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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, May 01, 2013

Music, Food and the Neal Auction House / May 2013

Yours Truly in a Swamp
May 2013


Monthly column by

Leonard Earl Johnson

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Music, Food and the Neal Auction House
Leonard Earl Johnson

May 2013


L. A. Norma held up 
Neal Auction House's Spring Estates Catalog 
to show me two photographs by George Dureau.

"These ran with your story in the Houston paper?" she said. "Before gay NBA, Jason Collins' coming-out?" she asked/said, dropping her cigarette butt on the boarding platform and crushing it with a red high-heeled foot.  

"They did publish it," I said, "twenty-some years before. When news flowed on ink, and photographs sailed on paper; and news editors would have known without looking it up that Jason Collins was not America's first big-time gay athlete."

Norma smiled, "Today they got Collins chronology wrong without looking it up." We laughed.  Our train's whistle blew in the distance, "For the crossing in Scott," I said. We stood and gathered our things. 

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The catalog page held up by L. A. Norma, 
that day waiting for the train in Lafayette.

Neal Auction 
House Spring 
Estates Auction,  
May 4 & 5, 

395. George Valentine Dureau (American/New Orleans, b. 1930)
"David Kopay" and "Edward Lucie-Smith", 
1987, two silver gelatin prints, both signed and titled, 
the former signed, titled and dated en verso, 8 in. x 10 in., 
unframed. $400/600

Note: As a running back, David Kopay played for the 
San Francisco 49ers and the Washington Redskins 
and was the first NFL player to publicly come out as gay. 

In 1971 
Kopay played one season for the New Orleans Saints and 
during that time met the artist George Dureau, who took a series 
of provocative photographs of the football player. The 
internationally renowned art historian Edward Lucie-Smith 
wrote the introduction to the 1985 book George Dureau, 
New Orleans, 50 Photographs, published in London, 
in which photographs of Kopay are featured. 

Two years 
later, Dureau 
took this engaging photograph of Lucie-Smith.

What the Jason Collins news story told us was not only how wrong they were -- press and public -- but, also, that there has been a sea-change in how Americans see being gay and being football manly.

"And long overdo," Norma opined inside a plume of Camel Cigarette smoke. "Was David Kopay as charming as Jason Collins?" This clearly was a question. 

"Yes," I said. "Manly charming. Exciting. Think bull-force football. Tank-armor clad football. The guy who would take you dancing, pay all the bills, and get your uncle a green card, too!"


Collins is basketball charming. Think clever. Physical. Think brilliant youth you want to see advancing the human race. (If you want a thrill, think two. There are two of them! The other is Jason's straight twin who is charming as his Brother.)  


Kopay played one year for the New Orleans Saints, and comes back most every Mardi Gras. He was a subject of his friend, photographer George Dureau. I met them both one year when I was newly home from The Sea.

When we met, Kopay was living in Los Angeles, more-or-less retired from the public's eye. While Dureau was being seen more-and-more within the pantheon of the art-gods. Kopay's image was included in the 1985 publication, GEORGE DUREAU NEW ORLEANS 50 PHOTOGRAPHS, published in London with an introduction by English art historian, Edward Lucie-Smith. 

Dureau's association / influence on New York shock-photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe began to be spoken in cognoscenti circles, and many attributed Lucie-Smith's nod as Dureau's bon entree to art stardom.

* * * 

L. A. Norma and I boarded the train back to New Orleans after spending the week following French Quarter Festival, in Lafayette,  the "Hub City," according to boosters, and a great place that is home to the annual, widely acclaimed Festival International de Louisiane, Lafayette. This year's was the 27th. What a time it was!  

Think of those early Jazz Fests in Armstrong Park, where the gate was free, and you walked and talked; visited and boozed. When nearby restaurants abounded with great food, tables and chairs, and Gott-blessed shade was around every stage. That is how it was then and now, in Laughingyette. 

At Pamplona Tapas Bar

on Boulevard Jefferson, filmmaker, Connie Castille (T-Gallop, A Louisiana Horse Story) bought us Jack Daniels and spoke in full lack of detail about her next film. She introduced a Florida money man and a Bayou Teche Experience man.  The watery route to film in French Louisiana, oui

A Lafayette couple introduced us to four pretty young women from Paris, whom they had invited to Lafayette off their just returned-the-day-before Caribbean cruise aboard the M/V Carnival Conquest, out of New Orleans. Alas, they had not come over on the train, but they were loving Festival International

L. A. Norma told them we had sailed on the Conquest twice, and gave them a web link to Country Roads Magazine's story about our adventure. (Note: Country Roads editor says their link is in
 process of moving to a new server, and may temporarily not work. Sorry, try again later.   =   "Remarque: Le Country Roads rédacteur en chef a dit que leur lien est en train de se déplacer vers un nouveau serveur, et peut ne pas fonctionner temporairement. Désolé, essayez plus tard.")

* * *

During the French Quarter Festival, 
we spent an afternoon at Dickie Brennan's yet-to-open restaurant, Tableau, on The River end of  Le Petit Theatre overlooking Jackson Square. 

We sat outside on the second floor, in the gallery curve, nearly close enough to touch the Cabildo. Wow! Such views! Such food! Such Life! 

Down in the Square we saw an Evangelical with an amplifier. Mostly he was ignored but several musicians and vendors approached him. Then a policeman. Another amplified preacher joined them. Then I got distracted by a man in a pork-pie hat with a spotted pig on a leash. When I looked back the two preachers were gone. A Lucky Dog hot-dog wagon lumbered over the curb. Leif Pedersen's 1944 Big Band music wafted its smooth sound from the  tree-shrouded WWL-TV Stage.

We ate Turtle Soup, drank whisky, and watched two elderly ladies leading a little white dog wearing pink booties. Next, an Uptown matron-type tried liberating a sad brown puppy on a huge brown rope being dragged about by a disoriented young man in rags. The matron doubtless thought the puppy was getting improper care. The word on the street is that homeless folks can avoid police arrest if in the company of a dog, because police won't take them in and leave their dogs on the street. In the end, the sad young man kept his sad little puppy. 

Rip and Marsha Naquin-Delain, publishers of New Orleans gay newspaper, AMBUSH, for decades the only source of Big Swamp City gay-news sought out by the main stream press. 
"Still is," L. A. Norma said, "for what is left of it."

The Naquin-Delains are the first couple registered in New Orleans as a legal Domestic Couple. They walked along with a bag from Rouses on Royal. "Where New Orleans' First Couple shops," Norma said 

Jan Ramsey, publisher of Off Beat magazine joined me with news that her March issue, the one with "B*tch, get off me! Cheeky Blakk bounces back (always)" on the cover, had been disallowed distribution at two sites and still had the highest circulation post Katrina. She declined to name the disallowing sites. Cheeky Blakk is The City's leading practitioner of  Bounce Dancing, and ghetto tongue slinging.  She played herself in HBO's Tremé.

In the recording-studio scene, (Steve Zahn's character) D. J. Davis McAlary, is asked by Blakk, "You want full ghetto!?" She then lets loose sounds that would singe any stiff collar. The Bounce? It is a dance where the supple bend and turn their rumps to the crowd and bounce them for the joy of all to see.

Copyright, 2013, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved
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