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Three Perfect Days: New Orleans

Four years after the storm that left it reeling, New Orleans is finally recovering its stride. And then some...

Author Ethan Brown

3 Perfect Days New Orleans

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VOODOO PURVEYOR // “I love that New Orleans dances to an Afro-Caribbean beat, and I really love the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, which is as beautiful as a Monet painting.”

ARTIST // “First, I stop in Bud’s Broiler on City Park Avenue and get a sack of cheeseburgers, then I go and eat them under the live oaks at Holt Cemetery. It’s a unique place—real quiet— and all the graves are done up with bed frames and stuffed animals.”

RESTAURATEUR // “When I want to go out for a good local meal, I really like to go to the Marigny and try either Mimi’s for tapas or Yuki Izakaya for Japanese. Both of them have great atmosphere, excellent food and really cool drink recipes.”

SOCIAL WORKER // “I love Il Posto Café for the mortadella, fontina cheese and roasted red peppers with balsamic on ciabatta; I go to Parasols for french fries and gravy. I also love the ice cream at Angelo Brocato and Creole Creamery.”

WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS // Brad Pitt cleans up the mess? // Soon after Katrina barreled through town, actor Brad Pitt and his retinue followed, though to opposite effect. While filming The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Pitt was touched by the city’s struggles to rebuild homes, so he commissioned a team of experts in architecture and sustainable redevelopment to design storm-safe and environmentally sound houses in the Lower 9th Ward. Thus was born Pitt’s Make it Right Foundation in 2006.

Groundbreaking started so quickly that some residents are talking him up as a write-in candidate for mayor. So far, just 13 of the planned 150 houses have been built, but these boxy modernist structures are worth checking out—particularly because they’re set against the dramatic backdrop of the devastated neighborhood.

ALL THAT JAZZ // The smooth sounds of New Orleans // According to lore, the Big Easy got its nickname because it used to be so easy for musicians to get gigs. Over time, little has changed but the haircuts and the venues (the three best: Apple Barrel, d.b.a. and Rock n’ Bowl). Nola has churned out some of the swingingest tunes of all time. Here’s a primer of the must-have albums:

PROFESSOR LONGHAIR // NEW ORLEANS PIANO // The wobbly voice and wild piano playing of the late Henry Roeland Byrd—a.k.a. Professor Longhair—is so well known in New Orleans that locals simply refer to him as “Fess.” The best-known track on this album—“Mardi Gras in New Orleans”—perfectly evokes Fat Tuesday thrills and has an insanely catchy whistled chorus.

THE WILD MAGNOLIAS // THE WILD MAGNOLIAS // An unfortunately still-obscure funk band that emerged from New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian scene, this group nonetheless had a minor hit with its 1974 album, whose centerpiece is “Smoke My Peace Pipe (Smoke It Right),” the sort of blunted funk that hip-hop acts like Cypress Hill and Snoop Dogg have since co-opted.

DR. JOHN // GOIN’ BACK TO NEW ORLEANS // This 1992 disk is one of the legendary pianist’s later works, but also one of the most beloved albums in New Orleans because of its smooth yet mournful soul, which recalls the Neville Brothers. The title track is the perfect theme song for New Orleanians who know what it means to miss home.

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