Hiya! Let us celebrate by by raising a glass to "News" - New York AND New Orleans (imagine high pitched cheers, rahs, hoorays, and other excited vocal bursts usually reserved for a high school football game, which we obviously know nothing about). Let's dance, booze it up, donate and feel good about helping the less fortunate New. We'll raise a bunch of money and raffle off some groovy prizes.

We're keeping up the 8th Street/Punk thing - just can't get enough. The Continental Divide was the former name of the Continental at 25 Third Avenue (at St. Marks), now a music venue for hard rocking metal bands with extremely overpriced drinks. It used to be a pretty punk rocking spot. I spent many an underage evening at this bar, where I had my very first kamikaze and mudslide (more like a T.G.I.F. dessert beverage). There was a bartender who would give me and my buddy free drinks every other Saturday. Not every Saturday, but every other. But he gave us lots, which made up for this bizarre pattern. Next to the Continental Divide was the fabulous St. Marks Pizza (R.I.P.), now home to Chickpea, which some say makes a killer hummus. Chickpea got its name from a contest that the owners held to name the joint and win $2500. St. Marks Pizza was a fantastically accurate portrait of old NYC; enjoying your super cheesy slice (if you got a pepperoni, they'd add extra cheese on top before throwing into the oven to reheat - doesn't it seem like pizza places have been skimping on the cheese lately?), you'd be amidst a junkie, a homeless person, a fight, a drunk New Jersey guy (probably getting into a fight), and some pre-teens who just scored a bong around the corner. Them good ole days. The Continental Divide also used to give away little rubbery dinosaurs, which I often fashioned into earrings. Now they charge $9 for a Corona.

But what is the Continental Divide, really? The Continental Divide, also called the Great Divide, is a natural boundary line that divides the flow of water between the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean. Rain or snow that drains on the east side of the Continental Divide flows toward the Atlantic, while precipitation on the west side drains toward the Pacific Ocean. (However, some rivers empty into the desert and don't end up in the oceans.) The Continental Divide runs from northwestern Canada along the crest of the Rocky Mountains to New Mexico, then, it follows the crest of Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental. In South America the Continental Divide lies along the Andes. Every continent except for Antarctica has a continental divide.

I was hoping this so called "Great Divide" would be closer to New Orleans to make this email flow better. Since we're talking geography, which I can't recall being taught in the NYC public school system, let's give props to the other New. Now I don't mean to be disrespectful to our fine city, but New Orleans has a few things that I wish NYC had. I'm not saying it's a better city than ours, for that would be crazy talk, but I will say it's a close rival.

Here are some things that are great about New Orleans:
-Every Monday is officially "red beans and rice" day.
-You can drink alcohol on the street from plastic cups. They even make hard plastic drinking vessels on a string to wear around your neck, so you don't have to tire or chilly your delicate hands. And you can drink all night, all day, no rules baby. We get fines for dancing in NYC.
-It's the home of Popeye's Fried Chicken - amazing chicken strips. But we have Gray's Papaya and the recession special.
-Beignets at Cafe du Monde - think NYC zeppoles, but much more flavorful and not nearly as greasy, and available 24 hours a day.
-There's a bar (R Bar) where you can get a haircut and a drink for $10. The R Bar also runs a hotel/B&B, which stands for "bed and beverage." Beauty Bar on 14th Street sometimes gives manicures, and there are homeless people sleeping on cardboard boxes outside.
-The New Orleans Po Boy sandwich cannot be replicated anywhere else. It probably has to do with the water, like our pizza and bagels.
-They have a piano bar/club called the Funky Butt. I bet that moniker would be banned in NYC under the new regime. It is named after the original turn-of-the-century hall where the first man of jazz, Buddy Bolden, led his band. The Funky Butt is reminiscent of the great music clubs of the 20s and 30s and rumor has it that Rock Hudson used to visit the Funky Butt.
-They recycle their cemeteries, which are all above ground. I gots to tell you more about this: the cemeteries in New Orleans are known as “cities of the dead,” or “stone cities.” Since so much of the city is below sea level, New Orleanians put the dead in stone vaults and crypts. Y’see a casket that was buried under the earth would pop up after a heavy rainfall. The intense southern heat, combined with the humidity inside the vaults, causes the bodies to disintegrate rather quickly, almost like a slow cremation process. State law says that vaults are to remain closed for “a year and a day," after which they may be reopened, the remains swept to the back or placed in a special cache in the tomb, and a new family member may then be placed inside. There are generations of families interred in even the smallest tombs. Pretty practical. The Italian Benevolent Society created one of many communal vaults for an entire ethnic community, which was featured in “Easy Rider” - the scene in which Peter Fonda sits in the lap of a statue, hallucinating and crying on his acid trip. The Catholic church was none too pleased and banned Hollywood from ever filming in that cemetery again. We have to bury NYC folk on Long Island.
-They really did have a streetcar named "Desire." It ran for the last time in 1948, the same year the NYC token fare rose from 5 to 10 cents.

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