A Rat and a Cage

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.

The Quarter Rat’s MAN OF THE YEAR 2020

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.

My run-in with Eddie Furlong on Frenchmen Street: a Navy homecoming, cocaine and ‘Titanic 2’

A Navy buddy of mine returned in one piece from a deployment to Iraq sometime in October 2008 and naturally, along with several more salty active-duty military and veterans, we celebrated the shit out of the occasion like a pack of hellions during a night on Frenchmen Street, where I had a chance encounter with actor Edward Furlong in front of d.b.a.

The night was dedicated to Jason Huber, an electronics technician assigned to Special Boat Team 22 in Stennis, Mississippi and who became a boat guy himself two years later for the same team before eventually advancing to its chief petty officer. We had previously known each other as shipmates aboard the USS Thomas S. Gates. May he rest in peace.

There were five of us: me, Jason, two more Navy dudes and a Marine. D.b.a was only the second stop of the night and I stepped outside in anticipation of the next leg of our walking excursion.

Another man was hanging out near the entrance of the bar, fidgeting with his cell phone. His face seemed familiar and, in my mind, I was guessing where I had seen it before. Instead of just thinking about it, I flat-out asked him: “Hey man, where have I seen you before? I’ve seen you somewhere.”

He looked at me and just kind of shrugged his shoulders. “I dunno,” he said.

After a few minutes it hit me: he was James DeBello, who is also an actor. “You’re Trip, the dude from Detroit Rock City,” I said to him.

He smiled, then stuck his hand out to shake mine and introduced himself: “The name’s Jimmy.”

What a treat, I thought, randomly running into another famous person on the street in New Orleans. It happens all the time and never gets old. Other thoughts occurred to me: what the hell is he doing here and why is he by himself? Is he filming a movie or something? Which movie is it?

Before I could vocalize my inquiries, Furlong interrupts the conversation. “Eddie fucking Furlong,” was the first thing that came out of my mouth.

“What’s up man, how are you doing?” he responded, warmly.

Furlong was a happy camper that night. With a woman on each arm, he was well on his way to a good fucking time. As I recall, though, he appeared starkly different from his appearance as little John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Compared to the frail, punk teenager that we imagined him as throughout the 1990s, Furlong’s late-2000s sedentary physique included a gut that stuck out from the black-and-gold Led Zeppelin t-shirt that wrapped around his torso and he was also approaching middle age.

He was in town filming scenes for Night of the Demons, a remake of the 1988 cult horror movie released in 2009, which cost $10,000,000 to make but grossed only $64,000 worldwide, according to IMDB.

My Marine friend pulled me inside the bar for a quick moment to take a couple of shots before reminding me of what I already knew.

“You know that’s Edward Furlong, right?”

“Yes, I do.”

We stepped back outside, exchanging small talk and smoking cigarettes. Then Furlong popped the question.

“You guys don’t know where I could get some good coke, do you? I’ve been sniffing this baby powder all-NIGHT!”

You read and hear about celebrities in the news behaving badly in public and those are the impressions that tend to stick with you. But then you tell yourself they’re different in person because they’re actors, right?

I’ve interacted with more than enough celebrities in my lifetime, but none of them asked me for cocaine, or any other drugs, until now. I thought, “Is this dude really asking me for coke?”

His 2004 arrest for attempting to liberate lobsters from a Florence, Kentucky grocery store fish tank came to mind in that moment and then it all started to make sense.

I don’t remember being that starstruck at the time, although I felt a bit ashamed because I couldn’t help find what he wanted. I offered an alternative.

“Dude I have some killer weed at my place and it’s literally right around the corner. You’re all invited. Let’s get high!”

Sadly, he declined. They all declined.

We stood around for several more minutes making conversation and smoked more cigarettes. My group was beginning to make its transition to the next bar.

Then I popped the question to him.

“Hey dude, what’s your favorite movie you played in?”

Taking a drag from his cigarette, Furlong exhaled and stared blankly for a second, slightly nodding his head. There was a pause, then he smiled and suddenly became animated.

“Titanic part two!” Furlong shouted, flailing his arms while hopping back and forth between the street and the curb with his feet together as if competing in a game of Double Dutch.

“OK, OK I get it,” I told him. Clearly, he gets that question all of the time.

Furlong continued jumping around and making noises as I walked away. I rejoined my crew and we resumed our night, which has since faded into history.

Graphic by Eric T. Styles. To contact the author, email dave@thequarterrat.com.