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Rue de Gradeau: Bourbon Street may provide the next Periodic Element

A research team from Delgado’s School of Olfactory Forensics may have identified a new element. “Working” overtime on Bourbon Street, the party literally stumbled into the aromatic compound. If confirmed, it would be the 119th addition to the 144 year-old periodic table.

The team described the element as “highly volatile, wincingly pungent, and, when combined with a Lykes Lucky Dog and a Pat O’Brien hurricane, curiously appealing.” It has not yet been determined if it is natural or synthetic. Unofficially, it has been named “Rue de Gradeau.”

The researchers, commissioned by Sidney Torres, suspect that the compound may also exist in three other locations: Chernobyl, elementary school boys’ bathrooms, and Louisiana politicians’ closets.

In a town hall meeting, Mayor Mitch Landrieu stated, “I grew up in gradeau! It’s part of the fabric of this great community. And, I’m prepared to preserve and protect it for all New Orleanians.” He mentioned the possibility of a museum and a festival.

Governor John Bel Edwards responded, “All Americans deserve high quality gradeau. I’m prepared to build a pipeline and establish a voucher system. We may be able to balance the budget with this stuff!”

Meanwhile, the New Orleans City Council proposed forming several blue-ribbon committees to study the economic, political, and cultural ramifications of the discovery. Stacy Head promised, “A report will be released within the next 25 years.”

Dr. Ivor van Heerden, former deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center, suggested using the new element to rebuild Louisiana’s vanishing wetlands. “This crap is like Miracle Grow!” said the Scandinavian scientist. “We’d have a lush barrier islands the size of Cuba in no time!”

In response, the Army Corps of Engineers and Boh Brothers proposed multimillion-dollar diversion projects.

Mark Romig of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation balked, “The horrific stench out in the Gulf would cause cruise ships to veer off course. They’d end up in Mobile or Galveston for crying out loud. We should bury the stuff in New Mexico or ship it up to New Jersey!”

Robert Watters, the president of the French Quarter Business Association, said, “This goop is uniquely New Orleans! Slap a fleur-de-lis on it or put it in a green plastic hand grenade and I guarantee it’ll sell!”

Dr. Nia Terezakis, a local dermatologist, is currently studying its medicinal properties and jeweler, Mignon Faget, is designing a commemorative gradeau pendant.

Note: The Urban Dictionary defines "gradeau" as anything nasty that is small and slimy on you or anything else, ie., eye slime from a dog or mucous of any sort. (Former Governor Kathleen Blanco spells it “gradeaux.”)

Folwell Dunbar is an educator, artist and survivor of many things, including gradeau. He can be reached at [email protected]

Folwell Dunbar is a New Orleans educator, artist and survivor of many things, from roaches to German U-boats and heartbreak. He is putting together a collection of these short stories and survival tales called He Falls Well (his name is pronounced “fall well”). NolaVie is honored to preview some of those stories here. Email him [email protected].