Category Archives: Bayou Brief

Saturday Odds & Sods: For Shame Of Doing Wrong

New York Movie by Edward Hopper.

I’m trying something different this month. I’m pairing the artwork of Edward Hopper with the music of Richard Thompson. Each Saturday in April will feature a different EH image and RT tune. I think they work well together.

My oak pollen allergy has been bonkers this year. We’ve hit a prolonged dry patch: no rain since some time in February. We tend towards extremes in New Orleans. It either rains too much or not at all. The happy medium is unknown in our forecasting annals.

The worst thing about this allergy season during the pandemic is that it’s hard for me to go outside at all. The last time I took a walk, I had a pollen related sneezing jag, which led some fellow strollers to glare at me as if I were Typhoid Mary. So it goes.

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson for the Pour Down Like Silver album. I have a soft spot for that album: it was the first RT album I ever purchased but not until 10 years after its release. I was a late RT bloomer.

We have three versions of For Shame Of Doing Wrong for your listening pleasure: the Richard and Linda studio original, a poppy version produced by Gerry Rafferty, and a cover by RT’s former Fairport band mate, Sandy Denny.

Is it shameful that I like the poppy version from Rafferty’s Folly? Hell, I like the song below too. It was inescapable in 1978:

As I hang my head for shame of doing wrong, let’s jump to the break in a shameless manner.

Continue reading

Bayou Brief: Love In The Time Of Coronavirus

The title of my latest 13th Ward Rambler column for the Bayou Brief was inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love In The Time Of Coronavirus. I’m particularly fond of the tag line:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has Peter Athas thinking about Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood. We’ve gone from “heckuva job, Brownie” to “heckuva job, Trumpy.”

Since the column is, in part, an extended flashback to 2005, the last word goes to John Fogerty:

“Brownie’s in the outhouse
Katrina on the line
Government’s a disaster
But Georgie, he says it’s fine”

Bayou Brief: Ode To Elizabeth Warren & Other Strong Women

Warning: No COVID-19 content. Promise.  Instead, I write about Elizabeth Warren, Mary Landrieu, Lindy Boggs, and my late mother.

Ode is one of my favorite words. I’m quite partial to this song as well:

Bayou Brief: The Cursed Carnival?

It was a rough Carnival season. That’s why it’s the subject of my latest column for the Bayou Brief. It has fewer jokes than usual but it was a deadly serious season.

Let’s close on a lighter with the original version of my favorite Mardi Gras song:

Bayou Brief: Painted From Memory

My latest column for the Bayou Brief is one of a personal nature. I write about the time that one of my favorite people at LSU, Coach Jay McCreary, introduced me to Pistol Pete Maravich. It happened many years ago hence the title, Painted From Memory: Coach Jay, Pistol Pete, and Me.

The last word goes to Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach:

Bayou Brief: A Tale Of Two Tones

My latest column for the Bayou Brief is online. The writing process was somewhat unusual. I had a mostly humorous piece ready to go when the exposed corpse at the Hard Rock Hotel collapse site story exploded. I kept the first segment about the aftermath of LSU’s national championship intact. I ripped apart the TFC segment and toughened its tone considerably; hence the title A Tale Of Two Tones: Of Tigers and TFC.

FYI: TFC stands for This Fucking City.

I did a phone interview with Richard Fausett of the New York Times for a story he co-wrote with Katy Reckdahl about what could be called Tarpgate. I was even mentioned. The way to get a mention when you’re interviewed as background for a story is to get the reporter laughing. It works every time:

“Peter Athas, a political blogger and columnist for The Bayou Brief, an online news site, has accused Ms. Cantrell of clumsily handling the disaster, and aligning herself too closely with the developer.”

Thanks for indulging that bit of egomania.

There will be a protest march this afternoon against the city’s mishandling of this disaster. Mayor Cantrell’s team is circling the wagons and lashing out at critics. The proper approach would be to distance the administration from developer Praveen Kailas and his partners. A bit of humility is in order but it’s in short supply on Team Cantrell.

This tweet concisely sums up my attitude about the Mayor:

I have a new sign off as the 13th Ward Rambler. I stole it from Walter Cronkite’s closing during the 1979-1980 Iran Hostage Crisis. I only steal from the best. I might as well use it here today:

And that’s the way it is on the 104th day since the Hard Rock Hotel collapse.

Bayou Brief: TFC

My first column of the year for the Bayou Brief is online. TFC stands for This Fucking City. I say it every time something goes haywire in New Orleans. This column adds The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to equation. To see why CLICK HERE.

Speaking of Haywire, the last word goes to the Jayhawks:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: So It Goes

Spellbound set design by Salvador Dali.

Carnival and Paul Drake’s gotcha day loom. We adopted the dear boy on Twelfth Night in 2018. I guess that means we must consume King Cake on Monday. Poor us.

I said all I have to say about the latest mess in Mesopotamia yesterday. Suffice it to say that I don’t think it’s an Archduke Ferdinand moment but it’s some serious shit,

This week’s theme song was written in 1976 by Nick Lowe for his kinda sorta solo album Jesus Of Cool, which was released in America as Pure Pop For Now People. I said kinda sorta solo album because it featured Nick’s band Rockpile on all the tracks. More about them later.

We have two versions of So It Goes for your listening pleasure: the original studio recording and a live medley with Heart In The City.

Both Nick Lowe and I picked up the phrase “so it goes” from Kurt Vonnegut. So it goes.

Before jumping to the break another Rockpile tune. This time the guys are backing up Nick’s then wife Carlene Carter:

Now that we’ve got all that crying out of our systems, let’s dry our eyes and jump to the break.

Continue reading

Bayou Brief: Last Month Of The Year

I bring the snark in my latest 13th Ward Rambler column at Bayou Brief. I write about the holidays, the LSU Tigers, Senator John Neely Kennedy, my Bayou Brief year in review, and Krewe du Vieux. I also bid a fond adieu to former Gambit editor Kevin Allman. Good luck in California, man.

Here’s an alternate version of Last Month Of The Year:

 

Bayou Brief: Now Be Thankful

My annual Thanksgiving post, Now Be Thankful, has migrated to the Bayou Brief. I’ve tweaked it and added a tribute to a family friend, former Congresswoman Cathy Long. This version essentially tells my Louisiana origin story. I use that term loosely since I am neither super nor a hero.

The last word goes to Fairport Convention:

 

Bayou Brief: Ode To Coach O

My latest column at the Bayou Brief is online. In which I tell my Tiger fan origin story and discuss the ultimate underdog, Ed Orgeron.

I’m literally waiting for the electrician so I’m not sure if I’ll post again today. That’s why I’ve decided to share today’s earworm. It’s winter music from the North Country:

I know what you’re thinking: isn’t that a Dixie Chicks song? True dat but it was co-written by Gary Louris.

Bayou Brief: Inside The Pocket Of A Clown

My latest column for Bayou Brief is online​. I borrow a Dwight Yoakam lyric for the title, Inside The Pocket Of Clown.

The clown in question is President* Pennywise. Inside his pocket is the mendacious minority whip from Metry, Steve Scalise.

The column was written before Scalise’s bizarre “Soviet impeachment” speech. Uh, Steve, impeachment is part of our British inheritance. There was no such thing as “Soviet impeachment.” They were not big on trials after Stalin’s death.

In the post Stalin era, the procedure was to pronounce sentence then execute the accused immediately. Sometimes by firing squad but more likely than not by a gunshot to the back of the head in the courtyard of the KGB’s Lubyanka Prison. If you’d watched The Americans, you’d know that.

I also adapted Michael F’s Pennywise image for the piece:

Thanks, man.

The last word goes to Dwight Yoakam:

Gret Stet Goober Race Update

I’ve haven’t written much about the Louisiana Governor’s race here for a couple of reasons. First, my Gret Stet ramblings are on display at the Bayou Brief nowadays. Second, the race is depressing for a variety of reasons that I’ll describe below.

In 2015, I was enthusiastic about the candidacy of Blue Dog Democrat John Bel Edwards. Why? He was running against David Vitter who, while good for the satire biz, scared the shit out of me as a potential Gret Stet Goober. When Edwards won, he became a dragon slayer. I am still grateful for that.

Edwards’ record as Governor has been fairly good. He undid some of the damage done by Bobby Jindal to state government with Medicaid expansion being his greatest accomplishment.

As he approached re-election, Edwards has moved steadily to the right capped off by the horrible abortion bill he signed in May. Here’s what I said earlier this month about Edwards and reproductive rights at the Bayou Brief:

I voted for Edwards in 2015 knowing that he was anti-choice. If he was a no-exceptions right to lifer then, I did not want to know: he was the anti-Vitter. I assumed that such a basically decent man would have the same position as former Governor Blanco and other Blue Dogs. I was wrong. These are darker times and the so-called pro-life right believes they can realize their dream of reversing Roe in one fell swoop. Their dream is my nightmare.

In 2019, I am strictly a clothespin voter in the Governor’s race. Team Edwards is so terrified of Louisiana Trumpers that they’ve taken the Democratic base for granted.  That hurt them in the primary: African American voter turnout was low. If they can’t fix that, Louisiana is in a fix.

The fix is Republican candidate Eddie Rispone. His platform consists of three words: Trump, Trump, Trump. He’s an ignorant rich dude who recites the same buzz words repeatedly: conservative, businessman, outsider, and his greatest hit, Trump, Trumpity, Trump.

Rispone is an insider posing as an outsider and a know-nothing posing as a know-it-all. In last night’s debate, he could not explain WHY he wants a constitutional convention. If elected, he will be the most ignorant Governor since singer-actor Jimmie Davis who is best known for buying and slapping his name on the song You Are My Sunshine as well as his staunch defense of segregation in the early Sixties.

The power behind Rispone is contractor Lane Grigsby who my Bayou Brief colleague Sue Lincoln dubbed The Great Grigsby. His goal seems to be to Trumpify, Kochify, and re-Jindalize state government. Rispone is his dim and sporadically genial front man.

Dr. A declined to watch last night’s Edwards-Rispone debate live and, as usual, she was right. I watched it later and found it depressing. The moderators sucked as did the candidates. It was Rispone’s only run-off debate and his performance was dismal. It was the battle of the unprepared vs. the overprepared, Governor Edwards who came off as a smug dick. It scares me that I like former Governor Mike Foster more than either of these bozos. And I never voted for the man that Clancy DuBos dubbed Governor Warbucks.

Eddie Rispone was so bad in the debate that he reminded me why I’m voting for Edwards. Both candidates suck but Rispone sucks harder. His best bet is to nationalize the race by making it about the Insult Comedian. The Governor’s best bet is to keep it local by making it about PBJ. It boils down to Trump vs. Jindal. Is it any wonder that I’m bummed out about this race?

Voting for the lesser of two evils is the adult thing to do but it’s not a helluva lot of fun. I’ll be glad when it’s over.

The last word goes to Wilco with a song that I’ll be singing on November 16th:

 

Bayou Brief: The Ghosts Of Saturday Night

My latest 13th Ward Rambler column for the Bayou Brief is online. It focuses on the remarkable events of Saturday October 12, 2019 including the Gret Stet Governor and Jefferson Parish President races, the Bad Shepherd’s comeback, the Hard Rock Hotel collapse, and the latest boil water advisory in New Orleans.  It was the opposite of this Macca song:

I use several tunes by Tom Waits to make my point such as it is. He’s the only guy who can give LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron a run for the money in the gravelly voice sweepstakes. Now that’s a contest I’d like to see.

I also add TFC to the world’s acronymic lexicon:

Every time something goes haywire in New Orleans, I mutter to myself TFC: This Fucking City. I love New Orleans but sometimes this town dances on my last nerve. Saturday October 12, 2019 was such a day.

This post just got even more meta: I quoted myself in a post plugging my writing elsewhere.

Speaking of meta, the last word goes to Tom Waits with a song that was the last word of the 13th Ward Rambler column that used another one of his songs as a title. Confused? Me too. I’ll shut up and let Tom Waits growl-sing at you:

Repeat after me: This Fucking City.

Bayou Brief: Of Second Lines, Clothespin Votes & Jacques Chirac

My latest 13th Ward Rambler column is up at the Bayou Brief. This time I talk about the beastly hot weather, Gil Homan’s memorial service and second line, the Gret Stet Goober race, and the passing of former New Orleans cabbie Jacques Chirac.

Jacques Chirac was Mayor of Paris for 18 years. I gave Joni Mitchell the last word at the Bayou Brief, here’s another ode to the City of Lights:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Long Black Veil

The Bird, The Cage & The Forest by Max Ernst.

This is the first time since the infancy of this feature that I’ve used the same featured image two weeks in a row. It captures my mood.

We’re attending a memorial service this morning for Gligamesh Homan who died in a horrible accident last week. He was the son of some old friends and was in his freshman year at LSU. I’ll have more about Gil in our second act. Suffice it to say that there’s an open  wound in my circle of friends right now.

I’m not feeling very expansive today so I’m going to keep this week’s outing relatively brief.

This week’s theme song was written in 1959 by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin for Lefty Frizzell. It’s become a staple of the country music repertoire and has been recorded countless times.

We have three versions of Long Black Veil for your listening pleasure: Lefty Frizzell, Gillian Welch, and the Chieftains with Mick Jagger on lead vocals.

Try not to trip over your long black veil as we jump to the break.

Continue reading

Bayou Brief: Of Surrealists & Sheriffs

My second 13th Ward Rambler column for the Bayou Brief is online. It includes my very first Gret Stet Separated at Birth segment as well as a look at the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs race and a tribute to some friends who have suffered a grievous loss. Get thee to the Bayou Brief.

Drew Brees Agonistes

I wrote about Drew Brees and his unfortunate relationship with Focus on the Family in my new not-so secret identity as the Bayou Brief’s 13th Ward Rambler, I should give credit where it’s due to Jenn Bentley of Big Easy Magazine for breaking the story, which, in turn, raised a ruckus on social media. I have a reading assignment for my readers: watch the video, read my piece, then Ms. Bentley’s before proceeding.

Welcome back.

The Saints QB responded yesterday in an awkward not terribly straightforward way, which made matters worse with the folks who were angry and/or disappointed with him. He provided an answer to the question I posed at the Bayou Brief: Wingnut or Conservative. Unfortunately, it’s the former but he’s still a great QB.

My friend Picvocate/Advoyune columnist Stephanie Grace wrote about Drew’s weaselly response so I don’t have to:

After several day of controversy, Brees responded that he knew nothing of the group’s anti-gay activities or “any type of hate-type related stuff.”

“I was not aware of that at all,” he said. He also insisted that the video was not meant to promote any group, and certainly not any group “that is associated with that type of behavior.”

“To me, that is totally against what being a Christian is all about,” Brees said.

Maybe he should have just stopped there, instead of adding that it’s a shame that people are using the controversy to “make headlines” and get clicks. Brees really has nobody to blame for that but himself.

Yeah you right, Stephanie.

Liberal Saints fans seem to be divided into two camps. Those who didn’t already know about his politics are up in arms about the whole mess. Others, like me, are well-aware that Brees is a right-winger. His association with the Focus on the Family fucks dates back at least to 2015 and perhaps even farther. I’m inclined to view this flap as part of what might call the Brees bucket, which contains both The Bad and the Beautiful as the title of one of my favorite movies goes.

One thing we’ve learned about Drew Brees this week: He’s a genius on the gridiron, not off field. Nobody should be surprised by this: the NFL is full of wingnutty white boys. Drew Brees is just one of many.

This episode is simultaneously saddening and maddening. The New Orleans Saints have long been a unifying force in our community. When owner Tom Benson threatened to move the team to his other hometown of San Antonio post-K, the community arose in such righteous indignation that they remained here. Saints fandom was an integral part of what I’ve previously referred to as The Spirit Of ’05.

Drew Brees’ first year with the Saints was 2006 and the team went to its first NFC Championship game. Then they won the Super Bowl after the 2009 season. This season there are high hopes, which, hopefully, will not be dashed on the rocks of controversy.

This mishigas is a vivid reminder of the perils of athletes dabbling in politics, particularly in the Trump era. If you take a stand, someone in your fan base will be offended. That’s especially true in New Orleans, which is a very blue city whereas the Gret Stet of Louisiana is ruby red.

Repeat after me: I’m disappointed by his wingnuttery but not surprised.

The last word goes to one of my favorite writers, the 13th Ward Rambler:

Does this alter my Saints fandom? Hell, no. Football is full of right-wing white boys and I’ve known for years that Drew Brees is one of them. Besides, his views on the Kaepernick kneeling contretemps were more nuanced than expected; he even criticized  President* Trump. That’s why I have no plan to renounce my Saints fandom or return my tickets for the season opener.

I simply want to know if our QB is a wingnut or a conservative.

The answer is, alas, wingnut. As Stephanie put it, Drew Brees should have known better.

Bayou Brief: 13th Ward Rambler

I pitched a biweekly column to my Bayou Brief editor and he bought it. It’s called 13th Ward Rambler because that’s my Uptown New Orleans neighborhood. Some times it will resemble Saturday Odds & Sods only without the GIFs and Separated at Birth. They’ll simply have to remain apart, the poor devils.

The debut column is called Launching Into a Diatribe and features segments about Drew Brees, Gret Stet Lt. Gov Billy Nungesser, and cars in the canal. I come out firmly against meter maids morphing into mermaids.

Another I reason I called the column 13th Ward Rambler is that it evokes the classic New Orleans tune, Didn’t He Ramble. As you’re well-aware, I’ve been known to ramble on occasion.

The last word goes to Dr. John:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Deeper Water

Gulf Stream by Winslow Homer.

Since we have something of a nautical-as opposed to naughty-theme I thought we’d dive right in without any dockside formalities. I won’t invite you into my stateroom because this might happen:

I would never take a cruise. The thought of doing so reminds me of the not so great Poop Cruise of 2013. Hell, I get seasick contemplating the Winslow Homer painting above.

Let’s move on to this week’s theme song. Singer-songwriter Paul Kelly is often called the Bob Dylan of Australia but he never broke through stateside. Kelly co-wrote Deeper Water in 1994 with Randy Jacobs of Was (Not Was) in case you was (not was) wondering.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. First, the 1995 studio version that was the title track of Kelly’s tenth album. Second, a 2013 live version from a show Kelly did with Neil Finn. For some reason it’s listed as Deep Water but it’s the same tune. Wow, that’s deep, man.

I hope we’re not in over our heads. Let’s mount the diving board and jump to the break.

Continue reading