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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.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

January 2012, Bonne Année

Yours Truly in a Swamp

by

Leonard Earl Johnson


January 2012


* * *

www. LEJ. org


Bonne Année

(Happy New Year)

2012


You can not tell it all! That is the great pain of writers everywhere. Not being able to douse the fire that drives them to set it down.

"There lies writer's block, too," L. A. Norma said.

Forgive me for being late. I seldom miss deadlines, nor experience much writer's block not alcohol-related. But this month I sit indolently watching the morning window-garden shaking off last night's cold snap.

'Tis the season for falling off ladders and setting fire to one's house," L. A. Norma said, blowing Camel Cigarette smoke out the window.


And so January's story sat unwritten inside my computer alight with expectation.


"Write about the Sunset Limited," Norma suggested, navigating the sugar bowl across the table. "The Sunset Limited as 'Le Train Sans Souci' (The Train Without Concerns)."

Alas, no Amtrak train is without concerns. Ask anyone who has ridden one. And soon the dark clouds in Washington will gather to make it worse. You remember the recent solution to the post office budget woes? Make-it-worse will surely bring in the customers, they cried. And make it worse they did. A similar fate awaits poor limping Amtrak.

All that said, there is still something about a train that is cheap, comforting transportation. Less like driving and more like a land-cruise. On the train, like on a ship, you are with time enough to look out the Dining Car window while conversing with strangers. I once lunched with the King of Okeanos, sang with a woman who did studio work in Los Angeles with Elvis Presley, and described the scenery to a blind lady who bought my lunch just to hear me describe passing scenery.

We put Norma on an earlier train so she could be in New Orleans for the Second Line for Coco Robicheaux, who died 25 November 2011, on his day off, at the Apple Barrel on Frenchmen Street. He was 64.

Coco Robicheaux was a New Orleans musician we first met at a Voodoo Party with some lady Voodoo Priest from Haiti. As you know, he is now wooing the Hoo-Dooers in the clouds. He was in TREME, the great HBO show about New Orleans and Life therein. The night his segment aired, L. A. Norma and I were at a dinner party from where the host took the guests by taxi to Buffa's bar on Esplanade to watch (there was no TV at the host's house). There we chatted with Coco about post K. things.

The last time I saw him was in the Walgreen's parking lot on Saint Claude and Elysian Fields, Gateway to the Upper Ninth Ward. I wonder how he is dealing with the great FEMA in the Sky?

We missed Coco's Second Line to play Santa Claus at Buck and Johnny's Pizzaria in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. A little girl asked about Twelfth Night. "It is when the Kings came to the Baby Jesus, and the day the Phunny Phorty Phellows ride the Saint Charles Streetcar in New Orleans to open Carnival Season," Santa told the little girl. The Mother beamed. _______________________________________________________________________________________ © 2011, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved


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