There's a lot more to NEW ORLEANS the ''Big Easy,''
the ''city that care forgot'' than its tourist image as a nonstop
party town. At once sordid and sublime, it careers along under an
infuriating doublethink. While having enormous amounts of fun, you're
liable to be repeatedly struck by the divisions between rich and poor
(and, more explicitly, between white and black). Even so, the city's
vitality and joie de vivre are real, buffeted but not beaten by the
vagaries of commercialism and poverty. The melange of cultures and
races that built the city still gives it its heart; not ''easy,''
exactly, but quite unlike anywhere else in the States or the world.
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