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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.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Hemingway: Prt 3, Trains, Fests, Funerals and Food/August 2014

The Hemingway wearing a sailor's cap, and his beard tucked in
is L. E. J., 2013 Hemingway second-placer.
photocredit: Sunday Parker

Yours Truly in a Swamp,
Monthly e-column by
Leonard Earl Johnson, of Lafayette and New Orleans

August, 2014

Hemingway: Trains, Festivals, Funerals and Food, Part 3
(actually it never ends)
This column is dedicated to
Lionel Ferbos
he appeared in a cameo as himself on TREME' (HBO),
was a featured player at the Palm Court for years, and
the oldest regularly performing New Orleans musician at the time of his death
last month at 103

by  Leonard Earl Johnson

We arrived in New Orleans aboard Amtrak's Sunset Limited, delayed hours behind an elderly freighter with a faulty braking system. They stopped, we stopped. They waited, we waited. I do not know if the freighter ever got where it was going but we did not get to bed till midnight.

Next Day

"Praise the day!" L. A. Norma said, as our cabbie dropped us on Jackson Square, in front of Dickie Brennan's newest, Tableau. A fine dining establishment carved from the once large lobby of le Petit Theatre Du Vieux Carré (America's oldest operating community "theatre"). 

"It happened," Norma lamented. "Amid chagrin-launched parties attended with fleeting concerns, it happened. Now clearly for the better, the little empty lobby became the big Dickie Brennan's new kitchen and bar."

Change Happens. Even in Louisiana.Take New Orleans esteemed restaurant name, Brennan. Those who regretted attaching it to the Little Theatre's lobby -- and those who did not care -- have now made the new bar a gathering place for nearby do-wells partying in their three-centuries-old City Centrum. "With the likes of us," L. A. Norma said, laughing with a couple of Metairie-ians celebrating their first anniversary, "waiting for the curtain to go up." 

"Amid the faux marble and leatherish decor of yore," giggled the pretty young Metairie-ian wife to her beaming yearling husband. They were staying up rue Royal at the Hotel Monteleone, and traveling about the Quarter by pedibike rickshaw.

* * *

Presbyter, Jackson Square, New Orleans
Photo Credit:  Mark Tullos 
"Ground Zero," Norma said, with a wave of her hand towards Jackson Square, "for Louisiana Europeans, and Africans." 

Sounds of the Pfister Sisters came from the back of our skulls. Memories of their harmony wafting from a stage built during French Quarter Festival on land that was once the settlement's military parade grounds. It floated up to our table on the second floor corner on an early Summer day that felt like the best of all possible Summer days.

Lionel Ferbos   1911 ~ 2014
YouTube video by Ricky Riccardi
Tonight, we finished our wine and Oysters Maison, a new fabled dish at Tableau, and led our new friends two doors down to Sylvain ~ where they sometimes remember your name

Tennessee Williams would have loved the Sazeracs here. And the youthful gathering round the pockets of elders, in the best of ways that never change. 


LEJ's San Fermin Story,
Running Bulls New Orleans Style
Hemingway's looking alike contest at The Maison, on rue Frenchmen was everything you could want of a Hemingway-looking event. Silly and worth doing.

Roxie Le Rouge was burlesque's dancing perfection at the party. Delicious, though she looked nothing like Hemingway. She brought dancing up to a sexier place than even a Baptist could imagine. Three cheers from here to her! 

Chris ChampagneNew Orleans finest story teller, stand-up comic, should always be heard -- or read. He prints his tales in book form. A help for non-native speakers. Champagne is one of us, and one-a-those-funny-guys talkin' about us, too! You can catch his act all around Town, and likely next year at Hemingway.

I drank Wild Turkey Rye donated by Hemingway candidates responding to my Judge-like motto, "One Whisky One Vote." A certain kind of judge, that is. Did I tell you I was a judge of this contest? And, as it turned out, an unlikely contestant, too.

"When Hemingway was your age," Norma said, "he'd been dead eleven years!"

Winner was John McElroy, from Arizona via Los Angeles. "A film guy," said L. A. Norma.

Pappa LEJ, 
Lake Martin, Louisiana, 2014
Photo Credit:  Frank Parsley

Downtown, weeks earlier, the real Judge Ginger Berringer gave the real somber former mayor Ray Nagin ten years, and restitution. For Armstrong Park's clay footed statues and free Super Bowl flights. (Berringer did not get those things, unlike me, she is not that kind of judge.) Those were some of the charges against the former mayor.

"And those damnable oversized garbage cans too big to fit in the Quarter," L. A. Norma told our favorite cabbie on the way to the train station.

"Hemingway would have loved the day. But he'd have gone fishing down in Plaquemines Parish," the cabbie said, dropping us on the platform side of Union Station, near the gates to the Westbound train.