All photos by Eric T. Styles The Quarter Rat editor and photographer extraordinaire Eric T. Styles scoped out French President Emmanuel Macron’s trip to the Vieux Carre on Friday, ardently pursuing his entourage to document the once-in-a-lifetime visit from the leader of France as he walked around shaking hands with residents.
Being a French Quarter resident himself, Styles automatically knew where to position himself, fearlessly capturing photos of Macron and his visit with New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
Macron’s visit is the third time France’s president has visited the Big Easy. The last time was when Valery Giscard d’Estaing came in 1976. President Charles de Gaulle made a trip in 1960.
The trip was part of Macron’s tour of America and included talks with Cantrell to strengthen ties between France and the city. In addition, Macron met with Elon Musk to discuss Twitter, according to local news reports.
There may be a gonzo story on what happened coming soon from Styles himself, but for now feast your eyes upon a sample of the photos he snapped during the day-long event.
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.
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.
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.
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
A number of years ago I was working nights as a dishwasher at Little Vic’s on Toulouse. I can’t remember exactly when it was, it might have been around Mardi Gras because we were slammed. Every seat full inside and out, the counter had a line going out the door. Customers wall to wall, a long line for the restroom, drunks pissing in the courtyard next to others who were dining. A situation both profitable and volatile.
The head cook was pissy and slamming shit around, the wait staff frantic with the demands placed on them. I was elbow deep in suds for hours as well as bussing the tables and trying to police the bathrooms. It was a single use bathroom and groups would go in, one would use the toilet while others would piss in the sink and in the drain on the floor.
By ten o’clock we were all ready to choke one another. I had turned a deaf ear to the complaints of the raging cooks. Suddenly I heard a commotion in the front of the house. Was there a fight? Did someone pass out? Did someone puke on the bar? I went out front to see what chore awaited me. Almost the entire restaurant was standing by the front door gawking. “What da fuck now?” i asked myself. As I pushed through the crowd I spotted a black car on the sidewalk. The two left wheels inches from both of our stoops. Great, an auto accident I thought. I pushed closer.
There it was, a stretch limo parked on the sidewalk blocking our doors. I see some idiot standing up through the sunroof waving to the gathering crowd like he was the fucking Pope or something. “What da fuck?” I blurted out. A random guy grabbed my arm and exclaimed like a screeching teen age girl “IT’S NICOLAS CAGE! IT’S NICOLAS CAGE!”
I was about ten feet away from the limo when he turned our way with that goofy fucking face of his shaking as many clambering hands as he could. “I don’t give a shit who it is, get the fuck off of my sidewalk!” I screamed and returned to the kitchen. The raging chef asked me what was going on in the front. I told him that evidently Nic Cage thinks we have a fucking drive thru window or some shit.
He screamed “NIC CAGE?” and dropped everything and bolted to the front of the house to see for himself. I just started throwing pans into the sink mumbling about how much I hated every soul in the Quarter right now.
“Celebrities” there’s not a goddamned one I would shake hands with.
Larry Flynt taught me everything I know about free speech.
His inspiration is the only reason that The Quarter Rat is still publishing. Mr. Flynt took a bullet for free speech, so have soldiers and protesters from around the world. A crack in the side of everything that are pillars of the establishment. Establishment corporate media, the courts, the church and social standards. He has done more to shake the system than any rock band or publication of the 1960’s and 70’s.
A brilliant capitalist, publisher and hustler. I’ve been binge watching old interviews of him from the 1970s. His words and arguments are as true, if not more so today. Same exact motivations, authoritarianism; same people, just forget about left / right, blue / red, liberal / conservative bullshit.
Instead of bible-thumping Baptists screaming obscenity, we have inter-sectional feminists screaming hate speech. Just replace Jerry Farwell with Jack Dorsey of twitter. Those who practice free speech have gone from being called demonic to racist. The irony is, we protect the speech of those who seek to silence us. It’s a tough battle.
“If you’re not going to offend somebody you don’t need the First Amendment.“ Larry Flynt
Both will use the same scare tactics. “It’s harmful to women.” We want free speech for women as well. “It’s harmful to the country.” No, it’s the foundation of the country. You, the authoritarian, are harmful. A Republican trying to ban adult material, or a Democrat trying to censor social media — same reasons: Control.
Smoke a bowl and consider this: They went from trying to ban Hustler magazine in the 1970’s to banning Dr fucking Seuss books today. I bet Larry Flynt and George Carlin are having some great discussions in the afterlife right now.
From the standpoint of a French Quarter resident, he was one hell of a neighbor. He always kept a nice place and employed a lot of my friends. The first time I got to layout an ad for one of his clubs, I really felt that I had made it as a graphic artist. Larry, as much of a presence on Bourbon Street that you had, we are proud to call you one of our own, a Quarter Rat.
In the up coming years, we at the Quarter Rat hope to continue your fight.
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