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Cousin de Louisiane, an esoteric pilgrimage

By Ned Cheever

I’m not from around here. (You can tell by the way I talk.) My home is in East Texas, but my heart has found a home in Louisiana.

The culture and history of New Orleans and Southern Louisiana have captured and held my attention for many years, to the extent that I feel like a natural citizen in exile. Drawn as if by gravity, I visit as frequently as circumstances will allow.

New Orleans has been the focus of my interest to such degree that I have gathered these bits of trivia that comprise the winding roots of my knowledge. This rambling collection of uniquely cultural truths-- none of which is vital, but, collectively, invaluable-- follows no order.

I know ...

  • The difference in the red and green streetcars.
  • Why the Neutral Ground is neutral.
  • That Carondelet doesn’t rhyme with Chevrolet, Terpsichore doesn’t rhyme with chicory, but Calliope can almost rhyme with cantaloupe.
  • That Conti doesn’t rhyme with Tonti.
  • How to say Tchoupitoulas, but I wouldn’t want to draw it in a spelling bee.
  • That Burgundy wine and Burgundy Street have opposing accents.
  • That Ursulines is singular, and Houmas House, too.
  • Where "Vetrans” is.
  • "Where I got dem shoes.”
  • That of the nine streets named for the Muses, all are mispronounced, and one is misspelled.
  • Of the visible construction flaw in the Beauregard-Keyes House.
  • That the Roosevelt Hotel was headquarters for the Kingfish, and that he could see all the way to Baton Rouge from his suite, or so they say.
  • That the Sazerac Lounge and the Blue Room are thankfully alive again.
  • Where Seymour Weiss left the deduct box. Okay, just kidding!
  • That Tennessee Williams lived at the Maison DeVille, but the Monteleone claims he lived there, too.
  • That Truman Capote called the Monteleone home, when in New Orleans.
  • That the movie Baby Doll was filmed at the Columns Hotel, and that the film crew pillaged the place on the way out.
  • That Marvin, the bartender in the Carousel Bar, never gets dizzy.
  • Where to get martinis for a quarter!
  • How to make a Pimm’s Cup.
  • The difference in Fat Harry’s and Harry’s Corner.
  • The legend of LaFitte’s Blacksmith Shop.
  • That it’s Pascal’s Manale, not Pascal Manale’s. I do not know what a Manale is.
  • That Sandra Bullock can walk to Commander’s.
  • That Cafe Du Monde has the best coffee for a morning walk on the river, that CC’s is best for a walk in the Quarter, and that you get your Starbucks at the Royal Sonesta.
  • How to properly say croissant, beignet, and praline.
  • That Galatoire’s is best enjoyed if you have your "own” waiter.
  • That Napoleon never lived in Napoleon House.
  • Why Irene’s and Tommy’s have the same menu.
  • Where I can dine in the bed of a pickup truck.
  • That the Bombay Club has vignettes and the Bistro at Maison DeVille has banquettes.
  • That the Parkway Bakery and Tavern is no longer a bakery, and that Junior is long gone.
  • Liuzza’s on Bienville from Liuzza’s at the Track.
  • A half loaf at Mandina’s is whole enough for me.
  • What the waiter means when he asks if I want "my-nez.”
  • How Dooky Chase got the name.
  • How Ruth’s Chris got its/his/her/their name.
  • That Ugelsich’s is gone.
  • That Willie Mae’s Scotch House is not a bar.
  • About lagniappe, but I don’t get much of it.
  • That ”shotgun” can describe a house or a marriage.
  • How to make groceries.
  • That a po’ boy dressed is not a clothed youngster of limited means.
  • That a ”spy boy” is not a treasonous youth.
  • That a ”second line” is not repeated drug abuse.
  • Where the Zulu King and Rex hook up on Lundi Gras.
  • That the King or Queen of the Mystic Krewe of Barkus is always baseborn.
  • That the Krewe of Muses is the prettiest of all.
  • That the Mondo Kayo Marching Club is the most fun of all.
  • That the guy selling ferry tickets is a grifter.
  • That Grandpa Elliott has one good eye, but I can’t tell which it is.
  • That there are a lot of Neville musicians, but not how many.
  • That the prolific Marsalis family numbers fewer than the Neville clan.
  • How to pronounce Rockin’ Dopsey.
  • That Irvin Mayfield, Wynton Marsalis, Kermit Ruffins, and Jeremy Davenport all play trumpet, but Davenport hails from St. Louis while the others are locals.
  • How to say ”muffalotta,” "Sant Bunnawd,” and ”Bye-yoo Sant Jawn.”
  • From the context if "hawt” means heart or hot.
  • Why Mirabeau is pronounced "Miraboo.” Do you, too?
  • How to pass a good time.
  • Where to pass a good time.
  • How to eat a crawfish, but I do not care to describe the act.

Ned Cheever is a new contributor to NolaVie. He has logged 31 visits over 17 years, stayed at 18 different hotels, dined at 76 different restaurants, taken over 1,500 photographs, lived through 7 Mardi Gras, one shooting incident, and a pocket picking.  And, yes, he still comes back.

Renee Peck is editor of NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]