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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, October 10, 2007

On the Way to The New Orleans Film Festival

Yours Truly in a Swamp

Leonard Earl Johnson

Reprinted from
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans
We are back in America's New Lost City, at the 18th annual New Orleans Film Festival, the most lavish festival held in this city since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita blew the roof off the place.

Last year there were half this year's 117 screenings. That horrible first year after The Storms, when The City was under mandatory evacuation, there was but an unofficial
festival in exile, at Cite des Arts in Lafayette, the "Hub City" of French Louisiana.

This year we watched films, ate, and danced into the cool night with speakers of French and speakers of Y'at, the where-you-at dialect of New Orleans.

The City Care Forgot is slowly forgetting its woes.

A smiling elderly lady from Chicago told me, at a post-screening party outside Canal Place Cinema that she had taken the train, The City of New Orleans, which she had not ridden in 40 years. "The food on board is not as good as it used to be, but this jambalaya," she pointed to our plates, "makes up for it."

Our luxury hotel rooms, fine dinning and helpful information was provided by the family friendly pockets of Harrah's Casino, where we had a view over the Mississippi River, to The City's Westbank, that must have stopped René-Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, mid-paddle:
The sun rises over the Westbank!

Things are indeed different in New Orleans. And they always have been.

The most impassioned plea of the now forgotten anti-gambling debate was that a big central casino should not become a self-contained resort that would suck up all the established restaurant and hotel business. Harrah's compromise was to only have fast-food and gambling, and no lodging. Now, in post Katrina New Orleans, they have it all. And as fine as any anywhere. As the wise know, make lemonade when the levees break.

One morning, breakfasting grandly in Brennan's crowded Royal Street bistro, Ellen Brennan, cookbook author and member of the "Famous Family of Good Food," agreed. "We are all partners in bringing back the tourists."

Did you hear the street buzz? The only one convicted in the infamous Canal Street Brothel case was a doorman at an unnamed luxury hotel who told the man where the action was? No, not Harrah's. Harrah's luxury hotel was then but a gleam in the promise maker's eye.

Can't you hear the doorman saying: "It's just down Canal Street, next to the FBI sting. You can't miss it."

The out-of-state dentist, who started all this FBI gumshooing, got off from bilking Uncle Sam out'a false Medicare payments. The FBI got employment and infamy. (To their honor, the local police refused to cooperate with them.) And the doorman took the fall.

The madam got a lot of TV time and a sly smile. She recently told Larry Flynt (that old muckraker and Bourbon Street club owner), the Honorable Senator Vitter was a customer of hers between visits with his D. C. madam. Don't those con-servatives have the kinkiest sex? Liberal Bill Clinton only got a simple old fashioned wind-employment, for old fashioned free.

A professor I know took us over to Roberts Cove, Louisiana, for what we expected to be a pathetic imitation Oktoberfest. It was great! Good bier, music, dancers, exhibitions and food. They did have rice in their stews. But, thank Gott, not in da sauerkraut! -- there they had white potatoes cooked down to a gravy. MMMMMmmmm good!

As The Professor said, "What can you expect from Louisiana Germans, who are very prosperous rice farmers."

We went to look at the names in the cemetery just to walk among the white marble and large black, red & gold tricolor flying over each grave. It was beautiful. And the Alpine horns call and response was perfection. The yodeling was too, but even at its best.....

As we arrived a choir was singing that rucksacks song, "I Am A Happy Wanderer." Brought back memories, like the time in Fifth Grade when the music teacher beat the heck out of me. My Mother, the German, said it was my fault.

See you at the New Orleans Film Festival. Till then, keep le faith, speed der day and keep reading and writing,
* * *
This image. "Bourbon Street #13"
Leonard Earl Johnson
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