I saw it on a tee shirtSome people love to laugh at us here in New Orleans. They think we're quintessentially dumb, drunk, lazy and corrupt.
Well, I'm here to tell you, it's nothing we haven't already said about ourselves.
Seriously. A big part of the fun of living here is being able to make fun of ourselves.
An example: a few years ago, the Young Leadership Council launched a campaign to improve our self-image. They took out advertising to remind everyone that New Orleans is a great place to live and work. The cornerstone of the campaign was the slogan printed on countless bumper stickers, "New Orleans: Proud to Call it Home."
Quickly the slogan was translated and adapted to different languages and cultural idioms, such as "La Nouvelle Orléans: C'est Chez Moi" and "New Orleans: Oy! Such a Home."
But then there was the witty variant, "New Orleans: Proud to Crawl Home." Yes, that sticker proved that many of our citizens cherished the party-all-night side of life here just as much as all the reasons to love New Orleans touted by the YLC. (Now that I think about it, I don't actually recall any of the reasons they gave!) I'm not sure what the final score was, but the "crawl" sticker certainly gave the original a run for the money.
The latest entry in tribute to the civic-minded campaign is this: "New Orleans: Proud to Swim Home." I have one on my car.
The t-shirt business also reflects our willingness, our need perhaps, to mock ourselves. Sure, there are plenty of "Make Levees, Not War" shirts out there, but there's also "I looted New Orleans and all I got was this t-shirt, a plasma TV and a Cadillac."
And a friend sent me some photos of some of the latest shirts being sold down in the Quarter.
Business is good, I hear, but who is buying these things? Tourists?
Nope, it's the locals. You might think we're dumb, drunk, lazy and corrupt, but at least we know how to maintain our sense of humor in a crisis.