Simple in the Springtime


Blooms of Spring.

And so.

It goes.

In the last 24 hours, one person passed. Another is having a birthday. A big one. And, the all-seeing dog found these flowers on a route we rarely take.

Obviously, the birthday was expected.

The dog did her usual thing. She turned a fifteen minute walk in a 60 minute walk because, well you know, all things must be explored.

The passing was not expected. He was a member of my krewe.

The Krewe of Backsteppers, which is not to be confused with backsliders. Backsteppers are the third line, but we walk before the first and second lines. We are the photographers who document second lines, Indian events and all sorts of Mardi Gras cultural events.

As I wrote to a friend of mine, it’s never good when there is a second line during the week. It almost always means some has died. And, so it did. Randolph “Mookie” Square was so well-known in the Treme community that the mayor issued a proclamation upon notification of his death. May he rest in peace. Or, as we say around here. RIH. Rest in Heaven.

So.

Even though I didn’t know it when I made this picture. The flowers are for Mookie. And, the birthday girl.

I’m pretty sure that there will be a jazz funeral. Usually, for well-known community members it’s a really big deal. When Uncle Lionel Batiste passed (You know his nephew if you watch Late Night with Stephen Colbert), it took a while because there were a lot of very violent rainstorms, but when his second line finally got going it was huge.

So huge that the Louisiana State Troopers closed two exits on the interstate where it passes over Claiborne because people were on the off ramp dancing and photographing. Yes. I was one of them.

I expect about the same thing this time.

I’m not sure I have the energy I had back then. That was a long time gone. But, I’ll do my best. You know why.

Sometimes, in New Orleans, it’s about learning. It’s about learning how to deal with death. Of course we mourn. The first steps in a jazz funeral are a dirge. But, we know that all things must pass. That dying is part of living. So, when the dirge is over the music soars. People dance. In the streets. We send the one who just passed, out in a blaze of glory.

Of course, we’ll miss them. But, we’ll always remember them. And, the good times we passed with them.

For me that means on the parade routes. Mookie had a habit of finding the picture at the last-minute and jumping right in front of you. After a couple of times of “WTH?”, you realized that he was no better or worse than you are. I can’t begin to tell you how many how many times I did that to other photographers. I won’t even apologize for it. It is what it is.

Life on the streets.

Peace, y’all.

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22 Comments

  1. I’m sorry for the loss of a special individual and friend. It always stings a bit worse when a death is unexpected. I am very moved at the way your city celebrates and memorializes the passing of one of its own. I also like RIH. I’m going to adopt that one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. The bad news is that some tradition is slipping. I’m not from here, as they say. But, when I moved here I embraced the old ways. Now, the new people want to change NOLA in ways that they know from wherever they came. They are killing the very thing that attracted them in the first place.

      Careful with RIH. It can mean something else. I only wish that one one person. It also means Rot in Hell. You know the person. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indians come from every neighborhood and do every sort of job. I’m sure some didn’t approve, but most did. As we continue to gentrify with people coming from other places and wanting to bring what they recognize with them, they are pushing out the very thing that attracted them in the first place. Many of the people I photograph do not even live in the city anymore because they can’t afford it. The Zindians are doing their best to fight back.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like the birthday picture. Lovely flowers for a lovely birthday girl.

    And I love the tradition of celebrating the life that has ended. My family has co-opted that joyfulness with “When the Saints Go Marching In” as the last song at our funerals, and we call the get-together that always happens after a funeral the “After-Party”. It just seems right.

    RIH, Mookie. Enjoy his after-party, Ray.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Big birthday this year. Commanders Palace and all that.

      Funny about “Saints.” I attended high school in California. We were the St. Anthony Saints. When we took the football field, our huge band — about 12 in all — played us onto the field with “Saints.” That was pretty much the first time I heard the song. Look what happened next.

      I have no idea when Mookie’s funeral will be. Likely towards the end of the week. I’ll let you know.

      Liked by 1 person

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