1. Cliché as this will be, I’m starting with the quite obvious ability to walk around with that drank. Sure, Bourbon Street smells like Hurl of Christmas Past and you’re likely to see a person laid out face down in the street, not dead, just passed out from all of the Everclear 151 and sugar mixtures. Hurricanes, Hand Grenades and Anti-Freeze, oh my! And the fishbowls, lawd the fishbowls. Drink responsibly, of course. But man, the ability to truly keep the party going at any and all times puts New Orleans at the top of the list by default. True story: I was in a liquor store at 10:30 am on a Sunday and a dude from New York City asked me if he could really drink his beer outside. I said, “Yes, sir.” He smiled at me, popped the top on his Coors Light, cheers’d me and said, “Thank you, young man. I see a long life in your future!” I said, “You’re welcome, Jesus! Enjoy.”
2. Food probably should have been number one, but it matters not, honestly. I am in New Orleans from Thursday until Monday morning. By Friday, I could pretty much only eat once a day because that first meal would be so filling (plus the liquor imbibed alongside it) that I felt almost unable to move. For three of the four days I was out in the New Orleans streets, I wasn’t right, man. But I couldn’t stop eating. Can’t stop, won’t stop eating that bananas foster.
3. For week 2, the New Orleans Saints welcomed the Cleveland Browns to the Superdome. Listen, in my entire life, I’ve never seen that many Browns fans ever. Not even at Browns games. Yet, the whole city seemed overrun by folks rooting for—the Cleveland Browns! I was so confused. But then I realized, if there’s ANY city worth traveling out of town to see your perennial trash team while paying several hundred dollars in flights, hotels and game tickets, it would be New Orleans. Sure your team is trash, but you can drink away the norm from 8 am until you just can’t drink no more. That’s New Orleans.
4. I love the accents. So much. So so much.
5. New Orleans has such a distinctly different culture and history from any other city in America (except maaaaaybe Mobile; they share much of the same cultural markers). The influence of their colonizers is heavily felt and flipped into a party. New Orleans is a city of celebration and has meshed so many different cultures (religious, geographic, ethnic) into a huge melting pot of ... something. Whatever it is, I love it long time.
6. I visited New Orleans for the first time in my life during the July 4 weekend of 1998. Since then, I’ve visited the city too many times to count. Since October 2017, I’ve been back maybe four times, and it NEVER gets old. I imagine that living there is entirely different than being a tourist. But for me as a visitor, I always feel like I’m at home and get excited about it. The only other city that has that kind of impact on me is New York City. One of my favorite things to do is drive to NYC from D.C. When the city pops up and takes over the whole ass right side of my life while I’m in New Jersey, I feel like anything is possible. New Orleans makes me feel that way, too.
7. Frenchman Street. Bourbon Street without the throw up and piss smell but just as lit, with a bit more sophistication. I love it there.
8. The city’s architecture is a fucking movie set. I ain’t rich, but if I was, every single time I felt like doing a photo shoot I’d suggest we just hop into the G5 down to New Orleans for it. I’m not rich, so I hop in the G4 and don’t land at the airport; I call it the clearport. (Not so) True story. Okay, I’ve never seen a G4. Or G3. You see where this is going. I still fly coach.
9. Just as cliché as the street drankin is the music. I love when I’m walking by a restaurant or in one or when I stumble upon a brass band in the middle of Bourbon Street or Frenchman getting their jam on it. It’s a movie everywhere in New Orleans, and I am willing to watch it every time. New Orleans is basically Coming to America.
10. For the first time in the 20 years I’ve been going to New Orleans, I did some super touristy stuff. I went on a swamp tour somewhere out in the bayou. A gator came up to my boat and ate marshmallows that were being tossed out by the Cajun tour guide. “Swamp crack,” he called the marshmallows. My whole life has been different since then. But there was something so freeing and awesome about being on an airboat and rolling through the swamp. I like it. I love it. I want more of it.
There are a ton more reasons why New Orleans is awesome, but those 10 seal the deal for me. It’s official. New Orleans, you’re number one!