Monday, October 31, 2005

The 60-Second Interview with John Blancher

So if you're from around here, you know who I'm talking about. Likes to dance on the bar. Dresses up like Elvis at every legitimate opportunity. Runs a place called Mid City Rock'n'Bowl.

I was headed up Carrollton Avenue toward my still soggy, mold infested house in Vista Park yesterday to do some treasure hunting, as such. As is my custom, I'm scanning left and right and taking notes about what businesses are open or looking like they want to open. I was cruising past the faded painting of the world famous bowling pin logo of Rock'n'Bowl and I saw two people standing out front. Recognizing Blancher, even without the jumpsuit and sideburns, I pulled a quick louie.

I drove up next to him and rolled down the window.

Me: "Hey, John! Good to see you!"

Him: "Hey, how ya doing buddy!"

Me: "You getting ready to open this place?"

Him: "Man, I wanted to open this week--I'm ready right now. But I can't until they get the grocery cleaned out."

It turns out that what is keeping both the rockin' and the bowling at bay is the Union Grocery Store, or what is left of it. For whatever reason, no one has cleaned out the grocery since it flooded more than two months ago. It sits right below the Rock'n'Bowl, so the rotting and smelling and you-don't-want-to-think-too-long-about-it remains of that place are making Blancher's place uninhabitable, even by FEMA standards.

He explained that there's some sort of rift with the landlord so that for the foreseeable future, the alleys and the amps will be silent. I really didn't catch it all, only I understood that when he said, "no telling when," he probably means, "no time soon."

I wished him well, and I told him, as the unofficial spokesperson for the music-loving population of New Orleans and surrounding environs, that we missed the place dearly. He thanked me as a glint of sunlight reflected from the corner of his eyes.

I continued up Carrollton to the remains of my house. But I found no treasure that day to compare with John Blancher and his Rock'n'Bowl.

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