Pirates and publicans.

Bar Lafitte, 941 Bourbon Street.

I’ve been asked to talk about Jean Lafitte the pirate, one of the co-founders of Nawlins back in the days before the WASP-ish North came down and mugged all these good-time lawless Catholic privateers (at least that’s the warped impression I’ve got from listening with half an ear to a couple of fast-talking tour guides here).

Suffice to say I remain in ignorance and will have to do some research. The evidence as it exists on the street for his ever having been in these parts seems to be confined to bars and cafes. Like every colourful brigand, freebooter or venture capitalist that ever lighted on the delta, he seems to have been leveraged to Billy-O these days by the tourist trade business. I’m sure he chuckles as his name empties fresh Yankee pockets.

Our pilot on the Barataria Swamp Tour yesterday – in between dropping marshmallows down the maw of a big 10 foot ‘gator – gave a spiel about how Lafitte was a founder of whatever happened in these parts early on (I guess he meant well after the Indian peoples had arrived….). They got a mention as giving the early Cajuns the name “bayou” – but then they were whited out of the story.

Jean Lafitte got above himself it seems, sired a bunch of kids with many women and then disappeared somewhere, never to be found. Thus the depth of my ignorance is revealed. But I am aware my requestee knows way more than I do, so I guess she needs to come herself and search for him out there in the swamps and the cypress trees. I just bought the postcard and the T-shirt like all the other tourists.

I was more interested to discover this morning on the way down Royal to breakfast at Cafe Beignet that the cops of the local PD ride Piaggio scooters, like my one. They will even sell you genuine New Orleans Police Department T-shirts and baseball caps, if you’ll just step on in and try one on. They have a vending machine to do the business, right inside the door. I couldn’t see the one I would have liked: “Wanted: The Pirate Jean Lafitte. This Man Has Broken Every Law”.

Gator Ade leaps for a marshmallow – on cue.


About paparoa

Writer and researcher.
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