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.
Last month, I was in Houston for Beyonce’s Formation World Tour. I was also in the city the weekend prior (right after I left the Broccoli City Festival in DC) to watch Lauryn Hill present her gifts on stage. I’ve seen both of them perform before, the former at the Mrs. Carter and On The Run tours, and the latter at a life-changing set over a year ago in Austin.
So I attended Lauryn Hill’s show in Houston a week before Lategate happened again. There’s a lot to be said about Lauryn Hill. A fan is pretty much taking a risk when he buys a ticket to her show, but I was under the impression that she had gotten her shit together and was showing up on time and in a healthy mental capacity. I guess she’s still having problems “aligning her energy with the time.” Let’s just throw it out there. Would she even be touring if she didn’t have those debts to pay?
Lauryn’s show was at the Revention Music Center, an venue I had never visited, so I got there late because of traffic, parking, and general confusion. There’s much to be said about Lauryn, but she can still sell some tickets. The line was to the next corner. When I finally got inside, local talent Kristal Cherelle was at the end of her set. DJ Rampage followed with his set that included a Prince tribute and some afrobeats. He wasn’t as entertaining as the first time I saw him do a set. He walked off the stage a couple of times and let a whole song play, so I guess there were some backstage issues happening.
At around 10:20, Lauryn took the stage. Using my concert math, I expected her set to begin at 10:00, so that wasn’t all that bad. Continue reading
There’s something about the gorgeous scenery, eccentric culture, and lack of pretentiousness from the residents of Austin, Texas that I simply adore. It’s one of my favorite cities, and I’d consider relocating there if it wasn’t for one issue: the lack of black people. The percentage of black residents within the city is around 5%. I don’t think I’d survive long-term, but visiting is always a good time. I went this past weekend ahead of the SXSW crowds that are about to flock the city. The reason: Gary Clark, Jr. The Austin-based guitarist is on tour and was scheduled to make a stop in his hometown, and I was able to score tickets. This would be my fourth time seeing him perform, and I thank the presale ticket gods because the show sold out with quickness!
Mayonaka and I woke up early Friday morning and made the 5-hour drive (which actually took eight hours because I made several stops along the way) to the city with an itinerary filled with food, music, and a little shopping! The first stop I made in the city was to Torchy’s Tacos. I was so hungry that I forgot to take a pic, but yeah. A green chile pork and a trashy trailer park taco is all I need in this life of sin.
Since I was in the area and the weather was so unbelievably beautiful (just the right amount of warmth without being too hot), I decided to stroll around SoCo. It was then that I noticed something was different about the city. Not a bad different, but different nonetheless. It seemed to have changed drastically since the last time I visited a year ago, and I found myself wondering if a retail space or restaurant had been in a certain location when I was last there, or if it was new.
People watching is the greatest thing ever, and I enjoyed every moment of it that day. I saw a boy during recess at the playground looking as if he was trying to plan his escape, and I saw lots of horrible fashion. WHAT ARE THOOOSSSEEEEE?!?!
I strolled by walking path near the Colorado River, and caught glimpses of people kayaking, canoeing, waterboarding, and etc. There’s just so many great ways to burn calories in this city.
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.