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New Orleans has a spring in its step.

I was happy to find, over Memorial Day weekend in New Orleans for a friend’s wedding, that the city appears to be doing better. Much better.

As much was conveyed to me by our taxi driver, a sweet older woman in a brightly colored muumuu who hummed to the jazz music on the radio between our exchanges. I told her I had first traveled there for business in spring, 2008 and returned later that summer. Almost three years had passed since Hurricane Katrina, but the city felt like something terrible had just happened.

No one was walking around in the Business District or Garden District, and what few drunken convention attendees and bachelor parties there were to be found in the French Quarter made the place feel all the more depressing. I stayed at a boutique hotel, a huge studio loft, and a W, all for around $100 a night, which was indicative of a weak local economy. A work contact drove me around what had once been the Ninth Ward but was then mostly cracked cement stairs leading to rotting houses or nothing at all. She showed me Habitat For Humanity’s first completed housing area, dubbed Musicians’ Village, and it was small. Philanthropic attention had long since moved elsewhere.

I started to tear up as we passed the convention center in the taxi cab, and the driver and I had a moment. But as we pulled further into the city, I noticed something was different. There were people everywhere.

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Lovely photo my mom took in Central Park I am using to signify “Looking forward to new beginnings, while also looking back.”

Well, guys, this is it! In June, I’m moving to Los Angeles. I’ll spend way too much time writing a self-aware, verbose, seemingly contrived evaluation of my time here in the next month. But right now, I just want to post my “To Do In NYC Before I Move” lists and solicit recommendations from friends and colleagues in the comments field for what needs to be included! Because this list might seem a bit short, I’m also posting my “I accomplished this!” list of my last 14 months of culture, dining out, and nightlife.

So please, recommendations! I’m not leaving until I’ve done everything I want to do, and that you convince me I want to do, in this city. And contributions to my “To Do In LA” list are also welcome.

Lists after the jump!

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