Never met Fats, but I found his New Orleans home

This is how one side of Fats Domino's New Orleans home looked in July 2013, the last time I visited his old neighborhood. JOHN E. BIALAS

Broadmoor Bureau Chief

The first time I saw Fats Domino’s New Orleans house was in 1974, when I was the editor and publisher of Boogie, a rock-music fanzine I printed at home.

I was 22 and fascinated with Fats for all he had done for rock and roll, and I hoped to show my appreciation. I had an ambitious plan: An interview with Fats at his home, just 75 miles from where I lived in Gulfport, Mississippi.

It would be a coup for Boogie and the envy of other fanzine editors and publishers nationwide. I figured I could get access.

I knew my way around New Orleans, where I would go shopping for records,  and on one of my many trips, I had the good fortune of meeting a collector who gave me directions to Fats’ home.

Fats lived off St. Claude Avenue, about a block north of Puglia’s grocery, a Lower 9th Ward landmark bulldozed many years later.

It was the middle of a sunny summer afternoon, one in which I scored a slew  of 44-cent bargain  bin albums at the Canal Street Woolworth’s, when I saw Fats’ home.

It was a big old pink and white split-level place at Caffin Avenue and Marais Street.

I thought about stopping and knocking on the door. Didn’t do it. Too timid.

Fats probably wasn’t there anyway. Maybe he was out of town, playing Las Vegas. Hell, he had more than 70 concerts at the Flamingo in 1974.

I got his 9th Ward address  and when I got home, I wrote him a letter on my custom-made yellow and black Boogie stationary. The letter was an interview request.

The interview never happened.  It was a fantasy and the reality was  my letter went unanswered.






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Company Burger makes up for Whataburger

The double cheese at the Uptown Company Burger in New Orleans is burger bliss. JOHN E. BIALAS

Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Lunch at Company Burger in Uptown New Orleans on Saturday more than made up for my recent  experience at Whataburger in Gulfport, a disaster that led to a post.

Doug Barber and I went to Company Burger before the retired sportswriter, Biloxi Sports Hall of Famer and longtime friend took me to the South Florida-Tulane football game at Yulman Stadium.

I got the double cheese, fries and a bottled Barq’s Root Beer with a cup of ice.

The double cheese was two-at-one-time perfection. It was burger bliss. Hot, fresh and juicy with onions, pickles, mustard and ketchup.

A New Orleans restaurant critic from long ago would have called this a platonic dish. It’s far better than anything you can get at a national burger chain.

I had worked up an appetite after Doug let me make a stop at Stein’s Deli to buy a loaf of the best egg bread you will find anywhere.

Stein’s was packed because of what I call “The Blake Lively Effect.” The actress said on a TV show that Stein’s is one of her go-to places when she is in New Orleans, and now everyone wants to go there. I guess Mrs. Ryan Reynolds has that kind of influence.

Just up the street is Tracey’s, a bar and po-boy restaurant Doug and I went to after lunch. It’s a hangout for watching a lot of football games and the place was busy when Doug and I were there, only to get crazy busy hours later for the LSU-Ole Miss telecast.

It’s SRO when the Tigahs are on TV whether it’s morning, noon or night, though Tracey’s might need a bigger place if it ever got The Blake Lively Endorsement.

Doug, who has season tickets, says he wishes the Green Wave football team could be as exceptional as the fan experience Tulane provides. Season-ticket holders have a number of parking lots to choose from, and Doug’s lot is across from St. Rita Catholic Church.

Shuttle buses are available and they take you to and from the stadium, and they run in a timely manner. No waiting and no long lines.

Tulane gave South Florida quite a challenge after it appeared the game would be a rout. The final: Bulls 34, Green Wave 28.

The slant pass put Tulane back in the game, and after the game, fans caught slant passes of free jambalaya mix  as they left the stadium.

That’s naturally Uptown Nawlins.

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Walked into hot bar, walked out with cool book

The Saturn Bar on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans hosted a book launch and reading Thursday night. JOHN E. BIALAS

Broadmoor Bureau Chief

I walked into a hot New Orleans bar around 7 p.m. Thursday and walked out around 8:30 with a cool new book.

I was among the many who packed a back room at the Saturn Bar for the launch of “The Futilitarians: Our Year of Thinking, Drinking, Grieving, and Reading.” a post-Katrina memoir by New Orleans writer Anne Gisleson.

This is her first book, and she writes about being in the Existential Crisis Reading Group and their meetings from January 2012 to December 2012.

Had I known the temperature of the back room before I got to the bar, I would have come up with my own subtitle:  “Thinking, Drinking, Grieving, Reading and Sweating. A Lot of Sweating.”

Actually, it felt nice and cool when I walked into the bar.  The AC was going in the front room, but the back room was hot.

It was sweaty hot. It was drip-from-your-forehead hot.

No matter.

I was more than happy to be there because of the presence of Octavia Books, one of my favorite Uptown stores, and my first chance to go to the Saturn Bar, a Bywater dive on St. Claude Avenue.

Octavia Books had a table in the front room to sell copies of “The Futilitarians” and I was one of the first to buy one. I had cash in hand, money left over from a trip to Colorado in July.

Gisleson and other ECRG members did an entertaining hour-long reading that included music, and before I left the bar, she signed my copy of “The Futilitarians” after my short wait in line.

Now that I’m back home in Gulfport, I believe “The Futilitarians” will be a challenging, thought-provoking and emotional experience. I look forward to reading it starting this weekend.

And I predict no sweat will be involved.



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