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Funeral for a Friend

This is New Orleans.

This is how we live. This is how we die.


Not everyone gets a jazz funeral. You have to be special. Yesterday’s mournful and joyous procession through the streets of the city was a testimony to an extraordinary woman, an extraordinary life. We will never forget Helen Hill.


Helen’s funeral had not one but two brass bands.

You should be so lucky to be so celebrated when your time comes.


I was rolling video so I didn’t take pictures. But some of my friends did. I’ve displayed a few above, by Dave and Derek and Howie. There are many more. Derek has a set of 35 pix. Howie has a set of 92 pix. Dave has a set of 173 pix. Schroeder has a set of 92 pix. Thanks, guys.

Helen’s brother Jake was visiting from New York. He served as the grand marshal. Later, I overheard him say that he’s “not angry at the city of New Orleans.” That’s a comforting sentiment, to be sure, and I am grateful he expressed it.

For my part, as a resident of the city, I am angry at New Orleans — and I count myself in that number. I am angry and ashamed of what we did to Helen. We seduced her here with our charms, and we killed her with our violence. How can we be so cruel?

But on days like yesterday, I am also proud of New Orleans, and the culture that Helen loved so much.

Update: Schroeder’s posted audio.

Published inFriendsNew OrleansPix


  1. Kittee, yes the video of the funeral should find its way online in some form eventually. I want to do something with it rather than just throw the raw footage out there. However, I’d be happy to share the footage with anyone who might be working on a tribute to Helen — if such a person is reading this, just holler.

  2. Bart, on behalf of those of us who are unschooled in such things, I have a question. Apologies in advance if it’s a dumb one. I noticed this looking at Schroeder’s pics earlier, but, what are the boxes that folks are carrying with the shoulder straps? They look like dioramas of some kind, but I’d like to know their significance. Thanks.

  3. Oh. Heh. Those are cupcakes, Sophmom. The vegan cupcakes you may have heard about. They were handing out cupcakes to people all along the route.

  4. chrissieroux chrissieroux

    I so wish we could have been there. Had to go out of town for a wedding. Like you said, she was an extraordinary person, deserving of an extraordinary memorial. Thanks for sharing the pics.

  5. Trixy Trixy

    The photos are wonderful. I love seeing the colorful costumes, sparkly props and pretty cupcakes. It’s really nice to see the beautiful things she still inspires in people. I’m here in LA missing her greatly. I may be in New Orleans in June and I hope to meet many of you when I’m there.

  6. […] There will be a segment about Helen Hill’s unsolved murder case on America’s Most Wanted tomorrow night. I believe they’ll be using some video I shot of her jazz funeral. […]

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