The Senate Majority Whip — Louisiana’s Steve Scalise — has made it official. He won’t be running for governor of Louisiana. I wrote in this column that he wouldn’t run back when Louisiana journalists were reporting the non-story that he might.
I’d like to think that every good journalist in the state knew all along that Scalise would never run for governor. But if they did, why did they report he might? It’s a drawback of journalism — journalists have to report something even when there’s not really anything to report. If you read my column, you know that as well as any journalist does.
I recently read Adley Cormier’s “A Timeline History of Lake Charles and Southwest Louisiana” — a talk he delivered to a meeting for the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Society in November, 2007. In one passage, he delivers a powerful indictment of Lake Charles’ passion for bulldozing historic commercial buildings at the earliest possible opportunity:
“They tore down the Majestic Hotel (which housed every president from Teddy Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy) to build nothing. They tore down the Paramount Theatre, a real movie palace, to build nothing. They tore down the Elks Home, the Weber Building, the Kress Building and Woolworth’s to build nothing. They tore down the Missouri Central Station; they tore down the Kansas City Southern Station. The Arcade Theatre (where Houdini amazed the locals, and where the St. Louis Symphony played to sellout crowds) caught fire and then they tore it down. The Southern Pacific Station was torched, then they tore it down. And while they were tearing down most of our visual history, they ripped up the wharves and warehouses on the lake and filled in 64 acres of lake and built 40 acres of parking lots and a marginally attractive Civic Center. And they blocked the major north south road to construct a pedestrian mall and produced a maze of one way streets to nowhere that virtually killed downtown Lake Charles.”
There is still some old commercial architecture around — most of it situated a block east and a block west of Ryan Street in the stretch running from Mill to Kirby. If you want to get a sense of the visual grandeur of the blocks of commercial buildings that once filled the downtown, drive or walk north of the intersection of Broad and Bilbo and immediately look to your left, where you’ll see the bright red brick backs of a dozen old buildings sitting together in a long majestic row.
Backing The Blue Test
I’ve often thought about how much better government would be if its members had to take some sort of test to get their positions. Surely there would be at least some improvement if governmental office holders had to meet some objective standard.
I’ve just learned to my great satisfaction that the person who replaces L.C. Chief of Police Don Dixon when he retires in January will, in fact, have to pass a test to do so. I believe the reason is that in L.C., chief of police is a Civil Service position.
As far as I can tell, each of the dozen candidates now slated to take the test has at least 20 years of law enforcement experience. That’s another thing that pleases me. Just imagine how things would change if every person who took office knew something about the nature of the job before he got it.
It was the first day of qualifying for elections in Louisiana. Apparently, anyone who runs is allowed to include a nickname in the name he wants to have put on the ballot. So after one day, Louisiana had candidates named Gorilla, Shanky, Mushy and Noonie Man. There were two candidates named Boo and no fewer than four called Coach.
Greg Hillburn, USA Today’s Louisiana politics correspondent, cast his vote for “Noonie Man” as the top name. But KATC correspondent Lanie Lee Cook chose as her favorite Floyd “Y” Knott.
I think all these candidates are taking these elections about as seriously as they should to have a good chance at winning. The only problem I can foresee is a write-in campaign for a candidate with a better name: maybe somebody like Little Lord Fauntleroy, Jo-Jo The Dog-Faced Boy or The Lemon Drop Kid.
Technology Marches On
Have you been nervous about the possibility that someone may be invading your privacy with digital technology? Well, you can ratchet your nervousness up to shear terror now that a tech team has invented the WiFi HD Waterproof Endoscopic Camera. This little device has a tiny camera about the size of the end of a fountain pen attached to a narrow cord 10 feet long. The cord can be connected to any tablet, cell phone or computer. The image picked up by the tiny camera 10 feet away will appear on the screen of the device to which the cord is connected.
People marketing this little gadget say you can use it to stick down your drain to see what’s blocking the drain. Of course, you could do that. But anyone could also put the little camera in a place where it could photograph a particular person without that person ever seeing it. He’d then have enough wire to put 10 feet of distance between himself and the little camera. And of course, he wouldn’t necessarily have to be on site while the photographing was going on.
I figure it’s only a matter of time until someone makes one of these products that has a wire that’s much longer than 10 feet.
But don’t get too jittery about it. The odds that anybody would ever use this device to photograph you on the sly are negligible. Why? Isn’t it obvious? People just don’t do that kind of thing!
So … if you need to see what’s blocking your drain, you can get your own WiFi HD Waterproof Endoscopic Camera at DEALBOSS for $40. Remember, the little camera at the end can be adjusted in eight different ways. And it can photograph underwater for up to half an hour. That should be enough time to figure out what’s blocking your drain.
Such Nice People!
Remember that truck stop a little bit east of here that has the filthiest men’s room on the face of the earth and kept a tiger in a cage for years? Well, Trey Schmaltz, assistant news director at WBRZ, reports that now that the tiger has died, the owners have put a camel in the cage.
That’s not just compassionate; it’s culturally significant. After all, the tiger is just the mascot of one Louisiana team, while the camel is the animal Louisianans most often used for transportation, farm work, companionship and food from the days of the earliest settlers until the mid-20th century. It was only after a long and bitter debate that the Louisiana Legislature chose the pelican over the camel as the state symbol. Hence, there is every reason in the world for that camel to be locked up in that cage.
Your heart just has to go out to people who attend not only to Louisiana’s drivers but also to a Louisiana camel that might otherwise be wandering the bayous, alone and forgotten.
This Issue’s Joke
I avoid clichés like the plague.
Sick Joke Of The Issue
On July 23, The New York Daily News fired half of its editorial staff. The newspaper informed the employees they were being fired by sending them an email that stated that in the future, the new trimmed-down staff would focus on “public responsibility.” (This is all true, by the way.)
“Nick Foles leads all NFL players in apparel sold” — NFL headline July 20.
“ABC adds third hour to Good Morning America” — The Hill headline, July 23.
“Three wanted for pulling on car doors in Gonzales” —WBRZ headline, July 23.