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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 ConsumerAffairs.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 anthologies: 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, September 01, 2021

⚓ Bottom Road to Baton Rouge / Sept 2021




⚓⚓




Bottom Road to Baton Rouge

Fiction ~
BY  Leonard Earl Johnson 

© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


💀💀
💀
 Sylvia, shorter of the two Red Women, handed her fellow traveler their bus tickets.  Dillard took them and dropped them in her red purse.  She had waited at the coffee shop while Sylvia went across the street to make the purchase.

Clock Tower,
Rosa Parks

Transportation Centre'
Lafayette Louisiana
Their departure would be in a half hour, from under the clock tower at the Rosa Parks Transportation Centre'.  The two Red Women Warriors were in pursuit of a place to promote the cause of reviving the War in Vietnam.

The clock tower is charming.  Part Walt Disney dreamy, part French modern.  It oversees the parking lot ~ keeping track of time for travelers too hurried to keep it for themselves.  

The two finished their Espresso Rosemary and walked over to the Greyhound loading platform.

Their first stop was twenty minutes after departure.  Then again in a half hour.  They were told to get off at the second stop and board another bus. "For all passengers going to Baton Rouge," the driver said.

Dillard looked at her ticket.  Then at Sylvia's.  "We are going down along the old Bottom Road?" she asked of no one in particular.  A young man carrying a black and white chapbook and wearing white fisherman's boots with plastic colored jewels glued to their tops said, "Yes."  

Eyes heavily lidded, the Louisiana fisherman, poet, travel-advisor turned his shoulder enough to let a shaft of light through the bus window and strike a large yellow jewel on his boot.

Dillard's question had been rhetorical but she thanked him anyway.  He nodded and returned to the arms of Morpheus.  The yellow light splattered around his face, and the empty seat by his side.

Dillard and Sylvia moved down the aisle and down the bus steps. The driver explained they had taken the local, "The one making multiple stops and arriving in Baton Rouge after sunset." 

"But that's after the Governor's funeral!" Sylvia said.  Dillard glared at her.

For no reason either woman could explain Dillard was the leader of their little expedition, cast off as it was from a trainload of Red Women Warriors for The Donald crisscrossing Louisiana.  

She thanked the driver and gave him a sticker that read, Turn Back Voter Turnout.  He looked at it before dropping it in the waste can. 

The two bought new tickets straight into New Orleans.  "We will arrive there in time for Louis Sahuc's living wake second line," Dillard said.

Louis Sahuc
 New Orleans Photographer
Louis Sahuc, 1942~2021
In his Lower Pontalba apartment above Photo Works, his shop and studio on Jackson Square, Louis Sahuc lay in hospice care.  Friends gathered beneath his balcony with traditional Louisiana bravado and musical instruments.  He did not rise to wave them a final farewell from his balcony ~ as some had hoped ~ but we learned later that he did expire the next morning just before Sunrise. 

💜 💚💛

Sylvia set to hanging a banner between the balcony pillars facing Decatur Street.  The second line band, To Be Continued, played The Saints Marching In, while the celebrants waved their white handkerchiefs.  

Sylvia's banner read: 
Peace is the Reason for Bad Wars.

🠇 🠇 🠗

Two Vietnamese creole youths on skateboards swept down the sidewalk past Saint Louis Cathedral, rounded the corner by the Lower Pontalba, and took out the banner. 

They surged across Decatur Street and up the Battery ramp to The River.  At the bottom of the Moonwalk Steps they set the banner ablaze.  Sparks fluttered over the gray rickrack ~ as the muddy Mississippi passed by.  

👒 

Sylvia and Dillard left in disgust. Their pamphlets to revive the War in Vietnam blew across Jackson Square, and gathered at the statue of Andrew Jackson.  The two walked up Rue Chartres their red rubber shoes squishing on the hot pavement.  At The Wrinkle Room they pushed open the door, and got very drunkLEJ.org ✍

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~  *  ~      ~  *  ~      ~  *  ~



~    ~    ~

      

Leonard Earl Johnson, LEJ.org 
 
Photograph © Leonard Earl Johnson 

Subscribe@LEJ.org http://www.LEJ.org
If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.org anytime. 
They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

~   ~   ~

 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org,
Hosted by GOOGLE BLOGGER,
and historically at
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans
publication of the

It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

Sunday, August 01, 2021

✍ Then There Were Two / August 2021


💧


Our enemies were so weak we had to spend millions building them up so we could go to war with them. 

~ Dick Gregory 

circa 1965



💀💀💔💀💀

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
August 2021


Then There Were Two

From Red Train to Red Stick

Fiction ~
BY  Leonard Earl Johnson 

© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


💀💀
💀

The two red women forced from the other day's trainload of Red Women Warriors for The Donald, stood facing the door at Rêve Coffee Roasters on Jefferson Street.  

The red brick road to Rêve  / 
Photograph by 
© Leonard Earl Johnson


An array of menu choices pasted to the glass slowed their advance. 

They were further baffled when a barista with café au lait colored skin and gilded dreadlocks took ten-dollars and gave them two elegant slim glasses holding two ounces each of very black coffee, with a green sprig of rosemary dangling from its lip, and two red raisins on a toothpick laying at its foot. 

A blood pressure shootout commenced at the ole coffee bar.

Each woman opened a little silver box, and took out two white pills the same size as the red raisins.  They swallowed all with ice water served as a chaser along with the coffee.  Then they asked their exalted presenter of Expresso Rosemary about the next train to Baton Rouge.

There was none, she told them.  "But Greyhound," also in the Rosa Parks Centre, "runs several buses a day.  Takes about an hour, I think."

E. W. E. MOVING FROM NEW-TO-OLD CAPITOL
Photograph © Philip Gould
The red women's aim is to be in Baton Rouge in time to raise their banners before the laying out of Edwin Washington Edwards, the dashing Cajun Prince, three times Governor of Louisiana, for a total of sixteen years.  And one time Federal prisoner for eight years.

He would be laid out first in the New Capitol, and then in the Old.  The new one built by Edwards idol, Huey P. Long.  

Long was gunned down in the New Capitol in 1935, and interred on its grounds under massive tons of concrete.  "To thwart seekers of souvenirs and Republican dirty tricksters," L. A. Norma said.

The two red women plan on waving signs to "Revive the War in Vietnam," as mourners walk behind the Governor's horse drawn hearse.  It looked like the Greyhound Bus would do the trick on getting them there.

💜💚
💛

The two had hung around Lafayette in anticipation of the fictitious "Biden on Bastille Day Concert."  

L. A. Norma had invited all the red women to attend.  No others did of course.  No one did.  There was no concert.  In fact, no recognition of Bastille Day whatsoever.  Nowhere in Louisiana.  And very little for Joe Biden anywhere in the state outside of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

They occupied themselves eating at sidewalk cafés, drinking in student bars with COVID-defiant social practices, and attending services at Saint John The Evangelist Cathedral.  Where they tried engaging the young Rector in their ideas to revive an obedient sacrifice of the flock through renewal of the lost war in Southeast Asia.  

Photography and poem © Leonard Earl Johnson

 "Like the honor bestowed by General Mouton's death at the Battle of Mansfield, during the 1864 Red River Campaign.
 
 "Before present day outlaws shot off his nose and got his statue taken down," they told the young priest. 

 He listened politely but from their first meeting turned the other way when he saw them coming.   ~ LEJ.org 👒

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~  *  ~      ~  *  ~      ~  *  ~



~    ~    ~

      

Leonard Earl Johnson, LEJ.org 
 
Photograph © Leonard Earl Johnson 

Subscribe@LEJ.org http://www.LEJ.org
If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.org anytime. 
They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

~   ~   ~

 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org,
Hosted by GOOGLE BLOGGER,
and historically at
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans
publication of the

It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

`

Thursday, July 01, 2021

⚓ The Ladies Wore Red / July 2021

 




💀💀💔💀💀
"No tribe nor nation ever slaughtered innocents without Gott's ok ceremonially granted by priests and heralded by the choir." L. A. Norma

* * * * * * * * * * 
July 2021


The Ladies Wore Red

Fiction ~
BY  Leonard Earl Johnson 

© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

💀💀
💀

The Lady walked out of the Rosa Parks Transportation Centre women's room leading a dozen or so similarly attired women.  All in red.  From red rubber shoes to red ribboned hat.

👒

"We were on the train four hours from New Orleans," the red leader said to L. A. Norma as she pulled a red can of Coke from a machine that looked itself like a giant red can of Coke.  The giant red Coke promised that smaller red Cokes inside were made from, "Natural Sugar," as though that would be good for your health and wellbeing.  We are deep in the heart of Louisiana sugarcane country.

Some ladies carried red, white and blue felt pennants attached to red sticks (made in China).  All wore sashes proclaiming:

"💓Love America?
Love The Donald!"

"As if that would be good for your health and well being!" 
L. A. Norma said, exhaling Camel Cigarette smoke.

The ladies ~ Red Women Warriors for The Donald ~ were traveling along coastal Louisiana organizing a statewide Zoom-rally on July Fourth from Baton Rouge.

"Because the train rocked we couldn't use the restroom till now," one lady told Norma.  Her red, white, and blue pennant read, 'Turn Back Voter Turn Out.'

Norma handed each of them a card for her fictitious July 14, Biden on Bastille Day
 Concert
💙
Falsely promised on Lafayette's outdoor International Stage a block from where we stood at the Rosa Parks Transportation Centre's Amtrak stop.

A bronze statue of Rosa Parks sitting on a bus seat ~ today wearing a blue COVID mask ~ watched.  The seat by her side was empty.  Tourists sometimes sit there and have their picture taken.  None of the red ladies did this.  Their leader walked among them and gathered Norma's hand out.  Two refused to turn over theirs and were asked to remove their sashes and signs reading, 'Committee to Revive the War in Vietnam' and move to the rear of the group. 


They departed for a late lunch at Dwyers Café on Jefferson Street. 

Norma lit a Camel and we walked to Rêve Coffee Roasters on The Great Artway.

Two days later we returned to the Rosa Parks Centre and watched the Red Ladies board the train for Lake Charles, Louisiana. ~ LEJ.org



LEJ.org sitting with Rosa Parks / photo credit: Mark Konikoff

~  *  ~      ~  *  ~      ~  *  ~

⚓  ⚓ ⚓ 



~    ~    ~

      

Leonard Earl Johnson, LEJ.org 
 
Photograph © Leonard Earl Johnson

Subscribe@LEJ.org 
http://www.LEJ.org
If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.org anytime. 
They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

~   ~   ~

 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org,
Hosted by GOOGLE BLOGGER,
and historically at
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans,
publication of the

It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


Tuesday, June 01, 2021

✍ Jerry Young, Final Draft ~ 1942-2021 / June 2021


  ~ Final Draft ~ 

💀💀💔💀💀
"May we pass a good time as we pass," 
Jerry Young, 1942 ~ 2021

𝅘𝅥𝅲 𝆔 𝆕 𝅘𝅥𝅰 🎵 𝅘𝅥𝅯 𝅘𝅥𝅮 𝅘𝅥 𝅗𝅥
💀💀
💀
~ a musical interlude ~
* * * * * * * * * * 
June 2021

Jerry Young

BY  Leonard Earl Johnson 

© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

~  *  ~      ~  *  ~      ~  *  ~


Hurricane Katrina blew us out the flood gates of New Orleans in 2005 and sent us hurtling over the Atchafalaya Basin and numerous Bayous, including one named in French, 'Bayou of the Germans' / Bayou des Allemandes.  

Life as we lived it pre-K ended.  Pamplona Tapas Bar, downtown Lafayette picked up our slack and offered us new ~ though familiar ~ comfort.  

🍷🍾We took seats at that spot (found in any joint in the World) where forces from kitchen, bar, and dining room floor interact.  Where waiters pick up orders, cooks slip drinks, and information passes hands.  A place where the bartenders learn your name and chefs give you suggestions.  Where patient waitstaff treat you like you might one day be a good tipper.  Or at least sit with them.

My Father owned such a roadhouse in Illinois where I grew up.  I love this spot in any club.  It is where you learn who is good at pulling lines taut, and who is not.  What table with a flock of painted birds is running up the tab of besuited bankers with top-shelf taste?  And who is pursuing and who is fleeing?

Pamplona Tapas Bar
This spot is the social cradle of any café, club or bar, anywhere ~ and literally my own Spring cradle.    Pamplona welcomed me home.

"Who's flirtin', who's squirtin', who's hurtin'," the bartender said setting down a complimentary glass of medicinal red, a gift from someone down the bar. 

Down at the other end sat a group of regulars we came to call 'The Oil Barons.'    Men ~ mostly ~ whose fortunes rested ultimately on the undulating pool of Louisiana oil and gas.  Not oilmen exactly but dependent on it.  They were owners of  varied businesses and farms that gave birth to housing developments and shopping strips.  Lawyers, architects, contractors, politicians, a Vietnam helicopter pilot, and an insurance man who controlled two parking slots forty-five miles away, at Tiger Stadium, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.

Sometimes such men earned their wealth from "dirt poor scratch."  Sometimes their wealth bubbled up from lands that simply opened up to Texas rainmakers and spilled oil over families who for generations have hired each other to tally the columns and drive around Town in Cadillac sport utilities taking long lunches at places like Pamplona.

The alpha leader of this particular pack was also the majority owner and vigilant overseer of the bar, Jerry Young, 1942 - 2021.  Young had created for himself the kind of retirement boys of all ages dream of having: He owned the bar where he and his cronies passed a good time. 

Increasingly my lunch tabs were paid and fresh glasses of wine slid down my way.  Slowly I slid back up the bar and joined The Oil Barons, who took me in though I was no more than a penniless practitioner of the pauper's art, a writer.  A New Orleans scribe at that, babbling Huey Long's "Every Man a King," and freely willing to share-their-wealth. 

In his youth Jerry lettered in football at LSU, in 1962 and 1963.  During the years '62, '63, '64 he played in the Cotton Bowl, Bluebonnet Bowl, and Sugar Bowl winning two out of the three.   In his muted days he held court at Pamplona, accepting greetings from friends and offering his ring to flattering supplicants buying drinks.  All hustling each other, bartering, making deals, spinning wheels, fishing for whales.  I became their Emperor Norton of the Swamp.

One afternoon, drifting off in the wine's warm glow, I came back in focus finding myself lost in a conversation over 40,000 somethings.  But I couldn't catch what.  Dollars?  Barrels?  Cattle?  Then it hit me that it didn't really matter what.  Whatever it was I didn't have 40,000 of them, or anything else.

Jerry orchestrated his group of cronies with the grace of any ole boy in a dream come true.  One day, when my Mother was 96 she phoned me at Pamplona, on my birthday.  With finger raised Jerry hushed the house saying, "Leonard's Mother is on the phone."  

A patriot with a football hero's love for women and a Southern gentleman's noblesse oblige towards womanhood, when Donald Trump mocked that American Muslim woman on television ~ a grieving Gold Star Mother ~ Young distanced himself from the Bayou State's roiling red politics, and said so at the bar to his friends. 

Oil Barons at the bar

If you live long enough and write, you will write memorial obits for people you know, admire and miss.  I only knew Jerry Young the last fifteen years of his Life, and I'm not able to say much more than mention his glorious younger years when, as one of the wealthiest men in Louisiana, he became a LSU football star, and a world-class fisherman.  

He was also a man who turned down a chance to go pro ~ to go fishing.  

Years ago, off the waters between New Zealand and Australia he came to know the actor Lee Marvin.  They met at the parties world class sailors and fishermen attend.  Marvin was known to nurse the bottle and be hard to handle, as well as one of the great movie actors of the day with a range from drama to comic.  Insults were hurled between the two of them.  The next day, Jerry and his airplane pilot flew over Marvin's yacht and egg-bombed it.  "Then we sailed for Tahiti!"  

⚓ Bon Voyage, ole friend! ⚓

LEJ.org 


~    ~    ~

      

Leonard Earl Johnson, LEJ.org
 
a

Subscribe@LEJ.org 
http://www.LEJ.org
If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.org anytime. 
They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

~   ~   ~

 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org,
Hosted by GOOGLE BLOGGER,
and historically at
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans,
publication of the

It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved