Sean Dunn, guitar player in Five-Eight (and the kind of friend one earns only after having walked to hell and back together), was born just outside New Orleans, was raised up there, and was almost a teenager before he learned that the whole country didn’t have Mardi Gras parades.
Sean moved away from the Big Easy some years ago and has been living outside Washington DC. This week he has been down with a crippling ear and throat infection, and he’s been watching from bed as all the chaos has unfolded on the news. He still has family down there. The last time we spoke, he didn’t know where his older brother had gotten to.
Sean used to take Five-Eight around New Orleans, to hole-in-the-wall restaurants only a local could find, and he actually pushed me into sitting in on drums with Kermit Ruffins one Thursday night at a little semi-private regular jam session down in the WORST part of town. Sean always knew where the music was, and where the best cup of coffee could be found, and he used to walk his dog Seamus down past the apartments of the prettiest women in New Orleans. He introduced me to Rocky and Carlo’s and Mardi Gras Indians. He turned me onto the greatest radio station in the country, WWOZ. Sean is immensely proud of the city that gave us Jazz and the muffaletta; etouffé and the Zulu Parade. This Katrina thing is personal for him in a way that it will never be for you and me.
So, last night he was watching to find out whatever he could about the relief effort and to see if ANYONE was talking about the future yet, when he saw Bill O’Reilly ask a guest on The Factor if he thought “all those looters intentionally stayed behind so that they could take advantage of the chaos.”
Kind of makes you sit back and your chair for a minute, doesn’t it? I mean, I have seen O’Reilly’s schtick. I doubt he’s missed many meals and the guy is pretty high strung. I suspect that less than 36 hours after his last bite of prime rib, Big Bill would be out in the streets waving an ice pick, rolling his eyes and screaming about The Man putting surveillance devices in his teeth.
Sean got me on the phone today for a bit, and he let me know what he thought of Bellowing Bill. It waren’t pretty, as my Uncle Otis used to say.
Sean is in a lot of (physical) pain, and he’s just sick with grief for the only city he ever really loved. I have invited him to email me some thoughts to post here, but it might just be too much to ask of him. He’s just trying to hang in there.
If you pray, pray for New Orleans.