POSTED Sun. May 12, 2013
Adam Karlin
Written by ADAM KARLIN

I was in Florida when the Mother’s Day Second Line Shooting happened. I was sitting at a bar next to two guys.

One was wearing a Broncos hat. The other turned to him and asked, “Are you from Denver?”


“I just moved there. Great town.”

“It is a great town, isn’t it?”

They started talking about what a great town Denver is. And I wanted to jump in and brag about New Orleans. Because I love bragging about New Orleans. I’ll take New Orleans over Denver in a Rocky Mountain minute any day of the week.

But I had a hard time mustering Nola love the day of the shootings. I had a hard time keeping my anger in check. I had a hard time trying to understand why anyone would shoot into a mass of people during a celebration. I had a hard time answering the texts that rolled in today – “Are you alright? Are you in the hospital?” Bostonians had to answer similar texts a few weeks ago, but there’s was, we can hope, an isolated incident. In New Orleans, shootings are a regular, bloodstained alarm we can set our violence-numbed lives to.

Speaking of Boston. The gunmen who perpetrated the Mother’s Day shootings are, in my book, as morally empty as the Tsarnaev brothers. At least it seems those boys had some kind of cause they believed in, no matter how empty or delusional. I can’t imagine the gunmen who injured – what is the number now? 17? 19? – individuals during a Second Line, during our city’s most collective expression of happiness, believed in anything, other than maybe settling a beef.

That’s the thing. That’s the goddamn thing. All of this awful, soul-sucking violence in New Orleans is never over anything worthwhile. Hell, there are very few justifications for violence in my book, but the bullshit ease with which gunfire erupts in this city, in our city…it is as if we value life the way we value dirt.

This is an angry rant. It is also a cowardly one, because I offer no solutions or answers. Yes, New Orleans has suffered from institutionalized racism and an exploitative class system. Of this there is no doubt. But many cities have suffered from these issues. They don’t seem as quick to draw their guns the way our citizens do.

I listened to NPR. On American Roots, Walter Wolfman Washington came on. Ernie K-Doe played. The DJ talked about the unique beauty of New Orleans music, which comes from the unique sacred space of New Orleans culture. I know this. I breathe it and I do what I can to promote it. But New Orleans, my dear, sweet New Orleans: we cannot have a functioning society if we exist in a state of war.

One of my text conversations tonight went like this.

Me: “I am so angry about this. What is happening in our town?”
Friend: “I’m not sure how you turn the Titanic around.”

That’s a grim assessment. What’s grimmer is I don’t know to respond to it.


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    The Arts Council of New Orleans

    The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.


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    WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.


    Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.


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    The Historic New Orleans Collection

    The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

    Southern Food

    The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.



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