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Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Leonard Earl Johnson covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005), and the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for Consumer Affairs.com. He is a contributor to Gambit Weekly, New Orleans Magazine, SCAT, Baton Rouge Advocate, Advocate Magazine, The Times-Picayune, and Country Roads Magazine, 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.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

DRAFT: Houmas House / April 2015


Houmas House


DRAFT
Yours Truly in a
 Swamp
a monthly e-column
Houmas House masters, Keven Kelly, Mother Kelly and Sugar Baby 
at Media Party, Saint Patrick's Day 2015.

* * *

April 2015
Free subscription @ Subscribe@LEJ.org


by


Leonard Earl Johnson























Houmas House
on Saint Patrick's Day


by Leonard Earl Johnson
www.LEJ.org 


Riverboat, Mississippi River
Houmas House, Louisiana


Cold Man Winter loosened its chilly grip on the bayous, rivers and swamps of Louisiana. Finally! Promptly L. A. Norma and I headed out for parties, parades, and music festivals umpity thump-thumpin' from Laughingyette bayous to Big Swamp City bar rooms! 
[At the bottom is a current music-fest list with links.]
* * *
Spring is chucking hope under Louisiana's chins, from DC-dreaming Governor Bobby Jindal, down to wee the people. All over la Grande Mère Marais (the Great Mother Swamp), azaleas bloom and trees bud promising greens and exciting reds. 

"Jindal prens for his out-of-state handlers, a lapdog to the Koch Brothers," Norma snorts, blowing smoke out the driver's side window of her little red rental  "No child left behind, my ass,"  she snorts. "No child left a dime!

We Crossed The River at Baton Rouge singing Al Capps' ode to bad leadership from the 1959 film, music by Gene De Paul and lyrics by Johnny Mercer,  
Li'l Abner:
When we fought the Yankees and were left with utter defeat
Who was it who burned the crops and left us nothing to eat?
Why it was Jubilation T. Cornpone ... Ole toot your own horn Pone ... 

University presidents and state administrators wring their hands on television over Jindal's foolish budgets. Designed to show he could run a government without taxes and services. He could not. He may, or may not be off to Washington, but his replacement will inherit a hard task announcing school and bridge closings. 

"Already, entire departments at the University of New Orleans have closed," Norma says, "and drawbridges tremble in fear for their maintenance." 

David Vitter, present US Senator and Republican governor-expect is said to care little for the "Magic Maharaja from Mumbai," as Norma calls Jindal.

"Would you, in Vitter's shoes?"  Norma says, and crushes her cigarette into a little tin box she carries for the purpose.


* * * 


Giant Sea birds overhead search for their family rookery, and we tell each other stories of Br'er Rabbit. Our little red car crunches chalky white shell-gravel in the parking lot of Laura Plantation -- from where the East African Uncle Remus tales first took translation into Louisiana French Creole. Tulane University scholars later translated the French version to English for the amazement of  English speaking folks from Senegal to Cincinnati.  


We drove up the West Bank, then crossed over the Sunshine Bridge, named for another Louisiana governor, Jimmy Davis, who was a movie star and a saloon singer who wrote, "You are my sunshine / My only sunshine..." 

It is sometimes said by detractors that Louisiana is built along the Mississippi and organized around Mardi Gras. "O. K. by me," Norma says. "You'd prefer Senegal or Cincinnati?"


On to Houmas House, the grandest sugar plantation on The River.  It is on the East Bank, near Burnside, above New Orleans an hour and fifteen minutes by hard road (by River more).

 From: New Orleans, LA To: Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, 40136 Louisiana 942, Darrow, LA 70725

Lord of the manor is Kevin Kelly, a baronial Irishman (with dogs!) who also  
Kevin Kelly with beard, Kyle Edmiston, Doug Bourgeois and
Nippon News delegation


owns a mansion on Saint Charles Avenue, in New Orleans, that is site of his invitation prized five-day Mardi Gras party -- with balconies on the parade route. Oh, my! 


Jim Blanchard and Bonnie Warren

Kelly attended his NOLa Mardi Gras party this year, costumed as the man who carried word to D. C. that the British had been turned back at New Orleans. 


"Damn those detractors who claim the war was over!" Norma snorts. 


"As owner of Houmas Plantation, Burnside knew: Had the Brits got to the steps of Gallier Hall we might still be flying the British Jack! 



"The Yanks did, and we're still flying  theirs."

* * *



Lorinzo Bergen, New Orleans artist
 and Leonard Earl Johnson, an elderly scribe


Proper early fenced garden, Houmas House

Properly unfenced radio stars: Bob and Jan Carr, WDSU - NOLa


Garden leprechauns

Garden with small fountain

 The Gardner:
Craig Black Artist at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens

The Menue
The Chef, Jeremy Langlois



The things you gave up for Lent.

The dinners


The Master's table on Saint Patrick's Day!
Paul Arrigo and Kevin Kelly

The Desert



All Photocredits thanks to Margarita Bergen,   Janis Turk,   Houmas House


French Quarter Fest 2015

Festival International de Louisiane, Lafayette

NOLa Jazz Fest

Copyright, 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson


For more L. E. J.'s Yours Truly in a Swamp go to 
w w w . L E J . o r g



Go here For T-Shirts, Koozies, LEJ.org icebox magnets
and such falderal ...

FYI
Your monthly e-mail notice may not come. New Yahoo's mail system is too cumbersome to continue using. Our mailings can not be done one-at-a-time. We have many thousands of e-readers. Too many, it seems, to keep getting free-mail from Yahoo, and we are not able to pay for the pay-mail system.  So there. 

You may not receive a monthly notice for YOURS TRULY IN A SWAMP, 
until / unless I figure out how to set up a new freemail system. 
(Don't hold your breath.  I am a storyteller, not a computer-pinball gamer). Contact me if you want on the list - that may get e-mailed.

If  you wish to read each month's story please go any time to www.LEJ.org 

(They are posted newly on the first of each month and polished for the next few weeks.) 
Hope you do, I love talking with you,
Leonard Earl Johnson,
Columnist to the elderly and early weary. 

© 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved.
Comments are welcome, post them in the Blog Comments.






* *

Sunday, March 01, 2015

From Lent to Easter / March 2015

L. E. J. as Ernie K-Doe

Yours Truly in a Swamp,

a monthly e-column


by
Leonard Earl Johnson
A similar version of this article appeared in Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans, April 2010




Free e-mail subscription at Subscribe@LEJ.org 
You may have to copy-and-paste this address


* * *

"Ain't nothing in the world time and money won't cure."
 ~ Ernie K-Doe, 1936 - 2001
New Orleans Musician and Self-Proclaimed Emperor of The World 


From Lent to Easter


by Leonard Earl Johnson
www.LEJ.org 


On Ash Wednesday all over Louisiana, Carnival lifted its joyous mantle leaving Lent's ashen smudge in its place. 

In cathedrals and parish churches, mission altars and heathen households, the Sacrament of Death was being celebrated.

 At New Orleans Saint Louis Cathedral, business suits stood cheek-by-jowl with crimson capes and smeared-lipstick ladies awaiting priests dressed in the Vestments of Sorrow, applying smears of The Cross to their foreheads.  With thumbs dipped in the ashes of last year's Palm Sunday palms. Outside, rain washed The City. I have many doubts about theological things, but none whatsoever about this ceremony. To ashes we shall return.

 We attended six a.m. mass at the
 Cathedral to welcome Lent, and then caught the nine a.m. Amtrak train called the Sunset Limited, out of Town

 Could ashen Lent have more fitting a morning's metaphor than that? 



Lent is the longest holiday in all the Christian calendar. Should you need reason to be suspicious of religion's political powers, consider that.  Carnival's pleasurable length shortens by measure of the ill-conceived Gregorian Calender.  But Church law prevents this happening to Lent's suffering by measure of Canon law hocus pocus. 

Like traveling Governor Bobbie Jindal's
many Potemkin budgets, L. A. Norma tells some altar boys discussing the weight of this year's Mardi Gras garbage. 


Louisiana State House
Governor's private lift
* * *

Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is the last day
of Carnival's ever-changing length.
Next day is Ash Wednesday, the 
first day of Lent's forty never-changing days of suffering.

The Catholic Calendar, by which we measure all this, is not accurate, what with the date of Easter changing with the moon! A matter, you may recall, Galileo later tried, without success, to clarify for his Pope, successor to Peter's Throne. And keeper of Heavens's Keys and the temporal clock.

* * *

Easter, the end of Lent, is also a ceremony about Spring. Borrowed from religions that came before Christianity. It maybe the oldest human celebration and it is calculated (or miscalculated) by Canon law, with instruments created with faith in suffering and suspicion of pleasure.


Suffering is not to be monkeyed with by theological calculations. Carnival's pleasures, however, are reducible by God (or His agents with their inaccurate stopwatches).


Lenten fasting repairs Winter's damage and Carnival's excess, and prepares us for Spring's rebirth. Like the jazz man says,


"Blow the roof off the sucker ..."


Awaiting Easter
It has been a long cold Lent, but with sunny mornings and a warm place in the kitchen to read Internet Newspapers and sip coffee. Spring is here this morning, and the live oaks outside our dormer windows are budding into a soft young green. 
Live oaks are ever green. They don't dump their old leaves till Spring's new buds arrive (as followers of JFK conspiracies know). Then they change from old dark green to young soft green almost overnight. Today soft-green rules the Great Mother Swamp, and old alligators lie on the banks in whatever sun we can find dreaming of Easter baskets, Spring and ashes.


(A version of this story first appeared in 2004)
-----------
Copyright, 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson


For more L. E. J.'s Yours Truly in a Swamp go to 
w w w . L E J . o r g



Go here For T-Shirts, Koozies, LEJ.org icebox magnets
and such falderal ...

FYI
Your monthly e-mail notice may not come. New Yahoo's mail system is too cumbersome to continue using. Our mailings can not be done one-at-a-time. We have many thousands of e-readers. Too many, it seems, to keep getting free-mail from Yahoo, and we are not able to pay for the pay-mail system.  So there. 

You may not receive a monthly notice for YOURS TRULY IN A SWAMP, 
until / unless I figure out how to set up a new freemail system. 
(Don't hold your breath.  I am a storyteller, not a computer-pinball gamer). Contact me if you want on the list - that may get e-mailed.

If  you wish to read each month's story please go any time to www.LEJ.org 

(They are posted newly on the first of each month and polished for the next few weeks.) 
Hope you do, I love talking with you,
Leonard Earl Johnson,
Columnist to the elderly and early weary. 

* *

© 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved.
Comments are welcome, post them in the Blog Comments.






* *

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Carnival Time Without Bo Dollis / February 2015



Yours Truly in a Swamp,
Monthly e-column by
Leonard Earl Johnson, 
of Lafayette and New Orleans

Thanks to incompatible Internet-ry you may have to copy and paste Subscribe@LEJ.org  into your own e-mail form.  Perhaps utilizing the nearly lost art of pen and paper for this tricky transfer.

It's Carnival Time Without Bo Dollis
February 2015

by Leonard Earl Johnson
* * *

Bo Dollis, Big Chief of Wild Magnolias
Died this year during Carnival Season, at 71, 
1944 ~ 2015
The Mexican Cafe, La
Carreta, on Jefferson Street, in Laughingyette has installed roll up front windows. 

Rather like spit-n-polish garage doors. "With big glass," Norma says. "Like Mitt Romney has for his fleet."

The men who would be President. They are like fleeting warm days in Winter. They blow comforting smoke then icy winds. Like Bobby Jindal's cold-hearted exploitation of wee-the-people of Louisiana.  

At the Krewe du Vieux parade -- or drunk somewhere in a bar --  I saw a paper mache Jindal with a maniacal grin on his face bending at the waist towards the front of the float and blowing a fart out his rear at the face of Louisiana.

But it is Carnival Time and we march on even with the prospect of schools and bridges closing.  And without the sight and sound of Bo Dollis. Louisiana, we will never be the same.

 * * *

The roller doors were thrown open framing the laughing celebrants like a Renoir boat-dock painting titled, Le Marais du Carnaval en Louisiane

We pulled up the extension handles on our bags, and rolled them off down the street two blocks to the Rosa Parks Transportation Centre and Amtrak station.The evening train to New Orleans is forty-minutes late (considered by train-riders to be within the legal definition of on-time).  

As soon as we boarded the voice from the dining-car steward called last seating over the pubic address system. We had packed a backup meal that would keep, and went straight through the other coaches to the dining-car. 

"You have a six-thirty reservation?"  the voice said to our face. 

did not, but was seated anyway, with two cheery young women in the third day of their journey from California.  They were bound for New Orleans to install the one -- an aspiring actress -- in a new career tramping the movie-making vineyards of Louisiana. The other was a painter inspired by Norman Rockwell, and only along for the ride. 

"I'm going back to California," she said. "I need clean, clear lines." 

Outside our window, Cypress trees kicked up their knees at live-oak trees dressed in Winter-green and Spanish moss. Saw-fan palmettos waved. Turtle families sat on logs ranked by their size.  Snakes and alligators parted the water and wagged their tails. The jungle fell on top of itself like an ocean wave and a straight line was no more visible than truth in Baton Rouge.

L. A. Norma, Robert Brunet, Leonard Earl Johnson
 Photo credit: Scott Nicely
 
We pulled in to Big Swamp City exactly on time. 

Next morning, we took breakfast at Croissant D'Or Patisserie, in the French Quarter. Where we met Scott Nicely and his partner Robert Brunet. They met each other on Mardi Gras seventeen years ago. Scott was in Town from Knoxville, Tennessee and Robert, a native of nearby Houma, Louisiana, was living in Big Swamp City, New Orleans!

"Hello, a new way of living," L. A. Norma says.

The couple moved to Atlanta, where Robert is an executive with Whole Foods. He is Associate Coordinator of Prepared Foods for the South Region. 

"A very long winded way of saying I am in charge of all the Delis in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and The Carolina's.

"My Son," Robert tells us, "and I found each other five years ago on Facebook. He was born when in school. His Mother and I were in school, just kids. Luckily we were adult enough to see that, and he was adopted out, successfully. 

"He and I both share a love of books and writing. Just last year he and his Wife had a child -- my Granddaughter -- and she is the reason we are in Town this weekend.

"We spent Saturday night cooking Gumbo and BBQ Shrimp with a wonderful King Cake for dessert and of course, the next morning we spent eating brunch at Mr. B's.  

"Actually they ate while I danced around the restaurant with little Edith Frances."

* * *

In Louisiana "Indians" means New Orleans Indians - - social clubs with names like Wild Magnolia, and made up of black men who out-costume everyone parading from Saint Joseph's Day up to, and including Carnival Day. 

Each Indian builds an annual New Suit of beaded and be-feathered glory, an homage to Freedom! To the chilling and thrilling idea of the escaped black slave. In a white man's world aided by Native American Indians.  

Let us take a moment to ponder the passing last month, at 71, of Bo Dollis, Big Chief of the Wild Magnolias.

You Tube: Iko Iko, by the Dixie Cups

© 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved.
Your comments are welcome, post them in the Blog Comments.


FYI
New Yahoo's mail system is too cumbersome to continue using for our mailings, 
and we are not able to pay for the  paymail system. 

You may not receive a monthly notice for YOURS TRULY IN A SWAMP, 

until / unless I figure out how to set up a new freemail system. 
(Don't hold your breath.  I am a storyteller, not a computer-pinball gamer). Contact me if you want on the list.

If you wish to read each month's story please go any time to www.LEJ.org 
(They are posted newly on the first of each month) 
Hope you do, I love talking with you,
Leonard Earl Johnson,
Columnist to the elderly and early weary. 

* *

© 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved.
Comments are welcome, post them in the Blog Comments.
Second MARDI GRAS, NEW ORLEANS, Post Katrina
photo credit: Janice Turk

U-tube: Krewe du Vieux 
2014 parade

Krewe du Vieus parade, 2015
 * * *