When I had first arrived in New Orleans on Wednesday night at Celebration Hall, there were rumors about a second-line being held on the following Sunday. Ultimately, they proved to not be true, but the second-line activist Big Red Cotton sent me a Facebook message that indicated that there would be a Stop The Violence Picnic uptown at A. L. Davis Park sponsored by the Kings of Kings Social Aid and Pleasure Club, and that brass bands would likely appear. So after breakfast, I headed out to A. L. Davis Park, formerly Shakespeare Park, which is the scene of the annual Uptown Super Sunday at which the Black Indian tribes appear. I found that there was a picnic going on, with basketball under the pavilion, youth football games in progress, and a DJ, but no brass bands, perhaps because there was also a heat emergency, and the temperature was near 100 degrees outside. Still, some little kids were having fun playing football and basketball, or watching the others, and the event called attention to the problems New Orleans has been having this summer with street violence.
Memphis has exceptional talent in all sports, but our city is particularly known for basketball, and much of this is due to the frequency and quality of street ball in the city. Each summer, the Orange Mound neighborhood sponsors a basketball tournament at a neighborhood park that pits the best hoopers from the neighborhood against each other. Although the competition can be fierce, it’s always nothing but good fun and good food. This year, Memphis R & B artist Iyse Gibson also performed a couple of songs for those who weren’t in the thick of the game.
Sunday was the last day of A3C, and I was invited to a breakfast at the Melia Hotel with the conference staff. Afterwards, I drove over to the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood for the Soul in the Hole basketball tournament sponsored by the Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League. The AEBL runs a recreational basketball league for artists and performers in the Atlanta area, and A$AP Rocky was one of the artists who came out to participate. The tournament also gave us an opportunity to try something called Grind Hard Endurance Drink since they were a sponsor of the tournament, and the drink didn’t taste bad at all, particularly when chilled in a cooler full of ice on such a hot day. Since I wasn’t hooping, I can’t speak to the endurance part of it!
Kids showing their skills at the South Memphis Block Party, 6/8/13
A sunny, warm evening in Alcy Park, with kids everywhere, some on basketball courts, others running around on the grass, and the members of a pee-wee football team going through drills and workouts on the grass east of the courts. Young people were walking to and from the park and apartments across the road, checking each other and laughing, with the beat of rap coming from cars passing by. Tune and I were on one of the courts playing a game of one-on-one with an underinflated basketball that kept sticking in the net. One neighborhood youngster came over and asked if he could take a shot with my basketball, and he proved to be a pure shooter. I asked him who he played for, and he replied “Nobody.” The kid wanted to play me or Tune for money, but we had almost finished our game, and soon we headed out, to the other side of Airways for cold slushes at Dixie Queen.