Crawfish for our last dinner in Slidell, March 2012

A constant of our spring breaks has been St. Patrick’s Day, which runs neck and neck with St. Joseph’s Day in New Orleans among the pantheon of “holy” days to rank behind Mardi Gras. It or some events related to it are always present. This year students traveled to Metairie for their big parade last Sunday. And a few of those in the City witnessed the Molly’s in the Market parade on Decatur, which is basically a moving block party. They enjoyed their last night in the Quarter, regardless, although the new 21+ regulations are making it harder for young people to go into clubs to listen to music. If they keep this up, it will be to the detriment of the music and its following and not to the sustenance of decency and decorum.

Courtyard concert, Historic New Orleans Collection, Royal Street, March 2012

I caught part of the Molly’s parade, but also had the chance to see Dr. Michael White and his quartet performing at eh Historic New Orleans Collection on Royal Street. The beautiful courtyard of this old mansion was filled with members and music lovers alike, and they did not disappoint. And the sound of tunes like “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” with Gregg Stafford’s vocals reverberating off of the masonry walls, was fabulous.

Students learning about Mardi Gras Indian culture at the Backstreet Cultural Museum, March 2012

The late night in the City made for a slow departure from the Peace Mission Center this morning. And to some extent, I think it was a rebellion against leaving New Orleans more than chronic sleepiness. Bags seemed to roll slower. Packing decisions took longer. I found it easier to leave the process entirely and make my way into the City for our meeting at the Backstreet Cultural Museum in Treme, the source for the best information on Mardi Gras Indian and Second Line culture in New Orleans. Happily, all three groups fought through the New Orleans departure blues to hear museum founder Sylvester Francis

Sylvester Francis explaining the Second Line tradition, March 2012

expound on this unique culture. The Mardi Gras Indian costumes amazed and hopefully most came away with greater understanding of these New Orleans cultural artifacts.

Sadly, I had to part with students at 10 a.m. Most of them were heading across Rampart Street into the Quarter for what I feel is the finest New Orleans experience — the French Quarter on a weekend morning. There they would find a humming French Market, street performers, and New Orleans’ signature food fare; such will hopefully lessen the sting of a long journeyhome back to the second half of the semester.

Willie Mae's Scotch House, Treme, March 2012

I left the museum to head out to the airport to pick up my wife. And as frequently as I go to New Orleans, it was the first time we have been together in the City since 1993>And we had quite the New Orleans experience: fried chicken at Willie Mae’s Scotch House in Treme; part of the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Parade; dinner with a smartass waitress; the Downtown St. Patrick’s Parade; music on Frenchmen; watching 100 year-old Lionel Ferbos perform with his band at the Palm Court; and walking through the Quarter on a warm Saturday night that happens to be March 17th. It makes me tired (and smile) just to think of it.

St. Patrick's Day, Jackson and St. Charles, March 2012

I am heading offline tomorrow and will not be adding to my blog for a week or more. I’m sure I’ll Have plenty of observations, commentary, and pictures when I get back and the events of the past week have sufficiently sunk in. At that time, I will also begin a new thread in which I invite students to contribute blog entries related to New Orleans, the trip, and to the class. So, stay tuned, there is good stuff yet to come.