If you walked into Molly’s on Toulouse and thought that boasting “I’m friends with the owner” would give you any clout, you would be met with four out of five patrons raising their hands and saying, “Us too. What’s your point?”
The passing of Erin Churchill is devastating to so many people that she has touched over the years. Even as a casual acquaintance with Erin, you knew how much of an exceptional person she was. For those of us with a close relationship with her, it is deep personal loss.
It’s a great loss to the French Quarter, a successful business person and a wonderful soul is gone. I could write a thousand words praising her qualities, but they all would fall short of describing her remarkable character.
We are all fortunate to have even known her, we are better people for having done so. There will forever be a void in our lives and in The French Quarter without Erin Churchill.
Our block of Toulouse Street was the staging area for the (formally known as Chris Owens) Easter Parade. Just keep her name on it I say. One float had a life size cut-out of her. It creeped the fuck out of me when I first saw it. I thought they had dug her up. Be honest, you know she still probably looks the same now.
At work I spotted the last float had a sign on it that read “Happy Easter, the Cantrell Family.” I thought “Cool, some more grimacing Latoya pictures.” Nah, wrong Cantrell family. She wouldn’t allow herself to be the last float unless it was the biggest with brass marching band.
I was still in a prime location to get some pics of the set up. That means they climb up on a float and start working on a buzz. I sat up on a fire escape to take these pics. Smoking a bowl and sniping with the camera. A skill I learned playing GTA that I never thought would have real world application.
Sitting here going through the shots listening to the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar. About the only tradition I have on this holiday. I always viewed the story through a purely political narrative. The backward corrupt time in human history when tyrants would discredit and arrest their political opponents. Thankfully we would never consider such things in our enlightened and progressive days.
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.
On April 8, local freelance writer Thor Benson proudly tweeted: “I just ran into Andy Ngo at a bar in New Orleans. I politely told him he’s a ‘garbage person.’ Lol” Andy Ngo is a journalist from the Pacific Northwest who has gained notoriety from his extensive on-the-ground reporting of antifa protests and riots over the past few years. Mr. Ngo is often a target of verbal and physical abuse from far leftist ideologues.
Mr. Benson was mistaken as to the identity of the individual in a New Orleans bar that he approached and insulted. Mr. Ngo responded to the Benson tweet by stating that he was not even in the country at the time in question. Mr. Benson evidently mistook a random Asian bar customer for the journalist.
In an effort to be fair to Mr. Benson, I’ll attempt to give him some wiggle room. In his defense, I doubt it ever happened. It was probably one of those fantasy “it never happened but I’ll say it did” tweets. The person who will post a fictional self-righteous tale about their virtue for likes and shares from their tribe.
“I was on the bus when a woman got on wearing a TRUMP shirt. I called her out for being an evil racist and bad person. I shamed her so bad she got off of the bus before her stop. All of the people of color stood up and applauded me for being so brave and righteous!”
Or the other spin on fantasy tweets “My 2 year old came up to me and his very first words he ever spoke were ‘Mommy, I’m trans!”
I’ll take “Things that never happened” for $500.
You’re Thor? I’m tho thor can hardly even walk!
I tend to think this is how this started. Thor was sitting in some pretentious hipster bar in the Marigny scrolling through his phone getting pissed Mr. Ngo has more fame and clout than he ever will. As he sipped his pickled herring flavored IPA, he fantasized about what he would say to Andy if he walked in this bar right now.
The professionally trained writer from The Daily Beast carefully and eloquently composed a brilliant and scathing comment for his more established media peer, “You’re a garbage person.” Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde would be envious of making such a burn.
Mr Benson, unaware that he had possibly just insulted a random Asian neighbor, later doubled down with a second tweet. He boasted that the Asian man he called a “Garbage person” had just left punctuated by a “LOL”
If a tobacco chewing redneck went up to the only black patron in a bar placed his hand on his shoulder and told him that he was garbage forcing him to leave the establishment in fear, we would have a name for such an awful person. Especially after the redneck goes back to his buddies bragging about how he bullied out “their kind.”
I won’t claim to be a journalist, but I thought I should investigate a story here in New Orleans before I make a comment on it. Let me connect with my local Asian acquaintances to get feedback. Plus it was an excuse to order take out.
I asked the delivery guy if he had ever heard of Andy Ngo. “SHIT! I had an asshole approach me on a delivery yelling that name at me.” I asked what did he look like as the bag of beef and broccoli was handed to me. “I dunno, just another hipster asshole with a beard. He said he was a writer or something.” I tipped him well for the interview.
Coincidence I am sure.
Coming back from Jackson Square I ran into one of my neighbors that I often say hello to. The asian guy who chain smokes as he scrolls through his phone in front of the Foot Massage Place.
He laughed hard when I asked. “A couple of weeks ago some fucker called me a racist and told me to go back to Portland. He kept calling me Andy. He wouldn’t leave me alone so I made a fake martial art stance with an “EIYEEE!” He backed off and said I couldn’t hit him since he was a journalist or some shit. He ran off down Chartres street like a little bitch.”
“Can you describe him?” “Pasty ass hipster with a beard. Kind of creepy looking. Tough to say since you know how all hipsters look alike.”
Another coincidence certainly.
Today at my favorite sandwich shop I was almost to inquire the same to the guy at the grill. He turned around to greet me and take my order when I saw his t-shirt with large writing that said “NGO! I AM NOT ANDY”
I pointed to the shirt and asked, “Let me guess, pasty white hipster with a beard?” “Well, yea, he said he was a writer for something. What can I get you?”
Mr. Benson, allow me to lump you into a group. I place you with the white progressives who call Candice Owens a ‘Coon.’ Those who call black conservatives ‘Uncle Toms.’ I have known many hard core conservatives and not one has ever boasted about harassing a random Asian person over Pearl Harbor.
You may be too little to remember this: Back in the 1980s there was a Television minister grifting off of the evangelical crowd. Jimmy Swaggart use to preach about the sin and perversity of pornography. The evils of lust and fornication. He was busted with a skanky hooker in a Baton Rouge motel.
You are the hypocritical minister, and that tweet was your skanky hooker.
So did you go down and get the COVID jab? Did the needle go through your “BORN TO DIE” tattoo? I bet you were wearing your favorite “SUICIDAL TENDENCIES” sleeveless T-shirt too. You look so anti-establishment with that anarchy symbol on your state-mandated face mask.
Nothing to do Nowhere to go I wanna be vax’nated I can’t go to the airport And I can’t get on a plane Worry worry worry now here I go insane I like to point my fingers Fauci controls my brain Oh no oh hoohoh
Please don’t try to come across as a tough rock and roller who is a rebelliousness and fearless individual while simultaneously lecturing others on the importance of being vaccinated and wearing a mask. “Because our government and mainstream media says we have to. I don’t want to die!”
You’re not being very Punk, you’re being very very Karen.
I hung out with a few punks back in the early 1990’s. I was drawn to the “anti-establishment” narrative of the culture, but soon saw through the facade. A group of rebels is an oxymoron. “We’re rebels, you can tell because we all dress like this and listen to this music.” Rejecting establishment norms of status and conformity by creating their own society of status and conformity. Explain to me again how you are different to the YUPPIES?
While I’m at it, let me go off on the smelly hippies too. For nearly six goddamned decades, I have been getting lectured by all of you concerning healthy living. Healthy eating and meditation boosts your immune system. Then the vegans go off on how they are healthier than mere mortals because they don’t consume animals. Meat and dairy are bad for the immune system, so you should be OK then.
You’re all about organic foods and holistic medicine, so I bet you wouldn’t take the jab in a million years. Big pharmaceuticals are the bad guys, correct? Price fixing, price gouging, dangerous side effects, addiction to products, high profits, lab animal research, CEOs earning tens of millions and pulling strings in Washington D.C. Just such evil men controlling the industry.
But wait, did someone say FREE vaccine?
Let’s scroll down your social media posts, “capitalism bad,”tax the rich,” “Fuck Trump,” a kitten meme, oh look here! “I just got my first shot from Pfizer, I feel safer already!” Virtue signaling, propaganda and an endorsement of a billion dollar corporation all in the same post. Facebook is so proud of you. By the way hippy, I’m wearing a mask and staying six feet away from you not because of COVID, but because you smell.
I’m not saying that all of you are a bunch of pussies, but the vaccine really should come in a douche version too. Just saying.
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