We all need a place to go (if only in our minds) when things get stressful, depressing, sad, hard, or simply boring . . . a place that breeds a sense of peace, solace, enthusiasm, delight, renewal or joy. It may be a real or imagined place; it might involve a person, a group, or a culture; it may be a different time or era; it may be a fantasy, or a place you can actually visit, or . . . it may be purely spiritual in nature.
My primary constant is spiritual, but I also feel lucky to have found my literal “happy place” on earth. I stumbled upon it about 25 years ago after traversing the country & world for much of my youth, and found it to be entirely unique. One stressful evening I took a road trip, and arrived at sunrise in a place that I discovered to be pretty much perfect. Well, that’s not true – it has a lot of flaws – but the flaws seem to make its finer aspects all the more wonderful.
My happy place isn’t always happy. It was almost destroyed in 2005 by a hurricane, making me realize that it was much more than just a fun place to get away. I wasn’t alone in this awakening, for the tragedy caused the world to become more aware of this city’s historical, cultural, musical, culinary and economic importance. Prior to the hurricane it had primarily just been a cool place to visit, but afterwards many joined together with a passion to preserve, rebuild, restore and renew one of the most unique cities in the world . . . New Orleans.
I already know what some people are thinking – because I hear it all the time. New Orleans? You like it there? Really? Isn’t it a bit sketchy / dirty / unsafe /corrupt (insert your word of choice here)? Well, yes . . . and no. Such negatives exist in just about every big city, but the positives in New Orleans far outweigh any negatives you might find.
If images of Bourbon Street are the only thing that comes to mind when you think of New Orleans, then you really don’t know much about one of the coolest cities in the world. My advice to most people visiting New Orleans is to simply stay off of Bourbon Street altogether, because it can leave a pretty bad taste in your mouth . . . not to mention a lingering smell. There are actually a few venues on Bourbon Street worth checking out – but I’ll get to that in a later blog entry. I just wanted to start out by emphasizing that NOLA is much more than you may have realized . . . especially if Bourbon St. is your primary reference point.
The reason I’m writing this assortment of love letters to my favorite city is because I want YOU to know just how wonderful it is too – and help you discover the food, music, events, history, culture, places and people who will provide you with memorable experiences and help you to feel the same way.
Those that know me personally, or follow me on various forms of social media, often hear me obsess about New Orleans . . . thus, I am often asked for my advice on where they should stay, where to eat, what sights to see, and where to hear good music . . . and I am always more than happy to oblige. However, I always thought it would be nice if I had something I could simply email or share, so that I don’t have to write it out separately each time, for every individual that asks the same questions. Thus – I’ve created this blog called “NOLA Obsessed”. This will allow me to write about New Orleans, post pictures, videos, podcasts, etc . . . and share it all with you!
This is not a tourist guide, because I have never actually felt like a “tourist” in New Orleans – these are merely the musings of a passionate patron of its culture, music, history, architecture, food, art, community and people. I find it best to seek out the local vibe and flavor wherever I visit, and thus rely on locals for suggestions as to their favorite places, musicians, venues, restaurants, etc. Over the years I have met fascinating people and have had many wonderful experiences . . . but be forewarned that my suggestions may be biased. It depends on what you are looking for when you go to New Orleans as to what you will enjoy. If you like to get drunk and fall down in the street – by all means, ignore everything I say and stay on Bourbon Street. However, if you love Cajun & Creole Cuisine, New Orleans music (particularly jazz), discovering musical, literary & political history, building relationships with musicians, writers & artist, discovering unique architecture, courtyards & graveyards, the feeling of visiting another time and place, and spotting the occasional ghost . . . well then, you might indeed like of suggestions I make throughout the various entries in this blog. So . . . check it out:
You don’t have to take my word for any of this . . . In fact, I encourage you to dig around on your own to find specifics that suit your particular taste. There are many publications, websites and services in New Orleans that you can and should check out prior to, and during, your visit for ideas, suggestions, history, music, food, events, culture, coupons and special offers. A few of my go-to places are:
New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau
New Orleans Online
New Orleans Hotels & Travel Site
New Orleans Bed and Breakfasts
Experience New Orleans
New Orleans Restaurants
New Orleans Coupons
Offbeat – New Orleans Music (news, reviews, calendar, etc.)
Live Wire – Live Local Music Calendar
Gambit’s News, Info & “Best of New Orleans”
New Orleans History and Heritage
You can sign up for email subscriptions on most of these sites, which is a great way to stay current on all the happenings in New Orleans . . . unless, of course, you find that just a bit too obsessive. 🙂
To get you in the mood, to learn about local music, to prepare your spirit, and take you to New Orleans without leaving your computer, tablet or phone – tune in anytime to the best radio station in the world:
WWOZ 90.7 FM New Orleans
These combined sites will allow you to independently research everything you might be interested in exploring, doing, seeing, hearing and experiencing in the Crescent City. However, for my personal suggestions – read the rest of my blog!
J. Scott Fugate, “The Jazz Evangelist” 2015