The Readers (and Musicians) of New Orleans

Photography by Kevin Rabalais
 

We continue our series on readers around the world with a trip to New Orleans, where the streets are filled with readers, musicians, writers and artists. And those necessary others: the audience.

 

 Chartres Street.

Chartres Street.

People don’t live in New Orleans because it is easy. They live here because they are incapable of living anywhere else in just the same way.

— A Season of Night: New Orleans Life After Katrina, Ian McNulty
 
 Outside the French Market.

Outside the French Market.

Every writer, every artist who visited New Orleans fell in love with it. The city might have been the Great Whore of Babylon, but few ever forgot or regretted her embrace.
— Tin Roof Blowdown, James Lee Burke
 
 Jackson Square, looking toward St Louis Cathedral.

Jackson Square, looking toward St Louis Cathedral.

Leaving New Orleans also frightened me considerably. Outside of the city the heart of darkness, the true wasteland begins.
— A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
 
 Bourbon Street.

Bourbon Street.

New Orleans! ... I can’t quite name it. A certain vital decay? A lively fetter? Whenever I think of New Orleans away from New Orleans, I think of rotting fish on the sidewalk and good times inside. A Catholic city in a sense, but that’s not it. Providence, Rhode Island, is a Catholic city, but my God who would want to live in Providence, Rhode Island? It’s not it, your religion, that informs this city, but rather some special local accommodation to it or relaxation from it. This city’s soul I think of as neither damned nor saved but eased rather, existing in a kind of comfortable Catholic limbo somewhere between the outer circle of hell, where sexual sinners don’t have it all that bad, and the inner circle of purgatory, where things are even better. Add to that a flavor of Marseilles vice leavened by Southern U.S.A. good nature.
— Lancelot, Walker Percy
 
 Outside the Presbytère.

Outside the Presbytère.

The Creole women of Louisiana have long been the subject of song and story—their beauty, their accomplishments, their grace and dignity of character, united to singular vivacity and charm of temperament. ... It is often said in New Orleans that no one dresses better and with more taste than the Creole women.
— from The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book. Second edition, 1901.
 
 Royal Street.

Royal Street.

And you know there was somethin’ about you baby
That I liked that was always too good for this world
Just like you always said there was something about me you liked
That I left behind in the French Quarter
— "Brownsville Girl," Bob Dylan and Sam Shepard
 
 Outside Café du Monde.

Outside Café du Monde.

When the sun rose on Jackson Square, the mist hung like cotton candy in the oak trees behind the St. Louis Cathedral. The dawn smelled of ponded water, lichen-stained stone, flowers that bloomed only at night, coffee and freshly baked beignets in the Café du Monde. Every day was a party, and everyone was invited and the admission was free.
— Tin Roof Blowdown, James Lee Burke
 
 St. Roch Market, established 1875.

St. Roch Market, established 1875.

 
 Bourbon Street.

Bourbon Street.

All good New Orleanians go to look at the Mississippi at least once a day. At night it is like creeping into a dark bedroom to look at a sleeping child—something of that sort—gives you the same warm nice feeling, I mean.
— Death in the Woods and Other Stories, Sherwood Anderson
 
 View onto the Mississippi River from the Moon Walk.

View onto the Mississippi River from the Moon Walk.

 

Keep reading with our Readers of Barcelona and Readers of Venice.

 

Our neighbors need our help

 

 

 

 

The good people of Texas, our neighbors and our friends, are suffering. Please join us in aiding the organizations on the ground.

Second Harvest Food Bank is feeding those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Southwest Louisiana.

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