Monday, September 25, 2006

Missing 9.25.2005

Subject:
Missing
Date:
9/25 12:17 PM

Hi all,
Around here folks are starting to call all this "Katrita". The newscasters, and even our governor, are having trouble keeping Katrina and Rita straight in their broadcasts. "With the events of Katrina, um, I mean Rita. . . . . ." We watched the coverage as the storm was approaching, when we had power, which was intermittent. We lost power both nights all night, and once in the morning, day before yesterday I think. It's kind of a blur. We've decided that watching the coming of a hurricane on the satellite radar stuff is kind of like standing in front of the wall with a firing squad facing you----You don't hear the shot but the bullet moves toward you in super slow motion. The little hurricane symbol moves and takes aim, and everyone tries to figure out the trajectory, but either way you know it's gonna get to you in some fashion.

We didn't get much sleep for the last two days. A lot of wind, a lot of stuff blowing around, a lot of rain. Some weird form of hypervigilance kicks in as you hear a thump and hope, since the roof or the porch or whatever made it through Katrina that this tropical storm wind spike doesn't break something else. We're tired so will answer individual emails as soon as possible.

A couple months before Katrina, David and I had put a five year plan together. We love music and the music here is just pure joy. No matter what your taste, you can find something that will satisfy your hunger. We became friends with many of the bands and club owners on Bourbon and had also watched as so much of "our" music was exported to Europe. A lot of the great Zydeco bands in the area do better anywhere BUT here. The old Professor Longhair music is also everywhere but here. Many, not all, but many of the clubs treat the musicians horribly, no appreciation for the music. We had decided that we wanted to open a club that specialized in keeping New Orleans music and culture IN New Orleans. Of course the music can still be heard, mostly blaring out of the shops on CD's, but many clubs have switched to "party bands" that seem mostly to attempt to accomodate the college kids. We floated the idea to a club owner who's a native New Orleanian and asked if he thought we were nuts. He said, no. He thought a club like that would work very very well. We were going to talk to him about how much it would take to do this, then we'd work hard for five years we figured, and then open it with some help since we don't have a clue how to run a club. We were going to talk with him the weekend Katrina headed our way. We felt like we were on track with a plan. It was lovely.

What was even more lovely was the encouragement of the people we talked with about this. And right now we don't know where many of them are. Billy Fayard, and all the folks from musicians to waitresses, at the R & B Club. Where is Dr. Blues? Where is Tina, the great lithe bartender with the ready smile and the contagious dancing? What about Rhonda, the melding of Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee? Humphrey, the quintessential musician, waving to us as we went by even if we didn't go in. We heard Josie was in Montana. Dopsie and the guys were headed for Europe 9/12. We hope they got there. They all lived in Lafayette area, and one in East Texas, right along Rita's path.

Two from our shop are missing. Yes we're still missing two cats, but we're missing two people as well. Last we heard they had evacuated. LC, her three kids, aged 27-14 and a grandbaby. She had just bought a house free and clear in Arabi. No flood insurance. Was so proud and just settling in. St. Bernard parish is now under water again. We heard three weeks ago that she might be in Tuscaloosa, but haven't heard anything since. Wonderful cheerful smiling person, warm heart, good friend. No idea where she is. TH, another woman who worked at the shop. Lived in New Orleans East I think. Heard she'd gone to Hammond but we don't know. Haven't heard. Teresa was a special ed teacher until she got attacked by a student causing permanent brain damage and making her legally blind. LC talked very fast, TH very slowly. Miss both of their voices and am praying that they're okay.

Ken, the ultimate gentleman buggy driver. Lived in Arabi. Had horses, the true loves of his life. Last David saw him he said he was going home to take care of the horses. Apparently his property was wiped out, we don't know about the horses. Rumor is he's never coming back. A real loss if true.

Three little boys, Kendrick, 12, his brother Trevonne about 14, and Terence also 14, would stop by our house regularly to see if we needed our car washed. Real entrepreneurs these little guys. They could be a pain in the neck as their timing was often not in synch with ours, but seeing their smiles through our windows was a gift. When we moved here, they helped us move in and showed up regularly ever since. Terence was fascinated by the computer. He wants to go to college. I told him that I'd expect an invitation to his graduation. He has the motivation to do it. Kendrick and Trevonne weren't sure what they wanted to do. Trevonne's big goal in life was to have a gold tooth and a diamond earring. When asked what he wanted to do when he grew up, he said NBA star. I told him I hated to break it to him, but he wouldn't be tall enough. Okay, then, he said, "I'll be a rap star." These three boys have byzantine living arrangements. They seem to live with an "auntie", but we aren't sure. Kendrick and Trevonne's mom supposedly lived in St. Bernard parish, but no one knew exactly what the arrangements were. We'd see them heading to the eastbank on the Ferry at night when we'd be coming home. "Where ya goin' boys?" "Home to Iberville." Evidently they continued in school on this side of the river. We don't know. Don't know their last names. Don't know if they're okay. It weighs on us.

Moses and Nette lived across the street. We waved as we pulled out of town, they said they were staying. I heard they left day after the storm. No idea where they are.

Dee and Delise were our buddies. They were waitresses at Sammy's on Bourbon. They had both just bought houses in New Orleans East. Worked so hard to do that and were busy renovating. Dee was going to have a house warming and wanted us to come. They might have lost it all. We miss them. We also miss the great Walter. Gruff voiced smooth talker. "Hey baby! I got your catfish just the way you like it. And for you, my man, my SPECIAL seafood pasta. I always take care of my friends." He had become a friend.

Pat O'Brien's. We met there every Friday night after work. Rebecca and her son lived in Slidell. An incredibly beautiful and generous woman, we don't know where she is or if her house was enough away from the lake to make it. Reggie and Love, the doormen on the Bourbon side. Hope Reggie's dog is okay. She had a cough. Ryan, Chuck and Rod lost everything, but will rebuild and are okay. We found their numbers and they are okay. Kathy is in Pennsylvania and aching to come home. We miss them.

I could go on and on. So many that are missing and that WE are missing. So many that we at least know are okay, but still, we are missing. The faces that populate your life, even when you don't know their last names, these are the faces that bring a smile to your face. Hell, even some of the folks that made you roll your eyes or try to avoid them are MISSED right now. Are they okay? Where are they? Will we see them again?

Too many scattered so far.

We miss our landlords, Z and M, who have become our friends. M getting ready for a triathlon (yup, she really DOES that!), Z with his white shirt hanging out on his way to work with his iPod playing. The killer dachschunds running down the street with Z hollering SHIVA get BACK here! Little things like that are missed. Normalcy, or what passed for it in our lives, is missed.

Now there is one thing that we're grateful for missing. The full hit of Rita. Although the Lower Ninth is flooded again, at least everyone was out of there. Still just made me cry to see first the overtopping then the erosion of the makeshift levee repairs. We're also grateful that Houston didn't get hit too badly. The lower lying parishes here are flooding but so far we haven't heard anything catastrophic like we heard in Katrina. Heard from the glorious Polimom outside of Houston that it was not bad there. We're glad Rita missed her.

Got a call from Lily Duke today. I hear the tent city is going up today and tomorrow over at Blaine Kern's. We'll head over there tomorrow after we go check on the shop cats and the Preservation Hall cat (who, rumor has it, was pictured in a People magazine last week! Would love to see the pic!), and there's one more that's been added to our list. The cat at HeadQuarters on Dumaine. We need to check on that one. The owner, R, someone else we care about, is also still MIA. We're hoping he's in Mississippi with his daughter.

Once we finish with the cats, and see if we can get pics of a couple of people's houses and a crypt if we can get there, we'll head over to Kern's. They're gonna need some help and the thinking is to take the operation, with FEMA's help, across the river. It needs to be done, but don't get me started on FEMA helping anyone.

Will answer your questions and comments soon.

Love and Light,
Bec and David
____________________
NOTES 9.25.2006

We were wrong about the devastation in the Lower Parishes from Rita. They got hit hard. At the time I wrote this, the full impact hadn't been reported yet.

As for the missing:
Billy Fayard closed the Rock. The band there was nominally called the New Orleans Levee Board, which in hindsight, was pretty funny. They were a great R&B Band. We talked to Billy a couple days before he closed the place, and he really did give it some time to pick up. But in the end, he couldn't make it. The Rock is now another daiquiri bar. One night, we were walking along and saw the remaking of one of our favorite dives into a bright college kid friendly daiquiri bar. The Levee Board sign was still up behind the stage. David went in, told them we wanted the sign, they said no problem they were just gonna throw it away anyway. So it's here in our house, soon to be wall decoration. We are on a quest to locate the musicians we loved there. We started our quest on Saturday night. I'll write about that on New Orleans Slate.

Dopsie is still touring. We saw him and his band and they're doing fine, but they're not here where we can hear them.

LC and TH are also okay. LC is back in town and has been fighting FEMA, insurance companies, you name it. She and all the kids were renting three expensive, tiny apartments over Chris Owens' club and somehow making the rent and remaining reasonably sane. TH, I heard was in Mississippi and doing very well, not coming back.

Tina, the lithe bartender has vanished. She's probably still here working somewhere else. Josie had returned, worked at the Blues Club (which has been closed but we heard will reopen in October) but then went somewhere out on St. Charles St.

Sammy's is still there. Doing far less business than before the storm. Dee, Jamie and Walter are back. Walter looks a bit haggard but is still glad to see us when we pass by. We don't eat there as often as our money situation isn't what it was either. Walter had a very hard time in Houston and it's showing on him.

Moses and Nette eventually came back, to be greeted by a racist idiot that lived a couple blocks over. The three of us were walking around the block when this moron comes over and says to Nette, "Where'd you guys go?" "Alabama." "Why'd you come back? Not enough cotton to pick over there?" Nette just ignored him, I wanted to kill him. Fucking idiot.

The three boys turned up at Christmas time. I wrote about it then. It was wonderful to see them, but we still don't quite know where they are or if they are in school.

Pat O's no longer serves food. We keep hearing that they're GOING to do that again "next month." Not sure if it's staffing issues, or customer issues or both, but we miss their gator bites and their staff. Love returned but Reggie didn't. Our friend Ryan is still there. We owe him a visit.

There is a picture in my head of a standard Saturday night after I'd get off work and David and I would wander around eating, drinking and listening to music. The street would be filled with people having a great time, at least until tomorrow morning. All the bead tossing and fuzzy hats never bothered me. I loved seeing people having a great time doing things they'd never do at home in Duluth. I even loved the stupid, drunken frat boys. When they are 60 they'll be telling their grandchildren about when they visited New Orleans while in college and what wild bad-ass young turks they were, and the New Orleans gleam will be in their eyes.

It's just a picture now and the picture is minus so many familiar friendly faces, even after a year. We still are missing them.


17 Comments:

Blogger lac440 said...

One of the "lost" musicians is HERE in Englewood, NJ!

I read with interest re: your quest to find "lost" musicians of Bourbon Street, specifically those of the NO Levee Board who played nightly at The Rock.

My dear friend, Darrell Walker, swam out of the murk of Katrina and has relocated to Englewood, NJ where he is slowly rebuilding his life and career.

I am sure Darrell would LOVE to be put in touch with his other "lost" musicians. He can be reached at DJWNola@AOL.COM. I can be reached at LAC440@AOL.COM.

Can I CONVINCE you to part with the SIGN from the Rock? I am sure that any remant from Darrell's life in NOLA would bring tears to his eyes....and warm his heart.

Thank you.

Lisa Calo (LAC440)

1:03 PM  
Blogger lac440 said...

One of the "lost" musicians is HERE in Englewood, NJ!

I read with interest re: your quest to find "lost" musicians of Bourbon Street, specifically those of the NO Levee Board who played nightly at The Rock.

My dear friend, Darrell Walker, swam out of the murk of Katrina and has relocated to Englewood, NJ where he is slowly rebuilding his life and career.

I am sure Darrell would LOVE to be put in touch with his other "lost" musicians. He can be reached at DJWNola@AOL.COM. I can be reached at LAC440@AOL.COM.

Can I CONVINCE you to part with the SIGN from the Rock? I am sure that any remant from Darrell's life in NOLA would bring tears to his eyes....and warm his heart.

Thank you.

Lisa Calo (LAC440)

1:04 PM  
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