Satchmo posed the enduring question: Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?
Can you conjure the sound of the Streetcar clickety-clacking it’s way up St. Charles Avenue? Could you spend hours listening to a brass band play both in a crowded club on Frenchmen Street or sitting alone in Jackson Square? Do you know how to properly peel crawfish, and can you recall lying on a blanket and eating mounds of them alongside the Mississippi river, or watching the sunset over Lake Pontchartrain? Have you waved a handkerchief and danced in a second line parade? Was it for a funeral? Have you covered yourself in powdered sugar from beignets at Café Du Monde? Are you repulsed and yet still strangely drawn to the odor of Lucky Dogs and stale vomit along the sidewalks of Bourbon Street? Would you readily while away a sunny afternoon strolling the shops of Magazine Street? Is browsing records at Louisiana Music Factory an entire day’s activity? Can you relish the proliferation of the city’s hip new culinary stars and still appreciate the old-school elegance of Commander’s Palace? Have you stood with the bust of Professor Longhair at Tipitina’s? Does it seem normal to be bowling while hearing a live zydeco band at the Rock ‘n Bowl? Did you once grab the spoons and try to play the rubboard? Do you know the only song that costs extra to request at Preservation Hall? Is it always a kick when you cross the moat to enter The Dungeon. Have you ever had your head buzzed by a flying cockroach (aka palmetto bug)? To you, does Monday mean red beans & rice, and does Tuesday mean Rebirth Brass Band at The Maple Leaf? Have you ever done the Galatoire’s “double”? Can you survive from Brandy Milk Punch to Eggs Hussarde to Banana’s Foster at Brennan’s? Would you stop what you were doing any time of day to dine on Acme oysters, a Parkway po-boy, a Central Grocery muffuletta, Willie Mae’s fried chicken, a Port of Call burger, Mosca’s oyster pie, Pascal’s Manale barbecue shrimp, a Camellia Grill omelette, or Mother’s debris? Did you ever chant “Who Dat!” at a Saints game in the Superdome, and do you know who Steve Gleason is? Do you know real humidity, say, the feeling of stepping out of a cold shower in August and immediately breaking back into a sweat? Have you experienced Carnival, screamed “Throw me somethin’, mista!”, known the pain of having your fingers stomped trying to secure a doubloon, or the thrill of grabbing a Zulu coconut? Do you know about Krewes, Mardi Gras Indian tribes, and the official Mardi Gras colors? Have you ever found the King Cake baby? Do you still grieve the people and neighborhoods lost after Katrina? Do you know Fats Domino’s name was Antoine, Trombone Shorty’s name is Troy, and Dr. John’s name is Malcolm? Do you remember Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, Allen Toussaint, Ernie K-Doe, Louis Prima, and of course, Louis Armstrong? Have you been to the Gospel tent at Jazzfest, and do you maintain a preference for either the 1st or 2nd weekend? Do you know the difference between a trumpet and a coronet, or a tuba and a sousaphone? Can you correctly pronounce Burgundy, Carondelet and Calliope streets, or spell the street intersecting with Napoleon Ave. on which Tipitina’s resides? Does a Friday night make you crave a Hurricane, a Sazerac, an Abita, or even a Dixie? Do you always get a “To-Go” cup? Have you ever spoken the words “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler”? Can you describe both Cajun and Creole? Can you explain a Lagniappe? Did you religiously watch every episode of the HBO series “Treme”? Are your favorite picture postcards those of stately Garden District homes, Oak trees in Audubon Park, or haunting above-ground cemetery tombs? Do you find anything as calming as a side-street French Quarter courtyard? Have you ever walked the Quarter from Canal Street all the way through to Esplanade Avenue? Does the colonial-European architecture and the wrought iron balconies fascinate you as much as the neon of Bourbon Street and the art galleries on Royal? Are you familiar with the Crescent City being known as the northernmost Caribbean town, as well as the only city in America that feels like being in another country? Does the sight of a fleur-de-lis anywhere make you stop in your tracks and stare? Does joy and contentment wash over you at the sound of an old-fashioned Dixieland jazz band, and did you know that traditional New Orleans jazz is the only original American art form?
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? Well, do you?