Mar 262014
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

Seems as though there’s a little bit of buzz of late in what makes one a New Orleanian.  Post Katrina among the questionable landscape Dirty Coast gave us the refreshing pause: Be a New Orleanian wherever you are.  But nowadays amid booming repopulation, white teapots, and the notion of gentrification, some seem to say well, hey, if I go to sleep and wake up in Orleans Parish, then that makes me a New Orleanian.  And to this I say: really!?  And to this I further say: Not really, not so much — but it is a good start.

In short, Dirty Coast comes correct.  But if you’re a 2005 refugee of Lakeview still residing in Seattle, you eat your red beans on Mondays, and wear Saints jerseys out to bars to watch the games — a true story by the way — feel free to lay claim to the title.  The latter of which takes more chutzpah than the simple act of nodding off under Napoleonic code will ever muster.  That is a New Orleanian.  And clearly there are like examples the world over, especially if you ever listen to ‘OZ and hear some of the banter regarding those that stream their sounds around the globe.

Other elements that might provide the right to the title of New Orleanian:

  • You have annual fleshly marks that somehow appear over Mardi Gras deemed bead bruises.
  • You consume a po boy at least once a week.
  • You pay Orleans Parish property tax.
  • Your speech is peppered with ma’ams and sirs.
  • You laugh riotously at any network attempting to tell a fictionalized story set in the Crescent City.

And on that note cue last night’s episode of CBS’ NCIS, the first of 2 parts providing a lay-up to intro the upcoming premiere of its very own spinoff NCIS: NO.  First off, most all spinoffs usually occur with existing characters, so right away heed the warning light.  The acting?  OK.  The accents?  Passable.  But the writing?  Super fail.  The dialogue was littered with idiotic references largely concerning food.  Like “the brown toast at Elizabeth’s.”  Or “What I wouldn’t give for an oyster poboy from Parkway.”  And “What’s for dinner?”  “Red beans and rice” of course!  “Must be Monday” was the reply.  Face palm, really?!

Tom Petty once said “If you have to call yourself a rebel, you probably aren’t.”  And the same may be true of calling one’s self a local.  If you have to point something out to others because some sort of self-affirmation is required, allow me to submit to you, you may be trying too hard.  Square pegs don’t fit in round holes, and they certainly don’t squawk about they could if their corners were only removed.  Things are what they are.  But will I watch more of what’s to come on NCIS?  Yes, of course, because well, I can’t help myself.  It’s unintentionally pretty funny, and I get embarrassed for no one.

Being a local more than anything simply requires commitment.  You vote here, you shop here, and when you’re away from here you really miss it; that’s it.  The litmus test will vary, but if you have to call yourself a New Orleanian as some sort of line of offense?  Who exactly are you trying to convince?  My guess would be yourself.

Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

  4 Responses to “Jean-Paul Villere: You might be a New Orleanian if…”

  1. Nice.

  2. I thought NCIS was well done. You are not going to find a TV show filmed in New Orleans that doesn’t throw in too many “local sayings”. It is only an hour show and they are trying to get peoples attention.

  3. After all these years of residence, I’m still not a “local” because:
    -I place my garbage in a garbage can, not on the street/sidewalk
    -I show up on time for professional and social commitments
    -I insist on using proper grammar
    -I still go to work if the temp drops below freezing

    -I don’t rope-off the street because I think I own public parking spots

  4. It’s really not that complicated. If you live in New Orleans, you’re a New Orleanian.

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