Thursday, August 30, 2007

Big people

Sometimes it takes a big person to stand up and say, "No!"

It takes an even bigger person to listen to the big person that's taking a stand.

The community and its government have been grappling with taking a stand on an issues and listening to either side of the problem.

And over the past two weeks people have been taking different approaches to solve Shreveport's latest problem: sagging pants. People have written letters to our newspaper. Others have posted their concerns on the various stories written about the isssue and some, perhaps the most brazen of concerned citizens, have taken their issue right to the decision makers on the city council.

The majority of people say, at least from what I can tell, they are tired of looking at boys and girls with their pants drooping. But some of those folks didn't think making sagging pants illegal was necessary. I don't think so either.

I don't think anyone was listening.

But it happened anyway and now we're going to have to deal with the consequences. I just hope the four people who voted for this know what we're getting into.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

To sag, or not to sag...that's up for vote today

Let me start with this: I'm no fan of sagging pants.

I think it's tasteless. I think it looks foolish and downright ridiculous. Should people expose their undergarments? Absolutely not. Should there be laws on indecent exposure in public? Absolutely. But should there be a law that mandates how people should wear their pants? Absolutely not.

Most mature and professional folks think sagging looks ridiculous. But so do people who pick their noses at stoplights and so do cars with rims bigger than the actual car---all that's ridiculous too. I also think its tacky to wear white shoes after Labor Day, but that doesn't mean I want the city of Shreveport to waste time and tax dollars to ban such faux pas.

I don't think our city council members should enact laws that coincide with their personal fashion choices. I don't want anyone telling me what I should wear or how I should wear it. Sagging pants doesn't hurt anyone but the person with their pants down. It doesn't hurt me--at all.

Lots of establishments, like schools and the Louisiana Boardwalk, have policies that say sagging and other types of dress aren't allowed. Offenders of the dress codes are asked to comply or leave. And I'm fine with that.

Shreveport police have bigger things to worry about than to chasing down youngsters who look ridiculous wearing their pants low. Read Velda Hunter's story about it and form your own opinion. The issue is up for vote today. I hope it fails.

What's next? No black and white skirts with yellow shirts on Tuesday? I guess I'd be fined.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Endless agony. A dull headache that wouldn’t end. Desperate text messages to friends who resided down there because dialing any number with a 504 area code only left you with a busy signal.

Even when Hurricane Katrina was just a blip on the radar, on a projected path to New Orleans we waited nervously, anxiously, hoping that all of our friends and loved ones were out of its path.

We went to sleep with it, woke up with it and lived surrounded by the pain of watching this thing unfold. I mean we literally couldn’t take our eyes off of it.

And the helplessness I felt was so sickening. I’m watching places I frequented practically on a daily basis go underwater, memories that can’t be relived, getting swallowed up in a sea of death.

I watched the people on TV that looked like me and my family members literally abandoned, stranded, suffering, dying and I got practically nauseous with anxiety and overcome with the constant heaviness I felt. We all did. It was all we talked about in the newsroom, at church, in phone conversations, in emails. But we weren’t just talking.
We were all desperate, desperate to find a way to help. And we did.

We told their stories, we volunteered, we donated money, clothes, time, ourselves.

Two years later, our lives are back to normal, but their lives will never be the same.

I think of my dear church member who evacuated here prior to the hurricane and has been with our church ever since. And I think of how this retired woman’s life now consists of making regular 5-hour trips to her New Orleans East home to keep a watchful eye on the contractors and make sure they aren’t ripping her off as she’s seen so many contractors do with other residents.

I think about another evacuee we took in at our church’s shelter. She’s now calls this city home for her and her two children, one of whom still gets terrified when storms come through.

I think about all the stories of people I interviewed, people I talked to. I think those I’ve met who want to go back, but can’t. Those who can go back, but never want to. Those who lost loved ones.

In a world where tragedies are condensed into 30-second sound-bytes or hyperlinks and dismissed with the click of a remote control, the click of a mouse or the tossing of a newspaper, we all have to do what we can to keep the memory of this human tragedy alive.

We have to keep it alive if for no other reason than to have it serve as a reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed.

Even if you pay your taxes and insurance bill on time, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be safe, protected or exempt when tragedy arrives.

At least that was my lesson.

What did you learn from Hurricane Katrina? What are your memories? What did you do? Or better yet, what are you doing now?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Putin takes a mancation -- and everyone cares?

This is pretty hilarious. Russian President Vladimir Putin apparently went bare-chested on a recent trip to Siberia, and the the world has gone crazy.

Folks are wondering if this is some kind of political statement to other countries, a show of machismo or even some kind of sexual hint.

I suppose I will let the articles and photos speak for themselves.

My question: Does it really matter? I don't think it would be controversial if he weren't a politician. Anybody out there think it's inappropriate? Or would you like to see other topless world leaders?

(Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Party and Football. Welcome to the South.

Maybe the Southeastern Conference really is the top league in the nation.

I'm not talking about football; I'm talking about partying.

In The Princeton Review's annual list of the top party schools, three of the top five finishers were all members of the mighty SEC - No. 2 Ole Miss, No. 4 University of Florida (no surprise, they've got lots to celebrate and No. 5 University of Georgia. Here's a story about the list:

As a proud alum of Texas Christian University, I'm not sure whether I should be proud or a little sad that my school didn't make the top 20 (oh well, we'll settle for football). Having graduated there after 4 1/2 years, I can safely say we did nothing special to make that list during my days there.

But overall, the South does football and partying pretty good. I hung out enough at the University of Texas (No. 4 on the list) in my college days to know that it rightly deserves its reputation. LSU was No. 13, and I've heard plenty about the antics that go on in Baton Rouge.

By the way, I'm not surprised West Virginia finished on top of the rankings. Pac-Man Jones could vouch for the parties there, I'm sure.

I've always wondered which schools get overlooked, though. For instance, my friends partied pretty hard at Texas State University at San Marcos (formerly Southwest Texas State) but that school was nowhere to be found in these lists. Neither were Prairie View A&M or Southern, schools where I know they know how to entertain themselves.

Who else needs to get their props?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Maybe it's all relative, depending on who you ask

I always read story chat comments on our web site and hear talk of how Shreveport is such an extremely violent city.
I even remember one mayoral candidate last year referring to the city as a future Baghdad during one of those colorful, more entertaining-than-informative forums.

I don’t deny the violence exists and I’ve read the stories we’ve reported about the city's rankings and such. But I guess since I’m from here and lived here practically all my life, unharmed, I never thought it was as violent compared to other cities.

I mean, forgive my ignorance. In fact, enlighten me on something: Is crime in Shreveport really unusually, extremely high, especially compared to cities of the same size or larger? Or is it all relative?

Less than a woman: Part II

Those who know me know that I LOVE a good meal.

Not fast-food, not sloppy hamburgers or pizza. But a real meal--like steak, baked potatoes, broccoli and a salad or baked salmon, steamed rice and peas.

Since I hadn't been home in a while I decided to cook something that reminded me of home, something that I could imagine my grandmother cooking. To that end, I decided to prepare Sunday dinner for myself: fried chicken, steamed rice, steamed broccoli and a baked potato.

I imagined I'd be pleased with my results. But, those who've been keeping up with this blog know I've been having troubles of the culinary kind recently.

And once again, I failed.

The potatoes I had were sprouting stuff and molding AND I just bought them! No potatoes for me. I let my chicken marinate in seasonings throughout my time at church. When I got home I heated my cooking oil and turned on my stovetop fan. As soon as I began frying my chicken the smoke detector went off--and my kitchen wasn't smokey.

Once I got the detector to be quiet I went back to finish preparing my meal. Eventually I burned about half of the chicken because I kept running back and forth between my smoke detector, which went off about three times during my preparations, and my stove top.

In the end, the only thing that turned out well was my broccoli and rice. And I still ate my burnt pieces of chicken. As for those sprouting and molding potatoes? I hurled them in trash, along with the burnt pieces of chicken that I couldn't stomach eating.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thoughts on womanhood

I've been thinking about women a lot lately. (Before someone clever writes about how I'm imagining versus interacting, let me just say it's not those kind of thoughts are another blog entry.)

For some reason I've just been realizing how different a woman must feel in the world compared to the way I do. I'm not talking about how it would feel to be a woman so much as how other people treat you.

Let's start with last night. I caught the end of the Molly Ringwald's concert (sans an '80s costume), and there was a rather flexible and curvaceous woman I would guess is about my age gyrating (literally). And she liked dancing with one of the cops who was trying to keep order in the Red River District. I saw her shake it a little in the officer's vicinity (and some of my cohorts said she flashed him -- can't confirm that) and perform some simulated bedroom dirtiness with a man who appeared to be her date for the evening.

Now in most cases if a guy did anything like this, he would get kicked out of an establishment immediately. She stuck around for a while before SPD kindly escorted her away.

A few weeks back, I was helping fellow Link blogger Ashley celebrate her 24th birthday at a pool party. I entered the pool/hot tub area at a local apartment complex with her and two other lovely ladies, and the reaction was like a ants to sugar. And they were the sugar, not me.

This is not jealousy I'm writing about. There were guys all over them. I'm swimming around, they're sitting on the edge with their feet and the water and men literally start pulling on their legs. I honestly can't imagine what it's like to constantly be hit on.

Not that this is always OK, but I (and I would guess many women) would expect that kind of thing at a bar. But in the middle of the day? For someone you don't know to actually lay hands on you?

I realize the situations I'm describing are similar only because they both involve women. And it's kind of ironic that in one case the person who wanted attention was mostly getting laughed at while the other attention-grabbers didn't really want to be bothered.

So tell me, ladies, how does it feel?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A quotation from Karl Rove

This is nothing truly groundbreaking. (My little observation or the quote.) I just thought it was interesting that I read something from Karl Rove the day after he announced his resignation.

Here it is, as published on the Aug. 14 page of the Freedom Forum's First Amendment desk calendar:

"If more people in government knew about the press and more people in the press knew about governing, the world would be a better place to live."

I'm not sure "The Architect," as his buddy and boss sometimes calls him, is a huge fan of the media, but his statement is true. The people who run the government are supposed to realize the laws that protect the ability for us to report information through our jobs are as important as those they often quote or use to protect themselves. But we, as journalists, should also be educated enough to properly cover these people and what they do.

Time will tell if Rove or anyone else in the Bush administration will be remembered for anything like those words from 2005.

Monday, August 13, 2007

All Roads Lead to Wal-Mart

I'm no Wal-Mart fan.

And it's not because of how they treat employees (I worked at Sam's Club for three years while in college and I was treated wonderfully) or sweatshops or because they seemingly monopolize markets or any of that other anti-Wal-Mart rhetoric.

It's because the store brings out the worst in people. Bargain shoppers at Wal-Mart will run over your feet with their shopping cart to make sure they get the last Tickle Me Elmo at Christmastime. Or, their baby offspring will spend their Wal-Mart experience crying loudly or falling out in the floor--kicking and screaming.

I associate Wal-Mart with cookies, chaos and kids.

And it all just came to my front door. Literally.

I live in Shreve City and the new Wal-Mart there just opened last Wednesday. It was built directly in front of my apartment complex. It's so close I could walk there without being tired.

Of course, like half of Shreveport, I visited the store during its opening week because I wanted to see what this one looked like. I wanted to see all of the ins and outs of the new store. I was very pleased with its appearance, but the atmosphere was just like any other Wal-Mart: crazy.

And I knew it would be. I knew that the new anchor to the Shreve City Shopping Center was going to cause a bottleneck of traffic on Knight Street. I knew the Parkway Service Road was going to be backed up all the way to the Wendy's store and I knew that I'd have a hard time trying to get to my apartment complex. I KNEW it!!!!!!

When everyone was excited about this Wal-Mart I sensed it was going to bring a headache to my traveling life, but I even wanted the store built in its spot because I get tired of going to the one in Southeast Shreveport. But I knew I'd never be able to get out of the parking lot.

Boy, was I right. If there is one thing in life I know about it has to be this chain. Like I said, I worked for the company for years and in Nashville there's a Wal-Mart or two or three in every suburb and they are scattered all over the city. In my suburban neighborhood, there are three Wal-Marts within a less than 10-mile radius. At each store in Nashville, the parking lots are packed--just like the brand-new parking lot here.

Still, I visited the Shreve City store three times: Thursday, Friday and Sunday. All three times I had a very, very hard time getting out of the lot. Every time I thought I could turn left onto Knight Street, another car would swoop in front of me. It took me about 15 minutes to get home from Wal-Mart on Friday, when it should take less than three minutes.


I guess this is the price us Shreve City residents are going to have to pay for our added convenience. I'm just waiting on the Wal-Mart shopping carts to take over the parking lot in my apartment complex.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Again... it's a small world

You really never know who you're going to run into at odd hours.

Val, a Times photographer, and I were out looking for shots (of the photographic kind) at Fatty Arbuckles last night. (Technically it was probably about 1 a.m. today.) We snap a few and then get some names for captions.

As we talk to these two guys who did the bro pose, we find out they are having a drink or two in anticipation of an upcoming wedding. The groom is a Houston chemist who got his master's degree at LSU -- connection No. 1 for me.

So LSU leads us to when he was there -- which overlapped with my time -- and who he knew -- people who worked with me at The Reveille. Plus there were a few LSU students from Minden (his hometown), and I knew them or their siblings.

Which takes us back to Minden High. I went to Doyline but knew a bunch of MHS kids at the time. Still hang out with a few of them, actually.

Doyline, he asks? That's where his wife-to-be could have gone to school. She lived on the dividing line between the Doyline and Minden school districts in the Goodwill Road area. She did not choose Doyline.

It's always funny to reminisce with people you've never met before. But you still kind of know them. Hope married life is grand, Mr. G.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Less than a woman

I baked a two-layer cake Tuesday night.

Well, I kinda baked a cake.

And as much I usually try to reject stereotypes that suggest women should own kitchen duties and other house chores, I still can't help but feel bad about my latest cake disaster.

Maybe I was tired. After all, I didn't get to leave work until close to 10 p.m. Or, maybe I'm not meant for kitchen duties. The only things I can cook are chicken and fish along with a few vegetables for sides. Hence, these are the meals I eat mostly.

Maybe my yearn to bake the cake was spawn from boredom. But since I had all the ingredients to bake I decided to do so and bring the masterpiece to work on Wednesday.

Then I realized I didn't have the proper baking pans. Being creative I decided to cook my cake mix in a glass baking pan and the rest in a skillet. The cookware seemed to be the same size but it wasn't. But I was determined to create a two-layered masterpiece.

I thought my co-workers would be so pleased. I imagined me sending out a mass email alerting them my homemade delicacy was there for the taking. It all made me smile.

Surprisingly, the cake mix baked in the skillet came out the best. I waited for it to cool and then put icing on it. The one in the glass pan didn't come out so well. When I took it out of the oven it looked charred in some places but not done in others.


That's when the trouble began. When I tried to place the last layer on top of the first layer, the cake split in two pieces. I tried to use icing to cover it up but it only crumbled more. Then some liquid cake mix bubbled up in a spot. Ugh...

I threw that layer in the trash.

I tried to salvage the first layer. I used icing to cover up crumbs the previous layer left. It looks OK.

I felt so defeated.

I guess it goes without saying that I didn't bring in any cake today.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Cycle 10 of ANTM

Oh yes. It's that time again.

Time for another cycle of America's Next Top Model and it's time for Shreveport-Bossier City to make an appearance, don't you think?

A casting call for the 10th cycle of the show is this Thursday and Friday at KPXJ studios on East Kings Highway.

I will admit that the show - with all of the crazy photo shoots, the crazy fashion and the crazy host - is one of my favorites. Has been since college.

But, through all of the craziness, it seems like a great opportunity for anyone with a good story to tell and a passion for modeling.

So...any Shreveport-Bossier City models out there going to give it a try?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

As if people needed a reason, here's 236 more

Here's some breaking news: people come up with a bunch of reasons to have sex.

A recent study by two University of Texas at Austin psychologists came up with a list of 237 reasons, excuses, motives, etc., for getting their groove on, so to speak.

One of the most disturbing reasons listed was someone "wanted to give someone a sexually transmitted disease."

Ugh. That gives me at least one reason not to want to have sex.