NEW ORLEANS, LA. - New Orleans is a city very much at home with its ghosts. At the Saint Louis Cemetery, the dead are buried above ground because nobody wants to see their ancestors’ caskets floating every time it floods.
Wind your way through the avenues in this city of the dead and you will find a 9-foot-tall pyramid smothered in lipstick kisses -- the future tomb of actor Nicholas Cage.
“It's Nicholas Cage so he's a strange guy, just to state the obvious you know,” said Robert Florence of Historic New Orleans Tours.
Strange yes. But is there a city that treats its dead better than New Orleans? This is the city that invented the jazz funeral.
“They will bring a body to a cemetery with a band who plays a dirge you know --a somber minor key song and then they bury the body,” said Florence. “And start playing the most raucous uptempo music.”
Author and guide Robert Florence says walking through New Orleans cemeteries can be fun too.
“The idea is not to come here and grieve and get out,” said Florence. “It's a place that's welcoming and people feel comfortable and they'll sit here as if they're in a beautiful park.”
Most will, but others have scratched X's on tombs mistaken for the one belonging to Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau.
“They don't call it voodoo. They call it vandalism,” said Florence. “How is it destroying tombs becomes part of a religious tradition that reveres the deceased? It's bull****.”
Voodoo remains a part of the New Orleans mystique and from a French Quarter courtyard, you can visit a real voodoo priestess -- Miriam Chamani.
A reading of the bones promises no dramatic upheaval in my immediate future.
“Life plans for you and it brings you out into the plan that has already been administered,” said Voodoo Princess Miriam Chamani.
But in New Orleans, life is only one side of the coin.
Psychic Cari Roy has been seeing ghosts since she was 9-years-old.
Does New Orleans deserve its reputation for being America's most haunted city?
“Absolutely,” said Roy. “We really are the magnet to the supernatural. We don't let our spirits go. They're here to welcome you the same way we are. This is hospitality central even for the folks who have gone on to the other side.”
After several paranormal incidents at Muriel's Restaurant...
“Glasses flung out from the bar and into the wall,” said Muriel’s manager Anthony Palomo, “the owners invited Cari to investigate.”
When she entered this room in the old slave quarters, she sensed something horrifying.
“I felt the room get heavier.” Said Roy. “I felt a sorrow that was just palatable. I just welled up in tears. I felt as if somebody had hit me in the solar plexus.”
With no historical knowledge of the restaurant, Cari described a French nobleman who had died in a calamity. Records showed a man named Pierre Antoine Jordan had hung himself in this room after losing his house gambling.
Every day Muriel's sets a table and pours wine for Jordan and a guest.
In New Orleans, you live among ghosts, so you might as well treat them well.
“It is that supernatural here,” said Roy. “And people perceive that when they come.”
Copyright 2016 KING