I'd like to speak well of the dead, at least some of them. I didn't personally know all of the deceased, but that's only because there's just a little while to stay here and there just wasn't time.
Yeah, this probably should have been done closer to the New Year, but I was very awfully busy and we only just marked the Chinese New Year anyhow.
In my readings, I came across this paragraph, written by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry during the Spanish Civil War:
"I thought of our respect for the dead. I thought of the white sanctorium where the light of a man's life goes quietly out in the presence of those who love him and who garner as if it were an inestimable treasure his last words, his ultimate smile. How right they are! Seeing that this same whole is never again to take shape in the world. Never again will be heard exactly that note of laughter, that intonation of voice, that quality of repartee. Each individual is a miracle. No wonder we go on speaking of the dead for twenty years."
Well, maybe not 20 years -- that's the time it takes for an incumbent to lose a legislative seat -- but I'd like to speak well of the dead, at least some of them. I didn't personally know all of the deceased, but that's only because there's just a little while to stay here and there just wasn't time to befriend them, though it would have been nice. The ones I knew? I should have known them a little better.
· R.I.P. Lance Slom, 43. A big fat guy, who wore a Phillies hat and a strange beard. We were on the old Bunny Matthews TV show once as part of a "panel" set to quiz porn doyen Marylyn Chambers, and Lance actually knew all her movies. Lance partied with Jimmy Page, Keith Richards and Elvis Costello and chauffeured Sam Kinison, but his loftiest title may have been "Administrative Negotiator" of the Krewe of Motha Roux. He always made you want to smile.
· R.I.P. Lloyd "Party Boy" Johnson Sr. Died June 10. I never actually knew the man, but anyone who assumes this nickname is someone we all should have known.
· R.I.P. Dr. Joe Ryan, who had his obit in the same day as Lance Slom. Ryan said he became a doctor so that he could take care of his friends, but I noticed he became an OB/GYN. In Ryan's obit, one of his friends, Chappy Hardy -- who has done some rambling himself -- said, "Joe loved to ramble." A Friday Galatoire's regular, Ryan also frequented Tip's and the Maple Leaf and urged listeners to forget Paris -- if you hadn't been to New Orleans, you hadn't seen the world.
· R.I.P. Horace Lee "Hoss" Logan. At 86, he died on Oct. 13 in Victoria, Texas. But before that he was a founder of Louisiana Hayride for Shreveport's KWKH in 1948. He brought aboard a skinny boy from Montgomery named Hank Williams and signed a 19-year-old named Elvis to an $18-a-week contract. Think he knew some stories? Besides, I always liked guys named "Hoss."
· R.I.P. Rosalee McReynolds, in late August. A special collections librarian at Loyola. Rosalee went to Schoen's, that citadel of traditional funerary decorum, and left instructions for the final gathering. She wanted champagne and strawberries. The folks at Schoen's predictably recoiled from such unorthodoxy, but Rosalee persisted and prevailed, and that's how the wake went. Champagne and strawberries in the summertime. This tale was told by one of Rosalee's co-workers, and if you could have seen and heard her tell it, you would know right away how good it would have been to be a friend.
· R.I.P. Omar "the Pie-maker." Jan. 23.
· R.I.P. The Hummingbird Grill. In October.
· R.I.P. Clifford "Moon" Mullins. High school classmate, retired cab owner-operator. After school, we met only once that I can recall, and we each caught up enough stitches of our tenuous connections from that faraway life to weave together a beautiful 10 minutes or so. When it was over, I thought we should have been closer, spent more time together in high school; I sure hope he thought something along those lines.
· R.I.P. Frankie Brent, 68, on Aug. 26. Once tabbed "Metairie's own Al Martino and Don Rickles rolled into one." That may deserve the title of the world's weirdest title.
· R.I.P. Flores "Flo" Ferguson, 82. Died Oct. 7, after spending 38 years as the mistress of millinery at Krauss, selling hats to a clientele which her obit said included "church ladies, show girls and matrons."
· R.I.P. Mary Ann Vodanovich, 70. Sister of oyster man Bozo and original Saints season ticket holder, Fair Grounds box holder, bourre-player and friend of cab drivers, hostess, thrower of Tulane Stadium parties that began with a gallon each of Bloody Marys and whiskey sours.
· R.I.P. Jim Monaghan. Technically, he belongs to 2001, passing on in December of that year, but he was never one to stand on technicality. A publican of the first order, Jim owned more Quarter bars than most people visit, but was best known at Molly's. A complex creature who was even loudly criticized by those who loved him best and continued to be loved by a majority of countless girlfriends and four wives. The last wife, Liz, said to be careful that any of Jim's generosity not be taken as weakness, "so if you have to be nice, do it abrasively."
Also: Henry "Jughead" Braden, Wally Pontiff, Charlie Kertz of Charlie's Saints Marching Club, John Gotti, Peggy Lee.
And for all the thousands of camellias who tumbled down unnoticed this year, their beauty and brightness unmarked by most. Of that, there was loss on all sides.