Margaritas as Coping Strategy: Where I Live at 2 Years and Some Weeks Later

A side effect of an influx of bright young and not-so-young things ready to “bring their vision” to us:

Culture, change collide in Treme

Lifelong Treme resident Beverly Curry, 65, is one who believes that permits should not be required for the neighborhood memorial parades. Despite a failing leg, Curry made it to the procession’s start Tuesday night. “I need to be here, to show my support for our heritage,” she said.

For a century, she said, that heritage has included impromptu second-line parades for musicians who die, “from the day they pass until the day they’re put in the ground,” she said. Those memorial processions still occur with regularity, without permits, as is the tradition. But, increasingly, NOPD officers have been halting them, citing complaints from neighbors and incidents of violence at similar gatherings.

In some ways, the police complaints parallel those NOPD officials raised earlier this year, as they defended the high permit fees that the department was charging New Orleans’ weekly second-line parades, hosted by social aid and pleasure clubs. Ultimately, the NOPD settled that suit, assessing much lower rates to allow the clubs to parade. Club members saw the court victory as an admission by police officials that they had been insensitive to New Orleans’ culture.

But Curry and other longtime residents point fingers at Treme newcomers, who buy up the neighborhood’s historic properties, then complain about a jazz culture that is just as longstanding and just as lauded as the neighborhood’s architecture.

“They want to live in the Treme, but they want it for their ways of living,” Curry said.

For newly arrived neighbors, Curry sometimes serves as a cultural interpreter. “I tell them, ‘When someone dies in the Treme, you’re going to hear a band,’ ” she said. But to those neighbors dismayed by the noise or the crowds that come along with those bands, Curry is stern. “I say, ‘You found us doing this — this is our way,” she said. 

I live here because of the culture whether I participate in it 24/7 or not at all. I do not find the sound of a brass band annoying as it passes or lingers near my block. I think fondly of my grandfather when I do hear one. It is what makes this New Orleans instead of Baltimore, Evanston or Seattle. And if you don’t want to hear it, WHY the fuck move to the TREME?

Groups of black people are not always signs of imminent looting and mayhem.

Those ideas didn’t start with the floods, or start here, but were snatched up by them and well nourished.

Yeah, I need a damn drink bad.

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4 Responses to Margaritas as Coping Strategy: Where I Live at 2 Years and Some Weeks Later

  1. Cliff says:

    When I was a kid there would be second lines all over that area at a moment’s notice even when someone didn’t die. If we can’t secondline, watch the Zulu on Orleans Avenue, or go to the lake at night to fish then what the hell are we doing here? One day the culture of this city is going to be confined to a few museums and whereever tourists go to take pictures.

  2. GentillyGirl says:

    I’m with you GB. Second lines are sacred and a part of our culture here.

    The newbies better get used to that or get outta town.

  3. G Bitch says:

    Fuck tourists. I refuse to be a prop for someone’s Power Vacation or celebrity wedding.

    I’ll get the pitchforks. Who’s got the broken glass and flambeaux?

  4. Mark Folse says:

    I just can’t grasp the irrationality of the NOPD or just about anyone else in positions of authority in this city. You can’t get a cop to come take a burglary or intrusion report in a neighborhood plagued by such crimes, but they can round up half a dozen cars to bust up a parade on the complaint of some yuppie?

Comments welcomed. Really.