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Paranoia Self Destroyer

A New Birth Brass Band set at the Volcano makes Racket long for a new and improved tinfoil hat

Native New Orleanian Hassan says the New Birth shows "feel like home." The son-in-law of New Birth saxophonist Darryl Adams, Hassan goes to most of the band's shows. And where Hingle expresses only sadness (and also a little irritation over Houston's sprawl and freeways), Hassan is angry. "You should be doing a story on Katrina and know the truth about it," he says, in a calm voice that belies his rage. "It wasn't the storm. I was on a roof for two nights with my four kids, my wife and my mom -- they blew the levees up on us. This is why we are here now. After the storm the water wasn't that high, but then you heard boom, boom and the water came rushing in."

Whoa, whoa, whoa -- wait a minute. This man said "they" -- the City of New Orleans, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, whoever -- dynamited the levees and sacrificed the Lower Ninth Ward to save the Garden District and the French Quarter. And Hassan is not alone. Many of the evacuees in the Astrodome and the Terrordome (er, Superdome) said the same thing. Louis Farrakhan and Spike Lee have signed on, too.

And for those who believe that Lee and Farrakhan are loons and that such a prospect is stark raving bonkers, I submit to you the fact that the Army Corps of Engineers did in fact blow up the levees during the Mississippi River floods of 1927. (In that case, rural, impoverished St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes were sacrificed to save the city of New Orleans, as referenced in the chorus of a certain much-played but little-analyzed Randy Newman song: "They're trying to wash us away," indeed.)

And most scientists and engineers who study this sort of thing say that the storm surge was not sufficient to breach the levees.

And that ten-term Louisiana representative did gloat that "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans." And the story -- printed in the London Guardian but now long gone from its Web site-- of the five Army Corps of Engineers contractors en route to repairing the levee who were shot and killed by the New Orleans police.

And why did Ray Nagin twice tell reporters that he feared the CIA would take him out?

And so when and if a viable replacement for my tinfoil Centurion helmet is invented, sign me up. In the meantime, I'll be boogying with the New Birth as long as they remain in our town.

Scuttlebutt Caboose

Well, we may have lost out on the Sugar Bowl and the Voodoo Music Experience, but two formerly New Orleans-based events will be coming to Reliant Stadium temporarily. This Friday at 8 p.m., Grambling State University's Tiger Band will square off against Southern University's Human Jukebox in mortal marching-band combat, and the next day the two schools' gridiron squads will duke it out in the Bayou Classic, the most famous rivalry in black college football. And next year, Reliant will also host the Essence Music Fest -- America's first and foremost soul, R&B and conscious hip-hop shindig, which long had called the Superdome home. No word yet on next year's lineup, but this year's included Alicia Keys, John Legend, Aretha Franklin, Tina Marie, Kanye West, Destiny's Child, Kem, the Roots, Floetry and Lyfe Jennings. And Frankie Beverly and Maze have played each and every one of the event's ten years of existence. Further info is coming soon, and tickets go on sale December 1…And speaking of New Orleans, Sippiana Hericane, the latest CD from Dr. John, has Racket wondering: Either great minds think alike, or yours truly and assistant music editor Scott Faingold deserve co-producing credit. In the pre-Rita edition of Wack, we came up with an idea for a hurricane mixtape that was broken down into four movements titled "Storm's Approach," "First Wave of Storm," "The Passage of the Eye" and "The Aftermath." Sippiana Hericane's centerpiece is called "Wade: Hurricane Suite" and also features four movements: "Storm Warning," "Storm Surge," "Calm in the Storm" and "Aftermath." We're not saying we, um, inspired ol' Mac, but like C+C Music Factory used to say, it is one of those things that make you go "hmmm."

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