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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 books 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.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Kathleen Babineaux Blanco ~ Obit / September 2019

πŸ’”LEJ's Louisiana, 
Yours Truly in a Swamp

a monthly e-column by Leonard Earl Johnson, 
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana

E-mail: Subscribe@LEJ.org
Archives: www.LEJ.org  
September 2019

Kathleen Babineaux Blanco 

~ Obituary ~

15 December 1942  /  18 August 2019

Seventy-seven year old 
Cajun Aristocrat

First Female Governor of Louisiana,

2004 ~ 2008 

And the States highest elected official in 2005,
 at the time of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"What A Time It Was!" ~ L. A. Norma

BY  Leonard Earl Johnson
Β© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist Oak Tree
Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Reflections and Mass of Christian Burial
 Saturday 24 August 2019
Courtesy Diocese of Lafayette ~


β€œWhat do they say about an honest politician's children? 

They have to work for a living!”  
~ Raymond Blanco, Jr.,
an occupational safety professional in Atlanta, Georgia and
 Son of the late Governor of Louisiana.


A stunning 'Procession of Clergy' entered the nave accompanied by the Cathedral Choirs angelic rendering of Amazing Grace.  

Every Cloth in Lafayette Parish ~ if not all Acadiana ~ was present. 

Every Bishop in the Statedressed in their finest purple silks was there 
Ranking cleric, Gregory Michael Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans spoke.  And Louisiana's present Governor John Bell Edwards and his Wife, Donna listened from the front pews.

Lafayette Parish Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel gave 'Greeting' to the assembled.  Bishop Deshotel is also of Cajun ancestry.  He was born ten years after Blanco, in nearby Basil, 

Evangeline Parish.

Mass was celebrated by the Cathedral's Rector,

Very Reverend Chester Arceneaux, VF

No one that day spoke Kathleen Blanco's name, nor of her time in the Governor's office, without noting her high ethical standards.  And the Hurricanes of 2005 ~ the fourteenth anniversary of which arrived five days after her Funeral.  

She was loved more than most politicians.  Born in Iberia Parish, 1942, her noblesse oblige manners melded perfectly with her school-marmish warmth, a personality she came by legitimately.  She was both.  It made her irresistible. 


"That charm, 

and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,"  
L. A. Norma said to LaToya Cantrell, current and first female Mayor of New Orleans, as we exited the Cathedral in Lafayette ~ the Governor's home.

Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist 
Lafayette Louisiana

Governor Blanco and her Husband, Coach Blanco, raised their family as congregants of this Cathedral, said to be the Bishopric of the wealthiest parish in the state.  

The five living Blanco children told the assembled masses about their wunderkind mother.  Most Louisianans would agree with all they had to say.  Me too. 

Pilar Blanco Eble spoke last.  She talked of friends and staff kindness in those sad and sweet final days.  She told how medical Marijuana eased the path, "And thankfully for the final arrival of medical Marijuana, she was able to enjoy that day, and with my Dad and with us. Talking, visiting, and sharing, and laughing."

The youngest Blanco son, Ben, was lost, age 19, when a crane's pallet fell on him at a construction site.  Death of your child is the second sharpest serpent tooth (rejection the sharpest).  

Clutched in white gloved hands and dangling by children's little fingers were blue commemorative programs ~ Blanco's face on the cover as angelic as she actually wore it in Life.  

Life's thorniness had not torn away her mantel of Faith.  Sturdy Roman Catholic Faith forged in Roman Catholic schools.  She was surefooted and sweet as the sugar cane that nurtured the land.  Everyone says this, though she was at the helm during that tough time when Katrina and Rita swamped her ship of state. 

The great storms strained ~ some say cracked ~ and then tempered her steel.  They flooded New Orleans ~ and literally cut The City adrift outside its own walls! 

A political battle ensued largely not understood at the time, but weighty as any Russian novel.  New Orleans' Blue-voting block was the prize, in an otherwise solidly Red-voting state. 

Mayor Nagin, President Bush, Governor Blanco
New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin, crisscrossed the country rallying his Citizens, and holding elections outside The City that no longer existed.  

Bush, claiming privacy concerns, refused to allow FEMA to supply the Mayor or Governor's offices with lists of where their dispersed populations were. 

In 2014, the United States Department of Justice convicted Ray Nagin of taking free football trips to Chicago, building clay-footed statues in Armstrong Park, and having children who worked for a living at the public expense.  He was sentenced to ten years, and until 2024 will be federal inmate No. 3275-034.

Blanco decided not to run for reelection to a second term.  Nagin, as noted, went to jail.  President Bush returned to Texas, and took up oil painting.  His recently published collection is titled, Portraits of Courage.  Blanco and Nagin were not included in the collection. 


Katrina's bigger ugly sister, Rita, took landfall near the Sabin Pass along the Louisiana/Texas boarder.  About a month after Katrina.  Puny early attempts at mending New Orleans' levees failed and Rita washed them away for a second time.

I was a citizen cut adrift by The Storms of '05.  Comfortably rescued and decamped across the Atchafalaya Basin in the home of college friends from fifty-years-ago Illinois.  Kind souls, who lived in Lafayette two blocks down from Coach and Kathleen Blanco.

One evening, walking past the Blanco house, I asked the state patrol in front if it would be all right to leave a note for the Governor.  He said it was, and I did.  On the back of my card I wrote, "I'm from NOLa, and I don't blame you," and dropped it in her mailbox. 

We met a few times over the next years at those points where scribes and their prey cross ~ the Hilliard University of Louisiana Art Museum, Libraries, and bank parties.  The last time was at a Vistas (now 64 Parishes) magazine party atop the Iberia Bank Tower, in downtown Lafayette.  

I told her then, indeed I did not blame her for the flood, nor my not gaining footing on her slippery 'Road Home' program ~ one of those projects that seemed more helpful to hired out-of-state administrators than to drifters, like me.  She looked hurt, and I was sorry I'd brought it up.  

I liked her very much, but...  There is no escaping it, her name is never mentioned when such matters are not brought up.

It was even noted in the Funeral Program: 

 "Although she knew that her name would be forever linked with the aftermaths of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it was her dying wish that she be remembered for her faith in God, commitment to family and love of Louisiana." ~ Walters Funeral Home


There had been rumors passing round the oil barons at Pamplona Tapas Bar in Lafayette that, "Baby Bush might come to the Funeral."
  Papa Bush had expired the year before, and Blanco could have but did not attend his services.  But Baby Bush?  He had been President when she was Governor, but...

"Not likely," L. A. Norma noted.  

Their relationship was one of politics sorer sore spots.  Bush said she wouldn't ask properly for the lifeline to be thrown after Katrina, and he wasn't about to throw it unless she did.  She said, he wouldn't throw it without her bending her knee too much.  

Over fifteen-hundred privacy loving Louisianans perished. And an entire American City was evacuated and not truly back for years.

Bush did not come to the funeral.


David Begnaud, Lead National Correspondent for CBS News, said in his remarks:

β€œIf you’re getting ready to be run out of town,” he quoted the Governor as telling him, β€œjump in front of it and call it a parade.”
Recessional  /  Kathleen Blanco Funeral  /  Lafayette
She is survived by her Mother (age 99), Lucille Fremin Babineaux of New Iberia, by her husband, Raymond Blanco, aka Coach;
and by their children Karmen Blanco-Hartfield (Jerry), 
Monique Blanco Boulet (David), 
Nicole Blanco (fiancΓ© John George), 
Raymond Blanco, Jr. (April Springfield Blanco), 
and Pilar Blanco Eble (Michael). 
And thirteen grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.  
The entire congregation, lead by the Cathedral Choirs sang AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL for the recessional. 
Internment was at Saint Charles Borromeo Cemetery in Grand Coteau. The family shoveled the dirt themselves to fill her grave. πŸ’” 
~ Your Comments and Corrections are welcome ~

~*~    ~*~    ~*~

LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org
~ Hosted on GOOGLE Blogger ~
and periodically at   
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans,
publication of the
The monthly column is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
Archives: www.LEJ.org

πŸ’œ πŸ’š πŸ’›

Sailor Man Scribe LEJ.org  /  The Bahamas

LEJ.org with blue silk shirt and Cappuccino
 by R
Γͺve, Baristas to the Stars

Photo credit:  Mark Konikoff
Β© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.

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Thursday, August 01, 2019

Trains Make Great Walls ~ A Dream / August 2019

πŸ’”LEJ's Louisiana, 

Yours Truly in a Swamp

a monthly e-column by Leonard Earl Johnson, 

of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana

E-mail: Subscribe@LEJ.org
Archives: www.LEJ.org  
August  2019

Trains Make Great Walls 

~  A Dream  ~

BY  Leonard Earl Johnson
Β© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

 πŸ”»  ⏬  πŸ”»


In my seat alone, dozing the last hour before reaching Lafayette, I dreamt of photographers raising their cameras. 

Art directors composed men shouldering large silver and gold 

Gandy Dancers
 sledgehammers.  Arranging them before my mind's lens, as 'Gandy Dancers' ~ those gangs of mostly black men, who, with muscle alone wiggled and danced heavy iron rails into an alignment that joined the nation by its proud new railroad line ~ linking West Coast gold to East Coast greed. 

Illinois Central Depot, Ullin Illinois, circa 1850
Southbound to New Orleans
and The Sea
"Why not!" the Trumper tweeted.  

"Why not a wall of  
many railroads stretching from California to Florida.  Multiple lines strung with multiple trains running thick as jungle bamboo and Vietnam lies?"  

The President offered to show his bone spur to reporters.  They turned away. "See, fake news!" he twitted. "If Elizabeth Warren showed her tomahawk, press rats would be on that like editors on cheese.

"But my war wound?  Nothing!" 

The Wall-trains would follow the route of America's first coast-to-coast train, ole Number One, the first train in the World to carry a personified name, the Sunset Limited.  It's route following that of the colonial Old Spanish Trail.  

The Trumper twittered: "Move over, Mexico.  Hello, California, here we come!"

Image result for Sunset Limited amtrak images
"Lets see them beaners get across that!"  
he twittered, as Ivanka brushed his hair.  And Son-In-Law, Jared Kushner unspooled. 

Kushner was unspooling
 direct communication lines to the Kremlin, behind the back of his genetically pure, self-esteemed, supremely self-proclaimed patriotic Family.

"A super legal backchannel communication cable," Stephen Miller explained to William Barr, the new United States Attorney General, and Trump Family Consigliere. 

Behind them a righteous chorus of Evangelical Preachers sang, "Heaven's Just a Sin Away! / Oh Whoa, just a sin away / I can't wait another day / I think I'm giving in ...

Roseate Spoonbill        /        Lake Martin,  Louisiana

The little Family tableau rode in a manner befitting American nostalgia.  Rode along gold plated escalators, and moving-sidewalks, now 
running from the White House up The Mall to the big domed Capitol itself.

"Streets paved with gold," 

the immigrants were told.

Out in front, bent-backed and whisking away obstacles, were Republican Party regulars led by grim-faced "Smiley" Moscow-Mitch McConnell ~ all presidential facilitators.  Toe-and-heel men.  Followed by powerful U. S. Chambers of Republican yes-men, and a handful of Republican yes-women, too.  

They cleared a pathway growing darker with each sweep of their broom. 

"For the goal of smaller decentralized government," Smiley Moscow-Mitch laughed, slapping the new U. S. A. G. and T. F. C. Barr across his ample back.  

The two chortled, chucking each other under their square heads and double chins.  "After we're dead who cares what floods!"  Then they swept, giggled and farted off down the gold-plated road.

Kushner's 'backchannel cable' spooled on, then off again ~ fully out of anyone's oversight.

A mustachioed face claiming 
National Security portfolio to the President of the United States, opened an electric notebook.  A Google map glowed into focus.  It showed Roseate Spoonbill migration routes. 

"With almost no difficulty with blow back," the mustache twitched as it talked.  

"We can lace migratory feeding sites with chemical-castration drugs that will threaten a perfect final solution to their endangered members!"

 Clock Tower bus-bays,
Rosa Parks Transportation Centre
Lafayette, Louisiana

"What this will do," he told the President, leaning in very close to his ear, "is convince the last doubters that America means business.  

"Mad business, yes, but business!"

"A plausible crazy threat wins the game!" Trumper twittered, "Just ask me bankers."   Trump laughed, then went silent.  I
vanka brushed and spoke not.  The Son-in-law spooled and spoke not.  The escalator escalated.  

The dream clock struck Noon.  We awoke as the real Conductor called out, "Lafayette, next stop."

L. A. Norma stretched her arms overhead, and stepped off the train and to the side ~ away from the traffic pouring out behind her.  Lafayette is the train's only smoke-stop between New Orleans and Houston.  

She lit a Camel Cigarette, and continued her conversation about walls, with a young couple bound for Tucson, Arizona.  

"Take Hadrian's, China's, Berlin's.  Walls have not long kept anything out.  Not ideas, not people, not things!"

The young man from Tucson nodded, "Just a political football." 

"Sometimes with headline interference," Norma said.  

His Wife added, "A distraction."   She flicked cigarette ashes to the grass, and smiled.  In its moment, that falling cigarette ash burned brightly ~ though it be in descent ~ then went dark landing atop a purple clover. 

The engineer blew his whistle calling smokers back aboard their smoke-free train ride to the Golden West.  

"Manifest Destiny all over again," Norma said, from inside her toxic plume of Camel Cigarette smoke.  

A mushrooming cloud of fumes embraced all the World.  We parted from our new friends shouting"Red-herrings," and waved our arms.  

Automobiles waiting at the crossing gates revved their engines to show their toxic commitment.  

The train snaked off down the tracks.  Its last car rocked and wobbled back at us.  The automobiles drove away ~ each trailing a lingering chemical bouquet.

Five elderly women standing on the platform scowled in our direction.  They each wore a big red church-lady hat, red sweaters, red dresses, and red gloves.  They each lifted red-hemmed skirts showing red soled shoes, and choo-choo-ed it into the depot, with its comfortingly stable toilets.   


Your comments and corrections are welcome
~ Comments ~

~   ~   ~

Lagniappe du jour

Gandy Dancers / You Tube

πŸ’œ πŸ’š πŸ’›

Heaven's Just A Sin Away

by The Kindalls / You Tube
(suggested Republican campaign song)

πŸ’œ πŸ’š πŸ’›

William Barr, U. S. Attorney General and Trump Consigliere
on his boot print and eternal judgement
CBS-tv News 

πŸ’œ πŸ’š πŸ’›

This Land is Your Land 
Performed at the "We Are One" Presidential Inaugural Concert, January 19, 2009
You Tube
written by Woody Guthrie
Sung by Pete Seeger and the multitudes,
including Seeger's Grandson, Tao RodrΓ­guez-Seeger; 
Bruce SpringsteenBarack Obama, and more.
in Washington, District of Columbia
United States of America

πŸ’œ πŸ’š πŸ’›

Winged Trumper
πŸ’œ πŸ’š πŸ’›

Christmas Day    /     Lafayette, Louisiana
Left to  right: Nashville, 
Tennessee Architect, Will Rosenthal
Papa Noel, Leonard Earl Johnson
Poet and Professor, Andrei Codrescu
Poet, Muse, and Mother, Laura Codrescu
Β© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.

πŸ’œ πŸ’š πŸ’›

πŸ’œ πŸ’š πŸ’›

Photo credit: Scott Billington

πŸ’œ πŸ’š πŸ’›

The Sunset Limited, oldest transcontinental train in America.  Amtrak ole #1.
 Out of New Orleans, crossing"The Cajun Prarie," bound for Los Angeles.
Papa Noel LEJ.org and Connie's Petit fils
 Photo credit: Mark Konikoff
πŸ’œ πŸ’š πŸ’›

* * * * * * * * * * * 
and such falderal ...

πŸ’œ πŸ’š πŸ’›

Don't hold your breath on my figuring out le Internet.  
I am a storyteller, not a computer-pinball gamer. 

If you want on the list that may get e-mailed a monthly column notice
*   *   *
If you wish to read any past column they are archived at www.LEJ.org 
New columns are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years, or until Death,

whichever occurs first.
Krew of Rio, Lafayette

~*~    ~*~
February 2019's column was about Carnival!
2019 was a very long Carnival Season.
 Beginning on Epiphany night, January 6
Ending on Ash Wednesday, March 6

Read All About it,

 February 2019

Krewe du Vieux, New Orleans

~*~    ~*~    ~*~

LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org
~ Hosted on GOOGLE Blogger ~
and periodically at   
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans,
publication of the
The monthly column is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
Archives: www.LEJ.org

πŸ’œ πŸ’š πŸ’›
LEJ.org with blue silk shirt and Cappuccino
 by R
Γͺve, Baristas to the Stars

Photo credit:  Mark Konikoff
Β© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, 

All Rights Reserved.
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