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Gert Town Surprise.
I received a message from California Girl. She knows my peculiar proclivities. Everyone does. Here is what the message said: “Mr. King, Get yourself to the Westin. You are going to love what you find. I will be working at 11:00.”
Having nothing else to do today, I followed a cloud.
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I made my way down to the Westin, in the Central Business District. I have not been inside there in years. Nothing much had changed but the stairs had added steps and the chairs in the lobby had been replaced with child-sized chairs. There was even a miniature piano.
The piano player was a little person. The whole lobby was filled with little people. By that, I do not mean petty, mean, or spiteful people. The lobby was full of dwarfs and midgets. There must have been eight hundred of them. Everyone was at least a foot and a half shorter than me.
I made my way through a sea of bobbing heads. It was like wading through buoys at low tide. The lady at the piano was playing Mack the Knife.
I made my way to the bar. California Girl was working. “See? I told you,” California Girl said. She was grinning that winning smile she has as she spread her hands wide like an emcee.
I threw my Wall Street Journal onto the bar and settled in. “Job well done,” I said with a wink.
“There is a big little people convention here this weekend,” Calfornia Girl told me. “They came from all over the world. I even met a Mongolian dwarf. It’s not as big as an orthodontist or oil industry convention, when 30,000 people show up. One of the little people told me that there are about 1500 of them here this weekend. A lot of them went to the Saints game.”
The Saints played the Titans today at noon. It was a home game for the Saints. I have no idea who won. I know people who went to the game. I am sure they will tell me tomorrow. I do not mind waiting.
It was not particularly busy at the bar at the Westin at 11:00AM. Little people have less body mass. I cannot imagine they hold a lot of liquor. It is best to not start before noon.
For some, it is best to not start at all. I need to talk about the Boulevard Club at some point. Maybe later.
I had a vision of the streets of New Orleans milling with 30,000 midgets and dwarfs. It would more visually interesting than 30,000 orthodontists.
Why can they remake Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with its Oompah Loompahs, but they cannot remake the Wizard of Oz with its Munchkins and flying monkeys?
“Get this, Mr. King, it gets even better.” California Girl was beside herself with glee, rubbing her hands together. “Remember that midget stripper ring that used to run out of the Pinkberry in Mid-City?”
How could I forget? I am not going to look through the archives to find that episode. It lasted about a week. Was it last spring or was it the year before? I remember it was springtime. During spring, an old man’s fancy turns to midgets. I learned a lot that week. Pinkberry has since closed and I have been unable to ascertain where the new office is. It is almost as if they are doing something illicit instead of enabling artistic self-expression.
“I heard it from one of the organizers that the local strippers are going to be putting on a show tonight. It turns out a lot of these little people are strippers or otherwise in the entertainment business. I’ve been talking to quite a few of them since Thursday. Sure, some of them are accountants or lawyers. I haven’t met any doctors or nurses this weekend, or first responders, you know, like fireman.”
I commented that a dwarf fireman would be the stuff of comedy in fiction. “It could only end in eventual tragedy in real life,” I added. He would have to have a little ladder, like the little chairs in the lobby that are set out for the little people convention this weekend.
The train in City Park is the perfect dimensions for both children and midgets. Adults hit their chins with their knees. It is still fun, no matter what size you are.
Where does a person rent that many little chairs? I asked California Girl.
“The Westin has a contract with Party Zone. The Party Zone rep likes to stop in here for a couple of pops while he’s making his rounds of event venues. They have anything you could want. They have a whole warehouse of children’s furniture in Slidell. The rep says that they get rented out Uptown all the time, for balls and garden parties. You know those people Uptown—the Carnival Class,” she put her finger under the tip of her nose and pushed up. She rolled her eyes.
“Party Zone supplied the piano, too,” California Girl added.
California Girl sometimes gives me more information than I need but she is a reliable field agent. A reporter is only as good as his or her sources. I like knocking boots with California Girl. She has big ears.
The New Orleans branch of Party Zone is located on Euphrosine Street. It is one of the few buildings in Gert Town that I have not been inside. This suprised California Girl because she knows I have a sweet spot for Gert Town. I find it romantic. I have been poking around Gert Town for years.
I have never had a need for a room full of child-sized chairs.
“Well, get this, Mr. King,” California Girl said, “you are really going to like this news. I know where the strippers’ office is.”
“Do they still have dwarf tossing and the other services they used to offer?” My curiosity was piqued.
“You’ll have to ask our event manager and she’s not working today. She gets weekends off.” California Girl waved at some little people who were walking by. I turned. The lady looked like she could be a midget stripper.
“They prefer the term, ‘exotic dancers,’ Mr. King,” California Girl helpfully pointed out. She is from California, so she is always hip to the current culturally-sensitive lingo I think she has experience in the industry. Nothing surprises me anymore.
“I know you like to investigate things that interest you and I know that you are particularly interested in midgets. I remember when you discovered that midget stripper ring in the back of Pinkberry. You were beside yourself. “
I chuckled. “Yeah, Sweetboy hired a half dozen midget strippers and they put on a show in his back yard. We had Popeye’s. We shared the chicken with the women after the show. It is a good thing Sweetboy has high fences. That is why we went to his house. I have lived here thirteen years and that was the first time I had Popeye’s. It was pretty good but I have not had any since.”
Before I had wandered too far down Memory Lane, California Girl said, “I know where their new office is located.” My ears were bent.
“The event manager had to drop off a check at the midget strippers’ office. They don’t take credit cards or Venmo. It is strictly cash or check, preferably cash but the Westin has to account for expenses so the hotel pays by check. Corporate, you know.”
“Where is the new office?” I asked.
It is in the old Coca-Cola building. That is a sweet spot. The Coca-Cola building is on the corner of Norman C. Francis Parkway (formerly Jefferson Davis Parkway) and Euphrosine Street. Again with Euphrosine Street. It is a street of dreams. Euphrosine is the Greek word for joy. She is one of the Graces.
The Coca-Cola Building was erected in 1946. The architects who designed the plant were the precursors of Woodward Design + Build, which is located across Euphrosine Street from the Coca-Cola Building. Old is across the street from new. The Coca Cola Building is designed in a style called architecture moderne. It was very popular when it was popular. Not so much now. Compared to the new architects’ headquarters across the street, the Coca-Cola Building looks like Çatalhöyük.
Gert Town is full of architectural grandeur. There is the Coca-Cola Building. There is the Blue Plate Building. There is Xavier University. There is the Saint Katherine Drexel Chapel designed by Cesar Pelli. It is not my favorite church but I am a stick in the mud. I like an old church. Give me that old time religion, just like William Jennings Bryan.
California Girl tells me that the little people are so happy to be in each others’ company, that they are really cutting up, getting giddy. I am sure it is not easy to be a little person in a world out of proportion. Look at how children have to clamber onto adult-sized furniture.
Have you ever seen a midget drive anything but a clown car?
“They breakdance. They vogue. They are going every which way but loose. They are really enjoying their time in New Orleans. The cleaning ladies tell me that there are more than a few swingers in the hotel.” Such is the Westin’s reputation. The Baptist convention never stays at the Westin. They stay at the Drury Inn. Both hotels are separated by only three blocks, spitting distance.
The train in City Park is the perfect size for midgets, dwarfs, and children under 4’5”. The taller a passenger is, the more likely he or she will bump his or her chin with his or her knees. The train in City Park is not built for tall people.
I need to make a trip to Gert Town. I am trying to become a connoisseur of midget strippers. Why should Sweetboy have all the fun?