“Betcha I can tell ya / Where ya / Got them shoooes. / Betchadollar, / Betchadollar, / Where ya / Got them shoooes. / Got your shoes on your feet, / Got your feet on the street, / And the street’s in Noo / Awlins, Loo- / Eez-ee-anna. Where I, for my part, first ate a live oyster and first saw a naked woman with the lights on. . . . Every time I go to New Orleans I am startled by something.”
So writes Roy Blount Jr. in this exuberant, character-filled saunter through a place he has loved almost his entire life—a city “like no other place in America, and yet (or therefore) the cradle of American culture.” Here we experience it all through his eyes, ears, and taste buds: the architecture, music, romance (yes, sex too), historical characters, and all that glorious food.
The book is divided into eight Rambles through different parts of the city. Each closes with lagniappe—a little bit extra, a special treat for the reader: here a brief riff on Gennifer Flowers, there a meditation on naked dancing. Roy Blount knows New Orleans like the inside of an oyster shell and is only too glad to take us to both the famous and the infamous sights. He captures all the wonderful and rich history—culinary, literary, and political—of a city that figured prominently in the lives of Jefferson Davis (who died there), Truman Capote (who was conceived there), Zora Neale Hurston (who studied voodoo there), and countless others, including Andrew Jackson, Lee Harvey Oswald, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Jelly Roll Morton, Napoléon, Walt Whitman, O. Henry, Thomas Wolfe, Earl Long, Randy Newman, Edgar Degas, Lillian Hellman, the Boswell Sisters, and the Dixie Cups.
Above all, though, Feet on the Street is a celebration of friendship and joie de vivre in one of America’s greatest and most colorful cities, written by one of America’s most beloved humorists.
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|Title of Philosophy eBook: Feet on the Street|
|Release Date: 02-01-2005|
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|Publisher: Crown Publishing Group|
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Feet on the Street
Ramble One: Orientation
Mitch: I thought you were straight.
Blanche: What’s straight? A road or a line can be straight. But the human heart?
—A Streetcar Named Desire
Since the Mississippi flows generally south from its origin in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, you expect a town on the river to be on the east bank or the west. But at New Orleans the river flows eastwardly, sort of, so New Orleans is on the north bank, sort of. On the other side of the river is an area known, to be sure, as West Bank, but most of it lies either south or east of the river. On a map you can see: if the river were straight, New Orleans would be almost horizontal, right to left, east to west, between the river to the south and Lake Pontchartrain (as big as Rhode Island) to the north. But the river is crooked. The best known parts of New Orleans form a sort of tipped-forward S along bends in the river, from Uptown and the Garden District through Downtown, the French Quarter, and on around eastward into Fauxborg Marigny and the Bywater. Within this S, Uptown is south (upriver) and Downtown north (downriver), because the river takes a northerly hitch. However, the part of the Quarter that is farthest downtown is referred to as the upper Quarter, though I have heard it called the lower.
So when I tell you that I am pretty damn sure that in 1998, during Hurricane Georges, I saw the river, at least the topmost layer of it, flowing backward (because the wind was blowing so hard southerly along that northerly hitch), you can see why I might not be absolutely sure.
It was late and I was by myself at the time, nobody else was around. And I was feelin