Checkpoint Charlie’s is an institution: A music club at the very point where the French Quarter meets the Fauborg Marigny in downtown New Orleans. Live bands every night; never a cover charge; washers and dryers in the back in case you crap yourself.
As the story goes, my former boss Igor Margan — a New Orleans legend in his own right — saw his future wife dancing there in the 1970s and bought the place that week. The place has been raging there ever since, save for a short period in the late 1990s, when a doctor from Up North bought the house across the street.
Like most French Quarter homes, it was more than 100 years old, built to withstand floods, invaders and street crime. The new homeowner must have known all this before buying. So it was surprising to all of us down on lower Decatur Street when the police started showing up at Checkpoints, where the last set often began after 2 a.m., to enforce a noise ordinance no one had ever heard of.
And of course it was the new guy across the street, who wanted to live in the French Quarter as long as he didn’t have to hear music all night — one of the things for which the Quarter is known.
Igor just paid the fines — he was a great disrespecter of authority — figuring that the guy would get tired of calling the cops, or the cops would get tired of telling a music bar in the French Quarter to stop making music, or that the interloper might just pull up stakes and move back to Metairie.
I thought of this doctor when I heard about a movement by a downtown Greensboro resident, James McGinley, insisting that the trains that routinely cross South Elm Street on their way to points north stop blowing their horns as they pass through the intersection.
They’re too darn loud, he told Fox 8 News. And you know he’s serious because he started an ipetition.com page.
“Are you tired of the train horns blaring at all hours of the day and night in downtown Greensboro, making it impossible to sleep, difficult to conduct business and tough to carry on a conversation with eating outside?” it reads.
This is not the French Quarter, but it is the Gate City, so named for the trains that put us on the map, and still, fortunately, still pass through with great frequency.
Especially when you’re right next to the Depot.