LORD MICHAEL: KING OF THE BURNING SANDS

(2002) Former Quarter resident JOHN GRACE writes...
During the mid 70's to the early 80's I lived at 910 Chartres Street in a great apartment right next to Harry's Bar. Now during that time there was this guy who walk around barefooted, dressed in some sort of Arabian get up (more like rags), he had a big gray beard, looked mid-eastern, and as he walked around, he would, in the most booming voice, speak some gibberish that sound like a blessing. Of course, after receiving these blessing we all felt obliged to give a small donation. We use to just call him King of the Burning Sands. Any idea who this guy was?

ALAN TAUB on the meeting of the two Kings…. 
To reply to an inquiry by John Grace who wanted to know about the "King of the Burning Sands," I can offer some info. I once had an actual conversation with this gentleman when I bought him lunch at the "Burger King" shortly after it opened on Canal Street.

He was quite lucid and spoke very eloquently. He told me he was from the Michigan area, raised in a nice family and actually obtained a Ph.D. as he once taught in a University up north. He spoke very much like anyone else would during a casual lunch conversation, so I had no reason to disbelieve his story. Not like his outside-booming, undeterminable style one would hear as he would pass on the street. He was actually saying, "Pardon me sir [ma'am] would you kindly spare me some money for a bite to eat." However, after affectations and the constant redundancy of his always same request, it sounded garbled and indistinguishable...much like a foreign chant. I doubt he even cared that most would pass him by, not realizing what he had indeed said. Since he looked so exotic, clad in a brown blanket, feet bare, wild hair and beard, I can understand how John surmised this distinguished street-chap to be "mid-eastern." 

I can't say what his name was, but I remember reading in the "Times-Picayune" about several years ago that some family members came down here to bring his body back home to Michigan, when he passed away.

STUART AULD on Lord Michael's Bible…
I used to work in a cafe on St. Philip Street at Chartres, called Until Waiting Fills. The guy John Grace asked about is Lord Michael. He was pretty bilious - his delivery sounded like "Sir can you spare me some money for a BRRRAAAAAP to eat". He would sit for hours in the cafe, nursing a coffee & chicory, until the owner, Diane, realized he was refilling it from a bottle of MD20/20 stashed in the drawer of a desk he would sit at. He always carried a bag in which he kept the new version of the Bible his voices were dictating to him. Once when he was hauled off to jail, he left the "Bible" in the safekeeping of one of the other employees. We checked it out - it was mostly pictures cut out of porno magazines, interspersed with holy gibberish, all meticulously laminated with lots, LOTS of Scotch tape. 

His family eventually found him here when he was hospitalized for some ailment (liver damage seems likely) and took him back to Chicago, maybe 10 years ago. Haven't heard anything about him since. I never once saw him wearing shoes, regardless of the time of year, and always in black.

MICHAEL CHAPOTON decodes the King…
In the late 1980's he moved across Canal St and worked the corner area of Baronne and Common. I'd see him almost every morning. However, I haven't seen him in about ten years. I have also deciphered his "gibberish." What he actually said, and I had a couple of buddies confirm, is,
"...'cusemesirdoyouhaveadimeforcupofcoffee." Or, slowed down, "...excuse me sir, do you have a dime for a cup of coffee?"

GARY PITTS, former Quarterite stumbles into King of Burning Sands… 
I don't know who he was, but one afternoon, about 8 years ago, I had just about enough vodka at the Golden Lantern, and was headed for the Verti Marte on Royal Street, when this guy turned the corner at Barracks. He shouted his usual gibberish, and, after 18 years of hearing it, I UNDERSTOOD IT!! What he was saying was, "Sir, can you spare a quarter for a bite to eat?"

I was blown away! Why, I had to go right back inside and have another drink!

(Do you have further information or photos? Email info@eccentricneworleans.com)

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