Rose is from Texas.
That was my very first night in New Orleans. Big Easy indeed. I had just been mugged in Louis Armstrong Project, right by the French Quarter, by two young black kids – one tall, one short. The big one had me locked up high by the neck. I saw the short one coming with a big pipe in his hands. I kicked my feet; I was wearing tongs… So the short punk went whack, whack, whack, right on my face. I felt, and heard, the bones in my jaw cracking quite clearly. Then I went to black.
For a white boy like me, Jimmy Clark was kind. He gave me a job and showed me Southern hospitality. This was Mississippi, the Magnolia State, and a white foreigner, French at that, was somewhat welcomed.
There was not an immigration bureau thousands of miles around and, for illegal wetbacks, Mississippi was a terra incognita where nobody asked questions to white folks as to why they were there. So, no question asked, I got a job with Jimmy Clark.
Greg was driving and we were going full blast on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, going south, on a powerful motorcycle, a Kawasaki 1200 I think. It was a beautiful night and just the beginning of it. Greg was a tall black man, and he was a hell of a car mechanic.
In Chicago, I had landed at the edge of Pilsen, by Halsted and 18th, in a neighborhood where there were hardly any blacks to be seen. I was a French wetback but it didn’t take me long to see that this black guy was driving around in a Jaguar, or a BMW, or a Porsche or whatever and also driving powerful motorcycles and what not.
I mean, I could tell a car from a boat.
It’s been two weeks since the big rally after the CHARLIE HEBDO and the Jewish deli massacres. Here are a few more thoughts about what has happened in France since.