Tips for tourists in New Orleans, Louisiana

If you and your typically lardassed Caucasian family make it down to New Orleans from your typically lardassed Caucasian tract house or double-wide trailer in Dubuque, Iowa, don't call it The Big Easy or Nawlins. It's pronounced Noo Or'lynns. Many locals get pissed off when it's called anything other than that, kind of like how native San Franciscans can't stand hearing the word "Frisco."

Since you and your family are tourists, chances are you'll be spending your entire trip within the cramped confines of the French Quarter. Keep in mind that despite the party atmosphere, the Quarter is still a residential neighborhood. That means people live there. Generally, they don't appreciate drunken yelling after dark, vomit on their front stoops, or urine in their driveways. The broken glass embedded in the tops of street-side courtyard walls is there for a reason: to keep people like you out.

Since you and your family are tourists, chances are the first thing you'll do is string half your body weight in Mardi Gras beads around your neck the moment you arrive, thus identifying you to fellow tourists and to locals so they can avoid you: Mardi Gras beads are worn only by tourists unless it's actually, you know, Mardi Gras. You should visit St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square immediately afterwards to pray that an enterprising local doesn't throw you into the Mississippi River.

The next thing you'll probably do is attempt to find Bourbon Street. Don't ask for directions, because chances are the people you ask will either be tourists themselves and know no better than you where it is, or will be locals that either laugh at you or mislead you out of pure spite. Bourbon Street can be easily found by following the obnoxious zydeco music and the trash-strewn gutters. When you finally find it, I expect you'll get obnoxiously drunk and then end up taking a cab the four blocks back to your hotel.

Lemme tell ya something: we (as New Orleaneans) are okay with ignorance and stupidity and diversity, even among smug and supercilious white people. In a town this small and this diverse, we have to be. You know what we're not okay with? People who treat others like doormats and assume that everyone walking by is there to assist you, and that the service industry people in the restaurants you patronize don't work hard and could do without a nice tip.