Weekend Weather Report: 80 percent chance of Pandemonium

The Highs:

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.

The Lows:

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.

January 30, 2007 12:39 AM | | Comments (0)


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This page contains a single entry by Culture Gulf published on January 30, 2007 12:39 AM.

I remember when I lost my mind was the previous entry in this blog.

Blessed Assurance -- just not from State Farm is the next entry in this blog.

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