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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.

Friday, October 01, 2021

✍Home Again Home Again / October 2021

 


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Home Again Home Again

Wherever You Can

~ Fiction ~
by Leonard Earl Johnson 
© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


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💀

L. A. Norma and sat at tables outside Carpe Diem Gelato, on Jefferson Street.  COVID, for all it has taken away, has given a shot in the arm to Lafayette's sidewalk café society. 

Across the street sits the Hub City's second-built City Hall.  Built in 1939 by FDR's New Deal Works Project Authority.  The WPA was a Depression era agency that left helpful Federal thumbprints all over Louisiana ~ though its name is unspoken by today's revisionist politicians.  

City Hall moved not too far away to its third location, a former Sears big box store with lovely murals on University Avenue.  Sears followed the shopping malls out to the countryside, and then out of business.

Jefferson Street City Hall today houses the Downtown Development Authority.  Outside are benches and a table welcoming virus savvy Cajuns.  It was here on this modest green space where once stood the honored, now shamed statue of the son of Lafayette's founding first

 family, Confederate General Alfred Mouton.  Full name, Jean-Jacques-Alfred-Alexandre Mouton.  The triangular park points up Rue Lee to more cafés, music clubs, and the First Baptist Church of Lafayette.  Newer by a hundred years, but large as the nearby Catholic Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist.  

General Mouton, of course, was Catholic.  He fell in 1864, at the Battle of Sabine Crossroads at Mansfield Louisiana.  The South is said to have won it but the battle was of no decisive consequence to anyone ~ except General Mouton. 

Confederate General Insignia 

Interestingly the Confederate commander of this battle was Major General Richard Taylor, son of the 12th President of the United States, Zakary Taylor.  

"What webs our insurrections weave," Norma said, looking up from Rouse's grocery bill, hand delivered on Wednesday to every postal address in the parish by uniformed and masked Federal agents. 

Norma has volunteered to take the returning two Red Women to "make groceries," as they say in New Orleans.

Mouton's Return
In Jim Crow 1922, General Mouton was resurrected in marble by campaign and donation of an organization called the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Lafayette.  The Daughters at no point identified the sculptor.  The identity remains unknown. 

By the time of the statue's 2021 removal the Daughters numbers had dwindled to one-apparent.  Lawyers were hired then fired but no membership list ever joined the public debate.

Mouton fell this second time following a night bullet to the nose, dispatched by unknown assassin or assassins.  The City removed the unlucky General and now teases us with what to do with him. 

"He was collateral damage," LA. Norma points out.  "A casualty of the Facebook social wars." 

👒

Back at Carpe Diem we both ordered pumpkin cake layered with cheesecake ~ doberge inspired ~ and iced with cream cheese.  

"Not to worry, if need be we can shoehorn into a heart surgeon's bed amid the respirating COVID patients," Norma said, while blowing Camel Cigarette smoke at a retreating fly. 


The day was sunny and dry with a fresh breeze.  The first such kindly morning since August's hurricanes started picking us apart.  Hurricane Ida, the year's big blowhard, hit New Orleans on Katrina Day, August 29, 2021.  

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Old wounds drip old memories.  Friends scatter again.  We sip coffee and taste Autumn in the cake, optimism in the coffee.  

Down the street, Amtrak sounds its arrival from New Orleans.  In a few minutes we will hear it whistling off to Los Angeles.

Jackson Square, New Orleans

Silvia and Dillard, our two Red Warrior Women, are onboard, returning from their spoiled efforts at reviving Vietnam War fervor. 

They were too late for Governor Edwin Edwards funeral in Baton Rouge.  Then found themselves thwarted at photographer Louis Sahuc's deathbed Second Line in Jackson Square.  Their banner was snatched by skateboarding children of French speaking Catholic Vietnamese fishermen families ~ relocated to the Louisiana Gulf following the tumultuous rout of that forgotten war's final evacuation.  The Red Women want it remembered.  "Hell, they want it revived!"  Norma snorted.

🚆

"On time!" Norma said,
 "that's something one does not often hear."

She is talking about Amtrak, now discharging passengers at the Rosa Parks Transportation Centré.

Evacuees arrive at sidewalk tables up and down Jefferson Street with news from Big Swamp City delivered over meals with wine, and followed by Crown Whisky night caps.  

Finis Shellnut, of New Orleans and Arkansas, was in the crowed accompanied by born-again realtor Sonya LaComb and architect Henri Boudreaux.  

One Christmas Eve years ago, Finis Shellnut and (then) Wife, Jenifer Flowers, intercepted a Washington, DC couple and me on our way to Saint Louis Cathedral for Midnight Mass.  Instead we went to their Saint Louis Street club, Gennifer Flowers Kelsto Club, across from Antoine's, for government gossip and French Quarter distractions.  That night's featured drink: Hot Lips.

Dwyer's on The Great Artway,
Lafayette


 Steve Halpern (this column's fact check editor emeritus), and Leo Watermeier, Armstrong Park's defender of the heritage roses, took lunch at Dwyer's on the corner of Garfield and Jefferson.  

"Lockdown gone, 
food improved,
 and 
garden seating irresistible." 
~ L. A. Norma

💜💚💛
 
Los Angeles Cinematographer Natalie Kingston and Director Brian Richard, natives of Acadia and NOLa were back in Louisiana on assignment, shooting in the French Quarter when evacuated to Lafayette for Ida. 

I see myself in all their eyes.  Sixteen years ago.  Fleeing Katrina and Faubourg Marigny.

Ah, Faubourg Marigny me Home between ships and trains for forty-some years! Until 2005 when Katrina blew us out the flood gate and across the Atchafalaya. My heart waits there amid the quirky, the quickie, and the gentry come lately.
~ LEJ.org ✍💔


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Leonard Earl Johnson, LEJ.org 
 
Photograph © Leonard Earl Johnson 

Subscribe@LEJ.org http://www.LEJ.org
If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.org 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.org,
Hosted by GOOGLE BLOGGER,
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
© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

⚓ Bottom Road to Baton Rouge / Sept 2021




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Bottom Road to Baton Rouge

Fiction ~
BY  Leonard Earl Johnson 

© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


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 Sylvia, shorter of the two Red Women, handed her fellow traveler their bus tickets.  Dillard took them and dropped them in her red purse.  She had waited at the coffee shop while Sylvia went across the street to make the purchase.

Clock Tower,
Rosa Parks

Transportation Centre'
Lafayette Louisiana
Their departure would be in a half hour, from under the clock tower at the Rosa Parks Transportation Centre'.  The two Red Women Warriors are in pursuit of a place to promote their cause of reviving the War in Vietnam.

The clock tower is charming.  Part Walt Disney dreamy, part French modern.  It oversees the parking lot ~ keeping track of time for travelers too hurried to keep it for themselves.  

The two finished their Espresso Rosemary and walked over to the Greyhound loading platform.

Their first stop was twenty minutes after departure.  Then again in a half hour.  They were told to get off at the second stop and board another bus. "For all passengers going to Baton Rouge," the driver said.

Dillard looked at her ticket.  Then at Sylvia's.  "We are going down along the old Bottom Road?" she asked of no one in particular.  A young man carrying a black and white chapbook and wearing white fisherman's boots with plastic colored jewels glued to their tops said, "Yes."  

Eyes heavily lidded, the Louisiana fisherman, poet, travel-advisor turned his shoulder enough to let a shaft of light through the bus window and strike a large yellow jewel on his boot.

Dillard's question had been rhetorical but she thanked him anyway.  He nodded and returned to the arms of Morpheus.  The yellow light splattered around his face, and the empty seat by his side.

Dillard and Sylvia moved down the aisle and down the bus steps. The driver explained they had taken the local, "The one making multiple stops and arriving in Baton Rouge after sunset." 

"But that's after the Governor's funeral!" Sylvia said.  Dillard glared at her.

For no reason either woman could explain Dillard was the leader of their little expedition, cast off as it was from a trainload of Red Women Warriors for The Donald crisscrossing Louisiana.  

She thanked the driver and gave him a sticker that read, Turn Back Voter Turnout.  He looked at it before dropping it in the waste can. 

The two bought new tickets straight into New Orleans.  "We will arrive there in time for Louis Sahuc's living wake second line," Dillard said.

Louis Sahuc
 New Orleans Photographer
Louis Sahuc, 1942~2021
In his Lower Pontalba apartment above Photo Works, his shop and studio on Jackson Square, Louis Sahuc lay in hospice care.  Friends gathered beneath his balcony with traditional Louisiana bravado and musical instruments.  He did not rise to wave them a final farewell from his balcony ~ as some had hoped ~ but we learned later that he did expire the next morning just before Sunrise. 

💜 💚💛

Sylvia set to hanging a banner between the balcony pillars facing Decatur Street.  The second line band, To Be Continued, played The Saints Marching In, while the celebrants waved their white handkerchiefs.  

Sylvia's banner read: 
Peace is the Reason for Bad Wars.

🠇 🠇 🠗

Two Vietnamese creole youths on skateboards swept down the sidewalk past Saint Louis Cathedral, rounded the corner by the Lower Pontalba, and took out the banner. 

They surged across Decatur Street and up the Battery ramp to The River.  At the bottom of the Moonwalk Steps they set the banner ablaze.  Sparks fluttered over the gray rickrack ~ as the muddy Mississippi passed by.  

👒 

Sylvia and Dillard left in disgust. Their pamphlets to revive the War in Vietnam blew across Jackson Square, and gathered at the statue of Andrew Jackson.  The two walked up Rue Chartres their red rubber shoes squishing on the hot pavement.  At The Wrinkle Room they pushed open the door, and got very drunkLEJ.org ✍

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~  *  ~      ~  *  ~      ~  *  ~



~    ~    ~

      

Leonard Earl Johnson, LEJ.org 
 
Photograph © Leonard Earl Johnson 

Subscribe@LEJ.org http://www.LEJ.org
If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.org 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.org,
Hosted by GOOGLE BLOGGER,
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
© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

Sunday, August 01, 2021

✍ Then There Were Two / August 2021


💧


Our enemies were so weak we had to spend millions building them up so we could go to war with them. 

~ Dick Gregory 

circa 1965



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August 2021


Then There Were Two

From Red Train to Red Stick

Fiction ~
BY  Leonard Earl Johnson 

© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


💀💀
💀

The two red women forced from the other day's trainload of Red Women Warriors for The Donald, stood facing the door at Rêve Coffee Roasters on Jefferson Street.  

The red brick road to Rêve  / 
Photograph by 
© Leonard Earl Johnson


An array of menu choices pasted to the glass slowed their advance. 

They were further baffled when a barista with café au lait colored skin and gilded dreadlocks took ten-dollars and gave them two elegant slim glasses holding two ounces each of very black coffee, with a green sprig of rosemary dangling from its lip, and two red raisins on a toothpick laying at its foot. 

A blood pressure shootout commenced at the ole coffee bar.

Each woman opened a little silver box, and took out two white pills the same size as the red raisins.  They swallowed all with ice water served as a chaser along with the coffee.  Then they asked their exalted presenter of Espresso Rosemary about the next train to Baton Rouge.

There was none, she told them.  "But Greyhound," also in the Rosa Parks Centre, "runs several buses a day.  Takes about an hour, I think."

E. W. E. MOVING FROM NEW-TO-OLD CAPITOL
Photograph © Philip Gould
The red women's aim is to be in Baton Rouge in time to raise their banners before the laying out of Edwin Washington Edwards, the dashing Cajun Prince, three times Governor of Louisiana, for a total of sixteen years.  And one time Federal prisoner for eight years.

He would be laid out first in the New Capitol, and then in the Old.  The new one built by Edwards idol, Huey P. Long.  

Long was gunned down in the New Capitol in 1935, and interred on its grounds under massive tons of concrete.  "To thwart seekers of souvenirs and Republican dirty tricksters," L. A. Norma said.

The two red women plan on waving signs to "Revive the War in Vietnam," as mourners walk behind the Governor's horse drawn hearse.  It looked like the Greyhound Bus would do the trick on getting them there.

💜💚
💛

The two had hung around Lafayette in anticipation of the fictitious "Biden on Bastille Day Concert."  

L. A. Norma had invited all the red women to attend.  No others did of course.  No one did.  There was no concert.  In fact, no recognition of Bastille Day whatsoever.  Nowhere in Louisiana.  And very little for Joe Biden anywhere in the state outside of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

They occupied themselves eating at sidewalk cafés, drinking in student bars with COVID-defiant social practices, and attending services at Saint John The Evangelist Cathedral.  Where they tried engaging the young Rector in their ideas to revive an obedient sacrifice of the flock through renewal of the lost war in Southeast Asia.  

Photography and poem © Leonard Earl Johnson

 "Like the honor bestowed by General Mouton's death at the Battle of Mansfield, during the 1864 Red River Campaign.
 
 "Before present day outlaws shot off his nose and got his statue taken down," they told the young priest. 

 He listened politely but from their first meeting turned the other way when he saw them coming.   ~ LEJ.org 👒

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~  *  ~      ~  *  ~      ~  *  ~



~    ~    ~

      

Leonard Earl Johnson, LEJ.org 
 
Photograph © Leonard Earl Johnson 

Subscribe@LEJ.org http://www.LEJ.org
If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.org 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.org,
Hosted by GOOGLE BLOGGER,
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
© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

`