Dr. John Montanee
A New Orleans Voodoo Grimoire
Notes on the Painting of
The Tomb of Doctor John
© 2014 Linda Falorio
Fred and I were in NO visiting Mishlen Linden and Louis Martinié for All Hallows Eve, 1993, when we chanced upon a wonderful black-headed djembe drum from Senegal while cruising the French Market. A quick visit to an ATM and purchase in hand, we joined Mishlen and Lu for a wonderful drumming event in Congo Square. A periodic event since the 18th Century celebrated by slaves and free people of color alike, this day the drumming was led by master drummers, Luther and Kufaru.
The next day, la Fête des Morts, the day when families come together and go to the cemetery to honor their deceased relatives, we visited St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery to dedicate the Black Drum, led by Lu via funambulatory pathways known only to himself to the tomb of Doctor John Bokor. There the Black Drum was ritually presented with prayers, rites and supplications and graciously accepted by the good Doctor John.
Upon returning home, we found to our dismay that all carry-on luggage was required to prove that it would fit into a small rectangular box before being allowed aboard the plane – and there Fred was, carrying his djembe! No way would the 23” x 24” round-topped, goblet-shaped drum ever fit into that ridiculously small wire cage. As other passengers nervously queued, trusting to the protection of Doctor John, Fred effortlessly carried the now invisible Black Drum aboard the plane and rested it between his feet where it remained unnoticed for the flight home. The flight attendants seemed befuddled and confused when they saw us deplane with Fred carrying the Black Drum under his arm. The painting commemorates that significant event.
(Its interesting to note that Lafcadio Hearn describes Dr. John as a native of Senegal, see page 95 of Dr. John Montanee: A Grimoire by Louis Martinié, Black Moon Publishing.)
Painting © Copyright 1993 Linda Falorio, Private Collection, Fred Fowler
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