Saturday, March 29, 2008

"She getting married to oily beauhunk" 

-- Married?
-- Married.
-- Married?
-- Yeah. Married.
-- Married?
-- Married! Geez.

In New Orleans, apparently. Mazel Tov!

Update: Slightly more reliable gossip mags say there was no wedding.

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Weekly Vice 

The T-P has a tantalizing story in today's East Jeff Metro section:

Jai alai, the frenetic scoop-and-ball game once popular in some betting circles in Florida and other states, could return to southeastern Louisiana after an 80-year absence.

I'll admit it, I'm a jai alai fan. I've spent a fair number of hours in Floridian frontons, and I think it's an entertaining game. Plus, you can bet on it.

Jai alai evolved from several ball games first played in Basque country, the mountainous region of northern Spain. Players use a scoop, known as a cesta, to hurl a small rubber ball at more than 180 mph against the walls of a fronton, an enclosed arena reminiscent of an elongated racquetball court. Observers bet on the matches.

See, I toldja you could bet on it. The problem is, the immensity of the court and the "observers'" distance from the action severely diminishes one's appreciation of the true speed and lateral movement of the (spinning) ball when it's flying around the court. Resolve these problems with some innovative camera placements in the walls (and large screen monitors displaying various views of the action), and you could possibly reinvent the game like in-car cameras reinvented NASCAR, and tabletop cameras reinvented poker. Possibly.

While it's played in 23 countries, jai alai's popularity in the United States has waned in recent years. Florida has closed some facilities and Connecticut shuttered its last fronton in 2001.

Sounds like a big "money-toilet" project that's destined to fail-- perfect for South Louisiana! ... Hold on, you say jai alai was here before? What's the story on that?

The sport disappeared from Louisiana in 1928, after three tumultuous years at a fronton in Arabi. During that time, Gov. Huey Long had made nearby gambling dens on Friscoville Avenue and North Peters Street prime targets for the state militia. One of the last raids sparked a brawl outside the jai alai fronton. A St. Bernard Parish court auctioned the property in 1929 for $120,000.

Wait a second. Two years after the Great Flood in 1927, there was a fronton in Arabi that was auctioned off for $120k? Man, I would've liked to have seen the action at that place.

Despite the legal issues, [jai alai enthusiast Evan] Coleman said his group was eyeballing three possible sites for a new fronton: the New Orleans area, Tampa, Fla., and Sparks, Nev. He hopes to build a facility that would attract as many as 8,000 spectators a day from across the region.

EIGHT THOUSAND per day?! LOL! Umm, yeah right! After the first two years, even a "reinvented" jai alai wouldn't draw near that many. Try 800.

"We're going to outdraw your football team and your basketball team combined," Coleman said.

No you're not. This Coleman guy sounds crazy. How did he make his money? Is he on medication?

[Coleman's] description of the arena he would build teetered on the mythical. It would include a video arcade flush with the latest technology, VIP sections, a Basque cultural center and eventually a school for new players. The building would be powered by solar energy and act as an alternative emergency shelter during hurricanes. Tickets for matches would sell for less than $4, he said.

Ya ever laugh so hard that you can't breathe and nearly black out? That's what happened to me when I first read that 'graph. So-- how did the head of the Jefferson [Parish] Economic Development Corp. respond to Coleman's far-flung "vision"?

"That's a serious economic opportunity," [Lucien] Gunther said. "We want to find out more about it."

boobs jiggle, cesta swings


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Around the nolablogosphere 

1. We Could Be Famous:

If you read the AP's report on the ridiculous FEMA trailer deadline being floated, you get to see a little bit more context for Stacy Head's disgusting assertion that trailer residents are making a lifestyle choice:

"At what point are we going to say that in New Orleans it's not OK to live in a trailer as a lifestyle choice?" she asked. "There are many, many trailers in the non-flooded areas (where) people just would rather live there than deal with a house that they didn't put any money into for a long time before that."

Are there many, many trailers in non-flooded areas where people would just rather live than deal with a house?

Does she really think people are finding the formaldehyde exposure risks in a flimsy one-room to be preferable to a proper home?

Is she implying that poor people in her district are sitting pretty in FEMA trailers? Is she implying that her high ground constituents in FEMA trailers got a housing upgrade as a result of the storm?

Extremely out of touch, mean-spirited, ugly.

You can contact Councilmember Stacy Head here.

2. Ashley Morris: the blog:

[T]he old sidewalk on my corner had beautiful tiles inlaid into the concrete, showing the name of the street. These are the little things that let you know that you're on a street with 100+ year old homes, not some Seaside Florida bastardization of all that is Holy in New Orleans.

Well, Entergy destroyed these, and just paved it over like we live in Sharpstown.

Click over to see the photos.

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Jindal gets a seductive stipple 

I'm not afraid to say it: this stippled portrait of Jindal in today's Wall Street Journal is SEXY. Where has this side of Bobby been hiding all these years? Just look at it. Take it all in: the steady "come-hither" look, the cool half-smile, the absence of a 5 o'clock shadow (both 5am and 5pm), the trendy bent hair part... yummy! Of course, the WSJ portrait barely resembles the Jindal we actually know and love down here in Louisiana, but what does that have to do with anything? We have our very own rock star veep candidate, and he's surrounded by national buzz! May a thousand flattering stipples bloom!

Or something. Sorry, didn't mean to get so carried away, there.

Think about it. Last year around this time, Sen. Vitter endorsed Rudy, and there were some murmurings about him being on Giuliani's "short list". Now, imagine how Vitty-cent churns inside as he sees Jindal having to deflect all that growing Veep buzz. My how times change.

Anyway, unlike some recent WSJ Jindal encomiums, this piece is pretty clear-headed. It's by local writer Douglas McCollam. Here are some key excerpts I want to preserve:

Though he ran as a fiscal conservative, Mr. Jindal saw the one-time surplus as a chance to pump cash into the state's dilapidated infrastructure. To that end, in a manic one-week spending spree, Mr. Jindal doled out $300 million to help fortify crumbling levees and rebuild eroding barrier islands. He allocated more than $500 million to repair the state's roads, bridges, ports and schools. He even found tens-of-millions to seed a biomedical research facility and pay down the state's looming pension obligations.

I really like all those investments, by the way. Good work, Gov. Jindal.

... Mr. Jindal so far has climbed only the foothills – the mountains still lie ahead.

Mr. Jindal somewhat resembles another reform governor from a generation ago. Exactly 20 years ago Buddy Roemer, a Democrat who later became a Republican, brought his Harvard Business degree to the Louisiana governor's mansion, promising to "slay the dragon" and remake the state's political landscape. The "Roemer Revolution" also got off to a fast start, and he seemed destined for political stardom, rivaling his colleague, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, as the southern governor most likely to vault from a statehouse to the White House. Two years later Mr. Roemer's administration was in tatters. "I think Harvard owes that boy a refund," one legislator famously quipped near the end of Mr. Roemer's first and only term.

Wow. I was surprised to see that graph get into the WSJ. Good work, Mr. McCollam.

Update: Daniel at LJ4A points out some things in the article I overlooked, and Mike Stagg has a must-read post on Jindal's "bundling" donors.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

"I got me a [Chrysler], it's as big as a whale" 

Bergeron Chrysler Jeep has a blog, which they proudly tout in their large newspaper ads in the T-P.

If you click over and check it out, you'll see that it's very... um... futuristic.

I wonder: do other local automotive groups have openings for dealership bloggers? Hell, if it's a paid gig, I'd do that-- with pleasure. There's always lots of fun going on at a dealership, behind the scenes. Here's a sampling of excerpts from my imaginary dealership blog, which is based on 100% true experience from working at local dealerships in the 1990's.

1. "I think we'll be able to set a record on this one", the Finance Mgr whispered to me as I led my customer (an African-American fixed income disabled Vietnam veteran) into the finance office. Forty five minutes later, after the paperwork was finished, the Finance Mgr went over to the desk to high five the other managers and flex his upper-body flab, because the dealership had booked over $12k finance profit on a 72 month truck lease.

I laid low in the "Get Ready" department with the teenage towelboys , rather than face my bamboozled customer.

2. The salespeople in the back offices speculated bitterly about why "Scott", the sack of excrement non-salesman who sits around all day, gets fed all of the new car sales manager's "bones" (i.e., easy sales).

3. Conversational exchange between myself and an old timer salesman, standing by the door, as we watch a frisky newby salesman leap over the front railing to "up" (greet) some new customers that walked on to the dealership from the sidewalk:

Me: Why did you let Arturo up them? It's your turn.

Old timer: Because they're boges [i.e., "bogus", non-buyers].

Me: Oh.

A few minutes later, a family pulls up in an old stationwagon. I start to ask "What about them?", but the old timer is already by their car door, practically helping them out of their seats. His Marlboro is smoldering by my foot.

4. During the Monday Morning pep talk to the new car sales crew, the General Manager advises his crew to "buy stuff" and "get in debt" so that they will be hungrier to sell cars and earn money.

5. Over the loudspeakers a "Code Brown" alert is issued, indicating that an available African-American salesman is needed for a particular set of customers.

6. The New Car sales manager privately objects to the dealership having a Christmas tree in the showroom. I know he's Christian, so I investigate his complaint.

Me: What's the problem? It's a heathen symbol?

Mgr: That's right! It mocks the truth.

Me: Why do you think it's the truth?

Mgr: *sighs* Do you know how old Jesus was when he was crucified?

Me: 33?

Mgr: Right. And do you know the temperature at which liquid water changes form, and freezes?

Me: *stunned* But...

Mgr: Think that's just a coincidence?

7. One morning, I noticed a recent customer of mine in the service waiting room. Reluctantly, I went over and asked what was wrong. The customer said "Every time I get up to 80mph on the causeway, my engine overheats."

I nodded mournfully, struggling mightily not to say "What the hell possessed you to push a [Dodge Neon or similar] into the eighties? Do you have a death wish?"

8. A customer comes in, and has a '99 Lexus GS 400 he wants to trade in. An associate mgr (and former race car driver) pokes his head out of his office and volunteers to test drive it for the used car appraisal. He gets the keys and pulls the Lexus around the other side of the dealership, and three eager salesmen jump in. The GS 400 peels out of the dealership and a 15 minute high-speed joyride commences .

9. "I want balloons out front! Balloons on Saturdays, people!! Who is doing the blowing?" the associate New Car Mgr asks.

Howls of laughter flourish through the back cubicles, as the salesmen make snide remarks and roar with laughter. (Recently they had discovered that the assoc. mgr had starred in some low budget porn films, and was featured prominently in some bisexual "3 way" scenes. And they weren't viewed as the "good" kind of 3-ways, either.)

10. Conversational exchange between myself and a friend of the manager while driving on I-10, returning from the Baton Rouge area, after delivering a $45k luxury sedan to a customer's house:

Me: Why the F*** were you driving 130mph! Are you totally insane!?! I could barely keep up with you!

Mgr's friend: Cool it bra', it's fine.

Me: Cool it? Fine?!? You're not supposed to break those cars in like that! Can you imagine what would've happened if you wrecked or got pulled over? You're not even employed by [the dealership], you're not covered by their insurance! Does [Mgr's name] know how crazy you drive?

Mgr's friend: Me and him been knowin' each other since we wuz twelve-- he don't care. And just cuz I was doin' 130 didn't mean you had to.

Me: But you had the map to the customer's house!

Mgr's friend: So, what, you don't know how to work the fancy NAV system in da cars you sell?

[I fume in silence for the next 40 miles, while driving a responsible 90mph, which seems slow as molasses]

Me (later, finally back at the dealership, storming unannounced into the mgr's office): Why the hell did you team me up with that nutcase for the delivery!!

Sales Manager (drooling, asleep in chair, knocked up on painkillers): gugghah?

Me: Oh Christ!

Told you dealership blogging could be entertaining.



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Quotes of the weak 

"A new national conversation about race isn't necessary to end what Obama calls the 'racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years' -- because we're not stuck in such a stalemate."

-- Bill Kristol

"I would not be averse to a Fed-assisted transaction."

-- Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf

"There was no attempt to conceal this information. Members of my administration were present at the December meeting of the Joint Budget Committee, prepared and expecting to be called upon to explain details of the [$156 million] contract extension. They were never called up."

-- Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, defending the well-compensated, incompetent adminstrator of Kathleen Blanco's Road Home program. (More here and here and here. )

"[The 4,000 dead in Iraq 'milestone'] places a special burden obviously on the families, and we recognize, I think — it's a reminder of the extent to which we are blessed with families who've sacrificed as they have. The president carries the biggest burden, obviously. He's the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans, but we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm's way for the rest of us."

-- Vice President Dick Cheney, aka General "So's" Chicken(hawk)


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Wednesday, March 26, 2008


During Eric Asher's radio show today, a caller named "Dwayne" brought up a couple of intriguing details about Nagin's Stone Age dealings. I'll rephrase them as questions, since I don't know the whole story. Perhaps readers can help fill in the gaps in the comments:

How old were Nagin's sons when the Stone Age LLC was formed after Katrina? 20 and 18?

Was one of Mayor Nagin's sons arrested for credit card fraud (in another state) a while back? What exactly did he do, and how was this resolved?

Did Home Depot know that it was entering into an agreement with a company who had a member -- Nagin's son-- with a record of financial mis-dealings? If not, why not?

Asher also berated the conservative "lakeview" voters for voting for Nagin for Mayor because they couldn't hold their nose for Mitch Landrieu. I call these voters "Couhig Conservatives".

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Can't spell "history" without "story" 

Above this USA TODAY article on presidential nominees choosing "rival" vice presidents, there is an interactive graphic entitled, "Dream teams: when former rivals unite", which reviews how the Jefferson/Burr, Kennedy/Johnson and Reagan/Bush tickets were assembled. If you click the graphic, you can find USA TODAY's description of the history behind the Kennedy/Johnson ticket of 1960:

Kennedy/Johnson rivalry: "Kennedy chose Johnson, who could ensure support from the Democrats' Southern, conservative wing, whose members were suspicious of JFK."
Of note: "Johnson was reluctant to accept the number 2 job to the younger Kennedy. After JFK's assassination, LBJ served and won a term of his own."

I suppose that's one historical interpretation of Kennedy's veep "selection". Here's another (more background here).

A long time ago, back in South Tejas, my friend Medium Jim knew a counterfeiter who helped stuff Texas ballot boxes in 1960 for Kennedy/Johnson. I met him a couple of times. Very strange dude.

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Not only stupid, but profoundly unlucky 

That's quite the quinella, there, Rodney.

Ryan at the Daily Kingfish informs us that Rep. Rodney Alexander's campaign Treasurer is the alleged big-time thief from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Darn the luck! Then Ryan helpfully summarizes some of the other scandals which touched Alexander's office:

In 2006, one of [Alexander's] staffers, Theresa Mares was caught sending love letters to convicted killer Scott Peterson on Congressional stationary... His former Chief of Staff, Royal Alexander (no relation), was fingered in a sexual harassment suit in late 2006 by a former staffer in Rep. Alexander's office. Royal was later found to engage in fundraising tactics that raised eyebrows all over Louisiana in his failed quest for the Office of Attorney General that PCD documented oh, so well.

Rep. Alexander was also caught in the middle of the Mark Foley scandal when the page who broke the scandal was from his district. It came out that he and Royal worked with the House Republican leadership to bury the story prior to the 2006 elections.

As for being stupid, I think James Carville said it best when he described Alexander as "one of the stupidest politicians Louisiana has ever known." (Which is saying something.)

By the way, my inside sources say Carville is moving to New Orleans soon, and will do some distinguished political lecturing at Tulane.


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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I hate double standards 

A Fox News panel discussed the significance of Bill Richardson's facial hair, yet totally ignored Charlie Crist's new beard.


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Monday, March 24, 2008

Dueling Chinese menus 

As war loomed in February of 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell presented a set of "facts" about Iraq to the U.N.. That same month, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright presented a set of "facts" about Iraq to his congregation.

Neither set of facts is totally accurate, and at times both point in unhelpful directions. However, one "set" contains vastly more truth value than the other.

Care to guess which?

* title ref


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"Size Queens of the Stone Age" 

The above quote is merely a suggestion for a future Moldy City post title regarding the honorable C. Ray Nagin-- member of Stone Age LLC, and reputed "high maintenance size queen".

If YRHT is good for something, it's clever post titles. Let others, like Facing South, do the heavy lifting. That's not "blogging hard", that's "blogging smart".

And with the time you save, you're better able to fix a diviner's mint mojito and trip away to randy rock videos:

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Surely heaven must have spicy chicken. 

RIP, Mr. Copeland. Ultimately, you couldn't become larger than life, but no one questioned your effort.

(pink photo credit to Frolic)
I'm surprised Al Copeland's mausoleum doesn't have a glass wall showcasing his coffin. You just know it will have some bling, and perhaps a big engine on the back.

Cliff pays his respects to Copeland, and notes:

In the last few years the city has lost Al Copeland, Buddy D, Harry Lee, Tootie Montana and Austin Leslie. If you add Krauss, and Masion Blanche being closed, we are slowly becoming a city full of regular people and regular places.

Update: Dangerblond attended the funeral and has pictures.

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Vitty-cent not out of the woods yet 

In today's column at Bayou Buzz, intrepid Vitterologist Christopher Tidmore writes:

With the trial of the DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey now scheduled for April 7th, local news reports circulated the possibility throughout the weekend of whether Senator David Vitter could be forced to testify.

Not mentioned locally was that if the US Senator admitted under oath that he was guilty of solicitation, he could still be prosecuted for the crime under Federal law or a relevant state law.

Tell us more.

According to Newsweek magazine, federal prosecutors have based their case against Deborah Jeane Palfrey on a provision called the Travel Act, which prohibits use of the mail and interstate travel to promote gambling, unlawful distribution of narcotics and prostitution.
Vitter, by telephoning Palfrey over state lines could also be prosecuted under the Travel Act, according to legal experts that has consulted, putting the Senator in a similar legal position as [resigned former Governor Spitzer], and potentially silencing critics who have said there were no parallels between the cases.

The statute of limitations is 10 years for violating the Travel Act, leaving Vitter open to prosecution even today.

Perhaps I'm blinded by my unhysterical, non-nativist approach to issues like immigration, but it seems like Vitty-cent's "enormous difference", has suffered significant shrinkage.

As I said before, Vitter should have restricted himself to the local talent.

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Saturday's post featured a list of quotations which were attributed to Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Those statements were in fact made by Rev. Martin Luther King jr. YRHT apologizes for the error.

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