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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, March 01, 2014

The Cons are Coming, Retire Now! / March 2014

Yours Truly in a Swamp
March 2014 

Leonard Earl Johnson
of New Orleans and Lafayette

The Cons are Coming, Retire Now! 

by Leonard Earl Johnson

Governor's Lift                Baton Rouge
"Retire as soon as you can," L. A. Norma said to a younger couple standing beside us on Royal Street watching the passing Krewe du Vieux, the first and cheekiest Carnival parade in New Orleans. Led this year by John Barry, author of RISING TIDE.

Al Johnson's "Throw The Baby Out The Window, It's Carnival Time," danced in our heads, and a float passed displaying what looked like Governor Bobby Jindal bent at the waist blowing white fart-clouds in the face of Louisiana.

Norma, talking loud over the band, said, "Like your bum nephew, they are fishing your Social Security check out'a your mailbox."

The young couple edged away, inspecting the mule team pulling His Excellency blowing farts in our faces.

Krewe du Vieux                             New Orleans First Carnival Parade

"It will be harder for them if you already are getting a check," she called after them.

* *

Amtrak's Sunset Limited was an hour late leaving Lafayette for New Orleans. In Winter, this means the entire run was in the dark. A train at night is an entirely different experience. More akin to flying, with nothing to see but unidentifiable lights. And, on a train, your reflection in the large windows.

The Mississippi River, according to the pubic address system, was beneath us, as we clattered across the Huey P. Long Bridge. Downtown-lights twinkled in the downstream distance. For us the bright lights of big box stores and little strip malls lay in wait at the foot of the bridge. 

Trains from the west circle wide around the edge of New Orleans. Coming up first on the newly built City Beltway Depot and then running along Airline Highway, the road Huey P. built to make a straight-line link from his offices in Baton Rouge to the lobby of the Hotel Roosevelt in Big Swamp City, New Orleans.

"This is where the commuter trains from Baton Rouge would have come," Norma said, tapping the window, "if Governor Lapdog Millionaire Jindal weren't running for President on the New Know-Nothing ticket. 

"Jindal thinks he can whip us like a mule team proving himself master of the voters. Wee-the-people pulling his weasel-ass up on the Republican National lap by the sting of his economic lash."

Bean-counting demographers, flood-mapping cartographers, and L. A. Norma agree on one thing, New Orleans population is drowning on the coastline and shifting along The River towards Baton Rouge. Since Katrina, five thousand daily commute this route. North by Northwest lies New Orleans' future faubourgs, and Governor Bobby Jindal turned down a Federal grant to build a commuter line. If the Feds build it, he sagely observed, "We would still have to run it." 

"A business-trained mind gone off the rails," Norma said, drumming on the train window, "but still smart as the weasel he is, bought and sold by the Texas Koch brothers, Louisiana be damnd! 

"His people are soulless members of 'America Next,' from D. C., or local true-believers
 with torches and pitchforks. They do not care one wit about good government. They mostly do not even believe there is such a thing. Government that governs in chaos is their idea of government that governs best."

Norma does not like Bobby Jindal.

* * *

We remained in New Orleans the next few weeks. 

One night at a Faubourg Marigny Association party in Buffa's back room, we ate, schmoozed and drank to music like it was first meant to be heard. Acoustic Guitarist/Banjo man, Mike Dill, poured life into an old boxer song about the great Boom Boom Mancini, a killer and a man. Cheers from here to the bandstand!

Another night, Uptown, on a dimly lighted street, poison shrimp and pasta attacked without warning. Three days in bed and you know where... 

"Fitting," Norma told everyone who cared and some who did not, "h
e has a three-day headstart on this year's penance. The Vatican will be pleased." 

* * *

In good spirits again 

We attended the Historic New Orleans Collection, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra's extravaganza, POSTCARDS FROM PARIS (filmed for airing later by Louisiana Public Broadcast), inside the Basilica of Saint Louis Cathedral. 

Everything was heavenly, but the Doctor Michael White arrangement of Sidney Bechet's 'Petite Fleur' made musical history. White was on clarinet; Anthony Brown, banjo; Kerry Lewis, double bass.  The spirit of Bechet and a thousand other musicians blessed their notes. "Fit for Himself and us too," Norma whispered. We stayed afterwards and lit a candle for the evening.  

 * * *

We attended the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association's monthly meeting and potluck where a representative from Krewe du Vieux spoke on the matter of being a good Carnival neighbor. An artist/former Park Service guide off Amtrak's line to Chicago rose to speak against so many penises in the parade. There are paper mache phalluses riding on floats; a sub- Krewe of Sperm marching with huge spermatozoa on sticks held high over their heads; and, some years, a band of jolly phalos-costumed celebrants marching from side to side and on down the street.

No one spoke in support of the poor male member.  Till Norma stood, "I wish to say a word in favor of penises," she said, and then sat down. The meeting adjourned with the future of the penis in Faubourg Marigny unsettled.

Copyright, 2014, Leonard Earl Johnson, all rights reserved

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