Alleged Arsonist Strikes Rouses

On July 6th about 10:30 a.m. at the Rouses grocery store located at the intersection of Royal and St. Peters street in the French Quarter, a suspected intentional fire was set in the paper towel section of the grocery store, according to the New Orleans Police Department. A quick thinking customer who spotted the fire shortly after it was set doused the flames with a jug of water. There were no reported injuries and damage was minimal.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office are seeking a person of interest in connection with the suspicious blaze. The man being sought is described as wearing a black backpack over a white t-shirt with “New Orleans” written on the front, with blue jeans and a dark hat. Last seen walking down Royal Street heading towards Esplanade.

Anybody who is willing to snitch on the man’s identity and location could be eligible for a cash reward. If you have any information about the person of interest you can make a few bucks by dropping a dime on him to the State Fire Marshal’s arson hotline at 1-844-954-1221. 

How everyone in the French Quarter could die

(Art by Eric T. Styles)
There are hundreds of ways that any one of us could die in the French Quarter. Let’s take a look at one way we could all die together.

Solar flares or an electromagnetic pulse. It’s estimated a large scale event could kill millions in the months following a massive solar flare and mass ejection towards the Earth. The large loss of life would occur in every major city effected. A large solar flare such as the one that took place in 1856 known as the Carrington Event would devastate our modern electronic dependent modern world.

Similarly, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) could be produced by a massive nuclear explosion high in the atmosphere above the continental United States by such nations as China or Russia. Such a blast would be delivered by new hyper-sonic weapons that the U.S. currently have no defense system to prevent. Given global tensions today, this is not so far fetched.

Either event would result in our electrical grid being shut down not for days, but possibly years. Replacing large transformers without an operating infrastructure would be near impossible. A strong enough blast would have the ability to fry nearly every electronic device. Everything from transportation to communication devices would instantly become useless.

Cities would take the brunt of the disaster. No electric means no fuel, no transportation for food deliveries or water distribution. You thought Katrina was bad? There won’t be any hope for outside assistance since every major city and town will be in the same situation. What little government and military still functioning will be looking after their own.

Let’s imagine the event’s effect on the French Quarter. To make it even more interesting we’ll have it happen on a busy holiday weekend like Labor Day. Every hotel booked, Bourbon Street filled with drunken tourists in the middle of the day.

THE FIRST FEW HOURS:
There won’t be any warning. Just a “boop” as power goes out and all trucks and cars stall in their place. Most all vehicles made after 1990 have a computer in them. The worst part for all of us will be the total absence of any information. No TV or radio broadcasts, no Emergency alerts on our devices, just darkness literally and figuratively. People today flip out if they can’t get a wi-fi signal or their device runs out of battery life. Imagine if every device just turned off and wouldn’t even power on.

Crowded bars and restaurants go dark, the music stops and a collective panic sets in when we all look down at our blank screens. If caused by man in an upper atmosphere blast, we might hear a distant rumble a few minutes after when the sound wave reaches us. Any critical thinker would realize that this isn’t a simple power outage that may resume operation in a few hours. Battery powered devices turning off and all traffic stalling in place would be the ominous sign something bigger has happened.

Imagine being a manager of a crowded club. Both guests and employees would become increasingly panicked. Forget closing out the tabs, no registers, no ATMs, no credit card machines. Push the guests out and lock the doors. Employees will want to go home, let them. They will be worried about their loved ones and you will be too. It will be a long hot walk home, grab some water for the journey.

Where will the tourist go? Back to their dark and excessively hot hotel rooms? Loiter in the streets nursing their last drinks? Gather and spread rumors? Was it was China? Russia? UFOs? If you think that they are demanding and high maintenance in the best of times, imagine them all in an emergency. The looting will start before it’s even nighttime. Tourists and locals alike will push themselves into Rouses, the drug stores and any shop with food and liquor. The collapse of order will happen with in hours.

NOPD
It’s possible that New Orleans city government may have a communication system hardened and protected enough from such a event to stay in contact with state government, which in turn would have lines to the federal agencies. It would still take hours before the full scale of the disaster would become apparent. The only reliable transportation available to NOPD would their horses. Inter-departmental communications would probably not be sophisticated enough to function after the blast.

It would be optimistic to expect the police to place their own personal concerns for family after that of the city. Is it reasonable to expect the law enforcement to maintain order without vehicles, communication in complete and total darkness while they are thinking about their own families in other parts of the city? If any remain on duty, they will be used to protect the wealthy areas and important institutions like the banks and casino.

Don’t expect to see the National Guard riding in to save the day anytime soon. Those who do actually report for duty will be put to work in Baton Rouge. No trucks with MREs and water, no crowd control, no relief.

By midnight most every shutter has been pried open and every bar and restaurant has been ransacked by tourists and a few locals. Don’t be an idiot by sitting out on your balcony with a warm beer and your last bag of chips rubber-necking at the unfolding chaos below you. You will be seen as a “have” by the “have-nots.”

Were you a big fan of ridiculous zombie apocalypse films? Always fantasized about how cool the anarchy would be? Good news, it’s here, the bad news is that you will be one of the zombies soon. Remember those AR-15s with a 30-round magazine that “No one needs?” I bet you wish you had a couple of them now.

Before dawn of the next day, someone will start a fire. Forget NOFD, their trucks don’t run and most went home to protect their families. After a night of smashing of windows, periodic gunfire and constant yelling the smell of smoke will drift across the French Quarter. Unlike previous fires that ravaged the Quarter in the past, there will be no bucket brigades or effort to extinguish the flames. Large swaths will burn for days with the slightest breeze from the river.

Other parts of the city are not fairing much better. The collapse was hastened in the French Quarter by the presence of thousands of tourists. Uptown where all of the highly educated elites live they too are suffering. Most probably don’t have more than two days worth of food in their large homes. The university professor with a doctorate in political theory is outraged that Uber Eats isn’t delivering during The Battle of Armageddon.

Perhaps it’s time to get out of the French Quarter. You and your friends gather up what little supplies that you have left and hop on your bicycles. You have to pedal through a few neighborhoods to find the promised land. Without cars operating, suddenly bicycles are a very valuable possession. You will head north. Without a phone with GPS it’s next to impossible for you to tell directions, you’ll follow the road signs. You bicycled across the Netherlands, Louisiana will be a piece of cake.

You have a Glock, so you are not concerned. You fired it a couple of times at the firing range and have watched all of the John Wick films so you have a few tricks up your sleeve. Confronted by a group of men, you pull your gun and before you can utter a clever threat you get shot in the back a few times. As you bleed out you get to watch your girlfriend being gang raped. How’s that action hero fantasy working out for you?

If you are fortunate enough to escape the city limits, a long hot ride through the suburbs awaits for you. You come across a looted supermarket. Unsurprisingly all of the vegetarian and soy products are untouched. You gather what you can carry and pedal on until you find a spot to camp for the night. Those hundreds of hours playing the video game “Fallout” have paid off, you got the skills. Perhaps you should have grabbed a can opener and bug spray back at the store.

All of you talk about finding a farm where you can start a commune. None of you have any farming experience, never hunted or fished and really don’t like physical labor. The farmers that are there can do all of that. You have other talents to lend to the new community. One of you has a college degree in women’s studies. They will be the school teacher for the farmer’s kids. They’ll teach the kids reading, math and critical race theory.

You can play the guitar. With no electronic media, the farmers with love you as you sit under a tree playing the few songs you know but they don’t while they work in the hot sun for 12 hours a day to feed everyone. The rural farmers will be so thankful that you sophisticated city folk have arrived to make their lives better.

You spot the first farm house, it’s huge. A barn, large vegetable garden, corn field and chickens. This will be your new home. As you pedal up the long dirt driveway, two men armed with long guns greet you. They seem a little scary, but with your superior intellect you can manipulate them into taking all of you in as one of their own. Perhaps you may even become the leader of the community like Mao.

The farmer who is unsure what has happened, with the loss of all electricity and electronics and only wild speculation as to what the outside world is going through. He sees a group of oily, dirty 20-somethings with purple hair, face piercings and tattoos trespass onto his property. His family nervously wait inside and are also heavily armed as he and his brother go outside to speak to the strangers.

Before you can finish your well-thought-out speech about fairness and entitlement, they point the barrels in your faces and tell you to turn around. Maybe if you start crying it will soften them up, it always worked with your parents. Or maybe not. You threaten to call the cops but stop mid sentence and turn around to pedal on to the next farm up the road. Perhaps the next farm won’t be Trump supporters.

All of you stop along the country road for a good cry and plot to come back that night to steal vegetables that you are so rightfully entitled to. The next day your dead bodies are fed to the hogs.

The End.

Fuck Bruce Springsteen

Let me take you back to when I was driving cab at night on the Jersey Shore back in 2008. I’d go in from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., six days a week. My evenings started in a tiny cab stand/dispatch office right off of Main Street in a town notorious for rowdy summertime drinking, and popular with tourists from Northern New Jersey and New York area.

I even had the asshole dudes from the MTV show “Jersey Shore” in my cab one summer night. It was during the first season and I never heard of them or the show. The guy with the spikey hair jumped into the front seat and barked to me “Jever hear of the show Jersey Shore? We’re on it!” I responded “Never heard of it, the fare is still $17.” If I had only known, I would’ve driven all of us head on into a New Jersey Transit commuter train. I could have been the one to have ended that show in the first season if I had any idea of what the future would be. It’s like having been Hitler’s baby sitter and looking back on how you could’ve saved humanity needless suffering if you had only drowned the little shit in the bath tub.

All artwork by Eric T. Styles

I digress. I would sit in the small office waiting for my cab to show up from the day driver ending his shift. We had this one dispatcher, I’ll call him Ron. The time would drag on for what seemed like hours as I sat there and listened to this man. Chronic bullshitter. Nonstop. Only he believed his own bullshit stories. Pathological liar and a pretty crummy human being.

Racist too. Not like today’s “racism” you know, milk is racist, time is racist, math is racist, crosswalks are racist, etc. I’m talking actual, hateful ignorant racist. Always used the “N-word” whenever Black people weren’t around. Constant use of the word, belittling and demeaning comments about Blacks and Mexicans. A true racist.

In 2008, I was mildly following the primaries for presidential nominations. I never would vote for either a Republican or Democrat, which are the same things in my view. I won’t partake in your farce of the two-party system. I follow politics the same way some guys follow sports. During elections I like to say, “When watching a knife fight, I’ll cheer for the knives.” Politics are a dirty business of manipulation and spin.

Barrack Obama was just starting to come out of virtually nowhere and was the center of attention for being the first establishment black candidate that might have enough support to win the nomination. The press was fawning over him and it would only get more and more cringe. I even kind of liked the guy and hoped he would get the nomination just to flip out assholes like Ron.

Ron: “Can you believe the Democrats are actually thinking of nominating an (N-word) with an Arab name? 9-11 was only seven years ago and they want to elect a fucking towel head to President.” (His words, not mine)

Night after night he would go off on Obama. Watermelon and fried chicken in the White House jokes, Black House jokes, spinner wheel rims on the POTUS limo jokes. I couldn’t wait for my Mercury to pull up so I could get out of his fucking Klan meeting. We drivers kept our mouths shut. He would’ve given anyone who contradicted him the crappiest car in the fleet just for chastising him. You can’t fix other people’s stupid.

I came in after my one day a week off and walked past Ron’s pick up truck in the parking lot. Yes, a raised Chevy 4-wheel-drive pickup truck. Talk about stereotypes, we had them in Jersey too. I noticed on his back bumper an “OBAMA BIDEN 08” bumper sticker. I laughed my ass off. Someone had trolled him good by slapping that on his pride and joy. He will flip the fuck out when he finally sees it on his truck I thought.

I could hear his bellowing blow hard voice 20 feet from the door of the office. He had a “dry drunk” personality. Sober for a decade or more but still that loud, obnoxious opinionated drunk character. “Christ, he’s talking politics again.” As I stepped into the office while he was spouting off.

“FUCK John McCain! That mother fucker will just get us in more damn wars like Bush did. He’ll ban abortion, you know it. No, I listened to Obama’s speech and that man is a fucking genius. Best thing for America right now. Fuck Republicans.”

I stepped back out and checked to make sure that I had the right building, went back in. Yep, it was dysfunction junction all right. I sat down to start my paper work and to try and understand the slip in the space time continuum that I was experiencing.

Only 48 hours earlier he was using terms like “tap-dancing monkey” now he is campaigning for Obama. What the actual fuck was my mantra as I jumped into my rig and headed to the 7-Eleven on Ocean Avenue for my first 20-ounce coffee of the night. I got back in my cab and turned-on the radio for news from an New York City AM radio station.

“On Sunday New Jersey’s favorite son Bruce Springsteen announced his endorsement for Presidential hopeful Barrack Obama.” The dark roast coffee ejaculated from my nose onto the steering wheel mid sip.

THAT’S WHY!

Reason number one why I hate Springsteen: So many fucking people in New Jersey think the sun rises out of Springsteen’s ass crack every morning. They all claim to have met him. Guys from the ages of 40 to 90 claimed to have gone to school with him, or lived next door to him.

He was from our area, Belmar, New Jersey. The music store where he bought his iconic guitar was in the center of our town. Shit, I even lived in an apartment on Eleventh Avenue and E Street. I used to pick up or drop off at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park every weekend. I got really sick of even hearing his name and listening to bullshitters like Ron talk about how Bruce was their best buddy.

That was why Ron had flipped a full 180 degrees on Obama. His hero, his man love, his idol Springsteen had endorsed him. A few nights later during a rant, I guess he caught my smirking to his praising of Obama. “Yea I know I was talking shit about Obama in the beginning, but I’ll vote for a (N word) before I vote for McCain.” Now that would be a hell of a campaign bumper sticker I thought to myself.

This also why I hate pop culture getting involved with politics and I think it’s much more prevalent in 2021 with social media. Mindless sheep who put no thought into issues, consequences or policies just regurgitate whatever their pop icons push. The same talking points and narratives, just like their favorite Hollywood actors or pop singers.

If you control the news and entertainment media, you can control the nation. Why I bring this up, today on my day off I had a long on-going debate on Twitter with a YouTuber film critic over Springsteen and his pompous air of “working class hero.” Man of the people in a multi-million dollar mansion, his daughter competing in the equestrian competition in the Tokyo Olympics. No White privilege to see here.

Rumor has it Bruce worked at a gas station in Freehold one summer when he was a teen. That’s the extent of his blue collar experience. His father was a union bus driver in Monmouth County, and supported and financed his musical career at an early age. I actually ended up driving that same bus route in the 1990s, by the way.

Another reason to despise him: Bruce will sing about mills closing down, bad economies, oil refineries not hiring veterans, etc. Yet he fully endorsed Joe Biden for president even after Biden made it clear he would not allow new oil pipe lines and help to expedite the end of the oil industry in America.

Bruce will sing songs about pointless wars and disenfranchised vets. Yet he endorsed Obama twice even though Obama had more wars than George W. Bush and killed more Muslims than George did. Twenty years later, we’re still there and Biden extends it even more after Donald Trump tried to bring it to a close.

Who the fuck are you trying to fool, Bruce? You are an establishment elitist. There is fucking nothing “Rock and Roll” or “Working class hero” about you. You are an arrogant corporate shill. Bourgeoisie hypocrite.

(BTW, you should have called a cab to pick you up, it would have saved you the D.U.I. charge.)

If you’re listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you’re a bigger moron than they are.
Alice Cooper

The Quarter Rat’s July’s Page 6 Girl

This sexy little European import is Issa. She tends bar evenings at the Toulouse Dive bar and Molly’s Irish Bar on Toulouse Street. Years ago Issa bought this dress for a Spice Girl costume with her friends. The next July Fourth she grabbed it from her closet to wear since it was the only thing that she had that was red, white and blue. It was only later that someone pointed out to her the irony of wearing a British flag on Independence Day. Being Swedish, she knows how to be a good troll and has worn it every July Fourth since!

A Swedish girl wearing a Union Jack dress in front of an Irish pub in the French Quarter, how very American!

Issa can be found at Molly’s Irish Bar on Wednesdays 10pm – 6am and Thursdays 10pm – 6am. You can also find her working at The Toulouse Dive Bar on Tuesdays 10pm-6am and Fridays 11pm-7am.
Stop in just to see what she’s wearing, it’s always interesting!

City Hall in Treme

When I came to New Orleans more than a decade ago and first drove by the present City Hall, I guffawed. The boring lackluster modern design of it should be expected for municipal buildings built in 1957. The pebble concrete exterior is darkened with decades of mold and dirt. A yearly pressure wash was never in the budget, apparently. Add to that the incredibly tacky and poorly installed neon signage that crowns it, which equals cringe-level architecture. The city is forced to lease additional space in nearby buildings to accommodate workers. Perhaps it is time for a new City Hall.

A few large vacant buildings could be renovated to house the city government. The phallic shaped eyesore Plaza Tower, located at 1001 Howard Ave., comes to mind.

Recently, shards of the neglected facade that have come crashing to the ground only highlighted the urgency to do something with the building. This month, proposals have been brought forth for high end condos and hotel space. Hopefully it will come to fruition, unlike previous proposals. It’s in the best location, not far from the existing municipal buildings.

Purchase use the old Charity Hospital and renovate that. The building is not only structurally sound, but a beautiful example of Art Deco design built in 1939. Sure it would be costly to renovate it to current standards, but it would be preserving a historically significant structure that is important to the appeal of New Orleans.

The mayor is proposing to move City Hall to the vacant Municipal Auditorium in Treme next to Congo Square. The square was sanctioned as a location for enslaved Africans to congregate in 1817 and was considered by many in the Afro-Caribbean community as a “sacred place.” If New Orleans is the birth place of jazz music, then Congo Square would be the birthing table. The significance of the site cannot be overstated.

There is a strong opposition from the Treme community with concerns of the municipal building changing the essence of Congo Square and Armstrong park area, as well as the neighborhood over all, should it be converted into City Hall’s new location. Nearly 1,000 parking spaces would be added, including a five-story, 700-space parking garage.

There have been comparisons made to the construction of the I-10 overpass that runs over Claiborne Avenue in 1966. The overpass destroyed a tree lined commercial district in the predominately black neighborhood. Opposition to the project had no political clout to prevent it. There is still bitterness in Treme over what was lost to progress and to deaf ears.

The proposal has gotten a lot of push back on social media from residents’ objection to the idea. Latoya Cantrell has tried to smokescreen the controversy by pointing to other infrastructure projects involving a few street repairs and the Sewerage and Water Board working with Entergy to update the power sources for the pumping stations.

The Municipal Auditorium was built in 1930 and had many uses over the decades, from concerts to basketball and hockey games. It was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and has been vacant ever since. The 7,800 seat auditorium is just that, an auditorium. The amount of re-design and modification to turn the large open space into a multi floor efficient office space would be staggering. It could be done, but at the cost of destroying the interior beauty.

Certainly one appeal to the city is 40 million dollars that FEMA had earmarked for the building following Katrina. It wouldn’t cover the entire cost of renovation but would be a nice offset. Local governments love that federal money.

Cantrell’s proposal has brought a heated backlash from the Treme community over the impact on the area. Cantrell’s response was that Congo Square will not be touched. There is no dispute the overall area will be impacted by additional traffic and parking.

In this day and age we should also consider that moving City Hall there will change it from a cultural space to a political space. Expect to see protests and rallies to spill over into adjacent areas. Congo Square and Armstrong park could easily turn into “Occupy” camp ground if enough outside protesters were bused in. Sounds far-fetched? Look at such public spaces in many cities around the nation.

The mayor relied on her favorite political catch phrase: “Time to re-think the use.” The same jargon she applied to the idea of turning streets in the French Quarter into pedestrian malls.

If you are dating someone and they say “It’s time to re-think our relationship,” just leave. It’s never a positive term. Whoever may be running against her in the next election should use the campaign slogan: “It’s time to re-think our leadership.”

Eric T. Styles is a Quarter rat and loves to hear your feedback. Email him at styles@thequarterrat.com.