Local author Michael Patrick Welch, who writes a regular column for the VICE magazine website about New Orleans, made a “pilgrimage” to see famed New Orleans publisher “Gypsy” Lou Webb for his most recent installment. Webb was one half—with her husband, Jon—of Loujon Press, the 1960s French Quarter publishing outfit that put out books by Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, and four issues of the notable Outsider magazine, which featured work by the likes of William Burroughs, Amiri Baraka, and Jack Kerouac. Loujon Press is the subject of a current exhibition at the Historic New Orleans Collection.
Welch tagged along with a couple of friends of a friend of the Webb’s who have volunteered to be ad hoc caretakers for Lou, who’s 97 and suffered a stroke two years ago. Their intentions seem slightly dubious, in a fan-boy way—Welch describes them pestering Lou about coming with them to an exhibition in Baton Rouge they helped put together of paintings by Noel Rockmore, who did some art for Loujon Press. They also lament Lou missing the opening of the HNOC exhibit. Lou isn’t buying it. Welch recounts:
“Ed Blair called me, all pissed off,” she nearly shouted. “They had a big show in New Orleans somewhere that I was supposed to go to. But I fell down! I couldn’t walk! It’s slippery, I’m barefooted, what the hell I am supposed to do? He was supposed to pick me up to meet all these people—you know, who cares? ‘All those people came,’ he says, and I was supposed to come, dressed up like a gypsy…” She shook her head. “Bullshit. C’mon. When I was selling paintings—you do a lot of shit when you’re selling paintings, you talk funny, you look funny, the whole damn thing. Those days are done.”
Welch will be one of several featured presenters at an upcoming Room 220 event in October celebrating local contributions to the fall issue of the Oxford American. The other local contributors to the issue are Brian Boyles, Pia Z. Ehrhardt, Press Street Board President Anne Gisleson, and Room 220 editor Nathan C. Martin. More details on the event to come soon.