Monday, October 31, 2016

This week's second line

Just because it's Halloween weekend doesn't mean that other activities aren't important.

As usual, on an autumn Sunday in New Orleans, there are a lot of events to compete for your attention. This weekend was the annual Second Line for the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Women of Class, and they assembled on St. Charles Avenue right in front of the storied Ponchartrain Hotel.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

6 t' 9 Pumpkin Parade

Last night, the 6 t' 9 Social Aid and Pleasure Club rolled its 9th annual Pumpkin Parade - the name means from the 6th Ward to the 9th Ward, so forget any dirty thoughts you might have about it.

It began at 6:00 pm in front of the Backstreets Museum in the Treme, but I caught it at its end, near Mimi's bar on Royal at Franklin, in the Marigny. I met my friend Bertie at the New Feelings Cafe, where we ate outside and waited for the parade to arrive.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sign of the season

Halloween is coming, and this is a holiday that New Orleans fully embraces. What could be more in keeping with the spirit of this city than a holiday that combines remembrance of the dead, macabre spookiness, and the opportunity to dress up in costume?

This morning walking to breakfast along Royal Street in the Bywater, I encountered a man carrying a plastic skull under his arm.

"Good morning!" I said to him.

"Good morning," he replied. Then with his hand he worked the movable jaws of the plastic skull.

"How ya doin'?" it said.

Then, "Oh, don't mind him," said the man. "He's such a chatterbox!"

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Vegetables or art?

Yesterday I went down to the French Market to catch the Crescent City Farmers' Market, which takes place there on Wednesdays. Unfortunately, I was wrong about the time. I got there two hours too early.

So instead I wandered around the shops on Decatur Street; at the downtown end of the French Quarter there are still some funky antique and junk shops, some dive bars and voodoo shops. In one junk shop, I saw a painting on the wall.  It's acrylic on canvas, painting in 1985. For junk-shop prices!

It was too early to buy vegetables, so I bought art.

Get your nourishment where you can.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Black Men of Labor rolling in 2016

My first experience joining New Orleans Second Line celebrations was last year around this time, when our good friend Matt took us to the annual parade for the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Black Men of Labor.

It was an amazing experience, one that introduced me to the traditions of authentic street celebrations, that drew me into New Orleans neighborhoods I had never visited, and that helped me understand the vital forces of family, music, tradition and celebration that abide here.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Celebrating a life

I got a message on Facebook - there was going to be a Second Line parade this Saturday to raise awareness of the need for more funding for the Public Defenders office - a shameful situation in the state of Louisiana and particularly in Orleans Parish. In the local office, only eight attorneys are available to handle up to 350 defendant's cases.

The parade was to start in the Treme, at Kermit Ruffins' Mother-in-Law Lounge on Claiborne. I parked past Esplanade on Villiere Street, and walked up to Claiborne; I heard the sound of a brass band and thought - Oh, I missed the start! So I hurried up and joined the throng parading under the I-10 bridge.

French Quarter on an autumn night

I went out to see a band play in a French Quarter courtyard last night. There were other sights and sounds to be found.

A scary window display!

The dark streets of the Quarter.

The shadow of a statue projected at the back wall of St Louis Cathedral, or, as locals call it, "Touchdown Jesus."

A chandelier and antique shop.

A carriage at night on Royal Street.

A street troubadour.

Patrons at the Golden Lantern Bar.

And - a real highlight - street performer Grandpa Elliot, singing a song just for us. For the full video, go to my Facebook page.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Class to order!

This Sunday was the Second Line for the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Men of Class. Around one o'clock the gentlemen emerged from the doorway of the Sportsmans Corner bar at Second Street and Daneel, dapper in blue suits, some waving fans of bright blue feathers.

Accompanied by brass bands, and led onward by the ladies and children, they rolled through the uptown streets on a bright sunny day.

The blue sky was the perfect echo of their raiment.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A two-Boston morning

This morning at the Crescent Park dog run, Jack got to play with not one, but two Boston terriers!

First was Lily; she was a tiny girl.

Later in the morning, Jackson arrived.

Jack really likes to play with small dogs, and Boston terriers are one of his favorite kind of dogs. I think it's because they have such expressive faces.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Dragonfly love

Today at the Fall Garden Festival at the City Park Botanical Garden, I took a photo of these two dragonflies mating among the lilies in the pond.

Dragonfly copulation is complicated, and I don't want to go into all the details here. Let's just say that this pair spent a lovely afternoon together before going on their separate ways.

When I related this story to friends, I was told that in New Orleans, they call dragonflies "mosquito hawks."

Go on, you crazy kids!

Crabby Friday

Crab boil Friday night at Vaughans Lounge.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Night train rolling

Click any photo to "embiggen"
Yesterday evening, just after the Saints pulled it off against the Chargers, and the mad coven of fans began their victory dance, my friend Becky and I went out to the smoking bench outside of Vaughans Lounge.

It was a beautiful night, the sunset pink in the sky up Dauphine Street. As we admired it, we noticed a gathering of people at the corner of France Street, just by J & J's Sports Bar.

"Must have had a good crowd," we thought, but then we looked closer. There seemed more to the crowd than just a football celebration.

"It's a second line for our friend Nate," said a young woman I asked. "We're going down to the levee."

Nathan Tinglof, also known as Neight, was thirty years old and had spent much of his adult life exploring the world, riding freight trains all over the United States. He played his guitar for cash, and liked to draw. He'd settled down in New Orleans a few years ago. I didn't know him, but I'd seen him plenty of times in the neighborhood, riding his distinctive double-height bicycle, a guitar case strapped to his back and his long dreadlocks streaming out behind him.

Early Friday morning, Neight was shot in the chest and died at the corner of Villere and Arts Street in the St. Roch area. Police still haven't identified the suspect.

Here in the Bywater, his friends were giving him a New Orleans send-off.

The parade passed by as we sat in front of Vaughans. Bicyclists wove in and out of the crowd, some on the crazy double-decker bikes Neight admired.

Alongside the crowd rolled a pedal-powered wagon displaying a hot-tub full of mourners - in remembrance of a birthday celebration a few years past that had Neight and a group of friends driving around the French Quarter, drinking champagne while splashing in a hot tub on a pick-up truck bed.

The coming dusk and the steam-punk themed black clothing of the mourners conjured up a somber air that was leavened by the rollicking brass band, waving flags, and twinkling lights, as well as the love and affection expressed for a man considered by all who knew him to be a great friend.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Hey, Mr. Huck-a-buck man!

The second line parades for New Orleans' many Social and Pleasure Clubs are a perfect opportunity for neighborhood entrepreneurs to make a little extra cash. The parades are accompanied by food and refreshment vendors. Some are professional barbecue rigs, or like our friend Miss Linda the Yakamein Lady, well known by foodies who frequent celebrations. Others are pickup trucks transformed into bars, guys pulling wheeled coolers of beer and water, and neighborhood ladies selling Jello shots out of tupperware bins.

Today at the parade for the Family Ties Social and Pleasure Club, rolling down St. Bernard Avenue in the 7th Ward, this gentlemen was pulling his brightly colored and umbrella-shaded cart. I watched him for a while, and then I realized he was selling huckabucks.

Whatever you call them, huckabucks , also called hucklebucks, are one of the simplest childhood treats. Freeze a sweet drink like Kool-Ade in a dixie cup, then you can lick it till your tongue turns color.

In New Orleans these were frequently made by neighborhood ladies who would sell them to children on their way home from school. This fellow just took the old tradition up a notch.

People remember things like huckabucks. Here's a couple of dudes  revisiting their childhood antics - and providing a little critique of the recipe as well.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Marigny morning

The heat has broken; it's in the high 70s, and the humidity is down. It's nice to sit outdoors at a sidewalk cafe in the Marigny, for coffee and breakfast.

Overheard conversation from another table:

Woman: "You never can tell with foreign countries. Why, the one time we went to Canada - we wanted to see the cathedrals and all - the menus there, they were all in French! We had no idea what we were eating, we just pointed to things and they brought it. I had no idea what I was eating."

Never mind, just sit back and enjoy the good coffee and the morning breeze. Thank goodness for fall!