The New Orleans airport has always been a bit hectic during 4th of July weekend because of Essence Fest, and I wanted to avoid it. Instead of flying somewhere for the holiday, I decided to take a spontaneous road trip with a friend. We decided at the last minute to take the scenic route to Biloxi, Mississippi.
Now, I hadn’t been there since the summer before 7th grade. I only remember because I had just gotten my braces, and I have a picture of my brace face with my parents at a pizza place in Biloxi. The last time my friend had been there was immediately after Katrina destroyed it. Needless to say, things had changed a lot. Poor Mississippi suffered through Katrina and the BP oil spill and it took a gargantuan hit on the economy.
I honestly never held a positive opinion of Mississippi. That state is always competing with Louisiana to take the crown on the “worst states” list, and usually wins. I know that it isn’t a bunch of racist hillbillies stuck in the antebellum, but I just never felt that it had anything to offer me. I’ve met a lot of men from Jackson. Apparently, the dating scene there is horrendous and there are lots of black gays with and abnormally high rate of HIV.
We stopped at a couple of markets on the side of the road in Louisiana as we made our way to Mississippi. Can I just mention how much Louisiana makes me smile sometimes? Where else can one see a sign on the side of the road that says “FRESH GATOR JERKY?” How can one not stop on the side of the road and buy some? It was good, too. We bought gator jerky, cracklins, liquor, and chocolate covered strawberries.
While I was checking out Amnesty International’s Art For Rights event in Nola this weekend, I decided to stroll on over to the National World War II Museum on the opening day of its new exhibit called Road to Tokyo, I’m not a history buff and I hate the idea of ware, but since I was in the city and had time, I figured I might as well. I only had 2 hours to devote to the museum because I was being cheap and didn’t want to pay $12 to park in a lot, so I parked on the street for 2 hours for $3. The museum itself was $24, which is a decent price point for a museum with such rich history.
FYI, if you ever decide to visit the museum, you need wayyy more time than 2 hours. There are thousands of artifacts and a large collection of memoirs and oral histories. This was my first visit, and I didn’t realize the amount of information this museum holds. The Road to Tokyo
was just one of several exhibits located in three buildings, and I JUST realized I missed one of the buildings. I basically did a fast forward stroll through the museum while only viewing a small percentage of the information available, and I missed A LOT of necessities, There are guides at the ticket counter, and I’d recommend getting one. I didn’t pick up a guide, so I ended up more or less wandering around.
With a ticket into the museum, I got this card that represents a dog tag, and was instructed to start my journey at the train car a few steps away from the ticket counter. Inside the train car, I took a seat and used my dog tag to activate the interactive screen. I was introduced to my special “tour guide,” who was an actual soldier during the war. Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr. was my guide for the day, and I learned that he was the pilot who dropped the atomic bomb over Hiroshima. The museum holds his official flight log of the day he dropped the bomb as if it was just another day. There were about six different areas to use the dog tag to get more information about Col. Tibbets, but there were too many people in the museum for me to get a chance to use them all.
This weekend I had the opportunity to check out Amnesty International’s very first Art for Rights event in New Orleans. The event sought to bring awareness about human injustice across the world by presenting 12 murals by 12 artists from around the world. The end goal for Amnesty International was to inspire attendants to write letters to appropriate officials and take action. I don’t even remember how I found out about it. Surely it was via social media, so Mayonaka and I started up early Saturday morning and rolled through.
The event took place over on the corner of Royal and Press St. – near the location where Homer Plessy was arrested in events that lead to the Plessy v Ferguson case that challenged segregation laws. In the words of Lil Wayne in “Sky is the Limit,” “ain’t got sh*t to do with this, but I just thought that I should mention!”
Anyway, it was open from 10am – 6pm. Usher (ya know, Usher Raymond, AKA Ursher) was expected to attend later in the evening to speak on the need for reform in the justice system. I figured there would be a huge crowd at that time, so I went early to avoid the madness. My 14-year old self would have jumped at the opportunity just to breathe the same air as Usher, but I’m older, wiser, and way less starstruck. There were a lot of people when I got there some time before 11 am, but it seemed like many of those were volunteers and security.
Artwork by Brandan Odoms
Here are some of my favorite pieces from the event.