Honored Guests

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.

Exclusive: Sidney’s Wine Cellar reopens on Decatur Street more than 6 months after Hurricane Ida damage

A liquor store located on Decatur Street opened last weekend for the first time in more than six months since sustaining damage in Hurricane Ida August 2021.

Sidney’s Wine Cellar, located at 917 Decatur St., reopened Saturday for the first time since the repairs were made to the building caused by Hurricane Ida, owner Sunay Patel told The Quarter Rat.

Customers straggled into the store, despite not having its iconic sign, which Patel said is also currently in repair.

Employees stocked shelves, which appeared full, but to a lesser degree since before the storm. A wide variety of single cans of beer and liquor, cigarettes, etc. were available for purchase, however.

Sidney’s, which is located next to Central Grocery (923 Decatur St.), sustained significant structural damage after heavy winds from Category 4 Hurricane Ida battered New Orleans on August 29, 2021.

“You could see the sky through the ceiling,” said longtime employee Scott Glab, who has worked there since 2004. Glab said he stayed at a friend’s place nearby during the storm and heard a wall falling at the store. “I didn’t know what it was until the next morning.”

The store shares an alleyway with the landmark Central Grocery, which remains temporarily closed while construction crews repair its building, which also took major damage.

The buildings that house Central Grocery and Sidney’s were built about 200 years ago, according to historical records.

Read the complete story in The Quarter Rat’s upcoming April 2022 print edition.

Man sought in alleged tip theft at The Abbey Bar on Decatur Street

(Photo: Courtesy of The Abbey Bar)
A man walked into The Abbey Bar and allegedly took several items from a bartender Tuesday morning.

The theft occurred at the bar, located in the 1100 block of Decatur Street, sometime between 7:19 and 7:20 a.m. when a bartender briefly stepped away to use the restroom, according to a Tuesday social media post by staff, who are seeking information on the incident.

Items that were allegedly stolen included the bartender’s tips earned from the previous night, power cords and a package that was on top of the ice machine.

Staff released alleged surveillance camera photo of the man on Tuesday.

Person of interest wanted in connection to battery incident near Molly’s on Decatur Street

(Graphic: Eric T. Styles | Picture: NOPD)
New Orleans Police on Wednesday released a picture of a female who is wanted as a person of interest in connection to an aggravated battery incident that occurred near Molly’s at the Market on Lower Decatur Street last week.

The incident occurred shortly before 11:30 p.m. on May 12 and involved two males and a female, who were not identified, who were involved in a verbal altercation that began at Molly’s and turned physical a block away at the intersection of Dumaine and Decatur streets, according to New Orleans Police.

The males fled in a blue Toyota RAV4 down Dumaine Street and toward North Rampart Street after the incident.

The Toyota RAV4 allegedly seen fleeing the May 12 incident in front of Molly’s on Decatur Street. Courtesy NOPD.

Detectives say the pictured female is not wanted on criminal charges, although they believe she knows the identity of the female suspect involved in the incident, according to New Orleans Police.

Anyone with information regarding the identity and/or whereabouts of the pictured person of interest is asked to contact Eighth District detectives. Anonymous callers can contact Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111 or Crimestoppers at 877-903-7867. 

Rare Finds on Decatur Street has stopped selling Nazi, KKK novelties at request of the Anti-Defamation League

Peyton Rose via Google

The Rare Finds antique store on Decatur Street has stopped selling Ku Klux Klan, Nazi and other memorabilia deemed racist following a request by the New Orleans chapter of the Anti-Defamation League.

Owner Susan Saucier agreed to remove the items — which also reportedly included Jim Crow-era merchandise with caricatures of black people — at the request of the Anti-Defamation League South Central, nola.com reported.

Some of the items included at Nazi flag and a statuette of a Ku Klux Klansman with reported price tags of $1,695 and $1,295, respectively, according to the newspaper.

The business, which is located at 1231 Decatur Street, opened in 1997 and also sells Saints and Mardi Gras-themed items.