What Is Ashley Morris?

I’ll have more details and links to photos of Ashleys’ funeral later this weekend, but people have been asking me to post the eulogy that I read at the service this morning.
For those of you who haven’t heard the original, it’s a take on Kermit Ruffins’s song “What Is New Orleans?”

——
(My most heartfelt apologies to Kermit Ruffins for what I’m about to do here.)
What is Ashley Morris?
What IS Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is a fiery spirit who inspires and energizes anyone whose life he touches.
What is Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is a poet, a patriot, a teacher, scientist, comedian, cook, gadfly, bulldog and warrior.
What is Ashley Morris?
What IS Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is theology and geometry, never lacking in taste and decency even while strapped to Fortuna’s wheel, scribbling on the modern Big Chief pad he called his blog.
What is Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is the bass drum. Ashley Morris is the snare drum. Ashley Morris is the high hat. Ashley Morris is the tri-tom. And Ashley Morris never claps on 1 and 3 and hates anybody who does.
What is Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is smoked duck poor-boys from Crabby Jacks, shrimp poor-boys from Domilise’s, roast beef poor-boys with extra gravy from the Calhoun Superette, and any kinda poor-boy you wanna get on a lazy Sunday on a barstool with the afternoon sun shining in the window at the Parkway Bakery, y’all. What is Ashley Morris?
What IS Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is Krewe du Vieux. Ashley Morris is the Mystik Krewe of Pan. Ashley Morris is “Buy Us Back Chirac!” and “Bring Back Competent Corruption” and “The Cult of Lafcadio”.
Ashley Morris is at the top of Harry Shearer’s list of favorite mimes. (It’s a short list.)
What is Ashley Morris?
What is Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is daddy to the beautiful Katerina, to the charming Annabel Lee, and to Big Rey d’Orleans Morris.
What is Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is the roller derby husband of the best blocker the game is likely to ever see, and woe be to the first jammer who thinks she’s gonna sneak by Soviet Block without a serious ass-whupping.
What is Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is an Abita ale, a wee dram of Jameson, a fine Cuban cigar, and an endless supply of stories and experiences both sacred and profane, enough to while away many a late night.
What is Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is the Saints 12th Man, the first to arrive and the last to leave in section 635, the Gentilly of ticket sections, reachable only by an arduous three-quarter mile journey by escalator, escorted by sherpas, where you WILL stand and you WILL cheer until the end of the fourth quarter regardless of whether Dem Boys are up by 6 or down by 17.
What is Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is he who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds New Orleans through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the saver of lost cities. And he will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy New Orleans. And you will know he is Ashley Morris when he lays his verbal vengeance upon thee. What is Ashley Morris?
What IS Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is Lenny Bruce and Bob Dylan and Bill Hicks. Ashley Morris is Che Guevara. Ashley Morris is Thomas Jefferson. Ashley Morris is Michael Collins. Ashley Morris is any separatist rebel patriot anywhere who ever said “Sinn Fein”, “Ourselves Alone”, or “Let ‘em freeze in the dark without any shrimp or coffee until we get some real levees up in here.” What is Ashley Morris?
What IS Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is the exposer of FMooks, and Ashley Morris is…(all together now) F Y Y F-ing F.
What is Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is a whole fried chicken from Dooky Chase’s with baked macaroni, collard greens, cornbread, and candied yams as sweet as bread pudding, eaten out of a box on the front steps of a condemned housing project on a cold drizzly January day saying, “This is the life. You know what they’re eating in Houston right now? Quiznos.”
What is Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris is our voice. Ashley Morris is our rage. Ashley Morris is our laughter, our tears, our heart, our soul.
What is Ashley Morris?
Ashley Morris IS New Orleans.
And Ashley Morris is my friend. Ashley Morris will always be my friend.
And I will always miss him. Forever.

17 Comments to "What Is Ashley Morris?"

  1. April 12, 2008 - 2:40 am | Permalink

    You did it. You captured him, his spirit, in perfect words that moved me deeply. Thank you.

  2. April 12, 2008 - 7:26 am | Permalink

    You done good, Ray.

  3. April 12, 2008 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    Good lad

  4. Peris's Gravatar Peris
    April 12, 2008 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    Thank you.

  5. April 12, 2008 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    That was beautiful yesterday, Ray, and is even more beautiful today.
    You poured so much into the planning of it all. Now TRY TO SLEEP. ;-)

  6. April 12, 2008 - 9:32 am | Permalink

    Wonderful words, wonderful job. Thanks for letting me be a part of such a fitting tribute to a great guy.

  7. April 12, 2008 - 10:10 am | Permalink

    Wow! That was a lot of living the man did in just a few years. Just think: everythin you describe occurred within Ashley’s last three years. Multiply that by about 14½ to estimate how much living he did in 44 years.

  8. April 12, 2008 - 10:34 am | Permalink

    Glad you posted that, it was good.

  9. April 12, 2008 - 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, man. I’m so damned sorry I missed this.

  10. April 12, 2008 - 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this, Ray.
    and what liprap said. I can tell you’re tired from all the way over here.

  11. April 12, 2008 - 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting it. I wish we could have stayed…

  12. April 14, 2008 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    Wow. I got nothing to say beyond that, except…
    Beautiful.

  13. Tim's Gravatar Tim
    April 14, 2008 - 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Ray, you are a true friend of Ashley, his family, and New Orleans. Thanks for all you’ve done.
    Peace,
    Tim

  14. April 15, 2008 - 3:56 pm | Permalink

    That was astonishing. Many thanks for saying it and posting it. I’m proud of you.

  15. April 16, 2008 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    You are a fine friend.
    You are a qualtiy person.
    You radiate taking the higher road to us all.
    Thanks

  16. April 20, 2008 - 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Every time I read that, the more I’m convinced that you came into Ashley’s life so you could have written and delivered that eulogy. No one could have done it any better.

  17. Ray's Gravatar Ray
    April 20, 2008 - 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Greg.
    Actually, in true writerly fashion, every time I read it I notice things I want to change, or things I left out.

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