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Eight Years Later

Tag(s): Show host blog

     There was something foreboding in the air that day, the animals knew it first. I remember turning on the radio and hearing nothing but dead-air static on WWOZ, a chilling sound. I was already on my way out of town, but that was when I really knew that I had to go.  It took us 8 hours to get out of the city and if we'd waited another half hour they would have sent us to the Superdome, not that we would've gone. We thought we'd be back in 2 days, but something in my heart knew we wouldn't. It felt like an exodus of biblical proportions. I still rememeber seeing a young man, about my age at that time, riding in the back of a pickup truck in the rain wrapped up in a tarp with his teeth chattering. And he still looked grateful just to have that ride.  I evacuated with friends to the safety of my parents' home in Atlanta. Still not realizing how lucky I was to have somewhere safe to go. A luxury afforded to us transplants, but one Louisiana natives don't take for granted. Like many, I compulsively tuned in to the media marathon. The storm came and passed, things looked good, then the Federal Flood happened and the horror ensued...

    After all the mayhem began to die down, one of the first things to come back was the music. Musicians playing shows by candlelight before power came back, then people dancing til 1:30am or so, before the National Guard would come in with assualt rifles and shut down the clubs at gunpoint for violating the 2am curfew. It took me six months to come back, but when I did, I returned with a vengeance. I hit every second line parade from the Lower 9 to Pigeontown, every live show, every Mardi Gras Indian practice, swung hammers in the 9th ward musicians' village and started volunteering at WWOZ. And as the city progressed, I grew with it as a human being, we all did. Returning to the city, I was able to turn on 90.7fm and once again hear those amazing sounds fill my ears, I remembered that eery silence from 8/28/05, and it made the beautiful music on these airwaves all the sweeter, still does. 

   8 years later the city's better than it ever has been. I want to thank all those dedicated people who were in Nola those 6 months before I came back. They are the pioneers of the city's bright future, and they should be the first to inherit the fruits which it bears. All those musicians who just played their hearts out through those dark times. There's so many I want to name, but to name one I must name them all, and each and everyone one of them is so special to me, that I can't risk leaving one out. But they know who they are, and if you were there, you do too. Then all my friends who came back when I did, stood by each other, dove back into the scene and made sure that New Orleans would continue to be the most unique and culturally effervescent city in the world. We all lived in shit for years, but it got better. All these folks who just moved to town over the last few years will never know how it really was, what everyone went through, well after the water subsided, just day to day living. I look at the city from afar now and feel like a proud parent or uncle. But I'm no longer worried about hurricanes wiping away the city's culture, No. I know New Orleans can survive that. The most threatening storm to me now is gentrification. Yes, some things do need to change, I just hope it doesn't happen at the expense of those who rebuilt this city and its culture. May newfound prosperity flourish in New Orleans, but with reverence for the struggle that preceded it.  WHO-DAT!!! 

 

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