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to-go Bloody Mary (Rawhide2010 — though the graphic S&M playing on the TV screens at all times probably isn’t for everyone).My view of the city is in no way a comprehensive one, but it was molded by my tastes (and by the Anne Rice-loving friend from Brooklyn who introduced me to the city). “It’s music, it’s fun, it’s food, it’s partying, it’s a parade all the time.” That feeling turns 300 this year, which marks the anniversary of when Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville founded the French Quarter.“A lot of these kids, their parents weren’t in a band because of the migration to other states,” said Tenell Moore, the band director. Mary’s Academy, an all-female high school, and in 2013 won the Street Kings brass band competition.“So we’re building new ‘bandheads,’ what we refer to them in New Orleans. Out in the Seventh Ward at a booming local spot called Bullet’s Sports Bar, with no other businesses in sight, the Pinettes played to a packed Friday night house that included the New Orleans funk legend Mac Rebennack, better known as Dr. “My friend said, ‘Come out and hang out with some sisters,’ and I couldn’t believe how many white people are here. (Event organizers had to take a marker and cross out “Kings” and write in “Queens.”) Natasha Harris, the saxophonist, told me that none of them are full-time musicians: “We all have families, we all have jobs, we’re college-educated women, but we do this because it’s our passion.” They often have to perform without their full roster because there aren’t enough women instrumentalists around to act as substitutes for members who can’t make certain gigs. Harris said, “is that middle school girls will come up and continue their passion, or that women will see us and realize it’s never too late.By the end of a week I had danced in the streets so much I’d worn holes through the bottoms of each of them, straight through to my socks.
At the satirical Krewe du Vieux, the first major parade of Mardi Gras season, most floats were rebukes of the Sewerage & Water Board, whose failure to maintain drainage pumps resulted in damaging floods this summer.
That’s something that the obsessive reporter in me is going to have to come to terms with, as does any traveler to some degree: Try to do everything and you’ll wind up missing the most magical parts of being far from home.“New Orleans is a feeling,” Angelika Joseph, a singer for the city’s only all-female brass band, The Pinettes, told me while chilling on a sidewalk after a show. From the sense I got on the ground, though, the tricentennial ranks pretty far below Mardi Gras as a thing the city is excited about. Charles Avenue, where I was staying, ladders were set up for the purpose of viewing parades that were two weeks out, and strings of beads from years past were dripping off every oak tree like moss.
“We’re so cool, even our trees have bling,” I overheard someone say.
I had to quit my job as staff writer at New York magazine, where I’ve worked since college; box up my entire apartment; and pack for a year on the road.
I’m pretty sure I was crying when I found those sneakers, because I cried a lot that week. Amid the chaos, it was as if a welcoming committee from the very city where I was starting this adventure had arrived in my living room and handed me a Sazerac: “You got this, girl.”Tourists can get a bad rap among locals, but we have history with the places we go to and love, too.
One woman I met at the Pinettes show, Renee Lapeyrolerie, wrote me, “Badly worded, not a crime, just a sin lol enjoy the rest of your stay,” and then advised me to put my phone in a zip-lock bag in case it rained.