Homeless in New Orleans, May 23, 2016

Haunted by the Homeless in New Orleans

Haunted by the Homeless in New Orleans

Homeless in New Orleans

New Orleans is famous for its ghosts. From the crowds gathered outside the Lalaurie house on the corner of Royal and Governor Nichols to Marie Laveau’s tomb in old St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, it’s no secret New Orleans is haunted. Even my favorite hotel, The Hotel Monteleone, is purported to have a ghost or two. I exploited the city’s haunted reputation in my novel Louie Morelli’s Mistress, adding a bit of the supernatural via Louie Morelli’s eccentric little girl.

But ghost tours and fiction are fun. A not so fun reality is the appalling homelessness on the streets of the French Quarter and elsewhere throughout the city.  The homeless outnumber the ghosts in New Orleans. And they haunt me in a way the Quarter’s ghosts never have.

“Haunt me in a way the Quarter’s ghosts never have.”

According to an August 2015 report from Unity of Greater New Orleans, homelessness in the Big Easy was down 85% percent from its post Katrina high in 2007, when close to 12,000 people were without shelter. In 2012 New Orleans had the second highest rate of homelessness in the nation. Today 46.9% of every 10,000 are homeless in New Orleans.

 Homeless in New Orleans

Haunted by the Homeless in New Orleans

I saw homeless on my last couple of post Katrina visits, but this past visit, coinciding with the last week of Jazz Fest 2016 was an eye opener. Homeless men haunted the underpasses on City Park Ave near Metairie Cemetery and huddled beneath the bridges of the Pontchartrain Expressway. These are the faceless people you see in every major metropolis; hungry, dirty, disheveled—the mentally ill and chronic abuser.

Homelessness may be down, overall, in the city from its post Katrina high, but the amount of homeless in the French Quarter is disturbing. I’ve been travelling to New Orleans for a long time, and I have no recollection of homeless haunting the Quarter in the eighties and nineties. But then, I write mob fiction, and it’s understood that when the mob ran the city there were no homeless in the Quarter.

“I’m being haunted by the homeless in New Orleans.”

Today, it’s the homeless youth that pierce the heart. Sprawled in the heat and dirt with their dogs, they rely—like Blanche Dubois—on the kindness of strangers. Softhearted tourists dispensing quarters and dollar bills. To be sure a minority of these panhandlers might be opportunists. Maybe they’re not all homeless. I sincerely hope this is the case.

On my last morning in the Quarter I took a walk, encounterting a downtrodden young man hunched on the sidewalk, a yellow lab sleeping on a square of cardboard beside him. One sign read: “My dog ate my money.”  He was nodding off, did not even look up when I dropped a couple of dollar bills into his box.

Further down Royal Street a woman sat on a curb with a small white dog. I stopped and spoke with her, and she told me she and her husband have fallen on hard times. She told me she’s not sleeping on the street but in a van with her family. They’re hoping to collect enough money to drive to Arizona.

“Another haunting is being born of desperation and shattered dreams.”

I wished her well and walked on, dropping four quarters into the can of a homeless vet. My morning stroll takes me past the Lalaurie house, where a tour guide is telling the hideous tale of Madame’s tortured slaves. Her victims haunt the house, but on the narrow streets of the Vieux Carre another haunting is being born of desperation and shattered dreams.

Homeless in New Orleans

Homeless in New Orleans

Patricia Bellomo is the author of the suspense thrillers Louie Morelli’s Mistress, Stella di Mare, Louie Morelli’s Daughter, and the award winning The Prince of Mafia Princes. All books available on Amazon.com.

To help with homeless in New Orleans please visit the website for Unity for Greater New Orleans: unitygno.org. Or go to the website of the Covenant House, located on the edge of the Quarter. www.covenanthouse.org

 

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Best Beach Reads, April 25, 2016

Best Beach Reads

Beach Reads from Patricia Bellomo

Reading a Patricia Bellomo novel at the beach.

Heading to the beach this spring for a little rest and relaxtion?

If you’re off to seek the sun and sand, don’t forget to load up your kindle or nook, or better yet, pack several good books: Beach Reads, to be exact. Noting too heavy or dramatic for the beach. It’s not the place to brush up on classics or delve into a literary masterpiece. But nothing beats basking on the beach with a good romantic thriller or a novel of suspense and intrigue.

Some of the best beach reads are books that are set in romantic and tropical settings. Nothing like reading about the beach while actually being on one. Of course, exotic settings are good reads for rainy days, too. The key is to immerse yourself in a great escape.

“Bellomo’s sizzling mafia read is perfect for the beach.”

Some of my best beach reads are books by Elin Hilderbrand, Donna Leon, and James Grippando. I also favor John Sandford’s series, books by John Lescroart, and my favorite, John le Carre. Who is your favorite author for beach reading?

Added to this list are my own books:  Louie Morelli’s Mistress, Stella di Mare, Louie Morelli’s Daughter, and my latest award winner, The Prince of Mafia Princes.

Bellomo's beach read

Bellomo’s ultimate beach read, Stella di Mare

“Stella di Mare … the ultimate beach read.”

“Bellomo did a great job of setting up the imagery for Southern Florida.”

“If you can’t read it on A South Florida beach, you’ll feel like you’re there.”

Books available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

Signed copies available on website.

 

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Bellomo's Mafia Thrillers

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Louie Morelli’s Mistress

Stella di Mare

Louie Morelli’s Daugter

The Prince of Mafia Princes

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Mob Blog: Louisiana Oil Man, March 29, 2016

Mob Blog: Louisiana Oil Man, March 29, 2016

I’m sitting on my terrace with the Louisiana oil man, Jay Connolly. It’s near dusk, and the clouds, tinged with lavender and orange, are bunched up over the Atlantic, the sea calm and smooth as glass. We’re sitting facing the sea, watching tankers and cruise ships traverse the horizon. I’m relaxed as I can be, but Jay, for all his old-fashioned courtesy, is wound tight as a drum.

Mob Blog: Louisiana OIl Man

I’ve known Jay my whole life. He’s been like an uncle to me because it was my old man who bankrolled him, giving Jay his start when he was a wildcatter down on the gulf.

Jay’s a character. His wife died years ago, and every couple of months he has a new girl. They’re all strippers and showgirls and barmaids and so indistinguishable from one another that I don’t even try to remember their names.

Jay doesn’t have a girl with him today. He’s beleaguered and out of sorts. He doesn’t like Palm Beach, considers it a little too prissy and liberal, yet he had his pilot fly him in on his Gulfstream this morning. Jay called me from the air above Mobile, letting me know he was en-route, which is about the time I began to suspect he had a problem.

“It has to look like an accident.”

Now Jay is sitting beneath the overhang on my terrace with a glass of Booker’s Single Barrel Bourbon (he brought his own), telling me about his problem. It seems like the Louisiana oil man wants my help “eliminating an obstacle”. I know who he’s talking about. A hard-ass victim’s rights attorney doing a class action. It’s been on the news a lot, and Jay’s taking heat in the court of public opinion. And he’s really angry because he’s always tried to do the right thing, and the media is crucifying him.

“Lou, it’s a tricky situation,” he says. “It has to look like an accident.”

I give him a long look. I can see he’s worried. I don’t try and talk him out of it. After all, we’ve known each other a long time, and we’ve had these kinds of situations before.

A minute later, the sky going dark over the ocean, I say, “I’ll have my guy call you first thing tomorrow.”

The Prince of Mafia Princes

The Prince of Mafia Princes

If you enjoyed Louisiana Oil Man, you may wish to purchase one of Bellomo’s books.

Books include The Prince of Mafia Princes, Louie Morelli’s Mistress, Stella di Mare, & Louie Morelli’s Daughter.

Available online at Amazon.com/Barnes and Noble.com

 

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Mob Blog: Breakfast with the Eagles Cheerleaders

Mob Blog: The Eagles Cheerleaders,  March 5, 2016

Breakfast with the Eagles Cheerleaders

The Eagles Cheerleaders – Patricia Bellomo

I have a meeting with a big name investor this morning. It’s strictly legit—the guy’s a high financier who likes to gobble up South Florida real estate. We’re discussing a future project, and he wants to do breakfast so Victor and I meet him at the Marriott on the corner of Atlantic and A1A in Delray Beach. The investor’s a little square, and he gets a thrill out of doing business with someone who is “connected.”

That’s what he says to me anyhow. “Lou, I know you’re connected.”

His eyes shift to Victor, and I could see he’s wondering if he’s gone too far. But I merely smile, and Victor nods cordially, and we make pleasant over our fruit and coffee. By the time our eggs arrive we’re talking high finance. Then a couple of stunners walk by, and we momentarily suspend our conversation.  A few minutes later at least a dozen more young ladies come in and join them. They’re sleek and tanned and some are blonde and some are brunettes and a few girls are black, and they are all so damned lovely our meeting grinds to a halt. They enter in groups of two and four and join their friends at long tables, and suddenly the Marriott’s looking like a sorority club.

“Suddenly, the room is filled with cheerleaders … Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders.

One perky young thing next to us is even entertaining her grandmother, the two of them exchanging gift baskets. The room fills with chatter and high-pitched laughter, and I’m reminded of the parties Stella used to have. But these girls are all fit and toned and wearing tiny shorts and bikini tops and gauzy little outfits. There are a lot of implants and bleached teeth and bright smiles, and Victor, who hasn’t missed a meal since he did his two year stint in Angola twenty-five years ago, shoves aside his banana pancakes. “Jesus,” he says, “what is this, some kind of modeling thing?”

My guest says, “It’s quite a show, isn’t it?”

Two beauties plop down on Victor’s side of the table, and he gets the story. They’re cheerleaders for the Eagles, and they’re in Delray Beach to do their annual calendar shoot. Soon we’ve got five gorgeous young girls sipping orange juice at our table, and Victor’s cracking jokes. Then he mentions that we’re planning to take the Stella di Mare down to Lauderdale this afternoon, and the young ladies get all excited. They’d love to go for a boat ride. I ask my pal, the investor, if he’d like to come along, and he’s all for it. So I guess I’m playing hooky with the Eagles cheerleaders. Life is pretty damn good.

Bellomo's Miami Beach Mob Thriller

Stella di Mare

If you enjoyed “Breakfast with the Eagles Cheerleaders” you may wish to check out Patricia Bellomo’s mafia thrillers, The Prince of Mafia Princes, Louie Morelli’s Mistress, Stella di Mare, and Louie Morelli’s Daughter. All books available online at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.

 

 

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Mardi Gras, January 28, 2016

Mob Blog: Mardi Gras, January 28, 2016

 

Mardi Gras Mask

Mardi Gras Mask/Patricia Bellomo

 

I looked at my calendar today and realized that Mardi Gras is just around the corner. This doesn’t mean much to most Yankees, but I’ve an ongoing love affair with the city of New Orleans. The Big Easy also happens to be Louie Morelli’s hometown, and is featured extensively in my novels. In fact, the final scene in Louie Morelli’s Mistress takes place on Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday, translates to Fat Tuesday in French. It’s a Catholic holiday, a celebration of excess because the day after Mardi Gras is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of lent and a time of fasting.

Mardi Gras is not unique to New Orleans, but no other city in America celebrates this pre Lenten festival with such flair as the Big Easy. The Carnival season begins on Twelfth Night, which is the conclusion of the twelve days of Christmas and the night before the Feast of Epiphany. Society balls commence with the Twelfth Night Revelers ball, held this year at the Ritz-Carlton on January 6. At this time King Cakes appear in bakeries and supermarkets.

Mardi Gras, also known as shrove Tuesday, translates to Fat Tuesday.

The King Cake is a circular ring cake made of Danish dough and decorated with festive frosting in gold, green and purple—the colors of Mardi Gras. Baked into one of the slices is a small plastic baby or, traditionally, a bean. The person who receives the slice with the baby is considered lucky and is generally chosen to host the next “King Cake” party.

Mardi Gras King Cake and baby

Mardi Gras King Cake and baby/Patricia Bellomo

Although Carnival celebrations were present in some form or another in early New Orleans, it didn’t become organized until the 1850’s when a group of young men formed The Mystick Krewe of Comus and launched the first parade, with mule-drawn floats carrying masked riders.

In the 1870’s Rex arrived as a mock monarch and soon became known as the King of Carnival, with the Rex parade becoming the major parade on Mardi Gras. As with Comus, the Rex organization is comprised of Uptown bluebloods. But other “krewes” soon formed, and it is these private organizations and secret societies that fund the Carnival magic. The cost to the city is minimal, consisting mainly of added police protection.

No longer the exclusive domain of white male aristocrats, parading krewes represent the cultural diversity of New Orleans.

Nowadays, there are a number of krewes that parade and some that don’t, plus the suburban krewes and celebrations. No longer the exclusive domain of white male aristocrats, parading krewes represent the rich cultural diversity of New Orleans, with many African-American and gay krewes offering some of the best entertainment of the season.

Competing krewes start parading at least two weeks prior to Mardi Gras, with the big events slated for the last weekend before the big day. This is when tourists jam the city and the party really kicks in. To get a firm grasp of the enormity of it all, visitors should check out Blaine Kerns Mardi Gras World, where artisans work year round creating floats for forty parades. Celebrations continue throughout the day on Mardi Gras, ending abruptly at midnight, when Lent begins.

Patricia Bellomo is the author of the “Louie Morelli” series. Books include Louie Morelli’s Mistress, Stella di Mare, Louie Morelli’s Daughter, and the award winning The Prince of Mafia Princes. All books available via Amazon or the author’s website.

 

 

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Mafia Romance, the new genre.

Mafia Romance, the new genre.

I first stumbled upon the term Mafia Romance on Goodreads, and it gave me pause. I had to stop and think: Can the Louie Morelli series be classified as Mafia Romance?

Bellomo's Mafia Romance Thriller, Stella di Mare

Stella di Mare

There are parallels and nuances. The “Louie Morelli” series differs from traditional mob books as they are not mob stories but stories about mobsters. And, as irresistible mobsters go, you can’t beat cool, savvy Louie Morelli. He’s the ultimate bad boy, and my female readers adore him despite the fact that he’s a serial philanderer and, at times, a killer. But Louie adheres to an old fashioned code of honor.

Overall, the tone of the series is a bit more serious than contemporary romance, and there is the family drama, which complicates matters. My books are certainly not bodice rippers, although Louie’s dalliances do add up, and there is sexual content, but sex is not the overriding theme in any of the four books.

Defined as thrillers, all four books do cross genres in that they can also be classified as general or mainstream fiction with some violent content. They also qualify as suspense and intrigue, and of course, popular fiction: thrillers. They’ve also been described as “page turners” and “daring and suspenseful thrillers.”

There is an element of romance in all four novels, although Stella di Mare has the most appeal for romance readers, with Louie Morelli’s Mistress a close second. The gorgeous settings—sunny South Florida in Stella di Mare and New Orleans’s French Quarter in Louie Morelli’s Mistressare in themselves romantic. And make no mistake: I do place my readers in the scenes, providing a seductive quality.

Louie Morelli's Mistress/Mafia Romance

Louie Morelli’s Mistress

The biggest love story in each book, and the one fraught with the most tension, is the relationship Louie has with his long suffering wife, Angie. Louie loves Angie, but he’s never been faithful to her, and this causes quite a bit of conflict.

So, yes, in a sense my books do qualify as Mafia Romance.  Or just plain good reads. Entertainment.

Please let me know what you think.

All books can be purchased at Amazon.com or online at Barnes and Noble. Signed copies are available through Bellomo’s website.

 

 

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Louie Morelli’s Mistress

Stella di Mare

Louie Morelli’s Daugter

The Prince of Mafia Princes

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