Author: Illustration by Arthur Nead

Before They Were Meteorologists

Watching the Hurricane Ida coverage remined me that long before they were called “meteorologists,” the people who forecast the weather on TV were known simply as “weathermen.” In New Orleans the first and best known of the climate watchers was…

The Spin of the Ball

  On my desk is a baseball - now browned and tattered, bruised in places, its innards exposed in spots. It was found in a box on the bottom rung of a shelving unit, pushed to the back of the…

Why Bon Temps Rouler?

  Have you noticed? There is a fleet of new RTA buses around town. Look at their upper right side corner - there in full glory, written in bold script is a phrase which has been flummoxing me for years:…

Streetcar: Vic, Nat’ly and Bunny

  We know the day was the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. It was during the time when Morten Andersen was the Hall of Fame kicker for the New Orleans Saints. On this morning, one of New Orleans’ finest…

Streetcar: The Creole Tomato

  Not to be bragging or anything, but I once happened to meet and talk to the Queen of the Creole Tomato Festival. The festival is held annually in the Dutch Alley section of the French Market. Given the demands…

The Seersucker Revolt

  Revolutions sometimes start in the presence of a bottle of wine. This was probably one of them. A man I know had dropped by the office with a mission on his mind. It was mid-September. A week earlier he…

Jazz Fest Echoes

Here is a description of what Roy Orbison looked like to me when he performed at the Jazz Fest in 1985: A stick. A black stick on a stage, with a stick band behind it. Oh, and the stage seemed…

COVID and the Cannoli

March 19, 2020 and I craved a cannoli. Actually, I crave a cannoli anytime, but on this afternoon the desire was heightened because the day was the Feast of St. Joseph, patron saint of the Sicilians. There would be a…

Ashes to Ashes

On the morning after Mardi Gras, the streets in the Quarter, particularly those closest to Canal Street, have a crunch to them. City workers with shovels and brooms are busy pushing the debris left from the day before into piles.…

Streetcar: When Rex Met Zulu

Lundi Gras 1999 had extra excitement to it, at least for those gathered at Riverwalk near the stage at Spanish Plaza where Rex, King of Carnival, and his entourage would soon be arriving. What was different that year was the…

Streetcar: An Old Acquaintance

One night in March I was clicking the TV remote control through those late night talking head news shows when I was stopped cold by a news item. There was a picture of a headline from the next day’s “Wall…

Streetcar: Best of the Bunch

Not much good can be said about 2020, but I will concede this, it was a good year for bananas, especially those grown in the backyard, maybe too good. When we first bought the house, I knew there was a…

Raising the Glass

I know a woman who tells the story that when she was a little girl, a long time ago, her family had a ritual of having dinner at Commander’s Palace every Friday night. “Oh no,” she and her siblings complained,…

Streetcar: 5 Worst Calamities in New Orleans History

At this point the pandemic is still a current, live tragedy, but before passing judgment we’ll wait until the incident is buffered by time. Besides, it is not just local, but global. Focusing instead on the regional disasters, here’s my…

Italy

A tour guide at the back of the boat was pointing to some of the sites as the craft raced toward Bellagio (the real village not the hotel in Vegas.) Italy’s lake region is one of the most picturesque spots in…

Filé Jumbo

When your great uncle was known as “Blind Willie,” and when the tools of his trade, which are still in use, are 116 years old, you have to figure there is a story there. And there is. Baton Rouge resident…

Streetcar by Errol Laborde: Lady New Orleans

Imagine that your dad was known as “Jack the Cat.” That would have probably given you a little more standing on the school playgrounds, especially since dad was a radio DJ at a time when record spinners were idolized by…

Streetcar: Stirred In New Orleans

A very gracious lady seated next to the ice chest in the back of the bus made me an offer. She asked, as I understood her, if would I like “an old hen?” My reaction, I am afraid, was less…

Streetcar: Meyer the Hatter

Several years ago, my wardrobe for spending an afternoon at the French Quarter Fest included a spiffy new Panama hat. Somewhere along the riverfront a fellow fest-goer stopped me and said, “nice hat.” With local pride I replied, “I got…

Streetcar: The Secret

One Christmas season as a kid, I took it on myself to contain a terrible secret, as though I was sparing the world from ever finding out. But the moment of truth was coming. A thing to do during the…

Streetcar: The Season of ‘99

As season openers went it was promising. The Saints began the 1999 season on the road against the Carolina Panthers. Featuring a squad that carried two Heisman trophy winners: Danny Wuerffel, a quarterback out of the University of Florida, and…

Streetcar: The Arrival

We were up early to see a lady who would be standing on a small island in the harbor. According to the cruise ship’s captain, we should be passing the Statue of Liberty around 7 a.m. The cruise director suggested…

Streetcar: Back Street of Naples

Our group was walking through a back street of Naples on the way to an historic cemetery when the tour guide assured us that our destination was only about a kilometer away. We Americans are often illiterate about the metric…

Streetcar: A Fair’s Farewell

On the closing night of the 1984 World’s Fair, Congressmember Lindy Boggs stood on the big amphitheater stage. With the passing ships on the river as the background, Boggs and Seymore D. Fair, the event’s pelican mascot, plus some miscellaneous…

Streetcar: A Dirge from the Pantheon

At nearly 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, a crowd gathered at the edge of the old Treme neighborhood outside the new Seven Three Distillery, where the locally made products include Gentilly Gin, Bywater Bourbon and Marigny Moonshine. Many in…

Streetcar: D-Day Through Time

Some kids were playing on Omaha Beach, building sand castles. Nearby an adult couple walked along the sand at shore’s edge, presumably looking for shells, the nautical kind rather than those fired from cannons. The shards of war have long…

Streetcar: A Mardi Gras Strike

Forty years ago this Mardi Gras season, New Orleans and its Carnival faced a crisis together. Both would be enriched by the experience, though there would be plenty of pain and stress along the way. At issue were the New…

Streetcar: Season of the Boucherie

An aunt in Avoyelles parish traditionally would give me a pack of boudin for Christmas. It was a wonderful gift, except for the Christmas after Katrina when the car trunk tended to be loaded down with paraphernalia for survival in…

Streetcar: A Russian Landing

  A woman I know tells the story of a day when she, as a young girl, was riding her bicycle. Right at noon there was a loud blast in the otherwise quiet summer day. She was so startled by…

Streetcar: The Wrath of Gustav

For as long as there are occasional ill winds, those who experienced it will remember September 2005, with Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Forgotten, but worthy of its own spot in the book of urban turmoil is Hurricane Gustav which…