Showing posts with label WWL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WWL. Show all posts

Friday, May 26, 2017

Q: Are there not men? A: They're gesphincto.

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Once upon a time in Louisiana, the Jesuits owned WWL radio and television in New Orleans, and Douglas L. Manship was taking to the airwaves on Channel 2 in Baton Rouge, WBRZ, to editorialize against the lawlessness -- and the folly -- of segregation.

For that, starting in 1960, Manship became accustomed to the sight of burning crosses in his front yard.

As seen on WWL-TV . . . in 2017
Small men held sway over the Gret Stet back then, but at least some of the media considered pushing back against evil times and small minds a duty, not just one of many possibilities.

In 1960, WWL was on the cusp of building a television-news juggernaut in New Orleans. In Baton Rouge that year, Manship and WBRZ were calling for calm, reason and the rule of law as segregationist passions flared over a federal order to integrate the New Orleans public schools.

As it turns out, advocating for civility (and civil society) when the angry mob is at one's door -- not to mention in control of the Legislature -- is a big job when society is under the sway of the aforementioned small minds and small men. 

In a 1962 doctoral dissertation at the Ohio State University, John Pennybacker, in a study of Manship's editorializing and the impact on Baton Rouge and Louisiana's segregationist governance, sets the scene for how much at odds the South -- how much Louisiana in particular -- found itself with the notion of civil liberties and the norms of liberal democracy:
Into this emotion-charged atmosphere stepped Dr. Waldo McNeir, a Professor of English at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Dr. McNeir, apparently feeling he had seen and heard enough, sent copies of the following letter to State Senator Wendell Harris and Representatives A.T. (Apple) Sanders and Eugene McGehee -- his representatives in the State Legislature.
Segregation is wrong. Interposition is of no legal value. Louisiana is one of the 50 states that make up this nation. State sovereignty is a dead doctrine. We must live under the rule of law or perish. Reason must prevail.

The laws enacted by the state legislature in these two special sessions are a disgrace and a national scandal. They have seriously damaged this country in the eyes of the world. Whatever your personal views, these are the facts. There is still time for you to show statesmanship and rise above your personal feelings.

I was born in the South. I am a citizen of the United States, a legal resident of this state for 11 years, a tax payer, and the parent of a school age child. I urge for you to vote for law and order before tragic results occur.
Legislative reaction to this was quick and to the point.

A House committee Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution condemning a LSU professor for criticizing the Legislature's anti­ integration program in a letter to his representative and ordered an un-American activities probe at the University.

Representative Mike John had this to say: "By what right does an LSU professor dare to attack the character and intentions of this legislature. I won't stand by and permit such a person to level such an unwarranted attack upon what we are trying to do here."

PLUS ÇA CHANGE, plus c'est la même chose.

Or, to quote the more legislator-friendly words of baseball great Yogi Berra, "It's deja vu all over again." "Deja vu," of course, being . . . never mind. The governors, and the governed, of Louisiana may not now (and may not ever) understand, but I assume you get the picture -- in 1960, the importance of segregation was as indispensable to the Southern psyche as the continued existence of Confederate monuments is in 2017.
One might assume, probably correctly, that is due to the ongoing psychic centrality of white supremacy for many Southerners -- the root of "separate but (un)equal" and the reason for the cult of the Lost Cause.

Then, just as now for small individuals in high places, the small minds of the angry unwashed have primacy over the quiet testimony of facts and reason . . . and the impartial demands of the rule of law.

The latter are the prerequisites of democratic self-governance. The former? The lifeblood of despotism. Pennybacker again:
Although, as has been noted, Mr. Manship scheduled a study of the integration problem in September of 1961, his first identified editorial was broadcast on the night of Tuesday, November 1. It was prompted by the vagueness of Governor Davis about his plans' for the first special session of the legislature. Mr. Manship called on the Governor to reveal his plans and give the people of the state an opportunity to voice their reactions prior to legislative action. He concluded the editorial with the declara­tion that "government by intrigue, mystery, silence and darkness smacks to us of dictatorship."

The Legislature convened on November 6 and, in the next few days, the plans of the Governor were made clear. On Thursday, November 10, Mr. Manship commented on the program presented. He began by describing the two principal means proposed to thwart the rulings of the court -- inter­ position and closing the schools. It was pointed out that the first of these would be tenable only if the United States were considered a feder­ ation of separate states, but "that theory of the nature of our country was settled violently by the Civil War." The second means "would seem to constitute a deprivation of property without due process of law." Finally, he decried the nature of the special session itself, stating his opinion that "some few . . . would seem to be more intent on defying the federal government and seeing their opposition to desegregation gratified than on maintaining the traditional standards of governmental action or . . . the welfare of the people."
On the Saturday prior to the scheduled desegregation of the schools in New Orleans, November 12, Mr. Manship appealed for reason and order. He first pointed out that there were orderly procedures for reg­istering protest of a decision of the Supreme Court. "We may ask that Court to reconsider its interpretation. That remedy having been exhausted, we may seek to amend the Constitution." Any other forms of opposition would be classifiable as rebellion and could lead to the use of force of arms for "the federal government cannot permit a state to flaunt the decrees of its courts." Unfortunately, "already the Governor and the Legislature have surrendered to their emotions." If they persist in their efforts to block integration, great harm could result. He closed with an appeal for wisdom and restraint in the future actions of the Governor and the Legislature.

By November 14 it was apparent that the state government had no intention of abandoning its opposition to desegregation. Consequently, on Monday the 14th, Mr. Manship broadcast an appeal to the people of Louisiana.

This appeal opened with the assertion that the Legislature was inciting the people to violence. Mr. Manship called for order and concluded by (1) urging the Governor to put a stop to the "Tragic comedy now in pro­ gress"; (2) asking the people of the state to inform the Governor of their views; and (3) urging "that all of us exercise reason and common sense in our handling of this crisis, before murder is committed in the name of freedom."
Broadcasting, Feb. 13, 1961
Despite the December ruling of the Federal District Court in New Orleans that the doctrine of interposition was unconstitutional, it soon became evident that the state was not to be deterred in its fight against desegregation. On December 9 Mr. Manship commented on the question of "Civilization and Political Action." In this rather philosophical edito­rial he pointed out that a mark of civilization "is the willingness of a people to determine their courses of action on the basis of sincere rational discussion conducted calmly by informed and responsible men." This standard was then applied to the actions of the Governor and the Leg­islature. "To refuse to follow the decisions of the federal courts after they have finally determined what action is required of us under the Constitution is to throw aside the mark of civilization." Finally, after expanding this last point somewhat, he concluded with this appeal. "It is to be hoped that the Governor and the legislature will come to their senses and fulfill their public trusts in a manner befitting officials of a civilized community."
Two days later Governor Davis Issued a call for a second special session to consider the possibility of a tax increase. Reacting to this on Monday, December 12, Mr. Manship raised several questions which were never answered satisfactorily. The questions were as follows:
1. What is the actual anticipated cost for whatever moves are now being planned in the executive sessions of the legislature in this matter of segregation?

2. What are the future financial plans for education? . . . Can the plans be financed without a new tax?

3. Will this legislature saddle the state with a new tax . . . and then fail in their objective because of . . . the federal courts?

4. It has been indicated the tax is to finance the program . . . for giving money to children who want to go to private schools, to avoid integration. . . . The tax would probably produce $45 million, but the need to finance such a program, if Virginia may be taken as an example, probably will not exceed $1 or $2 million, . . . What does Governor Davis plan to do with the rest of the money?

5. What will be the effect of a new sales tax on the hoped for industrial development of our state?
On December 13 the legislature first heard of the letter from Dr. Waldo McNeir and reacted by ordering an un-American activities probe. Mr. Manship editorialized twice on the issues raised by this action. On Tues­day, December 13, he pointed out that the writing of a letter to an elected representative would seem to be more American than un-American. In addition to this, "it is ironic, too, that the House should hint that there is some­ thing un-American about urging action consistent with the Constitution and judgments of the United States.

On December 17, a Saturday, he took a tongue-in-cheek attitude towards the state House Un-American Activities Committee investigation of the entire L.S.U. faculty — an investigation to cost $60,000. As a help to the committee he suggested they broaden their investigation to assure "that, in addition to there being no un-American activities at L.S.U., there are also no witches or demons . . . Really, what the state of Louisiana needs more than anything else at the present time is a good, legislatively sponsored and conducted witch hunt."
WHERE, and when, there is evil and lawlessness afoot, sometimes there also are those who stand before the abyss, warning onrushing fools of their impending doom. In the early '60s, in segregation-drunk Louisiana, Doug Manship sat before a television camera to tell Channel 2's viewers that hateful, lawless and self-destructive was no way for a state to go through history.
Today, there is . . . .



I fear all is quiet on the grown-up front. At media outlet after media outlet -- across Louisiana and this fractured, seething land -- the gatekeepers have abandoned their posts, and the mob runs unchecked across website comments sections and media Facebook pages alike.

In the breech, we get filth. Hateful racist filth, with intimations of violence just over the horizon.

We used to have the saying, "Freedom of the press belongs to him who owns one."  Today, absolute license is the possession of the foul-mouthed, hard-hearted and ill-educated rabble. The rabble gets this no-purchase, no-lease, unlimited-use timeshare in a fool's paradise from him who owns "the press."

And the corporate owners of a depleted media seem to be OK with that, for reasons of malfeasance or out of a desperate, cynical trolling for clicks, with hate as the bait.

Behold, WWL-TV in 2017. These are comments from its Facebook post of a story about the leader of the anti-monument movement pushing New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to further purge the city of Confederate tributes and iconography. For Malcolm Suber, four monuments gone is just a start.

Unfortunately, this also is just a start:


WHAT WOULD the Jesuits do? Well, they wouldn't tolerate this. Not for a nanosecond.

"The planet of the apes (sic) wasn't really about apes it's (sic) was about African-Americans taking over the world"? The Jesuits, d.b.a. Loyola University of the South, not only wouldn't tolerate such toxic waste, they would hunt down one Joey J. Landry and apply the fear of God directly to his racist ass.

WWL television is not alone in its laissez-faire posture toward bigots doing what bigot do on its comments-section and social-media dime. Channel 4 is just the most egregious example at hand, at the moment.

Go to the comments on any race-related story in The Advocate, a newspaper once owned by the Manship family as well, and you'll quickly get the impression you've stumbled into a barroom long past the time when your drunken, racist uncle should have been cut off -- and every seat in the joint is being warmed by your racist, drunken uncle.

In the WWL story on removing public tributes to the Confederacy and the Lost Cause, Suber said Landrieu needed to "finish the job."

On the WWL post on Facebook, Matt Conrad said maybe "the rebels" should "finish the job first."

"These lies against the south (sic) and the confederacy (sic) need to stop," he added. The civil war (sic) was clearly not fought over slavery and this destruction lead (sic) by the misinformed must end and be reversed now!"

From 'Chris Fullerton of Denham Springs, La.'
So little truth, so many "sics."

Back in 1960 -- when the Federal Communications Commission still obligated broadcasters to offer the opposing side of an issue "equal time" after on-air editorials like Doug Manship's -- implicit threats, visible-from-space misstatements of historical fact and a basketful of sic-worthy constructions would not have been part of the bargain. Something approaching reasoned argument, free of obvious lying and fit for an all-ages audience, would have.

Neither Manship nor any other responsible media owner in 1960 (or 1970 . . . or 1980 . . . or 1990) would have given raging anti-Semites the airtime or the newsprint to present vulgar smears about how it's all the fault of the Jews.

Channel 4 just did on the planet's biggest social-media platform. It's like buying the beer for your racist, drunken uncle, only the world is his barroom.

The account of 'Chris Fullerton' may or may not be fake. But the filth is real.

LAST YEAR, I mentioned to a reporter for the late Mr. Manship's television station, WBRZ, the racist and, frankly, incendiary comments dominating his Facebook live stream of a tense and occasionally violent protest after the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling. If the comments had been screamed at a crowd on a Baton Rouge street corner, surely there would have been arrests for incitement to riot.

The reporter's response -- And, for God's sake, should not a journalist know better than this? -- was "they have a First Amendment right."

No. No, the comment-box filth-peddlers don't. WBRZ has the First Amendment right to choose what it does and doesn't promulgate. And Facebook has the First Amendment right to decide what it does and doesn't allow on its platform.

If the racists of New Orleans and Baton Rouge -- and of Omaha and the rest of the United States -- desire to exercise, unfettered, their First Amendment right to say awful and offensive things, they have their options. They can stand on the corner and speechify. They can write up a manifesto, "sics" and all, photocopy it and pass it out to passers-by.

LIKEWISE, they can email everybody they know, including The Advocate, Channel 2 and WWL-TV to let them know that it's all the fault of the blacks and the Jews. They can write a letter to the editor and see whether the editor will publish it. Or they can put it up on their own Facebook pages and hope for the best (the worst?).

The combox deplorables of the world even can start their own websites or newspapers to spread their garbage more efficiently. Many have, in fact.

What they don't have the First Amendment "right" to do is make media outlets (or even Facebook) spread their venom for them. Free of charge.

The sooner we find the last actual adult in the news media and convince him (or her) to exercise in full the press' rights under our constitutional order -- including the right to tell the scum of the earth "Not on my dime!" -- the better off America will be.

As previously stated, heat we have plenty of already. It's light that we lack.

Doug Manship, during a period in our history whose echoes we hear today, did not suffer fools in government who thought leadership was as simple as positioning oneself at the front of a racist mob. I cannot believe, were he alive today, that he'd think that providing a free (and very public) rumpus room for the racist mob would be any way to run a media outlet.

Monday, December 03, 2012

A confederacy of dunces . . . on the make

I . . . well, you see . . . uhhhhhh . . . the . . . ummmmmm . . . well, dat's Loozi . . . errrrrrr . . . I . . . ummmmm . . . HOLY CRAP!

I . . . I . . . I . . . errrrrrr . . . I . . . it . . . the the . . . ohhhhh . . . ummmm, well. . . .

Aw, hell, here's the story from WWL television in -- of course -- New Orleans:
The Quicky's convenience store in Mid-City takes its parking lot rules seriously. Very seriously.

About 4 p.m. Friday, New Orleans paramedics rushed inside the store for a man with a life-threatening medical issue.

They worked on the patient with chest pain, put him inside the vehicle, then started to speed off.

The paramedics “heard a loud noise,” and the vehicle came to a screeching halt, according to Jeb Tate, spokesman for New Orleans Emergency Medical Services.

The medics stepped out and found a boot on their ambulance.

Convenience store employees allegedly put a restrictive parking boot on the ambulance. And now it was stuck.

The paramedics were perplexed.

Tate said the ambulance had its emergency lights on the whole time.

Store employees didn’t want to talk about it. They declined requests for comment.

Apparently one of the employees took the boot off. The tire was left flat.

And so the paramedics and the man with the emergency waited.

“We actually had to delay that patient's care by calling another ambulance out here to come transport this patient,” Tate said.

The man who booted the ambulance was a Quicky’s convenience store employee and New Orleans Police cited him for simple criminal damage to property for putting the boot on the ambulance.

Eyewitness News saw workers continuing to boot cars in their parking lot Monday morning. A worker at Quicky's convenience store said the employee, identified in a police report as Ahmed Sidi Aleywa, who booted a working ambulance Friday has been fired.

“The guy that did this, he came from another country. He didn't even know what an ambulance looked like. He's been fired,” said Ali Colone, a man identified as a worker at Quicky’s. The owners declined to comment, but Colone said the owners are sorry it happened.

“We just have rules and regulations that we have to follow by. There are signs out here for our regular customers,” Colone said.

Those rules and regulations are self-imposed. Quicky’s parking lot is private property. Signs posted read, “If you leave the property your vehicle will be booted."

Akesha Allen is a private investigator and in September, she stopped to get a drink at Quicky's. Before getting out, she climbed to the back of the van to secure her equipment when it started shaking.

“I said, what are you doing? I'm not illegally parked. He goes, yes you are. You didn't pay the fee. I said I never got out of the van to pay the fee,” Allen said about a $5 charge for parking in the lot.

They gave her a sheet that said she owed them $120 to remove the boot.

“We had to come out there with cash. They wouldn't take a check,” said Mark Avery, Allen’s employer at Deep South Investigations.
SO, do you need any more proof that New Orleans is not of this country, if indeed of this world? It's not just anywhere that you will find such a perfect storm of abject stupidity plus people always, always on the make and looking for somebody, anybody to shake down.

Even an ambulance trying to take one of your deathly ill customers to the freakin' hospital.

It says a lot about the folks who run Quicky's that they think it's a defense that their now-former employee was so out of touch with modernity that he didn't know what an ambulance was and, one assumes, couldn't read or comprehend "New Orleans EMS" painted on its side in giant letters.

"Eems? Wha iss theese eems! Theese eems no park here!"

Really? They think they'll look better because they hire flippin' morons from BF Egypt? That booting an ambulance is somehow less abjectly criminally insane because they hired a moron mystified by an ambulance parked in the convenience-store lot, emergency lights flashing?

God Almighty.

Well, at least somebody at Quicky's knew the number for 911. That's something, I guess.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The dog days of hurricane season

I believe in God and country. I also believe in baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Toyota automobiles.

And I damn well believe in a television anchorwoman who brings her dog to work during a hurricane.

In this picture from WWL television in New Orleans, Eyewitness News legend Angela Hill is shown behind the scenes of the station's ongoing coverage of Hurricane Isaac with her personal assistant, Diesel the Dog. Channel 4's news director may have other thoughts, but I think it's pretty much mandatory that Diesel be given some on-air role in keeping folks up to date on the storm.

TV news never lets a pretty face go to waste and, with one like Diesel's, it would be a doggone crime if it started now.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Protesting in the key of Z

I am unsure what is the bigger offense -- New Orleans talk-show host Garland Robinette running down his landfill-owning pal's landfill enemies on the radio and then accepting a $250,000 no-interest loan from the dumpmeister . . . or some outraged, off-key "Yat" making a protest-parody to the tune of Barry Manilow's "Mandy."

"Mandy"? And this guy gets paid to do this? On the radio?

If New Orleanians were as good at enacting cultural and political change as they are bad at topical parody vids, the Crescent City might be getting somewhere. But they ain't, and it's not.

I have an idea. Lock Robinette in a room. Make him listen to this damn thing, over and over and over again. Then take pity on the man and just waterboard him instead.

And please . . . make sure that room is soundproof, OK?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

If everybody's crooked, is wrong all right?

Garland Robinette, in most every way, has been the face -- or, more precisely, the voice -- of post-Katrina New Orleans.

And for being too representative in one important way, the WWL radio host -- who before that was a TV-news fixture in the Crescent City from the time I was in elementary school to well past when I married and moved away from Louisiana -- ought to be fired.

No matter who you are or how good you are at what you do, sometimes you do something for which there's no excuse -- or at least no good excuse. And for Robinette, who's been around the block more than once as a journalist, covering Louisiana scoundrels grand and petty, there's just no excuse for not knowing a massive conflict of interest when it presented itself.

Indeed, there's just no way a longtime radio and TV reporter and anchor could not have known what he was doing was, shall we say, both ethically challenged and fatally toxic to both his and his employer's credibility. There's just no way.

WHAT did he do? Here's what the Times-Picayune says he did:
WWL talk radio host Garland Robinette received $250,000 from the owner of the River Birch Landfill in October 2007, after Robinette routinely used his show to criticize the reopening of the rival Old Gentilly Landfill to dispose of Hurricane Katrina debris, his attorney confirmed. Federal authorities investigating River Birch flagged the monetary transfer and interviewed Robinette several times late last year, said Robinette's attorney Dane Ciolino, who said the money was a loan.

"They asked him a lot of questions, and he has cooperated fully," Ciolino said Friday. "He has been told that he is not a subject or target of the investigation."

Embattled River Birch owner Fred Heebe loaned Robinette the money through a company Heebe owns, Ciolino said.

"Fred Heebe is a personal friend of Garland's" he said, "and it was a personal loan."

Ciolino said the loan was to be repaid once Robinette and his wife sold a vacant lot they own in St. Tammany Parish. He said he believed Robinette, an avid painter, used the money to build an art studio.

Ciolino said he did not know whether Robinette has repaid the loan or whether he has been paying interest.

The disclosure involving one of New Orleans' most prominent media figures is the latest development in the 20-month investigation of River Birch, which allegedly paid $460,000 in bribes to a former state official to lobby for closing Old Gentilly.

The loan was made during the post-Katrina landfill wars as Heebe and his associates sought to shutter the Old Gentilly Landfill and the new Chef Menteur Landfill to increase River Birch's share of more than $175 million in disposal fees for at least 38 million cubic yards of hurricane debris.

From mid-2006 through mid-2007, Robinette frequently raised environmental concerns about disposing of debris at Old Gentilly and the new Chef Menteur Landfill in eastern New Orleans on his "Think Tank" talk show.

THIS WEEK, Robinette took to the WWL airwaves to defend himself:

"I can look my wife and my daughter in the eye and tell you the public I have done absolutely nothing wrong," Robinette said.

Entercom Corp., WWL's Pennsylvania-based owner, backed Robinette, saying

company officials "do not expect this matter to affect Garland's status with WWL."

From 2006 until at least May 2007, Robinette frequently raised environmental concerns on his show about disposing of hurricane debris at Old Gentilly, a former city dump in eastern New Orleans that reopened two months after Katrina.

The payment to Robinette, first reported Saturday in The Times-Picayune, came as Heebe and his associates were trying to shut down the Old Gentilly Landfill and the Chef Menteur Landfill -- both of which were opened in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to deal with the huge volume of trash.

Robinette said his coverage of the landfill issue was not influenced by the money from Heebe.

"My opinions are not and have not ever been for sale. I would never dishonor your trust nor my family's," he said.

HE CAN LOOK his wife and daughter in the eye and tell us he's "done nothing wrong"? No joke?

If Robinette believes that --
really believes that in his heart and mind -- he obviously operates within the context of a depraved worldview, likely formed by the corrosive forces of an depraved civic culture, one with a completely deviant view of such concepts as "right," "wrong" and "normal." (This also applies to Robinette's corporate boss, Entercom, which is blind -- as American corporations are wont to be -- to everything but the bottom line.)

Dat's Loosiana for you!

That's a place where "on the make" and "on the take" are such a part of "normal" civic life as to be unexceptional -- and unprosecuted if not for the U.S. Justice Department. There you have a society where businessmen are giving, officials are taking and -- now -- at least one prominent figure in the mass media is "borrowing."

While talking up his friend and creditor's shady interests by running down the "competition."

THIS is what passes for "absolutely nothing wrong" in the mind of a man who emerged as one of New Orleans' preeminent post-Katrina crusaders for what he'd have us believe was "truth, justice and the American Way." Now he's a man making himself into a different, yet much more familiar, face of "the Big Easy" -- the ethically pockmarked face of an American banana republic.

Answer me this: In the Gret Stet, what institution can the public really trust?

That Garland Robinette now has added to the long, deafening silence that accompanies that question is reason enough to "kill his mic" . . . and his long broadcasting career with it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

If Nash said it. . . .

If there are Marks-a-Lots in heaven, we're gonna be all right. Nash Roberts will have the weather covered.

The legendary New Orleans weatherman and hurricane guru got promoted to the ultimate Weather Center this weekend at age 92.

If it was a storm, and if it was in the Gulf of Mexico, Nash Roberts had it covered, and he pretty much always knew where it was going to end up -- and this in the age of doing math on paper, peering into World War II-vintage radar scopes and drawing TV weather maps with a black, felt-tip marker.

If Nash said it, it must be so -- that's what about three generations of folks in south Louisiana came to think of the fixture on Channels 4, 6 and 8. May the Good Lord see things the same way as ol' Nash -- the poor, sunken city of New Orleans' meteorological guardian angel -- gets sent up to the majors.

in New Orleans announced the sad news Sunday evening:
During a career that lasted more than 50 years on local television, New Orleans viewers came to trust his calm and accurate forecasts so much so that the question “What does Nash say?” was the way many gauged the potential impact of an impending weather system.

“Sometimes I wish I knew myself why I am right,” Roberts said in a 1998 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But a portion of it is just instinctive. It’s just a talent I have.”

Roberts retired from meteorology and his on-air role at WWL-TV during hurricane season in 2001. Throughout his career, he was the informed and educated voice of calm and reason, and his forecasting with felt-tip pens (which served him well, years into the high-tech age of broadcast meteorology) helped illustrate the direction of hurricanes since 1947. When he was inducted into the Greater New Orleans Broadcasters Association’s New Orleans Broadcasting Hall of Fame, the group commented that Roberts had been on the air longer than 95 percent of the stations in the country. By the time he retired, Roberts had worked at three of the city’s television stations.

For over five decades, the New Orleans native was a rock of stability during trying times: the horror of Hurricane Audrey in 1957, the devastation of Hurricanes Betsy and Camille in the 1960s, and the heart-stopping threat of Hurricane Georges in 1998. Roberts was there through it all, with his simple map, felt-tipped pen and lifetime of weather wisdom.

The Times-Picayune summed up Roberts’ impact in 199
8, in a special issue commemorating 50 years of television in New Orleans: “His power is tremendous. Some of us won't go to sleep until Nash says it's OK. His strong suit is personal forecasts - a mix of hunch and 50 years of knowledge - mapped out in Magic Marker.”
NASH ROBERTS is gone. Now the Gulf Coast is stuck with those damned computer models, none of which was produced by a supercomputer with even a fraction as much processing power as a certain meteorologist's brain.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Mr. Rock and Mr. Roll . . . together again

Go grab youself a cold one, Cap, then get back here.

You good?

OK, now sit youself down and watch this story from WWL-TV in New Orleans. After a bunch of years, Channel 4's Eric Paulsen brought Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew back together to remember the days when they were helping to birth rock 'n' roll . . . and to play some of the old songs, too.

This is as close as you're ever going to get to seeing -- alive and still kickin' and in the flesh -- the origins of the music that changed the world.

Look at this. These are the men of a time, of the glory days, of the most musical place on earth.

IF YOU WANT to see inside the soul of Louisianians of a certain age -- black and white, rich and poor -- if you want to see what makes up a goodly portion of my soul . . . formed in my parents' back bedroom in Baton Rouge, playing Fats Domino 78s on a 1949 Silvertone console, you're looking at it right here.

The Times-Picayune's Keith Spera describes the scene:
Dave Bartholomew straightens up and pulls on his gray suit jacket. He enters the home, the residence of an old friend he hasn’t seen in years.

Fats Domino.

Together, Bartholomew and Domino authored the richest chapter in New Orleans music, making rock ’n’ roll history along the way. Bartholomew “discovered” Domino, co-wrote his hits and produced the recordings that sold millions of copies in the 1950s and early ’60s.

Next week, Bartholomew and Domino are the subject of the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s 15th American Music Masters series. A week of lectures, interviews and film screenings at the museum and a day-long conference at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland culminate with a Nov. 13 tribute concert featuring Toots & the Maytals, Lloyd Price, Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Theresa Andersson, the Dixie Cups and many more. Bartholomew, 89, plans to travel to Cleveland for the concert; Domino, 82, is not making the trip.

In 1999, Bartholomew and Domino sat down with me for a joint interview prior to their separate performances at that year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Since then, they’ve had little contact.

In advance of the Hall of Fame festivities — only the third time the prestigious American Music Masters series has honored living musicians — WWL-TV news anchor Eric Paulsen conspired to reunite Bartholomew and Domino. Paulsen and Domino are buddies; it was Paulsen who spirited Domino to the Fair Grounds in an unsuccessful gambit to get him to perform as scheduled at the 2006 Jazz Fest.

Paulsen arranged for Bartholomew to visit Domino’s post-Hurricane Katrina home in Harvey for the first time on Oct. 5. The result of that effort airs on Thursday, Nov. 4 during WWL-TV’s 10 p.m. newscast.


Domino’s infamous performance anxiety stems in part from doubts about his own abilities. He’ll tinker on a piano at home with family and friends, but his days of performing publicly are likely over.

With a camera rolling, he is reluctant even to play at home. But grudgingly, he takes a seat at a black baby grand. A Lifetime Achievement Grammy and a commemoration of his 1986 induction into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame rest atop the piano. Gold records hang above a couch fashioned from a classic pink Cadillac’s tail section. The couch was salvaged from his flooded Lower 9th Ward home, and restored.

Bartholomew hoists his trumpet to his lips. Domino touches the piano keys. Instinctively, his right hand reels off triplets as his left struts to a distinctly New Orleans rhythm.

Bartholomew encourages him: “Antoine, you still got it, man!”

“You still got it, too!”

They knock off the first verse of “The Fat Man,” Domino’s first single, recorded in December 1949 on North Rampart Street. Bartholomew reminisces about their initial encounter at the Hideaway Lounge in the 9th Ward.

Meanwhile, Domino picks up steam at the piano.

“Just get him started and he’ll never stop,” Bartholomew says. “Yeah! Yeah you right!”

Paulsen notes that the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame considers “The Fat Man” one of, if not the, first rock ’n’ roll songs.

“I’m glad they said that,” Bartholomew says. “Because Fats had been playing the blues for a long, long time. It was good that somebody actually recognized what we were doing.”

They slip into their old roles of producer and artist, with Bartholomew directing and coaching. “Why don’t we play ‘The Fat Man’ all the way?”

Domino plunges in. Bartholomew cheers him on: “That’s you! That’s you!” But Domino loses steam, and they don’t make it all the way.

Bartholomew spins tales set in Philadelphia and London, two stops for the barnstorming Domino band back in the day.

Paulsen wants them to do “I’m Walkin’”: “How’s that song go, Fats? I can’t remember.”

“How I start it, Dave?”

“A-flat,” Bartholomew says, humming the melody as a guide. Domino launches, then abandons “I’m Walkin’” in favor of “Blue Monday,” a favorite of his. He turns to the WWL cameraman and grins, a sign that he’s having fun.

“The city of New Orleans has been so good to us, spread our music all over the world,” Bartholomew says. “We’ve been blessed by God. At this age I still can play the trumpet. And you can still play the piano. Two blessings together.”

“I’m still hanging in there,” Domino agrees.
FROM THEIR lips to God's ear. And may we always be walkin' to New Orleans.

Friday, July 02, 2010

'I see Jack . . . and Chivas . . . and Bud. . . .'

Nothing says "Romper Room" like a recipe for absinthe frappé, courtesy of WWL-TV.

Back when this ad ran in a July 1960 issue of Broadcasting, the New Orleans version of the Boomer kiddie classic had to do the rest of the country one better, I guess. On Channel 4, no doubt, you had your "Do Bees," your "Don't Bees," and your "Shoobee Do Bee Do Bees."

NOW WE KNOW what fueled Miss Ginny's Magic Mirror.

The Crescent City always was a little different. (OK, a lot different.) And I really, really miss when the Jesuits ran the WWL radio and television empire -- "King Edward cigar time" (on WWL radio), absinthe drinks and Romper Room . . . all part of one's "mission from God."

Is Catholicism a great religion or what?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Don't screw with a wounded Tiger

'Tigers, go in once more, go in my sons, I'll be great gloriously God damned if the sons of bitches can ever whip the Tigers!'

Dear Mr. President:

Allow me to add to what Garland Robinette just told you.

If the United States of America persists in seeing Louisiana as a state with first-class natural resources and second-class citizens -- this while a multinational oil company and the neglect of "les Americains" destroy its environment, culture and economy -- it might be useful for you to research how the LSU Tigers came to get that athletic nickname.

IN OTHER WORDS, don't push an entire people further into the kind of outrage people get when they know they're dead men walking, and they know who did it to them. Because if die they are going to do, they damn well will take their murderers along for the ride.

And trust me, a Louisiana native, on this. If that Rubicon is crossed, "les Americains" will discover quickly that Taliban fighters and Iraqi insurgents are rank amateurs.

The Vietnam War happened for a reason. As did the Bolshevik Revolution and any number of other internecine conflagrations that left a legacy of death and destruction in their wake. The results may have been all wrong -- and all tragic -- but the fuse was lit for damned good reasons.

Don't go there.

AMERICANS are Americans. Period. The minute we believe that to be no longer true, it is the United States that will be a dead country walking.

The actions of the U.S. government from this moment onward will determine whether or not the last casualty of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe will be the legitimacy of the American political system itself.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Garland Robinette explains it all

In 1949, in the midst of a heated debate on Burma, a Labour member of Parliament famously said of Winston Churchill, "the Right Honourable Member for Woodford thinks that the 'wogs' begin at Calais."


From the Wiktionary:
wog (plural wogs)

1. (British, slang, pejorative) Any dark-skinned person. Most commonly used to refer to people of Indian, North African, Mediterranean, or Middle Eastern ancestry.

2. (Australian, slang, pejorative) A person of Southern European, Mediterranean (especially Italian, Lebanese, and Greek people), or Middle Eastern ancestry or in some cases, Eastern European ancestry (c.f. wop).
AS WE SPAN 60-plus years and an ocean, coming to rest in 2010 in an enterprise I'll call America 2.0, it's pretty obvious that the "wogs" begin somewhere around Front Royal, Va.

And it doesn't get any "woggier" than my homeland, the Gret Stet of Louisiana, and the treatment meted out by the gummint and "da industry" has pretty much been commensurate with that status. Not that the wogs understood that, especially.

There is such a thing, however, as "an oil spill too far," to adapt a saying to present circumstances. And the wogs are figuring out that they're . . .

Friday on his WWL radio program, Garland Robinette articulated this realization brilliantly to New Orleans and the world. With this knowledge now ringing in the ears of ordinary Louisianians,
pray God, there just might be hell to pay.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A latchkey culture

Another grown-up has gone home to be with God, leaving the children to throw spitballs at one another down here on earth.

We're on our own now, down here in the public square, where decent folk dare not venture. Not at night, not during the day. No time is safe, now that the grown-ups are leaving us to our own devices, and the neighborhood is flat going to hell.

The latest grown-up to be called home was Phil Johnson. For decades, he ran the newsroom at
WWL-TV in New Orleans. He also delivered a nightly editorial, because the Jesuits who owned the station -- it was part of Loyola University back then -- "wanted the station to stand for something.”

Johnson said in that first editorial in 1962:
Good evening. Today a new voice speaks out in New Orleans. The voice – that of this station – WWL-TV. My name is Phil Johnson.

Beginning today, and every weekday hereafter, this station will present editorial opinion – a living, vigorous commentary on all things pertaining to New Orleans, its people and its future.

Commentary designed to stimulate thought, to awaken in all of us an awareness of our responsibilities, not only to our community, but to each other and to ourselves.

Commentary that will aim not to provoke but to educate. Not to offend, but to explain; not to mislead, on the contrary, to seek only truth.

We intend for it to be a vigorous commentary, strong, vibrant, full of the spirit that is New Orleans; yet, a literate commentary, cogent, sensible, fact-filled, complete.

It will not be a comfortable commentary – a voice such as this station reaches over a million people each week. Such a voice should lead, should stimulate thought, present new ideas, or remember the sound, solid old ideas. This we intend to do.

There is one question. Why? Why speak out? Why present editorial opinion?

The answer is simple enough. We think it’s necessary.

This station believes New Orleans needs another voice, another attitude, another opinion. But we further believe it should, it must be a responsible voice, a responsible attitude, a responsible opinion. This we intend to provide.

New Orleans, almost overnight, has found itself propelled to the very forefront of an incredible age of space. We need great leaders, we need men of ability, we need ideas.

Our leaders we elect, men of ability, we can train. Ideas are harder to come by.

It is the fervent prayer of this station, that the ideas we may project in our editorials can, tomorrow, next week, next month, through the years, help provide for this, our New Orleans, and you, our people, a bright, happy future.

Good evening.
AND THIS is what Phil Johnson, editorialist, said in 1963 after some hate-filled cracker in Mississippi pumped Medgar Evers' body full of lead:

THAT'S what it looked like -- long, long ago in a place far, far away . . . in oh, so many respects -- when the adults were in charge of our mass media. Well, at least for the most part.

Now, not so much. . . .

HOW IN THE WORLD did we get from Phil Johnson to this? What in the world will become of us now that the grown-ups have been called away?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Only in New Orleans

Once upon a time, down in the City That Care Forgot, there was a sportscaster, name of Buddy Diliberto. Buddy D for short.

Buddy D achieved local-legend status, almost as legendary as WWL-TV legend Hap Glaudi. Neither guy could have existed anywhere but New Orleans -- mainly, because it would have been too troublesome and costly for a TV station anywhere else to put subtitles on their sportscast.

Also because, unless they brought in an English-speaking Yat to do the subtitling, you would have had a lot of "????????????????" at the bottom of your TV screen.

BUT THAT'S not important now.

What's important is that Buddy D -- who sadly did not live to see the day his Saints made it to the Super Bowl -- always used to say that if the Saints ever made it to the Big Game, he'd march down Bourbon Street in a dress.

And today, in a classic "only in New Orleans" moment, hundreds of Saints fans of the male persuasion did just that. In honor of Buddy D.

Of course, it didn't look that different from any other day on Bourbon Street, but that's not important now, either.

Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints? Who dat? Who dat?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Do not adjust your set . . . or your meds

There is no problem with your computer. The cognitive dissonance you are experiencing is real, and originated at WWL-TV in New Orleans.

If the station's anchor team is going to have to keep breaking into Mardi Gras parade coverage with reports of mass shootings every year, maybe it's time for them to costume themselves as journalists.

That might tend to lessen the whole Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test vibe.

Then again, maybe we should go ask Alice. When she went through the looking glass, it could be she ended up in the Crescent City.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

NOAH's lark lands on mountain o' cash

The Times-Picayune has a couple of tales of your tax money "at work" in New Orleans.


Doris Grandpre knows exactly who gutted her 7th Ward house last year, then helped her start rebuilding the single shotgun where she lived for three decades before Hurricane Katrina.

"There was David. You got Christopher. Then there was Jason. Oh, and Simon," Grandpre, 76, said this week, recalling the student volunteers who came from Boston and Seattle to tear out her plaster walls and save the few precious items the flood did not destroy.

"I call them my little angels," she said.

It appears, however, that another crew has taken credit for demolition work at Grandpre's house. City records show that Hall & Hall Enterprises, the highest-paid contractor in Mayor Ray Nagin's home remediation program, billed the city $7,830 for gutting and boarding up the house and cutting the grass at the St. Anthony Street property.

The house is one of at least seven addresses that appear on two lists detailing post-storm remediation. One list belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana's Office of Disaster Response, which organized volunteers from across the country to come to New Orleans and provide free home remediation services, such as gutting and boarding up homes, to residents in need of help.

Those same addresses appear on a list produced by the nonprofit New Orleans Affordable Homeownership Corp., which oversaw a remediation program that contractors billed a total of $1.8 million.

The homeownership corporation, also known as NOAH, billed taxpayers more than $25,000 for work at those addresses.

Grandpre, a retired nursing aide at Charity Hospital, said Wednesday that she has no idea how her address got on NOAH's gutting list. Since January 2007, she has lived in a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer in her side yard, and no city contractor has ever stopped by.

"A group of kids took the stuff out," she said. "The only people who helped me was people from outside the city."

The duplicate entries on the NOAH and church lists raise more questions about the management of a short-lived city program designed to help elderly and poor residents along the road to recovery. A city official said last week that, to his knowledge, NOAH had paid out all of the $1.8 million to its subcontractors.

In light of the scrutiny, NOAH's board of directors suspended the organization's business last week and served notice Wednesday that its remaining four employees will be terminated Friday as of 5 p.m. Officials declined to name the employees or disclose their salaries. NOAH's former executive director, Stacey Jackson, resigned in June.

Also on Wednesday, the NOAH board asked the New Orleans Finance Authority to put into escrow federal funds that were to have been funneled to NOAH for use as soft-second mortgages for low-income homeowners.


The shutdown of the agency comes as the FBI and the inspector general of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which authorized grants that financed the gutting program, have launched their own investigations. The city official who oversaw the program has acknowledged that City Hall improperly used the federal money and may have to pay back more than $223,000.

Meanwhile, Jackson, the former executive director, has been linked through business and personal connections to several contractors who worked for the program, including Richard Hall, whose firm billed for $345,000 worth of work, including gutting and boarding up Grandpre's house.

Another house, on Forshey Street near the Monticello Canal, fits the same pattern. Records provided by the Episcopal Diocese program show that volunteers from Texas arrived in October 2006 and tore drywall, tile and floorboards out of the house, which took on 7 feet of water in Katrina. The volunteers even managed to save a few heirlooms.

Ann Brown, whose brother owns the property, said she remembers the volunteers.

"I talked with someone from the church group who was there," said Brown, who lives a block away and keeps an eye on the lot. "I met them. I talked to them personally."

However, three separate NOAH contractors, including a firm owned by Nagin's brother-in-law, have billed City Hall a combined $5,115 to gut, board up and cut grass at the Forshey Street house.

Myers & Sons claimed it had done $4,415 worth of work at the lot, while Iron Triangle and Smith & Associates Consulting have billed $350 apiece. Smith & Associates is owned by Cedric Smith, whose sister is Nagin's wife, Seletha.
Contractors working for New Orleans Affordable Homeownership billed taxpayers at least $123,000 to gut 30 homes that records show were torn down shortly thereafter -- also at public expense -- raising further questions about a troubled city agency charged with a leading role in flood recovery.

Interviews with neighbors suggest that some of that gutting work was in fact never performed.

Whether or not taxpayers were defrauded -- a question that has drawn the attention of federal investigators -- the fact that city-financed gutting crews were followed in short order by city-financed backhoe operators suggests, at best, a City Hall management debacle.

James Ross, a spokesman for Mayor Ray Nagin, said the city is required to pursue demolition of houses deemed to be health threats or in danger of collapse, regardless of whether they have been gutted. He also said that some homeowners may have reconsidered an initial decision to repair a home and sought its demolition instead.

All together, NOAH paid contractors about $1.7 million to gut about 460 properties, according to City Hall records. About 400 other properties received less costly services, mainly grass-cutting and boarding.

Slightly more than 10 percent of the homes the agency assigned to remediation contractors have since been demolished. The federal government financed about half of those demolitions; private individuals paid for the others.

Matt McBride, a blogger and activist who has maintained a database of all properties granted demolition permits since Hurricane Katrina, cross-referenced that list with a remediation list provided by NOAH. He found substantial crossover.

The Times-Picayune spot-checked 11 of the properties that the city spent the most money fixing, ranging from a property on Catina Street in Lakeview at a cost of $8,257 to a property on North Galvez Street in the Lower 9th Ward costing $4,070.

Ten of the 11 had been demolished. The city has issued a demolition permit for the only house still standing: the North Galvez property, one of only a couple of structures on a mostly abandoned block. The city issued the permit to one of the contractors hired to tear down blighted properties at taxpayer expense.

The house has been gutted, but it is unboarded and open to the elements. City records show the work on that house was done by Hall & Hall Enterprises, the highest-paid contractor in NOAH's remediation program.

Richard Hall Jr., who owns that firm, is a former business partner of NOAH's embattled former director, Stacey Jackson. He did not return a phone call Tuesday.
HERE WE HAVE two tales of a city. Do not expect any happy endings.

Here is what you can expect:

* The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Orleans -- the three federal prosecutors in Louisiana being the state's only effective defense against public corruption -- will get an indictment against Stacey Jackson, the former NOAH head. Perhaps other indictments will be forthcoming as well.

* Being that the trial has to be held somewhere in Louisiana, God only knows whether any convictions will be forthcoming.

* Federal relief money intended to help New Orleans and Louisiana recover from Hurricane Katrina will continue to be wasted, misallocated and blatantly stolen for as long as it continues to roll in.

* The people who need help the most will continue to get the least.

* New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin will continue to run reporters around in circles. When that stops working, he will denounce any reporter who's uncovered yet more graft, incompetence or outright stupidity as "hurting the recovery."

AS THEY SAY back home, "Dat's Looziana for you!"

And as they say everywhere else, "This just might be the time Louisiana cuts its own throat, but good."

Truly -- with the exception of harboring Islamist guerrillas who carry out attacks against the national government -- the Gret Stet reminds one of no less than Russia's troublesome Chechen Republic, an economically devastated region of the dysfunctional and the disadvantaged . . . and of grafters, mobsters and kidnappers. With every outbreak of shenanigans across its post-Katrina landscape, Louisiana further cements its status as America's Chechnya.

And in New Orleans, "an economically devastated region of the dysfunctional and the disadvantaged . . . and of grafters, mobsters and kidnappers" describes Central City on a particularly good day.

FOR THREE YEARS NOW, in the wake of Katrina and the federal flood, Louisiana pols and New Orleans "leaders" have trekked to Washington, D.C., with their hands outstretched. Billions upon billions of taxpayers' dollars, after much wrangling, have been put into those outstretched hands.

And now the outstretched hands full of taxpayers' dollars have been slipped, it would appear, into the pockets of politicians and their cronies -- just as the most cynical and parsimonious in the nation's capital said would happen.

Barring the resumption, after 140 years, of Reconstruction and military occupation (which, really, Louisianians ought to be on their knees praying for . . . that being their last, best hope) there is only one surefire way to stop Louisiana in its thieving tracks.

Only one remaining way to stop crooked pols, their crooked agencies and crooked contractors from collecting federal dollars for work volunteer church kids did. Only one last chance to stop fools in public office from taking federal money to "remediate" flooded homes . . . right before more federal money goes toward bulldozing those same "remediated" homes.

Cut off the cash. Now. Every penny.

There's an old saying I heard over and over growing up in Louisiana -- "Root, hog, or die." Maybe it's time my home state (and the crooks who run it, and the enablers who populate it) find out exactly what that means.

HAT TIP: Your Right Hand Thief.