The recent death of local artist Marty Bee no doubt had many locals thinking about the numerous funny cartoons he produced. One I thought was especially hilarious skewered the trend of steampunk. Bee drew a number of perfectly mundane objects that had been encumbered by the mechanical gizmos and knick-knacks that make things look steampunk. One of the ironic aspects of the cartoon was that the objects didn’t look very different from the useless accessories that serious steampunk aficionados carry about.
In one humorous political cartoon Bee drew for Lagniappe, a tiny referee dresses down an unhappy, gigantic football player in uniform. The player has a monstrously large, muscular arm that by itself is the size of the referee.
Bee started teaching graphic design at McNeese State University in 1987. Before that, he made graphics for private companies, such as 3M and Honeywell.
After he relocated to Lake Charles in the ‘80s, Bee ran a freelance art design business that specialized in business logos and websites. In 2016, he did the art for a Super Bowl commercial for Skittles that featured the music of Aerosmith.
In 2011, Bee was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
In a 2015 interview with Lagniappe, Bee told Angie Kay Dilmore some of his big ideas about art.
“There is no good design without a good concept or idea. We need to be visual storytellers.
“Software and technology are not the most important thing. It’s actually what goes on in the space between your ears.
“One of my students was a well-known African-American painter named Michael Ray Charles. He says my proverb of ‘making the familiar strange’ is what kick-started his work. I cannot take credit for it, though. I got that quote from the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency. To quote veteran ad guy George Lois, ‘What’s the big idea?’” Marty Bee was 68.
The New Bicycle Library
We hear a lot about smoking and obesity in Louisiana. It shouldn’t be too big a surprise that the state is dead last in the health rankings for the U.S. Things are somewhat better in Calcasieu Parish, which ranks No. 20 in “health outcomes” among the state’s parishes.
The SWLA Center for Health Services reckons we might improve the Calcasieu Parish ranking if we could get people on bicycles.
Using funding from Healthy Blue, the SWLA Center for Health Services has built a Bike Library. The new bike library fleet consists of 20 bikes and safety helmets.
“Our hope is that by making these bikes available for short-term usage by the public, many riders will get hooked when they realize how fun and healthy biking can be. It opens up a whole new world of active living opportunities,” said Aaron Lambert, president, Healthy Blue.
The bikes are for both adult and youth cyclists. Community members can visit the Fitness Center at the SWLA Center for Health Services-Lake Charles at 2000 Opelousas St. to check out a bike. Then they can hit the road. Bikes are free of charge to members of the community. They are intended for short-term recreational rides. They provide an opportunity for families to spend a few hours outside “and make the first steps toward a healthier lifestyle,” said Lambert.
The local bicycle shop Southern Bicycle Co. will provide high quality bikes for the initiative.
Smith Saves Dog From Barry
For quite a few years, A.J. Smith was the Cajun humorist for Lagniappe magazine. A while ago, he moved up to Lafayette. The threat of storm waters seems to have made him a little more serious. In fact, a recent Facebook post showed him working hard to keep drainage clear before Barry came in. Here’s what Smith wrote on Facebook:
“My drains were blocked all last hurricane season but this year I got this dog out the culvert early this season.” At left is a photograph of the dog Smith retrieved.
I’m kind of surprised that even though all the dogs in my neighborhood are quite a bit smaller than Smith’s, none of them has gotten sucked into a culvert yet. It may be because the culverts in my neighborhood are usually pretty jammed up. Perhaps even the small dogs can manage to get out on their own. That’s probably a good thing for me. I’m not sure I could carry a dog as big as the one Smith saved.
The Sucker Can Cooler
Judging from what I see, about a fourth of local residents have a boat on their premises. I assume many have boats in other places.
These thousands of boaters may have assumed that the only way they can keep their beers upright when their boat bumps up high or goes through a sharp turn is to hold on tight to the can. And they take it for granted that when these situations arise, they’re going to lose some beer.
Sometimes we resign ourselves to problems when all we really need to do is wait patiently until someone comes along and creates an invention that solves the problems.
“Our innovative directional suction cup technology allows The Sucker to stick to any smooth surface. From a lack of cup holders on a rocking boat to wagging dog tails, this product will keep your drink upright, accident-free, and icy cold.
“The Sucker Can Cooler has a directional suction cup that allows it to stay upright while being hit or rocked. Simply place The Sucker on any smooth surface and it will keep your drink in place securely. To remove, simply lift straight up to break the suction.”
The Sucker can hold a can of beer at a 90 degree angle (although I assume the can must be unopened if no beer is to spill out.) You can put The Sucker on a surf board and keep your beer put while you surf (presumably without losing any beer). Put The Sucker near your boat steering wheel. Your beer will stay right where it is when the front part of your boat — the bow, I think —goes up.
The product retails for $24, which might be a good price if you’re tired of holding or losing beer.
For every Sucker sold, Toadfish Outfitters will replant 10 square feet of new oyster beds in an effort to “clean our coastal waters.” The company’s motto is “Let’s Put ‘Em Back.” In fact, Toadfish Outfitters say they’ve started a “Put ‘Em Back movement.” Company reps say:
“We started a company that devotes its success to improving water quality by rebuilding new filter feeding oyster beds … We strive to live our lives and build our business in a way that creates a positive impact on the ecosystems we love. We are committed to cleaning our waters and leaving this world better than we found it.”
If you want to learn more, buy a cooler or watch some cool video of The Sucker Can Cooler in action, visit toadfishoutfitters.com