All in Down on Decatur

Paul - The Power of Storytelling

I almost froze to death in there—they shut off all the heat in the buildings. I was in a locked cell by myself with paper clothes on. All that was there was a mattress. The guards really beat the shit out of me; when I first got there I was having blackouts, and apparently I was talking a lot of shit to the guards.


This conversation took place on January 31st, 2017 at the neutral ground on St. Roch Ave. in New Orleans. Raskull had been hopping trains with her boyfriend Ian and her dog Spaghetti for quite a while by the time I met her. Here’s a brief glimpse into Raskull’s life.


The episode that you’re about to listen to touches on all three, addiction, mental health, and New Orleans. I’ve known David in passing for a few years. He was a barista at a coffee shop I often went to on Lower Decatur in the French Quarter. He was also roommates with a friend of mine, Corey, who died from a fentanyl overdose last year. 


The first time my band and I came here was just after Katrina in 2005. It was still a total fuckin’ hot mess. We had a traveling circus van and a tour bus and were like, yeah we can stay at a friend’s house, and we roll up. It was a dilapidated, bombed-out, hell-hole.


I came for the weekend eight years after the storm. I was invited to meet Françoise Gilot, the wife of Picasso. She was showing her artwork down there on Royal Street, and that’s really the thing that changed my life.


The primal feelings for him, and the sex; it was very intense. We had a very intense relationship, and I was so grateful. I had never been so close to anybody and oddly trusted him in a way I had never trusted anybody. It was us against the world.


During the inquest after his death, the pathologist gave his version of events and talked about how very minimal amounts of the drug were found in his system—minimal amounts, and he choked basically in his sleep. They were about to record a verdict of suicide, and I stood out.


After I left home I ended up hitchhiking around the country. My first experience hitchhiking I got raped. Numerous boyfriends and people I thought were my friends have raped or sexually assaulted me. Some of them were people I had known for years---people I called family.


A lot of people have preconceived notions and stereotypes because you believe what you're told when you're growing up. So, to get to know me and see-- she's a good person; she's a good friend, and then they find out that I am a lesbian.


The oil spill happened in 2011 —Deepwater Horizon. I was a young man, just turning twenty-one. I had two jobs in the hospitality industry when it happened. I was busting my butt, working, working, working. I went from making $1600 every two weeks to $500 every two weeks.


 I first started DT-ing three years ago, I guess. It took a year of traveling. I mean, I had a fucked-up, traumatic childhood, don't get me wrong, but I wasn't trying to escape it. It just went from partying every night to partying all day, and now it's like changed my brain chemistry or something.


No matter how down I am, I'm gonna be a positive person. If I catch somebody who's down and out, I'm gonna help in some way, whether it's opening the door or giving a kind word. You're never alone in New Orleans. Someone is gonna reach out to you.

Kaelin Part 1

I think that's what's special about New Orleans. Everybody has PTSD. Everybody's got that connecting trauma, and it doesn't seem like it'd be a good thing but it's shown itself in really positive ways.