The Revolution will be Intoxicated
Dateline: Napoleon House, French Quarter, The Americas
As I stare into the old mirror above the bar, I realize that by my count, it’s been damn near 36 hours… We’ve been holed up in this ancient dark bar for some time now and it’s starting to sink in.
The revolution may be over, my friends.
Startling me, Doc stumbles over and straightforwardly shakes my hand. He then passes me a shot of… God knows what. I’m prepared to toast him when surprisingly, my eyes well up. I’m actually proud of what we tried to do here. I shake it off, knowing he’ll also stay strong in front of the troops, all of who are stationed in various forms of disarray around the bar and elsewhere, more than likely in the toilets. We toast solemnly and toss back the foul French Quarter concoction. I can tell that even though Doc’s eyes are hiding between those filthy monkey eyebrows and the drooping fat bags, they hold loss, but he won’t cry either. He’s been here before.
Failed revolution is new to me, not to him.
Understanding that we’ve been cornered here in this bar by counterinsurgency forces, we went ahead and tried the risky plan of sending out runners to seek diplomatic asylum from the local Conch Republic’s Embassy. Though apparently to no avail, as our faithful runners never returned from their missions. We text messaged everyone we knew seeking support… still nothing. It wasn’t but three days ago that we felt that our movement would receive assistance from the Conchs, but as of today, that has not come to fruition. Now all that remains of us is a ragtag band of drunken old men and nasty revolutionary women who probably don’t shave much.
We’re losing hope. The bar hasn’t yet run out of cucumbers for the Pimm’s Cups, but damn if they haven’t run out of cheap Chilean red wine. The waiters are surlier than usual. I just don’t know how much longer we can hold out.
Let me explain… Seven days ago we were offshore fuming that New Orleans Yacht Club was refusing us a loaner boat for the upcoming J/30 National Championships, but a few hours later over at the Rusty Pelican Bar, that energy was re-focused by some punk guy from New Jersey and his homely girlfriend who had bought a condo in Pass Christian. They struck up a conversation with me and eventually asked what I did for a living, to which I replied sailing bum and freelance journalist covering sailing and regattas. He simply nodded his head and after a moment replied, “Yeah I never really thought about that. I guess people even write about dog shows and stuff.”
This floored me, though Lawrence nearly snorted out half of his Abita Beer.
Later that evening, in a severely cranky alcohol induced state, with Doc using some mind control techniques that he learned while at the School of the Americas, he helped me to focus on what was really pissing me off. It wasn’t the denial of a loaner boat for the J/30 Nationals. It wasn’t the northern rube’s mentally defunct comment comparing regattas to dog shows. No. It was that the rest of the country had finally noticed the relatively cheap real estate down here.
Doc was right. The old ways of the Gulf Coast are dying. Being overrun by Californians, greater Chicagoans and the most dreaded ones of all, New Jerseyites, they simply do not understand our culture and think we to be uneducated rednecks. They come down here and influence our restaurants to serve king crab instead of blues, and strange mollusks instead of oysters. Next thing you know they’re going to have us eating some crappy fish called scrod instead of catfish. They ravenously develop condos everywhere in sight – they’re even letting the swampy half of Louisiana wash away at some ungodly rate so as to displace and finally assimilate the Cajuns into Generica. All for the sake of quashing any future resistance for their true evil plans of planting and building massive new beachfront condominium developments along the newly created Louisiana coastline.
Angry and outraged, my crew and I headed east in Cash Bar looking for condo developments.
We struck our first act of civil disobedience late that night by landing at a dock outside of someone’s home in Orange Beach, Alabama - ready to reclaim the land for Gulf Coasters everywhere. We charged up the ramparts, screaming and waving winch handles, Lawrence carried the spinnaker pole, while Doc, who was luckily wearing a bright orange life vest, fell off the boardwalk and into the dark waters of the bay. Without hesitating, we continued our charge up the St. Augustine grass lawn straight into the face of the enemy. As we rapidly neared the beach house, we heard a dog bark in the distance and we all stopped short, listening cautiously.
Trudy broke our silence. “How do we know these people aren’t from Alabama?”
Doc struggled up out of the bay at this moment, ready for war and dripping wet. He simply stated, “There are no Alabamanians in… you know. Wherever the hell we are.”
The dog barked again. Lawrence turned on a flashlight and we noticed for the first time that the beach house was boarded up and was missing a roof. I yelled, “Fall back!” and we all ran back to the boat. The hurricanes had already reclaimed this land for our cause.
As Cash Bar slipped quietly back into the safety of the bay, we congratulated each other, pleased with ourselves and the success of our mission, secure in our thinking that that house couldn’t have been owned by a Gulf Coaster and that obviously the gods were with us. Doc mumbled to himself, “Hurricanes. Ahh yes… the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
As we sailed back west towards Gulfport, Doc told us the story of the Great Conch Rebellion, seeking to maintain our energy level and even further rile us into more open revolt…
It was April 23, 1982 and the Mayor and City Council of Key West, Florida were in a foul mood. With only one road leading to their islands from the Florida mainland, the Federal government had established a road block to search for Cuban illegals and drug traffickers, but it was directly affecting the tourist economy and the locals freedom - they had to show ID’s in order to get home. The Key West government tried everything to have the checkpoints removed, lawsuits, you name it, but nothing worked. After walking out of the Federal Courthouse in Miami having lost their court challenge to remove the de facto federal blockade of their city, the Mayor of Key West announced to the gathered press, "Tomorrow at noon the Florida Keys will secede from the Union!"
In a remarkable moment of clarity, they finally understood what was actually taking place. The Government of the United States of America had put up a border crossing. The Mayor and City Government immediately voted to officially secede from the United States and it overwhelmingly passed.
The next day before a gathered throng of Key West residents, the mayor read the proclamation of secession and declared that the Keys were now an independent nation, completely free and separate of the United States. They called this new nation the Conch Republic.
The Mayor, now officially known as Prime Minister, then symbolically took a loaf of stale Cuban bread and hit a US Navy sailor over the head with it. After exactly one minute, the Prime Minister then turned to the Admiral of the Navy Base at Key West and promptly surrendered to the Union Forces stating, “We demand 1 Billion dollars in foreign aid and War Relief to rebuild our nation after the long Federal siege!”
Under intense media pressure, the Federal blockade was quietly and quickly removed.
Years afterward, in 1993, the US Government sent in an ‘invasion’ force made up of the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion of the United States Army Reserve to quell the uprising. Knowing beforehand of this illegal incursion, the Prime Minister fired off letters to the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff declaring this an affront to their sovereignty. No response was made.
As such, the Prime Minister appealed directly to the Commander in charge of the 478th to stop the potential bloodshed that would arise from such an attack. After some surprise and shock, the Commander sent a letter to the Prime Minister on official US Army letterhead stating that they, “…in no way meant to challenge or impugn the sovereignty of the Conch Republic".
The United States Army had officially recognized the Conch Republic.
Now that the potential for bloodshed was eliminated, the American force moved to enter the capital of the Conch Republic and was met with only symbolic harassment by the residents of Key West. It began with bombing runs of stale Cuban bread from the Conch Republic Air Force to “soften them up” and then as the military convoy came over the last bridge to enter the capital, 200 residents and Conch Republic dignitaries and officials stopped them dead in their tracks. The Commander and Prime Minister greeted each other and then the Commander asked permission to enter the Conch Republic, which was duly granted.
Disaster was averted, sovereignty was assured.
After the telling of this story, we as a crew decided that the best place to stage our continued revolt was in New Orleans. Basically an island, the city easily could be defended at the numerous bridgeheads leading into the city, and we could hopefully rely on Rear Admiral Finbar of the Conch Republic’s Navy to sail into Lake Pontchartrain and assist us from any attack from the water. Otherwise, we thought we might have to commandeer the Jolly II Roger, which plies the lake waters, and gear her up as a gunboat.
We arrived in West End early the next morning and immediately ventured into the heart of the city, the French Quarter. We, of course, first had to work out the logistical lines for our insurrection, and thus we set up bar tabs at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, Cosimo’s, and the Napoleon House. As our designated Supply Sergeant, Trudy smartly had us sample our supplies for a bit.
That afternoon, after several hours of trying to storm City Hall, we discovered that we couldn’t find City Hall. Although, we did eventually find the Louisiana State Supreme Court located on Royal St. but it was closed. In a last ditch effort to have our demands heard, Doc struck up a conversation with some religious fanatic who had a bullhorn. Slowly though, we noticed that there was no media coverage of our insurrection, and it began to dawn on us that the Feds had obviously perfected their counterinsurgency methods since the Great Conch Rebellion of ‘83.
Needing to regroup, and having lost several sympathizers along the way, obviously to CIA renditions, we fell back to the nearby Napoleon House.
Gaining control of the bar’s fax machine, we immediately began shooting off communiqués to the Prime Minister of the Conch Republic and their secret intelligence force known widely as the Interconch, demanding military assistance and aid. Again we were met with nothing but silence.
Doc, becoming more and more paranoid became positive that FDA operatives had infiltrated our stronghold, our last bastion of freedom where Emperor Napoleon was supposed to have lived out his days in exile - fitting in a way that he never made it here. I looked over at one of the smarmy government counterinsurgents that Doc had fingered, all disguised as some big haired tourist from Dallas – her outfit perfect, all the way down to the baby stroller – and knew all was lost.
Doc belched out, “We’re surrounded.” And together we conceded defeat. We immediately faxed our desire for asylum to the Conchs, but again our electronic cries went unanswered. Had our revolutionary comrades potentially betrayed us? Had the Feds gotten to them? How much are Pimm’s Cups?!
Doc started screaming, “They’ve left us on the beach again!” and began falling out.
I looked at my watch and decided that I should probably go check on my boat and get some sleep. I walked out into the thick air of New Orleans and hailed a cab. The 1st Great New Orleans Uprising of 2005 was passing out.
I am currently in the Conch Republic seeking asylum. There is no word yet on whether or not the Feds will be trying to extradite me. Hopefully, the Secretary General will personally meet with me, and then maybe we'll get some answers as to why support for our movement never materialized. I will keep you informed.