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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 Consumer Affairs.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 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.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

How You Like It So Far? / January 2015 Bonne Annee! Happy New Year!



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

Thanks to incompatible hi-tech magic 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 the tricky transfer.

How You Like It So Far?
January 2015!
Bonne Annee!  Happy New Year!

by Leonard Earl Johnson
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Photo credit: Frank Parsley

*

"How Many Trains

do I have to catch, before I'm Home and Free?"

"Sounds like a Fabled Sixties' Bob Dylan song, don't it?" 

L. A. Norma said, as she passed her singing phone with its music-toons, and Amtrak e-ticket apps before the eyes of the gatekeeper at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, the beginning and end of the line for Amtrak's

New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal,
 Katrina-era Orleans Parish Prison, and  
art gallery housing a spectacular civic mural 
once proud Sunset Limited ~ and other long suffering long distance trains.

At a sidewalk table outside Cake Cafe and Bakery, on Chartres, in Faubourg Marigny, two gleaming young Swedes waved blue eyes and blond hair ~ their Nordic flag ~ for all to see.  They talked about taking a train to "Laughingyette, for the music!"

"In America you're lucky if there are two trains a day," one young blond face said. Trains in Europe run far more often and far "more better." We all laughed. Then I told them there were but three trains a week going West. 

"Well, three in each direction," I said. "Six a week!" 


I shrugged at America's slow descent into third-world loading platforms. They laughed, but later in the week joined us at the U. P. Terminal with their Amtrak e-lectronic tickets glowing in the boarding agent's face. The agent lifted my old fashioned paper ticket. The Swedes were "Comin'cross the Basin" to hear the Pine Leaf Boys, and staying at the youth hostel above the Blue Moon Saloon. 


Pine Leaf Boys, Blue Moon Saloon

C'est bon! 
Recommended for anyone who wants to stay up till the last musician howls ~ 2am in Lafayette, Louisiana ~ and greet the new day hanging over from the last.

We had a jolly gig Christmas Eve meeting the Sunset Limited ~ Westbound, besuited in red and tossing beads as Papa Noel. 

At the train station we saw again a waiter we had ridden over with earlier in the week. He works at Peche, award winning Chef Donald Link's New Orleans success after failure at his back-home in Lafayette effort at a Cajun-located Cochon Restaurant ~ his
Big Swamp City popular urban Cajun-style cafe. 

"Who in Acadiana wanted to pay fifty bucks for half a boudin cut at angle standing on end?" L. A. Norma asks. "When you can get a whole one at most markets for a couple dollars!?" 

Not many did. 

The Peche waiter was meeting his girlfriend. We gave him a strand of red-and-white beads to give her. He told us he had liked both French Press and Pamplona. Later, Jerry Young, impresario of Pamplona Tapas Bar, told us two of his waitstaff had recently moved to NOLa and gone to work at Peche. As Norma says, "Ain't it a small Swamp?"


Pullman Car Saint Louis, photo courtesy of Amtrak,
Circa yesteryear

The platform was crowded and a lady using a walker mistook me in my red suit for a redcap, and asked me to carry her bags.

"I can not madam, I am Papa Noel!" I fetched her a conductor. Another Samaritan took her bags.

.
Papa Noel ~ LEJ, besuited and besotted
Photo credit: Dave Therrien 

I gave her some red and white beads. The Conductor got a brass key chain fob in the form of a Jazz Fest ticket.

The Samarian got an I.Q. T-Shirt.

A few books went to others.

When I got to the bottom of me red bag I found (one gold, one green) stripper's jocks (Papa Noel plays NOLa, too). I gave the gold one to a grinning man bound for Los Angeles. The Train-Assistant (stewards of the rails) took the other. Then looked like she thought better of it, "This thing been worn?!"

After the train pulled out, Pamplona Tapas Bar was our next stop for wine and cellphone
-selfies with dining celebrants. And dinner on the house, for us, and for today's aforementioned hangover. Does it ever get better?

For a fitting Christmas stowaway story about the 1980 last Cuban Boat Lift read Yours Truly in a Swamp at December 2014 


HO, Ho, ho! my head! 


Leonard Earl Johnson, columnist to the elderly and early weary wishes you
Bonne Annee! Happy New Year!
----------------

Copyright, 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

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. 

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______
© 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved.
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