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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.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

✍Bottom Road to Baton Rouge / June 2022



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Andrew Jackson, Jackson Square, New Orleans
Photo credit: Eric Douglas 

Bottom Road to Baton Rouge

Fiction ~
Roman à clef, cher! 
BY  Leonard Earl Johnson 

© 2022, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

👒👒
💀
 Sylvia, the shorter of the two Red Women tipped her beribboned hat and handed the bus tickets over to her slightly taller fellow traveler, Dillard.  The tickets are to Baton Rouge.

Dillard had waited at Rêve Coffee Roasters while Sylvia was entrusted to cross the street and make the purchase.  

Dillard accepted the tickets and dropped them in her red purse.  Both women's purses, hats, and shoes are matching shades of red. The sash across each woman's breast reads, "Turn Back Voter Turnout."

Their departure is in a half hour from under the clock tower at the Rosa Parks Transportation Centré.  

The two Red Women Warriors are in pursuit of a place to promote their causes.  Causes not only of turning back voter turnout, and reviving lost wars in Asia, but removal of Constitutional rights to privacy in all things but guns.  

"Ending forever choice in childbearing ~ the horrifying abortion issue!" L. A. Norma says. "Replacing it with politicians in gray cloaks and stone council.

 "In short, the American Taliban!"

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Clock Tower,
Rosa Parks

Transportation Centré    
Lafayette Louisiana

The Transportation Centré clock is handsomely part Walt Disney and part French modern.  It towers over the parking lot bus bays, train platforms, and taxi stands.  Keeping track of the time for travelers too hurried to keep it for themselves.  

The two Red Women finish their Espresso Rosemary and walk across the street to the Greyhound loading platform.

Their first stop came twenty minutes after departure.  Then again in a half hour at crossroads somewhere where they were told to get off and board another bus. 

"All passengers going to Baton Rouge," the driver said, opening the hydraulic door.

Dillard looked at her ticket.  Then at Sylvia's.  "We are going down the Old Bottom Road," she said to 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 the tops answered, "Yes."  Eyes heavily lidded, the fisherman, poet, and travel-advisor turned his shoulder enough to let a shaft of sunlight through the bus windowIt struck a large yellow jewel on his left 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 round 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 back at her.

For no reason either woman could explain Dillard was the leader of their little landing party cast off for insubordination, as they were 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 final second line," Dillard said.

Louis Sahuc
 New Orleans Photographer
Louis Sahuc lay in his own bed in his Lower Pontalba apartment above Photo Workshis 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 to the crowd ~ as some had hoped ~ but he did expire the next morning before Sunrise. 

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

Sylvia's banner read: 
Peace is the Cause of Bad Wars,
Never Stop Fighting
 🠇🠇 🠗

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 out over the gray rickrack.  The muddy Mississippi passed by.  

👒 

Sylvia and Dillard left Jackson Square in disgust. Their pamphlets to revive the War in Vietnam blew over the wrought iron fence, tumbled across the green, and gathered at the statue of Andrew Jackson victoriously astride his bronze mount after turning back the American's second English war.

The two Red Women, dejected, walked up Rue Chartres with their red rubber shoes squishing on the hot pavement.  At The Wrinkle Room they pushed open the door, and got very drunkwww.LEJ.WORLD ✍

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Leonard Earl Johnson, www.LEJ.world 
 
Photograph © Leonard Earl Johnson 

 http://www.LEJ.org
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
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
© 2022, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

Sunday, May 01, 2022

⚓RED WOMEN WARRIORS / May 2022

Dick Gregory, comedian


💧

"America prefers to make war not love.  
With enemies sometimes so weak we have to spend millions building them up just so we can go to war with them."  ~ Dick Gregorycirca 1965


💔
💀 💀


Red Women Warriors

From Red Train to Red Stick

Then There Were Two

Fiction ~
Roman à clef, cher! 

BY  Leonard Earl Johnson 

© 2022 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, Laughingyett.

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 then commenced at the ole coffee bar when 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 alongside as a chaser.  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 Centré, "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 was to be in Baton Rouge in time to raise their banners before the laying out of Edwin Washington Edwards, the late dashing 'Cajun Prince' and three times Governor of Louisiana.  For a total of sixteen years.  And onetime Federal prisoner for eight additional years.

He would be laid out first in the New Capitol, and then in the old one.  The new one was built by Edwards idol, Huey P. Long, 'The Kingfish', a man who had the audacity and political savvy to levy taxes on Standard Oil for the money needed to build the New Capitol, and more.  

Long was gunned down in his New Capitol in 1935. At which time he was a United States Senator with an eye on running against President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Instead he was interred on its grounds under massive tons of concrete.  

"To thwart seekers of souvenirs and Republican dirty tricksters," L. A. Norma says.

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

💜💚
💛

After being booted from the Trump campaign train for insubordination, the two hung around Lafayette in anticipation of a fictitious Biden On Bastille Day Concert.  

"It would be a fine opportunity to wave our banner," they told each other and anyone else who would listen.

L. A. Norma had invited all the red women from the train 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 hope to engage the young Rector in their ideas to revive an, "Obedient sacrifice of your flock through renewal of the lost cause in Southeast Asia."  

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

He listened politely but from that first meeting the priest turns his ministerial head when he sees them approching.   👒

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Leonard Earl Johnson, www.LEJ.world
 



 http://www.LEJ.org
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
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
© 2022 Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

Friday, April 01, 2022

✍Easter on the River of Bourbon Street / April 2022

   
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

🎕

Dedicated to Chris Owens, 
Bourbon Street impresario and performer.
Her club opened in 1956.
Birthdate not given  /  Died April 5, 2022,
 at home on Bourbon Street.
This year's Easter Parade will proceed as planned.
 
  ~  *  ~   ~  *  ~

Easter on the River 

of Bourbon Street

by 
Leonard Earl Johnson
© 2022, Leonard Earl Johnson,  All Rights Reserved

* * 

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.

Jackson Square, NOLa      /     photo credit:  J. R. Tullos
There we were lifted on the chaliced wings of whiskey served from temporal cathedrals named Oz and Bourbon Pub.

There are many the '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 Street and Rue Saint Ann are such noted cultural demarcation lines.   O
nce populated by only gay men. Then gay men and gay women. Now added to the patron mix are folks who read National Geographic and care not a wit with whom the next table dances.  This is the point that turns back Reader's Digest tourists.  Back to Canal Street's familiar hotels and edited narrative.  Beyond this point pass explorers seeking the gentrified bohemia of the lower French Quarter, and the music sirens of Faubourgs Marigny, Tremé, 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.  

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.

Bourbon Strassa, NOLa

Norma exhaled a cloud of smoke and this proclamation:
 "Skip the crucifixion, forget the fasting, go straight for the Resurrection!"


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


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

A few years back, a few blocks up the street, Chris Owens ~ an elderly Bourbon Street dancer and club owner with staying power ~ conducted her annual Easter Parade with uninvited, 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, 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 and convertibles. The bunnies threw 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
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, 2022, 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. 


© 2022, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved.



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Photo credit: Conni Castille

Lagnappe du Jour

🚴🐊
March 9 & 10, 2022



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          Archives: www.LEJ.world

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 

© 2022 Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.
~  *  ~      ~  *  ~      ~  *  ~

© 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,
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
© 2022, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved