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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, November 01, 2008

November 2008 / The Fourth Thanksgiving, 2008


Yours Truly in a Swamp

The Fourth Thanksgiving, 2008

by
Leonard Earl Johnson

Photo credit: Wade Lege'

Reprinted from Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans
November 2008

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In Memory of
Studs Terkel

1912 - 2008



"The stock market has gone up and down so much lately, we need a white line painted down the middle." -- L. A. Norma

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Do you ever think about water? What it is, when seen in the grand overall view of The Universe?


It is
God's dissolver of the past and the great elixir of the future. Like water in a mixing bowl, when it rains God is making Cosmic Bread. When it storms, even more so.
In Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, He did it with Saturday-night, Wild Turkey force whisky.


Take it back to the beginning


Was it not water that brought us the land where New Orleans now rests? In fact, it was water that later brought people to the land. And it was water that so changed all our lives, after the storms of 2005.


Hurricane winds lifted water from the depths of the Sea and dropped it on top of our homes, our cars and our way of living. The big change came not from wind damage (ask any insurance agent) but from the water. (Next time, those clever insurance companies may try to exclude damage caused by falling trees.)


Obviously insurance companies speak double-think, but it was water that changed Great Swamp City, and the Gulf Coast, from Alabama to Texas, to what it is becoming. The jury is still out on just what that will be.

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Consider This


Through eons, bits of Northern states, like Illinois, have broken off in rain storms and washed into Lake Michigan. Out of there -- Chicago engineers reversed their namesake river's flow -- that soil tumbled into the Chicago River, the Illinois River, the Mississippi River and your morning coffee.


It swept past the Gateway Arch, at Saint Louis, Missouri, and gathered with all the waters of the Ohio River Basin, at Cairo, Illinois. It undulated along the bluffs of Memphis, and gagged on the chemical effluence pumped in between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

At New Orleans, it got sucked into public water systems, and splashed out of kitchen water taps onto shrimp boil and morning coffee.

Next that microscopic bit of Illinois gets filtered through livers and into bladders. Later, out it goes into Big Swamp City sewerage, where it is pumped along drainage ditches and canals, and finds itself back in the Mississippi River being dumped out into The Gulf of Mexico. There it mixes with The Gulf waters. Then is picked up by great hurricane winds and dropped back on New Orleans, on you, and eventually on Illinois. It takes a while, but life goes on. In spite of insurance companies, failed governments and elections.

It is Thanksgiving, 2008, our fourth since The Storm. And we are still here. We have survived Katrina, Rita, Bush, Blanco, and Nagin.

It is time to kill the fatted turkey, if so inclined. Time to celebrate the harvest and give thanks for all that is good. Mostly it is time to sit on the levee, and back off from thinking bad things about past stones or future rocks strewn along our Road Home.

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The Do-Gooder Church


L. A. Norma has given birth to a new religion in celebration of our fourth post-hurricane Thanksgiving. She calls it, "The Church of The Do-Gooder."

Do-Gooders have but one tenet of their faith. It would be written in stone, and painted in loud colors around the nave of their cathedral, if they had one. It is: "You do not do bad when you do good."

Should you wish to join The Do-Gooder Church, be advised there is nothing to sign. No meetings. If you want to join, you have.

It is an easy faith to follow. Do-Gooders don't do much. Their real contribution is -- as noted -- not doing bad.

"You just do what you can, then you go for coffee, or a drink," founder L. A. Norma says.

Some days we just go for the drink, sit on the levee and watch The River go by.
Copyright, Leonard Earl Johnson, 2008

www.LEJ.org

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Want a magnetized image of LEJ's fat face for your memory board,
or to scare off future storm vermin from your refrigerator?


"It'll keep them bugs out'a your icebox, next time, sugar!" ~ L. A. Norma

If you do
Send a self - addressed & stamped envelope, along with $5
Mail to: Leonard Earl Johnson
Box 202
302 Jefferson St.
Lafayette, LA 70501

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