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Title: Oral History Interview with Ira Padnos and Shmuela Padnos, May 30, 2006. Interview U-0249. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Padnos, Ira, interviewee
Author: Padnos, Shmuela, interviewee
Interview conducted by Pugh, Megan
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2008
Size of electronic edition: ## Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2008.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2008-00-00, Wanda Gunther and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-06-12, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Ira Padnos and Shmuela Padnos, May 30, 2006. Interview U-0249. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series U. The Long Civil Rights Movement: The South Since the 1960s. Southern Oral History Program Collection (U-0249)
Author: Megan Pugh
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Ira Padnos and Shmuela Padnos, May 30, 2006. Interview U-0249. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series U. The Long Civil Rights Movement: The South Since the 1960s. Southern Oral History Program Collection (U-0249)
Author: Ira Padnos and Shmuela Padnos
Description: 169 Mb
Description: 42 p.
Note: Interview conducted on May 30, 2006, by Megan Pugh; recorded in New Orleans, Louisana.
Note: Transcribed by Emily Baran.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series U. The Long Civil Rights Movement: The South Since the 1960s, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Ira Padnos and Shmuela Padnos, May 30, 2006.
Interview U-0249. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Padnos, Ira, interviewee
Padnos, Shmuela, interviewee


Interview Participants

    IRA PADNOS, interviewee
    SHMUELA PADNOS, interviewee
    MEGAN PUGH, interviewer

[DISC 1, TRACK 1]


Page 1
[START OF DISC 1, TRACK 1]
MEGAN PUGH:
If you could just say your name.
IRA PADNOS:
Okay, my name is Ira Padnos.
MEGAN PUGH:
And your profession?
IRA PADNOS:
My real profession is I'm an anesthesiologist. I work for the LSU Department of Anesthesia for the LSU School of Medicine. I'm an assistant professor, I guess, in rank there. I also am the executive director of the MK Charities, otherwise known as the Mystic Knights of the Mau Mau, who put on the Ponderosa Stomp. It is a non-profit organization and we present throughout the year events designed to educate the public as to the cultural contributions of the pioneering musicians of rock n' roll, I guess, in a short thing, the people that you didn't realize really played a role in the development of rock n' roll, but never knew who they were.
MEGAN PUGH:
And how long have you lived in New Orleans?
IRA PADNOS:
Originally I came to New Orleans in 1982 to go to school at Tulane. I graduated in 1986 and then went and did medical school at Southern Illinois University and then did residency at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, outside of Chicago, did a fellowship in pediatric anesthesia at Northwestern, and then moved back to New Orleans in 1995 and have been here since.
MEGAN PUGH:
And you're from Chicago originally?
IRA PADNOS:
Yes, I'm from Chicago originally.
MEGAN PUGH:
So what brought you back to New Orleans?
IRA PADNOS:
Basically the combination of wanting to see, wanting to live in shorts. The winters in Chicago were just getting to be too brutal. When zero was a heat wave, it wasn't something I really wanted to be around. I wanted fresh seafood, music, just being able to see

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people like Earl Stucks, Seagal, the Mardi Gras Indians, brass bands, and just basically wanting to live where you see people. In Chicago, it was like after September first, everybody hibernated for the winter, so if you weren't paired up, you could forget about seeing people.
MEGAN PUGH:
Have you ever thought about leaving the city or did you ever do that?
IRA PADNOS:
I have. After the storm, I went on a trip all the way from New Orleans, drove all the way from here all the way up to Alaska and back, coming down the west coast and I just found that there's not another city I really want to live in. New Orleans just has the combination of culture and attitude with the looseness and funkiness that just can't be found anywhere else.
MEGAN PUGH:
Have you always lived uptown?
IRA PADNOS:
When I first moved back, when I was going to Tulane, I lived pretty much in what's called Uptown, the university area. I lived pretty much on Willow St. near Jefferson for most of it. Then my last semester, I lived over in the Carrollton area, which is near Spruce and Burdette. Then when I moved back in '95, my first two years were spent living at the corner of Joseph and Magazine, which is right near where they built the Whole Foods, but that was the Bus Barn back then. Then my wife and I, my girlfriend at the time and now my wife, bought this house in '97 and have lived here ever since.
MEGAN PUGH:
What was the neighborhood like?
IRA PADNOS:
In this neighborhood? Years ago, this neighborhood, from what I was told, had a lot of street people hanging in the park. There was a lot of, some junkies. It was a little bit more rundown because you had the entrance of the bridge to get over to the Crescent City Connection was located a few blocks away. Since they moved it, the neighborhood then got people started rebuilding the houses and changed it a little bit. But I had stayed in this

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neighborhood for a month in 1989. I did a clerkship, I guess you would call it, or externship at a charity for a month in the trauma room, but I stayed down here and I loved the neighborhood. It was just a question of it was a little bit grittier back then, but it's a great neighborhood. I love living here and the proximity of everything is really good. I've never had any problems with any of the neighbors or anything.
MEGAN PUGH:
Has the feel of the neighborhood changed since the storm?
IRA PADNOS:
I don't think that the feel of the neighborhood has changed that much since the storm. I think it's pretty much people are very happy to be back in New Orleans since the storm. Obviously, some of the components of the city have changed in terms of shifting demographics, but I think this neighborhood has pretty much been the same. I think it was changing a little bit because they closed the St. Thomas Projects, so you were seeing people being shifted from that out of there. There was something already, I guess, going on before the storm. There may be a little bit, but I don't think in this immediate neighborhood, I haven't noticed that much of a difference.
MEGAN PUGH:
And you're an anesthesiologist?
IRA PADNOS:
Yes.
MEGAN PUGH:
How did the operating room atmosphere change after the storm? Did your job change?
IRA PADNOS:
My basic job of putting people to sleep has not changed. However, the demographics and the politics of the medical community have changed greatly. Basically before the storm, you had probably a bunch of hospitals both in the city, in New Orleans, and outside of the city of New Orleans. In the city itself, you had Tulane, Charity, University, Children's, Touro, and Lindy Boggs, Mercy, St. Charles, General. Since the storm, the only

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three hospitals in the city per se, that are open in the city confines, are Children's and Touro, and Tulane opened in February. So basically, first of all, most of the indigent population are the people that really weren't insured, were mainly relying on Charity and University Hospital. Those hospitals are both closed; they're not open. In addition, the two attendant hospitals of Mercy and Lindy Boggs aren't open—I mean Memorial and Lindy Boggs.
So basically, there's a lot less hospital beds in the city. So now you have a changed demographic of all these people that were used to getting cared for, that had a place to go or that would get taken, don't have a place to go anymore that would take care of them, where the uninsured could go. Now basically, you have all these private community hospitals and they basically were getting overflow in the emergency rooms. Secondly, lots of doctors were displaced by the storm because they don't have hospitals to go to. I'm sorry, I also forgot there was a bunch of hospitals in New Orleans East, which are closed, which are technically in the city. I forgot about that. I'm sorry. I was just talking about the downtown area.
So you have two big things. You have anywhere from four to six thousand doctors dispersed. I don't know how many have since moved back to the city, but that's a thing. Then you had people, because basically, LSU lost its main two hospitals for its teaching institution in New Orleans at Charity and University, so that's been a problem. That's resulted in less staff. I think there were a hundred and something doctors laid off from them and I think another hundred to a hundred and fifty doctors were also laid off from Tulane University's medical school. So that's further causing a problem because there's less medical care available. In addition to all this, you had the dynamics that Charity was the level one trauma center and for awhile, they were kind of rotating it. Now they've since relocated. The main trauma center now is out in Elmwood, which about ten to fifteen miles from the downtown and that is now the

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main thing and that is going to be there, I believe, for the next six to eight months until they eventually decide to move. I think the plan is to move it back downtown to University Hospital eventually to be the thing, but so everything has changed in terms of location of the thing.
I mean myself, I've been affected. I basically was taking care of mainly the indigent population at University Hospital mainly, occasionally going to Lindy Boggs and taking a call once every couple of weeks at Charity, to now going to work in a private practice setting at two attendant hospitals. One is Kenner Regional and North Shore Medical Center in Slidell. So it's completely different in terms of practice and patient population.
MEGAN PUGH:
How are the indigent populations that you used to be working with getting medical care now?
IRA PADNOS:
From what I've gathered, they're just having to go into whatever emergency room they can find to get help because they just don't have it, because basically, Louisiana is probably the only state, I believe in the country, which has a charity hospital system, which is specifically set up to care for these people, whereas other places, it's kind of like a split between public and private.

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MEGAN PUGH:
And are those hospitals going to be able to open up again?
IRA PADNOS:
Right now, all indications are University Hospital will be opening two hundred beds at some point in either fall or early winter. Then down the line, LSU has entered into an agreement with the Veterans Administration to establish a shared hospital where they would each have their own hospital and sharing common physical plant. I don't know. This was just announced a couple weeks ago. They're working out the details and hopefully that will build this new big complex downtown, but I'm not sure when that will be. I'm sure it's going to take a few years to build.
MEGAN PUGH:
Do you think that the government is doing enough to ensure that the New Orleans population has access to the health care that they need? In terms of the rebuilding process, are people paying attention to those kinds of issues?
IRA PADNOS:
It seems like someone is, but like all things with the federal government, it's just, it's slow and as you witnessed after the response of the storm itself, it's going to take a long time. I think that obviously, it's not moving as fast enough as I would like it to. I think that there was grave doubts about what they were going to do with the two medical schools. The problem is that people weren't recognizing, New Orleans, between LSU and Tulane, this is where the majority of the doctors in the whole state of Louisiana are trained. Charity in New Orleans was the main training ground for most of the doctors. There is another medical school in Shreveport, but this is the main—. The US Army would send doctors there for training so they could deal with large war gunshot wounds. Charity Hospital just offered stuff you wouldn't see anywhere else. If you were an oral surgeon, this was the mecca for broken jaws. Nowhere else did they have as many broken jaw injuries as they did here. It was, for training purposes, a truly great place.
I think that people are aware that they need to try to take care of this, but it's a question of how quickly they're going to move to make things happen. Because right now, all these hospitals, probably a quarter of the patients in some of the places like Osh and other places in East Jefferson are patients that don't have insurance, thus placing a drain on those hospitals and there's only so long those hospitals are going to be able to probably foot the bill before they start getting further upset in trying to deal with it. The problem is, the dynamics is you don't know where your doctor is, you don't know where to go to. It's obviously caused stress on

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people because they don't know where to go even to go get a prescription. I think steps are trying to be made, but it's going to take awhile.
MEGAN PUGH:
How long do you think it's going to take, if you had to guess? I know it's hard to say.
IRA PADNOS:
Well, I think one of the things that's good is that Elmwood is open. At least now you have a designated place where trauma is going to be handled by people that are used to doing trauma; so that will make a difference. But the problem is you're still going to have a problem with ERs being overrun with people not being able to think. You need to establish some sort of satellite system, which was recommended by one of the commissions and there are so many commissions, you read these reports of things which would be a great idea, but whether it will be established in practice, I don't know. Basically, it seems like there needs to be, the hardcore issues have to be solved. The problem is until you decide neighborhood-wise where people are living, once that, then you can start formulating a better idea of health care, because you need to know do we have a hospital here that will sustain and provide beds for these people, and this and that, and it seems like you can't form one without the other.
MEGAN PUGH:
Has your day-to-day routine changed working in a private practice?
IRA PADNOS:
My day is significantly changed. I used to wake up at six fifteen and be at work by six thirty. Now I have to wake up at a quarter of five and drive forty-five minutes to an hour out to Slidell, or a half-hour out to Kenner, to get there. In terms of the patients themselves, they probably are a little more worked up and not as sick because some of them have had better access to health care that they will follow up on, which a lot of times when dealing with the insured indigent population, they don't have good access to the good health.

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They don't want to follow up because of the paperwork and the paper trail and it's very difficult for them to follow up. So they're not as prepared for surgery as they were. This way a lot of times, the people are already worked up and it's easier on me in some regards because they're all worked up. That's not to say I don't have as sick of patients as I did both in private and public. I'm still finding a large amount of patients that are morbidly obese and both populations are very sick and especially elderly too.
MEGAN PUGH:
Are there other problems after the storm that you're noticing in the medical practice, or other changes?
IRA PADNOS:
I think the biggest problem is just people trying to find places, just the turnover in people trying to find places to work because all of a sudden, your entire practice and your hospital is wiped out, so you have go start over somewhere else. So there's obviously a heightened competition, especially obviously, you'd see it in cut-throat things in anesthesia groups where one group is going into another hospital or they're being replaced to a different thing. This stuff is going on. It's a very real business component that you really are not used to seeing this sort of stuff. But hospitals were shifting, whether it be due to economics or due to patient care issues or whatever else, but the change does occur and it would be you're not used to seeing this sort of stuff.
MEGAN PUGH:
I want to shift to talk a little bit about Ponderosa Stomp.
IRA PADNOS:
Okay.
MEGAN PUGH:
Can you just tell me about how you decided to start it?
IRA PADNOS:
The Ponderosa Stomp, yes, okay. I used to throw one big party a year in my backyard either during Mardi Gras or my birthday and it would be getting bigger and bigger and it would bring in people that just didn't get to play that much. You'd see people like Earl

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King, Clarence Samuels, Little Bud Senegal, R.L. Burnside; I would hire them to play. When I decided to get married, I'm not a big fan of weddings, so I decided I wanted to do something different. So I went through my record collection and tried to get as many different people as I could, that I always wanted to see, to come play at my wedding. Basically, I got to have people like James Burnton, D.J. Fontana, Billy Riley, R.L. Burnside, Otha Turner, to Freddy Roulette, Hubert Sumlin. I basically had this crazy wedding. One of my friends decided that since you did it for that, how come some of these people don't come to New Orleans and usually play? They should play out to the public. I didn't want to do it because I was too busy with my job and I said, "Okay, I'll tell you what. If we do it, I want the focus to be on the music and we should be anonymous."
We decided to form an organization based on the idea that in New Orleans, all the Mardi Gras crews are the Mystic Knights of this or that; so we became the Mystic Knights of the Mau Mau by virtue of pulling down a Screamin' Jay Hawkins record, which was the Feast of the Mau Mau, which was actually based on the old Mau Mau freedom fighters from Kenya. Basically, it was like the silent assassins. Well, in a way, that's kind of what we did. We just kind of started presenting to people. It shows that people didn't think these people were around and we put it out: "Where did those guys come from?" We were doing this at the Circle Bar because it was the only place we felt had a great jukebox, that we felt comfortable doing it at. It was a tiny place no bigger than the size of this room and basically they started getting more and more elaborate and they were really hard to do once a month when you're working full-time. I decided that we'll just make it one big blowout. We'll put on everybody that we always wanted to have. We'll do it as a festival, but we'll do it in between the two weekends of Jazz Fest when nothing could theoretically compete with it.

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The idea would be it would be a festival dedicated to the unsung heroes of rock 'n roll and that it would be people that you've heard their guitar parts, their songs, their hit record, or something that was memorable or it was always cited as influential, but no one ever knew what happened to these people. It would be everything from the guys who used to be in Dave Bartholomew, in his studio band in the 50s that played in all the Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis records, to the people that played in Howlin' Wolf's band, to the people that played with Elvis Presley and Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, to Tony Joe White, the songwriter that everybody wanted to know what he looked like because they just knew his songs, to Sam the Sham, just people that were just, you'd never recognize. And people would go, "I don't know any of these names," but they'd get there and they'd go, "Oh my God, I know this music." So the idea was to show the public not only that these people were around, but they were still very capable musicians that could destroy on any given night if you gave them a chance; it's just that no one called them. And that became the idea of the Ponderosa Stomp.
MEGAN PUGH:
How long were you at the Circle Bar before you decided to do the festival?
IRA PADNOS:
We basically did about a year of shows at the Circle Bar and we basically did, in the spring of 2001, a prototype Ponderosa Stomp in the Circle Bar, in that through the course of one week, we had Classic Blue, Jody Williams, who was Bo Diddley's and Howlin's band leader; Touissant McCall, who did "Nothing Takes the Place of You." We did a private party with Earl King, Howard Tate, who was the soul singer who they've just found after 30 years, that was his first show. They weren't in New York, they were in New Orleans, but we never got credit for those. Touissant McCall, Paul Burleson, who basically invented the fuzz-tone on his amp, did the original version of "The Train Kept A-Rollin'" with

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Johnny Burnette and the Rock-n-Roll Trio. With D.J. Fontana, we had Freddy Roulette, a lap steel player. We had John Mooney, the slide player, with Sheba Kimbrough. And we had C.C. Adcock and Royal Pendeltons. Oh, Otha Turner also ended up playing that week. So we had literally in the span of one week the whole grassroots of the Stomp. Then it just was getting bigger and bigger and the Circle Bar only held seventy-five people comfortably at most.
MEGAN PUGH:
How did you line everybody up?
IRA PADNOS:
When we first started, I drove to places to talk to people or I would have to do a bunch of detective work, going online and trying to find out where they might be, trying to track down phone numbers. Now it's gotten a little bit easier because now the musicians after five years, they'll pick up the phone and go, "Hey, you know, I know where this guy is. I'm his friend. He hasn't played in years. Call him up. He should come play this." Or people that have been to it know where some of these people are and they'll tell us where to go to find someone and they'll call people up. For instance, Travis Wammack, for years I couldn't get him to return a phone call or want to play. Then one of his friends from New York called him up and said, "You need to play this. Go play this," and then the next thing I know, he's like one of our biggest fans and wants to play every year.
MEGAN PUGH:
Did you start getting into that kind of music when you were living here the first time?
IRA PADNOS:
The whole concept with the Ponderosa Stomp was a show that was just music on a continuum. Rock n' roll in the broadest sense is everything from avant garde jazz and sun ra to the blues to now anything from the new metal bands, the speed metal bands, to hip hop. It's all the attitude. It was a musical rebellion. The problem is it starts somewhere and the people weren't realizing how integrated—. Everything is splintered, so the idea was to put it,

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to show how everything fit back together into this. I grew up in Chicago, so the blues was always there. Then moving here when I went to college, all the New Orleans music was always influential, so just building on that and whatever else, it just was easy. Like Duke Ellington said, "There's two types of music: good music and bad music."
MEGAN PUGH:
When did you start collecting records?
IRA PADNOS:
I was always into records starting from twelve, thirteen, buying records, but probably started getting more serious once I started getting into college and then buying more. Then afterwards, when I finally became an anesthesiologist and practicing, you could occasionally pick up the nicer, more expensive things you could never get when you were a medical student or a resident. But yeah, I've collected more seriously since twenty, eighteen to nineteen years old.
MEGAN PUGH:
Do you feel like the Stomp, I know it was in Memphis this year and at Austin at South by Southwest, but does it feel like something that belongs in New Orleans more than other places?
IRA PADNOS:
I think it belongs in New Orleans because really, I mean, New Orleans played such a big part in the development of rock 'n roll. This is where the primal beats were found, with Congo Square, the old dances on the Sunday afternoon where the slaves would be free to go dance the Kalimba; this is where it started. I think that while Memphis has a very great history and I like Austin, but it just doesn't have the same feel. When it's in New Orleans, it's got the looseness, the funkiness, the grittiness, and just the craziness. You could stay out all night long and it just goes more with the whole theme of everything because rock 'n roll wasn't—. People forget music is and always will be a dangerous force in terms of—. You forget, but people always are burning records, they're announcing or saying this could be held

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accountable. It touches raw emotions and the thing which we like to show is, which we try to show with these performers, even though as they get old, it's not an oldies show. These people are very capable, but there's that edge that's there, that you need to recognize. These people, if you give them a chance and put them in the right environment, they can show you how scary the music can be.
It was very difficult to not do it in New Orleans this year, but we didn't know what to do. Basically, first of all, the storm hit and for a week, no one could get a hold of anybody. All the cell phones were down for days on end because all the towers were out. You were trying to find people on email if you could find a computer. So it was very scary, and finding out people are alright. Once that was done, then people trying to determine the damage to your house, because the news coverage was very limited in what they showed neighborhood-wise. They showed the same loops of this people thing and almost made it look cartoonish-like. They didn't go all around the city.
I mean, I couldn't get a good fathom look of what the city was like until I came in two weeks after the storm on September thirteenth and realized that large chunks of Uptown did not flood; it just stopped. It came up to certain streets and didn't cross St. Charles on one side, so the "sliver on the river," as they now call it, which is Uptown through the Garden District on down to the French Quarter and the Marinee, that did not flood. I knew we probably didn't flood when I saw that the looting was going on at the Wal-Mart because that's ten blocks from here and the Convention Center is probably eight blocks from here; so once I saw that, I knew we were alright.

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But the problem is no one knew the extent of the damage. We came in at five thirty in the morning after passing like five checkpoints, got to our house, and the streets were just covered with fallen trees everywhere. It was like sagebrush out west, except it was trees. There were fallen wires everywhere. You're getting out, we came in, opened the door, and we couldn't tell the damage. We finally laid down on a bed and started noticing how moldy it smelled. Then basically, woke up, the sun came up, and kind of started cleaning up. We had to clean out our refrigerator because it was on the second floor. You can't just carry a refrigerator downstairs. I wanted to invite President Bush, Mayor Nagin, and Blanco over for some maggot fricassee because I thought they would enjoy having a little date, getting to know each other, but I wasn't able to pull it off. But I mean, it's surreal. You're sitting out there. You've got guys in jeeps riding around with assault AK-47s and Hummers. It's like a ghost town. You're seeing this, it's like, "What happened?" It was very surreal. My car was parked on the neutral ground. It had trees and wires around it everywhere, so I didn't want to just move the stuff out and had I moved it, I probably still would have had—I wasn't convinced the wires weren't live, though, because no one knew. I just didn't want to start touching wires and stuff. My car eventually, the funny thing is it looked like it had minor damage at that point. Six weeks later, evidently someone tried to break into it, tow it, or use it and when they brought it back, it was totaled and I couldn't even, it had to be towed out. It looked like it had been in flood water. It had the steering column ripped apart. Someone had evidently used it and they found it, I guess, in New Orleans East or somewhere. It was like some crazy story. The city changed. We realized we had damage to the house. We weren't sure how extensive it was because the electricity wasn't up and running. So we didn't know what to do.

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We decided to leave the city and went back to Houston and went west for awhile, but we didn't know what to do with the Ponderosa Stomp. Basically, everybody had been booked, the venue had been set, we were getting ready a week after the storm to put an announcement, to run a contest in Mojo Magazine and win a trip to New Orleans for the Ponderosa Stomp. Well, everything changed and we had one of three choices: we either postpone it, cancel it, or do it in another city. No one knew what the infrastructure in New Orleans was going to be and when it was going to be able to come back. We started thinking and we said tentatively, "I think it would be best to move it," because we didn't know what was going to be. I talked to people in the travel industry, friends that are airline executives, and also people I do business with hotel-wise. They couldn't guarantee me that they would have enough hotel rooms. No one knew when people that were displaced, how long, were there going to be hotel rooms, or how many workers were going to be occupying hotel rooms. The flights, no one knew how many flights there were going to be, when the airport was going to be up to speed.
So all these things just basically pointed to let's do it somewhere else for a year and then we'll try to bring it back the following year, and that's what we had to do. Plus we thought we could be more effective in going outside New Orleans to try to publicize the plight of what's going on. Everybody here knows what happened here. Let's try to go somewhere else, try to bring people so that people see this event and then will come back and that will create more opportunities for musicians to have jobs and for them to be recognized.
MEGAN PUGH:
Do you feel like you got publicity? You know, for these musicians?
IRA PADNOS:
Now we went to Austin and we basically went in there and there was a lot of initiative for other shows. We're doing South by Southwest. Everybody's looking for the newest and greatest thing and to walk out of there with people basically saying, "There wasn't a more fun show I've seen or one of the best shows," or one of the quotes was, "If everything is trying to look for the new and improved, it shows that the hippest thing is the old stuff. This is it." I felt that to get mentioned in the New York Times, the LA Daily News, and those type of

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publications, while everybody else is trying to find the buzz band, on top of it, you look through a crowd, you're seeing a Ray Davies, you're seeing David Frick of Rolling Stone, writers from the Wall Street Journal there, even if they haven't written about and we find out they're there, that it is getting out what we're doing and it is creating publicity and helping spread the word that these people, that this help, that the musicians are doing, can do, and are capable, and they just need to be seen. That was good.
I think Memphis, one, we went up there and I had no preconceived conceptions of what was going to be the thing. The people in Memphis were very, very warm and receptive to the Ponderosa Stomp. I felt the Memphis Weevils were very helpful in helping get the word out and people that came really seemed to respond to it. It showed Memphis that this is—in a similar musical city, a lot of people seemed to enjoy it and created the opportunity for more chances for musicians to get work and recruited more people hopefully to come back down to New Orleans to spend money. So I think it did succeed in that mission. Plus, it allowed people to raise awareness of what's going on in the plight of musicians in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Because there are less clubs for them to play, there's less opportunities, so even if they weren't affected where they live physically, there is still an economic factor that comes in.
MEGAN PUGH:
Will people or will the musicians talk about that on stage or did y'all set up booths? How did these conversations happen?
IRA PADNOS:
Basically, Music Cares and the New Orleans Musicians Clinic went and had booths set up with their representatives to explain it and we also had various, like I personally was interviewed by two of the news stations in Memphis about what we were trying to accomplish. I know that Al "Carnival Time" Johnson went on the morning show in Memphis; I forget the station.

Page 17
MEGAN PUGH:
I want to say Channel Five, but I'm not sure if that's right. It's been a few years.
IRA PADNOS:
I forget what it is and I'm sorry because I didn't wake up to go with him, but he went to that station and discussed how the storm affected him and the musicians themselves. The Ponderosa Stomp, by virtue of what it is, we've become a clearinghouse for every documentary film maker, guy working on a book, trying to find these guys. They show up in Memphis, so they're there talking about the plights, so they are finding out themselves, a lot of the writers are finding out how this has affected. In addition, we had writers like Peter Guralnick and Robert Gordon there who were leading towrads the sun. The event drew attention to this on many levels, by all these musicians. Aside from the musicians from the Gulf Coast area, everybody else donated their performances to come participate and this was pointed out to people, so I think that speaks volumes to me. Unlike the big benefits where you have musicians, the rock stars, and the people that are making a good living, these aren't necessarily the people that are making a living, that could really afford to do this, but they took the time to do it.
MEGAN PUGH:
Did it feel different with the Stomps than it did in New Orleans? Just watching the performances, was there a different vibe at all or was there a different crowd?
IRA PADNOS:
We had a lot of the same people that come every year. We did have a little bit of a different crowd; it was different. The venue itself was different because we were in the Gibson Factory, which is more like a museum showcase thing than where we'd been at a bowling alley a couple of years; so it was different in that way. It was a little bit more impersonal, less funky, but on the other hand, the musicians seemed to like the fact that they were in a nicer place, which is what we wanted to do for them, to feel that it should be

Page 18
prestigious for them, that they should feel that this is a special thing, and they do and I think they appreciated that. So it was a different feel on that level. It was a little bit different crowd because it's not New Orleans, so it was a little less maybe crazy in some regards; but it still felt like the Stomp, but just a little bit different. Because once the music starts, it doesn't matter where you are; it's still going to overcome that if it's powerful enough and that's basically what it did. People still had a dance party and were still dancing and having fun.
MEGAN PUGH:
Do you plan to hold it back at the Rock n' Bowl this spring?
IRA PADNOS:
The problem with the Rock n' Bowl is we actually had outgrown the Rock n' Bowl when we did it there in 2005 and then not too long after the Stomp had occurred, they lost the lease to the downstairs part. So they only have the upstairs and we have more people than can be accommodated in the upstairs. So we had to find a different place to move. We actually had had a contract signed with Generations Hall where we were going to hold it and then the storm hit, and that of course nulled everything and I don't even think the Generations Hall, they have not reopened yet and I don't know when they're planning to reopen.
MEGAN PUGH:
So do you have a venue set up?
IRA PADNOS:
We're going to start a search.
MEGAN PUGH:
Do you think that when the Stomp comes back to New Orleans, it's going to be different from the other ones or is it going to revert back to—
IRA PADNOS:
I don't know. It was very interesting. There was a little bit of a backlash because people felt that it needed to be back here and they didn't quite understand that one, the Ponderosa Stomp is not simply about New Orleans. It's always been a regional approach that basically all this great music always comes from the South, the Delta emphasis, New Orleans;

Page 19
it's a whole huge area of everything contributing to it. So for us, it was natural to go to Memphis and do it. The problem is some people couldn't get past that point because they just thought it had to be in New Orleans. Plus, there was a reactionary part because so many people and businesses left New Orleans, they were just afraid that everything else was going to leave New Orleans and that was never the intention. The intention was to come back, but just we couldn't do it, but they were so reactionary that they just couldn't listen to what we were trying to do. I think that people realized that we are living here and we're trying to do it, that we're working on the thing.
The other thing is that they just didn't realize that we try to present the Stomp as an adjunct to Jazz Fest. Jazz Fest, of course, is a huge economic driver of the economy of New Orleans and basically it was viewed as, after Mardi Gras, the first big event to try to draw people back to New Orleans and to try to show that New Orleans is open for business. The problem was plane flights and hotel rooms, limited already because less hotel rooms were open, would be further constrained because there just weren't going to be enough to accommodate the Jazz Fest crowds, and that's what people didn't seem to understand, which was another point we wanted to try to explain to people, that it wasn't that. I went, paid to go out to Jazz Fest two days. I didn't make any phone calls. I wanted to go support the economy. That's what it is, a show of support.
MEGAN PUGH:
Who was complaining about the move?
IRA PADNOS:
Various factions, just various people. New Orleans, despite its facade, can be a very small town, like Memphis can be; I'm sure you've realized that.
MEGAN PUGH:
Do you think that they're going to come around?

Page 20
IRA PADNOS:
I think people have realized that we have a commitment to what we're doing and we've always had a commitment. I think that people will be happy it's coming back next year and we definitely want to do it. The problem is though, there's no guarantee that the city, with hurricane season, what's going to happen, because we still have to get past this. But hopefully there won't be as much problems as before.
MEGAN PUGH:
If you had to say what the city is going to look like in a year from Katrina in August, do you have any guesses?
IRA PADNOS:
I don't think you're going to see it much different from what it already is now. I think part of the problem is that the government is slow on all levels. On the federal government, I think first of all, people don't want the money to flow here. The problem is that they don't see New Orleans for what it really is. There's been a backlash: "Why should we spend money on New Orleans?" Well, they don't understand, that's great, but this is where all you idiots come. Everybody's saying that. Well, when you want to let your hair down, where do you go? You go to New Orleans. First of all, this is a major port city. This is where all the oil, gas, and everything else is. People don't realize that. The other thing is well, if they don't rebuild New Orleans, what's going to say why aren't you going to rebuild another city.
SHMUELA PADNOS:
Ninety percent of New Orleans is gone; I saw it yesterday. I went to Lakeview yesterday for a ceremony to throw in flowers for all the victims and I drove around. There's holes and cracks that you can see straight through the levees in Lakeview. The Corps of Engineers are nowhere near those places. Those aren't going to hold water. There's bowed walls. There's cars upside down. There's bodies being retrieved as of this week down there.

Page 21
It's ninety percent of the city. If you drive outside of the Isle of Denial, the ten percent that they're trying to present as New Orleans, then you're talking about schools, churches, hospitals, shopping plazas, and whole communities. You see like one little house, if somebody's tried to fix their house, and all you see is destruction outside of that house. I don't know how people can even live in their neighborhood. The little one percent of half a percent that even has managed to pull their boots up and try to go back to their homes, they have no community left around them and then they have all these breaches in the wall and scary levees behind them and a hurricane season coming up. Because what failed New Orleans wasn't the storm; it was the levees.
MEGAN PUGH:
I just read the articles about how the Army Corps of Engineers is saying the levees are going to hold and the outside engineers are saying, "This is not true."
SHMUELA PADNOS:
I saw it with my own eyes yesterday. We drove to the London St. after the Seventeenth St. and we drove right along the walls and there's a big house that the Saints guy owns, the Saints owner, and right behind that house at every point where there's a brace, there's a crack. There are some cracks that you can see through to the other side of the levee. I don't think New Orleans can take another. I don't think if we got a bad storm this year, it's just going to totally ruin people. They read the numbers yesterday at the ceremony and there were, I can't remember what the statistics are, but it's a tremendous amount of people that are just displaced.
IRA PADNOS:
Well, part of the problem is too that—
SHMUELA PADNOS:
And what could they come back to? There was a house out there that said it was probably at least a half-a-million or more house, All State gave me 10,115 dollars and 13 cents for this house. What do you do with that to try to bring your life back?

Page 22
IRA PADNOS:
The biggest problem is that—
SHMUELA PADNOS:
And lost jobs.
IRA PADNOS:
People don't understand the magnitude of the destruction until you see it. Whether it's in Peoria, Iowa, Wyoming, until you see this, you don't understand.
SHMUELA PADNOS:
But outside the sight of the city, I mean, yesterday we drove to Lakeview, we drove through City Park back into the Fontainebleau area, so we didn't even go anywhere around the Ninth Ward yesterday, and it was just miles and miles and miles of the same thing. There just was no end to it up and down the streets. Then we drove over by where the football guy has his house. Those are like big million-dollar homes just empty.
IRA PADNOS:
But the thing is, the problem is that you can't explain this to someone because you keep showing them the Ninth Ward and they don't understand.
SHMUELA PADNOS:
Yeah, and they're trying to like gentrify it. Yesterday I saw black people as well as white people pulling stuff out of their house with no gas, no electricity, dust everywhere, bulldozers just bulldozing stuff.
IRA PADNOS:
What they're not showing you is that—
SHMUELA PADNOS:
Cars upside down, abandoned.
IRA PADNOS:
What they don't show you is Lakeview, New Orleans East. Out in the East, there's lots of gated, very expensive communities out there that don't—
SHMUELA PADNOS:
Yeah, that's where Aaron Neville lived and he will never come back.
IRA PADNOS:
That basically are not going to ever probably come back.
SHMUELA PADNOS:
Dave Bartholomew lived out there.

Page 23
IRA PADNOS:
He lived in Gentilly, but the problem is you have lots of areas of very beautiful homes, but they're not showing you that; they're just showing you this. They need to show the extent of everything that affects everybody across the board. The problem is that you have certain areas like Lakeview and Mid City that may come back better because these people have better means to be able to come back, whereas people like in the Lower Ninth Ward and the Eighth Ward, they don't have the means to rebuild as quickly and that's the problem. The other thing that's ludicrous is alright, if you've known that you have the probability of flooding one in a hundred times, one in five hundred times, but live in zones that aren't required to have flood insurance—
SHMUELA PADNOS:
We're required to have flood insurance there and people in Lakeview weren't required to have—
IRA PADNOS:
Any flood insurance—
SHMUELA PADNOS:
Any flood insurance.
IRA PADNOS:
In some areas.
SHMUELA PADNOS:
And they also lied about the levees. If you go along, what they did, they did this decorative work and did these little pots on the top of them and they tried to decorate them like they were pleasing to look at, but they weren't—
MEGAN PUGH:
The levees?
SHMUELA PADNOS:
Yeah, but they just did this, like this is what they spent money on a couple years ago, decorating the top of these things, and they knew they weren't deep enough to protect. They had to see; anybody that worked on those had to know that there were weak spots because you could see the cracks in them. I know those cracks didn't all just appear from this year.

Page 24
IRA PADNOS:
The problem is that this has been going on for years. Whenever they started the levees, we'll say in 1927, okay, but even for forty years or more—
SHMUELA PADNOS:
The money went into people's pockets. It's been a corrupt system, but somebody should have paid attention, somebody should have had the character to care about the people of the city.
IRA PADNOS:
Well, they would go tell people that Congress doesn't really care.
SHMUELA PADNOS:
Today, Nagin announces, oh, this big jazz complex with the Hyatt and the Superdome. And I'm thinking, "Oh, gee, where were you yesterday?" Where was he yesterday? Where was he grieving over these people who, a lot of them were elderly that got up on tables and couldn't get into their attic? It was nine thirty-seven when it broke out there. Some of those older people were probably asleep in their beds and if it was on the first floor, they drowned. The first person that threw a flower was a ten-year-old boy for his grandfather, and he had won a Purple Heart and all these medals for serving his country, but what did his government do for him? It was terrible. What I saw yesterday was terrible.
MEGAN PUGH:
Who was running the ceremony?
SHMUELA PADNOS:
There's a woman named Sandy something. She has blonde hair. They have a website called levees.org.
MEGAN PUGH:
And they organized the protests?
SHMUELA PADNOS:
Mmm hmm.
MEGAN PUGH:
Was there a good turnout?
SHMUELA PADNOS:
It was interesting because a lot of people probably lived there and were probably displaced and there were a lot of elderly people there, which, there were young people, quite young people, but there were a lot of elderly people.

Page 25
MEGAN PUGH:
Do you think that the levee people will be able to come back since it was—
SHMUELA PADNOS:
Somebody will develop that because they're going to want to fix up the marina and they're going to want to have expensive boats, so they'll fix that.
[Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
SHMUELA PADNOS:
It was nice to meet you.
MEGAN PUGH:
It was good to meet you too, thanks. It seems like people are talking about all these problems. Do you think that there's enough talk that there's going to be more action?
SHMUELA PADNOS:
We went through a mayoral election. No one wanted to handle the tough issue, what's going to happen to the neighborhoods, because everybody wants to get elected. No one wants to be realistic and hard decisions have to be made. The problem right now is you have a very scary situation. You have a lot of potential to really correct a lot of things. New Orleans was a great place. It had a lot of problems that were basically not exactly being addressed. Number one, it had a big city and it had a lot of crime; it had a lot of crack-fueled crime and violence. This is not isolated to New Orleans, but the problem is people don't want to realize that big cities have these problems.
Secondly, education, the school system was horrible, publicly, and anybody that has any sort of money seems to drag their children out and try to put them in a different school; it doesn't matter. It was basically more of a thing of like, "Okay, if I can afford it, I want to put my son or daughter to get an education." The school system, I don't know how you fix the school system. Maybe hopefully, by putting it under the charter system, it would improve, but it's obviously in shambles. You have a violent system. You have the health care issues, which

Page 26
we talked about, where you have a large population and you have a very large poor population in the city probably basically living under the poverty line, which didn't help things.
On top of that, you have the whole economy based on tourism, which basically there's nothing—we do have a port, but tourists drive us. If you take the workers out, so you lose the engine that runs it, which is the people that worked in the tourist industry that basically filled a lot of the lower-paying jobs, but on account of the thing, you can't have a tourism industry. So it's kind of like a catch-22. You need to have people come back here to fuel this industry. You really needed the first industry to try to do it. Now they're talking about bioengineering complexes and all this other stuff. That's going to take years to develop. It's not going to happen "boom," so it's a very scary proposition. You need to have tourism. Unfortunately, it's the only thing that's going to drive the city, so you need to get people to come back here.
The problem is it's a shell game. Do you say, "Okay, how much is the city really together?" Well, you could show this part, but look at all of this destruction. Those people need to come here to see the destruction and say, "Wow, how could this have happened in an American city? Let's rebuild it." But you can't show them too much or they don't want to come back and say it's a depressing thing. So it's just a complete kind of weird situation. For instance, I took a bus to Jazz Fest, a shuttle bus out to the fairgrounds. We have all these people that, "I want to come to New Orleans to spend money." How many of these people were looking out the window and checking out what was going on? They're oblivious. They were more concerned about who was playing at Jazz Fest and where they were going to go party to really pay attention to what really happened here. While I'm sympathetic, well, look at what's going on because you should be outraged that this happened in an American city, that this occurs. The US government, what happens when we have a hurricane? Do you go and you guarantee that city's bond so that they can keep jobs open and keep—? No, they declared it worthless.
We have these people that are screwed, they can't do anything. Banks are going to foreclose on houses. We need to do something. The banker bill comes, a golden opportunity for them to help people, nothing done. We have opportunities to send the SPA into people that really need it, gone, they don't do anything. I get the SPA calling me offering me loans every day. I don't want an SPA loan. They need to give it to people that really need it. I had a FEMA

Page 27
guy call me in Memphis ten months after the Stomp asking me if I wanted him to come here, do whatever for something. It's like, I never got any money from the government, that two thousand dollars or whatever, which was the FEMA thing, which supposedly every household got. No one can ever explain how that really worked because it was arbitrary. I've had friends that were living on poverty level to people that do extremely well. There's no rhyme or reason, who got that money. By refusing to ensure the bond rate goes up, you've killed all the public sector jobs. Then you kill the small businesses because they can't get SPA loans and businesses interruption loans. So basically, you nail the whole middle class of New Orleans, especially the African-American middle class, and destroy a city, economically bring it to its knees.
Then on another level, this whole race issue, it's much more complex than black and white in New Orleans. There's a lot of Creoles and this. It's very complicated on that level and yes, there is probably some other thing, but I think it's more economic than anything drives it. Because anybody with money wants to leave and they want to either go live in, it used to Meteriere, now they want to live across the lake to St. Tamanee, or African-Americans want to go live, were living in New Orleans East. So there's been a lot of economic flight from the city. If you really want to look at the city, it's not just New Orleans. The whole metropolitan area, you have five parishes. You still have large chunks of, while the city itself may have been white, the majority—I mean was African-American, black, the overriding outside probably was white in suburbia. It's not an entirely clear picture here.
There is probably some shifts in dynamics of what's going on and the whole thing, the mayoral election, and the mayor won basically the first election on Lakeview and eighty percent of his base was white. Then all of a sudden, he turned around and he won basically the black vote and maybe a little bit of the Republican vote, business. To me, Landrieu, Nagin,

Page 28
neither of them would have been the solution. Nagin was a middle-level management person who basically would have been fine had not a major disaster struck. He wasn't going to do anything earth-shattering. He's surrounded himself with people that are not that talented and they don't handle things well. He's not a politician. He doesn't know how to close a deal. Landrieu, on the other hand, was a career politician who maybe didn't know how to close a deal, but how much do you want to put faith in that? Which evil do you take? The problem is that because Nagin's so off the cuff, unpredictable, and shoots himself in the foot too much with his comments, I don't think he would have stolen anything. I think he was a man of integrity. I think he just burned out.
Well, what happened? I'm surprised he wanted to run again. It's almost like he was trying not to win because he would make these crazy comments and pander to whichever audience, but somehow he won the election. The question is the business community, what does this signal to the rest of the country and the world? Are we going to invest in a city that seems to flout, just not really care, and do what it wants? The bottom line is New Orleans is completely dependent on the outside world right now. There's no money here. It's going to need to rely on private capital because the government's not gonna come up with the money.

Page 29
MEGAN PUGH:
What kind of mayor would you like New Orleans have? Like if there had been a fantasy other mayoral candidate?
IRA PADNOS:
You needed to have someone who was charismatic, but who basically would cut to the chase, had vision for the city, and could look at a bigger picture and see, "Hey, if we're going to bring this back, we need to face tough decisions and do it now. We're not going to place this game of waiting around three months, three years, whatever. We need to say, 'Look, we need to get people back, but unfortunately we can't bring the city completely back to what it's going to be.'" I don't think that can happen. I mean, every day I drive past New Orleans and when I drive to Slidell and drive past New Orleans East, it's the set of Day of the Dead. There's just nothing out there. It's a ghost town. I don't know how you're going to bring entire—. And this is ten months out almost. What are you going to do with these communities? You can't leave these people in limbo forever.
The other question is you finally get these people that have been displaced, okay, you put them in areas where it's like going to Mars for some of them, putting people from New Orleans in Utah and Alaska, but you finally have gotten people decent jobs and you provide them with good schools for the children. Now here is the issue: do these people want—? You can't take the New Orleanian out of a person from New Orleans. On a cultural level, it's not where they necessarily want to be, but on another level, it's better for their children. So they have to make this type of decision: do I go back to something that's not as good or do I stay here?
The other question is what do you do? Because there's no guarantee if they come back that they can find affordable housing. Where are they going to stay? Instead of spending all this

Page 30
time, money, and fooling around with trailers and junk, we could have been renovating houses, renovating property, and putting them in somewhere.
MEGAN PUGH:
If you had to make those kinds of decisions about what to do with neighborhoods and deciding what it should look like, do you have an idea of what you wish you could see?
IRA PADNOS:
Realistically, I'd love to see the city come back, but you can't expect to come back and be what it was. Nothing can be the same. History can't just, you can't just wipe things and go, "Boom, here's a free wand." I want people of New Orleans to come back. I think it's important that they come back because the city, I mean, alright, the question is what is New Orleans? New Orleans isn't just Mardi Gras. It depends on what people's view of New Orleans is; that's the first thing. The problem is they keep portraying this picture of French Quarter, French Quarter, French Quarter. That's not all New Orleans. There is so much more to New Orleans than that. So you need to have the extended families, the musicians' part of it, the second lines, the brass bands; that all plays an important role in New Orleans.
These people, a lot of these people work in the French Quarter for the tourism thing. They help create the experience of people coming down to New Orleans and seeing street musicians or brass bands, going out to the hotels. In addition to the music, you want to go out at night and see a band, you want to go see a thing. Well, hey, the waiter was pretty wild. It's just all the various things that make New Orleans, for the experience, are there. But the problem is, well, if I'm working cleaning toilets in a hotel room, is this what I want my children to aspire to? You can't have that. You have to have something better for them and that's a problem. Education has constantly let these people down and I don't know what you can do to fix that. Or they say, "Hey, Jamal's on the corner dealing crack, making a hundred dollars a day. I could

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go be working in a six-dollar-minimum job or I could make a hundred dollars. Hmm, I wonder what I want to do." There's lots of problems in New Orleans. To come back, I'd like to see the people try to figure out and build affordable housing for them.
I'm going to be honest, I don't think you can bring back the entire parts of New Orleans East. I don't think that the Ninth Ward is rebuildable at this point because of its flood plain. What's to say it's not going to happen again and again and again? Even if you said, "Alright, I'm going to build a level-five thing," is there a guarantee it's not going to crack? No, no one knows how to prevent a storm and the levees were supposed to withstand a greater thing; they didn't. So no one knows what's going to happen this year. It's an aggravating thing because no one knows if they want the city to come back. You need to find neighborhoods and you need them back, but I just don't think you can bring every neighborhood back.
MEGAN PUGH:
I was reading in the—I forget if it was last week's Gambit or the week before, but there was an article about Aaron Neville and how he—
IRA PADNOS:
Oh, Cyril Neville, you mean?
MEGAN PUGH:
Cyril Neville, yeah, just talking about how much easier it is to be a musician outside of New Orleans, to be a New Orleans musician outside of New Orleans, where you make better money and people don't take you for granted, you have better schools for your children. You kind of touched on this, but you do find with people you know that are moving to other places, that they're making the decision to stay there for different reasons or do you still feel that more people still want to come back?
IRA PADNOS:
It's up in the air. I don't have exact numbers of musicians. I would say probably fifty percent of New Orleans musicians are displaced, or greater were displaced, probably seventy percent of Mardi Gras Indians displaced. I think people want to move back

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because culturally they feel more at home in New Orleans on a cultural level. The question is where are they going to move to and how can they afford the housing. Being a musician, it's always hard being a musician where you live. I think that's true of most cities. I'll touch on this in a little bit because I don't want to—. Basically you have places where just, for instance trying to be a blues performer in Chicago. There's limited amounts of places, there's limited opportunities, so it's very hard to make your money. So the way you make your money is you have to go out on tour. Well, if you're somewhere else and you're different, better opportunity. I think that's always the case. Many musicians, depending on wherever your home town is, you're always going to do better outside of your home town than in your home town.
MEGAN PUGH:
Do you think the displacement is going to change the culture that New Orleans has always had? Do you feel that there's a risk that—
IRA PADNOS:
There is a serious risk of displacement that's going to disrupt culture, but hopefully this culture will be there. The question is what about the traditions for the brass bands, the Mardi Gras Indians, the Second Line clubs, the tradition of the alters for St. Joseph Night, Mardi Gras traditions; it's various things. Will it be displaced? I hope not. I think a lot of these traditionally hopefully will continue. But yes, because there's going to be less people to carry on. If you're displaced, if you go somewhere else where it's a completely foreign language thing, how are you going to do? It's interesting because I was in Austin during South by Southwest. The Flaming Arrows had moved their tribe to Austin.
MEGAN PUGH:
What's that?
IRA PADNOS:
A Mardi Gras Indian tribe. We talked to people and they were actually very fascinated with it and they seemed to enjoy it, but the question is will it catch on that you're going to be able to keep this culture going or do you eventually have to come back to

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New Orleans. I don't know. It's a scary time for that because people say, well, the culture, but New Orleans doesn't need New Orleans, but really the culture is part of New Orleans; you need it because I think that's what helps attract people to come here.
MEGAN PUGH:
I know that there's the Musicians' Village that people are trying to move on. Do you think those kind of events are the kind of thing that's going to help bring people back? Or are there other things that the city can do to ensure that—
IRA PADNOS:
Turn your tape recorder off.
MEGAN PUGH:
Okay.
IRA PADNOS:
And I'm going to tell you what I can't—
[Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
The point is this, okay, even if you walk around and you see that ninety percent of the city is gone and there's supposedly ten percent left, out of that ten percent, every house has pretty much got some degree of damage, so you're still dealing with damage. That doesn't mean that houses didn't burn, didn't get knocked down. You walk around and there's three houses right here completely blew out from the storm, one over there by the school a couple blocks away, it's gone. So it is changing that you have these houses completely gone. Even with your ten percent, those areas are further reduced in housing opportunities because everything is damaged. Now you couple that with the surging demand for housing and less available, your rents double or triple. Even if you're working at Burger King, which offered a six-thousand- or ten-thousand-dollar bonus for signing on, you're still having to pay a thousand dollars per month for housing for a three-, four-family house. If you're the only person taking home the money in a one single-family-parent house or even two, it's an unbelievable strain on your wallet. How are you going to afford to move back? Then you combine the fact that you

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have housing to go buy a house, that if you paid a 100,000 to 120,000 to 150,000 for shotguns in some areas, now the shotguns are 250 to 300,000. What can you afford to buy? And they're moving. People are looking for housing on higher ground; they're moving. They want to buy. So you have that and then you have people coming in and gobbling up housing because they want to develop it. People are arguing because they can't even get to the side of their house because developers built a fence there or something, because they don't have the foot that they're guaranteed to get to their house. It's not an easy situation for people to live in right now. The economy is how are you going to get these people back if you don't have affordable housing.
MEGAN PUGH:
You talked a little bit a few minutes ago about the experience of outsiders coming into New Orleans as tourists and not really understanding what was going on, and also the limited news coverage, national news coverage, which isn't really digging into the issues and showing to the rest of America the problems that are in the city. Is there a way that you think that that could be changed or a way that it ought to be changed?
IRA PADNOS:
Well, I think part of the problem is the objectivity of news stations has been lost for awhile because news is now big business entertainment. Before there was always the accusation that there was a leftward slant of the media and now there's been the Fox Network now with the right-hand slant in the neighborhood. There needs to just be someone that says, "Look, we're not going to politicize the news. This is what it is," and show images of what it is. The problem is you're not having someone walking into a neighborhood and say, "This is a neighborhood where you used to have families live. This is houses. This is an average neighborhood in New Orleans." The people don't understand, New Orleans is very much mixed in terms of economically. You could have a million-dollar house and two doors

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down, you could have a house for ten thousand dollars. It just twists and turns and partly it was that because of the old days of when you had all the big plantation houses on certain areas and then the slaves lived in the back. When they were freed or whatever, people thought they were just going to move away. Well, they didn't, they settled around the corner and the neighborhoods reflect those sort of trends. So it's always been a complete mixture of everything around. So it's not just huge, big houses with no small neighborhood shotgun houses in back. It's a mixture, okay. The problem is that people don't go looking around and seeing this. They basically say, "Okay, I'm going to go shoot. Hey, it looks great. Let's just go shoot pictures of houses knocked off their foundation or a house totally destroyed in the Ninth Ward. Gee, maybe I should go over to Lakeview and see nice big houses that were a couple hundred thousand dollars, a totally destroyed neighborhood. Do I shoot that and show that to people?" I don't know. It doesn't look as good as if I got this. Or hey, we got a bunch of people running wild. Let's just say there's a riot and do this and not show that people are coming back and trying to build their house." There's not enough being said that says, "Look, this thing didn't just—. Other areas have had hurricanes, but this just paralyzed a whole entire American city." That's the point that no one wants to make. It didn't just paralyze. It knocked ninety percent of a major American city and also knocked many of the suburbs out, a whole metropolitan area of a million people. Over a million people were affected by this and this is not even going to Mississippi where entire communities were wiped out. Why isn't this being done like that? That's the problem. It's not seen as high priority to some. I hate to say this, but New York City, they had a certain area knocked out by the thing and New York City is a very vital interest. New Orleans, "Oh, it's people going down there to party," and blah blah blah. The other thing is Louisiana's own stupidity, is years ago they refused to take, they didn't

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negotiate for the rights to the oil and the mineral rights because they demanded it all. They gambled in the court system and they lost; so they didn't get any of it. Now they get a small residual whereas the western states get like fifty percent of whatever they get. If Louisiana got the oil royalties—governments don't want to give it up, Bush didn't want to give it up, no one wants to give it up—if they got that, we wouldn't be so bad. Let's be serious. After the damn thing hit, where were the people that were supposed to help? Well, gee, fifty to sixty percent of the Louisiana National Guard was in Iraq. The people we had here were desk pushers; they didn't know what the hell they were doing. It's a very complicated thing. There's a writer named Mike Davis, who wrote an article in The Nation that really summarized what happened to the city best and why this city has got the knock-out punch. Everybody should read that to get a better understanding of what's going on and everything, because there's a lot of forces going on at once and Bush, Congress, no one's lifted a finger to really help this city to do what they needed to do. Every time I turn around, Mississippi has far less proportionate amount of people affected by this storm, but because that Cochran is in charge of the Ways and Means Committee, they can get a higher proportion of money and also because Haley Barber used to be the man for the Republican Party, they're going to give them a greater share. Also Texas, Bush is from Texas, and now they're arguing that they need money. So it's just ridiculous that any time that money should come to Louisiana, it gets carved and gets sent somewhere else. It doesn't help that sometimes we don't have the best politicians that can go in there: "Oh, just give us two hundred and fifty billion dollars. We know what we're going to do." That doesn't work either. You need to be somewhat smart in your approach and we just didn't have the right people. Blanco isn't the best person for being able to present herself.

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MEGAN PUGH:
Now that Nagin doesn't have to worry about being reelected, do you think there's any chance that he's going to be able to do a better job?
IRA PADNOS:
Well, he doesn't have a choice. The bottom line is no one wants to handle the fact of rebuilding neighborhoods. Ultimately, what they're really wanting is the insurance companies to say, "You can build, but I'm not going to insure." That's what it's really going to come down to, but until someone takes the bull by the horns and gets proactive about it, we do this soft tap dance, it's not going to get done and that's the problem. All of a sudden, Nagin's got Virginia Bouleaux in charge of this committee and Rev. Watson in charge of that committee and this person, is that necessarily the best thing? I don't know, but it doesn't seem to me. I think you need some qualified people that are experts in their areas and put them in charge, not people that were running against you politically. Maybe they do have some advice, I don't know, but it just seems like every time it picks people, they just—. Kimberly Wilson Butler, that was a real smart job. I don't know if you're familiar with her.
MEGAN PUGH:
I don't think so.
IRA PADNOS:
She was his first chief administrative officer. Then they had a falling out. She ran for clerk of the criminal court or something; she lost. All these voting machines didn't show up at the last election. She was arrested for contempt of court and she hid before the election. Then she came out and announced her candidacy. I mean, this person never should have been on the ballot, but this is the type of person that Nagin has selected to work for him. I just think or
[END OF DISC 1, TRACK 1]

[DISC 1, TRACK 2]

[START OF DISC 1, TRACK 2]
IRA PADNOS:
Okay, my family's from Louisiana. I'm the mayor of New Orleans. Where do I put my kids that go to school? I buy a house in Dallas. What does that show to your electorate? You need to put them somewhere near New Orleans or you need

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to be there for a reason. Just think about the ramifications. If a mayor is going to abandon New Orleans with his family, why should I stay there? He just doesn't make good decisions.
MEGAN PUGH:
In addition to showing people that it wasn't just New Orleans, that there were neighborhoods that—
IRA PADNOS:
You need to show people that. The other thing is that the continuing problem is that Louisiana has always had this habit of, well, you have corrupt government. Well, gee, there's a place called Washington, DC, which has even more corrupt government than we. But that always gets under the table. Every Congressman goes, "Well, I can't give Louisiana money. They're corrupt." Well, gee, how much money have you taken from all the lobbyists? How many trips have you gone on? How much cash have you gotten for speaking engagements and business things? Or the whole big thing of Clinton with all these guys that were, "I'm a family values guy," and then it turns out they're divorced four times and they've got like three mistresses. Unfortunately, that's what cost Louisiana's Livingston from being the Speaker of the House. Not that I agree with the guy politically, but maybe if he had been there, we might have gotten some help. But the problem was that was during Clinton where they didn't want to admit. They were going after Clinton for all the Monica Lewinsky stuff and guess what? They had plenty of problems in their own houses and he got caught by Larry Flint and he resigned because he didn't want to deal with it.
MEGAN PUGH:
Are there other things that you think people need to be talking about or that you hope, say, twenty years from now, people will think about when they think about New Orleans right after Katrina?
IRA PADNOS:
Well, this is a watershed event for American society right now because this is an event that how could this have happened to an American city? And the reaction is, if

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you're willing to let people that are supposedly your citizens suffer from this and not show compassion and not react to this, why should they pay taxes? Because it's basically saying, "Okay, we're involved in a war in another country that makes no sense, that we're destroying it, but we're going to take money and we're going to rebuild it after we're bombing things. Or we have a thing from a natural hurricane, from a disaster that's questionable if it's really from the natural disaster because of faulty design in the thing, and really, it really comes down to the finger should ultimately point down to the federal government to take responsibility for this and we're not going to spend the money to rebuild it." What does that show you? Where's your priority? Basically, are we for our citizens or are we for a business to make people money like Halliburton? Let's not even get into the graft of what this thing is, why the average guy doing the work of picking up garbage or putting blue roofs on the ceiling is getting paid one to two dollars an hour. You had companies building at the top end of this pyramid system four to five, two hundred dollars per square or three hundred dollars per pound, but the guy doing the work is one dollar. So where does all this money on a level have to be at this? They had people getting signed up for trailer sales that, rather than going directly to the trailer companies and saying, "Here is five hundred million dollars, I need trailers," why do you have to go through some guy who's never even sold one trailer in his life, but gets contracts for two hundred million dollars? How does that get explained? It's a graft, or all these deals that were negotiated with no contracts, just handshake deals, that Halliburton divisions and the Shaw Group of Baton Rouge came in and got these contracts. They were supposed to have people from New Orleans. All these workers, why didn't any of these people get eligible for jobs to put work back? They could have given them money and rebuilt this city. Instead, we paid for bringing all these people from Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador to do it. I appreciate their help, I appreciate

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they're hard-working, but why didn't we spend money building it on Louisiana businesses, people from Louisiana to build it, that were affected by this?
MEGAN PUGH:
I don't exactly know how to ask this question, but you talked earlier about the ways that—. You said something like, "Rock n' roll is dangerous," or just this kind of edginess or sense of social protest or something like that. Do you feel like there's a relationship between the problems that people are noticing in their cities and then being able to go to something like the Ponderosa Stomp and have that mean something?
IRA PADNOS:
The thing is music and art, while it's influential, it can't always be political. You're not going to make the big political statement with this and to get it. Really it exists to provide an escape, to allow you to, to help you deal with what's there, because it has to move you. But the problem is that there's so much frustration in what goes on. The Bush administration, finally people are responding to the negative things, but when this was going on, it's just brazen neglect for years of America. America is a very great place. The United States is a great place and there's a lot of things that it really stands for, that are great. Unfortunately, it's being run into the ground continuously by people's agendas that really don't fit what we really do. The biggest problem, that people fail to realize, is that governments no longer govern for people; it's for business. And the problem is with globalization of the economy, businesses aren't necessarily, because they influence on multi levels, it's not really in certain countries' best interests necessarily; it's for a business's best interest and that's the problem. So the economy isn't necessarily being put forth for the citizens, it's being for the businesses, and it may not benefit its citizens; and that's been a problem.
Look at the United States. We're getting done to us what we used to do to all the countries, all the third world countries. We go in, we steal all the resources, we sell them back

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all the finished goods, and their country was completely dependent on the US. Well, guess what? Now we're in that position. We're a service economy. What do we make? We don't make too much anymore and we outsource everything. If it gets too expense, we'll just take it and go somewhere else. It's not a good feeling right now and the problem is that it's only going to get worse in terms of economic impact because there's less good jobs, the money thing, and people don't want to admit to this. There is a gap between the haves and have-nots and it's going to get worse and this hurricane, unfortunately on some levels, probably exposed some of this. It's long-standing problems that aren't getting solved. I don't know how you solve this solve, but you have to start looking at, "Stuff didn't work for years. Let's try to fix it." The hope is that we can fix the school systems, provide good-paying jobs, and find adequate housing. That's good challenges. Will it be met? It's going to take a while.
And the question is did all these people that voted for Ray Nagin, did he care for them the first time around? Not really. Is he going to care for them the second time around? I don't think so. He's a businessman. There is no man that had a real big vision. I didn't see a guy get up there and say, "Okay, this is what we're going to do. We're going to make the hard decision of what housing we're going to do." Will Nagin do this? He better or we're going to be even more screwed because we're already ten months out, we're in stagnation, I mean literally stagnation. Nothing's been done in entire neighborhoods. You'll see a couple guys with a trailer or cob houses and it's a ghost town. You have people living in areas without electricity or that may have gas, without gas, living there because they still want to live here, but that ain't the way to live.
Sooner or later, you need to get things up to speed. The election is over. Let's move on and let's get an agenda drafted. First of all, the Bush administration hates Blanco because she

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went to Cuba and negotiated with Castro. The Republicans, that's their mainstay. As long as the Cubans think that they're one day going to take back Cuba and that we can have an economic blockade against Castro, they'll vote Republican. And because Kennedy let down the Bay of Pigs, they'll always vote Republican. It's just like, "Look, get past it. It's been there for fifty years, okay? Let's finally wake up and say Cuba is Cuba. You're not moving back. I don't think you're moving back any time soon to Cuba. So let's let Cuba be Cuba and deal with it." But as long as Jeb Bush is down in Florida, ensconced there, that's going not be the thing. That's one of the problems with Bush. Then Blanco and Nagin don't get along because Nagin endorsed Jindal in the primary. They've had a not-too-good relationship. Nagin basically is a Republican who says he's a Democrat. So that's not exactly the best thing. You have dysfunction levels of government relationships on all levels; so that's just not good. Then the city council and the mayor, that's another matter. That's another problem with what's going on. It's just, you don't have good working relationships with any of these people.
MEGAN PUGH:
That's probably it.
IRA PADNOS:
Alright.
MEGAN PUGH:
Thank you so much.
END OF INTERVIEW