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Monday, October 31, 2016


   Sometimes we get interrupted in the middle of a story. Last month I was in Louisiana writing about a cross-country trip when Hurricane Mathew threatened South Florida. I rushed home, put up the shutters, and resumed being a Grove guy. 
Now I'll finish.

     I left the Louisiana slave plantation I mentioned earlier and headed to New Orleans. I wanted to photograph its painted ladies and visit my nephew, Ben. 

  He lives in one of them.


                             Ben's Place

    Ben, a Ransom grad, teaches high school geometry. In his third year, he is committed to improving the lives of his low-income students.   He is also committed, like everyone else in the Big Easy, to Mardi Gras.
   Ben explained how the festival's roots go very deep.  During the big week, his kids march in parades almost every night.  One spent a year making this costume.
That's dedication.

      My nephew's house is decorated with parade trophies. There are the beads shading the windows.  Collected them during a parade, they can get piled so high around your neck they become heavy and make it difficult to see.  An even more desired reward are the crewe-painted coconut shells. At the top of the list is the sequined, decorated shoe. Ben got his for performing a ballet for members of a female group. 

    I love his funky neighborhood with its kind and colorful neighbors.  "Mr. Charles", an elderly man with few teeth, lives across the street. He and his dogs keep an eye on things. The Mississippi is a ten minutes walk away and Bourbon Street?  
My bike got me there in the same time.

     In Ben's 8th ward, all the basics are a block or two away. We had an excellent Haitian dinner at the St. Roch Market. We followed that up with  performance art on the next block.

    At the Art Garage a woman danced while suspended by a velvet rope.

   Next door was the Hi-Ho Lounge (a favorite of homegirl, Beyonce'), 
and next to that, punkers worshiped eardrum-splitting music at Siberia.

    In the morning I was photographing again.  As my Olympus captured a voodoo temple,

a man sitting nearby suggested that I look around the corner. When I did I encountered this 
street art by Banksy. 
      What a feeling, not knowing what's gonna pop up next in New Orleans.

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