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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, 2018

Post Katrina Review / September 2018

LEJ's Louisiana
Yours Truly in a Swamp
Monthly e-column @
by Leonard Earl Johnson,
of Lafayette and New Orleans
Archives: www.LEJ.org

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Coming, 1 October 2018

Roberts Cove's Germanfest

A Fine Sense of Place 
LEJ.org ✍️
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Post~Katrina Review, 2018

September 2018

by Leonard Earl Johnson
© 2018, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved.
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Courtesy of Patricia Brennan 
The World's first train to carry a personalized name, 'the Sunset Limited,' pulled in to New Orleans' Union Passenger Terminal two hours and twenty-two minutes late, on the day before Katrina Day 2018

We were returning for an annual month of remembering that day, August 29, 2005, when w
e turned the lock on Squalor Heights ~ our Faubourg Marigny garrett ~ to never again return to the life lived in that neighborhood for forty-some years. 

Katrina racked up the largest storm-loss in American history, Including 
Super-storm Sandy, Hurricanes Rita, Gustav, Harvey, and Maria ~ all ushering in times more painful than poets or politicians easily salved. 

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The Nation bonded deeply with Katrina's epic loss. 

Death danced with itself and surrounded us ~ then we locked just as deeply in the arms of Hope and Resurrection, succeeding by our own efforts, the efforts of strangers, and reluctant con-servative politicians.  

"New Orleans, the first town FEMA forgot," Norma snorts over her morning coffee.

We personally slid on and off Louisiana's slippery Road Home, finally finding peace decamping to Acadiana, happily rebooting to a new Life of eating cold potato salad along with the rice in our hot gumbo, and riding Amtrak's ageing ironhorse back and forth to Big Swamp City.  

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Courtesy: Rosa Parks Transportation Centré
New Orleans itself re-booted well, with thousands of newer versions ~ even glamorous movie-making versions ~  of ourselves eating, drinking and schmoozing in hundreds more restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, and bars. 

Establishments old and new are filled with returned versions of us, and bright new faces from every corner of Earth ~ all eager to join our famed civic parade.

We sit with these new New Orleanians, talking movies as if we were the largest movie-making state in the Union. 

Well, we were!  Before Louisiana's delusionally presidential 
Governor Bobby Jindal and his hired band of Washington Beltway advisers whittled us back down to a backwater movie plantation. 

"Bible-thumping, budget-juggling, selfserving
 'Out-of-Town Bobby'," L. A. Norma says, throwing her arms towards the heavens.  Then folding them back down on herself. 

We talk with these new movie people as if we know their business as well as we know the bars on Frenchmen Street.  

One night, before Jindal's Republican dystopia had fully kicked in, we took dinner aboard the Sunset Limited out of Los Angeles, with a charming film ingénue relocating, "... from 'L. A.' to 'LA,' for movie work."  

She told us, two days later, as we rocked across the Atchafalaya Basin, nearing New Orleans, of her excitement relocating to "Hollywood South."  

We shared our own first-arrival from Illinois on the train called, The City of New Orleans.  Her traveling companion, a young artist inspired by Norman Rockwell, told us she liked Louisiana, but she planned on taking the train back to California in a few days, "Because it has cleaner lines, better spatial definition than Louisiana."

"Holy cow!" Norma said.

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"New Orleans has changed," Norma says.

But she still sees plump Ignatius Riley almost every time she rides the streetcar. 

Norma is referring to the novel, A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES, and its protagonist, Ignatius J. Riley ~ author John Kennedy Toole's knee-slapper character whose story captures perfectly the spirit of pre-K New Orleans. 

Today's Ignatius, however, uses i-pads and smartphones in ways that would 
have caused his earlier incarnation's heart flap to flutter, infuriating his Mother, and launching his New York girlfriend on another tour de force awakening Wee The People of The Swamp.

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LEJ signing at the Cabildo before The Storm
 wearing a kiss from GiO
the loveliest of Bourbon Street dancers.

Early during the Katrina evacuation, we found New Orleans columnist Chris Rose speaking one night at a kind of teach-in at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, on Vermilion Street, in Lafayette, 
where I taught creative writing to the storm's scattered.

 said the storm's affect was so vast and life-changing that it 
would be an above-the-fold story ten years into the future.  

Now it has been thirteen years.  

Look at the front page ~ if you can find one ~ and see if the story of Katrina and its diaspora are not still there, perhaps above the digital fold.

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In the years since Katrina blew us across the Atchafalaya and Hurricane Rita, three weeks later, welcomed us to Acadiana, I have learned differences between things I had not even known were things.  Like Bousillage and Boudin.

Bousillage is a mud-and-moss building material favored by early 
Cajuns and current day restorationists. 

Boudin is a rice and liver sausage equally favored and eaten at gas stations, crossroad stores, and white-tablecloth restaurants all across French Louisiana.

More than a million Louisianians were scattered by the winds of  '05. Thousands remain dispersed, and a popular bumper sticker appeared on distant freeways saying, "Be a New Orleanian wherever you are!"  

"That we are," L. A. Norma says, "mais oui!"*

*Mais oui:  Technically, this is French meaning 'but, yes'.  In South Louisiana, it's basically an interjection that more or less means “Well then, yes” and is used to show delight, shock, exasperation ~ any number of such things as defined by the speaker's usage.

© 2018, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved.

Your comments and corrections are welcome: Comments

Lagniappe du jour

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~ Great Music for that Katrina-time and now ~

~ With post K Video ~

"Great telling of New Orleans character and characters."~ L. A. Norma

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Copyright, 2018Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

Your comments and corrections are welcome: Comments

For more L. E. J.'s Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp go to 
w w w . L E J . o r g

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LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org
~ Hosted on GOOGLE Blogger ~
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

© 2018, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved.
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Coming in October 2018

Roberts Cove's German Fest

A Fine Sense of Place