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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.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Trains Make Good Walls ~ A Dream / May 2018

LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp,

a monthly e-column by Leonard Earl Johnson, 

of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana

E-mail: Subscribe@LEJ.org
Archives: www.LEJ.org  

May 2018

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Trains Make Good Walls
 A Dream
BY  Leonard Earl Johnson
© 2018, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

In my seat, alone dozing the last hour before reaching Lafayette, I dreamt of photographers raising their cameras. 

Art directors composed men shouldering large silver and gold sledgehammers.  Arranging them before my mind's lens, as 'Gandy Dancers' ~ those gangs of mostly black men, who, with muscle alone wiggled and danced heavy iron rails into an alignment that joined the nation by its proud new railroad line ~ linking West Coast gold to East Coast greed. 

"Why not!" the Trumper tweeted.  

"Why not a wall of  
many railroads stretching from California to Florida.  Multiple lines strung with multiple trains running thick as bamboo in the jungle?"

It would follow Amtrak's first coast-to-coast train #1, the Sunset Limited's route, which itself follows the Old Spanish Trail.

"Lets see them beaners get across that!"  Trumper twittered, as Ivanka brushed his hair.  And Son-In-Law, Jared Kushner un-spooled a 'back-line communication' cable behind his patriotic Family.

Roseate Spoonbill   /   Louisiana

The little Family tableau rode along gold plated escalators, and moving-sidewalks, now 
running from the White House up The Mall to the big domed Capitol itself.  

Kushner's 'back-line' spooled off, then on, then off again ~ fully out of any one's oversight.

A mustachioed face claiming 
National Security portfolio to the President of the United States, opened an electric notebook.  A Google map glowed showing Roseate Spoonbill migration routes.  "With almost no 
difficulty with blow back," the mustache twitched as it talked. 

"We can lace migratory feeding sites with chemical-castration drugs that will threaten final solution to their dwindling numbers!"
 Clock Tower bus-bays,
Rosa Parks Transportation Centre
Lafayette, Louisiana

What this will do, he told the President, is convince the last doubters that America means business.  "Mad business, yes, but business!"

"A plausible crazy threat wins the game!" 
Trumper twittered, "Just ask my bankers."  Ivanka brushed and spoke not.  The Son-n-law spooled and spoke not.  The escalator escalated.  

The dream clock struck 11.  We awoke, and the real Conductor called out,  
"Lafayette, next stop."


We had been the week in New Orleans In-The-Sea, with Am-trickling rides betwixt and between.
In first-class, coming out of New Orleans there rode an elderly playwright with whom once I nearly collaborated ~ long, long ago. 

We each saw the other across the waiting room and thought, "That 
looks like...  wonder if...  whatever became... " 

We met on board, in the Club Car, where I'd gone to eat a swoonable salad with moist roasted chicken perfectly seasoned, and packed for the journey at Arabella Casa di Pasta.  The old playwright rocked and toddled with the train's motion ~ blaring over the pneumatic door's swoosh, "Didn't you used to be Leonard Earl Johnson?"

We talked for hours.  Remembering his pieces at the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Centre.  In one routine he disrobed on stage. And how he once ensnarled me in a battle with the august Art Centre's press agent.  

He, also, introduced me to the work of Tony Kushner, then a young author of a big Broadway hit, ANGELS IN AMERICA.  "It is in revival," the old playwright smiled, "and I'm going to see it in New York, after Boston."

I told him, Tony Kushner grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, "Out on the Texas border," and the next station stop after Lafayette.  It was something he sort of remembered knowing.

 He was traveling on Amtrak's Rail Pass.  On his way to Los Angeles!  Where playwrights both like and hate to go.  Then up the West Coast, to Seattle; cross country, along the Canadian boarder to Chicago, and on to Boston!  We were currently on board the first train in the World to carry a name (like a ship), The SUNSET LIMITED ~ the very train in Dashiell Hammett's THE THIN MAN.
Also on board was a newly retired couple from Tucson, Arizona ~
 where first I held a Librarian's Assistant job, in the hippie filled Fabled 
Sixties.  Nostalgia grows older by the day.  It is profound being an elder.
AND NOW, to my utter amazement, a space age breathing 
apparatus has joined me in the bed, where once youth frolicked. 

"And Easter on the River of  Bourbon Street would 
not have been more-better with divine intervention," my playwright friend said.

*  *  *
Charles Neville
Word arrived just ahead of deadline of Charles Neville's death, at 79, in Massachusetts.  

I remember a hundred or so years ago, when Charles Neville walked into a party.  The Neville Brothers had been famous a few years, but I was just another sailor in from the Sea and did not know who he was ~ to the amazement of friends with whom we were teaching photography to the imprisoned at Orleans Parish Prison. 

The party was at conceptual artist, Dawn DeDeaux's warehouse apartment overlooking the French Market.  She directed our prison art program.  We were creating the PRISON ART BOOK, a limited edition iron-cell-door covered over-sized book published by the Arts Council of New Orleans.  It may be viewed at the New Orleans Main Library; New Orleans Museum of Art; Arts Council; Orleans Parish Prison, and recently an accepted gift to the collection at the Hilliard University Art Museum, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Your comments and corrections are welcome.

© 2018, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.

Contact me if you want on the list that may get e-mailed 


Lagniappe du Jour

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Go here For 

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If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.org anytime. 

They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

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Royal at Kerlerec, Faubourg Marigny, NOLa    /   photo by Janis Turk
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 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp

is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org,

and periodically at

Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans,

publication of the

It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson

of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
Archives: www.LEJ.org

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© 2018 Leonard Earl Johnson, 

All Rights Reserved