Submitted 2/12/10\r\n\r\nI have an odd post-Katrina story to tell. \r\n\r\nI had evacuated to South Beach, FL for Katrina for five weeks (which was surreal in and of itself) and arrived home to my apartment in the Touro-Bouligny neighborhood. While I had come to New Orleans to pursue a master\'s degree in history (I was raised in Omaha, NE), I agreed to put off grad school in order to help some friends open a bar on Bourbon Street. This is not the best decision I ever made—I blame Katrina.\r\n\r\nAt any rate, part of my duties included helping out in the t-shirt shop that was at the location of the future bar. The bar deal was done among a group of friends and acquaintances so everyone was on friendly terms and helped one another out after the storm. \r\n\r\nI would go in about 8 am every morning and open the shop up. It was your average French Quarter t-shirt shop with lots of t-shirts, a wall of glass such as shot glasses, pilsner glasses and ash trays and plenty of beads. Surprisingly, the shop did well about the first six months after the storm. We had lots of federal employees of various types, fire and police personnel from all over the country, insurance agents and adjustors and volunteers who would stop by the shop to purchase souvenirs before leaving town. Since we would open so early, usually about four hours before anyone else, we would catch a lot of business. But once Mardi Gras (2006) passed, the shop pretty much died—it changed hands in January 2007. I would work until D., the owner of the shop, would arrive, usually around 10:30 am to 11 am.\r\n\r\nI opened up the shop one morning and found a bunch of flyers on the counter and a box of t-shirts behind the counter. I moved the box out of the way and grabbed a flyer. The box wasn\'t unusual—store practice was to leave any t-shirts needing to go out on the tables and walls behind the counter for me to fold in the mornings if D. didn\'t get a chance to get to them.\r\n\r\nThe flyer was headed \"REVOLUTION\". It advertised a lecture filmed in 2003 by Bob Avakian. (Bob Avakian is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party—USA.) Along with the movie showings, the flyer advertised two more events. A commemoration ceremony of some kind was scheduled for August 29, 2006 to be followed by an event October 5, 2006. The October fifth event had no explanation but the statements, \"All over the country—the World Can\'t Wait Drive out the Bush Regime! Bring all this to a halt!\"\r\n\r\nI snorted when I read it. The Communists were staging a come-back in New Orleans. I started to giggle. People were worried about rebuilding their homes, finding good doctors and wondering what kind of education their children would receive in the new recovery school districts. New Orleans was to water-logged to fan the flames of revolution. Shaking my head, I stuck the flyer in my backpack. I had been collecting paper related to Katrina since arriving home October 1, 2005 and thought this piece in particular captured the absurdity of living in post-K New Orleans.\r\n\r\nI turned to the box and cracked it open. Inside was a small run (less than 30) of t-shirts. I grabbed one and shook it out to look at. Printed in white on a black t-shirt was four mug style shots of President Bush and three other federal officials blamed by the public for the laggardly response by the federal government to New Orleans\' time of need. Surrounding the photos was text that read, \"WANTED FOR MASS MURDER—The Bush Regime. The World Can\'t Wait! Drive Out The Bush Regime! Mobilize October 5, 2006!\"\r\n\r\nNow irritated, I threw the t-shirt back in the box and bundled box and flyers into the back. I was offended by these items because here our city was in such distress and so divided as how to proceed and along come these people with a divisive message calling for insurrection. No matter whether it was purely ridiculous or not, it seemed just the height of disrespect to have this message out there. I was disgusted with this latest attempt by some outside group using New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina to further their own agenda. In Nebraska, we have a name for those types—Shit Stirrers. I resolved to talk to D. about the t-shirts and flyers when he came in.\r\n\r\nWhen D. arrived, I asked him about the t-shirts and flyers. D. explained that some guy had sold the lot to D. the day before and asked D. to pass out the flyers. I about groaned. D. had been born in India and still visited home with some regularity. I was afraid that due to being from another culture, he may not have understood the references on the shirt and flyer in the same context as a native born American citizen and that it may potentially be offensive to the people of New Orleans. \r\n\r\nAfter about five minutes of discussion, D. patted my cheek and paid me $20 for the day\'s work. \"Didn\'t fold the t-shirts but that\'s alright,\" he said.\r\n\r\nGrumpy, I grabbed one of the offending t\'s on the way out. D. gave me an odd look. I had argued so strenuously against the shirts then grabbed one on the way out. (I was allowed to take free shirts on occasion—I\'d wear them as a way to advertise the shop\'s goods.) \r\n\r\nBut I really wanted one, not to wear but to keep in my Katrina ephemera collection. The whole thing was just so bizarre, I wanted the t-shirt as proof that it really happened. \r\n\r\nNOTES: The author has chosen to redact the names and locations so as not to embarrass anyone.\r\n\r\nThe small run of t-shirts eventually sold out—People seemed more interested in the photos and headline than the rhetoric.\r\n\r\nMost of the flyers ended as scrap paper.\r\n\r\nThe proposed bar was indeed built and was beautiful and put the original investors badly in the red. Now under different owners, it is part of a local chain of French Quarter bars.\r\n\r\nThe author is now in grad school.\r\n\r\nAmerica is still a democracy. \r\n\r\n\r\n


“[Untitled],” Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, accessed May 26, 2024,