Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser has become the latest politician to promote his plans to make New Orleans’ French Quarter “family friendly.” He wants to do this by turning the French Quarter into a state park. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.
The Times-Picayune didn’t waste any time publishing an editorial that ridiculed Nungesser’s idea, which they dubbed “Billy World.” Part of the editorial read: “For all of those who accused former Mayor Mitch Landrieu of secretly trying to sanitize, homogenize and sterilize the French Quarter into a movie-set tourist attraction called Disneylandrieu, welcome to Billy World.”
As part of his super-duper state park plan, Nungesser wants to put a park ranger on every corner. (Please don’t tell him that in Chicago, on Saturday nights, police officers stand shoulder-to-shoulder all down Rush Street.) I wonder whether these hundreds of park rangers in the French Quarter will expect to be paid for this work. If they do, I can assure you they will be paid with your tax dollars. In an editorial on the matter, the Times-Picayune stated, “where the money for enhanced safety and maintenance [in the proposed French Quarter park] would come from is not clear.”
Once the French Quarter became a state park, Nungesser said, he would make it his focus to see that things were done right there. Couldn’t he make it his focus to see that things are done right there even if it weren’t a state park?
Nungesser recently floated his silly idea to new N.O. Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who gave it a definite thumbs down.
As Lt. Gov., part of Nungesser’s job is to see that state parks are financed, and, if possible, generate revenue. And he wants us to think the French Quarter could generate more money if it became a family park.
Why is Nungesser undertaking this great humanitarian mission? We know he was already super-rich before he ever ran for office. The T-P reports that Nungesser has been trying to finance state parks “by seeking sponsorships and naming rights deals to generate private investment.” Ah. Now we’re getting somewhere.
The T-P couldn’t resist a lampoon of this situation: “Wild Turkey, Jim Beam or Crown Royal would be vying for the rights to attach their names to Bourbon Street … What about the Smoothie King St. Louis Cathedral or the Mercedes-Benz Preservation Hall?”
Regardless of how much Nungesser loves money, it’s perfectly fair to ask why any sensible person would try to turn the French Quarter into a state park just months after Louisiana’s Dept. of Culture, Recreation and Tourism (which Nungesser heads) shut down several state parks due to lack of funding.
If only politicians worked to solve problems as hard they work to create them. If you — or anyone — wants to make the French Quarter a family-friendly zone, the solution is simple. Just keep your family off Bourbon Street. I don’t even understand why an adult would want to go to Bourbon Street, unless, maybe, he just gets some kind of thrill from being ripped off. But there’s certainly no reason to drag a 9- or 10-year-old through that drunken, sketchy crowd. Stay off that one street, and I think you’ll find that the French Quarter is just fine for the family.
No one has to go to a red light district for any reason. But it’s smart to realize that in large urban areas, red light districts are important not just for practical reasons, but also for cultural reasons. A rich culture is one that is full, and runs the gamut from high to low. Such a culture gives a place personality. The sanitizing of Las Vegas and Times Square have turned them into bland cultural wastelands. Their decades of fascinating history will soon be lost for good. One can recognize the gaudiness of Bourbon Street without crusading for its death by purification.
There’s This Really Dirty Thing I’ve Heard Of
Do you believe you shouldn’t air your dirty linen in public? Well, if you wanted to get that message to New Orleans, you should’ve been there on Saturday, Aug. 11, for the city’s Dirty Linen Night.
The notion of Dirty Linen Night began 15 years ago with Tracy Thomson, who owns Kabuki Hats on Royal Street. She thought the event could satirize the city’s White Linen Night and, at the same time, make money by drawing on the popularity of the more proper event.
It’s become tradition that on Dirty Linen Night, the 30 galleries in the eight-block area of Royal Street give participants dirty martinis and serve them dirty rice. Galleries also put laundry baskets full of dirty clothing outside their entrances.
The event, which took place in the 200-1000 blocks of Royal Street, was free to the public. But if you want to buy some tickets for next year’s event that will give you special privileges, you can do that at dirtylinen.org.
Here’s Your Chance!
Lots of people want to go into politics. I don’t know why they do, but I can tell that they do. If you want to go into politics, you’ll never have a better opportunity than the one I’m going to describe to you now.
First, move to the tiny Louisiana town of Palmetto: pop. 170. Why would you want to do that? No one is running for the office of chief of police of Palmetto in the upcoming fall election.
You may need to organize a write-in campaign. But with a total population of 170, how hard can that be?
In fact, given that you’re dealing with so few people, you could even hand out a complementary Milky Way to every registered voter you talk to. I’m not positive that’s legal. But hey, you’re going to be the chief of police.
Mikey O maintains a blog on the website of local radio station 92.9 The Lake. He recently reported on a truck driver who was stopped in Michigan while he was carrying 55 bags containing 2,000 pounds of red swamp crawfish — the kind we like here. Turns out every single red swamp crawfish is absolutely illegal in Michigan.
Our type of crawfish is also illegal in Canada, which is the place the truck driver was trying to get his load to.
According to the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, this 2,000-pound load was their largest “aquatic invasive species” seizure to date.
Michigan argues that red swamp crawfish erode their coasts and muscle in on the Michigan crawfish, which are an entirely different species. While people here love red swamp crawfish and boil them up continually, people in colder climes claim our crawfish are “the most widespread invasive crawfish in the world,” according to the St. Clair Shores Patch. Bad crawfish!
We know people in Michigan like to use our red swamp crawfish for bait. But — to get back to our bad boy truck driver — who wants 2,000 pounds of bait?
The truck — “a commercial hauler” — belonged to a Canadian. The driver had gone from Canada all the way down to Arkansas to get the crawfish. As for papers, when the authorities questioned him, the driver had receipts for the crawfish and not much besides. In other words, he had the papers that could prove he had obtained the crawfish but not the papers that might prove he had some good reason to obtain them.
So … why does a guy drive a Canadian truck from Canada to Arkansas to get a ton of crawfish to bring back to Canada? I have a feeling there’s a story here. I also have a feeling we’re never going to know that story. In fact, I think so little attention is going to be paid to it that it’ll never even show up in one of those books about unsolved mysteries. I hope I’m going to be able to quit trying to figure it out at some point.
When Louisiana Legislators Weren’t Lazy
I’m guessing all but the very lonely hate robocalls. In addition to hating them, many are greatly confused by them. I mean, didn’t we all sign up for Louisiana’s Do Not Call List? Why do we get even one robocall … much less the dozens that come along?
The robocall creates a unique situation. For once, the Louisiana Legislature is failing to deal with an issue not because the Legislature is lazy and gutless, but because the Legislature is absolutely powerless to do anything about it.
The reason is that those behind robocalls now use technology that is extremely difficult to stop. After all, robocalls that aren’t related to political campaigns are in violation of federal law. Yet they keep coming in.
The technology makes it happen. Let’s take one example. Those behind robocalls use Voice over Internet Protocal, or VoIP, to make recorded calls into Louisiana from out of state or outside of U.S. borders. Here’s another example —”spoofing” technology enables the caller to make a fake area code appear on the victim’s phone. The victim sees an area code that looks familiar and answers the call.
These robocalls promise you lower credit card payments even if you don’t have a credit card. They promise you an extension of a warranty for a car whose warranty has long since expired. You know how it goes.
All this reminds me of the tricks that were once used by con men who practiced mail fraud. A common practice was to use only P.O. boxes and to change boxes often. About the only way to put a scare into the smartest guys practicing mail fraud was to catch one and make an example of him.
The idea of sticking it to a major robocaller is behind Louisiana’s new Anti-Caller ID Spoofing Act. The law allows victims of robocalls to collect three times the actual damages and to recover attorney’s fees. State prosecutors can assess a fine of $10,000 in addition to any fine assessed by a judge.
It’s a start. It would probably work best if a fairly large group could file suit against a single robocaller. Of course, the big challenge is still to locate one of the wizards that’s behind a blitz of robocalls and get the bracelets on him.
The best way for an individual to fight robocalls remains a simple one: if you don’t know the number, don’t answer the call. If you should answer, hang up the instant you can tell there’s a recording on the other end.
On Aug. 2, I read every headline on CNN in search of one that was silly. All the news was serious that day. What happened? Even the ads seemed a little serious.
I never thought I would be desperate for silly news. But since I was, there was still the one place where I felt I could be sure of finding it: AOL News. It turned out to be just as silly as I wanted it to be. So here’s your news for this issue:
“Use dry ice to make a crazy cool bubble”
“Prince George lands on the best-dressed list at 5”
“Weird thing Jackie Kennedy did to all her shoes”
“Kate and Prince William partied on a rare night out”
“Racoon Stuck On Skyscraper Ledge Makes Nerve-Racking Move”
AOL gets extra points for displaying a “Recommended For You” section when I wasn’t logged in.
Well, To Hell With My Sex Life
“Could Your Sex Life Be Messing With Your Workouts?” — headline in LiveStrong, Aug. 2.