Title: Oral History Interview with Ira Padnos and Shmuela Padnos, May 30, 2006. Interview U-0249.
Interviewer: Pugh, Megan
Interviewee: Padnos, Shmuela
Abstract: Anesthesiologist and professor Ira Padnos and his artist wife Shmuela Padnos discuss New Orleans and Ira's work with the Mystic Knights of Mau Mau, a secret society dedicated to bringing attention to roots music. He describes how his neighborhood has evolved and the challenges the community faces following Hurricane Katrina, focusing especially on how health care and other social services never recovered after Katrina. They also discuss the city’s cultural life. Ira is a member of the Mystic Knights and helped found the Ponderosa Stomp, a music festival celebrating roots artists. He believes that music holds the power for revolution. Though the Mystic Knights relocated the 2006 Stomp from New Orleans to Memphis, Tennessee, because of Katrina, Padnos refused to make the change permanent. He describes the first time he saw the damage done to the city, and he believes that the musicians have helped to publicize the plight of the city. Padnos does not believe the city will recover quickly because of what he sees as the undervaluation of New Orleans. Shmuela laments the slow recovery of the city and worries what reconstruction will mean for New Orleans residents. She does not believe the city’s problems with crime, education, health care, poverty and employment will be solved, and she says race is still a problem. Ira hopes that the people will return to New Orleans—without them, he says, the city is little more than Mardi Gras. They discuss what must happen before residents can return, and he believes that some of the problems have gone unnoticed because the media has politicized the news.