POSTED Thu. Nov 28, 2013
We're thankful for you, New Orleans
Adam Karlin
Written by ADAM KARLIN

From our house to yours: Happy Thanksgiving, or in my case, Thanksgivukkah, from New Orleans & Me.

There are a lot of love letters to New Orleans. It’s practically become a sub-genre of the travel essay – out of towner visits, falls for the city, pens around a thousand words about why it’s like nowhere else. I’m certainly guilty of contributing more than a few drops to the online ocean of New Orleans love. David Simon did it over the course of four television seasons, with varying degrees of success. This website is more or less an entire URL dedicated to the sentiment.

There’s a reason for this: New Orleans is special. She is different, in ways cute and meaningful. Yes, the food is good, and the music is too.

But she has her issues, and I don’t just mean boil advisories. We have our faults: our corruption, poor infrastructure, and most damning, our crime.

But shit. At the end of the day, I still love this city. And on a day dedicated to being thankful, I’m working through why.

I know I am thankful for its unceasing dedication to finding the beautiful and the sensual. New Orleans knows the ephemeral soul responds most easily to the bodily tangible experience. I am thankful that I make a bad Buddhist, because I love the sensory, the temporal and the now, the beauty in front of me and the song I can dance to, and if I didn’t like these things, I’d live in Toronto.

I am thankful for the great and true friends I have made, who do interesting work, much of which makes New Orleans a better place to live. I’m not just talking about non-profit managers and entrepreneurs, although they do good things. But so do the waitresses and bartenders who, via a smile and some conversation, contribute little drops of goodness to the sometimes indifferent sea of humanity we’re all swimming in.

I am thankful for go-cups. Not just actual go-cups (although I am thankful for those); I am thankful for what the go-cup represents. Namely, in a nation divided between the impulses of individual freedom, puritan morality and the good of the public, the go-cup is a nod to the first instinct in a daiquiri-friendly carrying case. It’s a sign of either trust in the citizen or neglect of the public good, depending on who you ask. Either way, it means I don’t have to deep throat a beer when I leave the bar.

I am thankful for a home to live in, and the beautiful homes and architecture that give us the most distinctive streetscape in the country.

Here’s what I am not thankful for: I enjoy all of these things without really fearing the conditions that are endemic to our underserved underclass. I am removed from the disenfranchisement that houses so much of the culture I consume. I can listen to brass bands without having endured anything like the obstacles their members go through.

New Orleans makes me aware of this gulf on the Gulf, which is truly everywhere at the end of the day. And I guess I’m thankful for that realization: that the things that are messed up in New Orleans are messed up across the country. Across the world. To greater or lesser extents, of course, but they’re out there. I’m thankful New Orleans, via her extremes of happiness and tragedy, reminds me of this situation, but more accurately, I’m pissed off by it.

But this isn’t a holiday or a time for anger. It’s a time for reaching across the table and embracing our families. So on this cold Louisiana evening, love the one you’ve got. Realize New Orleans isn’t perfect, but that she can be a damn fine place to live, and as we segue into a holiday of giving, let’s try and make it fine for all New Orleanians, up, down, lake and river.


    Our Local Publisher Partners

    • The Arts Council of New Orleans
    • WWNO
    • WWOZ
    • PRC
    • NOMA
    • The Historic New Orleans Collection
    • Southern Food
    • Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
    The Arts Council of New Orleans

    The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.


    WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at


    WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.


    Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.


    As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

    The Historic New Orleans Collection

    The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

    Southern Food

    The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.



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