my hard earned money. :]

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  15. You didn’t come off bitchy or threatening at all! Hope you didn’t feel I think that way from my first comment. We love you and your stories or else we wouldn’t come here everyday!

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  16. I love New Orleans. I love it despite the version Ern and so many other tourists are familiar with. New Orleans has always seemed to me to be a middle aged prostitute who has accepted herself, sin and all. Sheâ

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  17. You are so damn sweet. I shall call you my LoveMonkey and shall kiss you and hug you.

    I pretty much grew up in New Orleans. I have a bunch of stories but my favorite was one time my brother and I went with our parents to stay for the weekend. My Mom, brother and I were standing on the sidewalk outside the hotel while Dad parked the car. There was this very very drunk guy wandering around on the street in front of us. As he passed us he yelled to my Mother, “What’s sa matter bitch? Got good kids?!”.

    My little brother, who was 4 at the time, stared at him for a minute and then called after him, “Hey! You, You, You! You don’t tawk to my Mommy that way!!”.

    It was adorable.

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  18. Remember, stories don’t have to be about NO. They can be about anything, really. You don’t have to have visited the lovely city. For example, Rachel’s comment about Cops was perfectly acceptable. :]

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  19. A quick New Orleans story: I was in New Orleans for a class last March. My favorite place in the quarter is A Gallery for Fine Photography. I stopped in about 5, but they were about to close. The guy closing said it was fine to look around until he was ready to close. I looked around for a while and then made my way to the galleries upstairs. I heard a couple laughing coming like from one of the rooms. Making my way around upstairs, I never found the couple, but continued to hear the laughing. After a while I made my way down to purchase a book. He offered to walk out with me since he was done. I asked about the couple upstairs. Apparently, what Iâ

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  20. awesome. It’s easy for me to say, I wasn’t there. Speaking of oddities in New Orleans, that was the first place I’d ever seen a public masturbator. We were quite freaked out. That was before I moved to NYC of course.

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  21. This is a great idea! I was in New Orleans only once, in the spring of 1995. I went with my parents because my brother was having a very small wedding in Jackson, Mississippi, where he was living at the time. We flew into New Orleans ahead of time to enjoy the city a bit before renting a car and driving to Jackson.
    I was a wreck, physically and emotionally at that time, so I did not partake in any over-indulgence (I had been doing that constantly already, so this was like a break). I was fairly certain I was pregnant, but too scared to say anything. I was a bit tense.
    The best time I had was when my parents went to the Garden District for the day and let me be alone. I wandered the streets and made my way to the Mississippi River, which was one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen. I sat on the banks and wrote and chatted with people who seemed to live on those banks. I met a musician who was a Bob Dylan fan like me, and he played many Dylan tunes for my pleasure. Some other folks gathered and we hung out like old friends. They told me about a bar one of them would be playing in that night and maybe I could read some poetry.
    That evening after dinner, I somehow had the courage to convince my parents to come check the place out. I wish I could remember the name of it! We went in and after the musicians took a break they said I could check with the staff if I could sit up there and read. I am amazed that I did it, but I asked and they said ok, not sure what to expect. My poetry at that time was influenced by the surge of spoken-word MTV-style poetry that was happening back then. It wasn’t that, exactly, but it was meant to be said out loud. I read several poems and to my astonishment had the crowd’s complete attention.
    My parents and I went back the next day to take a photo of me in front of it. I will have to ask them for that photo.

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  22. EEEK, that was LONG. Sorry!

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  23. Sarah, that’s the point! The longer the better! Come on, folks. I have a freelance check I’m just itching to get rid of. Tell me a story!

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  24. Here’s my story, one that has nothing to do with anything here, and I’m too tired to come up with something else. A fistfight broke out in the theater prior to last night’s screening of “The Notorious Bettie Page”. Right behind me. Presumably over a seat. A girl accidentally got hit and it took four guys to pry the fighter dudes apart. Some bitchy lady then got into it with the punched girl when she (bitchy lady) tried to save the seat in between them for someone. Punched girl got up and left, while bitchy lady moved then moved. Nearly the whole row sat empty because those seats are clearly cursed.

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  25. Fuck New Orleans. I never been there, I never will.

    I like Brooklyn—because I can walk into a random bar in a long line of bars, and run into a table full of people I know. Like Mihow, Tobyjoe and company.

    PLUS, after I walk into them, we’ll all make jokes are dirty hipster girls pulling their dresses up to their belly buttons and posing for ‘scandalous’ pictures of their cellulite ridden asses in black mesh panties with their friends pretending to grab onto their naughty bits.

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  26. Dude, I know you did not just say Fuck New Orleans. Hopefully that was some joke I just didn’t get.

    Mihow, I once chased a little opposum through the woods just to see if I could catch it. How’s that for a good Southern story. (It’s true too and also I totally could have.)

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  27. I only very rarely get jon’s comments. That one seemed rather harsh, though. Jon, with all due respect, you really need to think before you write sometimes. :/

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  28. I gotta say, Internet, of the hundreds of unique visitors I get daily, I am disappointed by the lack of stories. :[ What a bummer.

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  29. I did just say fuck New Orleans.

    I never went there on purpose. And I’ll likely never go on purpose.

    Don’t confuse my feelings towards the city with those of the inhabitants. I empathize for them.

    But I’ve always disliked that city. It’s not even the idiots at mardi gras. I hate it because its a testament to what is awful about america.

    It’s a city built on marshland that continually sinks on its own. On top of that, overdevelopment has damaged the natural process of silt deposits that might have sustained parts. Now it’s well below sea level and, for ever reason logical, development should have stopped once people realized that years ago. But the arrogance of man and the want of fancy homes in certain districs, has insisted on the building of bigger and better things in the face of nature.

    And now its under water, and in order to make it habitable again faster, we’re spewing a toxic soup into the ocean completely untreated. I’m glad I don’t eat seafood.

    So fuck that. All of it.

    Save the people who are left, find everyone new homes and help them rebuild their lives—but do it where the earth isn’t constantly trying to reclaim what man has destroyed.

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  30. Wow, Johnathan. Seeing as you’ve never been to New Orleans, that’s a lot of hate. Based on your argument, Venice should be relocated as well. A city with canals and gondolas is SO STUPID. By the way, parts of your beloved New York were built much the way the outlying areas of New Orleans was.

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  31. New York is barely holding it together. Sometimes, I seriously believe that we’re just going to fall into a massive sinkhole with a big thump and a sigh. We’re barely holding it together. There are like 15 feet from your feet on a street and the numerous subways below. It’s only a matter of time before a sink-hole claims us all.

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  32. ”..where the earth isn’t constantly trying to reclaim what man has destroyed.” ? WTF? Now who sounds like a dirty hipster girl? I find that the use of the word Fuck is a pretty strong word to use for someone who has never even been to New Orleans. I would suggest that is is time to get off the island.. “I like Brooklyn.” “I like people I know.” “I only go potty in MY toilet.” Way to put yourself out there. When I went to New Orleans, I was profoundly changed by what I experienced. I went on a nothing special Thursday night in August and truly believed that it was Mardi Gras. The mood was crazy, I saw one of the best bar bands I think i’d ever seen in my life and I bought a can beer from an 8 year old on the street for 50 cents..It just dont get better than that.

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  33. jonathan, sometimes you say things that are interesting, but you have just written yourself off as a complete lunatic. i can’t believe how ass backwards your thought process is or if you even have one on this issue. i’m not trying to be mean, i’m trying to figure out what your deal is? with that much hatered, i can’t believe you can get out of bed in the morning because of how horrible everything is…..i sure hope that you don’t own a mirror either because i’d hate to see what you think of yourself, as part of the human race, who is part of the destruction of the earth as we know it. i get it, all progress must stop instantly and nothing can change ever again, freeze life. or maybe if i could only hold my breath for eternity, i may not put any greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and noone would be offended by my breath either. i can be just as rediculous

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  34. Dear Mr. New York-centric,
    I’m not going to try to sway your close-mindedness but I will put this out there: pragmatism is overrated.
    And this is why i love new orleans. It makes no sense and it is perfectly comfortable with itself. If you are looking only at the mardi gras aspects of the city then you have no sense for the place b/c that really only accounts for 1% of what it’s all about. I lived in the city for 7 years and then moved to new york where i lived for 3. Now i am somewhere else entirely and would never want to choose between the other 2. Each is just its own unique place and this country could use more of that. And i almost hesitate to add this, but what the hell: your comment is racist. Someone oughtta kick your ass on principle alone.

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  35. Fuck Des Moines. There. I said it. I’d say “Fuck Detroit” too, but that would be redundant.

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  36. I never went to New Orleans, but I always had the intention of maybe going for Mardi Gras, some year. My incentive to get there grew exponentially just about a year ago, and so begins my story.

    After 18 years of marriage, my parents called it quits. Through weeks of hugs and I’m sorry’s one friend, Nick, stood out simply by giving advice.

    Nick’s plan had been to go to the University of Wisconsin Eau Clare and major in jazz trumpet. He was a devoted trumpet player, always working to perfect his interpretation of “Take 5”. When his Grandma got sick and moved in with the family, Nick enrolled at St. Paul University (I’d never heard of it before or since), dropped his trumpet dreams, and stayed home to take care of her.

    And all of a sudden – after an afternoon nap that he never awoke from – there I stood, in front of the casket holding Nick’s purplish body at the O’Halloran & Murphy funeral chapel.

    After month’s of autopsies the culprit was deemed to be a newly discovered liver infection that spread through the bloodstream to the heart. Nick’s liver was added to the study. His ashes were scattered in the french quarter of New Orleans.

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  37. Ellie, that brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, thank you for sharing that.

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  38. I had a blast in New Orleans for Mardi Gras in 1996. There is no way to tell all the exciting details, not that I don’t remember them, because I do, just as if it was yesterday. But I don’t tell all because it was way too wild. Lets just say this – sex was had for all by all.

    I had the best time ever. I had men form all over the world showing me their privates for beads. I even got a bartender in trouble for it, which I’m not prode of, but he only got a slap on the wrist – thank God. I meet a lot of wonderful people who were all there to have fun. And fun is what we did. So many beads and it was like money trading them around. The beads were taken seriously. The food was terrific. The scenery was to die for, just like I had expected it to be. The architecture was fabulous and I love cemeteries! The weather was great too. I would probably love living there.

    I’m sure New Orleans will be rebuilt – it’s a major income for the city and the state. So for all you who haven’t made it there yet, don’t fret. I wouldn’t be suprised if they have Mardi Gras this winter.

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  39. Diedre, killer story. So funny.

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