In Chewbacca’s defense

Recently, in New Orleans …

I don’t personally know the street performer dressed as Chewbacca. He has been doing it awhile and has always been respectful to me, not up in my door or in the club. Right before the stabbing incident, he walked by and fist bumped me.

“Sup Jay?” Chewbacca asked, as he greeted me.

He walked around the corner on Toulouse Street to get his tip money straight, a couple hundo in small bills. According to reliable witnesses, a couple of the parasite-scumbag street hustlers tried to jack him and he gigged one of them. Fucker ran three blocks before he fell out and didn’t want cops or ambulance involved at first. A dead giveaway he was in the wrong! Any of us that have worked any length of time in the Quarter have had to deal with these useless fucksticks at some point and I’ve done WAY worse to motherfuckers with their hand in my tip jar!!!

The ONLY thing lower than a tip thief is a child molester. I’m NOT saying Chewbacca is a outstanding person and paragon of civic virtue–again I don’t personally know the dude. He did what he had to do. As far as the idiot who got shanked? Play stupid game, win stupid prizes.

Choppa City

A true story by Jay Slusher…

Some time ago, in New Orleans, I was roommates with a good friend of mine, Motown up on Claiborne Avenue — the busiest street in the city, from Mardi Gras up until the first lockdown quarantine.

Interstate Ten (I-10) runs pretty much the length of Claiborne to the Crescent City connection, or the bridge that goes over the Mississippi River from downtown. Claiborne rises 35 feet high and eight lanes wide. Underneath is a world to its own: graffiti artist taggers’ venue, homeless encampment and, after Hurricane Katrina, it was an automotive graveyard for a couple of years. Had Katrina destroyed more vehicles than any other natural disaster in history? Most of them ended up there before being scrapped or sold off in South America, where they were reworked into right-hand drive, called transformers, because the steering column on the right and the instrument cluster on left.

Under the 10 is a lawless wasteland, home to the deranged and desperate and addicted because it offers shelter from the relentless Louisiana sun and rain. I’ve seen sections littered with used syringes and condoms and shell casings, dead bodies, hobo orgies, etc. I’ve walked it all hours, armed and in various states of intoxication. It’s also a very popular spot for family reunions and barbecues.

First, let me associate you with some terminology.

Choppa style

For the uninitiated, a “choppa” is street lingo for the Automat Kalashnikov 1947, otherwise known as the.AK-47 and used for when you absolutely, positively must kill every motherfucker in the room. It makes a distinct sound when fired and you DO NOT want to be down range when it’s going off.

The effects of the AK-47’s 7.62-millimeter round has on human flesh, vehicles and wooden houses like the one I lived in are devastating. The rifle itself is popular worldwide and especially here in New Orleans, apparently. I myself have owned one, a Romanian variant.

In fact, there’s Charlie Hoffacker, an NOPD homicide detective, a longtime veteran, ho does artwork depicting AK-47s, such as a rifle hanging on a street sign or “Choppa City,” his piece showing the gun slung with Mardi Gras beads. It’s actually really cool and a statement on life in the Big Sleazy in general..

Super Sunday

Every Sunday on Claiborne Avenue, near St. Claude and Carrollton avenues, they have what’s called Super Sunday. It’s a swap meet, rap concert, hot rod and motorcycle show, filled with food vendors and folks selling everything under the sun, a shit ton of guys on sport bikes raising Hell and doing burnouts, kids on four-wheelers and random dudes on horseback. It’s really chaotic and no one seems to be in charge.

I remember one time walking through and there was a family picnic going on.

“You hungry Baby?” an older Black lady asked me.

Next thing I know I had a plate of ribs and potato salad in one hand, and a cocktail in another with a toddler on my knee, lmao! They treated me like one of their own and I was an hour late to work, but it was worth it!

New Orleans Police roll through this area regularly, usually with lights flashing, but I’ve never seen anyone on foot patrol — it’s loud and completely chaotic in some parts. Remember the scene in Road Warrior where the barbarian bikers are besieging the refinery compound? Similar to that. I expected to see Lord Humungus himself. It always seemed like a recipe for fistfights and gunshot wounds, but in the six months I’d lived there in 2019 and 2020, I never witnessed a bit of trouble and everyone was cool as fuck to me.

Mowtown and I often were the only white dudes in a six-block radius. But then again, we’re not your average White boys. Across the street there is the Mother-in-Law Lounge, which is owned by Kermit Ruffins and is the headquarters of Ernie K-Doe, the self-proclaimed Emperor of the Universe (RIP). Kermit now owns the legendary bar, where he’d have barbecue fired up on Sundays.

The city shut down Super Sunday during the initial quarantine. I remember like that because it was a lot more quiet and you could get some rest, unlike when you had nine motherfuckin’ dudes blasting their bass cannons in the back set or trunk of their Dodge Chargers. It was like a pile driver at your front door and damned near impossible to sleep until it died down around 1 a.m., usually.

We got cleared to go back to work after two months and my line of work is security/barbacking in the French Quarter. I was glad to get back to work and see all of my friends after two months, even if it was only for three shifts.

That’s not firecrackers

On a recent Super Sunday, I had the day off and they were really raising hell out here. They were partying like a meteor was about to hit and maybe it was. Hundreds of loud-as-fuck sport bikes, hot rods and random groups of dudes on horseback were right in the middle of the city.

It was 11:40 a.m on June 12, the wind was starting to die. Drew, a friend of mine and Motown’s, was there and parked his truck under the interstate. Mo was sitting in the doorway drunk as fuck with his stereo blasting. About 25 minutes ago, Drew went to check on his truck but was blocked in until he finally drove off at about 11:25. Mo had packed it in but there was still about 300 to 400 people out front, including a bunch of guys on sport bikes and a guy with a barbecue, who was packing it up.

I was in the second room back from the street and Mo had the third. I remember watching a cheesy sci-fi movie on Comet network and fucking off on Facebook when, out of no where, I heard a staccato burst of gunfire of what sounded like a dozen rounds going off.

I’m not sure, though, because of the acoustics from the 10 and a cacophony of background noise. Then I heard about a hundred goddamned sport bikes taking off! It was like being on the deck of an aircraft carrier. I swear to God, I’m so used to this shit that I don’t think my pulse even jumped.

I just started counting rounds, maybe it was 20? None of them were incoming, though. If I heard one hitting the house, I would have rolled off onto the floor. In that moment, I remember hoping that Kermit and his crew were OK.

“That’s not firecrackers,” Motown said, as he stuck his head out of the window in his room.

“Fuck no!” I replied. “Don’t open the door!”

I heard people crying for help and people running and screaming. I don’t need that in our house.

The sound of sirens appeared immediately and New Orleans Police were on the scene in less than two minutes.

I opened the front door, but the security gate was locked. Less than 60 feet away, two bodies laid on the street. One was shot the pieces, but couldn’t tell with the other one. Two nearby vehicles were riddled with bullet holes. Cops, paramedics and firefighters are everywhere. It looked like a scene from Grand Theft Auto. It’ s not my first exposure to extreme violence and death by no means but still, what the fuck?

An hour later, I left home to grab some food near Esplanade and Claiborne avenues at the only place still open. The crime scene van was still out front and so were several detectives. I told them that I didn’t see or know anything about what happened, but said I heard the shots. They confirmed it was one of those short-barreled AK-47, sort of like the one Bin Laden carried until operators took his ass out. I added that I heard two weapons fired.

The person who was shot to death was young, but the second person who died was a Black man in this early 40s and he wasn’t hit. The medics said he had a massive heart attack and died instantly. Poor dude. He was just having a good time minding his own business and boom, two dudes shuffling off this mortal coil in a heartbeat. I didn’t know them, but my condolences to their friends and families. RIP.

Later, I was chatting with people on Facebook. Most of my New Orleans friends did not bat an eye. We’re used to it. I can’t count the murders I’ve seen or been in proximity to. I was no choir boy even before I moved to New Orleans 25 years ago. I myself am probably fated to go down fighting in the mud, the blood and the beer. Given my nature and lifestyle, so be it. It’s better than dying from cancer, or whatever, after working in some shithole factory for 30 years.

This whole episode reinforced one concept even more for me: when you’re out on the streets, no matter what hour, pay attention and be alert because death is listening.

For submissions, questions, comments, praise, etc. about this piece, email Dave Minsky at or Eric Styles at

Purgatory motel hell

A True Story By Jay Slusher…

Some time ago, somewhere in Tennessee, I’d moved back to the 931 a couple of years before. I had kicked the booze and blow and pills and quit living my life like a Johnny Cash song. My lil’ granddaughter’s mother’s family was there and another daughter and her mother also. My love life has always been complicated and I was a rake and rambling boy.

In my younger days, I’d spent half my life working in the fast and dangerous world of Bourbon Street. It’s a rough lifestyle and I told myself I was taking a break. I found a job working at an automotive plant; it was a hellhole and they practically sell meth out of vending machines. My little town had gotten rough in the 20 years I’d been gone.

I really hated being there — too many bad memories. For once, I was doing what every girlfriend, etc. had ever wanted me to do: home and work. There was no drinking and very little womanizing. I wasn’t going to church or anything, but I settled into a routine. I worked four 10-hour days each week, Sunday through Wednesday, on graveyard shift, at a factory living a full but fairly comfortable existence in a rundown motel on the outskirts of town.

In some ways, it was the nicest place I had all to myself in years. When I moved in, it had a brand new California king-sized bed, a new full-size refrigerator, brand new toilet, hot water, satellite TV and the surrounding area was quiet most of the time.

I wasn’t hanging with anyone much over here. There was lots of drug activity and police, but other than running me for warrants every time they got a chance, they mostly left me alone.

On my three days off, I’d cook in my room and watch movies, read, etc. It was boring as fuck after awhile. I had been working weekends and holidays for decades in the New Orleans service industry, slinging booze and working the door, barbacking — the whole nine yards. I missed my friends, the action and the easy money.

One Saturday night, I was chilling and reading Blood Meridian and listening to Johnny Cash, watching TV on closed caption and I dozed off. Sometime later, I woke to total blackness. It was Lovecraft’s stygian darkness! I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.

My room was in the back on the bottom floor facing a nice little stretch of woods. I couldn’t find my phone or any flashlight. I had always been a nocturnal person — it’s why I preferred graveyard shift and working at “night” clubs. Always keep a couple of little lights on close by.

I felt my way to the door and it’s dark as a black steer’s tuchus on a moonless prairie night, to quote the great Sam Elliott. It was a perfect 70 degrees, no wind and weirdly silent. No bugs or night birds chirping and dark as my soul in every direction.

I could, however, see a little bit. There was heavy cloud cover and zero traffic sounds despite being only 40 yards from a busy well-traveled highway. Zero traffic. What the fuck? I’m walking around the motel up a slight hill towards the front, wearing only a t-shirt, pajama pants and socks on my feet. I’m thinking I might have died in my sleep? I was very confused and it kinda creeped me out, to be honest.

I thought: am I in purgatory? I died! And in a minute Papa Legba is gonna roll up in a mint condition ’66 Cadillac Coupe de Ville and take my ass to hell. Maybe I was just dreaming, but it felt real as fuck though. I could feel the decaying asphalt under my feet.

The front of the motel is dark as fuck, not even the emergency exit lights were on. As I walked the length of the motel, about 100 yards, I noticed very few vehicles. I’m getting more creeped out. The Subway shop and gas station next door were also blacked out.

Suddenly, on the second story balcony, I saw the outline of a man and the glow of a cell phone.

“Hello? What’s happening bruh?” I said to the man.

“Some drunk idiot hit a power pole down the road and the goddamned WiFi is out too!” he replied.

I’m just in a blackout? This time, it was an electrical and not a drunken blackout. The fuck? I wanted to shake his hand and buy him a beer! What a relief. Shit got really bizarre and surreal for a few minutes.

I walk a bit further and see the hospital where they butchered my foot a year ago. The hospital was lit up like a goddamned casino! They had generator power. Then I see the yellow light flashing on a company truck driving down the highway. Ah man, just fuckin’ wow.

I make my way back to the room and sat outside until the power came back on, which was about an hour later. Later, I had learned that the idiot who hit a pole was drunk as fuck and was his fourth DUI offense — and driving on a suspended license. Hello habitual driving offender status and 10 years before the driver will get it back to legal. Jay, I’m thinking to myself, you’ve got to get the fuck out of here!

That night was one of the weirdest and creepiest moments I’ve ever had in my life and I was cold sober. Let me describe it a bit more: it was some freaky, freaky, level nine-type Twilight Zone shit!

One month later, I left back home to New Orleans, where even the bizarre makes sense.

Fear and Loathing in Tennessee

A true story by Jay Slusher

Some time ago, in New Orleans and Tennessee, I’d reached my limit and hit the wall. After being a functional alcoholic and recreational drug user, I’d become that guy: a total pilled out drunken mess, fired from my job of nine years, evicted from apartment and my girlfriend left me. She saved my life and told me she didn’t want to be the one to find me dead. I don’t blame her one bit. I pretty much hit rock bottom.

I got in touch with a friend in Daytona Beach who said I could come stay with her and her husband. My brother from another mother bought me a bus ticket. It was a long, fucked-up trip and I got there in slightly better shape than Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy.

Didn’t have any trouble getting a job, but Daytona Beach wasn’t my town, man. I’m a New Orleans guy; I’ve lived half my life (25-plus years) here. Things didn’t work out for me and I recently found out my second oldest daughter was pregnant after suffering a previous miscarriage. Finally, there was hope for something good and decent in my life.

Arrangements were made were made for a place to stay with oldest daughter in Tennessee. I really didn’t want to be back up there, but I wanted something good. I found out the baby was going to be a little girl!

So I got a job in a local factory working the night shift. It was rough work for a 50-year-old, busted-up bartender and doorman, but I hung in there—for two plus years. Felt like I was in purgatory. It was the most boring time of my life: work and home. However, I kicked booze, pills and event quit smoking weed for over a year! (Drug tests at my job.)

Jessica, my daughter, had the baby and named her Journey. Man, I knew she was gonna be something! The first time I held her, she was a week old. Me and my girlfriend at the time drove up to Indiana to see her. My daughter’s house was chaos at the time, with little dogs barking and all the sons-in-law’s relatives there.

My granddaughter was pretending to be asleep and discreetly cutting her eyes at me, like who-in-the-fuck is THIS guy?!?! It was one of the best moments of my life.

Not long after driving back to Tennessee, I broke up with my girlfriend and the boring monotony of work and motel life set in. It felt like I was dying and missing the fuck out of New Orleans. The city is like that really toxic girlfriend who’s no damned good for you, but you still want to bang her. Seeing people I went to high school with looking like death on a tricycle, spun constantly and living in their parents’ basements really got me down.

It seems like I had my shit together better when I was half-drunk and doing drugs? I missed the camaraderie and respect I earned working on Bourbon Street. It’s the only life I’ve ever known and the only place I’ve EVER felt at home.

Music to my fuckin’ ears

The music, the people, the vibe. Bourbon Street is where you think there’s about to be a street brawl, or gunfight, and it turns into a second line with everyone cutting up and getting along. I missed it so bad it hurt! Yeah, it’s fucked up and yes it is dangerous, but goddamn I feel alive here. A part of it all! Never bored and always something going down, good or bad.

Shit started going bad. I got fucked over on my car and was about to point-out at my job and I really don’t kiss ass well, to say the least. I hadta remind myself every day what I got away with in New Orleans, which I’d get fired and catch felony charges for in Tennessee.

Given my nature and personality, I got really tired of toning down my personality and taking shit. It was coming to a head and I was getting a dark foreshadowing of ending up in jail with guys I went to high school with in there and I didn’t get along with most of them back in the day.

I had spend a lot of the past couple of years along most of the time, and sober, with lots of self-introspective brooding; reliving every goddamn mistake and bad decision I’ve made in the last 40 years. Not a good place to be, but I had several epiphanies, or moments of clarity as we alcoholics call them.

At a crucial point, I got a call from my old boss: Cary. I’d been a henchman for over a decade. We had a long conversation about many things.

He said “come back, I’ve got work for you, we need you!” Another friend called and said, “Jay, you can crash at my crib ’til you get on your feet.” A job and a place to stay? Fuck yeah. I’ve started out on less before.

I left the great state of Tennessee on the day the Hard Rock (hotel) fell. I though a friend of mine had been in there working. He was missing and unaccounted for? Found out the day after I got back that he was in New York. Thank gods for that. My boss pretty much put me back to work pretty much the first night I walked back into that world. It felt great to be back. I’d missed pretty much everyone.

Back on the street, back on my feet

I had a nice little gig going. Was working with a lot of friends and some new ones. It’s really rare in this world to meet people and be friends with them right off the bat. And it has happened to me more here in New Orleans than anywhere else I’ve been: Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago or Houston. I’ve really got some good solid friends here in New Orleans that looked out for me and held me down during ALL of the COVID-19 and political fuckery during 2020. Some rough times for all of us.

Thankfully, I DID NOT have a girlfriend or wife and kids to provide and look out for. Hitting 50, my check engine light came on! The whole goddamned board went red: diabetic type 2, arthritis, PTSD and ballistic head trauma from being hit in the dome too many times, too many to count over the years.

Pool sticks and beer bottles and bar stools, memory loss and confusion, waking up dehydrated and not knowing where I am or what year it is. It only lasts a minute, though, if it gets really bad and I’m self-aware enough to realize it. The last skull I crack will be my own.

Not wanting to turn this into a Dark Carnival of the Soul, but I’m getting emotional and in my feelings writing this. It’s very personal stuff. Being back after a couple of years gone by has given my a lot of perspective and insight. Everyone remarks about how much calmer and patient I am now. I owe that to my granddaughter, Journey. Her parents are doing an awesome job with her. She’s got a sweet and kind personality, and she’d want me to be more patient and help people.

I’m not my old cruel self anymore. The path of the righteous man and all that shit. I’m trying Ringo, trying REAL hard. Had a love-hate relationship with the Big Sleazy for awhile. It’s all love now, but I needed that time away, alone mostly and sober.

To put it into perspective: if it’s my fate to die here by God I’m down for it. I’ve never felt at home anywhere else. The people, the music, the history and the vibe. And, of course, the best food in the world. We lost a lot of people over the last few years. Many have fallen RIP and see y’all on the other side.

The future is uncertain and the end is always near. Just want to say I’ve got a lot of good friends and mad love and respect for everyone holding me down. And we WILL get through this. Katrina couldn’t kill the city and neither will COVID-19.

Love y’all man! We few! We happy few! Band of brothers and sisters. Proud of ALL y’all.

Send all questions, comments, feedback, or to welcome Jay back to New Orleans, email or

We all have that knucklehead friend

This is a true story by Jay Slusher. Graphic by Eric T. Styles.

Not long ago, in New Orleans, I was working the door at the corner of Bourbon Street and Toulouse. It was a Saturday night. Despite recent COVID-19 restrictions, we were having a great night, a decent crowd, buying drinks and Papa Doc was on the mic.

We got a group from New Jersey: four females and two dudes, buying shots and chilling. One of the female’s boyfriend shows up, a Black dude maybe 40 years old? He gets into a dispute with my manager and shot girl at the door. His girlfriend and friends are trying to chill him out, but he’s not having it and we’re not letting him back in.

His friend is being cool AF and apologizing to us, trying to grab on me and the manager. The girlfriend is wrestling with him and getting pissed. She takes him around the corner and we’re thinking it’s over.

The manager goes up the street to check the other club and the next thing I know, the dude comes charging around the corner heading for me all aggro!

I’m thinking, OK I’m about to go hands-on. It wouldn’t be the first time, but I’m outnumbered 8-to-1 if the friends jump in.

The girlfriend is not having it! She grabs her boyfriend, slams him into the car that just pulled up at the corner and then BODY-SLAMMED him to the street! She hands her jacket to one of her girls and proceeds to beat the breaks off him!!

Then she pins him to the ground for a good five minutes whaling on him and talking shit. Hundreds of people are out and some starting recording with their smartphones. She finally lets him up and it’s a whole attitude change.

He’s laughing and hugging her, shit was hilarious. She kept it gangsta.

Girlfriend and half the group stuffed him into an Uber and left. The remaining group asked if they can come back in and hang out and I’m like, “absolutely!”

We all have that knucklehead friend. I told them if your girl ever needs a job, hit me up! That girl threw some cage match moves!