Easter on the River of Bourbon St / April 2016
Yours Truly in a Swamp
Monthly e-column by
Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans
"Our parade grows shorter." ~ L. A. Norma
After Easter Mass, L. A. Norma and I left the witch-hat-towers of Saint Louis Cathedral behind us, and headed for the soaring two-storey balconies of Bourbon Street.
There are many Ozs and Pubs on many streets like this in every port city of the world. But only these two dance-halls flanking this intersection of Bourbon and Saint Ann are major cultural demarcation lines.
Once populated exclusively by gay men. Then gay men and gay women. Now added to the mix are folks who might read the National Geographic and yearn to explore.
The dance-halls have become the line that turns Reader's Digest level tourists ebbing back towards Canal Street's comforting hotels, and those yearning to venture past the gentrified mysteries of the lower French Quarter, into Faubourgs Marigny, Treme', and Bywater.
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|
True to His Book, he was slumming with the local rabble, and reveling in their Easter experience. As they were with His.
"Their experience is a sight easier'n His," L. A. Norma said, tapping her fingers along the tiny silver figure 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 worked on the Gospels!" she snorted.
Norma exhaled a cloud of smoke and the proclamation: "Skip the crucifixion, forget the fasting, and go straight for the Resurrection!"
|Chris Owens, 2016 Easter Parade|
| Margareta and Chiquita Bergen, 2016 St. Pats Day|
Spring Beauties, Houmas House ~ 2015 column
* * *
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 down the 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.
The Pope handed out Wild Turkey and iced water, "Holy Water from the Holy River, he said.
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!"
|When LEJ wore a younger man's beard|
Presbytere coupla, Jackson Square
(Evacuated New Orleans, 2006)
It wasn't. It was Easter on the River of Bourbon Street.
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Hope you do, I love talking with you,
Leonard Earl Johnson,
Columnist to the elderly and early weary.