A friend of mine, John, lives in the Bywater area of New Orleans, a block away from "murder row" .a rather infamous street due to a history of regularly occurring violence. One of those "don't walk around there by yourself at night places" or something. There are a lot of places like that in NOLA.
A lot of these places people warn me about aren't really that scary once you are there, but I do admit, NOLA has a problem with violence.
People have a tendency to believe things are scarier from a distance than up close, especially if poor people live there and/or they know someone who had been viciously beaten/killed
pssshhht. St. Claude and Treme are rather infamous areas as well.
Okay, it isn't the nicest neighborhood. I was up on the roof doing siding work with my friend one day, and we heard some loud bangs and much horrified screaming, the message communicated by the screaming unintelligible. Since this was the day after the Fourth of July, which would be ummm
..July 5th, I assumed that a loud bang followed by unintelligible yelling and screaming must have been fireworks related. My visualization was something along the lines of:
"AAAAAAAA!!!!!! MOOOOMMMM!!!!!! BILLY THROWED A FIRECRACKERS AT ME!!!! WAAAAA!!!!!!!"
"GODDAMMIT BILLY!!! Don't YOU EVER EVER THROW FIRECRACKERS AT YOUR LITTLE SISTER!!!!!" Billy then gets smacked upside the head by his Mama and begins to cry etc.
Soon, the police cars came to seal off the block and announce they were looking for somebody
.Oh. So I guessed that noise actually meant someone had been shot. Probably over some stupid shit.
So it's that kind of a neighborhood.
My friend also had an issue with kids stomping on his plants outside his fence next to the sidewalk. This is pertinent to the further development of the story.
People are nice enough, of course. No one has busted into his truck yet, they leave him be
One day, he had me over for a barbeque and we drank quite a bit. Once we got fairly lit, he decided it would be a good idea to go the bar down the block and try to meet some people from his neighborhood.
We were the only white people in there. We got some looks, of course, but we didn't feel unwelcome. We ordered some drinks and watched people take turns rappin' on the mic
..this was the evening's entertainment. People were having a good time. There was a hip hop track playing as Mr. Rap Host Guy was goin' around the room giving various people a turn to rhythm and rhyme, and eventually he made his way around the room to my white, drunk ass.
"Let's see what happens when we give white boy the mic, hahaha" they collectively thought.
Well, THEY FOUND OUT!
"I'M THE WHITEST MUTHAFUCKA IN YA NEIGHBORHOOD
DON"T STEP ON JOHN'S PLANTS YA KNOW IT AIN"T NO GOOD
YEAH I'M DRUNKITY DRONK AND RAPPIN ON THE MIC
ABBA ZABBA ZABBA ZABBA CAUSE THAT"S WHAT I'M LIKE
A BLIP A BLAP BLIP BLAP BOOPITY BOO
A ZUBBA ZUBBA BUBBA AND A DOODLY DOO
YUBBA NUBBA ZOOBA GOBBA ALL IN DA CLUB
REBBA REBBA RABBA ROOBA NOBBA BUPPITY BUB"
Etc., etc., etc., And then I growled in the mic and handed it back to the host.
(when in doubt, speak gibberish---as long as it's got rhyme and rhythm, they won't notice)
They were all very impressed. My friend was even surprised, since he thought I was "a quiet and mysterious" kind of a guy. I have a split personality. I am a born performer disquised as a quiet, thoughtful, shy and sometimes melancholy person.
On John's end, the plan failed. The intention was to meet people in his neighborhood, but he got too damn schnokkered to talk properly. He was also stumbly on his feet. They were not impressed with his awkward incoherence.
Try again next time, bro.
We went home, and he took a nap
but I still wanted to hang out. I went back to the bar with a bottle of Sake (people in New Orleans don't have a clue what Sake is, by the way)
This time I was the ONLY white dude there, but it's okay
.I have a black heart and black soul. Ha ha.
A lady came up to me sayin' "Yo, you rocked the mic"
"Why, thank you! Sake?"
"What the hell is sake?" she said
. she took a sip.
I ordered a beer and the bartender served me one, although she was concerned that I brought my own bottle into the bar and was offering it to others. Still a paying customer! Just trying to establish myself as someone generous and friendly.
There were conversations I can't remember.
Some I can remember.
Some of them involved talking up my friend, some involved sleuthing out who had been stepping on his plants..
I was getting really toasted, and offering sake to everyone. "What the fuck is sake?!" they would say
"RICE WINE, MAN!"
At some point in the evening, I found myself talking to a golden toothed dude. Details forgotten, he brought up the race issue. He mentioned that most white people were too scared to hang out in that part of town, in that bar.
"Well, I'm not afraid of you" I said. (Good thing I didn't say "you people" or someone might get all fussy about it and say "what do you mean, you people?"
And then stab me.
Did he want me to be afraid? Perhaps. My gut said that some of the people I was hanging out with have been involved in some serious violence, and could be packing. But I was the white boy with "rap skills" and what-the-fuck-is-sake wine, no need for me to worry. Eventually, someone would start something though. When the bottle was empty, I had no gifts left to give
By this point, I was druuuuunk, and a sinister vibe was starting to settle upon the night
I was not yet in any danger, but at some point you get the feeling that if you hang out too long, things could get ugly. So I went home.
I listened to Twisted Sister and threw up in the street, but not because of the music.