Intimidating life


Among residents’ other regular complaints are the roads, which often seem to be more pothole than concrete, and the water quality, which had much of the city on a “boil water” advisory (including for bathing) due to frozen pipes just days before I arrived.At the satirical Krewe du Vieux, the first major parade of Mardi Gras season, most floats were rebukes of the Sewerage & Water Board, whose failure to maintain drainage pumps resulted in damaging floods this summer.Jazz Johnson, who teaches a class called Twerk Party, moved back after years of dancing professionally in New York City, because she wanted be a corrective for a school system that stopped nurturing the arts after Katrina.“The kids, a lot of the ones I work with, they’re failing and all they keep doing is drilling them and giving them tests,” she said.



It was a badly worded tweet, though not entirely off base. New Orleans has a notorious violent crime rate, one that predominantly affects black men, but that sometimes spills over to tourists and residents.By the end of a week I had danced in the streets so much I’d worn holes through the bottoms of each of them, straight through to my socks.That, more than Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest or oak trees or gumbo, is my indelible image of the city: The only place in the world where I’ve had such a good time that the shoes melted right off my feet.I had to quit my job as staff writer at New York magazine, where I’ve worked since college; box up my entire apartment; and pack for a year on the road.

I’m pretty sure I was crying when I found those sneakers, because I cried a lot that week. Amid the chaos, it was as if a welcoming committee from the very city where I was starting this adventure had arrived in my living room and handed me a Sazerac: “You got this, girl.”Tourists can get a bad rap among locals, but we have history with the places we go to and love, too.

“A lot of these kids, their parents weren’t in a band because of the migration to other states,” said Tenell Moore, the band director. Mary’s Academy, an all-female high school, and in 2013 won the Street Kings brass band competition.