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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.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

JFK Nov. 22 + Nagin Footnote* / November 2017

LEJ's Louisiana / Yours Truly in a Swamp
by 
Leonard Earl Johnson
November 2017
© 2017, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

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LEJ.org                                                               photo credit: Melissa Dronet
JFK memento, circa 1963                                             photo credit:  LEJ.org 

J. F. K., November 22, 1963
plus
~ More Ray Nagin Footnote* ~ 
by Leonard Earl Johnson
                                              www.LEJ.org
Subscribe@LEJ.org

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When it happened I was living in Springfield, Illinois.  Twenty years old, working for the Illinois Secretary of State!  A glamorous job, looking back on it, for a boy from the Village of Ullin, population 800, where Abraham Lincoln ~ the first Republican President ~ was worshiped.

I had been exiled to labour among Republican cronies of my Father, at the State Capitol in Springfield.  Punishment for failing grades at 

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
I spent too much time liberating the downtrodden classes ~ in coffee shop and barroom bloviation ~ to attend my own classes.  My Father saw it befitting my civil liberation work that I head North to Springfield, "Where the tax man's bagman takes all that Gott damn tax money!"  My Father clearly saw the World through Republican eyes.  

"So, it was time to put the Son on the state payroll?" L. A. Norma said.

Yes, it was.  For it is true, all over the World, citizens live better in the shadow of the crooked staff  (church and state, cher government), for that is where the taxman delivers his harvest. 


"Anyone seeking work ~ from president to janitor ~ in any capital anywhere is after that tax money.  In one form or the other," Norma's friend, Naami, says, "No matter what schmaltz they ladle over your rice back home."  Naami comes from New York City and is expected to know things.


~ ~ ~
In the square around Illinois' Victorian capitol stands a statue of Lincoln.  I went there 22 November 1963, when I heard the news.  The inscription on its base is from Lincoln's farewell address departing Springfield for Washington. 

 
Illinois Capitol, Springfield 
courtesy Illinois Secretary of State

 "I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return..."
 
Those were arduous times, and it was reasonable in those days on momentous moments to comment on Life's limited journey.  Plus rebellion was in the air.  Lincoln's train from Illinois to D. C. took two weeks, what with olden day technology, political stops, and evasive maneuvers to avoid would be assassins.  


~


Cabildo, Jackson Square, New Orleans     /     photo credit: Mark Tullos

Obfuscation / Disinformation
fogs our hopes of ever knowing fully what happened in Dallas,  22 November 1963.

I don't believe the party line on Kennedy's murder, but I haven't a clue other than I saw it, in me mind's eye, from a hundred different angles, and it did not happen as told. 

~
This I know first hand
One day in New Orleans, decades after the Kennedy assassination, down by The River.  At the Old U. S. Mint.  The Assassination Materials Disclosure Act of 1992 sent out from Washington, D. C., a traveling circus of disclosure-hearings around the country.  Prompted say the good government legislators by Oliver Stone's movie, JFK, the year before. 

At the Old U. S. Mint Hearing, I sat next to Harry Connick, Sr., Orleans Parish District Attorney.  Connick stood and took the witness chair to testify for the latest JFK full disclosure hearing.  He testified as to the wicked work of his predecessor, Jim Garrison, NOLa D. A., at the time of the murder, and later author of ON THE TRAIL OF THE ASSASSINS, part inspiration for Stone's movie, in which Jim Garrison played Earl Warren.

Connick testified that Garrison burned the District Attorney's JFK investigation files ~ and he had not ought to ~ because they belonged to the holy people of New Orleans, if not the whole wide World.  The World Wide Web had not yet come to pass, L. A. Norma says, "Or Connick would have planted a righteous flag on its behalf, too!"

Turned out Garrison did not burn the files.  A local tv-reporter, later, captured Connick on camera rolling his eyes to heavenly guidance, and telling this same well dressed 'disinformation,' about the evil Jim Garrison.


When, like chef Emeril Lagasse, "BAM," the reporter out pulled an affidavit from his coat pocket and read a retired office worker's testimony that Harry Connick had so ordered him to do the burning of the files. 


Praise the Lord, the worker did not follow those orders, and kept them files in his car's trunk all the following years. There will always be a New Orleans, oui?  They are said to contain nothing of significance. 

Sending the bar where I was watching it, on tv, into giddy and blustery blasts of laughter, Connick did an heroic backstroke before the tv-reporter's lens, ending with the fine belly-flop of: "So what if I did? We needed the space." 

So much for guardian of the sanctified City's property, mon ami, Harry!?  I think this was on New Orleans' tv-channel 6, if you wish to see for yourself.  If you find a clip link it. 
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Copyright, 2017, Leonard Earl Johnson
All Rights Reserved

*More Ray Nagin Footnote! 
Controversial mayor of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and after.  Noted for holding The City together politically by traveling the country speaking to the diaspora, and holding elections with voting booths outside New Orleans ~ his administration fought with the Bush Administration over information withheld (under claims of privacy) on the whereabouts of New Orleans citizens.  This, some say, was done to thwart Nagin's efforts at holding The City together as a mostly black and blue-voting block in an otherwise mostly white and red-voting state.  It was during this time, Nagin was widely quoted speaking positively of New Orleans being a "Chocolate City."  Hyper race-sensitive Louisianians (admit it, cher, there are some!) did not like seeing it that way.
~

Two years after leaving office Nagin was indicted for early post-K. reconstruction graft; found guilty, and incarcerated for ten years (2023 release, he will be 66)


Among Nagin loyalists it is argued his offenses and gains were small (e.g., football trip to Chicago, his Son's business ~ Stone Age (marble/counter-tops) ~ enhanced by tax-lapping corporate scalawags.  Whereas, charges against the scalawags ~ reduced for testimony ~ were huge.  So goes the thinking.


Judge Ginger Berrigan reduced the sentence she handed down by one-half of Federal recommendations.  She stated as consideration Nagin's gains from his graft being small, and that he had shown himself to be a good family man, and upstanding citizen outside of these incidents. 


One day ~ during the Evacuation ~ I happened upon Nagin, Seletha, and their accompanying Muscle at a crossroads boudin place in Acadiana.  As I recall, President Obama was coming.  In any case, Nagin and the Muscle were hefting three long ice chests (like we take fishing in the Gulf) full of boudin. 



~ Ray and Seletha Nagin ~
In the checkout line, I said people were judging him too harshly.  "No one knew what to expect from The Storm," I said, "or how to react after."  The Mayor agreed.  His Wife, and the Muscle both nodded.  

Remember, Katrina was the World's first major 'non-global-warming' event.  Neither Nagin, you, nor I knew what to do. 


Carbon spewing interests had not yet switched arguments from, 'Global warming is not-happening' to 'Happening, but not our fault!'  Meaning they, too, with all their science, did not know what to do. 


New Orleans was left between a ghost town and a frontier town, afterwards. 
 The City was mostly empty.  Military convoys roamed the streets.  People dipped water from The River. Everything was broken, and nothing was open but a couple of French Quarter bars!  Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the U. S. House, was not alone in his view that New Orleans was too vulnerable and should not be rebuilt. 


A few very angry citizens were in Town ~ on the green strips along The River and the lip of Lake Pontchartrain.  


During this strange time, an angry crowd denied Nagin a place on the podium in front of a parade and rally criticizing FEMA and the murder rate.  Imagine, the Mayor of The City denied access to his own people by some of those people!


Later, the Mayor's sub-office of garbage pickup-and-scatter issued spanking new trash cans too large for the little walkways between French Quarter and other old houses.  Tempers ran high. 

~
As the bumper sticker suggested, we remained New Orleanians wherever we were.  Unlike Orleans area parishes, though, where we were everything worked.  

"Except for you," Norma said.


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LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org
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at Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans,
publication of the
It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
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© 2017, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.
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