The kids and I have returned to New Orleans, having spent a few days here last week, and then a couple of days travelling through Texas -- a vacation with a teeny bit of work involved. I like New Orleans and am glad to be back. It's a walking tolerant friendly city. But, you know, I don't love it here. Maybe because we've spent most of our time downtown, in the areas near French Quarter and Garden District, which are charming but incredibly touristy. There's certainly a vibe, a lazy dirty boogie thing, but it's hard to warm to a place where nothing seems real except the hangovers. Even the seediness is quaint, and the panhandlers all have a romantic soulful decrepitude -- as if, like the rest of Bourbon Street, they are on all the time. I have never been in a place that parties so relentlessly. At 5:30 this morning the bars in the Quarter were still pumping out last night's beats and cocktails (and if you are wondering what I was doing out at 5:30, well, shut up). That doesn't happen in Paris or Manhattan because, for all their tourism, they are working cities. New Orleans is a party city. No complaints about the food. It's as good as they say. If you like heavy earthy tasty spicy stuff -- and I do -- this is the place. I am still getting over last night's shrimp and grits. Tonight I'll be back home, and the Kraft Dinner or whatever is going to look pretty darn sad. But it'll be real.