Two years ago, Hurricane Katrina did her best to destroy a great American city. (I know I’m going to get a raft of shit from Ashley for that, because he contends that what did New Orleans in wasn’t the storm, but the crappy levees, but let’s at least agree that the storm had something to do with it, OK?)
In the time since, I’ve had a variety of reactions to the rebuilding effort, but ultimately I come down with Ashley and his profane cri de coeur, FYYFF. It might not make sense to rebuild a city below sea level, but lots of cities flood — Fort Wayne, Indiana, to name but one — and when those places go underwater all we hear about is improving the dikes and giving the Army Corps of Engineers another chance with the riprap and bulldozers. Anyone could argue New Orleans has been more important to the country than the Fort — first night baseball game notwithstanding — and deserves better than the endless incompetence at all levels of government they’ve had to suffer since.
It’s complicated, I know. But since we’ve decided to shit rather than get off the pot, let’s get the shit built.
David Mills at Undercover Black Man marked today with a link to the Dixie Cups’ version of “Iko Iko.” My version of the song is called “Jockomo,” by James Sugarboy Crawford; I think I burned it off a disc that passed through my life, something called “The New Orleans Sound.” (iTunes tells me I also toasted “I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday” and “A Certain Girl,” by Bobby Mitchell and Ernie K-Doe, respectively, from the same record. If you’re taking notes.) I don’t generally share music here; I believe in copyrights (most days). Sugarboy Crawford claimed to never have seen a dime from Jockomo/Iko Iko. I can’t even tell if he’s still alive. Maybe Ashley knows. If so, I’d be happy to Paypal him $20. The link will be deleted after 24 hours, anyway. If you get here late, well, that’s the fate of New Orleans if we don’t get moving.
The title of this post comes from a piece of art Ashley’s displaying on his site today.
Enjoy Sugarboy. He played with a group called His Cane Cutters. Clever.
UPDATE: John points, in comments, to this excellent 2002 interview with Crawford. Amazing what could end a career back then:
Sugar Boy and his band were on their way to a job in North Louisiana in 1963, when state troopers pulled him over for the then-crime of being a black man in a flashy brand-new automobile. One of Louisiana’s “finest” took exception to Sugar Boy’s attitude and proceeded to pistol-whip him on the side of the road. Sugar Boy spent three weeks in the hospital and was incapacitated for two years. He attempted a comeback, but after 1969, he confined his singing to church. He then went to trade school and learned to become a building engineer.