Top 10 Things About The South  

The smell. Whoo-ee, right when we got off of the airplane the beautiful smell of greenery was right there waiting for us. You don't realize exactly how deadening New York is to the nose until you get out of it. During the eight days we were in Louisiana, we were always stopping to sniff the air for fresh jasmine, cottonwood and freshly mown grass.
The danger. I almost got mugged because I walked three or four blocks too far into the wrong neighborhood, and the drunken fratboy lunacy on Bourbon Street has been more than well documented. Everything felt like it was teetering on a very thin line between sanity and total rioting chaos. It's a party town 365 days a year, but it's at the very end of the party, when you just want the fat slob dorks to go home.
The food. Jesus Christ, the food in New Orleans was some of the best I've ever had in my life, and I'm a fat disgusting pig. From a huge plate of delicious boiled spicy crawfish monsters at Felix's to a breakfast of eggs with andouille sausage and Bananas Foster at Brennan's to the bizarre sitdown dinner at a converted plantation; it was a gastronomic crazyfest.
The weather. Coming off of a typical frosty-assed New York winter, to step out of the airport to something above 50 degrees was a pleasant shock to the system. Aside from a day-long monsoon that coincided with our day trip out of the city, it remained crisp, cool, clear and warm for the duration. Supposedly it gets intolerably humid, but I'm not there then.
The local and regional products. A popular pineapple soda pop. "Bunny" brand bread with a smiling cartoon rabbit on the package. "Chubs" brand peanuts with a smiling kid in a baseball cap, his cheeks protruding under the weight of dozens of stored peanuts. Call me a nerd, but this kind of shit makes me happy.
The totally inexplicable behavior. As we were walking to the New Orleans Museum of Art, there's a field off to the side of the museum where people have picnics and generally enjoy the weather. A guy had set up a volleyball net and as we walked by he took out a bottle of lighter fluid and began squirting it onto a patch on the ground. He emptied nearly half the bottle, squatted down and lit the grass on fire, and then stood back a few steps to watch his handiwork.
The public drinking. Drive-through daquiri stands, for God's sake. No open container laws. People walking down the sidewalk before noon with cups of beer in their hands. Jesus Christ, it's like a high school senior's paradise. And we were never carded, nor was there even the pretense of such activity occurring.
The hospitality. Everybody, and I mean everybody, wanted to talk, from taxi drivers who would interrogate us on where we'd been and what we'd seen, to our next-door neighbor, who would hold court out on the porch with a glass of wine and a voluble knowledge of presumedly anything and everything. It wad great, if a little hard to deal with as a New Yorker.
The racism. If you're not afraid of African-Americans before you go down south, you will be by the time you get back. Segregation is still very much in effect south of the Mason-Dixon, and if you're a honky out at night and you step to the wrong side of certain invisible lines, you're fucked. I almost got mugged on Dumaine St. but cooler heads prevailed. I got very, very lucky.
The coming home. I missed a lot of stuff, from the subtle must of my apartment to the gray rustle of my girlfriend's cat, and I knew that you all would be getting pretty pissy if I didn't get back soon. As soon as I can fire up the scanner I've got some crazy stuff to share. See you soon.