2 Articles
Sam Jasper

Cross-posted at New Orleans Slate

Dear Mayor Landrieu,

I voted for you. Twice. I felt then and feel now that you really want to work with the community. I felt then and feel now that having grown up here in New Orleans, you have a deep connection to the City, its people and its culture in all the various forms that culture presents. That said, I am greatly concerned, as are many others, that some of the cultural heritage unique to this City will soon be obliterated by bad laws, pressure from monied property owners (both natives and newcomers), and the pursuit of money for the City coffers which admittedly could use some shoring up.

Unfortunately it often looks as though that shoring up is being done on the backs of the regular working folks via traffic cam tickets that are a hardship on just about everyone trying to make it month to month, crazy new taxicab regulations that are a hardship on many career cab drivers, unwieldy and seemingly serendipitous permitting requirements on club owners who are the small business owner/job creators we hear about every day, more permits on the smallest of entrepreneurial business owners–the vendors at Second Lines, and on the culture bearers themselves—the musicians and artists who create the culture that draws visitors to our City every year from all over the world. Lately we’ve heard words like noise, crackdown, permit, and ordinance used to intimidate bands off of street corners, to cause clubs to stop live music for fear of total shut downs, and as you know, those words have been a sometimes unspoken threat to parades and Indians for a long time.

Gary Mays

A bolt action .22 rifle

We learned to shoot in high school.

It was the 1980s, and as an alternative to gym class, any student could, with minimal instruction, be blasting away with a .22 bolt-action rifle in the basement.

Once the rules were read, and some initial range-safety demonstrations given, we were off and shooting within a week. And, for the next few weeks after that. We shot so many rounds, in fact, that teenagers grew bored of it — bored of shooting (real) guns, having grown up shooting imaginary Russians with sticks.

Many of us became excellent shots by the time it was over — some even shooting bull’s-eyes from the hip when the instructor wasn’t looking.

It still seems ludicrous. I’ve often wondered about it as I recount this high school memory to a generation more familiar with metal detectors than the sounds of a platoon of fellow students blasting away.