Tag Archives: St. Charles Avenue

Lawless Love: New Orleans Mardi Gras and Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Niebelungen….Can Civilization survive a merger? On Lundi Gras, the Ancient Krewe of Proteus tested the waters….

In 2017, Mardi Gras in New Orleans yields gigantic piles of trash, poisons thousands with excessive alcohol, and fosters a welfare oriented and sometimes criminal mentality, yet it is a uniquely community affirming ritual that nearly shuts down this medium-sized city and draws the attention of the rest of the world.  Mardi Gras allows (especially a lot of black) people an escape from the humdrum of poverty and ordinary life.  Like the Saturnalia of Ancient Rome, Mardi Gras is a time of reversal, an inversion of all the rules. 

In the years 1843-1883, Richard Wagner broke all the rules of music and theatre and made new ones, many of which we still follow in playhouses and cinemas and opera houses today (such as “dimming the lights” before and during a performance, which was a brand new idea in Wagner’s day).  Wagner equated hatred of Jews with love of art and civilization, especially music, and in so doing (and writing prolifically about it) he served as an inspiration for the German National Socialist movement, especially one Iron-Cross winning corporal who survived “the Great War”: Adolf Hitler.  

This year the Krewe of Proteus (founded 1881) brought Mardi Gras madness and Wagnerian passion together in a torchlight parade…. and the result was stunning and extremely impressive, if not quite terribly loyal to the plot or typical imagery of the operas.  But Proteus gave us an amazingly intellectual interlude in the utter squalor and depravity of most Mardi Gras events…. and one which surely went over the head of (I would estimate, unscientifically) more than 95% of the people assembled along Magazine Street and St. Charles Avenue Monday Night.

The parade received SOME local attention, e.g.: http://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/entertainment_life/festivals/article_be5d1948-d9bb-11e6-ad6b-4faaff249cf7.html, but well-over half of this town speaks a dialectical variety of English which cannot be called “educated”…. and the rest of the population isn’t overly steeped in European culture—the original Opera House (the first in the United States) at the corner of Toulouse and Bourbon Street, burned down in 1919 and is now the site of a modern hotel in the absolutely most depraved and degenerate blocks of Bourbon Street…. several blocks of which constitute one of the most depraved and degenerate (and dirty) “micro-neighborhoods” anywhere in the United States… I have written before on these pages about the destruction and degradation of beautiful New Orleans after 1865, and especially in the 20th century.  The City had reached its pinnacle in 1860…..and then a very destructive war happened….

But if one is the pinnacle or Zenith of all things Elite and Erudite in Western Civilization and the other marks the Nadir or even polar opposite of high civilization, what do “Der Ring des Niebelungen” and New Orleans Mardi Gras have in common?

Actually quite a bit: both exalt what can only be called “Lawlessness”, especially in the realm of love and sex…

To start off with, Wotan, in Wagner’s Ring, like his Ancient Greek Counterpart Zeus, can only be called a “philandering cad”…. I know this would be considered an insult in many quarters, but it is, statistically speaking, quite a “Godlike” or “Kingly” trait… and I confess I’ve lived that way myself for most of my existence…. although I can claim neither Divinity nor Royalty….  Wagner’s Wotan is a tragic character…. he is adventurous, generally idealistic, and seeks to build a beautiful new world (Valhalla).  And yet dies as he watches his world destroyed around him….by a fire set by his daughter….well, actually a fire set by ONE of his many daughters (Brunhilde) by Erda, ONE of Wotan’s many girlfriends/paramours/liasons… whatever it is proper for the King of the Gods to call his mistresses…. (Sidebar: in the original Icelandic and Norse sagas and tales, Erda (aka “Jörð” was the mother of the thunder and hammer God THOR with Wotan, not the Valkyrie Brunhilde….)

Aside from Wotan and Erde, Wotan also fathers the lineage which ultimately overthrows him—the Walsunga….first a male-female pair of twins, Siegmund and Sieglinde, who are separated in early childhood and meet once Sieglinde is married to a very beastly, babbitty, bourgeois bore by the name of Hunding….  “Naturally” or unnaturally, Siegmund and Sieglinde rapidly become an item one Spring AFTER (not in spite of, but because of) recognizing each other as long-lost siblings, and they have a child.  (Wotan’s wife Fricka, the goddess of Marriage [NOT love, but marriage] compels Wotan to kill Siegmund to avenge Hunding’s loss of his wife…. and Wotan’s daughter….to Wotan’s son…. talk about conflicts of interest, you know…. NO modern lawyer would ever know what to do with the Walsung estate…. IF Brunhilde’s immolation had left anything, which it didn’t….

Siegmund and Sieglinde’s lovechild….(Sieglinde dies in childbirth)….is SIEGFRIED… destined to become the boy who knew no fear… the Dragonslayer… and, not coincidentally, Brunhilde’s “POSSLQ”…. at least for a while….

Now any competent sociologist will tell you that families JUST LIKE WOTAN’s typify the underclasses everywhere, as well as the extreme upper classes (e.g. the British monarchy). But especially dysfunctional families are well-known as characteristic of the black community….in Chicago, South Central Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and New Orleans, and these are the families who most enjoy watching and trashing the Mardi Gras parades.

A substantial number of middle-class to upper class and truly, traditionally, elite Uptown New Orleans White Families and a lot of middle class white tourists from Peoria, Princeton (Illinois), Paris (Texas), Portland, Poughkeepsie, Punksetawny, and every other real or imagined “Pottersville” (cf. “It’s a Wonderful Life”)…. create some illusion of “racial balance,” or at least “diversity.”  But the overwhelming majority of the parade viewers on the street, “throw collectors” and Mardi Gras celebrants generally are mulatto (mixed race) and black African-Americans….and their culture clearly does not have any credal element that dictates “Cleanliness is Godliness.”

So the Krewe of Proteus has done something amazing…. they have made a brilliant parade out of the operatic tetralogy that inspired the Third Reich, and all its dreams of a thousand years of racial purity and Aryan supremacy…. and brought it to New Orleans where almost nobody understands it or “gets” anything about it.

Why did they (the Krewe of Proteus) do it and what does it mean?  “The Advocate” states that Proteus has a long tradition of operatic support….but this just isn’t enough.  Proteus was founded when Richard Wagner was still alive (albeit near the end of his life… within a year of the date that Wagner’s last opera Parsifal premiered on July 26, 1882, at the Festspielhaus in beloved Bayreuth….)…

All I can promise you is that I intend to find out…. And write more about this when I have more to report…. I confess I have a suspicion, a hope perhaps, that Krewe of Proteus is sending a highly concealed “Alt-Right” message that the same kind of elite which formerly ruled the West is still alive, and well, and hiding in New Orleans, biding its time for an opportunity to seize power once again…. in the land of pioneering “Third Way” Americans like Huey Long and Gerald L.K. Smith…..

Public Meetings on Confederate Monuments in New Orleans on Thursday 13 August

Removal of Confederate Monument Public Hearing


The New Orleans HDLC will hold a public hearing on Thursday, August 13, 2015 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 p.m. in the City Council Chamber, 1300 Perdido Street on code section 146-611 – Removal from public property by request from the New Orleans City Council, evaluation and recommendation: Robert E. Lee Statue, PGT Beauregard statue, Battle of Liberty Place monument, Jefferson Davis statue. The deadline for comment submissions has passed.

Removal of Confederate Monument Public Hearing

The New Orleans Human Relations Commission will hold a public hearing on Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chamber, 1300 Perdido Street on code section 146-611 – Removal from public property by request from the New Orleans City Council, evaluation and recommendation: Robert E. Lee Statue, PGT Beauregard statue, Battle of Liberty Place monument, Jefferson Davis statue. If you would like to submit a comment, please complete the feedback form below. The deadline for comment submissions has passed.

My position is as follows:

New Orleans, as a city, embodies the Old South, and it was the greatest City of the Old South AND the Confederate States of America.  Removing Robert E. Lee’s statue, or any of the other monuments, would be amount to a Stalinist attempt to rewrite history, to alter the nature and character of this city, and to falsify reality. IF this City really wants to disown the legacy of slavery and the cultural economy of the Old South—what really needs to happen is that (1) the French Quarter, (2) the Garden District, especially the houses along Jackson and Washington Avenues and First-Seventh Street, and Prytania and much of Magazine, need to be razed. These houses and Antebellum Greek Revival architecture ALL owe their origins to Slave Labor—they are MONUMENTS to the wealth of the South Created by Slave Labor—and it’s just too hypocritical to remove the Statues but not the Homes, not the neighborhoods or the street names—because these are reflective of the deeply ingrained nature of slave-based, Antebellum culture… which produced, whether we like it or not, most of the gloriously beautiful city which is the New Orleans of today.
The magnificence of Victorian Era, with monuments like the oldest buildings of Tulane University and “Uptown” around Audubon Park and “Up-River” St. Charles and Prytania Avenues…these are the monuments to the survivors and first Children of the Confederate States of America.  Tulane University itself is named for one of the South’s Chief Financiers, who donated more money to the Confederate States Government and Army than any private individual in history had ever done to any war, even compared to George Washington’s personal contributions to and investment in the American Revolution.  While the oldest building at Tulane (the administrative hub of the University, Gibson Hall) is named after another Confederate General, Randall Gibson.
And please don’t forget the hypocrisy implied by taking Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis down, but leaving the Statue of Andrew Jackson standing. 
By any standards of International Human Rights or U.S. Civil Rights law, Andrew Jackson was genuinely guilty of “Genocidal War Crimes” but by those same standards, Robert E. Lee, Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis were not.  The 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans was celebrated here in January without major controversy, but this is simply a perversion of history.  The Battle of New Orleans was in fact without any real military or political significance, certainly no ideology was at stake.  It was all about the glorification of Old Hickory.  And I have no problem with that a priori, except that, by comparison, Jackson was a monster and we are vilifying Confederates who fought for liberty and the Constitution.

Jackson, of course, made war, both on the battlefield and in the Courts of the United States, and generally abused and oppressed the American Indians—the Five Civilized Tribes, but he also owned slaves.  Accordingly HIS statue, at the very center of New Orleans, should come down BEFORE LEE’s or DAVIS’ or BEAUREGARD’s, IF that’s the real issue….  But I question whether it is the heritage of slavery, or the heritage of Constitutional Liberty and Limited Government, which is the real target of those who seek to denigrate the heritage of the Confederate States of America…

It would be a MASSIVE miscalculation and great historical hypocrisy to take down the monuments to the Confederate (and post-Confederate) leaders.  Even the layout of the city along the river, and the street names (e.g. “the Muses”, Prytania), are testaments to the importance of the Greek Revival and Classical heritage of Athenian Democracy in this City—if you want to obliterate the Southern Legacy in the history of New Orleans, you just need to NUKE THIS CITY, maybe twice, and then think about nuking the rest of the State and the whole of the South—everything of any historical importance comes back to one major truth—Cotton was King and the Mississippi was its Royal Road….


MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL: The Episcopal Clergy Indicts the Dead and seeks to Smear the Memory and Silence the Voice from the Tomb behind the Pulpit at Christ Church

On this Third Sunday in Advent, two and a half months after addressing my letter to the Bishop of Louisiana (where Bishop Leonidas Polk is buried) and the Clergy of Christ Church Cathedral on St. Charles Avenue and Trinity Church on Jackson Street in New Orleans (whose largest meeting and banquet room is called “Bishop Polk Hall”), I have received not even a whisper of a written response from any clergyman.  https://charleslincoln3.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/1-october-2013-letter-to-bishop-thompson-of-louisiana.pdf

(The Dean of Christ Church, Dean David A. DuPlantier, simply and summarily refused even to speak to me about the topic, saying my perspective and thoughts were unworthy to be discussed and that Bishop Polk was “a villain”.  This all happened on Sunday October 20, 2013, I believe.  After dismissing me and my letter “embracing slavery” and condemning Bishop Polk, Dean DuPlantier then, with a truly remarkable lack of self-consciousness, I think, having just judged me, my culture, my race, and my personal family heritage and historic inheritance as unworthy of discussion, then proceeded to deliver a fine sermon on one of my favorite Bible Passages, the Parable of the Unjust Judge in Luke, 18: 1-9.   I myself found the irony quite delicious.  Dean DuPlantier himself had become the Unjust Judge, and he was passing judgment on the man and the spirit entombed directly behind the pulpit from which he spoke.

But plans move ahead towards this historical travesty and insult to socio-cultural reality, as was just published on Friday the 13th, St. Lucy’s day, by Ms. Orissa Arend, a “New Orleans Mediator, Psychotherapist and Freelance Writer” (who has written a book about the Black Panthers in New Orleans, and their 1970 shootout  and other standoffs with the New Orleans Police, just for example: http://www.uapress.com/titles/sp09/arend.html).  

I find it more than a little ironic that the University of Arksansas advertisement asserts that “Orissa Arend has forced us to see these self-defense militants from every point of view imaginable”, adding that these “self-defense militants . . . creat=[ed] survival programs.”  Now what would Ms. Arend say if I told her that if she studied the history and origins of the Ku Klux Klan, she would discover that (honestly) the (original, 1860s-1870s) Klan MUST BE described in exactly the same terms.  

In any even, Ms. Orissa Arend’s enthusiastic article endorsing the Episcopal Church’s Mass for Racial Reconciliation can be found at: http://www.atthreshold.org/2013/12/13/a-service-of-healing-january-18-2014/.  I maintain that there is neither healing nor reconciliation to be found in distorting history and vilifying our ancestors, but my full response (which I submitted on her blog, but which is “awaiting moderation” and so, she may or may not publish it) follows (in full) herein below:

Dear Ms. Orissa Arend:
I speak for the First Bishop of Louisiana, Confederate General, and War hero in the service of his people and their liberty, whose untimely death in Northern Georgia you celebrate. I speak for the man and the spirit of the Lost Cause buried behind the Pulpit at Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans.

I ask you, and for all Episcopalians in New Orleans, Louisiana, the South, and the United States of America, to give voice to those with whom you supposedly propose reconciliation: Indeed I ask you—how can there be any reconciliation at all if the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants of the South are given no voice to speak to the honor of their ancestors and their cause in this supposedly momentous “Mass of Racial Reconciliation.”

President Jefferson Davis died in New Orleans after the opening of Confederate Memorial Hall, attended by Howard, Tilton, and many of the other great leaders of the City. James K. Polk was President of the United States and he often visited his cousin Bishop Leonidas Polk in Louisiana.

Where are the descendants of those who made the South what it is in this whole plan of reconciliation? Are you as happy that half a million Southern Soldiers died in 1861-65 as you are about the death of Bishop Polk? Should Bishop Polk’s remains be disinterred and his bones burnt and scattered in Lake Pontchartrain?

If so, I want nothing more to do with the Episcopal Church, because it will have betrayed the very reasons, the very traditions, which have always caused me to adhere to it.  I  am writing to you in part to ask that you circulate to your readership the letter I wrote to the current Bishop of Louisiana on October 1: https://charleslincoln3.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/1-october-2013-letter-to-bishop-thompson-of-louisiana.pdf.

To this letter I have so far received no reply whatsoever from the Bishop or anyone else although I published it on-line and circulated it to other members of the Diocese of Louisiana, especially here in New Orleans.

I personally can think of nothing more futile and repugnant than a Mass for Racial Reconciliation which falsifies the truth about the origins, nature, and history of Black African Slavery on the one hand, and treats my ancestors, and other people descended from or who may admire the founders of the Episcopal Church in Louisiana, as criminals, outcasts, and victims. Leonidas Polk was a hero and a visionary, as were many if not most of the Confederate leaders.

Ironically, the Confederate vision was one of a free and constitutional government. Even more ironically, the people of America today suffer from multifarious and complex forms of corporate and governmental oppression which portend of a universal slavery for all mankind.

I submit to you that the Presiding Bishop’s proposed Mass for Racial Reconciliation is a sham designed to distract Americans from certain grim realities including the fact that we are headed towards a very dark future, without freedom, without lawfully constituted or ordered government which depends for its authority on a high tech set of chains and whips which make the instruments of chattel slave ownership in the Old South look like the Palaeotechnic toys they were.

In Barack Obama’s America—more blacks will spend a year or more in prison than were ever slaves. More people (white, black and hispanic) will pass through the so-called criminal justice system than were ever black in America. This is the most imprisoning nation in the world. Is it a coincidence that the 13th Amendment which abolished chattel slavery authorized slavery or involuntary servitude as a punishment for a crime? Or that the standards of due process of law have declined while the likelihood (or now near certainty) of conviction after arrest has risen exponentially in America since the adoption of the 13th Amendment? Does it matter that there really was NO “prison culture” to speak of in America prior to 1861, but ever since 1865, Prison Culture has grown and grown and grown? 


New Orleans’ Top Federal Lawman came here to Confiscate Guns in Louisiana, and to change the psychology of the people…. and to go to schools to ask children to sign a Pledge to inform on their parents and friends who have guns…..

(1) Night before last, Wednesday, 9 October, for the second time I attended a lecture in a lecture series “Voices of Hope” at Trinity Episcopal Church at 1329 Jackson Avenue in New Orleans, about five blocks from where I’ve been living since March 8 of this year.  The program for last night had not been announced in advance (apparently for security reasons), but last week I attended a presentation by Clancy DuBos, political editor for the New Orleans Gambit and it was just interesting enough that I wanted to follow up, especially given the delights of the children’s choir at the 5:30 Wednesday Eucharist and the Wednesday dinner that follows.  (Mr. Dubo’s great message of hope for the people of New Orleans on October 2 was that the city’s two biggest problems were, “Crime and Keeping Water out of the City”; he apparently spent 40 years as an alternative press journalist to reach this conclusion…..but curiously, it was a fairly good lead in to the October 9 presentation)
(2) Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., is a good-looking, articulate, very “polite”, and friendly African American lawyer of impeccable establishment (Eastern Seaboard) credentials who claims (at 37) to be the second youngest U.S. Attorney currently serving in the United States.  He as born in New Orleans in 1976 when I was a Freshman/rising Sophomore at the College of Arts & Sciences at Tulane and attended De la Salle High School uptown on St. Charles—a world away, as he said, from the world into which he was born and raised “mostly” by his mother.  13 years after I graduated Tulane in 1980, K.A. Polite followed the common path of so many of the best and brightest everywhere from De la Salle in 70118 to Harvard 02138, where he graduated in 1997, and then attended Georgetown U. Law Center, where he received his J.D. in 2000 after editing an American Criminal Law Review.  Since then he has served with several major law firms in Delaware, New York, and New Orleans, in addition to serving for three years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York 2007-2010. He was interested in criminal law and “gun violence” from childhood, because his father was a New Orleans (NOPD Second Police District, 4317 Magazine Street Across from Casamento’s Restaurant, right by St. George’s Episcopal School) police officer and, perhaps more significantly because his older brother was killed in a street gunfight in New Orleans when Kenneth was a teenager.
(3) Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., (do people just naturally conform to their surnames, like the long-time Yale archaeologist “Frank Hole”, the distinguished New York Court of Appeals Judge “Learned Hand”, the New Orleans Civil Rights Enforcer “John Minor Wisdom”, or my stodgy Trust officer, after my grandfather’s death, when I was in my first and second years at Harvard, “James Dullworth?”), Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., defines his primary mission in the 13 Parishes of the Eastern District of Louisiana as “to stop Gun Violence, and that means disarming the most heavily armed state in the union”, and specifically to overcome and invalidate Louisiana Amendment 2, which passed last year with 74% of the popular vote, and guaranteed “Strict Scrutiny” for any and all restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms.  Amendment 2 gave Louisiana gun-owners the strongest possession rights of any state, and Judge Darryl Derbigny, a fellow-Tulanian undergraduate (Columbia Law School, who formerly taught at Loyola Law school next door to Tulane) and self-described “Cajun-Jeffersonian” black Judge in New Orleans, ruled on March 25 of this year that the protection even extends to convicted felons who have served their time and been released, invalidating one of the particularly discriminatory aspects of gun control laws, which is that, once charged with (never mind convicted of) any felony, or any crime of “domestic violence”, no matter what the nature of the crime, a person loses his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms FOREVER, not subject to restoration except by special Presidential or Gubernatorial order (under the Executive Pardon Power).  
(4) Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., made sure to specify that the arrest and conviction of all beneficiaries of Louisiana Amendment 2 was among his top priorities, but far beyond that, that he wanted to “stamp out the culture of guns” in Louisiana “once and forever, because this state is too dangerous.”  
(5) “The Louisiana Courts’ exemption for convicted Felons is subordinate to Federal Law and must not be allowed to prevail, and I have directed the 55 attorneys under my direction to use the full extent of our prosecutorial discretion to make this one of the top priorities of our enforcement program.  Saving lives by confiscating guns is more important than any other of the four pillars of justice to the justice department program.  This is part of the war on terrorism, this is part of the war for helpless victims, this is part of remaking America.”
(6) To my mind, one of the more amazing proposals Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., ever so politely made was effectively to enroll every child as a Federal agent against guns. “We want to implement here the program started in South Carolina schools, and that’s the second most heavily armed state in the Union, where we ask every High School Student to sign a detailed pledge and promise to report all gun ownership, whether it’s their friends or family, to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and to reward those who participate in this program.  There will be age-appropriate simplified versions of the pledge for Middle and Elementary School students because we simply cannot afford to leave any stone unturned in emptying our streets and homes of the guns that killed my brother and kill 41 people every day in America.  That means that every 100 days, more people die of gun violence than died on 911, so yes, this is about fighting terrorism as our first priority in the United States, of making this country safe and secure in every way.”
(7) I am reminded of the “alternative history” movie “Fatherland” where a “Good Nazi” and officer of the SS discovers evidence of mass murder and seeks to defect to the United States to report it, but is reported to the Gestapo and murdered when his very young son follows his schools’ directives and reports his father’s activities as evidence of “mental illness.”  Of course, the use of child informers and reporters is well-documented in the former Soviet Union, by the East German STASI, and throughout the “Cultural Revolution” until today in the People’s Republic of (Red) China.
(8) During the comments period, several members of the audience approvingly commented on the need to psychologically manipulate children and otherwise “treat the psychopathy of guns”.  “There is too much prestige and pride associated with gun ownership and gun use” said one, “we clearly aim at education to turn that around” said Kenneth A. Polite, “we have to develop alternative sanctions to jail, jail is one of the places where the culture of gun use and gun violence is taught among the inmates and passed on from generation to generation; the cycle needs to stop.”
(9) One member of the audience, a psychologist from Santa Barbara, California, recently moved to New Orleans, made a fairly extensive statement about the biological predisposition that can be detected even in small children to the psychopathy of the gun culture and how simple tests should be administered to determine who is “at risk” and to treat these “pre-criminals” to avoid future crimes, to reorient their psychological framework and cultural ideology.  The new U.S. Attorney, Mr. Polite, shook this fellow’s hand afterwards and agreed to meet him “very soon” in his office downtown.
(10) I spoke to Mr. Polite after the meeting and asked him about corruption and in particular the massive foreclosure fraud committed by the banks.  Mr. Polite once again mentioned “prosecutorial discretion” and said that yes, “many desperate people faced with foreclosure have resorted to scams and alternative, illegal programs of resisting foreclosures and that this was a major target of the Justice Department White Collar Crime program Nationwide… It is really terrible when you see people resorting to crime to save their homes, it is so sad.”  I pressed him about the Banks fraud, fraud in the financial service sector and he said that obviously when such issues came up they would be investigated, but that gun related crime took priority over the relatively minor and rare issues of bank and financial institution fraud, “We saw a lot of that when I was an AUSA in New York, but I haven’t heard that’s much of an issue down here,” he said, “our priority is to keep people alive by rooting out gun violence and that means disarming this state and ending the iconic cultural status that guns have in our population; I dream of a gun-free Louisiana, where only law enforcement will ever be able to use deadly force.”
(11)  Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., presents a fine picture and articulate eloquence to the Upper and Upper Middle Class Audience at Trinity, built in 1847 and so the oldest standing Episcopal Church in the entire Louisiana territory purchased from France in 1803 (Christ Church Cathedral, although the congregation was founded in 1805, is housed in a gothic revival Church building begun in the 1880s, and Trinity in Natchitoches, the Second oldest standing Episcopal Church, where my grandmother Helen was baptized and once served as organist, was built in the 1850s).  The audience in Bishop Leonidas Polk Hall (named after Confederate General and Martyr General Leonidas Polk, the First Bishop of Louisiana) was 95% white, with Black maids, nurses, and companions to the elderly constituting the sole representatives of Mr. Polite’s race.  The one black lady to participate in the discussion period questioning complained that her brother was trying to have her “interdicted” (the Louisiana Civil Law Equivalent of civil commitment for mental incompetence)(she had to leave shortly thereafter because it “was her mistress’ bedtime”).  
(12) Upper Class White people fear crime.  White people fear being shot.  Father Mitch Smith described his time in the hospital over the past 8 months visiting a member of the parish perpetually hospitalized after being shot while gardening just a few blocks from Church.  Upper Class White people meeting in Leonidas Polk Hall may not realize the irony of their endorsement of governmental programs of gun confiscation.  The Second Amendment, prior to 1861, was a sure guarantor of the right of the Southern People to Secede, but since the Second Amendment did not carry with it a corresponding duty to keep and manufacture cannons in each state, the South was “outgunned” and ultimately (as Father Mitch recalled) led to the martyrdom of His Grace, General Polk).  
(13) I have previously written about my discussions with New Orleans policemen about the Second Amendment.  Their ambition is to “make sure we are not outgunned.”  Should the people or the Police hold the balance of Power?  In New Orleans and Louisiana, at the present time, there is widespread governmental fear that the government is outgunned in this state, and that the people hold the balance of power.  It is a “clear and present danger” to Federal Supremacy that Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., has come back to his hometown to wipe out forever.

Charles Edward Lincoln, III

“Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint, und das mit recht

Matthew 10:34-39
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Can Racial Reconciliation be achieved by Ignoring or Falsifying History? An Open Letter to the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana regarding “Truth, Honor, and Pride”

I have basically been very happily based in New Orleans, Louisiana, since I arrived here from Maui, Hawaii on December 9 of last year.  You know, there are ups and downs everywhere, but I had missed living in this city ever since I graduated from the Tulane College of Arts & Sciences on May 11, 1980, and have wanted to return here ever since.  I actually did return for several years 1997-2000, but was so wrapped up in my problems in Texas, I was basically bouncing back and forth.  One of the most consistently agreeable aspects of my life in New Orleans has been attending Church at Christ Church Cathedral on St. Charles & 6th Street, occasionally visiting at Trinity on Jackson right around the corner from my temporary home on Prytania (since March 8, 2013). One of the things I love most about New Orleans is its history—basically it’s impossible to take a walk, anywhere in this city, and not confront history face-to-face, it’s everywhere.  Basically, even the majority of the historic architecture in French Quarter really dates from the 19th century city, the actual 18th century buildings number in the dozens at the highest possible count.  The Garden District and “Uptown Audubon” mark a progression through the 19th century into the 20th.  St. Charles itself has been hideously scarred with mid-twentieth century cheap apartment buildings which took the place of many blocks of Victorian houses… but to either side of St. Charles, the historically decimating devastation is less.

How few people realize just how deeply New Orleans was shaped by the ante-bellum era and how loyal it was to the Confederate States of America, ESPECIALLY AFTER (ironically enough) the collapse of that nascent Federal Republic in 1865.

It is also undeniably true that the question of race-relations hangs like a sword of Damocles over the heads of the people of New Orleans.  The question comes up all the time, usually in emotional and rarely in analytical terms.

Ever since I heard, at the beginning of September, about an “Ecumenical Mass of Racial Reconciliation” being planned for January 12-21, 2014, I have been reflecting on the question of race and history in this wonderful town, this city where by dint of history black Americans first created a kind of “Jazz Aristocracy” recognized all over the world in the 1920s….

I wrote my initial thoughts on this question in a letter I just completed and delivered on Wednesday to the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana and other members of the Clergy at Christ Church and Trinity Church.  

I have been told that in the bad old days of the Civil Rights movement, when the barriers of segregation were first being torn down, they had special “greeters” at Christ Church would take black folks aside and suggest to them that they might be “more comfortable elsewhere.”   The inversion of history is so great, I more than casually wonder whether I’ll now be afforded the same treatment for challenging the modern “politically correct” mythos of race.  

I attach here two versions of my letter to the Bishop and Clergy—only one of which I actually delivered (the October 2, 2013 version in which I reflect on the sinfulness of pride).  

2 October 2013 Letter to Bishop Thompson of Louisiana

1 October 2013 Letter to Bishop Thompson of Louisiana

I owe a great debt to two of my California friends who read over this letter before I delivered it: Shelene Emily Peterson of Belmont and Daniel Christian Mack of San Juan Capistrano.  Shelene keeps my English in line and tries to control my tendency to ramble (obvious with only limited success, although you should see how much she cut out….).  Dan made me realize the error of asserting, oxymoronically, “pride” which is inimical to Christian faith—although it is a critical element of human identity and sanity, it seems to me, that we must love ourselves for what we are.  And our ancestry shapes us, both culturally and genetically, whether we would wish it so or not.

11 Tips on New Orleans Restaurants 2013

(1)    Irene’s Cuisine is today the very best restaurant in New Orleans.  This is not a trivial statement.  I have been coming to this town and appreciating it’s cuisine for over 40 years.  Irene’s is the best today, located at 539 St. Philip Street, New Orleans, LA 70116.  It has surpassed and now ranks (at the present time) solidly above the French Quarter’s traditional “ABC” of Antoine’s, Brennan’s, and Court of Two Sisters (and, justly, all of these old tourist magnets rank lower than either Irene’s or Upperline today—this is correct, although not all Zagat scores are).  Irene’s Cuisine is equal and comparable, in my opinion, to the old (pre-Emeril) Delmonico’s for imagination and innovative quality.

(2)   Apolline is the best on Uptown Magazine, giving my former favorite Martinique Bistro a major run for the money…4729 Magazine, New Orleans 70115.  Apolline is comparable in quality not only to Martinique Bistro 5908 Magazine, New Orleans 70115 but also to Upperline, also close-by, at 1413 Upperline.  Pay no attention to the two points difference between these three on Zagat.  Apolline’s menu is more inventive/”cutting edge.” But Irene’s is the best in town, even though it only exceeds Martinique by one Zagat point.

(3)    Casamento’s New Orleans at 4330 Magazine (just three doors downtown/riverside from Napoleon) is fabulous but its hours are  so hopelessly erratic and limited, and the menu is just limited—but it’s still a wonderful landmark restaurant.  Casamento’s is the only “simple Old New Orleans” place where I will still eat raw oysters.  Their fried oysters are wonderful—basically this is the only place that still has oysters the way I remember them from my undergraduate years at Tulane in the 1970s—(i.e. big and juicy).  Their Gumbo is authentic and good, but not quite as good as my absolute favorite “simple old New Orleans place”:

(4)    The Trolley Stop at 1923 St. Charles Avenue (my father Charles was born in 1923, so I never have a problem remembering this address).  I go to the Trolley stop several times a week because (a) it’s cheap and WITHOUT ANY DOUBT the absolute best value of ANY restaurant I’ve been to in Orleans Parish, (b) it’s excellent, (c) it’s authentic, (d) it’s consistent, (e) it’s close to where I live and open for breakfast/brunch/lunch (i.e. until 2:00 p.m.) every day (Sunday-Wednesday and 24 hours Thursday-Saturday).  It is the ONLY place in town that is every BIT as good now as it used to be (except that it used to be open 24/7 before Katrina).

(5)   Sushi was simply NOT a feature of New Orleans life or cuisine when I was in College over 33 years ago.  I live within several blocks of Sushi Brothers and Hoshun on St. Charles (they are across the street from each other, respectively 1612 St. Charles and 1601 St. Charles, both in 70130).   Sushi Brothers’ “Bye-Bye Katrina” is probably the best sushi roll I have ever had anywhere although their Tiger Roll is a close runner up.  Hoshun has a more varied non-sushi menu including some “PF Change’s'” type “Nouvelle Chinese”—the steamed dumplings being perhaps my favorite there.  

(6)    Kyoto at 4920 Prytania and Sushi Brothers receive equal Zagat Ratings but I would give Sushi Brothers the edge only because of it’s specialty dishes.  The quantities are greater and the value better at Kyoto, which is more of an Uptown Student hangout…. which is also the disadvantage of the place I often get sick listening to Law Students talking about their lives and careers—the conversations are totally symptomatic of what is wrong with law in America (nobody cares about anything but money—NOBODY in law is even REMOTELY interested in Law, Justice, or the Constitution).  

(7)  Another surprisingly good value in the 70130 neighborhood (in which I had never actually lived in any of my sojourns into New Orleans, though I certainly knew the Trolley Stop, Commander’s Palace, and Delmonico’s) is Casa Roma at 1901 Sophie Wright Place one block upriver (or uptown lakeside) from (the roughly triangular) Coliseum Square where Henry Morton Stanley’s family’s beautiful 1837 house is marked by a historic plaque at 1729 Coliseum.  Casa Roma is as reasonable as the Trolley Stop but much larger and more spacious (of course Casamento’s is painfully small as a matter of space).   Casa Roma has everything that you’d expect from a good middle class Italian Restaurant and, like the Trolley Stop, it’s staff is very “New Orleans” friendly in manner.

(8)   Pascal’s Manale at 1838 Napoleon is another “recherches du temps perdue” place which hasn’t changed very much since the 1970s except it’s prices have gone way up with age and a place on the tourist map.  Its menu combines excellent gumbo and other New Orleans creole specialties with excellent Italian, but you’ll pay twice as much as Casa Roma or the Trolley Stop for equivalent quality.  Overall, I would rank Pascal’s Manale as a very agreeable experience in spite of the price rather than because of it, comparable in this sense to Tujague’s down in the Quarter at 823 Decatur.

(9)   Sukho Thai at 4519 Magazine and LA Thai at 4938 Prytania (within walking distance of each other) are both excellent and on my “regular” list, but I cannot decide which I like better.  The portions are slightly smaller at LA Thai (three doors uptown from Kyoto) but possibly very slightly higher quality.  Sukho Thai has the worst cell-phone reception in all of New Orleans (don’t ask me why).  The menu at Sukho Thai is slightly larger, more varied, but the staff is slightly surly for some reason.  (Kyoto and Apolline both win, in the Uptown ratings, for friendliness although Trolley Stop overall wins on that score also—

(10)   Upperline, right around the corner and to left from Kyoto and LA Thai, is extremely friendly (and the owner/manager JoAnn Clevenger almost always comes out to talk to you).  The Zagat Guide numbers, rate Upperline and Irene’s Cuisine equally.   Upperline is clearly the most expensive on this particular list, but that is the only possible criticism, and not much of one at that, because the food is superb.

(11)   Fresh Market at Louisiana and St. Charles has been the biggest adjustment, psychologically, but also (right after the Trolley Stop) my most regular “off-campus” (Tulane University Center) hang-out of the past six months.  Call me crazy (everyone else does why shouldn’t you?) but I cannot adjust to the fact that Fresh Market is operating in a building that functioned for over 100 years (including all my undergraduate years and afterwards) as a mortuary, one of New Orleans’ largest, most centrally located, and prominent.   The old marble inscription is still there on St. Charles, and the exterior of the building is unaltered.   But there’s nothing creepy about the inside—it is friendlier and better than Whole Foods way further up on Magazine in the old Bus Barn and they have some excellent sandwiches.  I go to Fresh Market often because it’s a perfect “after Church lunch” place on Sunday and just few blocks from Christ Church Cathedral.   Sometimes I will sit on the front (St. Charles side) porch of the old Columned Mortuary for the good shade and the breeze, or sit upstairs using wi-fi.  And there I will pass away the whole Sunday afternoon around there because I have at least a half-dozen times or more gone both to one of the traditional morning choral services and the Cathedral’s highly innovative “Real Presence” (“pseudo-Iona Movement/Taize” and/or “out of the prayerbook completely”) “Sunday School for Adults” at 6:00 (complete with props and photos and “activity areas” for prayer and meditation during the eucharist, and the most exquisite soloist singer I have found recently in any church, actually, anywhere at all–the pure-voiced, angelic Kimberly Mouledoux).  

New Orleans: Solstice through Imbolc/Candlemas/St. Brigit’s Day (December 21, 2010-February 2, 2011)

Five and a half years after Katrina, New Orleans is still definitely one of the greatest cities on earth.  December 21, 2010 to February 2, 2011, I spent just over six weeks here, reconnecting with my college years and youth and generally recovering some physical health and sanity that the past two years had left ragged.  I highly recommend New Orleans as a therapeutic destination for anyone who can merely observe, and not participate too much, at least in the drinking side of life.  If I had not given up “real” drinking 27 years ago, coming to New Orleans would have been suicidal.  If liquor is your weakness, this is a hellish place to avoid.  If you love architectural beauty and soft southern humid air that’s cool in wintertime, this is heaven.

Of course, exactly three years ago the road of my life had taken me straight into the blackest, lifeless, and driest of all modern hells: into the temporary custody of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons for 54 days (December 9, 2007-February 2, 2008).  U.S District Judge Janis Graham Jack basically provided me a government paid forced-educational journey into this country’s real heart of darkness, and I will never forget it or cease to marvel at the things I learned in those dark and dank places where society’s refuse is stored.  That such places exist in the land of the free is a horrible disgrace to our constitution and heritage.  That conscientious Americans are willing to work as custodians to destroy the lives and freedom of others is still nightmarish to me.

New Orleans—what is her place in all this?  In New Orleans, there is real freedom, because no one really cares what anyone else does, but there are still cops and prisons.  The Sheriff of Orleans Parish used to be one of the feared enemies of Civil Rights in America, but these days the repression is more in the curtailment of the city’s “joie de vivre.”  In New Orleans, Walmart closes at 10:00 p.m. and opens at 7:00 a.m.  The wonderful Trolley-Stop Restaurant on St. Charles, which used to be open 24/7, is now only open at night on weekends. The City has been repressed, but it is still New Orleans.  Around that Walmart on Tchoupitoulas, new subsidized housing projects have gone up—and they are handsome and well-designed and attractive, unlike the dismal government “projects” of the 1960s & ’70s. Rumors have it that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have something to do with some of the renewal and construction around here.  I haven’t investigated enough to be sure.  The City is still a thriving haven of sin and debauchery—I suppose that will never change.  

The night clerk at the legendarily Haunted Olivier House Hotel I’ve been staying at, who brought a space heater up to my room on this Cold Candlemas Eve (St. Brigit’s Eve?  Imbolc-Night—90 days since Halloween and Samhain marked the last of the Celtic Calendar’s great feasts), was wearing a Sweatshirt from the Salem, Massachusetts Coroner’s Office commemorating Halloween 2010—she attended the Witch’s Ball at the Hawthorne Hotel exactly 93 days ago tonight.  Apparently there is a lot of idea cross-fertilization, involvement between the tourist industries of New Orleans for winter/Mardi Gras and Salem for Halloween.

But there are not two more dissimilar states in the Union than Louisiana and Massachusetts, historically, culturally, and in terms of both past and present politics.  Over time, Massachusetts has softened and become much less sternly puritanical, of course, just as Louisiana has cleaned up its act (somewhat at least) since the days of Governor Edwin Edwards (“Vote for the Crook, it’s Important”) and many of his predecessors including the fabled Huey and Earl Long administrations, punctuated by legendary oddities like the governorship of “You Are My Sunshine” Composer Governor Jimmie H. Davis… on the one hand and Sam Houston Jones on the other.

New Orleans, Louisiana, the home of so many American legends.  It is a place of unsurpassed beauty in its 19th century architecture mixed with the “evergreen” live oak trees and flower season that never ends.  I still have no easy explanation for how the same life that took me to the Federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles in December 2007 brought me here to New Orleans in December 2010 for roughly the same amount of time.  I learned a great deal in both places but there’s no doubt about where the food was better—I have sampled enough good eateries in the pursuit of at least my mental if not physical health to write a miniature guidebook now—but not without the assistance of Miss Lila Griffith Herrington whose services as a tour guide, even to a city I thought I knew well, have been so very much appreciated.

On the physical side I think that New Orleans (like much of Florida I suppose) is a very good place for the weak to build cardiac health because it is so completely flat.  Long and interesting walks in the Garden District and Uptown Audubon-Park-Tulane University areas are actually unparalleled for architectural touring anywhere in Florida.  I cannot say enough how much I love this town or its “laissez faire” attitude towards life.  The New Years Fireworks by the River were awesome.  Tujague’s, the Court of Two Sisters, and Commander’s Palace continue an amazing culinary tradition.  I thought Emeril’s Delmonico fairly outrageously overpriced, although the quality of the food was excellent.  Unfortunately I was introduced to Delmonico some three decades ago by my Uncle Milton who knew the two old ladies who ran the place from the 1940s through the 1970s.  It was then much more like Tujague’s and Court of Two Sisters (still are today) in the sense of being wonderful food and wonderful value for a reasonable price.  Commander’s Palace is well-balanced, more expensive but excellent.  Emeril’s Delmonico, subsidized I suppose by his years of building a television audience, was the only cautionary tale I could offer.  There are many new and less famous but still wonderful restaurants, of which Domenico’s at the Roosevelt and its Magazine Street small twin deserve very honorable mention.  For non-Creole/Non-Acadienne cuisine, Suko Thai—also on Magazine Street, was probably the most surprising discovery of the trip, although Sake and Biblos on Magazine also deserve honorable mention.

I will miss this town when I return to the City of Angels.  I will miss its soft humid air and languid lifestyle.  But I will relish the return to a place where smoking is really almost completely taboo and everywhere frowned upon, and where the rhythm of existence is not quite so very much governed by the continuous quest for alcohol which seems to rule an extraordinary proportion of the population.  For a man who seriously hasn’t touched real booze in years, New Orleans culture of smoking and alcohol is its one major detraction.