Shotgun Seamstress by Osa Atoe

  • Published March 1, 2011 By Layla
  • Categories Columns

Osa wrote this for MRR #334, but it got lost in the chaos punk shuffle of our email box, so here it is for the web! I would suggest investigating Osa’s newish band Firebrand, which also features Candice of the awesome NOLA HC band the Necro Hippies.

First of all, Magnolia Shorty, a local female bounce rapper got shot and died. Then, this guy named Jon Flee that my friends knew got shot while he was alone in his own home. Then there was a terrible fire that killed eight squatters and two dogs, the worst fire in this city in the last 25 years. Then I come home from tour to find a gun sitting out in my house, very nonchalantly, in plain view. I find out later it was loaded. Then a couple of days later our house got robbed. Nothing important or sentimental got ripped off but it made us all feel very vulnerable.

Violence and tragedy are all around and we’re all trying to ride the wave here in New Orleans. People who’ve lived here for a long time keep telling me that it always comes in waves, so I’m taking lots of deep breaths to combat the anxiety and waiting as patiently as I can for it all to be over.

It’s like the story of Adam & Eve — how Eve eats a fruit from the tree of knowledge and then they both realize they are naked even though they were naked all along. We are always vulnerable to violence, tragedy and death. We walk around naked and vulnerable every single day of our lives just waiting to die. But it’s times like this, when everything seems to be going wrong, that you begin to actually feel vulnerable and uncovered. In my rational mind, I know that anything could happen to me at any time, but at times like this, I feel it.

So, about the gun thing. I’ve never lived in a house with a gun in it before. Plus, the thing was just right out in plain view with no lock or anything, which was probably the worst way to find out that you’re living with a gun. As soon as I saw it, my whole house felt different to me and it didn’t feel safer, it felt scarier. We’re having a house meeting tomorrow to figure things out.

Things are already starting to stabilize, though. A week ago two friends of mine who I also play music with were thinking about moving away. The tragedies were still fresh in the air and people’s minds and emotions were reeling. But now, they think they’ll stay. Once the anxieties die down, you have to ask yourself, “Where am I really gonna go that’s safe?” Nowhere is safe.

I rode my bike alone from Mid-City to the Bywater by myself last night, pedaling out my anxieties and at the same time feeling this huge rush of gratitude for every time I’ve done anything even slightly risky like biking in New Orleans alone at night and gotten away with it.

Things I do to help cope when it’s like this:

1. Hang out with people more
2. Meditate — deep breaths help keep ya grounded
3. Get trashed — deep breathing only gets me so far
4. Obsess over music
5. Eat a lot of food
6. Watch Jem & the Holograms
7. Leave town
8. Read books, especially comic books
9. Talk on the phone to a friend in a different state
10. Ride my bike

Besides, what do New Orleanians do to balance the tragedy? We throw a big parties! Stay tuned for details on the No More Fiction fest in New Orleans, late spring or summer 2011. If you’re a queer punk misfit in the South, don’t move to the Bay Area or Brooklyn just yet. If you’re one of the only brown kids in your entire scene, I know it can get weird, but hold tight for a second. I know you’re lonely and there’s no one to date, but let’s just see what we can make happen down here…