Life throws you curveballs sometimes. Yesterday, I gave longtime reader and online friend Paul McMahon aka Paul McRambles a shout-out in my Trump Green Acres reboot post. We had a tweet exchange, which resulted in my offering to post some of his writing if it met my admittedly low standards. This piece passed with flying colors whatever the hell that means.
Paul is a fellow old-ish fart. He’s about to embark on a great new adventure by moving from New Orleans to Seville, Spain.
A Yat In Queen Isabella’s Court by Paul McMahon
I’m a Yat. For the uninitiated, a Yat is a New Orleans colloquialism that pokes fun at our accent, and our unique vocabulary. A common form of greeting to a neighbor in NO is to say, “Hey, where you at?”, which begs the notion that since that person is in your line of sight, you obviously know exactly where they are located. In an effort at conserving energy, this entreaty is often shortened to the monosyllabic, “Y’at”. Native New Orleanians are therefore commonly, and proudly, referred to as Yats. Future submissions by yours truly will elucidate on other quaint New Orleans’ contributions to Webster’s, such as “neutral ground” and “makin’ groceries”.
Yats are an endangered species this day. What makes New Orleans unique amongst its sister cities in the lower 48 is its fight against the tide of modernism. If nothing else, we are a homage to the art of antiquities. We relish our century plus old housing stock; our neighborhood bars and restaurants are the lynchpin of our daily lives; our favorite mode of public transportation is a streetcar. But these things are under attack in post-Katrina NO, and the rate at which they are disappearing from our lives has accelerated in the wake of Covid-19. In the aftermath of the federal flood (NO residents often refer to Katrina as being this, since it was the failure of the federally built levee system that caused the massive loss of property and lives), people from across the country came to NO in the valiant effort to help us rebuild. While their selfless acts of heroism are still wildly applauded, many have chosen to stay in this city and have also sought to change the very fiber of what they were trying to salvage. Corner bars, music clubs and restaurants are now besieged by numerous attacks from neighborhood groups, using city ordinances restricting noise, trash, and parking as their weapons. Streetcars routes are being challenged since the new New Orleanians claim that they add to traffic snarls, due to their relatively slow speed, and numerous stops. Hey, the poor who rely upon it as a form of public transit, can always walk…
Even our world-renowned cuisine is not safe. Po-Boy shops (the iconic NO gift to the sandwich world) are fewer in number and are being replaced by that paean to world dominance, the Starbucks store. Gumbo is now being “reconstructed” by the surge of nouveau chefs who have infested our area, with such novelty ingredients as kale, and environmentally sourced salmon, in lieu of okra and oysters.
Even our housing stock is under attack. Many of our venerable neighborhoods are now inhabited by a form of nouveau rich, who turn a blind eye, and a non-response, when we pass them on the sidewalks and ask, “Y’at”. Their infestation has further accelerated the rise in local property taxes, given their willingness to pay top dollar for our houses, and the domino impact that has on tax assessments on the surrounding abodes. Our own monthly housing note increased by over $600, due to such a re-assessment.
Yeah, I know, I’m the archetypical old man, sitting in a rocking chair on my front porch, and yelling at the youngsters to get the fuck off my lawn. Well, I don’t have a lawn. But I do have a sense of something that has grabbed my city by its neck and is not going to release its grip until it has strangled out all of the uniqueness of this city and resurrected it in the new version 2.0 of Portland, Austin, Aspen, or whatever other yuppie hell they can conceive.
So, what is a poor, or Yat, boy to do?!? Well, we loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly………Seville, that is. Yep, we are moving to Spain. Ms. Pmac, the pups, and me have our visas, and a lease on an apartment in the heart of the city. Unlike me, Ms. Pmac managed to amass a huge savings and has gifted me with the opportunity to retire now, instead of fulfilling my life goal of still generating a W-2 by working as a greeter at Wal-Mart at the age of 85.
Why did we pick Seville to suffer from our presence? We spent a month in Spain 2019, and fell in love with the country, especially Seville. The pace of life, the friendliness, the embrace by the locals of its history all reminded us of……. New Orleans?!?
Only my wife and I would decide to start life anew in our 60s, by traveling halfway across the planet to find what we once had. But it’s an adventure. And a life of retirement that consists of slippers and a pipe are not what I have ever yearned for, even in old New Orleans.
Adios for now, amigos. I’ll keep you apprised as to what unfolds. I’m nervous and excited. And, for me, that is what life should be.