We all know how great New Orleans is except for those occasional days when a sensational crime tears at our heart or there is a scary tropical event; otherwise, it is a really, really special place. Sometimes it is so special it is hard to grasp. Consider the week that just passed. There was nothing on the calendar that made it look any different from most other Autumn week, but imagine the opportunity for a tourist who was staying, lets says downtown or in the French Quarter, from Sunday to Sunday. Here is what they would have been exposed to within a week.

Sunday—an NFL game at the Superdome embellished by the excitement of the home team winning.

Tuesday—A Broadway caliber road show of “Chicago” opened at the elegant Saenger Theater with performances through Sunday.

Friday—A locally produced, international level production of the opera, “Carmen” was performed at the Mahalia Jackson theater with a repeat performance Sunday.

Saturday—Joanna Gleason, a Tony Award winning singer whose  Broadway credentials include “Into the Woods” gave a fabulous concert at LePetite. (No one seemed to think it unusual when at one point the sound of a passing jazz band provided a muffled echo through the theater.) Later that night the streets of the Quarter were jammed including another jazz band leading an umbrella- wielding wedding second line.

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  That was one week: professional sports, a Broadway road show, a stunning opera, excellent cabaret and jazz in the streets.

     As impressive as all that was though, consider one more thought—and this too often gets overlooked; a visitor staying downtown could have attended each of these events and easily walked to all of them.

   Now superimpose the same events in another place; lets says Manhattan, and lets assume the visitor is staying near Broadway. For the football game he would have had to get to the Meadowlands in New Jersey; probably by either taxi or subway. He might have been able to walk to the theater, but the opera would have likely been at Lincoln Center, which would have been another taxi or Subway ride. The cabaret would have been somewhere at what is loosely called "Off Broadway” and that would have required transportation needs, nowhere would there have been passing jazz bands or frolicking wedding parties.

   No other cities could offer so much packaged so tightly.

      Damn, we’re special.

      There is a convention of anesthesiologists in town this week. Fifteen thousand delegates from 90 countries are expected. New Orleans, they will discover, is a hard city to put to sleep.




 BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), has been released. It is now available at local bookstores and at book web sites.