Before long, the entire wall space of the old Rikenjaks building will be covered by works by local artists. That’s an especially big deal when you consider that none of the recent tenants have used the entire space of the Rikenjaks building; but the new tenant — the popular restaurant Sloppy Tacos — will. Once the new venue is open, not only will there be lots of art, but the interior of the building as a whole should look quite a bit different.
This project will result in a 100 percent consignment for the artists chosen. There will be spaces in the building for murals.
The new Sloppy Tacos won’t just serve those delicious fish tacos; it’ll serve as a music venue as well.
But the people with the keenest interest at this point are probably the local artists whose work may end up on the wall. If you’re interested in this project, get in touch with Erik Jessen on Facebook.
What Is Louisiana Politics?
It’s said around the world — and with absolute truth — that Louisiana politics is unlike any other politics.
But just what is it that makes Louisiana politics distinctive; unique? Just what is Louisiana politics?
I’m not 100 percent sure you can put it into words. But I know you can find thousands of examples of it.
Take this one from the waning days of the campaign for the run-off for Louisiana’s U.S. Senate seat. Foster Campbell — the Democrat — attacked John Kennedy — the Republican — for his “pro-choice past.” If you missed that, read over it again, noting the issue in question and the party affiliations of the candidates.
I’m old enough to remember when the Southern Democrats — then called the “Dixiecrats” — usually voted with the Northern Democrats, but often disagreed with their Yankee colleagues about certain social or civil issues. Like the old man who sells bags of hot cashews in the alley behind the ATV store in Wagon Rut says, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”
Before the November election, I would have said that it really doesn’t matter what Campbell says; Kennedy will come out on top in this little clambake. But since the November election, I say there’s only one sure thing in this life — and that’s that the Up Fronter will be writing this column once every two weeks.
Campbell has had some strong artillery, though. Jeremy Alford’s last Tuesday Tracker in November reported that Rosie O’Donnell has been Tweeting her support for Campbell. That should go an awful long way in Louisiana.
No Debates; No Unicorns
On the last day of November, the Advocate’s Stephanie Grace wrote an editorial piece in which she conjectured that the failure of Campbell and Kennedy to debate each other showed “disrespect to voters.”
Grace wrote that a debate “would have been a good opportunity for television viewers to hear Campbell and Foster go deeper than they do in those ubiquitous ads …”
Well, it would have been a good opportunity for me to see horns if unicorns had been walking around the streets when I was a boy.
I would hate to think Stephanie Grace knows less about politics than I do. Many political matters I wouldn’t dare to try to unpack. This one I will.
There was no debate because Kennedy was in the lead. Far in the lead. In other words, the race was his to lose. That being the case, why should Kennedy debate? He’s already made debate gaffes in the past. Why should he risk making more? The public is an absolute mystery. One never knows what will or will not offend it. There’s no need to take unnecessary risks — especially in politics.
Does Grace know that between 1961 and 1975 there was not one debate between the Democratic and Republican candidates for president? Johnson didn’t debate in ‘64 because he was certain he would beat Goldwater; Nixon and Humphrey didn’t debate in ‘68 because neither wanted to answer questions about Vietnam; and Nixon didn’t debate in ‘72 because victory over McGovern was assured. Each of these politicians would have chuckled if he’d been told he was being disrespectful.
Edwards Still Talking Justice Reform
At an event called the Google Justice Summit, Gov. Bel Edwards made a bold claim: “At the end of my first term, we will not have the highest incarceration rate in the country.”
I don’t think it would take any fancy political footwork or deal-making to clear out some Louisiana jail cells. Just create a situation in which people who are caught carrying amounts of marijuana that are obviously for personal use are not arrested.
Pick Up That Chicken And Kiss It
I often wonder how many people of my advanced age know the history of the times they’ve lived through. Case in point: how many people reading this column know who Dick Gregory is?
Gregory began his career as a black stand-up comedian in Chicago in the 1950s. He was given his big break by Chicago publisher Hugh Hefner, who says he heard Gregory deliver these lines to a mostly white Chicago audience in 1961:
“I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent 20 years there one night.
“Last time I was down South, I walked into this restaurant, and this white waitress came up to me and said, ‘We don’t serve colored people here.’ I said, ‘That’s all right. I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’
“Then these three white boys came up to me and said, ‘Boy, we’re giving you fair warning. Anything you do to that chicken, we’re gonna do to you.’ So I put down my knife and fork; I picked up that chicken; and I kissed it. Then I said, ‘Line up, boys.’”
Hefner contracted Gregory for an extended gig at the Playboy Club. Gregory turned down repeated invitations to perform on the Jack Paar Show, saying he would only perform if he could also sit on the couch and be interviewed by Paar. In an event that was extremely controversial at the time — 1962 — Gregory sat down on the couch and became the first black entertainer to be interviewed by Paar.
In the 1960s, Gregory ran for both mayor of Chicago and president of the United States. In 1964, he published his autobiography, titled Nigger.
Although Gregory became well known for his civil rights work in Selma and other sites of racial unrest, he was also active in feminism and the anti-Vietnam war movement. He was best known for his extended hunger strikes, which received international press coverage. One took place when he flew to Tehran in 1980 to negotiate for the release of the U.S. diplomatic workers taken hostage by Iranian activists. Gregory weighed less than 100 pounds when he finally returned to the U.S.
He was one of the first public figures to question the Warren Commission’s findings about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He also questioned the official version of the Martin Luther King assassination. The decision of Congress to investigate both assassinations was widely attributed to Gregory’s influence.
Gregory will be bringing his stand-up gig to The Feelgood Company in Baton Rouge at 5:30 pm on Jan. 15, 2017. If you’re interested in going, visit Eventbrite.com and search for “Dick Gregory Live.” Gregory is 84, so if you want to see him at some point, right now is probably that point.
On the day I saw a single Tweet about the Dick Gregory show, I saw, perhaps, 10 Tweets about Neil Diamond coming to New Orleans. If you prefer that brand of tea to Gregory, you can see Diamond perform at something called The Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on May 2, 2017. The show will take place during the Jazz Festival. Get your ticket information at either Tickemaster or LiveNation.com.
Mark Wahlberg: No, I don’t like you … If you were in the wild, I would attack you, even if you weren’t in my food chain … If I were a lion and you were a tuna, I would swim out in the middle of the ocean and freaking eat you …
Will Ferrell: OK, first off: a lion, swimming in the ocean. Lions don’t like water. If you placed it near a river or some sort of fresh water source, that makes sense. But you find yourself in the ocean, 20-foot waves — I’m assuming off the coast of South Africa — coming up against a full-grown 800-pound tuna with his 20 or 30 friends. You lose that battle 9 times out of 10. And guess what — you’ve wandered into our school of tuna, and we now have a taste of lion … Did that go the way you thought it was gonna go? Nope.
— The Other Guys, 2010, dir. Andy McKay
Advocate crime reporter Bryn Stole relates that Baton Rouge resident Joel Guy, Jr., recently traveled to Oak Ridge, Tenn., where he murdered his parents. After the killing, he made a mixture of drain cleaner, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, sewer line cleaner and “other chemicals.” He immersed his parents in the mixture, apparently intending to dissolve the bodies.
First, it’s not ever a good idea to mix bleach with anything whatsoever. Second, unless one of the “other chemicals” this guy used was a hellacious amount of hydrochloric acid, he didn’t have much of a chance of dissolving much of anything.
One wonders in what part of his parents’ house Guy did this nasty deed. As we all learned from Breaking Bad, if you pour a bunch of hydrochloric acid in a bathtub, all you’re going to do is dissolve your bathtub and make a huge hole in your floor.
At any rate, Guy eventually returned to Baton Rouge; was arrested; posed for some very distinctive mug shots; and went to contemplate further chemistry experiments in a Louisiana jail cell.
“You Can See The Whole World On This 119-Day Cruise”
— Yes, that is the headline for a “news” story, not an ad. It was used by KPLC on Dec. 1
Funniest Headline Of The Year
In addition to its mention in “The News,” KPLC also gets credit for the funniest headline — probably of the entire year. It read: “Police in Canada threaten drunk driver offenders with Nickelback.” And the Canadians are supposed to be so gentle! Besides, I thought playing Nickelback in an interrogation room was a violation of the Geneva convention. I believe the Canadians still follow that.