People dance to the sounds of the Palmetto Bug Stompers at the French Market Traditional Jazz Stage during the French Quarter Festival Sunday, April 9, 2017, in New Orleans. The four-day fest featured food, music and fun.

When Louisiana landed at the very bottom of state rankings by U.S. News & World Reports in February, there was the usual grumbling, with a dose of cultural defiance.

On Wednesday, native Ken Wells went into all-out "Loving Louisiana" mode in a spirited response posted at His message: Take your fancy metrics, benchmarks and data and, well, stuff 'em.

Wells contends his own data and experiences suggest Louisiana sets the national benchmarks in food, music, culture and having a good time. Besides, "You can't eat metrics, but if you come to visit Louisiana, baby, I've got a boudin place just for you."


The Best States ranking measures how well states are performing in such areas as health care, education, economy, the opportunity it offers people, roads, bridges, internet and other infrastructure, public safety and the integrity and health of state government, according to U.S News & World Reports.

Massachusetts topped the rankings, followed by New Hampshire and Minnesota. States joining Louisiana near the bottom include Mississippi (No. 49), Arkansas (48) and Alabama (47)

"I've lived in San Francisco, New York and these days Chicago – all cities in states whose metrics crush Louisiana's," Wells writes. "Yet (New Orleans) remains my favorite city in America precisely because it declines to be other than itself."

Wells, who grew up in Bayou Black, La., has been an editor and reporter for the Wall Street Journal and is the author of five novels, as well as nonfiction works including "The Good Pirates of the Forgotten Bayous: Fighting to Save a Way of Life in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina."