Between the levee and the Mississippi River is the batture – a lively slip of wilderness that a tiny community calls home. There’s batture land right here in the midst of metropolitan New Orleans – but unless you’re lucky enough to know a batture dweller, there’s a good chance you weren’t aware of one of the city’s most unconventional neighborhoods. That was certainly true of Macon Fry when he arrived in New Orleans in the 1980s. After a chance encounter with a batture resident at a local watering hole, Macon got his first glimpse of life on the river’s edge and became so entranced that he built himself a life there. His obsession with the batture ultimately led him to publish his new book, “They Called Us River Rats: The Last Batture Settlement of New Orleans.” Macon joins us in the studio to discuss his decades of research about lives spent there in relative obscurity.
Then, we head over the levee to visit with New Orleans chef and restauranteur Dickie Brennan at his new batture abode, where he’s enjoying all the benefits of life in one of the last “camps” located there. Surrounded by lush vegetation and the kind of fauna found in more rural environs, Dickie can often be found taking in the outdoors on his deck – watching ships, tugs, and paddle wheelers make the turn on the Mississippi.
Finally, Tulane environmental professor Oliver Houck shares tales of the countless hours spent observing life – wild and otherwise – as he walked his beloved dog along the batture