New Orleans and the Other Side
©Stephen Allen

Just a few thoughts about why people from out of town find New Orleans so special…

To begin with, there are two sides to life: there’s this side, where we live day to day, and there’s the other side. The other side is not limited to 3 dimensions, or day and night, or any other parameters that we are stuck with on this side. The other side can’t really even be defined, but generally it’s the spiritual side of life, the mysterious side, the causal side (that causes things to happen the way they do), the side that we visit in dreams… it’s any and everything that everyday life isn’t. This side that we’re on sometimes seems like just a shadow of this more important, more essential other side of life.
In New Orleans, between the two sides there seems to be a transparency or immediacy that you don’t find in most places. The thing is, the other side is just a little bit closer here. It’s like an intense obviousness that keeps tapping you on the shoulder, going “psst, hey! It’s all around you!”
In New Orleans you see people having –literally- the time of their lives. In other words, having the best time they’ve ever had, the experience of a lifetime. You can tell they have discovered an attitude and a perspective they will carry with them and cherish forever. Say it’s their first time in the City That Care Forgot. And suddenly they’ve never been so in touch with a certain part of themselves before, a part they will have for their own from now on. People who live here get to see this phenomenon occurring to some degree all the time. Locals recognize it, get used to it, maybe even failing to appreciate it sometimes when they’re tired or in a mood. But that budding self discovery is there and happening for people all the time, and it’s part of the energy of this place.
New Orleans is a great place for sex. (How’s that for a smooth segue’, huh? Are you busy later?) Not to say that everyone’s hot to trot here. But that this is a great place to bring your new girlfriend or boyfriend, or your mate of 30 years. While you’re involved in discovering another side of yourself, you will most likely discover another side of him or her that you have never seen or perhaps haven’t seen in a long time.
The spiritual side of life is closer here. Paradoxically, the physical, animal side of our nature is closer here too. There’s more general awareness of that often hidden side too. And the feeling is that that’s OK. The stifling pressure of conventional mores have for some reason a tendency to evaporate in New Orleans. For example even though women are often seen by men as sex objects, it’s not as insulting as in some cultures. It’s more in the nature of an inside joke. A joke played by the forces of nature, and everyone just shrugs their shoulders in an ‘oh well’ attitude. Our animal natures are accepted as an inescapable part of life. That’s a main thing: the acceptance of the oh so human side of human nature. It’s all known, it’s old news, hey gotta live anyway.
Our fair city brings out something essential in a person. That’s why visitors go so nuts over it. It’s certainly not because we have good weather-It’s raining or just hot as hell and muggy from mid spring till Halloween. Add an occasional hurricane to that. It’s certainly not because the city is so pristine and sparkling- The French Quarter gets a cleaning during the wee hours on a 24/7 basis, and by the end of each night, it’s the absolute dirtiest place you’ve ever been. Maybe it’s the oldness of the original city, being in the midst of so much history that just never ever leaves. They say you’re every age you’ve ever been, so maybe the old surroundings bring out the old soul in you. Even the dead seem still to be hanging around. Don’t see them but can’t you feel them? The whole area within the city limits is not comprised of 300 year old buildings. Yet that feeling is there anyway, it’s in the people who live here. If they’re from here, they probably never leave, and if they do they come back, and still more of them come from somewhere else to discover that this is where they belong. They’ve experienced that self-discovery thing, and can’t bear to be without it ever again.
Another point (actually the same point from a different perspective): When people of no particular physical noteworthiness (to put it delicately) come here, they loose something and they gain something. They loose their self-consciousness, that image they have of how they must look to other people, and of how they’re expected to behave. This change doesn’t happen while getting off the plane, necessarily, but after a few days, it just rubs off. You shed it like an old skin. Or you just sweat it off, because it’s too hot to bother. That petty skin surface tension just isn’t an issue anymore. Because New Orleans is a town without a big ego problem. (Sorry L.A., but you asked for it.) What a person gains here is a feeling of being comfortable within their skin. The time for pretense is simply not now. Any person at all is free to become a sexy, vibrant, confident free spirit. And that spirit awake in them makes them become beautiful, from the inside out. This is a mousy librarian from Sheboygan I’m talking about, or perhaps a really LARGE person, or a Wally Cox look-alike, male or female. Not too drop dead gorgeous, if you get my drift. But they forget that, now that they’ve entered the powerful energy field of our beloved Stagnant Magnet. In New Orleans you can let yourself release the primal energy of your sex, and of course, that energy is just absolutely the very thing that the opposite sex is yearning for. Again, this person has discovered that cusp between the habitual, mundane world they normally inhabit, and this other, more universal, more essential side of existence.
If you find all this hard to accept, just ask someone you know who has been here. It’s sort of an ‘on the bus or off the bus’ kind of thing, or a ‘you had to be there’ moment. In conclusion, everything that has been said here is guaranteed to be the genuine goods, and a full and cheerful refund will be yours if you don’t find it all to be absolutely true when you find yourself in New Orleans.