Just in time for the start of the 10 month second-line "season," the City of New Orleans is cracking down on what is perhaps the best part of the second-line experience: The unlicensed vendors selling cheap, cold beer out of coolers and cheap, delicious foods off of grills and smokers.
The unlicensed vendor is a normal and, some say, essential part of the second-line parade, the weekly informal parades sponsored by various social aid and pleasure clubs. These folks set up shop along the parade route, often serving some of the city's best food (think yakamein and smoked sausage) in its least formal and cheapest setting. But the city has vowed to step up enforcement of the permits required to sell food and drink on the streets. Operating without a permit brings a $500 fine, and no vendor, licensed or not, is allowed to sell alcohol on the streets. (To which we say, really? Really??)
Social aid and pleasure clubs put on their second-lines from, roughly, September to June. This year's first parade is this Sunday, by the Valley of the Silent Men Social Aid & Pleasure Club, in Central City. Until that first parade rolls - or marches, dances, whatever - nobody knows exactly what the city's increased enforcement will look like or how it will affect what vendors choose to come out.
But as Linda Green, the "Yakamein Lady," said, "This is the talk of the town. Like they say: this is what's trending." Meaning people are talking about it, but we'll see what actually happens.