Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Importance of a good bar

When the city of New Orleans began filling up with water shortly after Hurricane Katrina last year, bartender Marita Jaeger and her boyfriend decided to skip town. She called her boss, Johnny White’s Sports Pub owner JD Landrum, to see what he'd be doing with the place. At the time, Johnny White's was something of a local landmark. It's motto was "Never Closed," and indeed, the bar had never shuttered its doors. They didn't even have locks. To her surprise, even in all of this – no power, rising water levels, and reports of looting and lawlessness, Landrum refused to close the place down. “I have to keep it open,” Landum told her. “Because people need somewhere to go.”


I was born in the bayou state and have spent a few afternoons at Johnny White's place. It's a dump, but it was the only place open after the storm - indeed during the storm.

The idea that a bar could be such an important part of a neighborhood – important even to the identity of a city – seems lost on some lawmakers who, probably not coincidentally, happen to represent districts nowhere near New Orleans.

Take Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf. Late last year, the Republican congressman attached a provision to the federal Hurricane Katrina Relief bill that prohibited businesses that serve liquor (along with massage parlors, casinos, and – bizarrely – tanning salons) from getting any federal emergency aid or tax breaks.


This twit obviously needs to spend an afternoon at Johnny White's.

2 comments:

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