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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, August 01, 2020

✍The Virus and The Donald / August 2020


~ August 2020 ~

LEJ's Louisiana
Yours Truly in a Swamp
Monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org

by Leonard Earl Johnson,
of Lafayette and New Orleans

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Β© 2020, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

The Virus  


The Donald
by Leonard Earl Johnson
Photo credits Eric Douglas
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"The mask is not intended to save you first handed," L. A. Norma said, pulling hers down past her chin and lighting a Camel Cigarette.

"It is intended to save your neighbor from your potentially infectious spittle. That in turn reduces the number overall infected, and second handedly saves you."

The pedicab driver to whom she is saying this pulls his rose colored mask over his face and mumbles about evil Communism and good works. It isn't clear if he is for or against them.

We arrive grandly in front of Brennan's on Rue Royale, in the French Quarter.
We are on a Family celebration ~ a Big Swamp City weekend in the Time of The Virus and The Donald.

Inside Brennan's carriageway we are each tested for temperature and handed a rose colored mask. The shade of which is actually coral, like the walls of this legendary New Orleans' white-creole cafe.

 "Is there a non white legendary creole New Orleans cafe?" asks Eric, my Nephew from Chicago.
He is a lobbyist by trade and practice, most recently in service to Google's self-driving car project. He knows the answer to his question and is asking for the benefit of his Family.

On other visits he has dined at Dooky Chase's ~ the most revered black-creole restaurant in all Louisiana, perhaps the World.

Tonight we are gathered to celebrate his fifteenth wedding anniversary with his lovely Wife, Lia.

They are accompanied by their Daughters, Avery Marie, 8; and Rosalie Margaret, 10; and their ancient beached mariner of an Uncle ~ permanently home from the Sea.

I melt at first sight of my Grandnieces. The Darwinian thought of barnacled me and such fine flying fish leaping out of the same gene poole is dizzying.

The restaurant ~ tables separated by six feet ~ has never seemed more elegant.
It's very name, Brennan's, passed recently from the exclusive use of the Brennan's founding family branch ~ to Ralph Brennan ~ who once was banned by court order from using his own name on any of his restaurants.

In 2013 Ralph Brennan bought the Royal Street Brennan's and with it the court ordered exclusive rights to the Family name.

"It is as if Blind Justice took up the poetic pen," L. A. Norma says.

Our wait staff included a couple who speak German ~ something at which I excel around those who do not.

They are Swiss and this is their last week in America. "We wish to be home should borders close more tightly," Hans tells us. Uta takes the girls out to see the turtles in the courtyard.

We have a meal platonic if not divine. Can any dish be both? We should ask Tom Fitzmorris, our favorite New Orleans food critic, Norma suggests, "Or the Archbishop!"

Lia declares her Creole Tomato Salad with Sprigs of Dill the best ever. Of course Brennan's Turtle Soup is too. The girls declined the soup ~ on grounds they had aligned with the kingdom of Turtledom while in the courtyard.

Bananas Foster, the flambeau dish invented in this restaurant by the late Ella Brennan, was presented with flaming success. And a

Louisiana spun-sugar cake was the playful prop of the night. Inside the bouffant puff was a dense little teacake.

We walk the block back to our hotel rooms at the Omni Royal Orleans. 

Agreeing to meet next morning at the rooftop pool and bar.

I need to work on my Pulitzer, but have trouble with the Hotel's internet connection.  My Nephew fixes it for me, and they head out to explore night time New Orleans in its Virus constricted state ~ bars are closed, and with them most of The City music venues.

Drums, four stories below on Rue Saint Louis, draw me from my computer.  Our windows look across the street at the Louisiana Supreme Court, an institutional siren of a building calling out for the drummer's response, "Black Lives Matter!" 


"The Donald isn't a racist," Norma says, blowing smoke out the window, "to him, No Lives Matter!"

The Supreme Court building is a massive white marble and terra-cotta Beaux Arts structure thought, when completed in 1910, not to fit colonial French Quarter architecture (which is Spanish not French, by the way).  It also is where Oliver Stone filmed Jim Garrison's office scenes for his 1991 assassination film, JFK.

I see PhD Mike among the marchers below.  He lived next door to Squalor Heights ~ my Faubourg Marigny garret ~ before Katrina.  

A City licensed card reader on Jackson Square, PhD Mike attended the University of New Orleans and obtained a doctorate in political 
science.  He was a favorite of reporters for his activism and credentials, and they gave him the nickname PhD Mike. 

The marchers maintain their distance passing our hotel for an hour or more.
Next morning we gather at the rooftop pool and bar. The view is sweet. My heart aches for everything lost and remembered ~ and what never came to pass.

Bloody Marys and caramelized bacon strips standing on end in little silver pencil cups fortify us for lunch.

We are meeting Lafayette friends next door, at Napoleon House.
Recently bought by Ralph Brennan and serving good food. "For the first time in three hundred years," Norma says.
After two bottles of wine we adjourn for CafΓ© Du Monde's beignets, cafΓ© au lait, and a stroll through Saint Louis Cathedral and the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

"You wonder sometimes if they mightn't have had reciprocal referral fees," Norma says exhaling a plume of cigarette smoke large as her head.

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Next morning we met Steve Halpern, my fact check editor, for a farewell brunch at Cake Cafe And Bakery, a beloved Faubourg Marigny eatery closing this day for good.

Kermit Ruffins played his horn on the corner of Chartres and Spain as the house went dark.

Cake Cafe, K-Paul's, Upperline. All great restaurants recently closed by The Virus and destined to be missed forever.

"Vote for expanded health care," L. A. Norma says. "Vote for human rights. Vote for the guaranteed annual income. It is the only thing that will save us.

"Or die on the cross of golden greed with a thorn of silver pressed down on your head, and your COVID-19 facemask dangling round your neck."


 Copyright, 2020, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

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

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

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 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp

is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.world

and historically 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.world 

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Β© 2020 Leonard Earl Johnson, 

All Rights Reserved 

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