Category Archives: World Affairs

Haiku poetry: “Mitt’s a pacifist”

Mitt’s a pacifist
What a hilarious joke
Funny but not true

Hawks don’t become doves
Not in one debate, at least
That’s some magic trick

Mitt’s no magician
He’s a damn used car salesman
Selling past failures

History will repeat
Mitt will answer the hawks’ cry
I want an answer

Why $2 trillion more
On our military spending
Talk does not come cheap?

TMZ Pronounces “Cajun Justice” Dead

Disgraced King Vernon Bourgeois

TMZ is the Grim Reaper of gossip sites, having broken news of the deaths of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Heath Ledger. On Monday, the site reported the (timely) demise of the A&E reality show “Cajun Justice.” When TMZ reports you’re dead, you’re dead. However, that last death announcement should come with an asterisk. Media reports out of south Louisiana have said for months that Terrebonne Parish’s new sheriff, Jerry Larpenter, would not let his deputies participate in the show, once he took office. Thus, TMZ’s report comes as no surprise.

Former Sheriff Vernon Bourgeois’ lasting legacy will be inspiring TMZ to take a crap on the bloated carcass of his agency’s “reality” show. That and mismanaging the department’s money to the point Larpenter had to lay off deputies to make up for Bourgeois’ fiscally irresponsible behavior. Vernon Bourgeois, take a bow. You’re king no more. Love live the greedy, starry-eyed, simple-minded Cajun sheriff king!

I wrote about my misgivings with “Cajun Justice” months ago. Nothing’s changed. I only saw bits and pieces of episodes, but what I observed made me hang my head in shame. Bourgeois should have resigned for reasons explained here but I am relieved knowing he can no longer embarrass his agency, his culture, or himself with a second season of this garbage.

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Poetry: “If The Idea Of God Disappears”

NOTE: I started this Tuesday during lunch and finished it this morning.

If the idea of god disappears
Who will be there to answer our prayers,
To ease our fears or count our sins
Does this mean the world will never end
Will we look within, accepting responsibility
For our flaws and simple-minded hostilities
Or will we treat each other like shit
And wash our hands clean of all it means to be human
I don’t want to live forever, give me 70 years
Yeah, 70’ll provide enough laughter and tears
But I don’t want to think much about death either
There’s nothing sexy about the Grim Reaper
I’m looking east, toward the sun and the city
Away from the west and its gray misery
Time to wipe away fear and play my chips
As skaterbros say, “Fuck it dude, life’s a risk”

New Higher Ed Cuts Prove Gov. Bobby Jindal Failed Louisiana’s Young Adults

Jindal pretends to care

Bobby Jindal, Veep candidate.

Four of the grossest words in the English language.

I remember when Jindal ran for governor of Louisiana he pledged to give the state’s young adults a reason to stay. It sounded too good to be true then, like electioneering pipe dreams. Now, it strikes me as a joke where the punchline is the listener getting punched in the gut. (NOTE: I posted Jindal’s campaign video below.)

Today I read a report that the state had slashed $66 million from its university system. Among the universities forced to absorb millions in cuts was my alma mater, Nicholls State University. This, sadly, is nothing new during Jindal’s reign. Louisiana has cut its university system five times since 2008, slashing $420 million from higher education.

I repeat: $420 million from higher education!!!

Continue reading

@Sweden: An Unpredictable, Off The Cuff Twitter Experiment Worth Following

I’ll be honest: I know almost nothing about Sweden except their soccer team’s jerseys are blue and yellow, the insanely popular Girl with the Dragon Tattoo book originated there, and their citizens rule at crafting pop earworms (i.e., Robyn, Peter Bjorn & John, Icona Pop, etc.). Among the items I know nothing about, regrettably, is a binge-drinking Swede’s perspective. But I am learning from the comforts of my laptop/cell phone this week.

I first heard about @Sweden from my former roommate/unpaid social media adviser Scottie the Genius several weeks earlier. The Pride of Newberg, Ore., repeatedly informed me I needed to follow Sweden’s Twitter. “It’s amazing,” Scott said, unable to hide his mischievous glee.

Sweden’s Twitter account is a tourism bureau vehicle to promote the country to yokels like me who know next to zilch about it. A different Swede manages the account each week. This leads to ridiculous tweets like the one I posted from the current handler, as well as offensive ones like a string of anti-Semitic tweets from a previous user. You take the good with the bad and you get Sweden, according to the country’s tourism bureau.

Continue reading

On The Olympic Catwalk, A Nationalistic Furor Erupts

Sportswear for France's 1 percent?

In fewer than two weeks, American Olympians will parade through the Olympic Stadium in London in Ralph Lauren-designed red, white, and blue uniforms made in China. That communists made our Olympic uniforms bunched up several American politicians’ knickers the past few weeks. A patriotic nation like America should send its warriors, I mean athletes, into battle in garb made by the hands of their countrymen, the politicians shouted, especially when said patriotic nation has 8 percent unemployment.

I am conflicted. One part of me thinks this whole made in America argument is ludicrous. China is my official outfitter five days per week. The other two days I am a nudist. TMI? NAH. The other part of me questions why Bravo or some other reality whore network didn’t create a show where contestants competed to make American Olympic uniforms out of silly string, whip cream, and duct tape. It’s un-American not to turn everything into a reality TV famewhore event – especially when the alternative is a fashion atrocity that recalls sportswear for France’s 1 percenters.

America’s uproar about its Olympics jerseys mirrors other countries, such as Spain, that outsourced their Olympic uniform design or manufacturing. You see? America isn’t even unique when it comes to bitching about Olympic uniforms. I can’t wait for HBO’s The Newsroom to inject a 10-minute rant about this into one of its future episodes.

Continue reading

Returning To The Bathtub: How My Opinion On Beasts Of The Southern Wild Changed

Beasts now showing at Cinema 21 in Portland

WARNING: Spoilers below. You should see the movie before reading unless, that is, you love my writing so much you can’t help yourself. If that’s the case then feel free to spoil your dinner. ;)

Let me just get this out of the way: I still don’t follow the auruchs, the icebergs collapsing, or any of the fantasia elements that happen in Beasts of the Southern Wild. I know they offer a parallel to what’s happening in the Bathtub and in the life of young Hushpuppy. My friend Rob did a great job explaining these parallels in the comments section after my first post about the movie, and I encourage you to read his thoughts.

On my second viewing of Beasts of the Southern Wild, much like my first, I found myself largely uninterested in the deeper meanings of the mythical elements at play. This time though they didn’t dampen my affection for the film. I focused exclusively on what I adored about the film – Hushpuppy’s complex relationship with her father, the lush south Louisiana landscape, the joy the characters project, etc. – and put aside my previous concerns. Also important: The sky-high expectations I had the first time I saw the film were more realistic this time around.

It hit me while watching Beasts of the Southern Wild for the second time in five days that I will need to see it a third time, and possibly even a fourth or fifth time, while it’s in the theaters. It is my culture, my people, my bayous depicted on that screen. Thus, I am deeply moved and filled with a sense of pride that is hard to explain to people not born in the Bathtub. So revelatory was my second viewing of Beasts of the Southern Wild that I considered seeing it a second time Friday night, but abandoned the idea because the day’s first viewing overwhelmed me.

Continue reading

“Frank’s Got A Flaming, New Ginger Beard”

The Gingerbeard Man

NOTE: This is a piece about one of the most mysterious beards in recent memory. I am one to welcome fake gingers into the tribe (see: Florence Welch). But this situation has left me not knowing whether to include Frank in the ginger family or seek to have him prosecuted for wrongly impersonating a ginger. Don’t worry, Frank. I’m in Portland. You’re in Austin. It’s hard to prosecute you for crimes against gingers when we’re so far apart.

Continue reading