Looking for Jazz Uplift Under Lockdown

A Music Critic Considers the Power of Time-Honored Rituals When They Can’t Happen as They Should

Three days after the September 11 terrorist attacks I left my Brooklyn home, tracing backward the trail that thick billows of smoke had blown across the East River, to hear saxophonist Charles Lloyd at the Blue Note, in Greenwich Village. Two weeks earlier, I had interviewed Lloyd on a park bench in the shadow of the Twin Towers. He described his compositions as “tenderness sutras” and his performances as rituals offered in the face of complacency and conflict. Sitting in that club, those towers now gone, I listened closely. I …

The New Orleans Creoles Who Challenged Racism by Challenging Race Itself  | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The New Orleans Creoles Who Challenged Racism by Challenging Race Itself 

Alongside Homer Plessy, Mixed-Race Activists Used a Unique Legal Arsenal to Attack White Supremacy

It took years of research for me to track down a photograph of the mysterious New Orleanian E. Arnold Bertonneau. Born in 1834, this Civil War-era civil rights pioneer was …

How Sicilian Merchants in New Orleans Reinvented America’s Diet | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How Sicilian Merchants in New Orleans Reinvented America’s Diet

In the 1830s, They Brought Lemons, Commercial Dynamism, and a Willingness to Fight Elites

When I started writing a book exploring the crucial contributions that Sicilians had made to New Orleans food culture, I sat down to talk with fabled restaurateur Salvatore “Joe” Segreto. …

In Louisiana’s Fishing Villages, Food and Faith Are Found in the Water

Photographer J. T. Blatty Captures a Vanishing Way of Life in the Bayou

For generations, water has provided everything to the people of southeastern Louisiana’s fishing communities. Their meals. Their livelihoods. Their recreation. Their birthright. Even their faith, as one photograph by J. …

The Voodoo Priestess Whose Celebrity Foretold America’s Future

Marie Laveau, the Self-Invented New Orleans Prophetess, Blurred the Sacred and Profane While Presiding Over a Multiracial Following 

Any tourist who rolls into New Orleans’s French Quarter eventually finds themselves standing before a Bourbon Street botanica called Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo. It’s a small shop, and …