Showing posts with label WAFB. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WAFB. Show all posts

Thursday, June 21, 2018

There's no arguing with the hate-filled heart

I'm just going to leave this here, just so you can see that you don't have to leave the United States to find all the "shithole" you can stand.

As it turns out, "shithole" is a state of mind. "Shithole" is cultural. 

"Shithole" is directly proportional to one's -- to a culture's, to a political entity's -- willingness to tolerate the shitty thoughts and shitty words and shitty actions of shitty people.

From all appearances these days, it's getting a little ripe around here, "from sea to shining sea."

Our present political crisis is not Donald Trump and his stupid, malevolent and -- ultimately -- deeply counterproductive policies. Trump and what Trump hath wrought merely are symptoms of America's ongoing political, cultural and -- indeed -- spiritual crisis.

THE CRISIS is not difficult to understand.  Roughly a third, maybe a little more, of the American population is completely and demonstrably . . . fascist. Extremism in defense of cruelty, racist scapegoating and authoritarianism is no vice for a large subsection of our fellow countrymen.

And tolerance, ordinary human compassion and liberty is one. "Socialist," even.

What can we say about ordinary "'Merkuns" who look at a traumatized, crying Latino child and have their first instinct be "Well, if her parents weren't criminals. . . ."? Lots. Little of it would be safe for work or fit for mixed company, however.

Furthermore, by the time one's mind is so warped and one's heart is so hard as the average member of the Trump base, there are no arguments to be made -- because the intended audience isn't listening. At all.

If Adolf Hitler were alive today, and American -- you can call him Al -- and if he were running on some variant of his 1933 platform, you can bet he'd be President Hitler. Because to a significant degree, he is.

Thus is our land . . . let's call it Amerika. Thus always have been various regions of our land at various points in our history. I know. I grew up in one during the waning days of Jim Crow and in its aftermath. And from this right here, being that WAFB is the leading news station in Baton Rouge, I see that Louisiana hasn't much changed.

Left alone, it's not apt to, either.

The fascist political tradition, like the hardened human heart, does not crack absent extreme pressure and a workable, moral alternative. The fight for the soul, and the very idea, of America is not going to be easy. It may well be as bloody, ultimately, as it was from 1861 to 1865. We can't know these things.

What we do know is we must fight . . . for our country as well as for our souls, too. God help us.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Monday will never be the same

NOTE: This first ran in March 2009. It's running again because the man who was a big part of the life of just about every kid in Baton Rouge, La., for 35 years -- three generations of kids in some families --  died Wednesday.

It's just as well that I don't start from scratch. For one thing, I don't think I'd express myself any better now -- I said what I had to say.

For another thing, I'd be writing through tears. That just takes too damned long, frankly.

If you didn't grow up where, and when, I grew up, this story from The Advocate might give you some idea of how big a deal was "Buckskin Bill" Black:
One of Baton Rouge’s most beloved figures, William “Bill” Black, known to most as “Buckskin” Bill,” died Wednesday, according to family members.

For decades, Black appeared daily on WAFB-TV in his cowboy character, charming generations of children with his homespun, good natured presence. His children's shows, "Storyland" aired in the morning and "The Buckskin Bill Show" aired in the afternoon on the television station Monday through Friday from 1955 to 1988. At the time, it held the national record for the longest-running children's show. It shifted to a Saturday morning only show, but was canceled a year later. He retired from the station in 1990.

Black reentered the public eye in 1994 when he was elected to the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board as part of a school reform initiative, replacing most of the sitting board member. Representing the Broadmoor area, Black remained on the board until 2010.

Ed Elkins, master control operator at WAFB, remembers moving from New Orleans to Baton Rouge in 1977 to work on Black’s TV show as a cameraman and later doing audio. Elkins said he knew nothing about the legend of “Buckskin Bill,” but learned quickly. When they met other people, “I would be invisible,” he recalled.

“(Black) was the star of Baton Rouge. He was the man,” Elkins said. “Just think how many children that have grown up to be icons of the community that watched his show.”

Donna Britt, WAFB’s anchor, came to the TV station in 1981 and had a similar experience.

“He was an icon from the word go,” Britt recalled. “He carried himself with dignity. He seemed to know everyone in the world.”

A family member told WAFB that Black died after getting an infection in the wake of partial hip replacement surgery that he had after breaking his hip in November. His wife, Elma, died April 5. Black is survived by a son and two daughters.

Black’s granddaughter Megan Musso said the family is still making funeral arrangements for Black.

Though Black’s show went off the air before she was born, Musso grew up with stories of her pawpaw and watching VHS tapes of his performances, but she said he never boasted about himself.

“I had lots of teachers who would ask me to do school reports on him because they admired him so much,” said Musso. “Even though I knew how much he meant to the community, he was still just my pawpaw.”

Musso, daughter of Black’s youngest child, Ginger Musso, said Black was a true performer even with his grandkids and she grew up playing the game, “Hully Gully,” before she even knew where it came from on Black’s TV show.

What will she miss? Musso offers a quick list: “His stories, his jokes. He would sing very well. And his laugh.”
ONE MORE THING. I added the above video, from Buckskin Bill's later days on "big, booming, powerful Channel 9" because it just captures what Buckskin Bill meant to all of us Baton Rouge kids . . . kids of all ages.

As Buckskin starts his trademark Monday Morning March, we see him joined in the studio by parents and their children -- a mama and a daddy who no doubt marched in front of a big black-and-white television in their living room years before. And now here they were with The Man himself, passing down a legacy of televised love to a new generation.

At the end of every show, he'd would sign off with a little advice: "You're never completely dressed until you put on a smile."

This early morning, I'm sitting here half naked as I write through my tears. Damn.

*  *  *

I know it's not Monday morning, and Lord knows I'm not a kid anymore. But sometimes you wish it were, and you were, because you'd like to do the Monday Morning March just one more time.

See, if you're of a certain age, and if you grew up anywhere reached by "big, booming, powerful Channel 9" in Baton Rouge, La., you most certainly grew up watching Buckskin Bill.

"Buckskin" was Bill Black,
and he did his kiddie show for something like 35 years until he got canceled in 1990. For most of those years, Black donned his buckskins twice a day -- in the morning for the little kids on Storyland and then after school for the older kids with The Buckskin Bill Show.

IT WAS A Baton Rouge rite of passage for a kid to go before the WAFB-TV cameras -- to actually share the stage with Buckskin! -- on his birthday, with a Scout troop, or in a line of kids doing the "Elephant Walk."

I'm sure no one today would be particularly impressed with a never-ending loop of Henry Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk" for a soundtrack as legions of kids filed by a barrel, dropping in their saved-up pennies to buy a pair of elephants for the city's brand-new zoo. Ah, but they forget that magic is made of equal parts simplicity and cheesiness. Yes, it is.

For his first 15 years on the air, getting a zoo for the underachieving Southern city was Buckskin's cause célèbre. For years, he signed off the Buckskin Bill Show with "Remember . . . Baton Rouge needs a zoo!"

A few miles away, the competition on Channel 2, Count Macabre, would spoof this by saying "Remember, boys and girls, Baton Rouge is a zoo!" Both statements were demonstrably true.

Anyway, my turn on the Buckskin Bill Show came in March 1965. It was my fourth birthday. I brought a bottle of Bayer aspirin for Amazon relief.

BUCKSKIN sat me on his lap and started to ask some basic toddler-level questions. The cameras were huge. The lights were bright. I was silent.

My mother was crouched on the studio floor whispering "He's four!" Buckskin, no doubt, was wondering "Who is this woman?"

Why should the fambly be the only ones scratching their heads?

I never did say a bloody word, and Buckskin sent me on my ignominious way -- the redneck equivalent of a dumbstruck Ralphie being dispatched down the Santa slide some decades later in A Christmas Story. On the other hand, he bought us all Coca-Colas after the show.

Even preschool humiliation went better with Coca-Cola. And Holsum Bread.

Why am I writing this? Beats me. I was just thinking about Buckskin Bill -- again -- and how it's sad local television doesn't bother to make magic and memories anymore. Who does?

So there you go, the wistful musings of a middle-aged Southern boy . . . and some vintage video of the Monday Morning March from sometime near my arrival on planet Earth. It seems to me that, during a time when we fear our many crises will overwhelm us, we all need us some Monday Morning March.

Even if it is Wednesday.

Oh . . . one more thing. "Remember, you're never completely dressed until you put on a smile."

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

You can have 'diversity.' I'll take variety.

The CBS network lineup: Sunday, Nov. 10, 1968

Diversity. All we hear about these days is "diversity."

What is "diversity"? We certainly don't have ideological diversity among those most committed to the D-word today in the United States.

Racial and ethnic diversity seems more about building either an ideological monolith of rainbow hues or, alternatively, segregated racial and ethnic enclaves uneasily inhabiting common organizations, institutions or physical spaces.

Me, I think we ought to strive for variety, then go from there. If you're under 45, you probably have little memory of variety, which is what more or less -- sometimes more, sometimes less -- took place when shared common spaces were the norm and opportunities for, say, media self-segregation weren't. Of course, we all had our opportunities and mechanisms for self-segregation (and forced segregation) but we likewise had more spaces where interaction and cross-pollination was unavoidable. Like television.

THE BABY BOOM is the last generation to be forced in its youth, through prehistoric technology that had become just pervasive enough, to open itself a little bit to a lot of things.

And people.

And cultures.

We may not have had "diversity" (again, whatever the hell that might be) but we did on occasion achieve variety. That's not nothing, and in today's blasted moonscape of a political and cultural battlefield where warring monocultures try to cleanse America of the diverse Other, that long-ago variety begins to look like a lot.

And I really would have liked to hear the backstage conversation between Jefferson Airplane and Kate Smith.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Preach the gospel always.
If necessary, use an eggplant.

Watch the Channel 9 video. Just do it.
On what we now call Palm Sunday, the Savior of the world rode into Jerusalem on an ass.

Not a majestic stallion. An ass. And not just any old ass, a colt.

An adolescent ass.

This God of ours, the one who washed His disciples' feet, the one who first revealed Himself to a Samaritan woman with a checkered past -- and present -- has no need to prove anything. He is secure enough to humble Himself -- thus the Cross.

Consider . . . the second person of the Holy Trinity allowed Himself to be executed like a common criminal to save His people. To become the ultimate spotless Lamb of God, sacrificed in the eternal Passover.

SO, YEAH, it makes perfect sense to me that a cook at Gino's Italian restaurant in Baton Rouge, La., would cut into an eggplant only to find that the seeds spelled "GOD."

An amazing coincidence? Of course. But ours is a God of amazing coincidences, which we call "miracles."

Ours is a society that worships things, celebrities and power, all of which are fleeting. We tell ourselves that we are as gods, and that we are in control of all things.

Then a line cook in a God-haunted Southern state capital cuts into yet another eggplant destined for the sauté pan. . . .

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: "

"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

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.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Now if it had been Krispy Kreme. . . .

WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Hurricanes can't shut down Waffle House. What's a little wind and rain?

Hell, for all I know, nuclear war and/or the Apocalypse couldn't keep the legendary short-order chain from scatterin', smotherin' and coverin' the hash browns . . . and probably anything else you desired. If hostile space aliens mounted an invasion of Earth tomorrow and came across a Waffle House, my best guess is that they'd be so busy assimilating waffles and chili-covered hash browns, they'd never get around to exterminating the human race at all.

And when they had sated themselves, they'd wobble away on their spindly, green little legs shouting "OOP! BLOOP! QUARK! FLEEGAMATRONICS!" That's space-invader speak for "I love you, man!"

"Y'all come back!" the gal at the register would reply with a friendly wave goodbye.

NOPE, nothing can turn out the lights at Waffle House.

Well, except for one thing: the long arm of the law. Baton Rouge, La., police were not amused -- well, maybe they were a little -- to find the lights on and a party going on at one Waffle House late into the Isaac-tossed night after a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew took effect Wednesday.

Here's the story from a bemused reporter from WAFB television, which a generation of baby-boomer Baton Rougeans grew up knowing as "big, booming, powerful Channel 9":
The streets were bare through most of the city, but it was like a party at the Waffle House on College Drive.

"Four o'clock this afternoon, you could hardly get in the door it was so busy," said Karl Landry. "It was packed. Matter of fact, the waitress told me they had to lock the doors at 5:00 to be able to clean up."

It was one of just a handful of places open as Isaac's winds and rain lashed the Capital City, which is why Karl Landry visited the restaurant three times Wednesday.

"We're here for the food," said Leah Couvillion. "Our power is currently out, so the air conditioning and the nice break to have some food and to get together is really nice."

"I'm very appreciative to Waffle House for being the only thing in town that's open," added another customer.

However, there was one problem. With the curfew still in place, the restaurant was not supposed to be open.

"I'm sorry, they're closed," an officer said. "We're under a curfew for the town, so I'm going to have to ask you to go home."

The curfew is in effect until till 6 a.m., so officers with the Baton Rouge Police Department spent the night making their rounds and forcing shops to shut down, sending employees and potential customers home.

"No one told us, so we came here and they told us and we were like, 'Oops,'" said one customer forced to leave.

"It's pretty devastating. I'll be honest. I mean, it wasn't that serious of a storm, so we thought Waffle House would be open serving us hash browns," Couvillion added.
HERE'S A TIP for corporate: It's Louisiana, y'all. I reckon that if a cute and buxom waitress had waved a plate of scattered, covered and smothered in front of the local constabulary, Baton Rouge's finest might not have actually failed to enforce curfew, but I bet they would have taken their sweet time about it.

Just as soon as they'd finished off a late supper at a Southern institution. And a couple or three cups of coffee.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

'I want a brave man, I want a cave man. . . .'

Gee, this certainly looks familiar.

And -- imagine the coincidence! -- the Baton Rouge cops have the same excuse as Omaha cops did recently for their adventures in police brutality. She (he) hit us first.

Well, that certainly makes all the difference in the world, doesn't it? I'll bet the attorneys for suspended LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson are shaking their heads right now.

Or something.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Unintended art

One of the things you get to do when you're sick is let your mind wander. And just aimlessly fool around with stuff, because you don't have to accomplish anything . . . because you're sick.

So, one of the things I did while convalescing yesterday was to take a virtual drive in my Louisiana hometown, Baton Rouge, via Google Maps' "street view" function.

I WENT DOWN Government Street from my old high school to the riverfront and -- apart from being depressed at how damned dilapidated everything is . . . streets, buildings, sidewalks -- it occurred to me how the 360-degree view allows you to make "street view art."

Also, it seems to me that Google's street view could be a powerful tool for photographers to plan their architectural or cityscape shoots.

Here's a virtual photo I "took" while virtually passing by the studios of WAFB, Channel 9. I always thought the station's original tower would make a fun picture, and I was right.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Flashlight . . . check. Batteries . . . check.
Trojans . . . check. Butt paste . . . check.

My hometown is a broken and dark city on the mighty Mississippi -- battered by Gustav, largely without electricity, bracing for flooding from rain-swollen waterways and waiting out an overnight curfew.

IT TOOK 43 YEARS, but a hurricane finally whacked Baton Rouge worse than the gold standard of stormy suck -- Betsy in 1965.

I'm sitting here in Omaha early, early this Tuesday morning, listening to continuing coverage on WJBO, the city's news-talk station that has enough Internet connectivity to stream its signal but not a lick of telephone service. Hurricanes are funny that way.

But across town, it's good to know that the hurricane-chasing reporters and cameramen of
WAFB television are chockablock with Trojans and Boudreaux's Butt Paste.

Are the TV people having the Mother of All Hurricane Parties . . . or what? According to a Channel 9 cameraman's
storm blog, chalk one up for "or what":
That hair dryer at the bottom of the picture isn't just to keep the reporters well-coiffed. It comes in handy to de-fog a lens or dry the humidity from our cameras as well as dry our socks.

And might surprise you to know that no storm chaser worth their Doppler would dream of leaving the station without a box of condoms . . . Now, now, you're getting ahead of me. They're not for a game of Beach Blanket Bingo. Condoms are the absolute best things we've found to keep our microphones dry and operating like they're supposed to.

And one thing not pictured, but equally important, is a giant tube of Boudreaux's Butt Paste. Perfect for those occasions when sand gets trapped in your sensitive parts. And there's a whole lot of sand blowing around Grand Isle.
UHHHHHH . . . RIGHT. Though you have to wonder what some sheriff down on the bayou might be thinking when the Channel 9 storm chasers shove a Trojan-sheathed mic in his face.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Gustav, the deadly ironist

Hurricanes not only are destructive, they are ironic.

CHANNEL 9 IN BATON ROUGE reports two deaths in the city -- an elderly couple who fled the central Louisiana coast for shelter in the capital -- marking Hurricane Gustav's first U.S. victims.

Here's the
story from the WAFB television website:
Police say two people were killed Monday when a tree fell on a home at 1218 Elmcrest in Baton Rouge. It happened about 1:20 p.m.

The victims have been identified as 72-year-old Richard Broussard and his wife, 71-year-old Mary Ann Darby Broussard, both of Abbeville.

Police say the couple had come to Baton Rouge to stay at their daughter's boyfriend's home during Hurricane Gustav.

A large tree fell from a neighbor's home onto the house, killing both victims.

Officers say the couple's daughter and her boyfriend also suffered minor-moderate injuries and were transported to a local hospital by EMS.

You know you're a Midwesterner when. . . .

You know, after long years in the Great White Nawth, you finally have become a Midwesterner when you're horrified by a TV station's lack of alarm at a tornado warning.

You've got to understand. I live in Omaha, Neb., on the northern end of "Tornado Alley." A large slice through the heart of my city was
leveled by an EF-4 monster in 1975.

Several smaller twisters have taken chunks out of Omaha neighborhoods this spring, and the whole place got knocked silly by a late-June thunderstorm that acted like a short-lived Category 2 hurricane.

NEBRASKANS -- Omahans -- don't mess with tornadoes, just like New Orleanians no longer mess around with hurricanes in Katrina's wake. And at Omaha television and radio stations, it's all hands on deck and wall cloud-to-wall cloud coverage every time the sirens go off.

Reporters are chasing the storm and calling in with blow by blow reports. Meteorologists are plotting storm paths and arrival times on their Doppler radar displays.

Viewers are E-mailing in digital pictures of snaking funnel clouds.

And storm-wary Omaha folk are heading for "safe shelter" in our basements.

WHERE I'M ORIGINALLY FROM, though, this concept unfortunately doesn't exist. If Baton Rouge's creaky old air-raid sirens sounded for a tornado warning, locals would think it was either the Russkies or the Luftwaffe about to blow them up good.

I think this might be why so many Southerners end up getting themselves killed when tornadoes fall upon them from a black, stormy sky.

That is because, in the opinion of we Midwestern twister veterans, lukewarm Southerners are quite insane.

This was my first thought, when the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning as I was watching Hurricane Gustav coverage on WAFB in Baton Rouge. Frankly, Channel 9 didn't seem that excited that potential death was threatening to snake out of Gustav's outer bands.

The station didn't find it necessary to break away from news reports about Gustav's impending arrival. Or from commercials, for that matter.

When the Channel 9 weatherman did come on screen, he casually mentioned rotation in a storm over Livingston Parish and headed fast for the capital city. It might be a good idea to take shelter in an interior room or hallway.

I thought I might be watching
Al Sleet. "Heyyyyyyyyyyy! Que pasaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

NO. NOT QUE PASA. I am from Omaha.

We. Know. Tornadoes.

The proper response, Baton Rouge, is
"AAAIIIIEEEE!!! SEEK SAFE SHELTER NOW!!! Joe Schmoe in the field is right behind this supercell -- Joe, what are you seeing now?"

Three Omaha TV stations and several radio stations
were caught asleep at the switch at 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning when a couple of twisters touched down in suburban Omaha. There was hell to pay. Particularly for the station caught airing a rerun of The Wild, Wild West.

And the one TV station with a meteorologist at the switch . . . the one station sounding the alarm before the storms touched down -- and before the storm sirens could go off -- now is The Station of Tornado Heroes.

Channel 9's "Heyyyyyy! Que pasaaaaaa!" act wouldn't fly in Omaha, by God, Nebraska. Omaha, by God, Nebraska, is not an Al Sleet kind of media market.

What hurricanes are to Baton Rouge and New Orleans, tornadoes are to Omaha and the Midwest. And while lots of Omahans might not know a storm surge from a storm cellar, they'd know what to do when one of them twisters dropped out of a feeder band.

Uh huh, yes we would.