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The Year Before the Flood by P-IndependentPublish

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Spending 2004–2005 in New Orleans investigating the city's legendary past both in the archives and its living culture in the street, this account combines personal memoir, historical research, and on-the-ground reporting to trace a suspenseful arc through the last year New Orleans was whole. The perspectives of daily life and the passage of seasons in the antediluvian city are darkly comic, irreverent, passionate, and angry. Fully revealing the city's vicious heritage of racism and its murderous poverty, this heartbreaking narrative of joy, violence, and loss features a grand parade of unforgettable characters in the town that is both America's great music city and its homicide capital.

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									The Year Before the Flood
Author: Ned Sublette
Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

PART ONE / NACKATISH

ONE / JUMP JIM CROW
TWO / ARE YOU A YANKEE OR ARE YOU A REBEL?
THREE / THE GOOD DARKEY
FOUR / MADE OUT OF MUD
FIVE / TELL IT LIKE IT IS

PART TWO / THE YEAR BEFORE THE FLOOD

SIX / CONSTANCE STREET
SEVEN / IVAN THE TERRIBLE
EIGHT / ELYSIAN BLUES
NINE / THE KALUNGA LINE
TEN / CREATIVE DESTRUCTION
ELEVEN / WHIPS AND ICE
TWELVE / THE DAY OF THE DEAD
THIRTEEN / THE BLIZZARD OF ‘04
FOURTEEN / KING KONG
FIFTEEN / THE HEART OF THE PRANKS
SIXTEEN / THE WILD WEST
SEVENTEEN / THE END IS NEAR SO DRINK A BEER
EIGHTEEN / FRANKLY, I DOUBT ANY OF IT HAPPENED
NINETEEN / THE STRAIN OF THE FESTIVAL
TWENTY / SUPER SUNDAY
TWENTY-ONE / A MURDERY SUMMER

PART THREE / FAST DYNAMITE, SLOW DYNAMITE

TWENTY-TWO / FATS DOMINO’S BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE

CODA

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

BIBLIOGRAPHY

INDEX
Description

Spending 2004–2005 in New Orleans investigating the city’s legendary past both in the archives and its
living culture in the street, this account combines personal memoir, historical research, and on-the-
ground reporting to trace a suspenseful arc through the last year New Orleans was whole. The
perspectives of daily life and the passage of seasons in the antediluvian city are darkly comic, irreverent,
passionate, and angry. Fully revealing the city’s vicious heritage of racism and its murderous poverty, this
heartbreaking narrative of joy, violence, and loss features a grand parade of unforgettable characters in
the town that is both America’s great music city and its homicide capital.
Excerpt

1JUMP JIM CROWAs time passes, people, even of the South, will begin to wonder how it was possible
that their ancestors ever fought for or justified institutions which acknowledged the right of property in
man.—Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs1My first grade teacher explained to us why we shouldn’t put
coins
in our mouths.“It might have been in the hands of a”—she held up her hands like they were diseased, and
contorted her face—“sick person.”Pause“It might have been in the hands of a colored person.”We lived a
couple of other places before we moved to Natchitoches, but I don’t remember them. I learned to talk in
Natchitoches, and to read, and to tune the radio, in that order. I came to consciousness there, in the
northwestern part of Louisiana, sixty-eight miles south-southeast of Shreveport.As the locals never tire of
informing you, Natchitoches, founded in 1714,
is four years older than New Orleans. The town’s name, that of a now extinct group of Indians, is
pronounced Nackatish—a terrible trick to play on a kid learning to spell, courtesy of French colonists who
tried to write down an Indian name.I was born in Lubbock, Texas, where my mother’s parents lived. My
mom was a flatlander from West Texas, and my dad was a hillbilly from Arkansas. He had polio in the big
epidemic when he was a child, and his right arm was withered, so despite his energy he couldn’t make a
living doing manual work or go into the military. Instead he earned a Ph.D. in freshwater biology, though
his brother and two sisters never finished high school. He met my mother in graduate school at the
University of Oklahoma, while she was getting a master’s in biology. On July 8, 1951, a decent year after
they got married, I was the first biological result.My parents got in on the ground floor of the postwar
boom, when higher education was a growth industry. American universities expanded like never before or
since, and if you worked hard you could go to college. Part of the
broad middle-classification of America that took place in the mid-twentieth century, it represented a
dignified form of upward mobility, one that let a country boy grow up to own a home in a small town, buy
a new car every few years, and raise four kids. All across the country, children of farmers became
professors, bureaucrats, professionals, businessmen, homeowners. As the determination to beat the
Russians intensified, science in a small-town college was a good place to be. Compared with what my
dad’s father had to do raising his family in Arkansas during the Great Depression, it was the life of Riley.
One of my first memories of Grandfather Sublette is of him coming home with squirrels he’d shot, and
Grandmother fixing them for dinner. They didn’t have to do that in the 1950s, but they did it anyway,
because that was who they were.I was born six years after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who,
prodded by mass movements, was forced to create a social safety net to save capitalism in its moment
of crisis. The Depression had radicalized the American public, which was as close to revolution as it’s
ever gotten. Then the...
Author Bio
Ned Sublette
Ned Sublette is the author of The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square 
and Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo. Cofounder of the record label Qbadisc, he
coproduced the public radio program Afropop Worldwide for seven years. A writer, record producer, and
musician, he lives in New York City.
Reviews

"Ned Sublette sees the edgy magic of New Orleans with the eyes of both an insider and outsider. From
race to music, from Parasol’s bar to the Mardi Gras Indians, he really gets it. His feel for the sources of
jazz and funk flavor the book and make it a delight."



"Ned Sublette is a literary Spirit Master, and The Year Before the Flood is his most personal and
astounding work, full of mad knowledge and unorthodox insights about race, crime, history, politics,
music and all the other ingredients that flavor the righteous roux that is New Orleans."



"Ned Sublette is the rarest of writers. The Year Before The Flood—his third tour de force work on music,
race, history, and conscience—is his most personal and memorable yet."

								
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