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Society Diary

 

Late January: Mardi Gras continues, and emissaries send pictures from Washington D.C. Mardi Gras, although the Hilton D.C. ballroom is notorious for zero cell service. It has steel reinforced walls suitable for presidential stops. Thursday evening is a very loud party, Friday is a formal sit-down dinner, and Saturday, the actual Mardi Gras, is an extreme party for select VIPs. Several years ago a doctor died and they simply dragged the body bag through the faux New Orleans “street” with the floats and out the side door. No one noticed.

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Attakapas holds its ball at the old Heymann Center. Attakapas is a highly secret women’s krewe whose members dress like Indians. Daniel Snyder would like them.

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Triton’s Queen has her luncheon. Triton used to bounce me out the door when I showed up in my Armani tuxedo on ball night. God, I miss those days.

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Society Noir

 

It was an evening like so many before. Mardi Gras, that time of the year when fools can be king and often are if they’ve got the money. I was driving home in the dark after another endless day when the phone rang. It was the Italian.

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“Come by Marcello’s on your way home– if it’s not too late. We’re in the back.” She made it sound like an invitation, but there was little doubt in my mind The Italian was doing business.

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The restaurant was one of those little Italian places she liked and as usual, The Puerto Rican was with her. Okay, enough was enough. Now I needed a drink.

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“I’ll have what he’s having,” I told the waitress, gesturing to the glass of pinot noir and then to The Puerto Rican. “And on his tab.”

It was a moment before I noticed The Sicilian had joined us as well, making it a foursome. I had no problem entertaining visitors, especially this one. That was too bad for the other men in the room.

It was a strange dinner, lots of risotto and bread and salad and coffee, but strange. The Italian smiled as she recounted unloading the body-sized coolers in her driveway earlier and the curious neighbors. “There’s no telling what they thought,” she laughed. Probably the same thing I thought. Apparently among her many business interests, the Italian raised her own veal. “You have to if you want the really good stuff,” she explained. “The family has done this for years.” She was looking to expand the operation and had pictures on her phone—I briefly wondered why and who they were supposed to convince.

The Sicilian disappeared into the kitchen and The Italian sipped the last of her cocktail. “Let’s go,” she said. They emerged at the dark end of the parking lot. “I’m not in my own car tonight,” she said. So, she’d left the $120K Mercedes at home. When you have to haul meat, you haul it in something else. She opened the trunk and I had a flashback.

At least I think it was veal.

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Society Diary

Early January:  Mardi Gras gets underway as both Xanadu and Triton hold their 12th Night parties. The ladies of Victoria schedule their ball for the same night and time as Les Brigands de Lafitte, a secret men’s krewe named after pirate legend Jean Lafitte. “Well, shave me belly with a rusty razor, they’re screwed,” says one.

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January 10: Carnivale en Rio has its ball. Women like Rio because you can wear either a long or a short dress.  The invitations this year look like a court summons and there are people in orange convict suits, police uniforms, and other things. One guest stops me to complain about a newspaper mistake until I explain I did not attend the Symphony Tea but The Daily Advertiser is sitting right over there. Another gentleman walks over to say I misidentified his wife in print, she is Beth Guilbeaux, not Carolyn Guilbeaux. Sorry, all Guilbeauxs look alike to me.

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The Chamber of Commerce has a members’ social at La Marquise. No one is wearing an orange jumpsuit.

Yet.

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Society Diary

 

New Year’s Eve:  The Advocate  runs a list of Happy New Year wishes from every one of their 429 employees and my name does not appear. They tell me it was an oversight in marketing, but I’m not so sure. I may not be in The Rapture when it comes.

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The Petroleum Club is one of the few establishments left that throws a glamorous New Year’s Eve gala. There are enough fur coats for a PETA raid.

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My daughter and her boyfriend stay home with friends and fix oysters. An oyster’s beard can be gotten rid of.

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Matt Chiasson holds a classy NYE at La Marquise in honor of his brother John and The Grouse Room, Parc Lafayette’s new upscale nightclub. Among the guests is The Lafayette Swing Dance Association. Dance is an important word here.

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The Grouse Room is going to specialize in pre-Prohibition cocktails, most of them scotch. There is an exclusive Scotch Room and other classics, including the Champagne Cocktail. They drank those in Casablanca.

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Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.  Happy New Year.

Society Diary

 

Late December:  I order myself a grey leather motorcycle jacket for Christmas. It arrives and looks better on my daughter, who gets it as an early birthday present. She eyes other things in the house.

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I go out for the 23rd time this month to cover a society party on Kings Road. The cobblestone walk to the door is a deathtrap.  The home has been luxuriously landscaped and decorated by Perry Stelly, the head of horticulture for the Windsor Court New Orleans, who is tending bar and also policing the plants. Everyone needs a good orchid man.

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I arrive home alone in the dark to find the cat has treed herself and can’t get down.

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But then I receive a call from Prof. Mary W. Quigley, New York University, Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism, who wants to interview me for a blogpost she’s doing right after Christmas.  She said she liked a column of mine and thought I made some good points.

There is a Santa Claus.

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Society Diary

 

Mid-December:  Erin Turner emails and says she read the post about Richard Young’s party in After Dark, and they have a Girls Scouts exec retiring at the Hilton this evening– would I come? It’s a long way from Richard to the Girl Scouts. Mayor Joey Durel is there. I didn’t realize he was a girl scout. I have gone out a total of 20 times in 12 days.

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Penny Edwards emails and says she is having guests for gumbo after the Le Triomphe holiday golf cart parade. The golf carts also do this at Halloween. Nobody likes an idle golf cart.

My daughter calls to tell me I’m doing Christmas Day at my house and yes, the pets must get presents. I buy her dog a Brett Michael “Pets Rock” hoodie. Nothing says Christmas like a skull hoodie.

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The ArtWalk crowd is disappointingly light because of the parties. The see-and-be-seen are elsewhere. Then suddenly there’s Brandi Lyles and Pastor Ty Cook of The Lighthouse Family Church. Lyles sings “O Holy Night” in the still open air and even downtown stops to listen. Because it only takes one voice to make church and one man to bring peace on earth. Tonight The Rev. Ty Cook’s your man.

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Happy Holidays.

Society Noir

The phone rang. I recognized the voice on the other end. It was Richard  Young.

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“Am I saving a place for you tonight?” he asked.

“I hope so,” I said.

“Park behind my Land Rover. I’ll give the police the details.” Magic words.

I took the two-lane out to the old mansion alone. The Victorian faced a barber shop, a relic of a bygone era turned party zone by Richard. The cops were okay with it, the neighbors not so much. The wind had stopped blowing but the temperature had dropped, and I noticed the moon was full.

The place was lit up like a Christmas tree. “I wish I’d known you could park there,” said a disgruntled lady in an evening gown. “My husband’s still looking for a place.”

“Sorry,” I said. I left her there and picked my way carefully up the steps, then took a detour into the back yard to where a red carpet pointed the way.

“I bought this jacket at the Goodwill for $16,” said a young man in a fedora, hurrying past.” Good for you, pal. You’re probably not the only secondhand swell here tonight.

Inside a young Frank Sinatra had taken the stage and you didn’t need a drink to think it was him. There he was, Old Blue Eyes, crooning to the crowd, and backed up by a sultry songstress named Julie. I knew these old places had their ghosts, but nothing had prepared me for this. “Stick around,” said Richard. “You won’t believe this guy.” I stuck for a while, and then quietly slipped away, leaving those people dancing in the dark.

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Which is just as well, because the police showed up later and shut down the party.

That’s how I like it—one step ahead of the law.

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Society Diary

Late November:  My daughter cooks her first Thanksgiving turkey and I loan her the Wedgewood platters. The boyfriend carves like Michelangelo and rearranges it to resemble the uncut bird. I doubt even the Hong Kong Hyatt can do this.

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Senator Fred Mills throws his wife a birthday party at The Petroleum Club. The who’s who include quarterback Jake Delhomme, apparently a former student of Debbie Mills. Fred is also friends with The Shaq, who was not there. We would like Jake to come to our birthday party.

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December 1:  Sharon Moss invites me to lunch by limousine in Grand Coteau and refuses to say when we’ll be coming back. If Jake is there, it doesn’t matter when we’ll be coming back.

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Society Noir

 

The phone rang. It was The Italian and she wanted to talk business.

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“I think The Boss and The Puerto Rican should bury the hatchet,” she said. The Italian was never one to wait for a green light.

“In each other?” I asked.

Unfortunately I was already familiar with the business she was talking about. The Italian wanted certain plans to go off without a hitch and what the Italian wanted usually went. She had a way of calling in favors.

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“How’s that possible? I asked again.

“I’d hoped you’d take care of that detail for me,” she said.

Trouble was, The Boss needed The Puerto Rican like a mob informant needs the East River. They’d faced off before and neither were known for backing down. But recent events had made it necessary for the two of them to come together for the greater good.

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The Italian was silent. There are people who can do that, who can put you on notice just by being quiet.

“I’ll let you know how it goes,” I said. She hung up.

Right, and if it doesn’t go well, I won’t need to let her know. She’ll be able to hear the sirens from her living room.

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Society Diary

Early November:  My hard drive dies and I must say I have cried less over men. LUS Fiber is attacked on election night and everyone else at The Acadiana Advocate cries too. So does District Attorney Mike Harson.

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Edwin Edwards makes the runoff and at his election party the band plays Folsom Prison Blues.

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The Horse Farm gives a $500 per couple gala and there are real horses there, the mounted police, and David Vitter. There is one narrow dirt road in and the same narrow dirt road out. The invitation says outdoor chic, and there are lots of cowboy boots. No one is trampled.

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The Symphony launches their Death by Chocolate event at the Petroleum Club, a locale that was never designed to handle the crowd that shows up. A board member asks me to bolt the side exit even though I’m pretty sure the fire marshal would object. Death by trampling is a real possibility.

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Triton has their royalty party. When you segregate the sexes you’re asking for trouble.

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