NOLA Tradeoffs: What You Pay For in New Orleans

I love New Orleans, y’all. But anyone who lives here knows we make daily trade-offs for the privilege of living in the “Northernmost Caribbean city”.

Sure, it’s hot half the year. You can hear live music anywhere. And there are more parties than days on the calendar.

But we also have some of the worst streets in the country, some seriously-behind-the-times politicians…and probably the jerk who invented the Jungle Juice daiquiri.

Here’s a list of things you can expect to save money on while living in New Orleans–and what you’ll spend that money on instead.

Got something to add? Throw it in the comments or holler at me on Twitter @theenglishmaven.


Drinks. Like the endless rain during one of our seasonal monsoons, drinks are plentiful and cheap all over New Orleans (unless, God help you, you are going to a cocktail bar).


New tires every year instead of every two years because of our sinking swamp-streets, since New Orleans’ attention-deficit city government ignores potholes that routinely eat entire SUVs in favor of randomly ripping up streets throughout the city. Constant steering alignments to keep your car from drifting into oncoming traffic while you put on some tunes.



Good food. Get in my face, $9 giant sandwich from Milk Bar! Come home with me, garlic knots from Pizza Domenica happy hour! Become one with my stomach, spring rolls from Magasin!


Education. Product of the New Orleans Public School system right here! I went to what was (then, and somewhat debatably) considered the best public high school in the state of Louisiana. Since Katrina, the charter school system has taken over most public schools in New Orleans, with mixed results and not a whole lot of unified oversight.


Mmm. Wait, HOW much?


Entertainment–especially live music. Drink in hand, you can wander happily down Frenchmen Street, popping in and out of clubs that don’t charge covers. In a single night, you’ll hear everything from brass bands and jazz combos to funk, bluegrass, and the occasional gutter punk howling to handmade accompaniment.


Good coffee. Yes sir, Mr. Barista, I will re-mortgage my house for this $5.65 latte. (Granted, I’m thinking this may simply be the cost of good coffee, but damn it, I needed an item here).



Gas. Whoohoo! Welcome to the Gulf South. We routinely have some of the cheapest gas in the U.S.


Housing. Y’all, at this rate, native New Orleanians are going to be totally replaced by New Yorkers looking for fun places they can gentrify Airbnb by, like, next summer.


Public transit. New Orleans has one of the least expensive public transit systems in the U.S.–despite it being among the most expensive to operate.


Um, well, you still can’t get anywhere by bus or streetcar (unless you’re Odysseus and you’re not planning to return home for, say, 20 years).


Despite it all, NOLA remains one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Just don’t forget to open an extra savings account for car repairs.

New Orleans Style Guide for Editors

Snowball photo by Megan Braden-Perry @megandoesnola.

Po’boy or po-boy? Snoball or snowball? Y’all or ya’ll? (That last one, y’all should know already. It just makes sense.)

Living in New Orleans offers about 100 million opportunities per day to correct someone’s spelling. As a copy editor for several local publications, I get paid to do it—but I’ve been party to a few disagreements about the correct spelling of NOLA-centric names.

So, recently, I’ve developed a New Orleans Style Guide for editors, and others in my shoes. It was the right thing to do, being a native and all.

Feel free to disagree with it, or tell me I’m ignorant or wrong or ill-informed—just don’t accuse me of being inconsistent.

Here we go, in no particular order:

  • po-boy. I’ve always been a fan of hyphenating this name for the world’s most delicious genre of sandwich. You’ll often see it spelled “po’boy,” “po’ boy,” or “poboy,” given its origin as a “poor boy” sandwich–but I think the hyphen gives the two words a nice, even weight. It’s how we say the word: PO-BOY (emphasizing both syllables).
  • yat. When used in a question, such as “Where y’at?” this lowercase term takes an apostrophe. However, to refer to native New Orleanians, capitalize and remove the apostrophe: Yat.
  • snowball. Despite what the various tractor-trailers around town may call these icy treats (“snoball,” “sno-ball,” “sno’ball”), I stand by its most sensible spelling.
  • go-cup. Don’t you dare call it a “geaux cup”. That’s just straight-up foolish.
  • N’awlins. No one says this. No one writes this. Do not say this. Do not even think it. The closest a real New Orleanian will come to pronouncing our city’s two names as one is “N’Orleans”.
  • shrimp. Not “prawns”. Similarly, if you ever change “crawfish” to “crayfish,” you should immediately move back from whence you came.
  • fa’ sho. I’ll allow a little leeway on this affirmative expression meaning “for sure”. “Fo’ sho” and “fasho” would also be acceptable.
  • yerdmeh? Sadly, this remarkable expression cannot go into print as rendered, since a copy editor’s entire job is to make text readable/understandable by a wide group of people (and other places outside of New Orleans do exist) . Change to “You heard me?”
  • Uptown. This neighborhood designation should be capitalized. But if you capitalize “Downtown,” you are the worst. I’m not sure why, but that’s okay–lots of stylebook rules have little to no reason behind them.

Should I think of any more outrageous transgressions, I’ll update this list. NOLA editors, feel free to add yours to the comments!

3 Ways Crawfish Boils and Copywriting Are the Same

Crawfish Boils and Copywriting
This little guy should have stayed home today.

Pull up a pile of newspaper, grab a beer, and get comfortable. We’re talking about crawfish, and the qualities it shares with copywriting.

(I’ll admit I was late to the crawfish-eating game. Despite growing up in New Orleans, I didn’t peel my first crawfish until college. But now I’m making up for lost time.)

Last night, I went to a boil, where I ate far more crawfish than I should have. Originally, this was going to be a post about crawfish boil etiquette…but when you’re diving face-first into a pile of tiny, dead lobsters, you can pretty much leave manners by the wayside.

So what do crawfish boils and copywriting have in common?

No pain, no gain.

I developed a bad case of “crawfish thumb” last night around batch three. New Orleanians know that this is when the boil spices begin to creep under the quick of your nails, making the process of peeling each little crustacean a bit more painful.

Similarly, sometimes you have to grit your teeth and chip away at a copywriting assignment, no matter how much it might be hurting your brain (or aggravating your carpal tunnel).

The spicier, the better.

There is nothing more boring than an under-spiced crawfish boil. It’s like traveling to the Grand Canyon and turning the other way. Okay, I might be exaggerating. But if the potatoes aren’t going to make my gums burn, what’s the POINT?

Copywriting is the same way. You’re writing for a purpose. That purpose is to persuade, inform, build trust, create a relationship. Boring writing just isn’t going to get those things done.

Drinking helps.

When it comes to eating crawfish, ice-cold beer is your friend. When it comes to writing, beer will help you come up with ideas, while coffee will help you refine them.


Any other ways crawfish and copywriting are the same? Leave ’em in the comments.

And remember: If you get between me and a table of steaming crawfish, I will cut you. Tweet: If you get between me and a table of steaming crawfish, I will cut you.

The Top 5 Quotes from TribeCon 2013

New Orleans’ tech-networking community held its annual TribeCon gathering at the City Park Peristyle yesterday.

Despite a glowering sky, insane wind, and the allure of Halloween pre-gaming, the Tribe managed to kill a giant pot of jambalaya, drain a keg of beer and share some interesting ideas on the intersection of technology and art.

city park peristyle
Algae party! JK, tech conference.

Here are the top five quotes from TribeCon 2013:

  1.  On the creative process and the necessity of creating bad work:

“When I see someone with an immaculate sketchbook, I don’t trust that person.”

Kody Chamberlain

2. On the idea of “digital homogenization”:

“The Internet is really good at telling you what everyone cares about, but it’s really bad at telling you what you care about.”

Ron Goldin

3. On asking for help:

“Everyone wants to be part of something great.”

CJ Hunt

4. On following your passion:

“The type of work you do is the type of work you get.”

Ron Domingue

5. On listening to the voice of your customer:

“It’s not about: ‘How can we get more likes?’ It’s about: ‘How can we get more people to like us?'”

Thomas Knoll

Other highlights: Time-killing jokes from highly bearded emcee Chris Trew, “Workaholics”-inspired bear coats made by Colin Grussing and an introduction to Quintron’s Drum Buddy.

What was your favorite part of TribeCon? Share it in the comments.