Weekend Weather Report: 80 percent chance of Pandemonium
Another second-line march passed through my Central City neighborhood on Sunday, lending a semblance of safety to the act simply walking around said hood. The area is infamous for its absurdly high murder rate of late, and so idly strolling around isn't much of an option, even on the sunniest of afternoons. But there's safety in numbers, and just being able to walk around surrounded by hundreds of others went a long way toward erasing, even if only briefly, that palpable sense of menace that's pretty much become a permanent part of life in the city.
I was reminded of the first time my old friend, a longtime New Orleans resident, brought me to this neighborhood almost five years ago, for the St. Joseph's Day parade. He decided it was something I needed to see - and only now do I realize what a service he did me by not attempting to explain what it was I was about to witness. Not that there was any context for it - none that I would have recognized anyway.
But had he tried, it might have gone something like this: We are going to drive straight into the heart of the ghetto, just across the street from the Magnolia projects, and once we're there, we're going to park -- probably right in front of someone's house, which we won't worry about too much because they most likely don't have a car and won't mind. And then we're going to get out of the car and maybe buy a pork sandwich from the guy selling them off his front porch, and then we'll make our way to join the hundreds of mostly black locals in what may at first seem like a lot of aimless milling about, but is in fact a "living manifestation of an age-old ritual," as John Sinclair characterized the appearance of Mardi Gras Indians in an article he wrote for the Detroit Sun in 1976, which still serves as a pretty good primer on the history of Mardi Gras itself and the role of the Indians in particular. Somehow the unfamiliarity of that first St. Joseph's night had me so delightfully disoriented that I never once worried that perhaps I was somewhere I shouldn't be. I wish I still felt that way sometimes.
Neal Walker, a prominent local civil rights attorney, passed away of a heart attack last week, leaving many people here in the legal aid community despondent. Walker was the director of the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, and was evidently responsible for freeing thousands of uncharged inmates who were being held illegally, some up to six months and more, after Katrina.
This being a small town now, chances are that when something like this happens, it has a profound affect on lots of people you know. So much so that a simple thing like a good mood is a mighty precarious thing these days.
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Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
rock culture approximately
Rebuilding Gulf Culture after Katrina
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Art from the American Outback
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
No genre is the new genre
John Rockwell on the arts
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Martha Bayles on Film...
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds
Jerome Weeks on Books
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world
Elizabeth Zimmer on time-based art forms
Public Art, Public Space
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog