Ode To The Big Easy

John Puccio

John Puccio is a communications consultant from New York, living in New Jersey, who self-identifies as a Floridian. He majored in History at Loyola University Maryland back when it was still just Loyola College. A lapsed stoic, John is a life-long New York Jets fan, which explains a lot.

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11 Responses

  1. Philip H
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    Growing up in Baton Rouge, I experienced the Big Easy as a sort of weirdly disconnected other neighborhood. We had friends and colleagues of my parents who lived there; other friends pastored churches there. I’ve lost more Saturdays then I can remember in City Park and at the old Audubon Zoo. And I know every one of those eateries like the back of my hand.

    I am sure I passed that gallery many a time, and probably even browsed it a bit. As you well know, there are other modern artists in the Quarter who are pursuing similar art. I suspect, looking closely at that picture, and the artist was perhaps African in her ancestry, though clearly she presented as white. Its a common occurrence in New Orleans.

    I am jealous of your concert score – but again it was part and parcel of my growing up. Beausoliel – the iconic Cajun revival band – once played at the wedding reception of an associate pastor of my church. This and more is how we do down da bayou.

    Thanks.Report

    • John Puccio in reply to Philip H
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      Thanks for reading Philip. I didn’t write about the time I went to Gretnafest. Crossing the river was like leaving New Orleans and entered Louisiana with a capital L. Totally different but wonderful experience. We were adopted by the people around us for the night.

      I considered that Almarie may have some African ancestry, and that’s why i was careful to say someone that looked like her. I couldn’t find any evidence in my research that she did. That said, it poses other interesting questions like: does it matter? and if so, how much? such a messy topic when you start parsing on that level.Report

  2. PD Shaw
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    says:

    I met Kermit Ruffins in the early 90s at Little People’s Place in Treme. He had just split from Rebirth Brass Band, and a friend asked me to go with him because he wanted to become his unofficial photographer. It was a Monday night, so the red beans were free, help-yourself from a large crockpot on the bar. At some point, the band took a break and most people went outside to cool. Kermit clearly didn’t need a break and we talked with him in a mostly empty room. Authentic is a good description, and easy to laugh and willing to share stories with virtual strangers. Later they started back up, and the cops came and shut it down. The neighborhood was changing and Kermit was trying to support the old notions of Treme. A couple of wealthy neighbors eventually got the place shut down. My friend and I were the only people that were questioned by cops about what we were doing there.Report

    • John Puccio in reply to PD Shaw
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      says:

      Must have been amazing to see Kermit back then. I would have liked to see him play at the Mother-in-law lounge last week as well – and be able to compare and contrast his shows for the piece. I’m guessing they would be very different. Alas …Report

  3. Em Carpenter
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    says:

    This was a beautiful piece! New Orleans is probably the only place on earth I’d move out of West Virginia for… absolutely, hands down, my most favorite place I’ve traveled to. I’ve been three times since 2015, also for work.
    Really sad to hear about Central Grocery- are they closed for good?Report

    • John Puccio in reply to Em Carpenter
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      says:

      Thank you, Em! I enjoyed writing it. As much as I love the place, I could never live there. I’d weigh 400 ilbs if I did…

      Central Grocery’s sign said they are coming back but also “closed for the foreseeable future” so it sounds like it will be awhile before they do. I passed it a couple of times over the week and never saw anyone working on the building.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Em Carpenter
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      says:

      As John likely noted while moving about the city, there’s still a LOT of damage in the greater New Orleans area from Ida (which came ashore on the 16th Anniversary of Katrina, and a mere two months ago at that). Insurance is notoriously slow to settle for hurricane damage in the post-Katrina world, and the section of town that Central is in is also subject to a lot of potential FEMA money which will take a awhile. So I believe its a temporary closure.

      Plus its the Quarter, and nothing moves quickly in the Quarter. Why should it?Report

      • John Puccio in reply to Philip H
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        says:

        Stopped into the Copper Monkey on Conti. The entire road is ripped up and they did have an active crew there. Hard to get into the places on that road. I asked the bartender if this was all because of Ida. It had to be hell on the business. She said that the construction had been going on for 3 years and they just actually took a wall down that blocked the storefront entirely for most of that time. They are still there despite that and Covid. Amazing.Report

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