As I exit my van a block south of Ooh Poo Pa Do Bar, I’m startled by heavy, large caliber, pistol fire. When you live in New Orleans you get used to hearing gun shots day in and day out, but every so often the reports take on a different tenor. Like these big, heavy booms from, at a minimum, a .45 caliber pistol.
After an intense volley of shots, there is a break in the action, then another blur of rounds. “Somebody is really pissed off” I think then head inside the bar for cold Miller High Life, fried chicken wings and Swedish meatballs. Like I said, in New Orleans gun play is so commonplace that if you don’t learn how to shrug it off you’ll do little more than sit around and fret all day long over something you have no control over.
“Teen Dies At Hospital” is the headline that greets me off a tweet from WDSU later that night. It happened just three blocks from where I was commencing to have a good time. There is no other information save for the fact that when police arrived someone had already spirited the teen to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Sometimes the news hits hard. I drive through Treme just about every single day. I hang out at Ooh Poo Pa Do, eat at Wing Snack, get gas at All Save and think nothing of traveling through one of the oldest neighborhoods in the entire city. Just like I should.
“It ain’t easy in the Big Easy.”
I’m talking to an elderly Black man at Oop one afternoon when he volunteers the difficulty of life in the greatest city in the US. And he’s right. It’s hard here. You have to have a deep love for New Orleans to maintain a life here amid the waves of violence.
A search for “teen shot and killed in Treme” on Google yields 14 million articles.
It ain’t easy in the Big Easy.