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It was once said of James Dean that he had an "insufficient hopefulness" -- a phrase that often comes to mind when people ask what it’s like in New Orleans now, more than a year after the levees broke flooding 80 percent of the city.

"The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned," writes W.B. Yeats, and even as the rebuilding process begins in New Orleans, a brown water stain, like a nasty "ring around the collar," seems to remain not only on the houses but on the hopes of the people.

 New Orlean's Vieux Carre. Christopher Ludgate photo.

As a travel writer with an apartment in the French Quarter for the past 12 years, wherever I go, people ask me about New Orleans. By now you’d think I’d have a ready answer, but somehow it always seems to catch me off guard, fumbling for a response. It’s as though my child has died and a well-meaning stranger at the grocery asks how I’m holding up.

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

My answers, like the city, are mercurial. And even if I were somehow to find a way to take the exact pulse of New Orleans at a particular moment and accurately articulate it, my response is not likely be one that nice people in nice places want to hear.

Usually I give an ambiguous, Dickens-esque "best of times/worst of times" answer so as to encourage tourism in the French Quarter yet remind that everything is still not OK. All the while I’m really muttering under my breath that New Orleans is like Humpty Dumpty, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t seem to put Humpty back together again. READ MORE


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Tags: storySection: Tripadvisor Hotel Reviews
Location: Louisiana
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