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two days from now. The season is Carnival

Time:2018-02-11 22:25Shoes websites Click:

New Orleans Carnival mardi gras french quarter Bourbon Street

My mother called our city New AW-yunz. I say New OR-lens, although New AW-lens or New Or-lee-uns sometimes slides out of my mouth.

A local professor told me New Or-LEENS is the favored pronunciation in a few neighborhoods, but most of us say that only when singing “You know what it means to miss New Or-LEENS” or referring to Or-LEENS Parish. Or when commenting on our fellow New Or-LEEN-ians.

However it’s pronounced, it’s my home. It has its issues as any family does, but there’s nowhere on Earth I’d rather live.

If we don’t know how to pronounce our city’s name, it should be no surprise that although 2018’s calendar is filled with events commemorating the 300th anniversary of New Orleans’ founding, no one is sure of the exact date in 1718.

It’s complicated.

We do know that French Canadian Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville (he and his brother, Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville,explored the Mississippi River in 1699), defied orders to build the city nearer to what is now Baton Rouge. Instead Bienville chose a crescent in the Mississippi 90 nautical miles north of the mouth of the river.

Bienville made the first cut in the canebrakes before 30 convicts began clearing this “dreadful” site, “prone to flooding and infested with snakes and mosquitoes,” Tulane University professor Lawrence N. Powell wrote in “The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans.”

On the other hand, Powell wrote “its strategiclocation near the mouth of one of history’s great arteries of commerce was superb.”

Sex, life and death are celebrated as are the New Orleans Saints

It's time party in New Orleans, it's turning 300

Lafayette cemetery with historic grave stones in New Orleans. Meinzahn / Getty Images

These days many of the 391,000 or so who live in New Orleans proper — Orleans Parish — tend to be passionate and tolerant.

We recently elected LaToya Cantrell as mayor, the first black woman to win the seat. Sex, life and death are celebrated as are the New Orleans Saints, a passion often mentioned in obituaries.

We wave white handkerchiefs in celebration, whether it’s at a concert by New Orleans' “Queen of Soul” Irma Thomas, a winning Saints game or as part of a second line, which refers to anyone marching or dancing behind the first line of family or members of an organization and musicians playing as they walk. The tradition started with funerals of African Americans.

Come anytime, and you’ll find a festival; there are 135 annually. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (this year April 27-May 6) is the most revered — and crowded.

Bourbon Street is our most famous name and, “for better or worse, has exported a vision of New Orleans culture around the world,” wrote Richard Campanella, a geographer at Tulane’s School of Architecture who has authored 10 books about New Orleans and Louisiana.

He compares Bourbon Street to Mardi Gras. “Both are spontaneous, bottom-up phenomena, without organizational element,” he wrote. “We’re a place that celebrates pleasure and turns a blind eye.”

It's time party in New Orleans, it's turning 300

Randall Johnson of the "Cool-Bone Jazz Band" belts out a tune on Bourbon Street. Bill Haber / AP

Momentum rebuilds

We welcomed 10.45 million visitors in 2016, the most since 2004. On Aug. 29, 2005, levees broke under the weight of Hurricane Katrina and flooded New Orleans for miles between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River. The disaster killed about 1,500 people in Louisiana.

Some in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere said our city should not be rebuilt. Parts of the city are below sea level, and they deemed it doomed.

But come on, New Orleans was hit by a fire in 1788 that flattened 80% of the French Quarter; a yellow fever epidemic in 1853 that killed 8,600 and a total of 41,000 more between 1817 and 1905, and multiple hurricanes.

“Ha!” we spat back. New Orleanians don’t quit.

Three months after Katrina, Ricky Graham, a popular playwright-actor, opened a show called “I’m Still Here, Me!” Audiences cheered when he walked onstage wearing a hat shaped like a roof covered by a blue tarp.

“Thank God for Valium and beer, I’m still here,” he sang. The show ran a year.

It didn’t take long for restaurants to reclaim our attention. There now are about 1,550, and which ones are best is endlessly debated.

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