Good Friday in New Orleans

New Orleans is about 1/3 Catholic and many more observe Catholic traditions, like Lent, after a raucous Mardi Gras. Good Friday tends to be celebrated by the devout Catholic. There are events throughout the city. Uptown, people get on buses or walk to do the Nine-Church Pilgrimage. Each church will …

Fire at the Mouse’s Ear

Flames engulfed the small strip club in Gray, TN, in the early hours of January 10, 2013. Mouse’s Ear was the only strip club between Johnson City’s Fuzzy Holes and Knoxville and was always particularly busy during race week. Rumors swirled around town- neighbors (like they had 20 years before) …

Womanless Beauty Pageant

Silver Creek Campground in Mt. Hermon, LA, celebrates its anniversary each year by crowning the “Misss (Not so Miss) Silver Creek” at their womenless beauty pageant. Male campers dress up as women to be judged on eveningwear and interview questions. The grand prize is a gift certificate to Walmart. One boy plunks down at …

Madam LaLaurie at the Wax Museum

The Musée Conti Wax Museum shuttered its doors in 2016 to make way for condos. Along with Arnaud’s Germaine Wells Mardi Gras Museum, it was a place I popped into often when I am in the quarter. The wax museum was no Madame Tussauds but that made it all the more …

Bonfires on the Levee for Papa Noel

The locals of St. James Parish, Louisiana have their own unique, long-standing tradition of lighting teepee style pyres on fire for Christmas Eve, some of which are packed with fireworks as kindling. Throughout the entire month of December, local families work together to build the pyres. The pyres themselves traditionally take pyramid …

White Rabbits : True Crime in the Pet Cemetery

Grace Matt Thompson made headlines in 1934 after murdering her first husband’s second wife. John “Jack” Thompson, the first husband, was  an influential mafia man in Kansas City. With his connections he was able to get Grace declared insane so she would not have to stand trial for murder. Soon …

Elvis Week

Elvis is alive. When I walked away, I heard you say If you need me, you know what to do I knew it then, I’d be back again. Thirty-six years after Elvis’s death, he sang this low tune in front of Graceland while thousands held up candles at his annual …

Bull Riding

Every Tuesday night for several months in the winter, the Washington County Fairgrounds’ largest building is warmed by giant space heaters so that a crowd of hundreds can root for their favorite bull rider. In the front of the building, the crowd sits in the bleachers laughing at the clown …

Joy Prom

“Young man, there’s no need to feel down. Young man, get yourself off the ground” — pumps from the speakers, the trumpets blare and then — “It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.” — and hundreds of arms extend into the sky while red and blue lights flash from the …

Mule Days

Two outstanding yearly events are the Memphis Cotton Carnival with its Mardi-Gras revelry and Mule Day at Columbia, an all-day celebration in honor of the “orneriest and workingest work-critter living.” —Tennessee: A Guide to the State (WPA, 1939) Horse is a horse, of course, of course. And then there are donkeys, …