Po Boy Views
The Truffles I’ve Seen
The Fest Is In Venus
I stopped by Matassa’s for a paper on my way into the Quarter. I asked Louie how it was going and he replied that it was.
“Ya Mama an ‘em?”
“Another perfect day”.
Lump was on the corner holding down his first Bushe in a bag (it was only nine thirty) breakfast. He told me that Q’s Annie had told him that A.J. had taken one in his back at a crap game over by St. Peter’s and that he figured that it might be in today’s paper or as he said ‘Not’.
“How’d he catch one in the back?” I asked. “Tryin’ to run” says Lump.
The Lump is one of the leftovers from an older and more colorful French Quarter that you usually only see at Mass, the Polls or outside at the grocery store. They slip by you in the street un-noticed mostly unless you are also in that category yourself. They’re the ones without cameras, beads or funny colored drinks. I’m also one of the leftovers, urbane we are not and damn proud not to be. We remember things about the Quarter that can only be told as ghost stories at social occasions involving adult beverages because, once you start remembering the old Quarter, spirits rise from the pavement like Macbeth’s wraiths and old souls and scalawags wink from shadows.
“I owe’m five bucks and I thought I’d go and put it on a pony for him” says Lump. “You’ve gone mush” says I, “it’s Jazz Fest this weekend”. Lump nods his head solemnly and says “Yeah, yeah, it slipped my mind; I hope they buy something this year”.
“Them rich folks from up North, they’re the only ones that got that money to go, ‘cept they don’t buy nuttin’ from Ronnie or Clarice”. With that, Lump does his best lower lip and pulls his drawers out of his behind.
I start to tell him about all the locals that attend, spend money around town and patronize local shops, realize that I’ve had this conversation many times before and decide to steer the conversation toward my speedy departure from our chance encounter. I ask about the circumstances of A.J.’s latest dilemma. That turns out to be a bad move and I know that I’m gonna be late. Again.
“He’s shootin’ craps upstairs at that place across from Pat O’s and you know what a smart mouth he’s got; well, Spider is up and A.J. says something to him and Spider’s been workin’ all those doubles and is in no mood so Spider tells A.J. to shut his pie hole and A.J. is like ‘yeah, yer sister liked it’ and you know how Spider’s sister was busted just last week and he’s kinda sensitive so Spider pulls his piece and it gets real quiet and A.J. (who’s not all up there anyway) says like he’s Dirty Harry: ‘you aint got the balls’.
Anyway, you know how Spider’s got that wall eye and aint been right since his old man hit him with the tire iron and he lets a couple of caps go and they go wide and A.J. pulls that lamp down on Spider--- that one with the nice shade from Manny’s mama--- and Q’s Annie is comin up to see what’s goin’ on and she’s hittin’ the door goin’ in just as A.J.’s tryin’ to get out, A.J. bounces and Spider’s next cap gets him right above his money belt and he goes down and get this: Spider’s piece jams and he goes for A.J. but you know how A.J. carries that straight razor and he’s got it out of his shoe when Fast Eddie steps on A.J.’s hand and pimp slaps Spider and tells Q’s Annie to call a ambalance ‘cause A.J.’s startin’ to bleed pretty good and they take’m to Touro and he’s pissed ‘cause theys ‘sposed to go to his Parain’s for little Rosie’s Communion on Sunday and say, you aint goin’ to the Fest are ya?”
Right now if I don’t get to work, my balls will be bookends I tell him and he nods again and takes a pull from the straw in his beer; I’m thinking that I’m supposed to notice and ask about the straw so I do and the Lump tells me that the straw is so that he doesn’t have to tip his head back as he drinks. Lump logic.
So, I’m on my way in to work, thinking this and that and how we got people in for Jazz Fest and where I’m going to tell them to go eat. I figure that I’ll just keep it to three since they’ll probably stuff themselves at the event.
1. Willie Mae’s Scotch House (restaurant) for fried chicken
2. Yo Mama’s for crawfish boil and
3. Austin’s for the deep fried roast beef and gravy po-boy
All three have other stuff on their menus worthy of the trips and, Lord knows, I’ve put on the pounds to prove it; but, if I start recommending more places I’ll drive them and myself nuts.
I hope this year that I don’t have to reiterate my cautions on street smarts and receive the pity from another outsider on the tribulations of living here. I know all that and chose to live here and they chose to visit and that should be that. I also know that for all of it’s foibles, fallacies and facts of life that wound me, I live in the greatest city that there is; and once again, I only need express that the only thing worse than living here, for me, would be living anywhere else.
Oh, Ronnie and Clarice work in shops in the French Quarter and Lump says that they’re depending on you to buy stuff from them so’s they can keep their jobs and make their rent. Lump says he don’t need no money ‘cause he’s got asbestos in his lungs from working at the insulation plant and he’s on disability. I told him I’d mention it.