We beat a hasty retreat from the 2015 New Orleans Po Boy Festival due to the 9 Times Second Line that was scheduled to roll at noon. The address given was 3623 Desire Street and as soon as we showed up we knew something was wrong.
There was no hubbub, just a few cars filled with bewildered, would-be party goers all wondering where the parade was.
We immediately sped north, remembering that there is a Desire Parkway about a mile away, and sure enough there were about a thousand people out and about and looking for a good time.
9 Times Social Aid And Pleasure Club was founded in 1998 and exists to ‘Rebuild the Ninth Ward… One parade, community event, and Celebration at a time’
9 Times is an incredibly ambitious organization. Their parade was one of the longest ones we’ve ever seen, and eventually after a two mile hike we broke off, trekked back to the old Econoline and retired to our home in the Bywater.
Four hours later the parade hit our neighborhood still under full-steam so we rejoined the group as they made their way into the St Claude area.
After a few blocks we grew weary once more and began hiking back to our house.
A couple hours later, at a post-second line party, New Orleans once again erupted into gun violence and 17 people were shot at Bunny Friend Park, just a few blocks from our home.
They’re still looking for the shooters.
We’re not going to let that deter us from future parades.
Our favorite soul food restaurant in Birmingham was in the most rough and tumble part of town imaginable and we ate there at least once a week.
Our favorite barbecue restaurant in Austin regularly featured pimps, hookers and drug dealers right outside the front door and we ate there religiously.
Our favorite cay shop in Istanbul meant a walk down a long alley under the catcalls of brothel workers as shadowy men milled about plying their trade (whatever it may have been)
Our neighborhood in New Orleans is wracked with armed robberies, home invasions and garden variety crimes of all stripes.
Once, on a long-ago aired episode of Andy Griffith, the town of Mayberry was invaded by gangsters who decided the little town was perfect to do business in.
Don Knotts, in a typical star turn as Barney Fife, came running onto the set and trilled “We Defy The Mafia!”
We’ll be at the next second line.
And the one after that too.
And one photo that didn’t fit.