If you walked into Molly’s on Toulouse and thought that boasting “I’m friends with the owner” would give you any clout, you would be met with four out of five patrons raising their hands and saying, “Us too. What’s your point?”
The passing of Erin Churchill is devastating to so many people that she has touched over the years. Even as a casual acquaintance with Erin, you knew how much of an exceptional person she was. For those of us with a close relationship with her, it is deep personal loss.
It’s a great loss to the French Quarter, a successful business person and a wonderful soul is gone. I could write a thousand words praising her qualities, but they all would fall short of describing her remarkable character.
We are all fortunate to have even known her, we are better people for having done so. There will forever be a void in our lives and in The French Quarter without Erin Churchill.
Here is an excellent video concerning the Hard Rock Hotel collapse from 2019. Concise, thorough and easily understandable report on the causes and the blame. The creator of the video found some footage I hadn’t even seen. He doesn’t mention Cantrell’s name unfortunately.
Somehow, he missed the chance to include the footage the crane demolition that took place and the mention of a small fire that took place during the demo. All in all worth 17 minutes of time to watch it. The video creator is Dark Records on YOUTUBE.
Our block of Toulouse Street was the staging area for the (formally known as Chris Owens) Easter Parade. Just keep her name on it I say. One float had a life size cut-out of her. It creeped the fuck out of me when I first saw it. I thought they had dug her up. Be honest, you know she still probably looks the same now.
At work I spotted the last float had a sign on it that read “Happy Easter, the Cantrell Family.” I thought “Cool, some more grimacing Latoya pictures.” Nah, wrong Cantrell family. She wouldn’t allow herself to be the last float unless it was the biggest with brass marching band.
I was still in a prime location to get some pics of the set up. That means they climb up on a float and start working on a buzz. I sat up on a fire escape to take these pics. Smoking a bowl and sniping with the camera. A skill I learned playing GTA that I never thought would have real world application.
Sitting here going through the shots listening to the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar. About the only tradition I have on this holiday. I always viewed the story through a purely political narrative. The backward corrupt time in human history when tyrants would discredit and arrest their political opponents. Thankfully we would never consider such things in our enlightened and progressive days.
Our latest Quarter Rat Newspaper is our 7th issue in the past year. There were times we had editorial discussions asking ourselves if we were crossing any lines. Nope, we pretty much ran with every stupid juvenile idea we came up with. Brains on Bourbon Street, celebrity gossip, porn for hobos, accusing the First Lady of France of being a shape-shifting reptilian, mouth to ass recipes and page 3 girls with ample cleavage. Add to it Jay Slusher’s true stories that read like Tarantino scripts rejected for excessive violence.
A Mardi Gras issue is a must for us, but they are so boring. We locals don’t want to read about the time of the year we dread the most. Quarter Rats drink to forget Mardi Gras. We all know the history, the krewes and traditions. Parade routes can be found anywhere online so why waste the newsprint.
We figured if anyone was going to bitch about anything, it would be about our “FUCK MARDI GRAS” headline. That’s like a newspaper in Rome running the headline “FUCK THE POPE.” Some sacred things can trigger zealot outrage if disrespected. Over the past year and all the shit we have printed, the only negative feedback so far has been Issa’s centerfold in this February issue.
Really? This is The French Quarter, correct? Technically, she isn’t even nude. She could wear that to the beach if she wanted some amusing tan lines. We all walked past “Nipple Glitter” stands on our way to work this season, but a Vargas like pool table pose is too much for some Quarter Rats sensibilities? Most all of you loved it and were proud of Issa. One of her co-workers commented to me: “I am impressed by her being so comfortable with herself and the don’t give a fuck attitude.”
So are we, that’s why she is part of our QR team. After she contributed her hilarious deadbeat Nicolas Cage story, this paper knew it needed her to contribute more. This issue was just a quick 8-page issue just to say we did it. For the FUCK MARDI GRAS issue, a middle finger and titties seemed like a great cover idea, let’s ask Issa.
No one has directed negative comments to the editorial staff of this fine publication, instead they were directed personally at her. That pissed me off. Issa is like a daughter to me, Ok, a stepdaughter. Maybe more like a cute stepdaughter in a Florida trailer park kind of way. We all love her and let her be her.
One person said to her: “Why did you do this? You must have been manipulated or coerced into doing it.” A real insult to any person, especially her. That statement implies weakness and a lack of self-agency on her part.
She was asked a week prior to the shoot and could have backed out at any time. As we shot the photos, she reviewed every one and gave feedback. Her boyfriend was there. Issa got to approve the final layout prior to being sent off to the printer. The readers I ran into who saw it cheered for her.
One of you fucks actually commented to her about a “double chin.” I’m sure the one who made the comment is a chiseled like a sculpture. What a dickhead thing to say. It’s socially unacceptable to say to a woman “Nice tits” but it is somehow socially Ok to say, “Nice chins?” Go back, apologize to her and buy her a shot.
No man has the right to tell a woman what she can or can’t do with her own body! Only a woman is allowed to tell another woman what she can do with her body.
If you are a 300-plus pound feminist with a shaved head objecting to a sexualized woman, I get it. If you are a male feminist objecting to it, you probably have never even touched boobies. Wait until your balls drop then comment.
We didn’t have a misleading headline with no hint as to the content. Big words above the fold “OUR VERY FIRST CENTERFOLD ISSA!!” Only after you unfolded the paper did you see electrical tape over her nipples. If that was too shocking for you then proceeding to the centerfold was probably a poor decision on your part.
The actual centerfold was totally absurd. A parody of sorts. Did we do the cliche’ accompanying text of: “This hot European import is Issa. Her turn-ons are Harry Potter and puppies.” No. Our centerfold was cluttered with Steve Buscemi trivia and a 9/11 reference. What kind of a fucked-up publication would print such dumb-ass shit?
Oh wait, yea.
Her body, her choice. Picking up the paper, your choice.
So, it’s a beautiful autumn day on Jackson Square in the French Quarter. The press photographers gather outside of 520 Saint Peters Street waiting for the front-page shot. France’s President Emmanuel Macron steps out onto the second-floor wrought iron balcony festooned with the red, white and blue flags of our nations. Photos taken from behind him are views of the square and the historic Saint Louis Cathedral. The press is surrounded by street performers, musicians and artists with their paintings hanging on an iron fence topped by fleur de dis.
(Scratching record sound effect) Nope, not this visit. This is the first French President to visit France’s former colony in 45 years. In 1976 we were visited by leader Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and by Charles de Gaulle in 1941. Wouldn’t it be great if we could offer the best view and accommodations to our special guest of such a prestige? The City of New Orleans did have such a place. It’s since been converted into “Teedy’s Boom-Boom Room.”
Just 10 years ago myself and a good friend, Robert Hotalen, were painting contractors hired by the Upper Pontalba property management to renovate that very apartment. We considered it to be quite a privilege, not just to be hired to work on a historic 1850s era structure, but also this particular apartment.
We gushed over the assignment and asked the property manager many questions. His response from what i remember: “The mayor doesn’t actually live here, it’s primary purpose is to be a guest residence for visiting dignitaries and VIPs. The mayor may host parties here for special events or hold meet and greats.” “Hold campaign fund-raisers and the like?” “Oh no. He wouldn’t be permitted to use it for that since its a city owned property. It’s only for city affairs and special visitors.”
It’s not like Macron would be there for long. It would function like a base of operations during his brief visit. A secure location for him and his entourage. From the standpoint of security, it’s ideal. One main front entrance, a small courtyard only shared with the adjacent 522 Saint Peters Street location. The stairway only shared by two other apartments with full-time residents.
A short walk down Lower Decatur Street, (OK, maybe beef up the security on that route) to visit one of the few remaining statues in the city. A gift from France in 1972, the statue of Joan of Arc is still an impressive landmark. “Joany on a pony” as we locals like to affectionately refer to her. Show the people of France that we do still have it and mostly graffiti free. A majestic monument to transgenderism. Again, a magnificent photo opportunity for both the press and the city.
Maybe followed by a stroll up to the river, a city skyline as a backdrop to answer reporter’s questions and more pictures. A short walk back to the Pontalba apartment to return important phone calls and state business. Perhaps an overnight stay or probably just a quick shit and shower before he hops in a limo to the airport to jet back to Frogland.
New Orleans needs all of the positive press it can get at this point. Most images hash tagged #Neworleans lately have been those from blurry security camera stills of hooded figures pointing firearms at crowds. It’s a tourism downer to be known as the deadliest city in America. It’s about optics, something our mayor has no clue as to the meaning of.
Back when I was painting the 12-foot-high walls I imagined what the finished room would look like. Adorned with valuable fine art on loan from collections, antique furniture that wouldn’t see daily use, only for very special guests. I hate to think how it must look now. I envision bean-bag chairs and a day-glow poster of Snoop Dog hanging over the marble fireplace. The apartment probably smells like the VIP room at a strip club by now.
Maybe the city can book him a room at the Four Seasons on Bourbon Street. After all, it’s where the old French Opera House use to stand before it burned down. President Macron can stroll Bourbon Street for the international press. Toss a few Euros to the bucket kids, toss a couple more Euros to the dude who knew where he got his shoes. We’ll even comp him a Fishbowl drink.
The local press giggling at Macron’s security getting jumpy at the sounds of gunfire from Rampart Street by people who never even heard of Macron. Thanks Latoya. We really wish to be seen as a world class city, not a worldstar city. A chance to polish the image of the city in eyes of the world and you blew it like, well, you know, a cop.
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