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Defender Picks



August 18th

Jurassic Quest

Lakefront Arena, 3PM

Dinosaur adventure


Art Exhibition and Party

Mini Art Center, 6:30PM

Featured artist, Zora




Final screening of the John Waters Film Festival


Love Letters

Little Gem Saloon, 8PM

Play about first loves and second chances


I'm Listening

The Voodoo Lounge, 9PM

Comedy and psychoanalysis


Delish Da Goddess

One Eyed Jacks, 10PM

Feat. MC Sweet Tea, Sea Battle



Eiffel Society, 10PM

LA based dance music performers Joseph & Joseph


Free Foundation Fridays

Tipitina's, 10PM

Feat. Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes, Sonic Bloom


August 19th

Mayoral Candidate Forum

First Presbyterian Church, 10AM

Youth-led event


610 Stompers Auditions

Harrah's, 10AM

Final day of auditions


Ameripolitan Festival

Siberia, 3PM

Day one of inaugural southern music fest


Mid-Summer Mardi Gras

More Fun Comics, 5:30PM

Chewbacchus subkrewes + Krewe of OAK


We Woke Up Like This

Ogden, 7PM

5th annual moms night out



House of Blues, 7PM

Beer and music festival


Mighty Brother

Gasa Gasa, 7PM

Homecoming show, feat. Micah McKeen, Deltaphpnic, SOF


August 20th

Captain Blood

Prytania Theatre, 10AM

Classic swashbucklin' flick starring Errol Flynn


Zulu Annual Sonny "Jim" Poole Picnic

City Park, 10AM

Contests for coconuts, BBQ, umbrellas, t-shirts, golf shirts and more


Love Letters

Little Gem Saloon, 5PM

Play about first loves and second chances


New Moon Women's Circle

Rosalie Apothecary, 6PM

Special solar eclipse themed circle


RC and the Gritz

One Eyed Jacks, 9PM

Erykah Badu's band, plus Khris Royal


The Max Tribe

Gasa Gasa, 9PM

Feat. Gools, Killer Dale, Jack Rabbit


Stripped into Submission

Hi-Ho Lunge, 10PM

Kink-themed burlesque 


August 21st

Solar Eclipse Paddle

Canoe and Trail Adventures, 10:30AM

Explore the swamps and bayou during the eclipse


Energy Clearing Class

Swan River Yoga Mandir, 7:30PM

Solar eclipse reiki course to clear your self


Monday Night Massacre

Rare Form, 8PM

Feat. Phantom of Paradise and Cannibal The Musical


Betty Who

Republic NOLA, 9PM

90's tinged Aussie artist, feat. Geographer



The New Movement, 9:30PM

Battle of the funniest 


Instant Opus

Hi-Ho Lounge, 10PM

Feat. Eric Bloom, Russell Batiste, David Torkanowsky, Chris Severin


August 22nd

Murder Ballads

Euclid Records, 5PM

Book signing with Dan Auerbach and Gabe Soria


DIY Fermented Foods

Rosalie Apothecary, 7PM

Fermented dairies, like kefire, yogurt, butter, buttermilk, and more


Stanton Moore Trio

Snug Harbor, 8PM

Galactic drummer's side project


Water Seed

Blue Nile, 9PM

Future funk stars


Treme Brass Band

d.b.a., 9PM

See the legendary band on their home turf


Rebirth Brass Band

Maple Leaf, 10PM

2 sets by the Grammy-winning brass band


Smoking Time Jazz Club

Spotted Cat, 10PM

Trad jazz masters


Room 220: Stray Leaves: A Tomb for Marcus Christian

From Press Street's Room 220

by Michael Allen Zell

Room 220 is pleased to present the first installment of “Stray Leaves,” a monthly(ish) series of articles written by Michael Allen Zell that illuminate oddities and rarities from New Orleans’ literary history.  ”Stray Leaves,” in Zell’s words, is “a lifting up of stones and crowing about that found underneath, led by the guiding notion that we are standing on the shoulders of writers and books that deserve their names and faces returned to the public.”


The best way to keep a secret is out in the open, and so it nearly is for a particular author/historian/folklorist largely unknown to even the literary-minded in New Orleans. He wrote thousands of poems, plays, short stories, articles, and historic pieces until his death in 1976, provided content on street vendors and slaves for Gumbo Ya Ya, corresponded with luminaries such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Langston Hughes, compiled a 1,000 plus-page history of black Louisiana, and saw his poem “I Am New Orleans” printed on the front page of the Times-Picayune’s 1968 sesquicentennial edition. One might think I am writing about an imaginary man, for how otherwise could this mountain of material be almost entirely unfamiliar and out-of-print (if ever available)? But this man is no John Henry and certainly not a Darger-esque outsider artist. Instead, meet Marcus B. Christian (a man who, by the way, spent more than two years researching John Henry’s existence beyond folklore).


Christian’s Negro Ironworkers of Louisiana, 1718-1900, his only in-print title, and the other thin scarce books—what Lawrence Durrell might call concertina pieces—do not go so far as hint at what sits tombed, well-catalogued, and mostly undisturbed in the University of New Orleans’ Special Collections. His general biographical framework, available via the KnowLa online encyclopedia, takes us from his Terrebone Parish birth to a lifetime in New Orleans, and from his supervising the Negro History Unit of the Louisiana Writer’s Project at Dillard University to an undue dismissal there, and the eventual ending of his career at the University of New Orleans. What concerned me as I read through and skimmed an afternoon’s worth of manuscripts, broadsides and handbills, correspondence, and diary pages from the Christian collection—a scant introduction to the estimated 146 linear feet worth in the archive—is that this mountain has not seen itself avalanched to interested readers and historians. Was Christian a man mismatched for his time? Is his ongoing obscurity due to standard literary neglect, the quality of his work, lack of marketability, or bigotry due to his race? These accumulating questions can only be answered with the bold but frank rejoinder: What does it matter?


I’m not trying to be glib—this is a serious response. What does it matter? Historical archives throughout New Orleans are stuffed with interesting and quality documents. Most writers attempt to take necessary steps to inch head above shoulders only to find their eyes met by countless others. Christian had his day, some might say, but now the glow’s worn off.


Poet and scholar Dr. Jerry Ward, Jr.—whose  The Katrina Papers is, in my view, the strongest micro-view book on its subject—has this to assert: “Reasons for exploring Marcus B. Christian’s poetry, diaries, and historical writings are very well explained in Tom Dent’s essay ‘Marcus B. Christian: A Reminiscence and Appreciation.’ Christian’s influence on Dent and Arthur Pfister draws attention to tradition. We speak endlessly about music in New Orleans and far less about the city’s literary traditions which incorporate a special sense of Louisiana history. Christian’s work is a model of what needs to be done from twenty-first century angles.”


It is with intention that I attempt to shed light on Marcus Christian’s work in the first of my monthly columns. Here’s a laundry list why he matters:


1) Alternately known as A Black History Of Louisiana, A History Of The Negro In Louisiana, and The Negro In Louisiana, Christian’s tome on black Louisiana is no lesser in achievement, significance, and necessity than Howard Zinn’s A People’s History Of The United States. Its creation lies in the WPA period, and in 1943 Christian received a Rosenwald Award for its completion. Never in print, this major work is available digitally via UNO’s Special Collections and Louisiana Digital Library.


2) Marcus Christian’s involvement with  From The Deep South (FTDS) is key. FTDS was a poetry chapbook organized by Louisiana Weekly editor Mayme Osby Brown for an award ceremony and tea on June 13, 1937. The occasion was to be the launching pad for an organization of black poets state-wide, but it instead led to Louisiana Weekly’s “Poet’s Corner.”  FTDS is described by Christian in the preface as “the only such collection of poetry written by Louisiana Negroes since the Civil War.”


3) In Stephen Henderson’s influential Understanding The New Black Poetry, the category of “saturation” is offered as a means to describe and evaluate. He defines this term as “a) the communication of Blackness in a given situation, b) a sense of fidelity to the observed and intuited truth of the Black experience.” Marcus Christian’s work is heavily but also uniquely saturated. This was a man who not only published High Ground in 1958 to commemorate the abolishing of racial segregation in public schools, but was also raised on English lyric poetry, and whose record collection upon his passing consisted entirely of Frederick Douglass and classical music albums.


4) The multiple-paged poem “I Am New Orleans” should be taught to every child in New Orleans, made available as a broadside, and featured prominently during the upcoming tricentennial celebration in 2018. In his notes, Christian regarded well G.H. Palmer’s three desirable qualities of speech—“accuracy, audacity, and range”—and this poem not only contains all three but also can be read, understood, and appreciated by the non-literary and the well-read.


5) As Dr. Ward mentioned, the multi-headed reach of quality work modeled by Marcus Christian is a guide for any writer. Who better to emulate than one who wrote poetry to elevate, history to inform, and articles to sway, all while consistently educating and coordinating in the same fields publically?


To me, the work of this “small man with a big voice,” as he was described in a 1970 Times-Picayune piece, wears very well with the test of time. It is always heady, gritty as necessary, and resonates with life. We could do far worse than to resurrect the Lazarus called Marcus Christian, whether laypeople by general awareness, readers/writers by reading and learning more about him, and publishers by making his work available. Christian began Escape At Thirty-Five with, “I’m tired of fighting back – I long for peace; I wish to draw unto itself my soul.”  I encourage you to take a little time on behalf of an author who, though tired of fighting, continued to fight on while hand-cupping his soul like a candle and holding it high.*


*a paraphrasing of two lines from Marcus B. Christian’s Hieroglyphs on Granite


Image courtesy of the Marcus B. Christian Collection, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans





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