Archive for the ‘MLK BLVD’ Category


MLK parade on MLK, originally uploaded by anthonyturducken.

Every year right about this time I remind people: Please contribute photos taken on MLK Boulevards, Drives, Streets, Avenues, etc., anywhere, to the MLK BLVD Flickr pool, an open-source photojournalism project. Highlights appear on the blog MLK BLVD. The image above, from an MLK parade on MLK in New Orleans.

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I’m pleasantly surprised to report that I still get notes from readers of Letters from New Orleans who have only recently discovered the book, and enjoyed it enough to tell me so. One such note came across the transom yesterday, and the writer asked if I had in fact done anything about the idea mentioned in the book to create a kind of “open source” project related to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvds (and Drives and Avenues and Streets).

As you may know, the answer is yes. But maybe you don’t know! Here is: The MLK BLVD Flickr Pool. And find highlights from that pool at the MLK BLVD blog — images from MLKs in 42 cities and towns, and counting.

Better yet, join in and contribute something.

MLK BLVD,” originally uploaded by R. Walker.

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 Mr. Marsalis

The only way this counts as an interesting picture is if you use Andy Warhol’s definition of a successful photograph: In focus, and of someone famous. Wynton Marsalis, performing here in Savannah as part of a local music festival, spoke at a brief ceremony for the unveiling of a plaque in honor of King Oliver, who died here. The event was at 514 MLK Blvd. — which used to be West Broad Street, and, apparently, was the center of jazz activity here at one time. This is what I gathered at the presentation, anyway. A number of older local musicians were on hand. I have to say, Marsalis was impressively gracious. Plus he wore an excellent suit.

I ran into our friend John Stoehr, a writer for the local paper, at the envent; he was shooting a bit of hand-held video that he posted on his blog.

King Oliver died here in 1938, and the adjective that is invariably used to describe his condition at that time is “penniless.” Words like “unknown” or “obscure” often get used as well. I believe he died at 408 Montgomery Street, although the paper says 308 Montgomery. In any case, King Oliver is of course relevant to the story of “St. James Infirmary” by way of his massive influence on Louis Armstrong, whose first recording of the tune I consider definitive. Here is the Red Hot Jazz writeup on King Oliver. King Oliver’s Orchestra recorded “SJI” in 1930 (after Armstrong) and you can hear that here.

At some point I’ll take a closer look at King Oliver’s Savannah stay, and perhaps at Savannah jazz in general. One of the interesting things about the Marsalis appearance was the attendance of a handful of older guys who were apparently local jazz players here back in the day. We’ve only lived here since October, but it was news to me that there was any local history like that at all, frankly.

Stoehr also posted this bit regarding another speaker at the event, a man named Walter Evans. He’s a local businessman involved in redeveloping Savannah’s MLK Blvd. “It would not have been unusual for someone like King Oliver to have settled in this area, because this is where all the entertainment was,” Evans remarked. Apparently making the area an “entertainment center” again is part of his thinking.

One other note of interest: Flickr standout Mamish tells me that Marsalis is executive producer of a movie about Buddy Bolden that’s being filmed in N.O. right now. I didn’t know that!

King Oliver - The Originals: King Oliver - The Legendary 1930 Recordings (Remastered) - St. James Infirmary
“St. James Infirmary,” King Oliver

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hip-hop service

hip-hop service
Originally uploaded by Zervas.

… on MLK BLVD in Portland. The latest entries to the Flickr collection, from Zervas….

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Speaking of MLK: I posted a kind of miniature higlight reel of MLK BLVD on Murketing.com, right here.

The subject of MLK Blvds etc. came up on yesterday’s installment of the African-American roundtable, on News & Notes on NPR. Host Farai Chideya introduced one question by noting that for people her age (I think she’s in her 30s):

By the time [people our age] reached our tweens or our teens, you had MLK Boulevards all over the country, and usually they were in some of the most jacked-up neighborhoods that you will ever find. So there was this complexity that I had in my mind: Why are they going to honor this man by naming the dingiest, dead-end street after him? … Hearing the words Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. don’t necessarily bring hope to younger generations the way they did to previous generations…

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blockbuster on mlk

blockbuster on mlk
Originally uploaded by Zervas.

Another recent MLK BLVD addition, one of two from Portland. You sort of have to click through to really see how curious this is.

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Originally uploaded by blitzcat.

Several new shots have appeared lately in the MLK BLVD Flickr pool. Here’s a nice one from Greensboro.

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MLK BLVD/ Chattanooga

Originally uploaded by crfranko.

Some great shots from Chattanooga added to the MLK BLVD Flickr pool by our friend crfranko. I love the color on this one, but the whole batch is really good — including the “Pimp Oil” sign. Check em out.

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Chicago’s Historic King Drive

Originally uploaded by deltasly101.

A recent addition to the MLK BLVD pool: Flickr contributor deltasly101 has an excellent set called Historic King Drive, revealing “some of the greatest architecture in Chicago.” This particular shot that I’ve chosen to post here is not exactly representative, but I happened to love the colors. Anyway his set is great, check it out.

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Calliope (Post-Katrina)

I have a really bad feeling about the news that four New Orleans housing projects are now slated for demolition. I don’t have any illusions about the problems of the projects, but when I was researching the long piece in LfNO about the Desire projects, I got pretty familiar with the extremely bad history of broken promises about public housing. I won’t recap all of that here, but, it’s depressing and enraging.

The projects that will be razed are St. Bernard, Lafitte, C.J. Peete (Magnolia, spawning ground of the Cash Money empire), and Cooper (Calliope, pictured). The HUD honcho is quoted in the T-P saying:

We’re making the president’s vision a reality with an innovative plan which will reopen nearly half of the city’s public housing but also bring about a renaissance in public housing neighborhoods. Rebuilding and revitalizing public housing isn’t something that will be done overnight. Our redevelopment represents a major step forward. Sadly, not all residents will be able to return home in the near future.

Sure, sure. Guys like this have been talking about major steps forward for decades. What distresses me about it is that people in public housing, obviously, have few resources, and maybe even fewer advocates. The only politician speaking up for them is William “Cold Cash” Jefferson, probably the least effective elected official in America right now. It seems to me hardly anybody else cares what happens to these people. For all the righteousness and rage in post-Katrina New Orleans, I don’t hear a whole lot about making sure the most defenseless citizens aren’t victimized and tossed aside yet again.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe it’ll all work out this time. I certainly don’t have any easy solutions. But reading about this just gives me a sinking feeling.

The T-P story did have this bit about the Desire projects, the first updated I’ve heard.

HUD has run the city’s public housing authority since 2002, after years of rampant mismanagement and corruption took its toll on the complexes and their residents.By late 2005, HANO, directed by a one-person board of commissioners who is appointed by HUD, was making headway in its far-reaching renovation of public housing complexes. Desire and Florida in the 9th Ward were pastel-colored rows of townhouses and shotgun-type homes.

“Katrina made a bad situation worse,” Jackson said. “A massive redevelopment effort was under way when the hurricane hit.”

Today, Desire — renamed Abundance Square — and Florida are vacant, muck-stained neighborhoods. Desire was a Hope IV project, part of a federal grant program that transforms public housing into mixed-income housing.

“The developer of Desire has indicated a strong desire to bring it back online as a development,” Keller said. “They are working with the insurer right now to get funds available.”

I drove around Desire and Florida in October, last time I was in New Orleans. The pastel-colored housing looked pretty desolate. I’m pretty sure Desire flooded big-time. We’ll see if this “strong desire” to do something there ever materializes.

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