If you want to learn your future, you can get your palm read or some faux gypsy grifter can stare at her tarot cards and spin you a story. You can read the horoscope in the Times-Picayne. Me? I read the obituaries in the Times-Picayune. We will all end up there eventually.
Bazooka Joe has been talking to me. He is trying to tell me something. I will try to explain.
You know who Bazooka Joe is, right? He’s the lovable scamp who sports a ball cap and eyepatch as the eponymous protagonist of Bazooka Joe Comics (TM). You know what the comics are, right? They come wrapped around tiny, individually wrapped bricks of hard pink bubblegum. The gum is delicious. When you offer someone a piece of Bazooka gum, you are guaranteed to brighten their day. That’s why I carry a ten pack with me at all times.
I can’t remember the last time I saw Bazooka gum sold individually. I recently discovered they sell it at Winn Dixie in a little cardboard wallet that contains ten individually-wrapped pieces. Talk about convenient! I had never seen it before but I noticed they keep them by the checkout counter. The only reason I know is because I had to buy some parsley. Everything happens for a reason. I am now a regular customer. It’s $1.09 for a wallet of ten. Do the math. It’s a deal, especially when you consider the comic strip and the bonus fortune that comes with ever piece.
I would like to share my last three fortunes with you.
A couple of days ago, I was just sitting on a park bench waiting for the 91 bus and I thought I would pass the time with a pleasant chuckle followed by some jaw exercise. Bazooka Joe and his Gang to the rescue. Everyone at the bus stop had to at least agree that the comic was cute. I didn’t bring enough gum for everybody.
Bazooka Joe said my fortune is, “YOU ARE HEADING TOWARDS A CHOICE BETWEEN MONEY AND HAPPINESS.” I didn’t give it much thought at the time. In fact, I gave the comic to a little old lady to pass on to her great grandson. She thought he would like it. “My grandson says the same thing about his father” she said.
A couple of days after that dramatic episode happened, I decided to have another chew of Bazooka. I was at the laundromat. I wasn’t doing laundry. I was walking the dog and I saw Tina was doing laundry, so, I stopped in to learn how her mother is doing. Tina said her mother is doing well. Since that conversation, I have visited Tina’s mother in the hospital. I can confirm that she is still doing well.
While I was talking to Tina I quickly realized she could use a reason to smile. Despite her mother’s hopeful prognosis, something was bothering Tina. I could tell but I didn’t pry. That’s not my way. Instead of prying I offered her something that was sure to smooth her furrowed brow and turn that hint of a frown upside down. I offered her a piece of Bazooka gum. Nobody likes to chew alone, so I joined her. Happiness loves company.
Tina’s fortune said that her mother would get out the hospital by month’s end. I have never heard of a Bazooka Joe fortune being totally off. They are as reliable as the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
My fortune said: “YOU ARE ANXIOUS TO ACHIEVE SOMETHING IMPORTANT. YOU WILL SUCCEED.” I’m telling you, Bazooka Joe was hitting a little too close to home for comfort. It was eerie, like a ouija board. I am not one to be superstitious but this was just plain out weird, man.
This morning, I was writing this letter and Soleil interrupted me. She snapped a photograph to capture what I look like when I am interrupted while deep in thought and hard at work, focused. She thought it would be funny. It happens more often than not. When you live in New Orleans, your life is an endless stream of interruptions. It is never a bother to be interrupted no matter how it looks. Every distraction is a joy. That is why nothing ever happens on time in New Orleans.
Anyhow, between now and when Bazooka Joe told me I am going to succeed, he told me something else. It was my third piece of gum in a week in a half. If people chewed more Bazooka gum they wouldn’t have to go a life coach or a shrink. They would know what to do. Listen to Bazooka Joe and his Gang.
I ran into the guy who lives in a tent in City Park. He is always down on his luck. He’s a nice enough guy. He asked me if I had any spare dough. When I fished through my pockets all I came up with half a cardboard wallet of Bazooka gum. I gave it to him. I said, “Sorry buddy, but this is all I’ve got.” The guy said, “That’s okay. I always like a piece of gum and a smile. It helps to pass the time. That Mort sure is funny. Please, though, keep one for yourself.” So I did. It was delicious.
My third fortune said, “YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO BECOME OUTSTANDING IN LITERATURE.” Like George Washington, to the best of my knowledge, Bazooka Joe has never been known to tell a lie.
I am going to tell you a secret. Most of the time a person doesn’t have to make a choice between money and happiness. Choosing both is also an option. Good things come to those who wait.
WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT EXACTLY?
Regular readers know there is always some oblique point to these meandering stories I tell on a regular basis. It develops over time. What’s your rush? Allow me to explain what I am up to. Let me start at the end.
Fairly soon, I am going to switch the blog to a subscription newsletter model. I am thinking about charging a couple of bucks a month to get these essays delivered straight to your inbox hot off the press. Since I won’t be advertising the business, but talking only to subscribers, it will be more like a letter written to you over lunch. It will be still be about my part of New Orleans but I won’t feel obligated to keep selling rooms every few paragraphs. It will be more intimate. Welcome to my world.
La Belle needs to get a more consistent income stream. The pandemic has totally screwed up our business model and business is coming back to normal but business is still too slow stay in the black as a seasonal business. Our market has dried up. 19.5 million people are not going to visit New Orleans this year. Not even close. Heaven forbid the mayor cancels Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest, or, we he have another hurricane on a busy weekend and lose power for nine days.
We need sell something more reliable than four night stays that can be cancelled at the last minute. Look, folks, I love talking to you in person but I’ve got to make a living. We should have lunch. Writing is one of the things that I can do.
If you are reading this now, you might like to chip in on the overhead. The last thing I want to hear is that Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest is cancelled or that another hurricane is on its way. I will do my best to earn your respect.
You know me. If I am nothing else, I am a reliable raconteur. We should have lunch. That’s what this project is going to be called: New Orleans Lunch. Stay tuned.
I will still post on this blog occasionally. Maybe once a week or so. I really only need to do it once a month. This blog was always been meant to be our main way of marketing and branding La Belle. It just naturally evolved into a daily update of essays. For a boutique hotel blog, there is no reason for me to spend so much time and effort on this. I cut my teeth as a kind of hyperlocal journalist. It is too much effort to sustain this blog in a seasonal business in a weak market. Hence the change to a subscription newsletter. I want to stick around.
Welcome to my world. I am not sure what it is that I am doing. Maybe, as Bazooka Joe sez, I have the ability to become outstanding in literature. If you are interested in learning if this is true, you can get in on the ground floor. Occasionally relevant and always entertaining. I am still setting it up. Stay tuned.
There is a grander project in mind. There always is. New Orleans may be The Big Easy but I have always lived by the motto of my native great State of Connecticut. Qui transtulit sustinet. Wanna come along?
You have a friend in New Orleans. We should have lunch together regularly. Stay tuned to find out how. Are you in?