Friday, September 02, 2005

Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?

That song comes up on my iTunes and I'm a gonner. But Michael Ledeen puts some nice perspective on it.
Venice is a northern city, and New Orleans is profoundly southern. A German like Mann might find Venice to be incredibly warm and sunny, but no knowledgeable Italian would. And the presumed naturalness and spontaneity of Venetians could only be taken seriously by someone from even farther north. New Orleans, on the other hand, incarnates the south. New Orleanians are perversely proud of the slow tempo of their daily life, of the absence of industry, and of the fascinating spectacle of human foibles and failures that seems at one with the city. The Italian city that most closely matches New Orleans is Naples, not Venice. Naples also faces destruction — volcanic destruction, from "Vesuvius the Exterminator," as the poet Verga once wrote — and Naples, too, is noted for a lively, and often lawless style of life, along with great literature, art, cuisine and music. Unlike Venice, Naples is every bit as southern as New Orleans, and the European stereotype of the Neapolitan is very much like the American image of New Orleanians: lazy, happy, spontaneous, and unrepressed, slow-moving but quick-witted, and very happy with the food.
I fell instantly in love with New Orleans on my first visit. Ditto Venice.

So now I'm going to have to visit Napoli, it seems.


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