Ed B. Downtown New Orleans 09/07/05
I was in Los Angeles before I was in New Orleans. I was in New Orleans for five years.
Well, we knew the storm was coming. At that point we knew it was a Category Four. So we knew we were gonna have do something. But we went to the French Quarter on Sunday morning about five oclock. We had money. So we went to the bars and we were drinking, gettin drunk, cause we figured it was gonna be a while before we would be able to come down here again. So, everything was closed by lunchtime. You couldnt get a cigarette, you couldnt get a drink, or anything. In New Orleans, thats a strange thing, because it goes twenty-four hours a day. Christmas Day you can go out and get a drink. So, the sky was kinda like it is right now. But we knew the storm was coming. So about five oclock in the afternoon, the wind started picking up and we thought, well, shit, we better go to the Superdome. So we got to the Superdome.
In the beginning it wasnt too bad, but the people just kept coming and coming and coming and coming, and then the storm hit on Sunday night. And, youre sitting in the Superdome and its a huge placeI dont know if youve ever seen it. The roof started rattlingoh, you could look out the window and the trees were like that, were like bent over. And it uprooted a bunch a trees and stuff. So I thought, well, shit, were here for a while. So were all sitting inside, they put us in the chairs, they got a bunch a chairs and we were sitting in them. And the roof started rattling, and the next thing you know, parts of the roof were blowing off. And its coming, its falling down into the Superdome. And theres people there, I mean, lots of people. So here come the National Guard, and they made everybody move outta there. Now theyre sleeping in the hallways. So theyre bringing around these, what they call these meals ready to eat. And theyre not bad, I mean considering theyre giving them to you. But, you had three choices of what kind you get. And it wasnt like, oh, Id like this kind or that kind. Whatever they throw to you, you were glad to have it.
So, then you started hearing about, oh, theres a dead guy up in the hall on A. And, aw, some lady got raped. So, the day after the storm, everybody was outside because everybody was using the bathroom, and Im not talking about the bathroom, Im talking about wherever they could go because the bathroom smelled so bad that it would bring tears to your eyes. I mean, when you tried to go in there, it would just bring tears to your eyes from peopleyou couldnt flush the toilets. There was, like, I think they said like a hundred and twenty-five thousand, or more people, in there. And so the next day, they got all these National Guard trucks outside, and the next day wasnt too bad because we just decided to stay outside. The day after that, about twelve trucks are leaving. I walked over to one of the trucks and asked the guy, I said, Are you leaving? He pulled his gun out, he said, Get away from the truck. National Guard. I said, Whoa, wait a minute, man Im just I dont It freaked me out, I didnt know what to think.
So, eventually the buses came. And they were using those big-ass military trucks with the big wheels and all that. They took us to the airport, and the line at the airport was like from here to Sixth Street with people. But I was at the end of the line. Well, they told us to go to Gate Four. We went to Door Four, and there was about ten people in front of us, and the guy said No, its Door Six now. You know, I had been waiting for a long time. So I went, and they had been taking they took these seats out of these vans, and they had set them down. I guess they were so they could bring supplies to the airport. Im sitting there and I watch this lady, she walked over, they got these sliding doors. And theres a cop at every door with guns and all that. And she opened the the cop left. For some reason, I dont know if it was lunchtime or whatever, but nobody took over that door. This lady walked over and opened the door and went right in the airport. I said, Aw, man, Im gonna try that. I went straight in the airport, walked in, got into line, forty-five minutes later I was on a plane heading to Austin, Texas. But so much went on in New Orleans. I mean, the Convention Center, there were gangs running around shooting people, raping girls. They had some guy was in there raping young girls and cutting their throats. I think they said they caught him and beat him to death. In the Convention Center. Oh, heres another thing: the National Guard didnt go to the Convention Center, for like, three days after the thing. They had no food, they had no water. I guess thats what caused them to do the things they were doing.
I was at the Superdome. But we heard about it cause I know people who were there.
Dead bodies everywhere, oh, and a couple of cops committed suicide. They had the chief of police, his name is Compass, Eddie Compass or something like that. And he was on TV the other day crying that this one officer that was with them said, Well, my familys out of town, I lost my house, I lost my car, he said, I dont feel well, Im gonna go rest. And he killed himself. So Compass is there crying on TV. You ever heard of Mayor Nagin? Hes the guy, hes the mayor of New Orleans. Hes on TV, hes crying, hes yelling at the President. Hes yelling at the President, I mean the President came, and hes yelling at the President. And they had it on TV, it was cool. And now everybodys pointing fingers, andthe only people that are pointing fingers are the people likeNagins pointing the finger at Bush. Well, the bucks gotta stop with him. But, Bush said, now lookwell, this is what Clinton said. Clinton said we can do all the hollering and finger-pointing later on. In the meantime, lets get these people some help. And hes had a couple of people his wife was backing him up all the way.
We got here to Austin, and it was like, almost like going to heaven. I mean, the people areI didnt know there was such cool people. This one of the coolest places Ive ever been. Im not gonna stay, but theres so many other people that need what these people can give. Some girl gave me a pack of cigarettes. As a matter of fact, I picked a cigarette butt out of the ashtray cause I didnt have any cigarettes, and this old lady saw me, and she said, Hey, come here. She said, you dont have any cigarettes? I said no. She said, You do now. She went in her purse, she said, Look, Im gonna go get you another pack. Ill be back in ten minutes. She came back, gave me another pack of cigarettes. I was at the bus stop the other day and there was this girl, she was going to Popeyes, she was so sick of this, eating what people were giving her, she wanted some fried chicken, she was going to Popeyes. And she was talking to this young girl, a young Mexican girl, must have been about fourteen. Gave her money. Here in Austin. People have been coming here, theyve probably taken four hundred people outta here and put them in peoples homes. They dont know these people!
I had a friend that came here with a dog, and he lost the dog. He didnt lose the dog, the lady was watching the dog, the ASPCA lady was watching the dog and he went to take care of business, he had to get a bed and all that stuff. When he came back, they had sent the dog in the truck. The ASPCA trucks are air-conditioned. Who ever heard of such a thing? The trucks for the animals are air-conditioned. So, but he left here, he got on the phone and within three hours I remember when he was, the guy was on the Notebook thing, and three hours later he came over, he said, well, Ill see you later. Hes going to somebodys house and theyre taking the dog. Just amazing, the people in Austin, its just awesome. Like I said, Im not gonna stay because I can make it anywhere. Some of these people just have never been in this type of a situation.
At first we thought it was gonna be cool, cause it was only gonna be a Category Three, we though, Oh, cool, you know. Nobody was expecting what happened. The levee broke in three places. The levee broke for 300 feet, a hundred yards, and the Mississippi River just poured into New Orleans. Thats how it got flooded like that. It wasnt from the rain, it was from when the levee broke. And everybodys pointin fingers about why the levee broke, and wuwuwu. Well damn that, lets fix it, get the water outta here and well do the finger pointing later.
See, Im ready to go now. I would go now. As a matter of fact, I almost got on the phone a little while ago, cause theyre gonna give us free tickets. Its one-way, but theyll send you anywhere you wanna go. And I wanna go to Los Angeles. But Im gonna wait on FEMA. Because FEMA, theyve been talking about FEMAs coming, FEMAs coming. They were supposed to be here Tuesday, they were supposed to be here today. Thats the Federal Emergency Management Association. And theyre supposed to give us some money, walking around money. So, if I have like 200theyre saying minimum 200, maximum 2000. If they give me 200 bucks and I get a bus ticket and I go to L.A., Im straight. Cause L.A. is, Californias like Austin. I mean, its gangs and people getting killed left and right, but I know my way around, I know where the cool spots are.
You can get anything you want in here. I got a radio. I go down and watch the bats. Well, I didnt go tonight. But I been going down. I seen the bats, I seen Sixth Street. Im not really impressed with Sixth Street, but I didnt get a chance to go into any of the clubs. Im sure these are cool clubs, but after New Orleans, everything else is kinda anti-climactic. I been to five Mardi Gras. Actually, I went to nine Mardi Gras before that just on a trip to go to Mardi Gras but I never stayed. But this time I been there for five years and its just if you ever get a chance, and even now. The first one I went to was 1971. The last once I went to was last year. Its take all the best parties youve ever been to, multiply it by ten, and youre getting close. Youre getting about halfway. I dont know how much you guys party, but we party. I mean, I come up in the 70s, late 60s and the 70s, and theres nothing like a Mardi Gras. Its the most incredible thing youve ever seen.
The cops are getting kinda funny now, though. They were arresting a lot of people and A friend of mine he had got his food stamps and this lady was holding his cardhe was going to pick up the card. And we got tired and it was a trolley thing that goes down St. Charles. And we sat down at the trolley stop and it had been raining like hell, so we decided wed sit down and rest. We were there for maybe 20 seconds. A cop come flying down the street, splashed us, gave us the wave with the water, he hit the puddle and got us all soaked, and throwed us the handcuffs and says, put them on. Made us put our own handcuffs on. We was resting. So he put us in the car and hes laughing. Hes driving to the police station, he said, You guys just made my day. He said, I just made my quota. And hes laughing. But theres nothing you can do. The New Orleans police are like I cant even find the word for these guys. But theyve been lightening up lately.
You didnt see many cops. I dont know where they were, but they werent at the Superdome. Mostly National Guard at the Superdome. There were some cops, but they were scared people would kill them. I mean, thats how nasty these cops are, if theyd have caught They did kill one cop, what the hell was his name, the deputy chief or one of them. They killed his ass at the Convention Center. Cause hes an asshole. If youre an asshole, you treat people wrong all the time, eventually somethings gonna happen to you. It happened to him. Who else was it? Oh, Compass, was saying he was at, I dont remember if it was the Superdome or the Convention Center, but he said theres a lotta gangs in New Orleans, and these guys all got guns. And theyre young guys, I mean like 15, 16, 17, 18, all the way up to like 30. They sell crack, they rob people, they rob stores. But they started surrounding him. And the National Guard had to take him outta there. Cause they were gonna kill him.
New Orleans is I mean, its dangerous. Theres places you can go and places you cant go. If you make a wrong turn in New Orleans, you can wind up dead. When I was there, I would hang flyers, advertisements for stores and Gators and Aarons. Gators is like a you can get cheap stuff there, they got like hats, and all kinda shit. We have to go into the projects, we have to go Holly Grove, Pigeontown -- and these are places white folks dont go. They only reason we get by is because people want the stuff were bringing them. They want that stuff. People wait on the porch for us. And they see us coming, like, I been waiting on you, you wanna beer? But most people wont go there. Most white people. Now theres a lot of places you cant go a white boy dont wanna be in the projects at night. Its not safe.
New Orleans is not my home. I was looking for a reason to leave there. Im devastated about the people that died and the families that are uprooted. Because, when we were at the Superdome we didnt know if were gonna get outta there or not, because, like I said, the National Guard started taking off. All these trucks are taking off and, shit, must have been 50,000 people still there. And some people waited in line for three days to get on the bus. I mean, a line from here to that red light, as wide as that street, waiting to get on the bus and the buses didnt come. And they kept waiting and waiting, and the buses never came. As a matter of fact, the Mayor got on TV, he said, Every Greyhound bus in the country oughtta be coming down here to get these people. He said, Where are the buses? And finally some came. Sure, I feel remorse, but not for me. I feel for the people. Some of these people have never been anyplace but New Orleans. I dont know. God musta been mad at those people, cause he put something on them.
Gas is three dollars and 37 cents a gallon. Who ever heard of such a damn thing? When I was a little kid I remember that gas was like 23 cents a gallon. Course, thats a long-ass time ago, but you know, two years ago it was like a dollar fifty, a dollar forty, whatever the hell it was, I dont drive. But three dollars and 37 cents a gallon come on, man. And these cars take 20 gallons of gas. If you fill up the tank twice a week, you need a part-time job just to drive around. A good-paying part-time job.
The people I was close to in New Orleans, I think some of them went to San Antonio. When we got to the airport, Houston was already full. So they told us we were going to San Antonio. But I snuck in, like I told you, snuck in the door there. I didnt know where I was going, I just wanted to get the hell outta there, I didnt care where, I would have gone to Houston. I dont wanna go there, I lived there before, I dont like it. But I would much rather be there than have to stand around at the airport for four or five goddamn hours. I know a couple of people here that I drink with, socially. Of course, when you go to the French Quarter its always the same people that are there all the time.
And thats another cool thing about the Quarter it didnt get damaged. I mean, some trees down and stuff like that, but most of the buildings, not even broken windows. If you see the rest of the town, its like, if theres 20 houses on a block, theres three left standing. All the way across the city. If you watch a TV just even for 10 minutes, youll be crying. I called home, and my stepmother, I thought she was gonna start crying. My sisters been calling, my familys been asking about me. Im just glad I didnt get a chance to call before then, because all the phones were down in New Orleans. And like a dumbass, I went to the pay phone and called collect. They got free phones in here, you can call anywhere you want for free, I didnt know! And like I said, they got free phones, they got food, they got clothes. Now theyre givin me a ticket to L.A. People are coming in and they walk around and they start talking to people, Oh, well, we have a garage apartment and you can come there and wuwuwu. And its just so cool.
I know a lotta cities are doing this, cause I been watching TV. I tell you, I cant get enough of TV, its been so long since Ive actually been able to sit. But Im getting a little sick of the news. Three days of the news is enough. I already okay, Ive seen all the dead people floatin in the water, Ive seen the buildings all collapsed, the fires, and the levee broke, Ive seen all of that. And its like continuously. Course, Oprah had me, I almost started crying when I saw Oprah, yesterday and today. I dont even like Oprah Winfrey all that much, but I watched her both times. And Im telling you, I been through a lot and Ive never been choked up like that before.
I think that once these people get all settled in and New Orleans opens back upthe face of New Orleans has got to change. I mean, its got to, because theres nothin there. Its like God just slapped everything down. You gotta see it. Please go in and watch some television and look at the news. Dead people floating. Buildings collapsed. People standing on the roof with SOS on the roof, please help, water up to thereall you can see is the roof, for miles. New Orleans is gonna change. It was the murder capital of the United States. It just made that in April or May. Per capita, theres more murders in New Orleans than any place in the country. Its not gonna happen anymore, cause theyre not gonna allow it. Thats why this happened now, I think, because of the karma, or theyve been so f-cked up down there, something had to happen. So God just wiped the slate, he said, okay, thats the way you want it, start again.
I said, I dont think Ill ever go back
to New Orleans.
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