Monday, August 4, 2008

Guest blog: "Just a few small things I love about the city..."

Posted By on Mon, Aug 4, 2008 at 2:08 PM

(The following is by Gambit guest blogger and New Orleans East resident Clifton Harris, who maintains his own blog, Cliff’s Crib. You can read more of his writing there.)

In my first two posts to this blog I was doing a bunch of complaining. People that are new to me might be asking themselves why I am living here if I am that upset. Well, I complain because I care. I guess everyone in the city has asked themselves the “Why am I here?” question a time or two. New Orleans is a place that doesn’t always return the love you have for it. You have to remind yourself of the small things that will give you a good feeling to get past the politics, crime, school system and slow recovery. These are just a few of mine. Please feel free to add your own.

Jim Henderson Doing Saints Games on the Radio – I don’t remember the last time I listened to a Saint’s game with the TV sound up. I was listening to Jim when we had our first winning season when I was 12. I was listening to him when Hakim dropped the ball and we won our first playoff game. I was listening when we beat the Eagles and went to the NFC Championship. Last year, I wanted to share a beer with him after the Tampa game and the infamous reverse play. When he retires my football seasons won’t be the same. I am getting sad just thinking about it.

Patton’s Hot Sausage – This is a serious thing. I am not joking about this. There are people who have relocated after the storm that plan monthly trips into the city just to buy hot sausage. My aunt’s backyard in the Lower Ninth Ward was right behind Patton’s Hot Sausage plant. There was always a wonderful smell at her house....

Friendly Strangers – New Orleans gets a bad rap for the attitude of its residents. This is a huge misconception. The truth of the matter is that New Orleans has some of the friendliest people from all walks of life you will ever run into. I have had some of the best conversations just sitting at the DMV or in an elevator with a total stranger. If you took ten random people from the city and put them in a room together for a few hours, when you came back they would have a fishing trip set up, a BBQ planned and everyone would be on a first name basis. If you gave them more than a day together everyone would have a nickname. This really makes the vibe since the storm really puzzling.

Red Beans on Monday – I have been doing this my whole life and I still don’t know why. By the way, if you are using anything but Camellia beans to cook with you are not using the right thing. (If Mr. DuBos is reading this I just want to let you know that Patton’s and Camellia are not paying me to endorse their products.)

The Lakefront – I know we don’t have the only lakefront but there is nothing like sitting on the lake at night watching the waves crash the seawall while smoking on a nice cigar watching people fish. That is the best free stress reliever in the city. The lake is also the greatest free date spot in American history. I won’t get further into that because I want Kevin to invite me back one day.

Six Month Summers – When I was in high school I spent sometime living in Kansas. After experiencing sub zero temperatures I realized that I was born to live in this area. You can have the snow and all that other stuff. I will gladly accept my six month summers (May to October) even if that means I have to trick or treat for Halloween with shorts on.

Brass Bands and Random Parades – Mardi Gras Parades are nice and they are fun but there is nothing like sitting in your house and suddenly hearing the sound of the drum coming up the street. That lets you know that the second line is near but not close enough to hear the horns yet so you have time to put your shoes on and go outside. Is there any sound sweeter than a good brass band blowing as loud as they can? If you can hear that and be annoyed or not dance I suggest it’s time to relocate to another city.

Back in the good ole days there would be impromptu second lines in the neighborhood just so the musicians could practice. My high school was right on the path from every major black funeral home downtown to the old cemeteries. I can still remember running up the street trying to get back in time for Algebra after leaving school to walk with the procession.

You can’t cut class to follow The Dirty Dozen Brass Band in any other city. I love this place!I would love to hear some things from your list.

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