Category Archives: Lagniappe

A Checkpoint For The Fringe NOLA Crowd

Laura McKnight's stomping grounds

NOTE: I incorrectly labeled Laura McKnight’s post on the Hubig’s Pies fire as her Cajun Tomato writing debut. It was not. I glanced through my archives and neglected this post that originally ran March 20, 2011. When I switched host servers earlier this year the link to this Checkpoint Charlie’s ode was broken, and the post disappeared from the site. Here it is again in all its glory.

By Laura McKnight
Cajun Tomato Correspondent

NEW ORLEANS – As I scribble the notes for this, my heart is working overtime trying to pump greasy beef through my veins. The Cajun Burger from my Laundromat is delicious, but loaded with grease. It’s the kind of grease that trickles out of the meat patty with each bite and dribbles onto jean shorts, staining them.

At this Laundromat, which also happens to be a bar, I could probably just take my shorts off, throw them in the nearest washing machine and chill in my panties with few stares, much less objections. One of my college professors told me he spent part of a rainy Mardi Gras here, buck naked, waiting for clothes to dry.

Stains aside, that burger did nothing good for my physical constitution. Likewise, spending regular laundry sessions at this place, known as Checkpoint Charlie’s, is likely not advisable for healthy living. But it’s fun and my clothes need washing, so I come here anyway. That’s how we roll here in South Louisiana.

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Grieving Pies I Never Ate: Reflections On The Fiery Loss Of Hubig’s Pies

Smoke yo sorrows away!

NOTE: It’s an exciting day on this site. The Olympics have started … I mean, my friend Laura McKnight penned her first piece for this site, and it’s a good one. Laura wrote about New Orleans institution Hubig’s Pies burning down in the early morning hours on Friday near her house. She also provided photos. Talented lady, that Laura McKnight.

I’m a pretty big fan of most South Louisiana specialties – crawfish, Abita beer, Zapp’s potato chips, king cake, Bourgeois beef jerky, etc., etc. – but there are a few things that make me feel like a traitor to my roots: I rather my coffee without chicory, I’m ambivalent about oysters, and I’m pretty sure I have never in my life eaten a sugar-glazed Hubig’s Pie.

That’s right. I have never eaten a Hubig’s Pie, not even with the factory sitting on the next block from my house. I walk past that factory almost every day, often multiple times a day, sometimes catching a whiff of fried sweetness in the air, and I have not tasted one. They just never tempted me, not even with the happy little baker man smiling at me from the front of the bags.

So I don’t even know if I like Hubig’s Pies. But I like the idea of Hubig’s Pies. I dig the happy retro logo, I dig the fried-ness, and I really like living on a block nestled between a cheerful pie factory and the Lost Love Lounge. There’s a metaphor for my life somewhere in that.

A little background for the unfamiliar, and some would say unfortunate: Hubig’s is one of those uniquely New Orleans/South Louisiana icons like K&B, Mr. Bingle, the Special Man on the Frankie and Johnny’s commercials. Hubig’s history in New Orleans goes back to 1921, the factory on Dauphine Street to 1924. Flappers were eating these pies while doing the Charleston.

And like anything uniquely New Orleans, especially anything retro that can be screen-printed onto a T-shirt or made into a group Mardi Gras costume, Hubig’s has a fiercely loyal following. I mean diehard fierce, as in this fire at the pie factory is nothing short of a catastrophe.

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Goodbye, Girls: A Jersey Boy Picks Their Best Songs

Christopher Owens and his dirty hair

Today’s both a momentous and sad day. My friend Lloyd is making his blog debut, an event I never thought I would see. And, of course, there’s the news about Girls. Take it away, Lloyd!

Leave it to Girls to break your heart on a Monday morning.

Girls frontman and chief songwriter Christopher Owens announced today on Twitter that he’s leaving the band.

Dear all, This may come as a surprise to many & has been an issue of much thought for me. My decision was not easy to make. I am leaving Girls. My reasons at this time are personal. I need to do this in order to progress. I will continue to write & record music. More will be announced soon. I thank you all for everything. Sincerely–Christopher

Girls leaves behind two stellar albums, 2011’s Father, Son and Holy Ghost and 2009’s Album as well as 2010’s Broken Dreams Club EP.

And as one should do at the end of every great relationship, it’s time to look back at the Top 5 – how it started, where it got great, when it got weird, and how we said goodbye.

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A $1 For The New York Times Online: Evaluating My Role As a Media Consumer

Today's promotion

The past month or so I considered buying a online subscription to the New York Times, and the wealth of information it provides. But I postponed doing so, if I were being honest, because I balked at paying for information, much of which, I could have received elsewhere at no cost.

Today I pulled the trigger. The reason? I saw a promotion across the top of the front page that said, 4 Weeks for 99 cents. Yes, 99 cents for a month’s worth of content from this country’s preeminent news source – unless you consider sites like TMZ or Perez Hilton news sources. The price rises to $3.75 per week, or $15 per month, once the first month ends. Overall, a bargain in my book.

Purchasing a New York Times subscription or a subscription to the New Yorker or any number of magazines I read online for free has been something I’ve been thinking about as part of a larger question. That question is, what responsibility do I have as a consumer to support news organizations or entertainers whose information/art plays a large role in forming my worldview?

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NOLA Times-Picayune’s Prison Piece Stirs Anger, Shame

Bobby Jindal: The Prison President?

As a person with familial ties to North Carolina, I am embarrassed for the state that it passed Amendment One last week. I am disgusted 6 out of every 10 voters there would cling to their bigotry, as if their actions were somehow noble or Biblical in basis. The state is more than tobacco-chewing rednecks slobbering over NASCAR drivers making left turns but outsiders wouldn’t know this based on their anti-gay marriage stance.

I come from a pretty backwoods, er backswamp, place myself. Lest I forget this, an article in Sunday’s New Orleans Times-Picayune reminded me in bold letters.

“Louisiana is the world’s prison capital,” the article’s headline and first sentence read. What came afterward made me curse under my breath and out loud, shake my head vigorously, and decry my home state’s fucked up way of treating its people — both criminals and non-criminals. (NOTE: The state’s court system is no better, as I detailed last April.)

If anyone wondered whether Louisiana were a third world country masquerading as a state in the first world they only need to read Cindy Chang’s piece to put aside their doubts. She did an excellent job reporting and writing the piece and the graphics that accompany it are fantastic too.

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LSU Loss Brings Odd Sense of Closure, Relief: A Fan’s Take

NOTE: My good friend and former co-conspirator Jordy Pujol wrote this piece about life as an LSU football fan during the Jordan Jefferson/Jarrett Lee error. The future, thanfully, looks brighter. You will enjoy this piece. I know I did.

The dust has settled.

A malevolent whirlwind of images and media spin and emotions has mercifully come to a stop. We, as battle-tested Tiger fans, survey the damage. Crimson confetti adorns the once hallowed ground of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Bama fans, in their callow, unsophisticated glory, taunt us with cries of “ROLL TIDE!!!,” but we hear and feel nothing. There is only sadness, only regret, only a modicum of pride still wheezing and panting and insecurely hissing, “congrats on the season split!”

We are a beaten people.

Our Glorious Leader, Les Miles, harbinger of chagrin, waxes philosophical from the mountaintop. Jarrett Lee could not sustain the pass rush, he says. We disagree and accuse him of high treachery, but in the end we forgive him like always. He is the innocent fool, blessed and cursed to win in unprecedented numbers while simultaneously being denounced by most of his followers.

His gameplans confuse and infuriate us, yet we accept them because of the legendary Luck of the Hatter. We remember Arizona State ’05, Notre Dame ’07, Florida ’07, Arkansas ’09, Tennessee ’10, Florida ’10, Alabama ’10, and Alabama ’11 (Part 1). This diminishes the sting of Georgia ’05, Kentucky ’07, Ole Miss ’09, and Alabama ’11 (Part 2).

With the images of the BCS National Championship burned into the backs of our eyelids in 1080p High Definition, we surprisingly breathe a collective sigh of relief. Bama fans won’t get it. Florida fans couldn’t understand it. Ole Miss fans wish they had a similar problem. We are relieved to be rid of a unique situation that has divided and conquered a fanbase.

Here’s where it gets weird.

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OHHHH NOOOOOOO!!!!: A Q&A With Journalist Laura McKnight

Laura McKnight (right) and Janelle Monae look-a-like at Voodoo Fest.

Earlier this week, my friend and Cajun Tomato contributor Laura McKnight wrote a piece about the highlights and lowlights of her Jazz Fest experience.

Laura, a former coworker of mine on the bayou, covered the festival for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of covering a festival, and whether it would be more or less fun than attending the festival as a fan. With this in mind, I asked her to participate in a Q&A via email about separating Laura, The Music Fan from Laura, The Budding Music Journalist.

Laura was kind enough to oblige my request. Below are her answers to my admittedly silly questions. Merci beaucoup, Laura!

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Strange Bedfellows: Social Media and Journalism

I, like many people in their mid-20’s, am addicted to Facebook and Twitter, using the sites daily for entertainment, to access information, and stay in touch with friends.

I view Facebook and Twitter in different lights. Facebook is the site I visit to see pictures of a friend’s party or learn about their day. Twitter is the site I visit to learn about the world around me from strangers (i.e., newsmakers and news gatherers.)

My longstanding perceptions and biases surrounding the two sites are starting to change slightly as more news organizations and personalities shift focus to posting updates on Facebook. Before many focused most of their energy on distributing links and brief analysis on Twitter, which allows users to post 140 characters at a time.

The concept of how social media can benefit journalism is one I am keenly interested in because a) I am a journalist by trade, b) I view traditional journalism as a sinking ship, and c) As I mentioned earlier, I am addicted to social media.

Social media is relatively new and evolving every minute. Print journalism is centuries old and reluctant to change, even in the face of extinction. Strange bedfellows, right?

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This Is Not For The Cajun Tomato: Blog Ethics Thoughts

Follow me on Twitter @RayLegend or like me on Facebook at The CajunTomato.

From time to time, I blog about people I know and conversations I have had with them. I don’t consider this blog a journal, but occasionally it touches upon aspects of my daily life.

With that in mind, I was talking with a friend the other day when he told me something in confidence. This is not for The Cajun Tomato, he started the story. That made us both laugh. I had not considered anything in our conversation blog fodder, much less the most intimate details.

What he told me was certainly not something I would consider writing about. But his blog-referencing comment brought up a few interesting questions in my head.

Where does one draw the line in terms of what they blog or put on the Internet? Does that line change when it involves friends or is it across the board? Also, should you ask friends if you are going to blog about something that could be potentially embarrassing to them? (What you might not find embarrassing they might find so yada yada yada.)

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Job Interview Brings Back Memories of Killer Mom

I am preparing to interview this afternoon for a reporter vacancy at a mid-sized daily newspaper in the Portland suburbs.

As I look at my portfolio and my clips from four years working full-time for the Daily Comet and Houma Courier newspapers, I am reminded of a mother and her two children whose tragic tale has had a major impact on my life.

It was a morning not unlike this one on Aug. 20, 2007, when I got a tip that there was a swarm of police on St. Anthony Street in Mathews, La. I asked Lafourche Sheriff’s spokesman Larry Weidel what was going on. His response: “Just get here. It’s bad.”

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