Friday, August 30, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: Hot day, hot tunes

It was 99 degrees in Omaha today.

It was hot. Dang hot. And humid, too. It was so hot that . . . well, you get the picture.

In fact, it's so hot -- and so hot in this studio where now I sit, typing and perspiring -- that I have deemed it too much so to write much about this edition of 3 Chords & the Truth.

Anyway, how many different ways can I tell you it's good, it's eclectic and that you ought to give it a listen . . . right now? I don't know -- I'm still coming up with 'em.

But you know what? It's too hot to try to come up with another, at this juncture. Wouldn't be prudent.

Besides, you know it's good already. So here's what I'm a gonna do -- I'm a gonna just say that the music on the Big Show today is as hot as the weather in these parts. Look! Another reason to listen.

Imagine that.

But it's still hot, and I'm still sweating, so I'm done convincing you. Let the music do the job for me, OK?

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

No, son, they're not calling you a whale

You have your freshman mistakes, and then you have your freshman mistakes that you can't wait to share with the world.

World, meet Ishmail Jackson, Nebraska football walk-on. He was set on being a Husker, and damn if he didn't make the team. The upside to that is obvious enough.

I imagine he's just about to experience the downside -- Coach Bo Pelini's survey course on the cold, hard facts of life. One of those is that Husker football players, even the walk-ons, are public figures. And public figures, if they know what's good for them, do not go on Twitter to disparage Nebraska womanhood.

For example, "98% of the black girls at this school are just disgustingly ugly."

For another example, "Yall [sic] thought florida [sic] had ugly girls? omg lol"

I THINK more than half the University of Nebraska-Lincoln population will be calling young Mr. Jackson something, but it won't be Ishmael. It looks like Uncle Matt -- as in Damon, of movie fame -- never got around to explaining public relations, how it works and why it's important. Or the whole public-figure thing.

Now that talk will come from Coach Bo, who sometimes could be mistaken for Mount Vesuvius. He won't be nearly so smooth as Uncle Matt.

Let's just hope that Jackson, post eruption, isn't mistaken for Pompeii. Which, actually, wouldn't be the worst thing that could happen to him.

After all, being an 18-year-old male, he might do something even stupider than scorning half the population, with a soupçon of racial je ne sais quoi for bad measure: He might actually ask a coed for a date. That probably wouldn't end well.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Incineration Station

For your radio geekery ce soir, let's take a look at what it took to run an AM radio station at 500,000 watts in the early 1930s.

That's what Cincinnati's WLW ran at back then, enough to cover more than a third of the continental United States at night and even deliver a strong daytime signal as far as Toronto. And in the early 1930s, a team of engineers from several companies -- including the owner of "The Nation's Station," Crosley Radio -- had to figure out how to do what never had been done before.

They had to do this without touching the wrong wire or component when the transmitter was fired up, which basically would result in something akin to self-incineration. Up, up, up in a puff of smoke, indeed.

Really, everything about that transmitter was larger than life. Way larger than life.

God Almighty. Zorch!

'Tell them about the dream, Martin'

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Also participating was New Orleans’ Mahalia Jackson, who played a key role in later inspiring King at the podium. 

With input from advisers, King’s speech had been composed the night before at Washington’s Willard Hotel. As King delivered the prepared text — the original copy of which belongs to former college basketball coach George Raveling, who was at King’s side during the speech — Jackson prompted King to veer into an unscripted passage she might’ve heard him deliver in earlier appearances. 

“He was just reading, and she just shouted to him, ‘Tell them about the dream, Martin. Tell them about the dream,’” said Clarence Jones, an attorney and adviser to King who had contributed to King’s text. “I was standing about 50 feet behind him, to the right and to the rear, and I watched him — this is all happening in real time — just take the text of his speech and move it to the left side of the lectern, grab the lectern and look out. 

“One of the world’s greatest gospel singers shouting out to one of he world’s greatest Baptist preachers. She may have ignored the fact that there were almost 300,000 other people there, and she just shouted out to Martin, ‘Tell them about the dream.’ Anybody else who would yell at him, he probably would’ve ignored it. He didn’t ignore Mahalia Jackson. 

“I said to somebody standing next to me, ‘These people don’t know it, but they’re about ready to go to church.’” The words “I have a dream” do not appear in the text Raveling owns.

AND THAT'S the way it was, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 1963 . . . 50 years ago today.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Culture vs. anticulture

It reflects what it means to be human, what it means to love.
It calls us to be fully ourselves -- or at least our best selves.
It touches the heart as it engages the mind.
For a moment, it's as if we can see the face of God . . .
and we are shattered, for who can withstand the divine?

This is who we are. Or should be.

This is anticulture.

It reflects the deviant and devolved of our society.
It is ugly. It is banal. It celebrates urges detached
from both love and reason. It is less than human . . .
and barely more than animal -- if that.

What this tells us about humanity, we don't want to hear.
Looking at Miley Cyrus throughout this silly dispatch
from Dante's Inferno, the word "estrus" comes to mind.
This child who (I presume) was born human . . . 
well, she's presenting like an orangutan.

This is who we are. But shouldn't be.
This will not end well, though end it will.

Kyrie eleison. (But not on Robin Thicke.)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Calling Jim McKay

Put a tea-party lovin', gun-totin' Republican hack in the mayor's office one minute, find yourself in the bizarro world the next.

Wait, that was last month. The embarrassment du jour would be Omaha budgetary politics right out of the Black September playbook -- the municipal policymaking version of Munich 1972. All we needed on the news tonight -- and there's still a bit of time as I type this -- is an undead Jim McKay at the anchor desk and a military operation gone horribly bad at Eppley Airfield.

First, the setup: Omaha's former mayor, Jim Suttle, negotiates a new contract with the firefighters union aimed at ending the practice of pension-spiking, where you can work a bunch of overtime, get your salary as high as you can, and then retire with astronomical benefits pegged to that astronomical salary. That's the quick-and-dirty version, granted, but that's basically it.

The practice was fast sinking the city's pension fund, and it had to stop before the city quite literally ended up bankrupt -- and relatively soon, at that.

So, Suttle -- defeated by then-councilwoman Jean Stothert in this spring's mayoral election -- pretty much put an end to that, as had been done when the police contract came up for renewal previously. But the city council, with Stothert leading the charge, rejected that deal as too costly.

Then the council, with Stothert again leading the charge, strips Suttle of his contract-negotiating authority and reserves that job for itself. And then the council, again with Stothert in a leadership role, negotiates a new deal that Suttle warns really will bust the budget before signing the ratified deal in a total "I give up" moment.

Fast forward to this summer and the start of the budget process. The city is facing a sizable deficit -- mainly due to big projected overruns in the fire department budget. The fire chief, Mike McDonnell, says it's due to costs locked in by the new labor contract but Stothert, in effect, says it's because McDonnell is a twit and, furthermore, I'm going to cut the crap out of your budget, lay off all the new recruits and take an ambulance and some rigs out of service . . . and, by the way, why haven't you quit yet?

OH . . . this may have had something to do with Her Honor's attitude toward the chief and the fired, er, fire department:
McDonnell has sought a roughly $94 million budget, which he said was necessary to avoid cuts. That included a $150,000 to pay University of Nebraska Medical Center consultants who supervise the department's emergency medical service. Those consultants replaced Stothert's husband, Dr. Joe Stothert after he was dismissed by McDonnell and Mayor Jim Suttle's administration.
HERE'S some more of how the Omaha World-Herald is reporting the story tonight:
An exit package brokered Monday between Mayor Jean Stothert's administration and the embattled fire chief carries considerable financial implications.

The agreement protects current department staff from layoffs through next July 1 and gives McDonnell a full pension, more than a year before he qualifies for it.

The agreement also keeps all existing fire equipment in service through next July 1, with the exception of a medic unit based in South Omaha. .

McDonnell said the deal means Stothert needs to add about $2 million to the Fire Department budget. The mayor, however, said no additional funds were needed. Stothert said she expected the department budget to pass Tuesday.

McDonnell will receive a $10,900 monthly pension. He said that is about $900 more than he qualifies for with his 23 years and 10 months of service.

“These changes are in the best interest of the City of Omaha and will move the Fire Department ahead in a positive manner,” Stothert said in a statement.

Said McDonnell: “It was an honor to serve the city.”

McDonnell's departure comes as the City Council prepares to vote Tuesday on Stothert's proposed 2014 budget.

The exit agreement, signed by Stothert and McDonnell, must be codified into a legally binding contract by Friday or else it is void.

The chief gets credit for 25 years of service and a retirement ceremony. The city will pay his share of his pension contribution through October 2014.

The agreement includes a “joint non-disparagement” clause until next July 1.

The city will maintain three of its four assistant chief positions through 2014. A fourth chief will retire this October.

McDonnell held a small press conference just before 7 p.m. Monday at headquarters in front of a city fire engine. He had already packed his city-issued SUV with personal effects and memorabilia.

He will be placed on paid administrative leave for the immediate future.

Stothert has made it clear since her mayoral campaign that she wanted McDonnell out.

Efforts to negotiate his future have been discussed intermittently for several weeks.

The two have been at odds over the mayor's proposed $90.6 million Fire Department budget, which could have forced layoffs, demotions and pulling firetrucks and ambulances from service. 
AND HERE'S the kicker: Stothert is refusing to apply for federal grant money specifically made available to fire departments for maintaining present staffing or even increasing it to better meet National Fire Protection Association standards.

Refusing to apply. Refusing to even try to avoid layoffs, unless. . . .

Hardball negotiating is one thing. Holding firefighters hostage to get the chief to retire is the stuff of political terrorism. Obviously, Omaha's new mayor has been taking pointers from congressional Republicans.

The only difference between Abu Packin' and Palestinian terrorists from back in the day is in the degree of her actions, not the principle behind them. It's just a matter of firing a hostage an hour until you meet my demands instead of killing an Israeli an hour until you meet my demands.

What matters to Stothert isn't the firefighters -- or public safety. What matters to Stothert isn't even balancing the budget in a sensible way. What matters to this doctrinaire GOP hack is ideology, sucking up to her right flank . . . and revenge.

How very Black September of her. Right down to this expertly placed shiv in the back, as reported by KETV television:
McDonnell said in order to fund those positions, the City Council would have to add $2 million to the fire department's budget, but the mayor's office said the budget will go before the council Tuesday at the proposed $90.6 million.

The mayor expects the new chief to achieve both the saving and the job protection within the proposed budget.
WOW. Stothert even worked in some Republican magical mathematics. Is there anything our pistol packin' mama can't do?

Except for running a city in an adult, competent manner, I mean.

Friday, August 23, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: Plain as black and white

One thing always has puzzled me about the South, where I was born and raised.

It's the whole race thing, including the region's checkered past in that regard -- what with slavery, a war fought to defend slavery, Jim Crow after the war thing didn't work out, segregation, freak-outs over miscegenation, freak-outs over integration, nullification, racism, state's rights and a lack of civil rights.

With all these skeletons in our Dixie closet, you get the impression that black folk and white folk can't get along. All too often, that was -- and is -- true.

What's ironic about this -- and this is something we demonstrate a little bit on this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth -- is that Southern white folk are, without a doubt, the blackest white folk on Earth. And to all this country's African-Americans who have qualms about their ethnic and racial cohorts "acting white," I just want to say that it's quite all right.

WHITE Southerners like me and mine have been acting black for ages -- even when that went against the official Jim Crow party line. Irony, thy name is Dixie.

We survived, and indeed, I think, prospered culturally for it. From what, exactly, do you think the Big Show emerged almost fully formed? From me playing my white parents' black R&B records (and their white country ones, too) as a young kid in the segregated South.

Irony. Complexity. Music. Life.

That was and is the South, and that pretty much is what you get, too, on 3 Chords & the Truth. Let's just say you'll be amazed at how much in common Ruth Brown has with Jerry Byrd & the String Dusters' hillbilly assemblage.

That's pretty much where I started on this show post, and I guess that's where I'll leave it, too.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A bridge of Madison County

Heading back to Omaha from the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, we took the scenic route away from busy Interstate 80.

On the road less traveled on a Monday afternoon, we communed with the spirit of the late, great John Wayne at his boyhood home in Winterset, Iowa. Before that, though, the missus and your humble blogger checked out a bridge of Madison County -- the covered, wooden Hogback Bridge that dates to 1884 and spans the North River.
Yes, I did take photographs of at least one of the covered bridges in that esteemed farm county.
No, I did not have a torrid affair with Meryl Streep.

There are a few things with which my lovely bride of 30 years will not put up. That one -- and I'm just guessing here -- would be somewhere near the tip top of the forbidden list. 

Is what I'm tellin' you.

Iowa's state fair is a great state fair

Our State Fair is a great state fair,

Don't miss it, don't even be late!

(Our state fair is great!)

It's dollars to doughnuts at our state fair,

It's the best state fair in the state!


IS A GREAT . . .

IS A GREAT . . .


Our State Fair is a great state fair,

Don't miss it, don't even be late!

(State fair is great!)

It's dollars to doughnuts at our state fair,

It's the best state fair . . .

in our state!

-- Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

America in the looking glass

What's the difference between your average Islamic-extremist jihadi and your average American teenager with a gun?

The jihadi, at least, has a reason for killing. I'm not saying a good reason, but at least he has one. For three homegrown poster children for the culture of death, according to Oklahoma cops, not so much.

Because of that, an Australian baseball player out for a Friday jog in Duncan, Okla., is making an unexpected trip back home. In a coffin. Solely because he decided to go for a jog in his American girlfriend's hometown.

And solely because, by chance, three teenagers -- it is alleged --  decided that day was a good day for somebody to die, then happened to spy Chris Lane, catcher for East Central University in Ada, Okla.
It comes after a 16-year-old boy confessed to pulling the trigger and killing Lane, according to police chief Danny Ford.

Chief Ford said the 16-year-old was with two other teens aged 15 and 17 when they killed Lane during a random drive-by shooting in the town of Duncan.
He said the three teenagers had no motive other than to make a name for themselves.

All three are facing the charge of first-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of the death penalty.

Chief Ford told 3AW this morning one of the accused has confessed to pulling the trigger, saying he just wanted to kill someone.

"Lately there has been some pretty weak motives, but I don’t know that I’ve had one that they told us they were just going to kill somebody," he said.

He said the three teens were on a "killing spree" after , leaving a chilling message on Facebook.

Peter Lane said his son had left his mark and his death was just so pointless. 

Chief Ford said the teens drove to another house to murder a second unrelated victim just hours after shooting Lane in the back and leaving him to die in an upper-class area of Duncan at 2.57pm local time Friday (5.57am Saturday Melbourne time).

"They wanted to be Billy Bob Badasses," Chief Ford said.

"I think they were on a killing spree.

"We would have had more bodies that night if we didn't get them."

On one of the alleged killer's Facebook pages investigators said they found the message: "Bang. Two drops in two hours".

The accused are in custody in Stephens County Jail, awaiting formal murder charges expected on Monday local time.

Earlier, Chief Ford said one of the teens had been co-operating.

"He said, ‘Yeah, we did it but I’m not going to tell you who pulled the trigger’," he said.

One of the alleged murderers was Caucasian, the other two were black, Chief Ford said.

Lane, 22, grew up in Oak Park in Melbourne’s north and was in the US on a sports scholarship.

He was jogging through an area of "high dollar homes" after leaving the home of his American girlfriend, Sarah Harper, when he was followed and shot at the intersection of Country Club Rd and Twilight Beach Rd.

AMERICA'S gun nuts think we could prevent a lot of this kind of thing if only everybody -- or at least enough people --were armed.

What I want them to explain to me, though, is how you defend yourself against being shot in the back, out of the blue. Because that's how we roll in the red, white and blue, every-man-is-an-island incarnation of the culture of death.

Nerve, defined

The headline on NPR's Planet Money blog sums it up so well, it leaves one with little else to say:
Robin Thicke's Song Sounds Like Marvin Gaye. So He's Suing Gaye's Family.
WELL, that about covers it. All I have to add is Robin Thicke's actions here pretty much define "nerve."

In this new age of the barbarian, the future belongs to the plunderer.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: Simply insane!

This show is as crazy as buying a brand-new organ when you live out on a vast sea of prairie grass and not much else. Except for cattle.

Just nuts.

But like a new pump organ on the Plains, the 3 Chords & the Truth musical craziness of the week can be a riot of contrast, color and a lot of fun amid an unending expanse of sameness, world without end. I'd tell you how bat-crap bonkers the third set is on the Big Show this go around, but you wouldn't believe me.

You absolutely wouldn't.

And all the experts of Radioland would snort and tell you it couldn't be done, and if it could, it would be an unholy mess.

BUT WE DID, and it ain't. So there. It's called creativity. Original thinking, as it were. There used to be a lot of it afoot in the music industry -- and on the airwaves -- but today, not so much.

That's why Al Gore had to invent the Internets. So there could be a 3 Chords & the Truth.

Really, today's show is just . . . what does Guy Fieri say on the Food Porn Channel? Right. "Off the hook."

So live a little. Tune in the Big Show right here on this Internet channel.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Louisianian for 'looks like rain'


If you're at least 50ish, lived in Baton Rouge in the 1960s and early '70s and ever watched Tex Carpenter deliver the weather on Channel 9, you either know what that means or you think ol' Tex had an on-air stroke every so often, and then it rained.

Or as my pediatrician once said to my dad when the subject turned away from my fear of needles and toward the weather (and those who forecast it on TV), "What the hell is a 'troffaloff'?"

The answer, taken from my 1969 edition of the Tex to English/English to Tex dictionary (via the Essa Weather Wire Service), is a "trough aloft," otherwise known as a low-pressure area, which oftentimes means "rain."

And that's your TV Weatherfact of the day, discovered in a box uncovered after years unbothered.

The things you find

SHOWN HERE in a high-school journalism scrapbook from 1976, saved by me and then my parents for no discernible reason, is an example of a "society picture with cutline," noted at top, which happened to be of Mr. and Mrs. Miller Williams, shown center, feted in Baton Rouge en route to Rome, where they were to reside for a year at the famed American Academy. With them at the large party in the home of Dr. and Mrs. Hulen B. Williams on Castle Kirk Drive were Mrs. E. B. Williams, left, the mother of Mr. Williams, and Miss Lucinda (Cindy) Williams, daughter of the famed poet, who had won the Prix de Rome awarded by the still-famed American Academy of Arts and Letters. Two years later, Miss Williams would begin her famed recording career, which was not initially feted, but achieved some note in 1988 and then became famed in the early 1990s, when she was feted at the famed Grammy Awards, where she won the award for Best Country Song for "Passionate Kisses." She then released her famed album "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" in 1998, which was awarded a gold record and for which she was again feted at the Grammy Awards.

Serendipity was feted for my happening to cut out this particular "society picture with cutline" from the famed Sunday Advocate in Baton Rouge some 37 years ago for my journalism assignment. Attending the small party in the Omaha home of Mr. and Mrs. Mighty Favog are Mr. Favog and a bottle of moderately priced bourbon.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why I'm not the next Jack Germond

The great political reporter -- he hated being called "journalist" -- and columnist Jack Germond has died at 85.

He'd been covering politicians and the messes they made from the 1950s until he retired in 2001, first with Gannett and then the Washington Star and later The Baltimore Sun. He was a fixture on The McLaughlin Group on public TV, got parodied on Saturday Night Live and wrote a bunch of books.

Not bad for a member of the Baton Rouge High Class of 1945.

I'm a member of the Baton Rouge High Class of 1979, but I am not now nor ever will be as accomplished as the late Mr. Germond. I do like martinis as much as he did, though.

THE REASON why I'll never be as accomplished at, well, anything as Jack Germond was at committing journalism . . . er, reporting is that I was committing smart-assed crap like the drawing above when I ought to have been studying or paying more attention in class. I found this, as I found all kinds of other stuff that has been or soon will be featured in this cyberspace, when cleaning out the home of my misspent youth in Baton Rouge.

The above drawing, however, may have been a little clue to my later avocation. In other words . . . get the net!

I suspect my mom never threw it out because she wanted evidence to back up "I told you so!"

Rest in peace, Jack. Your stellar legacy will face no competition from this fellow Bulldog alum.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: Penny Park

Of Omaha indie artists of a certain age, Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame is the angst-filled young troubadour who escaped the shackles of the central Plains to become the toast of music lovers of a certain conceit.

He is the next Next Dylan. It was on the cover of the Rolling Stone or something.

Matt Whipkey -- of Anonymous American and Whipkey Three note locally -- still works his day job teaching guitar at Dietze Music. Playing gigs, recording albums and releasing them himself, he does on his own time.

And dime.

"Working Class Hero is something to be."

But here's the thing: Oberst, the next Next Dylan, might -- just might -- someday write a song as damned good as "Sunshine" if one day he gets over himself. Or gets a hold of himself -- one or the other.
She wants the sunshine, summer 1989,
Oh, not the half life, a second husband's second wife

"SUNSHINE" is the last song on Whipkey's new double-album, a pink-and-turquoise vinyl masterpiece, Penny Park: Omaha, NE: Summer 1989. And we're featuring that and "Waterslide" -- the Alpha and the Omega of Penny Park -- on 3 Chords & the Truth this week.

Penny Park is the mysterious beauty every 17-year-old lusted after (and was intimidated by). The story, and the LP, begins in the summer of 1989 at Omaha's historic Peony Park amid the Tilt-a-Whirl, the Galaxy, the Royal Grove and the massive swimming pool.

The story ends years later, with a drunken Penny crying in her car in the supermarket parking lot where Peony Park once stood. Life has been no thrill ride, and Cass Street at 78th has become just another boulevard of broken dreams.
She was the sunshine,
She was the sun
NOT MANY songs move me to the point of tears. This is one. We all have regrets, and none of us get out of this world unscathed.

Sometimes, though, a good record can help. Listen to this week's Big Show, and then go buy a double shot of memories, emotion and perspective. The 17-year-old within will be glad you did.

And did I mention you should listen to 3 Chords & the Truth? I did? Good. My memory's not what it was 35 years ago . . . or what it was in 1989, either.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A helicopter's-eye view of Nebraska

Just because people say something -- a lot -- that doesn't make it so.

Recently,  cinematographers took to the skies over our piece of Flyover Country to show folks exactly how flat and boring is Nebraska -- not. So, if you're someone who always thought the state tree was a telephone pole, prepare for your world to be rocked in three . . . two . . . one. . . .


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Because he's good people

I'll bet Rusty Domingue is sooooo pissed off right now.

All the Louisiana State linebacker did back in 1976 was stab a dude in the chest -- just once -- and he got six months in the pen and never played for the Tigers again. Present Tiger running back Jeremy Hill forced a 14-year-old girl to perform a sex act on him then, while on probation for that, sucker punched a guy at a bar.

The outcome? He got a "stern warning" from the judge and reinstated to the team by LSU Coach Les Miles. Because Hill's such a good guy.
“He’s not a guy that has had constant bad behavior,” Miles said of Hill. “Obviously he’s had a lack of judgment and bad behavior in these two instances. But the reality is we all see him around here as a good person.”
YEAH, and John Wilkes Booth was a mensch except for that one instance of bad behavior and lack of judgment. If Hill had just blocked a field goal attempt by No. 1 Nebraska to preserve a 6-6 tie just like the star-crossed Domingue, the judge may have sentenced the Tiger sophomore to 60 minutes with an underage girl.
Miles’ decision to reinstate the sophomore running back came early Monday evening and ends a three-month exile for Hill, who was suspended from the team after he punched a fellow student outside a Tigerland bar in April. He pleaded guilty to simple battery last month but faced up to six months in jail for violating probation in a 2012 case in which he pleaded guilty as a high school senior to carnal knowledge of a minor.

Hill returned to practice Monday afternoon, the first day of preseason workouts for the Tigers. Miles said there will be “further punishment” for Hill but did not give specifics.

Miles also would not say whether Hill will be suspended from any of LSU’s games in the upcoming season.

“I’m going to kind of review, and make a quality call as best I can,” Miles said.

Earlier in the day, State District Judge Bonnie Jackson lectured Hill and not only added a special condition — 40 hours of community service at the Bishop Ott Center — to the two years of probation she gave him in January 2012, but also issued a stern warning.

“You are to refrain from all other criminal conduct,” the judge told Hill, who wore a dark suit and purple tie as he stood next to his attorney, Marci Blaize.
TRUST ME, telling someone in Louisiana "to refrain from all other criminal conduct" is stern, indeed. Probably cruel and unusual punishment.

Maybe Les could get another of the Tigers to lift a book from the LSU law library to check on that.

Monday, August 05, 2013

The keys to the kingdom

Salvation can look like a Gideons' Bible.

It can look like a legal document, with a governor's signature and an embossed seal, commuting a condemned man's sentence.

Salvation can look like a beautiful woman with a pure heart, here to save you from your sorry self.

Salvation can look like a life preserver floating next to you in a choppy sea; it can look like an outstretched hand just before you slide off a precipice; it can look like the cover of your favorite record album.

Salvation, for me, looks like a brochure from the spring of 1976, one advertising this strange, unbelievably cool thing the East Baton Rouge Parish school system was calling a "magnet school." Inner-city Baton Rouge High -- venerable and grand and buffeted by the forces that had turned a small town divided by race and "the tracks" into a middle-sized city atomized into warring neighborhood enclaves -- was being remade into a school focused on academics and the performing arts, and not just anybody could get in.

THE SCHOOL'S new principal, Lee Faucette, was making the rounds of high schools and junior highs to make his best pitch to those schools' best students. And . . . sweet Jesus! Not just anybody could get in!

If you've ever been to junior high and hated it -- especially if you've been to junior high and absolutely hated school because you were somewhat good at it. . . . Well, if you have . . . and did . . . because you were . . . you know.

You know what a salvation Baton Rouge High was for kids like me -- for kids like us -- precisely because it was made for learning and not crowd control. Because there, you didn't have to be ashamed of learning. Because everyone there was there because there is where they wanted to be.

WHERE I didn't want to be come the fall of 1976 was at Belaire High, a soulless monolith that looked more like a maximum-security facility than an educational one. And to me, those magnet school brochures Mr. Faucette passed out looked like a Gideons' Bible, a commutation, a beautiful woman, a life preserver, an outstretched hand and a Bruce Springsteen album rolled into one glorious package.

I found this when my wife and I were in Baton Rouge cleaning out my elderly mom's house -- the home of my youth.  I saved it, and then she saved it, and then 37 years later, there it was stuck in a box jammed on a shelf. Sometimes, the only thing between you and a flood of blessed memories is cardboard, one-eighth-inch thick.

When we had to head back to Omaha, we filled our Toyota RAV and my mom's compact Kia with the stuff that mattered. My most excellent collection of 1960s G.I. Joes and Hot Wheels sits in the house that's no longer anyone's home, waiting for the estate sale.

The 1976 piece of card-stock salvation came home with me.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Later's news now . . . or 'Sorry, Wong number!'

There's a birth announcement  you need to know about in today's Morning Deviate. It might be the biggest Louisiana news since all the courts recessed for the day at 4 p.m.

Take a look, because that's the way it is . . . this day in August, 2098.
It’s a boy for ex-Prefect Eli Wallace Edwards and his wife, Yob.

The couple welcomed T. Wong Edwards in Baton Rouge early Thursday morning just three days after celebrating their second wedding anniversary at an offshore strip club floating above the submerged ruins of New Orleans. Yob Bebe Edwards posted the announcement on her Spacebook page early Thursday.

“Everyone except me is getting to sleep. It’s ok though ... I’d rather just lay here and stare at my little Cajun prince!!,” she posted along with a photo of herself gazing into her son’s face.

Born at 12:52 a.m., T. is Edwards’ fifth child and his wife’s third son. The former prefect of the Louisiana Autonomous Region has four grown children. His wife has two sons from a prior marriage. T. weighs 6 lbs., 3 oz., and is 19 inches long.

The baby shares his name with his late grandfather, Edwin W. Edwards, a former American congressman who served four terms as governor in the second half of the 20th century.

Father and son came close to sharing a birthday as well. Ely Edwards will turn 86 next week.

Despite a difficult pregnancy, Yob Edwards was well enough to post updates on Spacebook as she awaited the baby’s arrival Wednesday afternoon and later announce his birth.

It was full house in her labor room at the oceanfront campus of Baton Rouge General Medical Center -- Bluebonnet Hoverway. A stereo-V crew hovered in the background, capturing the moment for the couple’s reality program, “The Prefect’s Squeeze.” A broadcast date for the program — which will air on the Booze&Poontang educational stream — has been pushed back several times.

Edwards, 85, met his 18-year-old wife while he was serving his sentence on holographic-cyborg-poker racketeering charges in a Greater North American Authority penal institution.

The couple said they wanted to share as many experiences as possible in the short amount of time they likely have together.

They live in a yacht anchored over the swamped family ancestral home where the city of Gonzales once existed.

Yob Edwards said their new son is a perfect little boy.

“F*** yeah, bitches! Mah lil schwing man got it goin' lol!” she posted on Spacebook about the new scion of the autonomous region's Zipper dynasty. Meantime, the proud geriatric papa -- popularly known as the Titanium Zipper, following his father the Silver Zipper --  was spotted passing out electronic cigars and holographic casino tokens on the medical center beachfront, buxom blondes on each arm.