Bassist George Porter, Jr. Plays Not My Job He's best known for his work with the great New Orleans funk band The Meters, so we're asking George Porter, Jr. three questions about parking meters. Originally broadcast March 13, 2010.
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Bassist George Porter, Jr. Plays Not My Job

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Bassist George Porter, Jr. Plays Not My Job

Bassist George Porter, Jr. Plays Not My Job

Bassist George Porter, Jr. Plays Not My Job

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/127043729/127043728" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Scott Gries/Getty Images
George Porter, Jr. of The Meters
Scott Gries/Getty Images

He's best known for his work with the great New Orleans funk band The Meters, so we're asking George Porter, Jr. three questions about parking meters.

Originally broadcast March 13, 2010.

CARL KASELL, Host:

From NPR and Chicago Public Radio, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! the NPR news quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, Host:

Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Thank you so much. This week, we are spinning up our turntables and putting on our classic collection of interviews with musicians. Next up, a founding member of the great New Orleans funk band the Meters: George Porter Jr. We were honored to have him join us, along with panelists Roy Blount Jr., Mo Rocca and Amy Dickinson, when we visited his hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana.

KASELL: We began by asking him what it was like to grow up surrounded by music in New Orleans.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: So you grew up here in New Orleans, yes?

M: Yes.

SAGAL: My understanding is that the children in New Orleans are given musical instruments before they can walk. Is that more or less true?

M: It didn't happen in my house.

SAGAL: No, no.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: But you started pretty young.

M: I was 8, yes.

SAGAL: You were 8 years old and what happened? Did you...

M: Well it was, my mom sang in a Catholic school choir. So, you know, there was only an organ in there, you know, and I wanted to play something that I could carry around.

SAGAL: Right.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: So, you know, I kind of - actually, I think she gave us, both myself and my brother violins when we were...

SAGAL: Violins?

M: Yeah. I don't know, I ain't figured that out yet.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: But that didn't work. And then it was a few years later that I asked for a guitar.

M: What if you can't play an instrument? Like, are you like an outcast in New Orleans?

M: That's...

M: Oh not at all, not at all.

M: That's what Houston is for, isn't it?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: I was just there. No, no, the ones that don't play instruments usually become managers.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Tell me about the Meters, because you guys are known as one of the seminal funk bands. And you guys kind of invented that. So if you could, for the record, tell me what is funk?

M: I haven't figured that out.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: You know, one of the things that I've been trying to get away from forever is the labels that they stick on us...

SAGAL: Yeah.

M: ...as players, you know, because I personally, I play jazz, you know, I play R I play - I could play country but I haven't played it yet. But, you know...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Wait a minute, you've never played it, but if forced to you could.

M: That's...

M: No...

M: Again, that's what Houston is for.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Exactly.

M: You know, so I'm kind of - you know, I like the idea of being just a musician, you know.

SAGAL: Yeah.

M: And trying to live outside of the labels, you know.

SAGAL: Right, sure.

M: Where'd the name the Meters come from?

M: Five of us stuck names in a hat.

M: Oh, yeah?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: And it was four of us, the four musicians and Allen Toussaint. And the manager pulled out a name. We never saw it. But he said it was the Meters.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Well, wait a minute...

M: So...

SAGAL: Oh, yeah, it's the Meters.

M: But we have to know, what were some of the other names?

M: Well, the name I put in was the Metrics.

M: Oh.

SAGAL: The Metrics?

M: Uh-huh.

M: Could your manager read? Was that...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Because the idea was, we were supposed to pick out names that had to do with meter.

M: Oh, I see.

M: Or timing.

SAGAL: Right.

M: And that's what, you know...

MR: Was this when the metric system was really hot?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: No, we hadn't gotten that far.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Let me ask you one last question, which is: We're not from around here, and we always love your music and New Orleans' music, but the language barrier sometimes gets in the way.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So I wanted to ask you about some of your songs, if you can tell us what they mean. "Hey Pocky A-Way."

M: No, no, no.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Is that right?

M: "Hey Pocky Way."

SAGAL: "Hey Pocky Way."

M: "Hey Pocky Way."

SAGAL: Is that Creole? What is that?

M: I don't know. I was told...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: I was told by one of the younger Neville brothers who Uncle Jolly, Big Chief Jolly of the Wild Tchoupitoulas told him...

MR: English, English.

M: And he was...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Told him that that meant if you don't want to play, get out the way.

SAGAL: Hey pocky...

M: "Hey Pocky Way."

MR: It's Creole for Hokey Pokey.

SAGAL: Right.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: "Look-Ka Py Py."

M: That don't have a damn - look, I don't know what that was.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: OK, I guess I should say that there were a few songs that when we were recording, management put us in a studio, the tracks would be meter one, meter two, all the way to 10 or 12 or whatever. And then we'd get sent on the road and the album would come out, and those were some of the names.

SAGAL: Really? You had no idea.

MR: What is it again?

M: "Look-Ka Py Py."

MR: Good song.

SAGAL: I would listen to that and just think about this magical, amazing world of mystery, about which I knew nothing. And little did I know you were feeling the same thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Yeah, you're right.

SAGAL: Well, George Porter, we are delighted to have you with us. We have asked you here to play a game that this time we're going to call...

KASELL: "The Funky Meters? How About the Parking Meters?"

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It's a natural thing. The question to be determined today: What does a Meter know about meters? We're going to ask you three questions about parking meters.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Get two right, and you'll win our prize for one our listeners, Carl's voice on their home answering machine. Carl, who is musician George Porter playing for?

KASELL: George is playing for Rose Krupka(ph) of Metairie, Louisiana.

SAGAL: There you are.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Who is from around here. The first question: The beach town of Surfer's Paradise, Australia, enraged laid-back residents when they introduced parking meters back in the '60s. The town decided to mend fences with the surfers by doing what? Was it A, staging an annual bash-the-meter party, where people could smash old parking meters with hammers; they introduced the meter maids, scantily clad ladies who put change in meters about to expire; or C, they announced meters would be deactivated when quote, the surfing was too good to leave?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MR: Oh gosh, that's fun.

M: I'm going to go with B.

SAGAL: You're going to go with B, the meter maid.

M: The meter maid.

SAGAL: Beautiful girls.

M: Yeah.

SAGAL: You're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Always go with the beautiful girls. The meter maids of Surfer's Paradise, Australia, are a famous attraction there. They wander about in gold lame bikinis, slipping coins into slots.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Next question: Not everybody hates parking meters. One person found a unique way to show their love for the devices. Was it A, an Idaho man who created a private parking meter museum, which was declared illegal because he didn't have enough parking?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: B, an Oklahoma woman who had one installed on her gravestone set on time expired?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Or C, a businessman in Massachusetts installed a parking meter in his office. You want to take up his time, you have to put a coin in.

MR: That's boring, that last one.

M: I like...

SAGAL: I'm sorry, Mo, you do know we can hear those thoughts.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I just wanted you to be - you're actually speaking them aloud, did you know that?

M: If it's C, that's going to be a really big letdown, because that's just not...

SAGAL: All right, well there's Mo. That's what Mo thinks. But George, what do you think? Was it the parking meter...

M: I thought it was C.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Well Mo's subconscious leapt out of his mouth to dissuade you. Are you still going to go with that?

M: No, no, no, I really did. I think it's C.

SAGAL: You think it's C. It'll be a letdown if it is.

M: I know.

M: Don't do it, don't do it. Don't do it.

SAGAL: You're going to go for C?

M: I'm going for C.

SAGAL: It wasn't C. It was B. It was the gravestone.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Barbara Sue Manire's headstone is pretty typical, except it's got an authentic parking meter installed on it, with the meter set to time expired. All right, this is exciting. You've got one right, with one to go. You get this last one right, you'll win it all. Here we go. Last question. Matt Bonds of Eugene, Oregon, was arrested in a parking meter-related incident. He went to jail. What did he do that got him in trouble with the law? A, instead of a quarter, he inserted Necco wafers into them.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: B, he walked around downtown putting change into strangers' meters, saving them parking tickets; or C, he stole 674 of them?

M: What state was this?

SAGAL: This was in Eugene, Oregon.

M: Eugene, Oregon. B.

SAGAL: You're going to go for B? He put quarters in people's meters?

M: Yes.

SAGAL: You're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: You did it.

M: Way to go, Rose.

SAGAL: What happened was, Mr. Bonds got mad at a parking meter attendant and to have his vengeance, he walked around and shoveled change in dozens of meters. He was arrested and charged with quote, harassment and obstruction of governmental administration, unquote.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Carl, how did George Porter do on our quiz?

KASELL: All I can say is congratulations, George, you had two correct answers. You win for Rose Krupka.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Well done. Well done. George Porter Jr. is the bassist for the legendary New Orleans band the Meters. He's also part of Tte Running Partners. George Porter Jr., thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

M: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

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