Date 6: Second Line Sunday, Treme Sidewalk Steppers–Feb 18, 2018
I lament how few Sundays I make it out to see the second-lines during the spring. Every social aid and pleasure club has a week where they take a route in the city to second-line. It is an event not to miss as folks come DRESSED. Each year the clubs try and out do themselves and each other. I finally made it to one (only one) this year, after 6 second-line seasons of living here. It was the Tremé Sidewalk Steppers’ 24th Annual Parade and Trombone Shorty was the King. Apparently, this year’s attendance was much bigger than in past years. The second-line itself is fun to participate in, but watching them make their entrance, or rather their exit, from the building they start from out into the street is truly something not to be missed. There’s so much fanfare and energy.
Of course, as I’ve been researching police violence in general, and the way communities in New Orleans are policed in particular, I couldn’t help be attuned to the diversity of police forces represented at the second-line, which many observers said they were happy about because of the violence that sometimes happens. But what everybody across the board seemed shocked at was the presence of SWAT’s armored tank bringing up the rear of the parade, replete with a man mounted on top with a machine gun. It was disturbing to say the least.
Date 7: St. Joseph’s Night–March 19, 2018
Another New Orleans tradition that I’ve regrettably never made it to. On St. Joseph’s Night, the Indians mask up and meet in the streets to battle. Usually it’s a rehearsed battle (like what I watched when I went to their rehearsal the month before), but sometimes it becomes a literal battle, which I was witness to this first time around. In an instant it goes from loud singing and drumming, to fists flying and people running. But as soon as it started, it was over; other Indians broke up the fight well before the police (who are literally on every single corner) showed up to shine a flashlight and pretend to be working.
St. Joseph’s Night in general is something indescribable. It is beautiful and haunting and mysterious, especially since one of the major stretches of street they’re on is next to a cemetery. There are places you know they will be, and other places where they just appear. The majority of the streets are so poorly lit that you get these moments of brilliance as the intermittent streetlights reflect off their brightly colored plumage and beading, before they’re submerged in the dark again. The craftsmanship that goes into constructing their costumes is breathtaking.
Date 8: Go to an after Jazz Fest Concert–April 27, 2018
I’ve gone to Jazz Fest just about every year that I’ve lived here, for at least one day. There are always a bunch of after dark concerts at various music venues each night of jazz fest that I want to go to, but never have enough money left over for by the time I’ve spent money on a jazz fest ticket and food. This year I was decided to skip the festival and go to a concert. Actually ended up going to one each weekend.
April 27: Soul Rebels, Big Freedia, and Tank & The Bangas
They did a joint concert at Tipitina’s that was worth every penny! Of course there was still some white girl foolishness as far as pushing folks around and generally being obnoxious with the hair dancing, but I would absolutely do it again.
May 5: Cinco de Freedia
The second weekend of Jazz Fest was Cinco de Mayo, so Big Freedia did her Cinco de Freedia concert. Boyfriend opened for them, a white woman who said she developed “rap persona” when she moved to New Orleans, it was a burlesque/cabaret rap show…I honestly couldn’t tell you what I watched. I found the whole thing quite odd, but she’s got a fan base, so what do I know. As usual Big Freedia does a great performance. As usual some white person gets physically aggressive about being in front; this time a dude who decided to actually push us and when he realized we weren’t going to move, began screaming about how we shouldn’t push him, then there were three very drunk women who could barely hold their necks up while they loudly marveled at what an “experience” they were having–i.e., listening to that jungle music.
Date 9: Get Boudin in Cajun Country–May 3, 2018
While traveling through Lafayette for work I stopped at Billy’s and got some regular boudin, stuffed boudin balls, and cracklin. I didn’t love the boudin but the stuffed balls were DELICIOUS!
Date 10: Go see the Tree of Life in Audubon Park–June 2018
I’d heard about the Tree of Life a few times, but for whatever reason never thought about where it was. I’ve literally driven past it no less than a dozen times, but because you’re focused on the road you never look to your left to see it. This time I stopped and got out with Mr. SoCo. Someone was shooting pregnancy photos, so I couldn’t get to the placard with the description to take a picture. As a lover of massive old trees, this was absolutely stunning, and my picture don’t do the immensity of this tree any justice. It would be a great tree to read in or under if it wasn’t 5 million degrees.