The Spring after Katrina, New Orleans was still a post-apocalyptic hellscape, and I was busy writing emails and making lists of supplies for the third year of the noise music festival I used to run, when I heard a knock at my door. I looked out the peephole and saw my friend Karen, who lived across town and had never just knocked on my door. I opened the door, very glad to see her.
Behind her stood Jello Biafra, former singer of the Dead Kennedys, political rabble rouser, and hero to many. Karen said Jello had just come from an acupuncture appointment around the corner from my house.
“He wants to play with your goat,” she said.
My pet pygmy goat Chauncey, who lived in my back yard, was kind of a local celebrity, having appeared in the newspaper a few times, and on Animal Planet’s show Pets 101. Earlier that year, Chauncey had the honor of meeting Chuck D, when the rapper dropped me off at my house after a tour I’d given him of the destroyed Lower 9th Ward. I mentioned that Chauncey met musical/political icons Chuck and Jello when I finally wrote the goat’s obituary for The Guardian in 2015.
Jello is not unlike a white, punk rock Chuck D, and I would’ve loved to take Jello on a similar Katrina tour. Instead we just walked out into the yard and played with Chauncey together. I showed him how Chauncey liked to be punched him in his rock-hard forehead. “It’s how he plays!” I promised. Jello laughed, and expressed fascination when I told him we’d evacuated Katrina with Chauncey, and that he rode in our car like a dog.
Jello was very nice and mellow, likely because we had something to talk about beside the fact that he was Jello Biafra. Finding an objective topic is key to having a good experience with a person you admire. I did, however, ask Jello if he’d maybe come and DJ our NOizeFest that coming weekend.
Jello said he’d consider it. But then he did not attend. Karen later told me that he didn’t like the pressure of going “anywhere where he has to meet a bunch of people and be Jello Biafra.”