Wallethub just came out with a list of the country’s worst state economies. Louisiana did not finish at the bottom of the list. That honor went to West Virginia — the state that usually beats us to the bottom, darn it. We did manage to log the second weakest state economy in the country.
But for once, the Up Fronter doesn’t want to talk about how poorly Louisiana fared on a list. No; I’d rather talk about an extremely positive point found in this Wallethub study.
Louisiana wound up in a three-way tie with Texas and Washington for most per capita exports in a state.
Now, what do Louisiana, Texas and Washington have in common. Did you guess ports? I think you’re right. Ports, ports, ports; and some of them deep water.
Natural gas and liquified natural gas have been lifesavers for Louisiana’s economy. But a central component of Lake Charles’ chunk of that natural gas venture is its ability to load LNG onto oversized boats.
As the American Press has reported, 3rd District U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins got an additional $10 million of federal funding for the dredging of Lake Charles’ deep water channel. That brings the total up to $32 million. A total of $40 million is needed. We have to get the rest one way or another. Believe me when I tell you the near future of Lake Charles hinges on that $8 million.
Some Things Change
The May, 2017, issue of the Kinfolks periodical published by the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Society included several pages from the City Directory of Lake Charles for 1912. Would you believe that way back then, Lake Charles had three general interest book or periodical stores and all were within two blocks of each other on Ryan Street? The three bookstores of 1912 were:
• Gunn’s Bookstore, 910 Ryan
• Irvine & Irvine, 725 Ryan
• Harrop’s, 717 Ryan.
Imagine having three different bookstores, all within easy walking distance of each other; all downtown.
Of course, the population of Lake Charles was much smaller in 1912 than it is today. You’ve got to remember that those people had never seen a Books-A-Million, so they had no idea what they were missing.
Well, How Come?
I think I have a fair-to-middlin’ understanding of politics. And I knew for years that John Kennedy kept poppin’ his buttons because he was so eager to run for something. But I admit it never occurred to me that Kennedy would wind up in Washington, D.C.
However, I should have known that if he did wind up there, he would do great things. And he’s gotten a good start on that.
On June 6, U.S. Senators were questioning controversial U.S. Sec. of Educ. Betsy DeVos on a range of education-related topics. The topic of school choice in rural areas seemed to be of particular interest to the media.
Cue Sen. John Kennedy. Here’s what he said to DeVos: “Now, I can go down to my overpriced Capitol Hill grocery this afternoon and choose among about six different types of mayonnaise. How come I can’t do that for my kid?”
Well, how come? I don’t know. But I do now know that Kennedy places a great stock in shopping for mayonnaise. If you’re worried about the price of food, senator, let me give you a little tip. There are three Dollar General Stores in Capitol Heights. I looked it up.
And senator, remember — don’t leave the knife in the jar after you finish making your headcheese poboy.
Quit Pretending To Work!
This year’s Legislation has been the most do-nothing Legislation I’ve seen in my 15 years in SWLA. So it makes perfect sense that on June 2, at 9 am, The Times-Picayune’s Julie O’Donoghue Tweeted this:
“Louisiana House will be working through lunch with hopes of letting people out in time for the baseball game at 2:30.”
Five days later — according to a Tweet by The Advocate’s Elizabeth Crisp — La. House Speaker Barras had the nerve to note that the House is “really ahead of schedule.”
Ahead of schedule on what? That’s like me saying I’m “really ahead of schedule” on watching Wrong Turn 5 and drinking my third shot of single malt.
The next day, at 9:30 am, Crisp Tweeted that “The House video feed right now is two blank screens.” Maybe there was a baseball game going on. At 9:30 am.
Lookit, in 2017, these state reps and senators haven’t worked hard on anything — not even on convincing the public they’re working when they aren’t. In particular, they sat back and registered an epic fail on bridging the state’s $400 budget gap. $400 million? That’s paltry in comparison to what’s coming up.
Why sit there in the House and wring your hands because you’re so worried about being late for the ball game? Nobody’s buying what you’re selling. You aren’t working! If you’re worried about getting a parking space at the ball park, get up and go. Believe me, no one’s going to miss you.
Even some of the legislators admit how little they’ve done this time. “It’s a very hard thing to watch,” state Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, told The Times-Picayune. “It’s hard to watch Louisiana fall on its face.” And Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Central, said, “We still, at the end of this session, do not know what we are doing.”
Need something new to worry about? These are the very same people who will be expected to fill a $1.7-billion state budget gap in 2018. Honey, hush!
‘Vile, Stupid And Repulsive Films’
The New Orleans Museum of Art will screen a series of John Waters movies on Friday evenings in July and August. Movies start at 7 pm. The schedule breaks down like this:
• July 21: Pink Flamingos (1972)
• July 28: Polyester (1981)
• Aug. 4: Hairspray (1988)
• Aug. 11: Cry Baby (1990)
• Aug. 18: Pecker (1998).
That’s not quite the selection I would have picked. Instead of Hairspray and Cry Baby, I would have thrown in Desperate Living (1978) and Cecil B. Demented (2000). Be that as it may, you could certainly do a lot worse with your Friday night than watching Polyester on the big screen.
Why should you go to N.O. to watch these when you can probably get most of them on Netflix? Well, of course, there’s the pleasure of seeing them on the big screen. (And when are you ever going to see movies like these in a theater again?) But probably, a bigger draw is the exhibit of Waters’ photography that accompanies the showing of the films.
As part of its promotion of this event, NOMA published a reproduction of the original poster for the always-controversial Pink Flamingos. In Norman Mailer-style, Waters liked to use negative reviews to promote his work. Thus, the first blurb on the poster is this bold comment from Daily Variety: “One of the most vile, stupid and repulsive films ever made.” Well, in all fairness, the movie is about two families competing to see which one can exhibit the worst taste.
‘Touch A Button. Things Happen.’
A few days ago, I was somewhere on the internet when I ran across these words: “MST3K season 11 on Netflix.” If you don’t know what that means, you better figure it out fast if you want to be with it, daddy-o.
As all hep cats know, MST3K stands for Mystery Science Theater 3000. For years, funnyman Joel Hodgson and his two smart-aleck robots Tom Servo and Crow sat alone in a theater and made wise cracks about whatever truly awful low-budget movie was being screened in front of them.
The MST crew was especially proud of their “discovery” of Coleman Francis, whose three great works of atrocious cinema are The Skydivers (1963), Red Zone Cuba (1966) and The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961). That last film, which has a voice-over running through its entirety, routinely finishes high on lists of the Top 100 worst films. It’s the source of some of my favorite cinematic lines: “Flag on the moon! How did it get there?” “Touch a button. Things happen.”
Hodgson got the idea for the MST show from the old Elton John song “I’ve Seen That Movie, Too.” When the show began as a late-night entry for TV station KTMA in Minneapolis, all the dialogue of the man and robot was improvised. When the show was picked up by Comedy Central, that network required scripts be written before the filming of each episode. After 8 years at CC, the show moved to the Syfy channel, which insisted that network executives sign off on each script. As a result, some of the raunchier language dropped out. But the show was still a blast.
The last MST3K show aired in 1999. By the time their run was over, the crew had ridiculed a total of 200 bad movies in front of the camera.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign raised $5.5 million, MST3K resumed filming. They now have 13 new episodes, which are airing on Netflix.
Least Intriguing News Feed Ad Ever
“Hoss Cartwright Bonanza Secrets Revealed”
“Hairspray can shatters windshield” — KPLC-TV, May 29
“What’s new on Netflix in June?” — CNN, May 29
“Kim Kardashian West eats salad every single day” — GMX lead headline, May 30
“BREAKING George and Amal Clooney have had their twins, a girl and a boy called Ella and Alexander, spokesman says.” — BBC News, June 6
“Pennsylvania woman vacationing in Maryland reunited with her wedding band that she lost on beach.” — Associated Press, June 7
“’Bachelor in Paradise’ cast talks about scandal” — CNN, June 15.