Breaking Stupid

(All art by Eric T. Styles)
Author’s note: the incident in this story took place in 2009. I DON’T do pain pills or cocaine anymore. If I tried to roll like that now I’d be dead or hospitalized!

Publisher’s note: Some references to local establishments were omitted.

Warning: graphic violence, strong language and drug use.

A true story by Jay Slusher… Some time ago, in New Orleans, it was mid winter, leading up to the Saints’ victory in the Super Bowl. The vibe in the city, especially in the French Quarter, was awesome. Steady business and great people for the most part. I was slinging booze out of the alley bar and making stupid money and doing stupid shit too. I’m probably at the high or low of my drug abuse and alcoholism. I was going through a couple of eight balls each weekend and popping Vicodin like Tic Tacs. I HAD help with the former though: a crew of friends and hangers-on. I was 43 and at top of my game.

I’d gotten off work early that busy Saturday night, at 4 a.m. and I headed up to a certain bar on Toulouse Street. My plugs had all shown up that night, and I foolishly DID NOT go to my apartment behind Stiletto’s and and put most of my stash up. I wasn’t thinking straight at the time, but was far from wasted. I had one-quarter ounce of Columbian bambam, 20 Percocets, six grams of fire weed, a collapsible baton and the felony slam dunk–a loaded Smith & Wesson hammerless .38. The pistol was registered in my name and I had valid concealed carry permit, but with the weight in narcotics I had and $700 cash, it would have been armed trafficking had I got busted. I WAS NOT dealing! It was for personal use, but it wouldn’t have looked good.

I was supposed to meet up with some of my guys at the bar. I knew most everyone who worked and hung out. It was not virgin territory for me. The Tropical Isle Club had burned out a couple weeks before and I could still smell the smoke despite the fact that it was shuttered and had a temporary chain link fence surrounding it. Trash littered the street and I stepped over some fresh puke on the sidewalk, looked like crawfish etouffee? Probably smelled better when they first ate it.

I exchanged greetings with Jordan, the doorman at The Dungeon, walked into the bar and ordered a drink–my standard, Jim Beam and Coke. The new bartender was vertically challenged, but incredibly cute. She was an Irish girl from Boston named Maeve. We introduce ourselves and made chit-chat. It was her first night working there and on graveyard, the silly shift.

About that time a guy comes in wearing Pat O’Brien’s gear, including white pants and shirt and green jacket. He’s Black, late 30s and fucked up! Looking like a Johnny Cash song. He immediately orders a shot of Bacardi 151 and cup of black coffee. Maeve evidently knew him because she refused to serve him alcohol and caffeine, given that he was already intoxicated, diabetic and epileptic. He argued his case for a minute and suddenly he turned paler than he already was, his eyes rolled back and he collapsed to the floor, looking like a zombie Richard Pryor!. Me and the barback–the always awesome Billy from Philly, RIP–helped him and cushioned his head. He was seizing and foaming at the mouth.

Maeve called 911 and they showed up surprisingly fast. We explain to the EMTs what happened and they bundled him out on a stretcher. That pretty much cleared out what little customers she had, too. It was pretty late and the crowd had dwindled due to cold and intermittent rain.

I slipped into the bathroom to do a maintenance bump off my keys–a lil dab will do ya! One up each nostril. It hit my brain like a sledge hammer. One second of burn and then an instant drain down the back of the throat. Goddamn!! I said GODDAMN!?!? Instantly, I’m cool and articulate again, at least for a minute.

I returned to the bar and ordered another drink, and discussed what just happened. Suddenly there was a commotion at the front door. People were getting kicked out of The Dungeon by Walter and Jordan, the security. It’s James, my friend I was supposed to meet up with. James was a really intelligent and articulate guy, very talented tattoo artist and had just done a cover piece on my right hand a month prior. However, he had ZERO filter! Combine that with a 6 feet 2 inch and 250-pound frame with extensive training in Muy Thai, and you’ve got your hands full! He also had an Odinist symbol on his face that caused him to be a shit magnet at times.

His girlfriend Sam, bartender and manager at The Dungeon, was off duty at the time and comes in to tell me that I need to go outside. As one of the few people who could handle James, talk him down, etc., I walked out to the front of bar. Walter and Jordan were posted up at The Dungeon’s door.

I immediately recognized the couple James was arguing with: both were White, early 30s, albino-pale with bleached-out hair, meth sores and dilated eyes. Both were dressed in black looking like inbred brother and sister. I’d heard the rundown on them; they were staying at a skid row motel on Tulane Avenue and the dude’s claim to fame was he’d worked at The Dungeon–five years ago for a couple of months. He was about 5 foot 6 inches and a buck fifty at most, twitchy and wearing Himmler-style glasses. She was 5 foot 8 inches and about a buck eighty. Both were pale and flabby and looked like they hadn’t slept or eaten in weeks.

She’s went on about James being a tourist and a Nazi and being a local. I’d been living here and hanging out and sometimes working at these three bars for a decade-plus and I’d never seen them until recently. She’s running her cock holster and the dude is silent, and creepy looking. What the fuck? “James!” I said. “Fuck this shit! C’mon in and I’ll buy you a drink.”

The bitch was still mouthing off. The word I heard on her is that she had been trying, with little success, to hustle guys for drinks and money. They were trick-rolling and playing Murphy games. It’s very common down here: a dude from out of town, probably married, meets woman in bar, then she lures him somewhere and the boyfriend shows up and robs him. Seen it a million times. She’s pretty skanky though, even in the dim light of a dive bar.

I’ve got my arm around James and we’re about to walk into bar when she screamed, “Yeah you pussy motherfuckers better walk off! My husband will cut your fuckin heads off!”

Next thing I saw was the little troll coming at us with, for fucks sake, a straight razor in his hand! Where the FUCK did you get that?! The cliche mine? James whirled around as the dude slashed at his face and I hear a click, or the sound of James’ four-inch combat knife extending from his hand just before he stabbed into the dude’s skull, ripping a good 5-inch gash into his scalp as he took a couple slashes to his face.

I reached for my 24-inch collapsible baton located in the holster at small of my back, underneath my black Dickies jacket. I tried to get in and break up the fight, I really didn’t need this bullshit, especially with felony weight narcotics and a handgun on me.

The bitch jumped on my back screeching about tourists and Nazis, and tried to jam a lit cigarette into my eye, while clawing for the other one with her nasty thumbnail. I flung her to the sidewalk and extended my baton. It’s my weapon of choice for close combat; effective and intimidating, not as messy as a knife or a gun. I used them many times before. A straight razor, though? On paper or in movies it’s scary, but not so much in a brawl. The blade won’t lock back and unless you hit an artery, the cuts are fine but not deep. I thought he’d gotten James in the eye!

Both of them moved in a scuffle down the sidewalk towards Bourbon Street. James basically kicked at the dude, who’s down and blindly slashed at James’ legs. With James wearing knee-high Doc Martens straight out of Romper Stomper under his camouflage battle dress uniform pants, the slashes had no effect and James continued kicking the little shit in the face.

I tried to break it up, but the skank jumps on my back at least three more times. In the three or so minutes that have elapsed since the altercation began, I saw two NOPD cruisers pass by on Bourbon Street. James has kicked the little shit within 40 feet of Bourbon Street. The dude still hasn’t said shit and just grunted from the impacts of James boots.

The skank continued to scream at us, calling us Nazis and while they claimed to be locals. I flung her to sidewalk several more times. They had to be tweaked out of their minds taking hits like that from me and James. I’m 6 feet 4 inches and was 230 and a veteran nightclub bouncer at the time. Not my first or 500th street brawl. I showed restraint, all things considered, but worried about cops rolling up with the narcotics and pistol in my possession. This escalated quickly.

The dude and James were both covered in blood, including the whole right side of James’ head. The scuffle moved across the street and James kicked the dude into the fence surrounding the burned out shell of Tropical Isle Club, located in the 600 block of Bourbon Street. The air reeked of scorched wood, puke and blood. I finally got between them before I pushed James back and extended baton in my left. James staggered into street wiping blood from his eyes.

I stood over the dude, who’s laying on his back in the street, a bloody mess and head swelling up like the goddamned Elephant Man. Where’s the girl? I stomp on his right forearm, he’s clutching the razor and still not talking. I told him to drop the razor and he grunts. I rapped him sharply across his nose and heard it crunch. He let go of the razor and I switched hands, baton in my left, and I dumped the knife and razor into the storm drain. I stood up just as the bitch came back and swung a U-shaped bike lock on a chain into my back, hard. Goddamn it! The fuckin’ tweaker cunt was still screeching about tourists and Nazis.

The dude rolled in the mud, blood and beer and holding his face, crying. Sam tried to pull James back across the street. The bitch hit me again but this time I hook my baton into the chain and ripped it from her possession, flinging the chain and lock combination across Bourbon Street. A small crowd gathered to watch the fight. I grabbed her by her funky peroxide hair.

“You like to play rough bitch?” I said, slamming her face first into the post of the chain-link fence. She stopped screaming and fell to the ground, twitching. Goddamnit! I expected to go to jail any fuckin’ second. I heard several people in the crowd gasp and comment, but I didn’t give a fuck in that moment.

At this point I’ve had enough. I pulled the .38 out of my Dickies jacket and popped open the cylinder to show her it’s loaded. “If y’all come at us again, I’m gonna waste both of y’all,” I said.

I shoved James and Sam into the bar and Maeve yells last call. As Billy from Philly closed the bar, the bitch came around yelling about calling the cops! Fuck me. The bar is closed but you can’t see inside. The tweakers staggered around the Tropical Isle and the female goth-tweaker continued to run her mouth. The damage to James’ face was minimal, only superficial cuts, although it looked worse than it was. The slashes missed his eye. I immediately chopped out a dozen lines to compose ourselves and I hand off my whole stash–pills, blow and weed, about $500 worth–to Billy from Philly, bless his heart, who put it all in an envelope and hid it under a full trashbag lining a can.

I told Maeve to get a bar towel and handed her my pistol. She didn’t bat an eye, wrapping the pistol with the towel and hid it under bar. I tossed the baton, my knife and little flashlight under the pool table and onto the dirty saloon floor. At that moment, we heard a quick blast from a police siren, followed by a rap at the shuttered door. It’s showtime!

As I’m the only one not drenched in fuckin’ blood, I told everyone to stay in the bar and let me talk to the cops. It’s kind of my superpower and know what to say (my dad is a retired police officer and military pilot). I stepped outside and expected a SWAT team to greet me, given there was bloody brutal fight with multiple people, multiple witnesses and weapons were involved. At least no one got stabbed with a trident.

It’s one cop and a rookie by the looks of him. He was very casual and actually had his hands in his pockets. “What’s going on?” he said.

Nancy-fuckin-Spungen across the streets starts yelling, wait for it, wait for it–about us being tourists and Nazis and wasn’t making a bit of sense. She and her trollboy are a bloody goddamned mess, like they’d been dragged across concrete by a bear. Trollboy can barely walk and his head’s covered in blood and swelling. She was still yelling, but now they’re walking away. Was meth the only reason why they weren’t dead? We had beaten the cowboy-tweaker-shit outta them.

“Why don’t y’all go one way and you sir go back in the bar?” the cop said, still cool and casual as fuck. What the fuck? I haven’t said a word at that point.

“Yes sir! Have a good night!” I said and walked back into the bar, locking the door behind me. The Gods of Alcohol have smiled upon me once again! We poured more drinks and chopped out more lines.

Epilogue

Two weeks later, our lives went back to normal, as normal as it gets for the life in the French Quarter, slinging booze and talking trash. The cuts on James’ face were basically scratches from forehead to chin and they healed quickly. Fucker had narrowly missed his eye, though.

When I got home that morning, Melissa, my girlfriend at the time, had heard about the incident and she pulled my hoodie and jacket off. My back was pretty stiff despite the cocaine, pain pills and alcohol I’d ingested. A big horseshoe-shaped bruise across my shoulder blades from the bike lock faded quickly. Maeve’s and Billy from Philly’s bosses, a really awesome husband and wife team, had heard the watered-down version of the fight from me. I left out the pistol and narcotics parts, though. They were cool about it because it went down outside and no police report was filed. Again, the Gods of Alcohol stepped in.

Roughly two more weekends went by and I heard from several sources in my network of spies and informers that the bitch and her trollboy reappeared at the bar and The Dungeon. They were with a posse consisting of several tweaked-out emo kids and a big fat kid in a Babylon 5 shirt. They asked who I was and threatened to kill me.

I paid Dani, my co-worker, to takeover my shift. I called my crew, who were working out in the Quarter that night. Frankie, Nick, Dustin, Avery and, of course, James. All hard-bitten Dog Soldiers who didn’t give a fuck and down for anything. “Meet me in front of The Dungeon, boys.”

Me and my crew of baggage-smashers arrived at the Dungeon. Jordan already knew what was about to go down and met us at the door. “Jay they left and headed to lower Decatur,” he said.

We proceeded to hit every bar on Decatur Street and beyond, from Molly’s at the Market to The John on Burgundy Street, in the Marigny. No trollboy and no fat kid in a Babylon 5 shirt. I was hitting the Columbian bambam pretty hard at the time and could be a ruthless motherfucker. After a hour or two of this, we walked back to The Dungeon and Jordan and Hoss met us at the door.

“Look Jay, the dude talked to some people and him and the girl got in a argument,” Jordan said. “He took his friends and left. He’s scared shitless and still stitched up and in a neck brace.”

James busted up laughing. James was 86’ed for life, anyway. Hoss tells me no trouble and Rachel, the owners wife and a bartender, is about to kick the broke bitch out cuz she’s still trying to hustle dudes. She’s still got multiple stiches and a taped up nose so no one is giving her any play. I tell ’em I’m cool and just wanna talk but I refused to check my pistol. James and Dustin waited outside while Frankie, a lifetime regular, Nick and I go inside. Avery takes a seat in courtyard.

I immediately spotted her sitting at the bar. She’s hard to miss: two fading black eyes and tape across the nose and a few sutures on the forehead. I smiled at her and sit-down, with Frankie and Nick flanking me.

“Hey boo how’re you doing?” I said, oozing charm.

“A lot better now that you’re here,” she said. I bought her a drink and she warmed up. She put her hand on my arm. I buy a round of shots for us and she’s practically in my lap, dry humping my leg. I’m gonna have to burn these pants, I thought. She’s not as tweaked-out but still looking like 90 miles of bad Bakersfield oil patch road. Leaning towards her, I asked if she remembered me.

“Why no, I’d remember a big good looking guy like you,” she said. I told her I’m the guy that did the damage to her and she immediately becomes defensive. Her story was that her ex-husband put her up to it and none of it was her fault. She was sorry and that he’s all spun-out on meth, etc. I told her she’s full of shit and lucky they’re not dead. She said her husband had a broken nose, jaw, collarbone and 60 stitches in his head, etc. I hold up my hand to stop her. I told her my full government name, where I worked and if her and her husband/ pimp ever wanted to find me, that I’m not hard to find. None of us ever saw them again. If I have gained anything from this, it’s don’t take a straight razor to a street brawl.

The Regulators

A true story by Jay Slusher …

Some time ago, in New Orleans… I was walking home to my apartment in from the Central Business District, where one of my best friends had her first bar shift at a little joint off Lee Circle and I went there give her my support. I had a few cocktails in me but I had also eaten red beans and rice, and was only a little buzzed, but not ‘faced. It was about 2 a.m. and I was walking through a desolate area on the edge of the French Quarter.

I find myself in a lot of dark desolate areas on the regular and I wasn’t too worried. I had a cell phone, clip knife, flashlight and doctor’s Smith and Wesson on me–the Quarter is a high crime area! The section I was walking through has a notorious reputation in New Orleans criminal history. The 100 to 300 block of Burgundy Street, back in the day from about 1880 to 1910, had been known as Smoky Row. It was a decrepit rats nest of shotgun houses, and a maze of courtyards and old slave quarters inhabited by low-end prostitutes, pimps and hustlers, who were known for luring in tricks off the streets, then robbing and sometimes killing them.

Legend has it (I think it was around 1910, maybe?) they discovered a room full of bloody clothing and a pile of old wallets 7 feet high. In addition, several human remains were found buried in a courtyard. No one was ever charged. The Encyclopedia of American Crime has a detailed chapter on it.

As a matter of fact, my girlfriend and I were robbed at gunpoint along the same section of the Quarter back in 1999.

Back to the night in question. As I’m walking into the 200 block of Burgundy Street, I noticed a commotion about a half block away. On the opposite side of the street from me, I see a Black couple. The dude looks really wasted and the woman is on her phone with a 911 dispatcher.

“They fighting up here!” the woman said into the phone. “Buncha White boys. They about to kill that man! Y’all need to get here now!”

I see men scuffling in the street, about 150 feet away, screaming and cursing. A couple of guys are down and another one is staggering away. I see two large men dressed in black, with radios and “SECURITY” emblazoned on the back of their shirts. In one uniform and coordinated move, they both lift a tall, skinny dude by the arms and legs, and hoisted him over their heads, ran across the street holding the man above their heads as he screamed and cursed, and double body-slammed him hard, cage match-style onto the hood of an old Buick Roadmaster. I could feel the impact.

The dude went silent, limp and twitched on the hood of the car. I’m walking up cautious, revolver in my hand. I don’t know what the fuck is going on?! Then a guy staggers up to me, bleeding from the mouth and nose, and with a big gash on his forehead. His hoodie was ripped in half and he’s already bruising up where they’d kicked and stomped him. He looks like a Johnny Cash song and I KNOW him!

His street name is Ice: a skater and BMX guy. He worked occasionally on Bourbon Street as a barback and barker for daiquiri bars. I’ve known him forever. He’s a pretty cool guy, but like a lot of us, his addictions sometimes got the best of him. In addition, he’s noted for dramatic relationships with women. He wasn’t a kid anymore, probably in his early 30s at the time and looked way younger despite his lifestyle.

Ice falls against me and I’m holding him up, trying to hold him steady. He’s bloody as fuck and reeking of puke and cheap wine. I slide my revolver in the pocket of my Dickie’s jacket. I hear several sirens crank up from Bourbon Street a couple blocks away.

“Ice? Wtf bruh?!” I said to him. He looks at me, trying to focus.

“Jaybird? They, they beat the fuck outta me man!” Ice said. “The dudes would have killed me if those bouncers hadn’t shown up!”

He slumps to the ground as NOPD cruisers, with lit-up sirens blaring, turned onto both ends of the block. That’s when I noticed three other dudes laid out on the sidewalk. Two of them were unconscious, and the other was moaning and holding his crotch. They looked like typical wanna-be gangsta White boys, you know the type; $20 gram bags and gratuitous use of the N-word. Punks.

More NOPD units pull up, followed by a fire truck! This is turning into a Shit Circus quickly! Ice was slumped against me and I’m covered in his blood. The cops have gotten out of one car and a rookie–a White boy looking like he’s 15 years old, all new gear belt and shiny boots and badge–orders me against the wall and spread em! I know the drill. He’s looking at the sprawled bodies, confused. The sergeant gets out of his car, a grizzled veteran with 10 hash marks down his sleeve. I know him, too. A big, evil looking bastard. Think Yaphet Kotto crossed with Sam Jackson.

He was cool as fuck, though, and we had positive history. He deputized me during some street brawls and riots back when I was a Razzoo bouncer in the notorious red shirt era. Yeah I was one of those guys.

“Roll EMS, two units, 200 block Burgundy,” Sarge said into his shoulder mic. Also, he tells the rookie to stand down. He’s about to search me and I have a piece in my pocket.

I couldn’t remember if my concealed carry permit was still valid. And I had been drinking. And there’s five fuckin’ dudes laid out and I have blood on me! Fuck!

Just as he’s about to pat me down, the Black lady comes and points at me.

“Officer, that man was not fighting! He was trying to help that man!” she said.

“If you weren’t fighting why do you have blood all over you?” the rookie responded.

Ice, supported by two firemen, is kind of incoherent at the time. He had just taken a bad beatdown.

Two ambulances have arrived, adding to the sound and fury. This is turning into a bad episode of “Cops” with me front and center. Sarge asks me what happened and tells his men to kill the sirens. Thank God! It was really obnoxious.

I told him that I didn’t know and that I walked up at the tail end of it. I saw two guys in security gear, one Black and one White, body-slam the dude in the Scarface hoodie, then disappear up the street. That’s really all I saw. The Black lady is giving a statement to another officer and her boyfriend is drunkenly leaning against the lamp post, smoking a cigarette. I think he was a cook at Deja Vu. He’s muttering something about White boys.

Two paramedics have Ice on a stretcher and he’s coming around. Firemen and other medics are tending to the others and cops are searching them. Scarface ain’t looking good. He’d pissed himself and the medic said something about him coding? One of the other guy’s knee is broken and he’s crying when they load him on stretcher. Another one had his face smashed-in, nose broken and he’s gurgling blood. The third guy is still holding his crotch and throat, and crying.

Meanwhile, all sorts of contraband is piling up on the hood. Sure enough, a dozen gram bags of weed, several bindles of white powder, four knives, a set of brass knuckles and the federal felony grand slam–a POS 32 revolver with tape around the barrel, grip and trigger! It’s loaded with the numbers filed off. Cops are all excited and joking about it. Also, one of the medics informs Sarge that Scarface is wearing an ankle monitor from the bonding company.

Not a driver’s license among them. Sarge says they’re all in their early 20s and from Metairie, a suburban part of the New Orleans metro area located west of the city in Jefferson Parish; and Westwego, part of the West Bank located across the river and also in the same parish. They were all on probation or parole. Not exactly archcriminals we’re dealing with here.

Ice is propped up on a stretcher and drinking water, with the medic suturing his head. Ice is drunk as fuck, but alert now. The rookie asks him to make a statement. Ice looks angry for a second.

“I ain’t no fuckin’ snitch bruh!!” Ice proclaimed. Ice’s social skills aren’t the best. He refused to make a statement to the policeman himself and instead makes his statement only to Jay. (Updated 2:08 a.m., June 8, 2021)

“That’s not how we do things. The policy says…” the rookie said before Sarge cut him off.

“I’ll allow it,” Sarge said. He takes out a cigar, a Cuban by the smell of it and clips it before jamming it into the corner of his mouth and chomping down.

“Jaybird, consider yourself deputized…detective!”he added, chuckling, then looks to Ice. “Proceed young man.”

Ice perks up; the center of attention. All around us cops, firemen and medics are busy as fuck. The punks are handcuffed to the stretchers and cops are taking pictures of everything. Eighth District detectives have showed up and taking notes.

“So tell me what happened, Ice? ” I ask.

“OK Jay, I got into a fight with my girlfriend at Armstrong Park earlier and I left her there!” he said. “Bitch lost our money! I slammed a fifth of Night Train and I wanted to pass out.

“I saw a pile of cardboard and fell out, I don’t know for how long? I woke up to puke and next thing I know, these bastards are stomping me and calling me a fa- – – t?!”

“So what happened then?” I prompted. The rookie is scribbling furiously.

“Dude, these bouncers showed up outta fuckin’ nowhere man?!” Ice said. “It’s like a miracle! Saved my ass man!”

“What did they look like?” I asked again.

“Big dudes, like you and Sarge” Ice continued. “All dressed in black, radios and gloves. They tore those dudes up man! Like a goddamn movie!

“One white dude, one black dude, big tough bastards! Didn’t say shit either. Just kicked ass!”

This WAS strange. There were no nightclubs or strip clubs anywhere near this section of the Quarter. Bourbon Street was blocks away. They didn’t look familiar either and I’m a card-carrying member of the Brotherhood of Evil Bouncers.

“And then they slammed that dude and took off,” Ice continued. “I’d buy those fuckers a beer man! They came outta nowhere and didn’t even know me!?”

One of the medics was hooking him to an IV. The rookie was still writing on his pad like a madman. Sarge asked me for a light and I hook him up. He rolls it in the flame to get a nice and even ember. He smells like Bourbon and gun leather. He puffs contently.

“And what’s your opinion on this, Jay bird?” Sarge asked me.

I saw a great opportunity to paraphrase the great Michael Parks from Kill Bill, Vol. 2:

“First off, as a professional, I appreciate the precision of the carnage. Throat, knee and crotch strikes, and that sweet double body slam at the end? Nice, they are definitely pros. No squirrely-ass amateurs. Zero fucks given. I’d say they probably had to escort some dancers or bartenders to one of the parking garages here and on the way back, they saw poor Ice here getting stomped out–and they intervened. They didn’t just beat ’em down, they MAIMED them! Then, like true vigilantes, they disappeared and remain anonymous.”

Several officers and detectives have gathered around. The poor rookie is still writing on this pad. Kids are gonna be doing paperwork till noon on this. Sarge takes the cigar out of his mouth and grins, teeth like broken tombstones.

“Jaybird, I think we both know exactly who these badasses are?” Sarge asked me.

I had absolutely no idea.

“In recent weeks, we’ve had several reports of a group of young men,” Sarge said, gesturing towards the ambulances, “matching these knuckleheads’ descriptions, robbing and assaulting gay men and homeless people in this area.”

I had heard the same thing and I thought if there’s been a half dozen complaints filed, they’d probably did it a BUNCH of times and gotten away with it. Most of the homeless people in this area are their own worst enemy and while a lot of them can be assholes and annoying as fuck, the majority of them are harmless and I’ve always thought guys who went gay-bashing were weak punks trying to prove how tough and hard they were. Scarface was the oldest and by the IDs and probably the brains of the outfit. And I’m using that term loosely.

They definitely bit off more than they could chew with some real fighters and hard men. My hats off to them.

“All in all, some excellent police work by those two,” Sarge said, referring to the mysterious bouncers. “They totally regulated on their dumbasses and when those idiots get out of the emergency room, I’m going to hit them with some serious felony charges. They’re all probation and parole, and the gun we found on Scarface alone is a federal felony charge with a minimum 10 years sentence.

“They gonna find out just hard they are in Angola!”

Ice ended up taking an ambulance ride. I saw him a couple more times since I moved back to New Orleans and got back in the only life I know. Ice is not is real street name. I wish him the best. I never had to testify and I heard nothing else about the incident. I’m sure the Sarge handled it. In New Orleans, street justice can be harsh and brutal.

And the regulators, whoever they are, excellent work and good looking out. Hit me up and drinks on me.

Questions or feedback? Art by Eric T. Styles. Edited by Dave Minsky. Email dave@thequarterrat.com or styles@thequarterrat.com.

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 dave@thequarterrat.com or Eric Styles at styles@thequarterrat.com.

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.