There’s no place on Earth like New Orleans

Before Hurricane Katrina, I would often tell native New Orleanians, “You don’t know how special this place is.” I kept thinking about that as countless 10th-anniversary-of-the-storm stories were told in newspapers and on television last week — about people who had come to help and decided to stay, about New Orleanians who came home to rebuild the city they loved, and about all the others still trying to come home.

I have so many images in my head to remind me that New Orleans is a city like no other: One is a sign I saw back in the early 1990s when I was driving down South Carrollton Avenue. It was in front of Lafayette School, and it announced that Allen Toussaint and Danny Barker were putting on a concert there.

I remember doing a double take, thinking, “Where else in America would you find world-class musicians playing at an elementary school?”

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