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Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Leonard Earl Johnson (photo credit Frank Parsley) covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005), and the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for ConsumerAffairs.com. He is a contributor to Gambit Weekly, New Orleans Magazine, SCAT, Baton Rouge Advocate, Advocate Magazine, The Times-Picayune, Country Roads Magazine, Palm Springs Newswire and the anthologies: FRENCH QUARTER FICTION (Light of New Orleans Publishing), LOUISIANA IN WORDS (Pelican Publishing), LIFE IN THE WAKE (NOLAfuges.com), and more. Johnson is a former Merchant Seaman, and columnist at Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans; and African-American Village. Attended Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship at Piney Point, Maryland. Winner of the Press Club of New Orleans Award for Excellence, 1991, and given the Key to The City and a Certificate of Appreciation from the New Orleans City Council for a Gambit Weekly story on murder in the French Quarter.

Saturday, April 01, 2023

✍Easter on The River of Bourbon Street / April 2023

Β© 2023 Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

Photo credit: Leonard Earl Johnson

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LEJ's Louisiana

a monthly e-column at www.LEJ.world

Yours Truly in a Swamp

by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana

~  *    ~  *  ~   ~  *  ~

Easter on the River 

of Bourbon Street

Leonard Earl Johnson
Β© 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson,  All Rights Reserved

* * 
Jackson Square, NOLa    
 photo credit:  J. R. Tullos

After Easter Mass, L. A. Norma and I left the piercing witch hat towers of Saint Louis Cathedral and headed for the soaring two-story balconies of Bourbon Street.

There we were lifted on the chaliced wings of whiskey served from temples named Oz and Bourbon Pub.

here are many nightclubs named 'Oz' and 'Pub' on streets like this in every port city of the world. But only these two dance-halls flanking this intersection of Bourbon and Rue Saint Ann in New Orleans draw such a noted cultural line in the socio-political sand.   Once crossed mostly
 by gay men.  Then gay men and gay women.  Today added to the patron mix are many who read National Geographic and follow Liberty's Torch caring not a wit with whom the next table dances, nor in what attire they are bedecked.

This is the demarcation point that turns back Reader's Digest tourists.  Back to Canal Street's familiar hotels and edited narrative.  Beyond this intersection pass explorers seeking the gentrified bohemia of the lower French Quarter, and the musical sirens of Faubourgs Marigny, TremΓ©, and Bywater.

We took seats on the balcony above the Pub's swinging shingle, and watched the masses with their arms upraised in jubilation of Christ's Resurrection ~ or beads.  

There touched by Easter's spirit and the elfin Mr. Booze we saw Jesus walking down this street of sin. He wore a crown of thorns over His long black hair. He wore sandals, too, and was naked save for a loincloth cut like the one in the paintings.  He was thin and looked like He might be Filipino ~ but mostly He looked like Jesus. Everyone on the balcony saw Him.

The Battle of Bourbon Strassa, NOLa

Norma exhaled a cloud of cigarette smoke and this proclamation:
 "Forget the Crucifixion, skip the fasting and 
go straight to the Resurrection!"


True to His Book, Jesus was slumming with the local rabble and reveling in their Easter experience.  As were they in His.

"Their experience is a damn sight easier'n His,"  L. A. Norma said, tapping her fingers along the tiny silver figure hanging on her necklace.  The Crucifixion on a silver chain.  A two-thousand year old Roman gismo for torture elevated to a symbol of good.  

"It's like Donald Trump edited the Gospels!" Norma snorted.

Everyone laughed and glowed in the righteous wonder of her thought. 

A few years back, a few blocks up the street, the late Chris Owens ~ an elderly Bourbon Street dancer and nightclub owner with staying power ~ conducted her annual Easter Parade with self-anointed grand-marshal David Duke crashing the street party. 

"It's Bourbon Street," L. A. Norma said, "you don't need no stinkin' invitation!"

 A brass band made of midgets played along, while elder ladies of the snatched-bodies cult and a half dozen or so young bunnies in pastel furs marched down the street and rode atop pedicabs throwing Spring colored underpants and beads

 Margareta and Chiquita Bergen
None among this human eddy gave any notice whatsoever to our walking Jesus, except a tourist family standing against the downstream wall of then Pete Fountain's (now Club Oz) directly across the street from where we sat. 

The father was wide-eyed. The girl, about seventeen, waved up to us. The pubescent son giggled and hugged his mother. Then along came Jesus headed straight for them. The tourist mother looked offended. She gathered her brood and paddled them off back towards Canal Street. Jesus did not seem bothered by their departure. 

"After all," Norma said, "He wrote the book on forgiveness." 

The sinners went on with their sinning. Then the Pope appeared on the Oz balcony. He stood directly above where the tourist family had been, and he was dressed head-to-toe in yellow and white satin. He blessed all who passed beneath him. He looked across the River of Bourbon Street and blessed us, too. We waved, and he motioned us over. We crossed the street and took our seats at the Pope's table.

We looked back at the Bourbon Pub balcony. The Pope, ever wise, said, "You cannot see yourself on the balcony you have just left." We had all had a lot to drink. 

The Pope handed out Wild Turkey and iced water, "Holy Water from the Holy River," he said.

Three real nuns, in old-fashioned black-and-white habits, came trotting down Rue Saint Ann, returning from a later mass. They passed our intersection headed towards Cathedral School. The Sea of Sinners parted. We all cheered.

"What would they think of seeing Jesus," L. A. Norma asked of no one in particular. She leaned over the balcony rail and yelled to the crowd below for Carnival beads. A photographer looked up and took her picture. I yelled down asking if he had seen Jesus. "No!" he shouted back. Would he like to? "Yes, of course, yes!"

The Pope lay his hands on my shoulders, and said, "Watch that woman, do not let her fall over the communion rail."

 Green Carnival beads landed on the Pope's pointy hat. They looked interesting, but he took them off and tossed them to two college boys on the street below. Norma told him the two boys should have opened their pants. He frowned and said sternly, "This is not Carnival!"

I said, "It is not Laughingyette either," but the Pope did not hear me ~ he was gone to find Jesus. Norma looked past my forehead and talked of far-ranging things.

The Pope returned without Jesus. He was balancing fresh drinks and passed them round the table. "He can not be found in this wicked den," said The Pope, handing out Wild Turkey and water.

When we looked up from our drinks we saw Him again. He was at our old balcony table across the street waving. We waved back. His naked arms were lifted heavenward. His loincloth flapped in the whiskey-flavored air. The man with the camera jumped and shouted, "Your cross, your cross, show us your cross!"

Jesus looked down and bellowed: "Don't you know what holiday this is? It is Easter, I have no cross!" 

When LEJ wore a younger man's beard.
Katrina evacuation, atop the Presbyter copula,
Jackson Square, 
New Orleans, 2006
The Pope, assorted communion-rail leaners, and other followers passing on the street below shouted, "Is it Carnival?"

It wasn't.  It was Easter on the River of Bourbon Street.


Copyright, 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

Your Comments and corrections are welcome
click here

For more L. E. J.'s Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp go to 

If  you wish to read any month's story go to the archives at www.LEJ.world (Posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.) 

Hope you do, I love talking with you,
Leonard Earl Johnson,
Columnist to the elderly and early weary. 

Β© 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved.

* *

Lagnappe du Jour





          Archives: www.LEJ.world

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Β© 2023 Leonard Earl Johnson,  All Rights Reserved.

Β© Leonard Earl Johnson 

If you wish to read any month's column go to 
~   ~   ~
 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.world,
and historically at
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans
publication of the
It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
Β© 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserve

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

βš“The Day After Mardi Gras / March 2023

Β© 2023 Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

Voodoo doll, bought at a gas
station in New Orleans

March 2023



"With only one parade shooting
we had to count house shootings, too!" 
L. A. Norma

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LEJ's Louisiana

a monthly e-column at www.LEJ.world

Yours Truly in a Swamp

by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana

~  *  ~   ~  *  ~   ~  *  ~

The Day After Mardi Gras,

Ash Wednesday and the Forty Days of Lent 

by  Leonard Earl Johnson 

Β© 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, 

All Rights Reserved

~ * ~    ~ * ~    ~ * ~
Dedicated to Ernest J. Gaines,
First Issue U. S. Postage Stamp, 

January 23, 2023

Novelist and Writer-in-Residence, Professor Emeritus

University of Louisiana, Lafayette
Born, 1933 in Oscar, Louisiana 
Died 2019 in Oscar, Louisiana


All over Louisiana,
the day after Mardi Gras is Ash Wednesday.  The day Carnival's joyful mantle is lifted leaving Lent's ashen smudge in its place.

At Cathedrals from New Orleans to Lafayette,
 business suits stood cheek-by-jowl with crimson capes and smeared-lipstick ladies awaiting priests dressed in the Vestments of Sorrow, smearing The Sign of The Cross on celebrant foreheads with thumbs dipped in the ashes of last year's Palm Sunday Palms. 


Up and down the Mississippi River, and from the Sabine River to the Pearl River, 
Zamboni-like street sweepers washed away bottles, beads, and other signs of the faithful's sins; and Cajun chickens stretched their necks up to see if it was safe to come out.  

Our forty-day abstinence begins.  The parade limps off stage.  

 Wharbor ecclesiastical doubts, but suffer none whatsoever about this ceremony. 
It is Ash Wednesday, and 
to ashes we are returning. 

Banana Tree /photo credit:
 Deb Kohler

Lent begins, 
ushering in the longest holiday in
 all the Christian calendar.  A holiday celebrating suffering, the very thing the recently celebrated King Cake Baby Jesus grew up talking down.  Yet it remains plumped as the chef's prunes.

Should you need a reason to be suspicious of evangelicals and their temporal political powers consider this:  Carnival's time shrinks most years by measure of an inaccurate Pope Gregorian Calendar designed for the purpose of lengthening Lent's suffering by reducing Carnival's allotted days.
Lent ~ by those same inaccurate calculations is codified into Canon Law so as to never lose one suffering day of penance.

"In such order we find sad truths,"
~ L. A. Norma.




Clearing the Liturgical Air
Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is the last day of Carnival's ever-changing time of joy. 

Next day, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent's never-changing time of suffering.

"The Gregorian Calendar," L. A. Norma explains to a bewildered tourist sharing our pedicab, 
"what with Easter changing with the moon, is none too accurate!  

"For instance, in the secular world we have
leap year!" 



Easter Sunday, 40 days later, marks the end of Lent and celebrates Spring.

  It is a holiday adapted by the marauding legions of Rome, from religions the Romans happened upon in their warring travels.  They proudly harvested it from those who began their distant drummings long before Christianity went on the road. 

Spring, a.k.a., Easter may be the oldest human celebration. Miscalculated on our calendars today with those aforementioned Gregorian instruments forged and honed out of faith in suffering and suspicion of pleasure.

Suffering is not to be monkeyed with in this theological view.  Carnival's pleasures, however, are reducible by God's agents using their inaccurate stopwatches.

For the faithful, Lenten fasting knits Carnival's raveled sleeve and prepares us for Spring's rebirth.  Like the bean sprout and the jazz man say:

"Blow the roof off the sucker"

π… πŸŽ·πŸŽœπŸŽπŸŽΊπ…‘


It has been a good Lent so far this year, with sunny mornings and a warm place in the kitchen to read Internet newspapers and sip coffee.  Cedars Grocery on Jefferson Street, Lafayette, stocks Brocato's of New Orleans handmade Sicilian sesame seed cookies. They are my favorite memory food from before Katrina, COVID-19, Library book-burners, Congress critters like George Santos (R-NY), Russian proxy wars in Ukraine, Republican fifth columns, and daily mass shootings at school and home.  All is well again, with a sesame seed cookie and a warm cup of coffee.  

Lent do your thing, we have sins to atone!    

Photo credit:  Eric Douglas
The live oaks outside our dormer windows are a soft young green. Live oaks don't dump their leaves till Spring's new buds arrive (as followers of JFK conspiracies will readily tell you). Then they change from old dark green to young soft green almost overnight. 

Today soft-green rules coastal Louisiana, and old alligators lie on the banks in whatever sun we can find, dreaming of Easter baskets and Spring.

(A lesser version of this story first appeared in 2004)--------

For more L. E. J.'s Louisiana ~ Yours Truly in a Swamp go to 

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Β© 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.

Lagniappe du Jour


After The Mardi Gras

Wayne Toups

You Tube

Wayne Toups, free concert
With Joe Hall & The Cane Cutters
at Downtown Alive,
Friday, March 3, 2023
on the International Stage, 
Lafayette, Louisiana
starting time sunset-ish
πŸš… πŸš‰ 🚍 🚏 πŸš–
Stage is one block from the Rosa Parks Transportation Centre,
(Amtrak / Greyhound / City and tour busses / taxi)
Rosa Parks Transportation Centre

πŸ•Ί  β­  πŸ’ƒ

US Postage Stamp
First Day Issue: January 23, 2023
 Issue Location: Lafayette, Louisiana

Gaines' 1993 novel, A Lesson Before Dying, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Gaines was a MacArthur Foundation fellow, was awarded the National Humanities Medal, and was inducted into the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) as a Chevalier. ~ Wikipedia

~ Select Titles by Ernest Gains ~

Β© Leonard Earl Johnson 

If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.world anytime. 
They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.
~   ~   ~
 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.world,
and historically at
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans
publication of the
It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana

 Β© 2023 Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved