Where can I get a Lucky Dogs T-shirt? It would make for some great souvenirs if there could be Lucky Dogs cart and vendor figurines, salt and pepper shakers and such.
You can get a T-shirt online at www.luckydogs.us/shop. There are no figurines or condiment shakers, but perhaps your idea will find favor with the owner. Also at the Web site, you can purchase a really funny book: Managing Ignatius: The Lunacy of Lucky Dogs and Life in New Orleans. Published in 1999 by New Orleanian Jerry Strahan, it's about his years as a Lucky Dogs vendor and manager.
The lucky owner of Lucky Dogs, Doug Talbot, bought the company in 1969 for less then $100,000. He just wanted to be his own boss. He said he was desperate and had a new wife and a new baby to support. Over the years, he has had many vendors, but he never worked a cart himself. In fact, I've heard he is just now starting to eat the hot dogs.
The company relies heavily on tourists, particularly in the French Quarter, and is making a comeback after Hurricane Katrina. The hot dogs also are sold in Harrah's Casino. Talbot says, "People are very fanatical about hot dogs."
Today I was reading The Times-Picayune and heard mention of an artistic work in the French Quarter representing the novel A Confederacy of Dunces. Now that I'm living here, I would like to check this out. Would you mind telling me what and where it is?
On the edge of the French Quarter at 819 Canal St. is a lifesize statue of the sui generis character created by John Kennedy Toole: Ignatius J. Reilly. Ignatius stands under the clock that used to belong to D.H. Holmes, a New Orleans department store that was popular among locals for many years. The building was reincarnated as the Chateau Sonesta Hotel in 1995.
When D.H. Holmes was one of the major department stores on Canal Street, generations of locals used the clock in front of the store as a designated meeting place. In the opening chapter of Toole's novel, Ignatius stands under the clock waiting for his mother. He wears a green hunting cap, tweed trousers and boots. He carries a shopping bag with some purchases: sheet music for his trumpet and a string for his lute, purchased at Werlein's music store, a New Orleans institution that did business at 605 Canal St. for many decades. Ignatius is impatient, for his mother has kept him waiting.
Toole's larger-than-life character was created by sculptor Bill Ludwig and modeled on actor John McConnell, who played Ignatius onstage. The idea of a statue to commemorate Ignatius came from the developer of the Chateau Sonesta Hotel, Pres Kabacoff, who had seen McConnell's stage interpretation of the giant misfit and suggested he would be a perfect model.
John McConnell was thrilled to be chosen as a model for the statue. He describes the process: "They took photos of my head 360 degrees around, and Bill made a mold of my head with the cap and mustache and Ignatius squint. He did what they call 'lost wax' casting, pouring hot wax into the mold. Then they make a hollow plaster version of that, and then the molten metal is poured into the plaster mold."
Ludwig realistically depicted Ignatius from the book as he waited for his mother, critically surveying the passersby, "studying the crowd of people for signs of bad taste" and "finding several outfits new and expensive enough to be properly considered offenses against taste and decency."
The statue sat in Ludwig's studio for two years until 1997, when it was given a permanent place on the sidewalk where tourists can have their pictures taken with one of New Orleans' famous fictional characters.