Calling all my people, come back home

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Listen to about a minute of audio from Mardi Gras 2006, the Mardi Gras Indians in Treme singing:

Calling all the people
Come back home
New Orleans
Where you belong

My article on Juvenile and New Orleans in City Pages was boiled down from too many words to count. It is what it is, but if you check out the links on the side of the article, you'll find some of the substance behind it, including this video for "Get Ya Hustle On" (thanks Youtube). Add www.reconstructionwatch.org and www.commongroundrelief.org to your links.

Below are more photos I took while in New Orleans in the days before Mardi Gras. Audio added to the end of the main article. More hip-hop and New Orleans articles here.

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Above: Girls in tattoo parlor on Rampart, Royal Pendletons reunion at the Circle Bar (an old house converted to a bar on Lee Circle), upside down street sign on Rampart.

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(Click the above image for a larger photo.) Above: An emptied and fenced-off Calliope housing project. From Loss and Displacement at the Calliope by Jennifer Vitry and Jordan Flaherty, January 12, 2006:

The B.W. Cooper Housing Development--popularly known as the Calliope projects--was home to 1,400 African American working-class households in 1,546 units on 56 acres of land. It is the third largest housing development in Louisiana and the largest tenant-managed housing development in the country. Most of the complex was not damaged in Hurricane Katrina or the subsequent flooding.

After Hurricane Katrina, residents were scattered throughout the United States, including many in shelters and motels here in Louisiana. Although most of these dispersed residents ache to return to their communities, the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) posted a general notice in the projects informing residents that they may not move back, and some Cooper tenants report receiving notice that they have to clear out their possessions.

HANO has also hired a Las Vegas company named Access Denied to install 16-gauge steel plates over windows and doors at B.W. Cooper and other city projects, including the Lafitte projects in the Treme neighborhood. One housing activist remarked, "they finally invested money in the projects, and it’s to keep residents out."

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Above: The Backstreet Cultural Museum in the Treme is open, while this trashed bar on Music Street is not.

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(Click the above image for a larger photo.) Above: Scenes from the Upper and Lower Ninth Ward on the day before Mardi Gras, including a Common Grounds Relief outpost.

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Above: A downed tree branch in City Park, Orpheus parade in Uptown, Hot 8 Brass Band at the Blue Nile, all on the eve of Mardi Gras.

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(Click the above image for a larger photo.)

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Above: On Mardi Gras morning, drums outside St. Augustine (which was shut down after the Archdiocese cut short a mass on March 27, meeting peaceful protesters with armed guards; a week earlier, protesters barricaded themselves in the church), a parade led by Congo Nation Big Chief Donald Harrison (notice all the microphones and cameras--I counted 20. This was easily the most documented Mardi Gras in history), Asali DeVan of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

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(Click the above image for a larger photo.)

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(Click the above image for a larger photo.)

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(Click the above image for a larger photo.) Above: Scenes from the Zulu and Rex parades on Mardi Gras.

Thank you to beloved Machelle and Vatulblog's Maitri for your conversation, courage, and hospitality. I will keep the heat on from up here. Thank you to Ibby and David, too, for a place to stay. Thank you, Toasty, for coming with me. (And thanks, Jeff Chang, for the link, and Jay Smooth for this one.)

See also: Adam Craven's engrossing series at Blotter, beginning here, here, and here, about his recent week in Louisiana as a cleanup volunteer.

Now it looks as if FEMA is going to be kicking out volunteers. The fight continues...



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