#56. DJ Jubilee (2019): I’d glimpse the King of Bounce Rap — author of “Jubilee All” and originator of “Back That Thang Up” — headed through the toll booth, leaving the West Bank, where he and I both taught for years — yet we never met. We met eventually at the 2019 Cash Money Thanksgiving turkey giveaway. After I’d interviewed Baby and Slim, I recorded a great interview with Jubilee about his history with the turkey event, and with the Cash Money crew in general, including some juicy ups and downs. But not a week later, that digital recorder crapped out on me before I could transcribe our discussion.
#57. EYEHATEGOD & Mike IX Williams (2003–2014): New Orleans’s downtown public library where I worked before Katrina served as a homeless people’s learning center, and I first took Mike IX for another homeless person using the computers almost daily. I didn’t recognize him from when I saw EHG back in Tampa, 1993, opening for Jesus Lizard and Helmet. Stuck at an odd job once in Bumfuk, Michigan, I noticed the name EYEHATEGOD in the town’s listings, went down to the club and introduced myself, told them I was from New Orleans, and became friends with Mike IX, and since-departed drummer and noise musician, Joey LaCage (EHG performed great in that little po’dunk Michigan town!). Mike and I later did some readings together at several book events, including a night I curated at Ogden Museum of Southern Art (his poetry book Cancer as a Social Activity, comes highly recommended). I’ve seen at least a half dozen great EHG shows here in their hometown, close up. Legendary shit.
#58. George Porter Jr., bassist of The Meters (2004): Our car’s battery died outside of Whole Foods. I got out and walked down the line of parked cars, hoping to find someone sitting in their car, who could use it to give us a jump. I walked along and saw the driver’s window of a big grey van open, and a big guy sitting behind the wheel. I remember I chuckled because I first saw dude’s big dangly earring: a miniature silver bass guitar! I knew this guy would jump us, even before I realized it was Meters bassist George Porter, who did pull his van around and get us going again. Legendary shit.
#59. Hurray for the Riff Raff: Just after Katrina, our Bywater neighborhood became bombarded with scruffy traveling kids, many of them living off the fat of the Katrina land. Some people called them fauxbeauxs, as in false hobo. So when I interviewed Alynda Segarra for an AntiGravity cover story, it may have come off like an interrogation of her authenticity, and in some lights could’ve seemed sexist. After the cover story emerged, someone told me it made Alynda cry, and so I immediately called her and apologized. I still think it was a smart interview (if I did quiz her, she certainly passed!) and my line of questioning especially relevant to Bywater at the time, just before it would be fully co-opted by hipsters and all that.
#60. Irma Thomas: I interviewed Irma Thomas as she helped a small theatre company stage a tribute to her life and music. As I usually do to any Louisiana native, I asked Irma if she fished. Irma Thomas told me she and her late husband used to go fishing with her late guitarist, Eddie Bo. Irma described the fishing spot and how to get there, and eventually agreed to let me take her there on my boat, and record it for a fishing show, maybe for NPR radio. I ended up recording episodes with singer John Boutte and historical geographer Richard Campanella. But when I circled back to Irma months later, she ain’t wanna fish with me. Buckwheat Zydeco did the same exact thing!
#61. Katey Red: I first interviewed Katey Red for AntiGravity in 2009, long before I knew anything about bounce rap, or trans people. I learned about both by interviewing Big Freedia, Sissy Nobby, and Katey Red. Katey and I first met for daiquiris. She spoke in that beaucoup open New Orleans way. Later, I remember being backstage the night she and Freedia and Nobby performed at One Eyed Jacks for the first Valentine’s Sweethearts Ball, for their first mostly-white audience. Katey after that agreed to be interviewed, live, by comedian Mark Caesar at a book party of mine, but then she didn’t show up, and never again answered her phone.
#62. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu: Louisiana Weekly offered me the honor of covering the New Orleans premier of the movie 12 Years a Slave, at the Civic. Somehow the premier’s guest list included my name but the venue hadn’t set aside my tickets. The event’s PR person recognized me, however, and walked me past the Press section, up into the VIP balcony. A nice surprise! I glanced around the balcony and didn’t recognize any New Orleans celebrities except, three empty seats down from me, then-Mayor Mitch Landrieu! A few years back I’d rented a large, affordable apartment from his brother Mark Landrieu! Mitch and I had never met, but we were practically buddies! “Mayor Landrieu! I’m covering this for Louisiana Weekly. May I snap a quick photo of you?”
I stood to take the photo as he turned and shouted “NO!” at me — mean as he could. I sat back down. He looked over his shoulder to the back of the theatre, and made eye contact with a large Black man in a suit. Landrieu patted the empty seat beside him to call over his bodyguard, as one would a small child. The huge guy came down and took the seat between me and Landrieu, and then we watched 12 Years a Slave.
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