RSS

Category Archives: Louisiana

Free at Last…

That’s right! The Louisiana Lethario, the Riverboat Gambler, the Silver Fox, the Cajun Capon, is out of prison after serving over eight years of his ten year sentence for rigging riverboat gaming licenses (a little thing called bribery and extortion). The 83-year-old Edwards was released into a halfway house in Baton Rouge, but is likely to serve out his release conditions in Baton Rouge with his daughter, Anna Edwards.

Now, all you non-Louisianians are likely saying, “So what? Another politician caught with his hand in the cookie jar…glad he went to prison and he deserves the public shunning he’ll get for the rest of his life.” Ah, but this is Louisiana, people. And to understand the enormity of this news, you have to understand Louisiana politics and the maelstrom that is Edwin W. Edwards.

There are some monumental political figures in Louisiana’s history….Governor and Senator Huey P. Long, his nephew and renowned U. S. Senator Russell Long, Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Senator John Breaux, etc., but none are as renowned, celebrated and talked about as “Fast Eddie” Edwards.

You see, EWE hit the Louisiana scene when the state was going from a sleepy, backwater farm and seafood economy to the back room for the oil industry. In the late ’60s and through the ’70s, oil money was FLOWING, particularly in South Louisiana — home to one little cajun girl who shall remain nameless.

I have vivid memories of Edwin Edwards. He was the first Governor and yes, celebrity that I can recollect. Like many Louisiana towns, the small town that I grew up in had a fall festival every year that was part fund-raiser for worthwhile community causes and, in the Cajun way of life, a concentrated effort in celebration and party….you know, the joie de vivre. In Youngsville, that was the Festival of Beauties. We had a full carnival, complete with boardwalk, carney booths and amusement rides. My absolute favorite was the Tilt-A-Whirl, where centrifical force held you against the wall while the floor dropped out. I can still remember the thrill of the first time I mustered up the courage to ride “The Bullet”.

There was the Friday night Fais Do Do held outside at the old Elementary School that I attended and where my uncle was the principal — my Daddy’s best friend growing up was my 7th grade homeroom teacher. French music permeated the festive air where parents showed off their dance moves to mesmerized children waiting to ask for another two dollars worth of quarters for the rides. Then, on Saturday, the whole town (and then some) attended the beauty pageant to crown our queen. My Nanny (Godmother) usually played the accompniment on piano and many times I sat next to her, again mesmerized at her uncanny ability to playing everything by ear, simply hearing the song once.

Finally, on Sunday, the festival was capped off by a big parade, complete with various high school marching bands, floats and politicians pressing the flesh for votes in the next election. That’s where I was first exposed to the phenomenon that was Edwin Edwards. This particular year was an election year, so many politicians showed up to shore up their electorate. Edwards was running for Governor and need every Cajun voter to go out there and pull the lever for him. Of course, in my pre-adolscent mind, politics was a non-starter. This particular year, I was more concerned about my role as a junior maid for the festival and making sure that I got my “princess waive” down pat. (On the left…)

However, the irrepressible Edwin Edwards was not to be upstaged by a bunch of girls…young or old. He walked the length of the parade route (about 5 miles), basking in the adulation of his adoring Cajun public who dreamed of touching the cloak of their king. You see, in South Louisiana, there is no more adored thing than one of their own. Edwards was a product of Marksville — considered Yankee territory to most Cajuns –but his mother was a fluent, french-speaking Cajun Catholic. These two traits basically cannonized him in the hearts of the whole of South Louisiana. His savvy scrappiness and dedication endeared him to North Louisiana. So, one the whole, he was THE MAN for Louisiana.

To properly understand his magnetism among the Cajuns and Louisianians as a whole, you have to understand the vehement loyalty that this society has for one of their own. Many a foible is overlooked if you are deemed to be “one of us”. There have been few too many Cajun heros, but those attaining that status can do no wrong no matter what wrong they do. A few Cajun legends with this status: Ron “Louisiana Lightning” Guidry – Cy Young Award-winning New York Yankee; WWII Hero Claire Chennault; Kentucky Derby jockey, Calvin Borel; 1996 Miss America, Ali Landry; and, Cleveland Browns’ QB Jake Delhomme, not name a few. Those attaining this status are pure Cajun gold — never paying for a meal or a new car…heh.

Cajuns are, by nature, a pragmatic and forgiving people, so a little malfeasant is tolerated, if not expected. Edwin Edwards had a perfect understanding of this and simply took full advantage of his legend status with the people of Louisiana.

Even after the first round of twelve years as Governor and law-bending, Edwards came back to the populus to return him back to the glory spot. I was among those who reluctantly held my nose and pulled the lever for EWE in 1991 when he ran against one David Duke. The choice was between a known philanderer/crook vs. a known racist. A popular bumper sticker of the time? ” “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important.”

To his credit, Edwards fully understood the public quandry and fully played it up. When asked about his chances of beating David Duke, he responded that the only way he could lose was “if he was caught in bed with a dead woman or a live boy”. Now THAT, is cahonas.

I still remember the day that we saw the cop cars screaming down Highland Road toward the Country Club of Louisiana. It was 1996 and it was the day we were moving to Memphis. Come to find out, they were headed to Edwards’ house to arrest him. At that time, I was elated that the crook was finally caught. He had brought shame to the Cajun Nation and failed to live up to his promise as the Cajun Redeemer.

However, now — after 15 years of bad politics and representation across the nation — I have to wonder…was he really all that bad? After all, he did more for Louisiana and its’ government than any Governor before or since. Good, bad or indifferent, Edwin W. Edwards was a leader, albeit a greedy one…and, he will always be — a CAJUN. Therefore, I say, live and let live. Let the old man play out his days in peace and freedom…unless I start seeing Edwards 2011 bumper stickers.

 

Kings of Omaha

lsu champs

Mucho Congrats to the 2009 National Baseball Champion — the LSU Tigers! 

The Freshman from Lafayette, Mikie Mahtook, turned the tide with a run-scoring double in the 6th and the Tigers never looked back, beating powerhouse Texas 11-4.  Mahtook’s father, Mike, and his uncle, Robbie, both played football for LSU, creating a great legacy for the young Mahtook….particularly since Mike Mahtook died from a heart attack at 32, when Mikie was four and his twin sisters were only 2.  No doubt, Big Mike was an angel in the outfield last night.

  Calling All Angels, Lenny Kravitz

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 25, 2009 in cajun, inspiration, Louisiana, lsu

 

Tags: , ,

Happy Mother’s Day

This is my Mother.  Despite popular belief that I was hatched from some quasar during a particularly spectacular Libra Dragon season, I was actually conceived and delivered the normal way by two pretty great parents.

IMG_3365

At 77, my Mother is in seriously good shape for her age.  (And, if you need confirmation, just ask her.  😉 )  She’s been through polio at 2 years old, leaving her with a paralyzed left arm, her oldest child was found to be deaf at 9 months old, she had a major brain surgery in her early ’50s that would have killed a weaker person, and she watched her loving husband of 57 years suffer extreme pain for over ten years and die an agonizing death.  She’s been rich, poor and in between, but she never lost faith nor wavered in her love of life….and of her children.

At an early age, she instilled a love of music in me that I’m eternally grateful for.  My childhood was filled with wonderful harmonies and encouragement to sing and play musical instruments.  I never did have the patience to master piano and guitar, but I was definitely given the opportunity.  The house was always filled with tuneage growing up, either from the radio in my nursery (the ’60s version of white noise) or the actual “live” music with friends on Friday nights.

There are several songs that, for me, are forever linked to my mother.

  All I Have to do is Dream, The Everly Brothers

Many times, in the car, driving around, I’d beg my mother to sing “Dream” with me.  She taught me the harmonies and it is one of my favorite and most indelible memories of my mother.

  Prisoner of Love, Billy Eckstine

A family favorite, Prisoner of Love still holds a special place in my heart.   My Godmother, her daughter, my Mother and I all have sung this song 100 times — in four part harmony.  Those times are among my favorite memories.

C C Rider, Elvis Presley

Another memory from those Friday night “jam sessions”, C C Rider seemed to be my Mother’s “riscque” song.  Must say, she sang it with conviction.

  A Good Man is Hard to Find

My Mother and Godmother actually worked out the Cajun French version of this…Et Bon Homme et Deur a Trouvier.  I mastered both versions before my 13th birthday.  To this day, it is Mr. D’s favorite song.

  Whole Lotta Shakin’, Jerry Lee Lewis

My Mother adores piano and piano players.  Since “The Killah” is from Ferriday, Louisiana, he is/was like a local god for the Cajun folks in the 50s and 60s.

I am her baby, the youngest of three.  For years, I denied my obvious resemblance and now I’ve come to realize that it’s an honor.  While she is the most aggravating person I have ever come across, she is also the most loving and endearing.  She is passionate and caring, independent and sensitive.  And, I’m sooooooo glad that she’s still here.

To my wonderful Mother and all the Mothers out there, I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing Mother’s Day with the peace that you are loved unconditionally by your children. 

And, Mamma, thanks for the music.

 

Tags: , ,

A Most Excellent Weekend…

Must say that this weekend was superb. 

On Saturday, we headed out on our maiden voyage in our new boat.  Mini-DD and Mr. D fished while I took pictures and listened to my “Boat” playlist CD on the on-board CD player (pretty cool).

img_3989

Mini-DD fishing near Dog River Bridge

 

Mr. D giving instruction

Mr. D giving instruction

 We were on the water early and the scenery was just extraordinary. 

img_3970

img_3967

img_4004

  

 

img_4014

I can get used to this. 

Today, we decided to pick up some steamed seafood from one of the local seafood houses.  It was crabs and crawfish abound….

img_4122

 img_4115

A few days ago, my friend, Pat from Cocoderie (Amy’s Dad) made me aware of an old song from Elvis’ homage to New Orleans’ King Creole.  Knowing that I’m a huge fan of ‘The King’, Pat passed along this song from the movie.

  Crawfish, Elvis Presley

I absolutely love this clip.  The street scene is so vintage New Orleans and that street basically looks the same today. 

Very cool.

I hope you all had as great a weekend as I did.

 

Tags: , ,

The Bacon Explosion…Mmmm, Bacon.

The Fruit of Life
The Fruit of Life

God Bless the caveman who figured out how to cut wild boar fat into small strips and cook it over the campfire.  Without it, we would not have the carniverous goodness that is quickly making a comeback.

One of the compatibility criteria that both Mr. D and I considered when looking for a mate was the common adoration of bacon.  I was quite concerned to find that Mr. D was a fitness freak.  However, he has one, pathetic food vice.  That, which is BACON.

Thank goodness, as I have a definite aff-FECK-shun for pork bellies.  But, even this Bacon Conessieur was taken aback on my first vacation with “the family” when we showed up for the breakfast buffet.  The equivalent of a 4-H prize hog was scarfed up in the matter of ten minutes. 

“My kind of people”, I remember thinking.

For Cajuns, bacon is revered right up there with such culinary shangra la as crawfish, onions, garlic and beer.  Through the years, we’ve enjoyed bacon-wrapped Oysters, Shrimp, Scallops, Redfish, Asparagus, Brussel Sprouts, and String Beans, among others.

Many of the specialty meat providers in South Louisiana have made “bacon-wrapped”, a staple of their offering.  Recently, bacon-wrapped boneless chicken breasts have made the “gotta get it” list.  

No doubt, some forward-thinking Cajun tried this:

turkey29020081004002557 

But nothing prepared me for the bacon rapture of the Bacon Explosion, as extolled by the NY Times.  If this is not pork per-FECK-shun, I don’t know what is.

bacon-12

YouTube has plenty of examples, but I think this one  is my favorite. 

Weeee, doggy. 

Can’t wait to break out this recipe.  But, perhaps in the true Cajun tradition, I will put a little twist to it by substituting BOUDIN for the italian sausage. 

For now, I’m off to make some BLTs for supper.

  Piggies, The Beatles

 

Tags: , ,

Media Hysteria

While it was nice having electricity and air conditioning, I couldn’t help but thinking on Monday that we might have been better off without all of the crazy media hysteria concerning Hurricane Gustav and the dastardly cesspool media of the internet throwing a 17 year old girl under the bus.

I was so incensed with Shepard Smith’s scandalous behavior in the French Quarter that I actually emailed him at Fox.  I have yet to hear about my email of protest:

Mr. Smith,

I find it appalling and a slap in the face to all Louisianaians to appear on national TV from the French Quarter broadcasting about the danger to residents, etc., adorned in an OLE MISS HAT.  Sir, you should be ashamed.

As if this wasn’t enough, Geraldo Riveria was desparately seeking drama, going batshit crazy about a man “stranded in the water”.  After a few anxious seconds, he realizes that the dude was actually on a life line, in a life jacket and trying to secure a propane tank that had come loose from high water.

See both atrocities here, for yourself:

Throughout the day, family in Louisiana and family staying here with us, all laughed about the “drama” unfolding and how the media was trying so hard to “make” a story.  Billboards were obliterated (paper flying in the wind), mass flooding had begun (a storm drain was clogged), dangerous debris was littering the roadways (two leaves in the middle of the street were shown — I am not kidding), and Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel basically cried on TV because some fishermen were electing to ride out the storm on their boat — a 42′ foot boat build for survival in high seas and tethered in port.

EVERYTHING in the media is so overblown, so taken out of context and so exploitive.  While these storms ARE killers and ARE bad and ARE destructive, the media tries to sensationalize and dramatize every single drop they can, to garner your undivided attention for as long as they possibly can.

Just remember, people, when you are watching this….temper it down about 70%.  I think the media, as a whole, is totally irresponsible.  It reminds me of Pravda in the now-defunct Soviet Union, except that the messages are controlled by capitalists who are bent on trying to sensationalize the news to scare and intimidate you.  The news media has created a generation of cynical and jaded adults who basically have no hope.  Everything is dire and drastic.  And they wonder why their ratings have plummeted and people run for the stupidity of reality shows.

I always loved the line in John Mayer’s song Waiting on the World to Change:

When you trust your television, what you get is what you got….when they own the information, well, they can bend it all they want. 

And, bend they do.  When blogging first came into being, it was a refreshing honest assessment of issues and feelings by responsible people.  Now, as I’ve seen over the last two years, people and organizations use blogs to manipulate messages, smear people from all walks of life and generally try to make untruths reality.  What happened to obeying the commandment against “bearing false witness”.  Oh, I forgot, religon has no place in the public discourse.

Well, I may be on a soapbox today, but belief is a beautiful armor…as the song goes.  It’s time for people everywhere to realize that there are radical beliefs on all sides of every issue, but most reasonable people (I like to think that’s 80% of the population) are somewhere in the middle.  I urge people to consider that there is no equivocally “right” answer.  The best progress to solving problems comes when good people compromise for the good of the whole.  It’s time for this country to hold the irresponsible main media and “blogging media” accountable for inappropriately using their “voice” to create fury and maelstorm to get your eyes on their channel to sell advertising.  That’s right folks, it all comes down to money.

  Belief, John Mayer

Is there anyone who ever remembers
changing their mind from the paint on a sign?,
is there anyone who really recalls
ever breaking rank at all
for something someone yelled real loud one time?
oh, everyone believes
in how they think it oughta be
oh, everyone believes
and they’re not going easily

belief is a beautiful armor
but makes for the heaviest sword
like punching underwater
you never can hit who you’re trying for
some lead the exhibition
and some have to know they tried
it’s the chemical weapon
for the war that’s raging on inside
oh, everyone believes
from emptiness to everything
oh, everyone believes
and no one’s going quietly

we’re never gonna win the world
we’re never gonna stop the war
we’re never gonna beat this
if belief is what we’re fighting for

we’re never gonna win the world
we’re never gonna stop the war
we’re never gonna beat this
if belief is what we’re fighting for

is there anyone you can remember
ever surrender with their life on the line?

we’re never gonna win the world
we’re never gonna stop the war
we’re never gonna beat this
if belief is what we’re fighting for

we’re never gonna win the world
we’re never gonna stop the war
we’re never gonna beat this
if belief is what we’re fighting for

what puts a hundred thousand children in the sand?
belief can, belief can
what puts a folded flag inside his mother’s hand?
belief can, belief can

 
11 Comments

Posted by on September 3, 2008 in hurricane, John Mayer, Louisiana

 

Tags: , ,

So close…

…in many ways.  At one point during the day, this was the picture.

We woke up at 6:00am to the blaring of tornado sirens.  Throughout the day, we experienced bands from Hurricane Gustav and then hours of lull.  In all, we received about 4.5 inches of rain and gusty winds of about 35 mph in Mobile.  However, we only lost electricity for about 30 seconds around noon.

Our family in Lafayette looked to be in the path of a killer, but by the time the storm reached there it had lost much of it’s punch.  They did lose electricity earlier in the day, but I expect that to be reconciled sometime tomorrow.  It appeared that across Southern Lousiana, our family fared extremely well and didn’t suffer much damage.  And, to top it off, the levees held and New Orleans fared extremely well considering what could have been.  Feeling extremely fortunate, I left to get celebratory ice cream for everyone at Sonic.

When I returned, #1 son (who’s staying with us) told me that his grandmother had called and that Mr. D’s sister’s brother-in-law and wife had been killed when a tree fell on the house they had evacuated to in Baton Rouge.  Sadly, they had evacuated to avoid this sort of danger.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to them and all of those who lost their lives and property in this storm. 

As they say, “But for the grace of God…”

  Waiting on an Angel, Ben Harper

 
8 Comments

Posted by on September 1, 2008 in hurricane, Louisiana

 

Tags: , ,