LEFTY PARKER REMEMBERS HIS STAY IN NEW ORLEANS DURING KATRINA
here for Lefty Parker's bio.
was generally the most horrifying experience ever, I mean, the fucking
cops were just another fucking street gang, not that I trust them
in general, but you had no idea who to trust. Gun shots (every 10
minutes) and low flying helicopters punctuated with screaming were
the soundtrack to the nights and the days were long and HOT!!!.On
Monday it was fun to walk around and see some of the general destruction,
because it wasn't that bad. We did see minor looting at the time,
but we also saw the National Guard driving by so I figured they
would soon put a stop to that.(wrong, I later found out that, although
they were driving by, they had orders to not get off the trucks).
we decided to go look for Antoinette K- Doe (the widow of R and
B legend Ernie K- doe and my adopted Mother). Having heard about
the levee breach on the radio, and on the phone*, I was worried
for her (rightfully so, she didn't get out for weeks), but we quickly
realized that we couldn't get there. Not because of the Water, I
would have waded the water. No. It was the goddamned cops they had
fucking rubber bullet guns and were "holding" the french
quarter**. The bastards were on the corner of every block of canal,
guns drawn, screaming their heads off at everyone not in a badge,
they pointed at my friend Aimee and I and told us to "move
along." It was the best route to the Mother in Law Lounge,
but I thought we'd find another. We tried to get over there through
Esplanade, but it was really a much longer walk.
we made it to Elysian Fields, where we walked towards Quintron and
Miss Pussycats home (the Spellcaster Lodge). We ran into my friend
Mikey (the Mysterious rea Ranger), and he told us not to go down
to St. Claude because
they (?) were mugging people in broad daylight.*** So we decided
to go look for Jay (MC Trachiotomy) and Jeff (Strangebone). We caught
up with Jay and a slew of other local musicians at Robert's (pronounced
in Frech). Someone had opened it up. I think it was a security guard,
he had a uniform on but who could be sure? Jay was with Jayme (Black
Caar) and Daniel (his housemate and local artist who
painted the Mother In Law murals). They extended an invitation to
us to go to their complex (his house, The Pearl) - and that El Tonio,
his wife Jesse, Baby, Jayme's wife Raven and her sister (the actress
who played the Frosh in Dazed and Confused) were there.
I still wanted to make it to the Mother In Law, and discussed getting
there with the others, but it didn't seem possible. Cops were blocking
other areas now and the water was sort of higher. It was getting
dark, so it was time to get home. The bar had been broken into when
we returned and I talked to Heidi Ochs, a Local clarinetist (and
Ninth Ward Marching Band member), who lives upstairs. She said she
heard something, came downstairs, and boarded up the window that
had been broken. Aimee and I played dominos in the dark and drank
heavily till we each passed out. It was soooo fucking hot, that
was literally the only way to get to sleep. Besides, the helicopters’d
just wake us up in a few hours anyway.
Wednesday we woke and realized no one was coming, and things were
getting worse. We had been seen transporting ice from the bar to
my girlfriend’s house on Monday, but by Wednesday people were
more aggressive and I had a feeling that if this kept up we were
gonna get killed for ice. By this point every major chain store
had been "opened up" and there probably wasn't anything
to be found in any of them anyhow, the people had become lawnmowers
of destruction, far worse than Katrina herself. Most of the poor
Black folks had formed traveling tribes, with the grannies carrying
the babies, and the Gramps pushing the loot (as far as i could see,
electronics, shoes, poptarts and chips) in grocery carts while the
younger more tough kids walked in front and behind, maybe breaking
away to loot something attractive along the way****. We also saw
a lot of armed street gangs, and started to hear murmurs of discontent
among the people we saw, it seems that way too many white people
had been fucking with too many black people and the black people
weren't going to take it anymore. It seems valid, but I was pretty
sure that this was the kind of thought process that spawned riots...
So we secured
the Circle Bar, making it look looted already and we put up signs
saying "owner lives in building." These tactics were only
designed to keep people away from the bar, at a distance. The true
deterrent was the fact that 3 or 4 of the old crusty guys who lived
next door (in state supported housing that they were evicted from
on Wednesday following the hurricane for no good reason) intended
to stay. So I gave them whiskey, lots of it. Thursday, we woke up
and said, "let's get the fuck out of here." By this point,
fires were erupting all over the city, and still no responders.
I say no responders, but the power company and Bell South were everywhere,
It made me wonder what the fuck is up with the government. I mean
where the fuck are they? As we made our tearful caravan out of the
city (me with the 4 cat's living in my girlfriends building, Aimee
with the 3 dogs) people pawed at the cars. I wanted to stop, I know
Aimee wanted to stop, but, in the wake of the violence and desperation
we'd seen, there was no way to know if you let someone in, that
you'd still be in control of your own car, or even in it.
As we got to
the other side of the Crescent city connection, we saw wildlife
and fisheries coming in, and the rest of the government and Red
Cross sitting on the other side. Waiting. Waiting for what? Mother
Fuckers, waiting for WHAT!!! PEOPLE ARE FUCKING DYING IN THERE!!!
And all they had to do was drive over a bridge.
Lefty's band - The Interlopers
*By the way,
the Phones worked fine until Wednesday night, It is my belief that
they were cut off purposefully, the phones that I did a BBC interview
from (the bar's, and my girlfriend's) were both cut off after those
interviews. Indepently of each other and about 30 minutes after,
other phones in the neighbor hood worked 'til Thursday, including
all of the other neighbors.
** I heard
the term "holding the French Quarter" later. The mother
fuckers just holed up in the A and P grocery on royal and fanned
out for blocks to protect their investment. I saw cops in those
Cadillacs that were looted. I also saw them siphoning gas into those
cars. The French quarter was fine by itself, the cops should have
been in the trouble spots (convention center/superdome).
*** You Have
to first realize that New Orleans had a rough summer. August was
about as bad as it gets crimewise and these people were in shock.
Crime is what they know, it's easy and it creates dominance, ...a
sense of order, of a sort...
**** I'm told
now that the looting was just for food, and that those people needed
food. Bullshit! There was looting of food, but I personally saw
a lot more looting of high-end electronics, as far as people needing
the food, I doubt it. There was a sense that if you didn't get some
now, you'd never get some. Never? That's the word that describes
the desperation of a city that was left stranded. We all knew it.
After four days in the August heat with no power, and the only authority
figures were acting like wild dogs, it actually seemed as though
we'd never be the same. What I mean to say by this is that, at the
time, it felt as though this is the way we were going to have to
live now. Call it mass hysteria, but it was palpable. At any rate,
I don't think those people would have been able to live very long
on chips and snack cakes, but honestly I understand the mentality.
P.S. Coca-Cola was the only thing left in the gas stations, apparently
everything doesn't "go" with Coke and a smile.
MC Trachiotomy’s account of remaining in New Orleans during
Ninth Ward Underground Oral History home
| Ninth Ward Underground feature home
New York Night Train home
New York Night Train , 2006