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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.

Monday, April 01, 2024

✍Easter on The River of Bourbon Street / April 2024

 ~ Fiction ~

Roman à clef, cher!

Created AI-free

by Leonard Earl Johnson 

of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana


 www.LEJ.world 

© 2024, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

⚓ 


April 2024


Photo credit: Leonard Earl Johnson
    
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LEJ's 
Louisiana

a monthly e-column at www.LEJ.world



Yours Truly in a Swamp

by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana

Dedicated to
📚 Dead at 82📚


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Easter on the River 

of Bourbon Street

by 
Leonard Earl Johnson
© 2024, Leonard Earl Johnson,  All Rights Reserved


 
Jackson Square, NOLa    
 photo credit:  J. R. Tullos

After Easter MassL. A. Norma and I left the piercing witch hat towers of Saint Louis Cathedral and headed for the soaring two-story balconies of Bourbon Street, w
here we were lifted on the chaliced wings of whiskey served from temples bearing names like Oz and Bourbon Pub.

T
here are nightclubs named 'Oz' and 'Pub' on streets like this in every port city in the world. But only New Orleans has them so majestically flanking the intersection at 
Bourbon Street and Rue Saint Ann in the French Quarter.  

They guard a tourist/local philosophic line drawn in the cultural sands of Big Swamp City.  A line once crossed mostly by gay men.  Then, gay men and gay women.  Then, today?  A mix of those who might read National Geographic, follow Liberty's Torch, and not give a dimwit with whom the next table dances.  

It is here that red hatted tourists turn back to their comfortable hotels and edited narratives.  Beyond this corner pass today's Marco Polos and Colettes charmed by Louisiana's polyglot accents welling up like Sirens from Faubourgs Marigny, Tremé, and Bywater. 

We took seats on the balcony above the Pub's swinging shingle, and watched the masses below with their arms upraised in jubilation of Christ's Resurrection ~ or beads.  

There, touched by Easter's spirit and the elfin Mr. Booze we saw Jesus walking down this street of sin. He wore a crown of thorns over His long black hair. He wore sandals, too, and was naked save for a loincloth cut like the one in the paintings.  He was thin and looked like He might be Filipino ~ but mostly He looked like Jesus. Everyone on the balcony saw Him.

The Battle of Bourbon Street
Norma exhaled a cloud of cigarette smoke and said:
 "Forget the Crucifixion, skip the fasting and 
go straight for the Resurrection!"


True to His Book, Jesus was slumming with the local rabble and reveling in their Easter experience.  As were they in His.


"Their experience is a damn sight easier'n His,"  L. A. Norma said, tapping her index finger against a tiny silver figure hanging on her necklace.  The Crucifixion!  A 
two-thousand year old Roman gismo for torture elevated to the symbol of God dangling
 now on a silver chain hung round her neck.  

"It's like the Republicans' Donald Trump and the English King James edited their own Gospels!" Norma snorted, exhaled, then guffawed.

🚬

Everyone laughed and glowed in the righteous irony of her thought. 

A few years back, a few blocks up the street, the late Chris Owens ~ an elderly Bourbon Street dancer and nightclub owner with staying power ~ conducted her annual Easter Parade with self-anointed grand-marshal David Duke crashing the street party. 

"It's Bourbon Street," L. A. Norma said, "you don't need no stinkin' invitation!"

 A brass band made-up of midgets played along, while elder ladies of the snatched-bodies cult and a half dozen or so young bunnies in pastel furs marched down the street and rode atop pedicabs throwing Spring colored underpants and beads

 Easter maidens, Margareta and Chiquita Bergen
None among this human eddy gave any notice whatsoever to our walking Jesus, except a tourist family standing against the downstream wall of then Pete Fountain's (now Club Oz) directly across the street from where we sat. 

The father was wide-eyed. The girl, about seventeen, waved up to us. The pubescent son giggled and hugged his mother. Then along came Jesus headed straight for them. The tourist mother looked offended. She gathered her brood and paddled them off back towards Canal Street. Jesus did not seem bothered by their departure. 

"After all," Norma said, "He wrote the book on forgiveness." 


The sinners went on with their sinning.  The Pope appeared on the Oz balcony. He stood directly above where the tourist family had been and he was dressed head-to-toe in yellow and white satin. He blessed all who passed beneath him. He looked across the River of Bourbon Street and blessed us, too. We waved, and he motioned us over. We crossed the street and took our seats at the Pope's table.


We looked back at the Bourbon Pub balcony. The Pope, ever wise, said, "You cannot see yourself on the balcony you have just left." We had all had a lot to drink. 

The Pope handed out Wild Turkey and iced water, "Holy Water from the Holy River," he said.

Three real nuns, in old-fashioned black-and-white habits, came trotting down Rue Saint Ann, returning from a later mass. They passed our intersection headed towards Cathedral School. The Sea of Sinners parted. We all cheered.

"What would they think of seeing Jesus," L. A. Norma asked of no one in particular. She leaned over the balcony rail and yelled to the crowd below for Carnival beads. A photographer looked up and took her picture. I yelled down asking if he had seen Jesus. "No!" he shouted back. Would he like to? "Yes, of course, yes!"

The Pope lay his hands on my shoulders, and said, "Watch that woman, do not let her fall over the communion rail."

 Green Carnival beads landed on the Pope's pointy hat. They looked interesting, but he took them off and tossed them to two college boys on the street below. Norma told him the two boys should have opened their pants. He frowned and said sternly, "This is not Carnival!"

I said, "It is not Laughingyette either," but the Pope did not hear me ~ he was gone to find Jesus. Norma looked past my forehead and talked of far-ranging things.

The Pope returned without Jesus. He was balancing fresh drinks and passed them round the table. "He can not be found in this wicked den," said The Pope, handing out Wild Turkey and water.

When we looked up from our drinks we saw Him again. He was at our old balcony table across the street, waving. We waved back. His naked arms were lifted heavenward. His loincloth flapped in the whiskey-flavored air. The man with the camera jumped and shouted, "Your cross, your cross, show us your cross!"

Jesus looked down and bellowed: "Don't you know what holiday this is? It is Easter, I have no cross!" 

 LEJ wearing a younger man's beard.
During Katrina evacuation, 2005-06.
Atop the 
Presbyter copula, Jackson Square
The Pope, assorted communion-rail leaners, and other followers passing on the street below shouted, "Is it Carnival?"

It wasn't.  It was Easter on the River of Bourbon Street.


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Copyright, 2024, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

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



If  you wish to read any month's story go to the archives at www.LEJ.world (stories posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.) 

Hope you do, I love talking with you,
Leonard Earl Johnson,
Columnist to the elderly and early weary. 


© 2024, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved.

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Lagnappe du Jour

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April 25 ~ 28 (weekday interlude) May 2 ~ 5


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Old Man on The River, New Orleans

Old Man with Sunday's Bunny
Jefferson Street, Lafayette, Louisiana

Old Man on a Bicycle, Jefferson Street, Lafayette, Louisiana
          Archives: www.LEJ.world

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© 2024 Leonard Earl Johnson,  All Rights Reserved.


© Leonard Earl Johnson 

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 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.world,
Hosted by GOOGLE BLOGGER,
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
© 2024, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserve