It’s the energy. In hot or cool weather, it’s the energy that drives second lines. It’s the energy that creates minor miracles for me. If you hear the music, smell the cooking, get pulled into the din, there is no way that you won’t come alive. You’ll sway to the music. You’ll dance. You will feel better than when you arrived.
Eventually, you’ll feel tired. But, it’s a good tired.
It’s a funny thing. When I first started coming out, I had no idea of what I was looking at. I just liked the color. The energy. The people. Eventually I learned a few things. I met a few of the people who make second lines go. Even so, I don’t know everything. I will always still be learning and meeting new people.
I do know the customs and traditions. At least I know them enough not to get in trouble. As I was told many years ago, if you are new on the scene present yourself. You have to know to tradition. You have to know the people.
For me, that’s the same thing as travelling to distant countries, whose traditions are not western. I read about people who get into all sorts of trouble because they compare our way of living to their way of living.
It doesn’t work.
I could tell you all sorts of stories about that. They never happened to me because I’m pretty mellow. But, the things that I’ve seen. Whew.
I’ll tell you one story. I was leaving Thailand, so I went to the airport to check in. Another American was at the window next to me. In those days you had to pay an airport tax. Today, it’s tucked into your airfare. It was 50 Baht. About the equivalent of USD $1.50. No big deal. The guy at the other window started yelling at the agent.
She was horrified.
Then, he started cursing the king and the corrupt country. Now the gate agent was pleading with me, with her eyes, to help.
I tried to calm him down. I told him what the price was in US currency. I told him that in Asia, screaming gets you nowhere fast. I told him that if he kept attacking the king there would be huge trouble
Trouble came in the form of two heavily armed Thai soldiers. They handcuffed him. They were about to turn on me when the gate agent told them in Thai language that I was helping her and I was being kind. The soldiers nodded and put their hands together in a “Y” to thank me and to apologize. Oh, “Y’ing” looks like folding your hands in prayer.
They took him away, kicking and screaming. I don’t know what happened after that. But to insult the King in Thailand is to bring all sorts of hell upon yourself. At that time, the king was loved by all Thai people. I knew him as a really good photographer and jazz musician. He played clarinet in a New Orleans style.
These are some of my favorite pictures from the Good Fellas second line that started on Earhart Expressway. You may be wondering if the name has anything to do with the famous aviator, Amelia. It does. We are a little flying oriented down here. Our airport is called Louis Armstrong, but the destination code is MSY, after an early aviator — Moisant — who crashed in a pasture and was surrounded by scarred cows. That’s where the airport is today.
I made these pictures by just walking around until the second line started. As I’ve said in the past, after a while the actual second line feels a little similar to earlier work, so I try very hard to make something different, or unusual. Of course I photograph the main event.
I invite you to open the little pictures. There is good stuff going on in each of them.