Whenever I go out for a jog I frequently have this local rapper’s music bumping in my ear buds. It’s time for me to introduce y’all to Alfred Banks.
HOW WE MET
I met Alfred Banks when I worked at Buffalo Exchange. I was a manager and he was a regular customer. Alfred is a sneaker head, so he always scoped out the shoe section first thing when he walked in the store, then would politely ask if we had any new shoes in his size (I remember it too!) that weren’t on the sales floor yet. Normally that drove me nuts (customers can be so pushy sometimes), but Alfred was so damn nice about it I gladly obliged. I haven’t worked for the company for three years, but we’ve kept in touch ever since.
WHAT HE DOES
Alfred is a rapper, and he hustles his ass off trying to make it as an artist. He’s determined to make a living with his music and has already racked up an impressive list of accolades. He was named one of the top 10 rappers in New Orleans by Complex Magazine, his video was featured on Mtv, he was Revolt TV’s 2015 “Local Love Tour” winner and he made DJ Booth’s “Top 5 Rappers in Louisiana” list. His next album is being released in the next few months, so be on the look out for that.
WHO HE IS TO ME
At only 24 years old, Alfred inspires me to keep working towards my goals. He’s had more success than most, yet he remains refreshingly grateful for any support he receives. Plus, he’s just a cool guy, no pretenses and despite what these photos may suggest, he’s usually all smiles. Any time I run into him he’s always bubbling with excitement from his own success. And hell, if we can’t get excited about our own achievements, who else will?
I’m kicking off the first “People I Know” post of 2016 with the fam. Thomas and I started a new tradition of visiting my brother and his partner in Louisville for Thanksgiving every year. My brother is a professional cook, so this is one tradition we are highly motivated to keep alive. This year we brought the dogs with us to met their cousins for the first time. Four dogs and four humans in a two bedroom apartment could have been a disaster, but the long weekend was fun and everyone — humans and dogs alike– got along. We feasted on a six course T-Day meal, drank entirely too much wine, caught Ben De la Creme perform at Play the following night, and ate at some of the best restaurants and bars in town.
HOW WE MET:
Well, Chris is my brother. He’s two years younger than me. Ruben is Chris’s partner. He’s originally from Texas. We all met when we worked as waiters at a fine dining restaurant in the French Quarter circa 2000-2003. I got the job first, then Chris got hired shortly after I did. Thomas came next, then Ruben. Everyone hated working in that restaurant, yet any time we get together we can’t help but reminisce about how much fun we had.
WHAT THEY DO:
Chris and Ruben hold the positions of kitchen manager and dining room manager, respectively, at Decca, arguably the best restaurant in Louisville. Chris has wanted to cook professionally for years, so I’m really that he went after his dream. Prior to Decca he worked at an organic bakery in Louisville and prepared steak and stew dinners for weary hikers at Phantom Ranch. Ruben is the consummate industry professional; he’s worked as a manager at some of the best restaurants in New Orleans, the Grand Canyon, and now Louisville.
WHO THEY ARE TO ME:
I never fully understood the concept of “family is everything” until after Hurricane Katrina. Up until August 2005 my entire family lived in New Orleans, so I saw everyone on a fairly regular basis. After the storm Chris and Ruben moved to the Grand Canyon (Ruben worked for years at the Grand Canyon prior to moving to New Orleans) and Thomas and I decided to move to Phoenix, Arizona, a relatively short four hour drive away. The rest of my family stayed in New Orleans, so I only saw my “mom ‘n dem” once a year at the most. Currently my sister lives in Texas, so we don’t get a chance to be in the same room together more than once every two years or so. It wasn’t until we were scattered across the country that I realized how precious family time truly is.
Photo: That’s Chris on the left and Ruben on the right with Hambone and Spartacus, their beagles.
I’m excited to announce a project I’ve been working on called Catahoula; the first issue of this quarterly zine features words and photography by yours truly. I’ve toyed with the idea of creating a zine for several years, so I am ecstatic this project has finally come to fruition.
The first issue features “Allons,” a story I wrote this past summer about what it was like to grow up with a swamp for a backyard. I grew up in a typical Westbank subdivision, but my experience was slightly different than my neighbor’s thanks to the proximity of my parent’s house to the levee. Living next to the swamp was fun, but it wasn’t easy. Snakes, armadillos, wasps, and a slew of other animals constantly invaded our home and yard, and the threat of hurricanes was ever present. Growing up in this environment really shaped the person that I am today: someone who yearns for the outdoors and tries not to place too much value on material things since you never know when a storm might take them away. I haven’t lived on “the other side of the river” for 15 years, but I try to make it to Barataria Preserve, the location the essay centers around, at least twice a year. All but one of the photographs (the squirrel photo was shot at Audubon Park) were taken there.
Order a print or digital copy of Catahoula through MagCloud by clicking here. Print copies are $8.00 and digital is $2.00. I’m also giving away two digital copies of Catahoula to two lucky readers. Leave your email in the comments section for a chance to enter. I will pick two winners at random. Winners will be contacted early next week.