Last week I told you I was going to New Orleans for a philosophy conference, the New Orleans Workshop on Agency and Responsibility (NOWAR). Being that it was my first time in New Orleans, I had a lot of preconceived notions about what to expect. Those potential misconceptions were:
•Enough frat boy and homeless person vomit on the streets to be able to “Hansel-and-Gretel” my way back to my hotel room.
•White tourists pronouncing New Orleans “N’awlins” with stupid grins on their faces and expecting me to play along.
•Vegetarian options at restaurants to include bread and water.
•That bread and water to cost as much as an actual meal because it was given a name to impress tourists like “Our Famous N’awlins Cajun Yeast Bread!”
•Random insane debauchery.
Here is the only thing I was wrong about: “White tourists pronouncing New Orleans “N’awlins” with stupid grins on their faces and expecting me to play along.” This could be because I spent each day, from morning until dusk, in the philosophy conference.
Below are my experiences based on the bullet points of what I expected to find in New Orleans and ended up finding in New Olreans.
Regarding: “Enough frat boy and homeless person vomit on the streets to be able to ‘Hansel-and-Gretel’ my way back to my hotel room,” and “Random insane debauchery.”
What actually happened:
Many people believe the apocalypse is going to happen while they are alive. If the apocalypse is ever going to happen, it will no doubt begin in New Orleans (maybe not; I have yet to visit Vegas or Harold Camping’s house on Thanksgiving). If it really does begin in New Orleans, it will begin in the French Quarter and will be appropriately titled the “Bropocalypse.”
The amount of bros in New Orleans seemed a bit high, but upon further empirical research, it was observed that per capita, the bro rate was actually quite average. It only seemed high when walking down the street avoiding the toss of beads from guys whose greatest thrill at night is encouraging girls to lift their shirts up.
While New Orleans is known to outsiders for its jazz and culture, it is known to people who walk down the French Quarter’s streets for its shitty, mainstream rap music, barely-clothed strippers in thresholds dancing to entice you to visit the unclothed strippers indoors (for more information, buy a Girls Gone Wild DVD). Free plastic beads will be thrown to you from second story balconies and, depending on your IQ, the music will be horrible enough to either pull you in or push you away.
My first thought after walking a quarter mile in the French Quarter was “As soon as I get back to my hotel, I’m going to burn my shoes so the STD’s in the streets don’t creep up through the soles of my shoes, through my socks and into my soul.”
The French Quarter’s streets are so disgusting that a century long flood of bleach would still not sanitize the centuries old streets. If you are the kind of person who occasionally likes to wash their hands before they eat, you may not like New Orleans. If you are the kind of person who would eat a McDonalds hamburger found wrapped up and ambient temperature in an alley, you might really like New Orleans.
Regarding: “Vegetarian options at restaurants to include bread and water” and “That bread and water to cost as much as an actual meal because it was given a name to impress tourists like ‘Our Famous N’awlins Cajun Yeast Bread!’”
What actually happened:
Ok, none of the bread I saw had a stupid name meant to entice tourists. I was wrong. Sue me.
Not every restaurant had no vegetarian option; some offered a lame chicken alfredo I could order without the chicken. Way to get crazy in New Orleans. Next time I might try the caesar salad with Italian dressing.
New Orleans is known for its seafood. That’s why if you want to open a restaurant in New Orleans, you will fail if you do not serve fresh catch and frozen shrimp. Another way to fail? Make sure your vegetarian options are a list as long as good Cher songs.
In most restaurants in New Orleans, note that checks at tables cannot be divided and distributed individually. Checks can only be given to the table as a whole or simply divided in half. This is fantastic news considering we can put a man on the moon but we can’t divide a check. On top of that, many places are cash only.
This city’s slogan should be “New Orleans: World Famous Tourist Destination…and cash only.”
One specific situation of ordering a vegetarian dish at a seafood restaurant my first night in the French Quarter (“Quarter” because it is only twenty-five percent of Hell) was the waitress forgot my food.
That’s ok. Mistakes happen and I don’t believe I am exempt from being the victim of these mistakes. In this situation, it was obvious the server was lying and said something about the kitchen being backed up. My entire table received their meal, including the two other people who ordered the same thing as me.
Again, that’s ok, mistakes happen, even lies, but here is where that mistake/lie became annoying: After politely inquiring as to my food’s whereabouts, I was told by my twenty-something white waitress on my first day in New Orleans, “Don’t worry, baby, I’m a feed you.”
I just drove nine hours. I have eaten only shitty gas station food all day. I know you don’t know that, but my stomach and brain do. Don’t call me baby and don’t tell me you’re going to do what I am paying you to do.
“I’m a feed you.” No shit. I don’t go to hospitals and ask what they do. Stop talking to me like you’re a stripper.
In conclusion, I learned a lot about agency, responsibility, free will, determinism, desire, volition, blameworthiness and psychopathy. I also learned that New Orleans was dirtier and more decadent that I had previously anticipated. I’m willing to give this fantastic city another chance, but I probably will not return unless it is for another philosophy conference or a friend’s wedding. After all, why return to New Orleans when there is still so much of the world to see?
After attending a three-day philosophy conference, what was my greatest lesson (after all, philosophy is the love of wisdom)? Spending five minutes walking up on the down escalator in the Intercontinental Hotel. Not only physically exhausting, but also mind-blowing.
I am not saying you should never visit New Orleans, but I am saying it does not matter if you ever do.
1 – I’m sure the situation is not a matter of technology, but a matter of tourists being pains in the ass, but if I were to acknowledge that I could not make the joke.