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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.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Ain't no Hubigs Here No More / September 2012

Yours Truly in a Swamp
September 2012

 * * *

Ain't no Hubigs Here No More
Leonard Earl Johnson

A Rainy night in New Orleans           Photo credit, Roy Gust, Jr.
The fried-pie factory's white building stood, but the delivery vans were gone, and scars from the fire were visible from the street.

"The fallen Vatican of New Orleans' lust for salt, fat, and sugar," said a woman swinging on her rue Dauphin front-gallery.

"Our diet's 'Holy Trinity'," L. A. Norma laughed, "more'n onions, parsley and peppers," the ubiquitous mirepoix of Louisiana cooking.

* * *

To celebrate Katrina's seventh-anniversary we rode our bikes to the library and checked-out the first season of David Simon's H. B. O. masterpiece, Treme'. "Nothing captures lost New Orleans more-better, pre-or-post K.," Norma said.

It opens in a time just after The Storm: Big John Goodman's character (angry Tulane English professor) speaks a resonating line for sex-abused Catholic Louisiana, "Cool as a cucumber up an archbishop's ass!" He is waxing on the importance of The City Bush's FEMA Forgot, standing on the River Front levee talking to dry-land reporters, "Since when don't great nations rebuild their great cities?" Goodman asks the man from N. P. R.

"Since Atlantis!" Norma said, blowing Camel Cigarette smoke at the t.v. screen.

Later, Goodman is served a Hubigs Pie by a dessert-challenged Susan Spicer-ly chef struggling to reopen in those numbing days after Katrina.

                                                * * 

A young writer, up east, e-mailed a story about a fireman weeping at the site of the Hubigs' fire. "I doubt it," I wrote back. New Orleans firemen have seen worse than one icon fall.

"Just more water over the break," the old lady on the swing said. It started raining and we started back to Squalor Heights to watch the t. v. weather.

Hurricane Isaac was coming to the Katrina Day party, coming right up the Mississippi River. Seven years after Katrina, to the day!

"God has a sense of irony," I said to Norma.

"Na, some sheik in Arabia's directing our weather with a joy stick one of our intelligence agents gave him so he'd be armed enough to make war with us."

Norma is a follower of the late night radio show, Coast to Coast. She thinks the United States is following George Orwell's 1984 -- 
a book where politicians compete for power preaching fear and war.

"We've become a warlord nation," she said, "teaching violence to our kids and claiming The Constitution protects their right to carry military assault weapons.

"What's next, personal drones to drop little bombs on our neighbors?"

The t. v. said trains had stopped running and the airport had closed. All roads were open, but we don't drive and don't like the cramped Greyhound Bus, which the t. v. just updated to closed, too.

Governor Bobby Jindal came on the screen. He talked for a long time, listing each and every sand bag in the state. "Ain't no president goin'a make a Kathleen Blanco out of Lapdog," Norma giggled.

We turnd out the lights and watched the rain through the open dormer. Norma's cigarette smoke followed the wind out the window and mixed on the ground with the smells of booze, pinewood, and maybe a lost crumb from a Hubigs' pie.

HBO's Treme' Returns September 23, 2012
Copyright, 2012, Leonard Earl Johnson
All Rights Reserved

Papa LEJ
photo credit: Maureen Brennan