New Orleans Compressed

It’s pronounced “New OAR-linz”

Not “New Or-LEENZ” and certainly not “N’awlins.” No one says that. We don’t know where that came from, but it’s silly and if you try it. People will laugh at you and/or look at you funny!

We do not use cardinal directions

Directions are: Uptown, Downtown, River, Lake. If you ask us if your hotel is “north of here” we’ll have no idea what you’re talking about.

Public transportation

That big green or red moving object that runs on tracks down the neutral ground and makes excellent “wooka wooka wooka” sounds is a “streetcar”. Not a “tram”, “trolley”, or “metro.”

It’s flat

So flat, in fact, that NOLA has only two hills, both of which are man-made. One was built by the WPA in the 1930s to give local children “the experience of a hill” — if you’d like to climb it, it’s called “Monkey Hill” and it’s at the Audubon Zoo.

Dressed po-boy?

If you go to a po-boy shop they will ask you, “How would you like it dressed?” They are not referring to clothes. Instead, they are asking what you want on your sandwich. If you answer “dressed”, they will give you mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles!

Pretty much nothing is pronounced as it’s spelled

Phonetics have no place in the 504. Calliope Street? “KAL-ee-ope”. Same for Melpomene (“MEL-poe-meen”), Burgundy (“ber-GUN-dee”), Terpsichore (“TERP-suh-core”), and so on. Also, PRAW-leens and puh-KAHNS.

It’s legal to drink outdoors!

So long as it’s in a plastic container called a “go cup”- just ask us for one!

It gets ABYSMALLY humid here, particularly in the late summer

This being the tropics — you can tell by the banana trees and flying cockroaches the size of Volkswagens — July and August in NOLA are pretty much insufferable.

The term WHO DAT! is a statement

Hence the lack of a question mark. If somebody shouts WHO DAT! in your direction, there are only 2 acceptable responses: “WHO DAT!” and “Yeah you rite!!!” The NFL tried to claim a trademark on “WHO DAT!” not long ago. NOLA was not pleased – the NFL didn’t win.

We genuinely love to dance

Grannies dance. Kids dance. Dentists and plumbers and tax attorneys dance. Even the local police dance. When you go to see a show in NOLA, feel free to move and not just stand there like a terrified corpse.

There is a New Orleans accent… it’s just not what you think it is

Not all New Orleanians have a thick accent, and some natives might not have much of one at all. But the real New Orleans accent has been so mangled and misrepresented in various media (we’re looking your way, Kevin Costner in J.F.K.), people are often unprepared for the weird, wonderful, Brooklyn-by-the-way-of-the-Mississippi-Delta way many of us actually speak. This is called the “yat” accent, as in “Where y’at?” which is a common greeting here.

This town smells

Depending on where you are (or “where y’at,” rather) and what time of year it is, New Orleans might smell like horse manure, cigarettes, urine, dead fish, marijuana, vomit, diesel fumes, fried chicken, Jasmine, old wood, coffee, Angel’s Trumpet flowers, mown grass, mossy trees, and sweet olive.

We don’t bury our dead

If you bury something in NOLA, it’s likely to pop back up with the next hard rain, which happens a fair bit here. We inter our loved ones in above-ground mausoleums, which make our cemeteries unique and beautiful places that are fascinating to explore.