Note: This was published more than a month ago, but I forgot to post it here. Better late than never. — Quin

My two years at Gambit, a full three decades back, easily remain the most rewarding and just-plain-fun seasons of my professional life.

If you worked at Gambit in 1990-1991, you would have been at the center of a New Orleans cultural renaissance in which sounds from the Neville Brothers, the Radiators, Dr. John, Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis were the “in thing” in the music world; in which New Orleans novelists such as Sheila Bosworth, Nancy Lemann, Eileen Gilchrist and the late John Kennedy Toole, some of them mentored by the great Walker Percy, were being published and promoted in elite circles; in which the food and arts and vibe were even more entrancing than usual; and in which the long-woebegone Saints had finally established themselves, via the Dome Patrol, as consistent regular-season winners.

If you worked at Gambit back then, the politics was fascinating and raw, fun, and controversial. You would have seen Lindy Boggs graciously bow out of her family’s 44-year hold on New Orleans’ congressional seat, while Dollar Bill Jefferson edged Marc Morial in a battle royale to replace her. You would have seen the New Orleans-area delegation, full of outsized personalities led by the inimitable John Hainkel, all but dominate the state legislature. You would have lived through the rise and flameout of neo-Nazi David Duke, culminating in the internationally covered circus of his loss for governor when electing the crook was more important.

You might have heard Duke admit that not a single word you published about him was factually inaccurate, but that “I guess I just don’t like what you make those facts say about me.” You might have endured anonymous day-before-election phone calls threatening that today you would suffer “what happens to n—– lovers.”

You might have watched one night as Twice-and-Future-Governor Edwin Edwards tried assiduously (and failed utterly) to put the moves on an attractive Gambit ad rep.

With such constant fodder as entertainment, you might think — wrongly — that you wouldn’t be so nonplussed when first-time candidate David Vitter bizarrely hurled at you a string of F-bombs for describing his campaign flyers as “glossy” (obviously, a mere type of paper), because he thought you were insinuating he was “slick and insubstantial.”

If you worked at Gambit then, the quintessential New Orleanian Ronnie Virgets would have ambled into the newspaper offices weekly with his enrapturing, oft-handwritten (and thus barely decipherable) vignettes for publication….

[The rest of this piece is within this longer string of tributes at this link, the fifth of eight… so scroll down for it, please.]


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