Sunday, September 25, 2016

Second line Sunday


Today was the Second Line for the Young Men Olympians Social and Pleasure Club, in Central City New Orleans. This is a club that dates back to 1884, and has a large following. There were several bands of dancers, in different color schemes, and brass bands to match.

 I was there, with my camera, hoping to capture the feeling and the vibe.

My favorite photo is of this young man, marching out with his cohort. Carrying on a tradition from the past, yet looking toward the future. How beautiful and striking and poignant he is. He has the world ahead of him. To me, a young man like this embodies hope for the future.

Can we agree that not only do Black Lives Matter, more importantly, Young Black Lives Matter?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Basket case


It's fall, and the hanging baskets I planted back in May are starting to look a little tired. I'm ready to replant them. What do you suggest?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

I had this figured out, I think


It's Second Line season again. Starting in mid-August, the New Orleans calendar fills up on each Sunday with a scheduled Second Line for the local Social and Pleasure Clubs.

Today was the parade for the Good Fellas. I had this figured out. I knew where to park my car, catch the parade, and then get back to my car to go home. They were to start off at 1:00 pm, at the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Josephine Street, from the Eiffel Society Club just in front of the Pontchartrain Hotel in the Garden District.

So I drove Uptown around 11:00, and parked my car on Washington between Dryades and Daneel. This was on the route published at the WWOZ website promoting the second line, and about as far as I thought I wanted to follow the parade. Then I walked down to St. Charles Avenue and took the streetcar down to Josephine Street, about five blocks away.

I had a nice breakfast at the Trolley Stop Cafe, which was super busy. But I ate at the bar, and a young lady named Mo took care of me.

A horseman buys two beers from a street vendor. Is one for the horse?
After breakfast, around 12:50, I headed down toward the corner, where, it was clear from the flashing blue lights of the NOPD, that the Second Line was about to begin. There were vendors everywhere, selling everything from daiquiris to hamburgers, leather goods to umbrellas (yes, it had started to drizzle).

The band started playing around 1:10. First off, the queens of the group came down the long elevated walkway, dancing. They proceeded to the float that headed up the parade. Then came the kids of the club, also dancing. They were followed up by a brass band whose name I didn't get (sorry!). Then the senior Fellas came, cool in their white suits, their black and gold raiment, displaying. They were followed up by The Hot Eight Brass Band - some serious musicians.

Here are photos:





As the parade got to Second and Daneel Street, the rain started to come down, first small patters and then harder. Family members of the marchers gathered up the fragile ostrich feather fans and put them away for safekeeping in a van.My timing was right, it seemed. I followed the line down Daneel Street to Washington, and then peeled off, heading to my car, which was parked just up from Dryades Street. I wasn't too wet, though I was dripping with sweat from the humidity.

Dancer
In the neighborhood
I headed downtown, back to the Bywater. I ended up at Vaughan's Lounge, to catch the final quarter of the game. Like last week, the Saints lost.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A rainy Friday night mood


Outside Vaughan's Lounge, Friday night after the rain.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Mean streets


The first hole was dug right at my front gate. It was done in July by Cimmaron, a contractor for Entergy, our New Orleans gas and electric utility. One morning, a man named Felipe knocked on my door and explained that they were upgrading the gas lines. A white spray-painted marking on the sidewalk showed where the hole would be dug.

So in front of every house in my block, a hole perhaps 2' x 3' was cut in the concrete sidewalk, and a deep pit opened up down to the gas lines. These pits were encircled by orange plastic fencing. They remained open for weeks while workers ran new lines under the ground from pit to pit.

When they were finished, sometime in mid-August, the workers filled the pits with sand. They removed the orange fencing, and circled the sandy holes with yellow caution tape.

Finally, in early September, they returned with a cement truck, and laid down fresh concrete.

This was repeated in every block of the Bywater. First you'd see the white painted markings, then would come the concrete cutting and the prising up of the sidewalk. Then would come the backhoe, digging the pit; the workers with the pipes, and the ubiquitous orange fencing.

Each block is like an obstacle course for walking. There are orange fenced pits, or yellow taped sandholes. There is mud and sand in the gutters. The white markings advance downriver - from Bartholomew to Mazant, then to France. Now there's an open pit in front of Vaughan's Lounge on Lesseps. When I walk the dog, I walk down the middle of the street to avoid the mud and the holes.

Now it's mid September, and Bartholomew Street has been made whole; the pits have been filled and paved with fresh, new, white concrete. The rains are slowly washing away the mud.

Yesterday, walking home from Vaughans, I noticed on the ground spray-painted markings in yellow. Some were even marked right over the new fresh concrete.

This morning, coming home from the dog park, I saw a cluster of workers in dayglo lime vests hanging out in my street. The vests were labeled "Sewerage and Water Board." A back-hoe rumbled up, with a jack-hammer attachment on the boom. The digging began.

Yes. Now another utility is digging up the streets of the Bywater. Will it ever stop?

Monday, September 12, 2016

There is no joy in Mudville

A disappointed fan

Saints lose to Raiders, 34 - 35.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Artist's hideaway


My friend B has a little place to go when she needs to clear her mind. She calls it her "garret," and like the little artists' hideaways of story and song, it is an attic room, up among the rooftops of the old French Quarter near Jackson Square.


B lives in a nice double shotgun in the Marigny now, but she keeps her garret for the use of family and friends who come to visit. She showed it to me yesterday. Just off a tiny alley near St. Louis Cathedral, you climb a narrow, winding staircase up to the top of the building.

B on her deck
The room is within, beneath sloping ceilings. A daybed piled with pillows provides seating and sleeping in this tiny space. a small desk and chair are arranged beside a window that looks out into the gardens behind the cathedral. A door leads to a rooftop deck with marvelous views of the chimney pots, slate roofing, and (modern) airconditioning units above the touristy hubub.

Wouldn't you like to hideaway in such a lovely little place?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Snake eyes


Freddy the snake-man came by when Becky and I were sitting outside on the smoking bench at Vaughans Lounge. When he came close we could see the two snakes coiling and writhing around his hands.

One was pale ivory speckled with coral-colored markings. The other was even paler, with markings that were lavender-pink ghosts of those of its sister.


They were young snakes, Freddy said, only a few feet long and harmless. They were boa constrictors, and he had a name for them that I can't remember, but it was something flowery.


Becky held one and let it crawl up her body and coil its tail around her index finger. She stroked its flanks and let it nuzzle its arrow-shaped head on her throat. "It feels so silky," she said.


I'm less enamored of snakes, but I worked up the nerve to touch one. And she was right. Its skin, though shiny, was not "slimy" or moist at all, but rather, it felt like a finely woven silver chain, the scales like tightly braided wire slipping cooly past my fingers. I could feel the taut muscular energy beneath the skin. The pale snake - Freddy said it was an albino - cantilevered its body out from Freddy's grip, a miracle of physical strength.


The snakes fluttered their little forked tongues, flicking against our fingertips.




I don't think I've ever handled a snake before - certainly not in recent memory. I'm not sure I like them, but I can't forget the feeling of the silky, muscular energy of them coiling against my hands. Freddy the snake-man is a professional dealer in reptiles.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Farewell to decadence


The Labor Day weekend is the customary date for the Southern Decadence Festival, a celebration of mostly-male gay culture in the wickedness of New Orleans.

Famously, in 2005, the festival was interrupted by bad weather.

This year, weather affected the festival, too, but not as severely as Hurricane Katrina. But despite the fact that there were fierce thunderstorms during the Sunday parade, these parade-goers were ready to party.

Now we're on the far side of the Labor Day weekend, and thoughts are turning to autumn, school, and getting back to business. Farewell to the decadence and languor of summer! Hello to hard work!