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New Orleans Dispatch: Last Call

NEW ORLEANS—Just after we ordered two Abita beer drafts last night at the Golden Lantern bar in New Orleans, an emergency response team enters asking “Who Called 911?” They eventually figure out that the pay phone out front blew over pre-Hurricane Isaac.

Travis Tritt’s “I’m a Member of the Country Club” plays in the background, as responders check out the downed pay phone. It’s Country night. Patrons are initially worried that officers are in the bar to close it down, but since that’s not the case, they’re invited to stay for a beer. With a long night ahead of them, they don’t. “Hot man in uniform” is bandied about. The Golden Lantern is as famous for drag night as bingo night, and passers-by can often hear letters, numbers and BINGO! called down the street.

“It’s been the same crowd here all day. It’s been a lot of fun,” said Golden Lantern manager Lance Pippin. “Some people, we’ve never seen in here before. The theme around here is, ‘Just one more.’” 

A patron lifts his drink as if on cue saying, “I should have left half an hour ago.” 

Pippen was hoping to keep the bar open, “but they’re closing the bridge and I live across the river. All the other bartenders are taking care of their business.” Business is boarding up windows and stocking up provisions. 

“As soon as we can tomorrow, we’re going to open,” he says. “If it’s during the day, and the power’s out, I’m okay. We can still serve beer.” Most French Quarter power lines are underground, so it’s a safe bet that beer will still be cold in the morning. 

As the Golden Lantern was getting ready to close for the night, someone yells, “night, baby—who you staying with?” out the door at a lady who’s a regular. “See you tomorrow evening,” Pippen tells her. “Yes, see you tomorrow afternoon,” she corrects him. “Enjoy the breeze."