Monque’D still anchors against gentrification

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 11, 2015

Monque’D still anchors against gentrification

As best as I can determine, the three-week remodeling job at home on Laurel Street has come almost to a conclusion in this, the ninth week. There are a couple of items left on my punch list and the contractor will eventually decide he needs another check.

Meanwhile, my wife has met one member of the family that has bought the house next door — a doctor whose husband is also a doctor. They also have a two-year-old child. Rosemary advised her to also consider getting a dog. With the damncats sitting on the fence overlooking her new yard, the lady seemed to have given it a moment of serious consideration.

J. Monque’D is still among our neighbors, helping to anchor the cast of personalities who help offset this wave of gentrification. That’s an important job in this neighborhood that provided the setting for John Kennedy Toole’s consummate comic novel about New Orleans characters, A Confederacy of Dunces.

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Circulation problems in Monque’D’s legs have hurt his mobility, but the J. Monque’D Blues Band is still in demand for local gigs, including occasional performances at Les Bon Temps Roulet nearby on Magazine Street. When Monque’D gets on stage with his harmonica and booming voice, he can still deliver a show that vibrates the walls of that old building and the street outside.

Wisner Playground across the street bustles with activity most evenings. Young adults often play kickball, a game most can play through whole innings in the field without spilling their beers. During late afternoons, teenagers work with coaches on soccer skills.

On Sunday mornings, the Pussyfooters hone their choreography for appearances in Mardi Gras parades that will begin in late January during a Carnival season compressed by Fat Tuesday’s early arrival on February 9.

On the corner, work continues to complete a coffee house on the first floor of what was once a grand old fire station. Remodeling of upper stories and an outbuilding into apartments has been completed. They are available for rent.

I hope this weekend to reattach a front porch swing that was temporarily removed for the construction. From that vantage, I can sit and sort the characters from the gentry as they pass. But first we must paint the porch which has been rendered even more derelict by the new paint on the house.

That’s the way things are on Laurel Street in Uptown New Orleans, where the gentrification is compressing the damncat colony and life, to paraphrase the late, great philosopher Pogo, just gets curiouser and curiouser.