I guess I shouldn’t be publicizing another Louisiana periodical in this column. But, as we all know, the Times-Picayune has had a run of bad luck recently. It’s finally gotten some good news with the positive press its new “Louisiana Purchased” feature has received.
To make Louisiana Purchased, Times-Picayune staff compiled a database of the amounts of money donated to Louisiana politicians by 741,000 contributors. Now, I’m guessing all this info could have been found somewhere on the Internet by anyone who searched hard enough. One of the ideas behind Louisiana Purchased is that with all the contribution info in a single place, it’ll be easy to find out what politician got money from whom.
To make your search as easy as possible, the Times-Picayune has set it up so that you don’t have to know a politician’s full name. A fragment of a name should do. You can also search by donor name, city and ZIP code.
This means that, for example, you could type in “Ji” and “70601,” and find out what contributions Gov. Bobby Jindal got from central Lake Charles. You should also be able to look up any donor who’s contributed to a La. politico. Turns out Michael Bloomberg contributed to several BESE candidates.
Now why would that be? Politics is interesting. The theory behind Louisiana Purchased is that you can figure out things about politicians by knowing who’s contributed to them. Once you’ve figured something out, you can comment on Louisiana Purchased by using the hashtag #LApurchased on Twitter.
The Times-Picayune benefitted by breaking some big stories in the course of undertaking this project. For one, the newspaper compiled a list of the biggest donors in Louisiana politics. The list is called the Top 400. These 400 big dogs account for a full third of all the political contributions made in the state.
The newspaper also determined that people representing Alexandria construction magnate Bryan Bossier contributed $95,000 to Jindal in one day.
Readers can judge for themselves whether such practices are virtuous. But, as the Times-Picayune points out, the practice is not illegal. In all fairness, for politicians at the gubernatorial level (or higher), such contributions are more the rule than the exception. Now whether that’s a desirable state of affairs is, again, a matter for readers to decide for themselves.
To use the Louisiana Purchased database, get on The Google and search for the phrase “Database: Search Louisiana campaign finance contributions.”
Every time I read about Michael Caine starring in a movie, my first reaction is astonishment at the fact that he’s still alive. But even though he’s 80, he’s not afraid of South Louisiana heat. He’ll soon be participating in a film shooting in New Orleans. Since the shot won’t begin until the Spring, you know it’ll be hot.
In fact, I learned, Caine’s already been in one film shot in New Orleans — Now You See Me.
In this new project, Caine will star with Samuel L. Jackson in the movie Harry and the Butler. Jackson is almost an old hand in New Orleans filmmaking, having already performed for Quentin Tarentino’s Django Unchained and Spike Lee’s Oldboy (the latter of which hasn’t been released yet).
In Harry and the Butler, Jackson will play a former master jazz musician who’s fallen on hard times and become homeless. After he gets a large inheritance, he decides to hire a struggling butler to serve him. Enter Caine.
It’s no surprise people are calling N.O. Hollywood South. The big hit Ender’s Game was shot there. Stars who will show up to work in the city in coming months include Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum (for 22 Jump Street); Will Smith (for Focus); Ryan Reynolds (for Selfless); and Bruce Willis (for The Prince).
The Louisiana Poetry News
A recent email from a Lafayette organization invites “all female-identified poets to compete in the 2014 Women of the World Poetry Slam qualifier to represent the Lafayette Poetry Committee in the Women of the World Poetry Slam in Austin, TX!”
The invitation ended with the sentence “Thank you very much for you’re support.” (In the email, there was no period at the end. For this column, I added one for the hell of it.)
An email from the very same sender arrived the very next day. In requesting that the recipient vote for a certain person for “Poet of the Year,” the sender wrote, “When you have submitted you’re vote Invite you’re family & friends to do the same.” I’ve quoted that verbatim.
These word’s I’ve quoted sound’s like those line’s in one of those love song’s. That tells you right they’re your dealing with reel poetry hear. I wonder what kind of poem’s these female-identified poet’s write and what their like. I also wonder which females identified them (the poet’s, I mean). Reckon what it pay’s to be a gindure identifier. May be you gotta be a poet to know that. Or at least you gotta serve on the committee.
It must be getting close to Christmas because yours truly has started getting a catalog a day in the mail. One titled Signals promoted a T-shirt that reads:
LET’S EAT GRANDMA.
LET’S EAT, GRANDMA.
COMMAS SAVE LIVES.
They Want To Do What To The Halls?
Walk through Books-A-Million or Walgreens or, I guess, just about any big store in the Lake Area, and you’ll wonder how anything more could possibly be done to market Duck Dynasty accessories and knock-offs.
But more is being done. For instance, there will be a Duck Dynasty Christmas CD. I’m not pulling your Polaroid about this. As cynical as I am, I never saw it coming.
If you want to hear the Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas CD, you can do so — and right now. I read that one edition comes with a 64-page booklet. It’s impressive that some group of people managed to cover the subject in 64 pages.
“Duck the Halls.” You’ve got to admit that’s witty. Maybe that explains why the show’s so popular. I mean, you wouldn’t really expect to find wit in rural north Louisiana, would you?
You think this stuff is selling? A Nov. 4 Google search for the phrase “Duck the Halls” returned 11,100,000 hits.
“Camouflage and Christmas Lights” — the title of a song written by somebody named Reed Robinson — probably says about all there is to say about this CD, which appeared at just the right time to allow for two full months of marketing.
Adventures Of The Defender Of The Realm
Louisiana has no monopoly on kooky, vocal eccentrics. If there’s any need to be reminded of that, the case of a Tennessee lawyer who’s started calling himself “Captain Justice” should do the trick. It just makes the story funnier to know the attorney’s name is Drew Justice.
Tennessee assistant D.A. Tammy Rettig filed a motion in an effort to stop Justice from calling prosecutors “the government” in court.
Wrote Rettig: “The State has noticed in the past few years that it has become commonplace during trials for attorneys for defendants, and especially Mr. Justice, to refer to State’s attorneys as ‘the Government.’ The State believes that such a reference is used in a derogatory way and is meant to make the State’s attorney seem oppressive and to inflame the jury.”
Justice apparently saw the whole thing as an opportunity to act out and make some funnies in the process.
He wrote that, in fact, he should be called “Captain Justice,” “Defender of the Innocent” or “Guardian of the Realm.” Whatever client he has should be called either “Mister,” “the Citizen Accused” or “that innocent man.” And he added that instead of “the defense,” the term “the Resistance” should be used.
As you might expect, the state’s prosecutors weren’t overly pleased by Justice’s response. In this unintentionally humorous bit of understatement, one said, “We’re a little disappointed at the response that talked about ‘Captain Justice, Defender of the Realm.’ From my perspective, it seemed a little bit — I don’t know what the right word would be.”
Prosecutor, I think the word you are groping for there is “cuckoo.” I also think, though, that the real problem might be you are trying to think of two words, and those would be “clown shoes.”
As I read this story, I wondered whether Justice was at all concerned about job security. (In other words, did he feel the Bar might not exactly be crazy about the Defender of the Realm thing?) But the judge ruling on the prosecution’s motion won’t be troubling Justice. He ruled there was nothing illegal about calling the prosecution “the government.”
Act loopy enough in public and you will get attention. When I read this story, it had managed to make its way to the No. 2 slot in Google’s National news section.
Tweet Of The Issue
Michelle Goldberg @michelleinbklyn15m
Yes, if we are sadists who hate the young. RT @BrookingsEd NYT Room for Debate: Should High School Last Six Years?
“American Schools Are Failing Nonconformist Kids” — headline in The New Republic, Nov. 6.
I Wrote Something Bad For A Good Reason
Sometimes I don’t have room to get an item into an edition of Up Front, but the thing is so good I just can’t let it go. That was the case with a recent quotation of Director of Intelligence James Clapper reported by NBC.
The intro to the story read: “Intelligence chief Clapper says U.S. doesn’t spy on anyone ‘except for valid foreign intelligence purposes’ and doesn’t break the law.”
That got me thinking. Eventually, I was inspired to make a few declarations of my own. Here they are:
If at any time in the past I have done any cruel or unkind or hurtful thing to any person, I have not done this thing except for a really, really, really, REALLY good reason. I mean it. Also, if at any time in the past I have done anything to any person that broke the law I promise that whatever I did did not break the law.
If you have any questions, direct them to the Office of Don’t Look At Me.
Person In The News
In a recent press conference, Lagniappe magazine editor Brad Goins announced that he would resign from his position at the end of the year in order to join the Rat Pack.
“I want to go hang with Frank and Dino and Sammy,” said Goins. “I want to chill with hep cats like Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford. I want to drink beer on ice and smoke cigarettes. I want to wear cardigans. I want to have dinner with mobsters. I want to be interviewed by Mike Douglas and sing duets with Vicki Lawrence on TV. I want to be introduced to Angie Dickinson by a craps dealer. It’s time.
“I figure some of the Rat Packers are getting a little older now and are cutting back on the number of their performances. I think I can take up the slack and inject some energy into the scene.
“You can help promote my venture into Vegas by telling your friends to ‘Fly with Go-Go!’ It’s best the swingin’ daddyos and laddyos in Vegas hear about my arrival before it takes place. I don’t want to harsh the mellow of the scene by taking it by surprise.
“Well, I think it’s going to rain. I’m scramsville, Charley. Time to hit the road to dreamland.”