Sunday, May 17, 2015

Red River Flooding 2015

The Red River is rising.  It isn't quite to the 2009 levels yet, but it's getting there.  I drove down to the river this morning to take a look.

Riverview Park May 2015

Riverview Park November 2009
As of noon today, the water isn't quite to the stage level as it was in 2009.  Right now the river is at 28.55 feet; in November 2009 it was 29.45 feet.  The latest projections by the National Weather Service is that the river will crest at 29 feet sometime tomorrow and then begin to go down.  But, they're still getting lots of rain in Texas and Oklahoma, so that may change.

I went down to the Arthur Ray Teague boat launch and the water is up to the parking lot there and has submerged part of the picnic area.

Boat launch at Arthur Ray Teague

Some of the picnic tables are under water.

No picnic today.
I stopped several places along the parkway and at most of them there were people out with cameras taking pictures or just looking at the river.

Arthur Ray Teague Boat Launch

I went a little further down toward CenturyLink and there are clearly places where the water is over the bank.

Along the parkway
Most of the walking trails are still clear and there were people fishing, biking, and walking all along the way.

Stoner Boat Launch, from the Skate Park

Hopefully, the projections are correct and it won't get much higher;  the public boat launches are closed but private launches still provide access although I didn't see anyone foolhardy enough to get on the water today.

You can keep up with the river stages at various points here.

You can read more about the Red River Watershed Basin here.

Here's a neat website about the Red River area and accompanying blog.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Trap, Neuter, Return: If Your Cat Comes in My Yard...

Around the first of the year this beautiful stray calico cat showed up at our house.  We tried to find her home and failing that, I tried to find a nice inside home for her where she wouldn't have to live outside, but no luck.  There are too many unwanted cats as it is.  Meanwhile, we figured out the cat was pregnant.

Now we have these two adorable kittens, born on March 17.  She delivered five, but three fell victim to neighborhood tomcats; we have three inside dogs and can't have inside cats.  I constructed the Fort Knox of cat kennels after losing three kittens, and now we have these two precious kittens living inside this modified dog kennel.  

We also have a tabby cat that lives outside; she adopted us when her owners moved away and
Fort Knox Cat Kennel
abandoned her.  Luckily she was already spayed.

We're going to try to keep the kittens but they absolutely must be fixed. Robinson's Rescue is a perfect option for that and will be scheduling that appointment in the next few days.  I don't know how far out in advance they schedule.  

The mother cat must be fixed immediately.  I've scheduled an appointment with the vet for her which will set us back $200; but it must be done ASAP.  The tomcats are already prowling.

I'm going to go TNR on every stray cat that walks into my yard.  If your cat walks into my yard and still has his balls, I'm trapping him and getting him fixed. 

I'm sick to death of irresponsible pet owners.  

If you'd like to contribute a few dollars to my TNR cause, hit the PayPal button on the sidebar.  I'd be grateful!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Those Legal Insurrection Readers are Tough!

So, I've got a guest post up over at Legal Insurrection today.  Go check it out.

It's about Marco Rubio.  Bill Jacobson asked a while back if conservatives could "fall in love with Rubio" again.  As one of the original Not One Red Cent bloggers, he asked me to respond, and I did.

The comments are scathing over there; I quit monitoring them!  They hate Rubio and don't like me much, either!

Hey, I didn't say I was voting for him; way too early for that.

But here's the thing.  Cruz is wonderful but he's too good.  He won't pull all the demographics we need to get the Executive branch back.  Scott Walker is great - not enough name recognition.  Rubio isn't perfect.  The Gang of Eight deal will haunt him forever, but he's got a good answer for immigration which I highlight in my LI post.

If we sit around and wait for Reagan to rise from the dead, we're going to end up with President Hillary.

I'm NOT for blanket amnesty.  I AM for enforcing the laws and the border.  But I also see reality and I like Rubio's current plan.  The issue the LI readers seem to have for Rubio is trust.  They don't trust him anymore; Rubio will have to work to earn that trust back.

Anyway, go check it out.  I'm not monitoring comments over there so feel free to comment here, too.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Checking In

Oh goodness it's been a while since I posted anything.

Is anybody still here?

I've all but stopped blogging on political issues; Hillary disgusts me, Obama nauseates me, and the Republican field depresses me, although I do like the Republican field better than I did last cycle.  As the campaign gets a little closer to relevance I'll probably get back into the game a bit, but for now I have other things on my plate.

I'm still blogging at DaTechGuy, putting up one post a week on Mondays, and those are usually somewhat political in nature but usually with a Louisiana angle.

I'm spending most of my time working on a book and there is a lot of research involved.  I've been heavily into the project for a year now and have at least another year to go, I would say.  I'm loving every moment of it but it doesn't leave much time for anything else.

Anyway, just popped in to say hello, I'm still here, I'll be back, and feel free to leave a comment and say hey, or something.

See you soon!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Justice Delivered for Braveheart: The Sentencing

The wheels of justice turn slowly, but after 18 months, Braveheart got justice today.

Gabriel Sinclair Lee received his sentence today from Judge Mosley in Caddo District Court. It's been a long journey. Before sentencing, Braveheart's family was allowed to address the court.

Brave's owner, Bo Spataro, asked Judge Mosley to recall the testimony of Dr. Conduff during the January trial.  Dr. Conduff testified that the dog was extremely emaciated but she was surprised at how alert he was.  In trial, the defense suggested that Brave was so alert because of Mr. Lee's Gatorade cure.  Science tells us differently, Bo explained:

Starvation is torture.  It is the worst kind of torture.  Soon after the absence of food your body begins to use itself to keep the brain alive.  So you stay alert and know what is going on till the end.  Your organs shut down and you dwindle to nothing and die.  Starvation is when the body cannibalized itself.  It is long and painful and merciless, making it the true definition of torture.

He also asked the judge to deny Mr. Lee the privilege from ever owning another animal.

Loraine Guerrero was also prepared to address the court.  Loraine runs the Voice for Braveheart Facebook page and has been on this journey from day one.  The defense tried to disallow her statement, but the judge
overruled and Loraine was allowed to address Mr. Lee.

In her statement, Loraine thanked Gabriel Lee for his "uncaring and inhumane actions to Braveheart" because now he is a "worldwide sensation" and known in almost every country around the world.  She explained that there are over 85,000 signatures on a petition for his justice and that almost 19,000 people get up every morning and visit the Voice for Braveheart page.  She went on:

Herein lies the problem:  Do I plead for the harshest sentence or do I show compassion, which you have proven you have none.  While I want you to pay the ultimate price for what you did to Braveheart, I don't want your family to suffer.  Did that thought ever cross your mind as you watched a starving, sick puppy, chained and dying on the floor of the storage building you didn't pay rent on and were told not to come back to, and yet, because of your love for dogs, you neglected to tell the owner, who is a Vet Tech, that there was a puppy locked in the unit!
As she closed, Loraine told Lee she thought about bringing pictures of Brave today, happy, healthy and loved, but did not because "you haven't earned the right to see those."

The defense moved to have Loraine's statement thrown out; the judge overruled.

Lee was sentenced to six months jail time which was suspended; eight months supervised probation, one year unsupervised probation.  He must pay $100 fine plus court costs.  He must pay $60 monthly probation fees. In addition, he can't own animals for the entire probation period -- if he does, he goes to jail.

So.  While the sentence is the best the judge could do given the misdemeanor verdict found by the jury in January, I still felt anger and sadness when I heard the verdict.

Prosecutor Holly McGinniss said it was actually one of the toughest sentences she had seen handed down on a misdemeanor.

But it doesn't feel good enough, does it?

As best I can calculate, Gabriel Lee is going to be out about no more than $2500 on this deal.  The taxpayers paid for his attorney.

As civilized citizens we must work to get the animal cruelty laws strengthened.  They simply aren't tough enough.  There's no real deterrent to people who have no conscience.  Dog fighting, for example, is still a huge problem.  There must be real penalties for abuse.  The statute needs to be rewritten.  The difference between aggravated animal cruelty and simple animal cruelty came down to one word - intent.  The jury simply could not figure out the difference, and apparently, decided to err in favor of the human rather than the dog.

I will never understand how failing to get adequate care for a starving dog is simple animal cruelty.

But.  Here we are.  Braveheart is still a winner, but there are so many other Bravehearts out there.  We fight on.  We fight for Lucky, for T-Bone, for every other abused and neglected animal who suffers at the hands of the humans who are supposed to take care of them.  We are advocates and we will rally for stronger laws and tougher penalties.

Thank God for Bo and Ronda Spataro for seeing this case through to the end, and for all the other members of the Braveheart family (there are many!) who have fought for justice.

Today, justice did the best she could do.

See Braveheart's journey here.  And please follow A Voice For Braveheart page on Facebook.

Added:  I corrected a typo in Mr. Lee's sentence - it is 8 months supervised; one year unsupervised.

(Photos courtesy of A Voice for Braveheart).

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Lucky and T-Bone Story Gets Personal and Nasty

BREAKING: Lucky and T-Bone are out of CPAS; preliminary word is that they are at a veterinarian's office; their heart worms are worse than initially indicated and the dogs are not in as good condition as initially indicated.  Please go to the Go Fund Me page for them and donate what you can.  It's safe.  Anything that is left over will go to Robinson's Rescue.  More details as they come.

The story about Lucky and T-Bone is changing so quickly I almost need to live-blog it rather than try to do a finished post.

While the advocates for these dogs really just want to focus on the dogs, Caddo Animal Services and Councilman Stephanie Lynch have turned this into a racial story and a personal story.

The backstory:  A concerned citizen saw two neglected, starved dogs living in inhumane conditions, reported it on March 6, and followed up until his complaint was addressed.  Caddo Animal Control went to the house and seized the dogs on March 8.

The dogs were vetted at the shelter and found to have heart worms, hook worms, and whip worms and were malnourished.

PetSavers is one of the rescue groups that stepped up and offered to take the dogs from the shelter, place them with reputable fosters and pay for their treatment.  They were declined.

Shelter director Everett Harris called a press conference on Wednesday, March 11,  and attempted to make the case that the shelter can take care of the dogs just as well as a rescue or foster situation.

On Monday, March 16, the Caddo Parish Commission met in their regular work session and various rescue groups were in attendance to have their three minutes to address the Commission regarding the care of the dogs.

Harris also shared this puffy propaganda video of the dogs living in an apparent idyllic paradise at the shelter.  (I can't embed the video but it's on the Caddo Animal Services Facebook page.)  Of course, Harris complained that the rescue groups were exploiting the two neglected dogs and sure don't come out like this for all the other dogs at the shelter, but I'm sure that's not what he was doing here.

The current story:  I didn't go to the Parish Commission meeting because I had work obligations Monday afternoon (a conference with a parent); up until noon today the video of that meeting was on the Caddo Commission website.  I watched parts of it this morning, before noon.  That video has been taken down:

Parish Commission site, Media Link as of 3/18/15 

Now why in the world would that video be taken down?  The Caddo Commission always records their meetings and posts them to their website.

My guess is that the video was taken down because at about 22:26 - 26:10 Shreveport Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch stepped to the microphone for her three minutes of time.  Ms. Lynch represents
District F, Mooretown, where the dogs were seized.

It's not really clear why Ms. Lynch chose to involve herself in an Animal Services issue except that this occurred in her district and she felt like she should have been notified at some point.  Since you can't see the video anymore, thankfully she was quoted at KTBS:

If there's a problem there, we can take care of it.  If there's an issue concerning any of our constituents, we can take care of it.  I don't need anybody from Bossier or any other part of Caddo parish, Shreveport coming into Mooretown to handle a situation without allowing the elected deal with the situation."  She also suggested that rescues work with the original owners who signed over ownership to CPAS, so that the dogs could be returned to them.  "They want the dogs back," she said.

Here is a screencap of the KTBS story:

(Just in case it disappears, too).  For now, there is video of Lynch saying the above remarks.

Even further, and not on the KTBS video, Lynch opened her remarks saying that she, too wanted the dogs; everybody wants the dogs, she said.  "I'll throw my name in there too, I want the dogs."  She went on to say that "There may be two white people that live in Mooretown -- maybe two.  It's a predominately black community and a community that takes care of its own."

Now why in the world would she interject race into a welfare concern about two dogs?

Councilwoman Lynch's remarks were making the rounds on social media and local news yesterday, March 17, when former news reporter Chris Redford posted this query on his Facebook page:

Facebook:  3/17/15

Good question.

It wasn't too long before Councilwoman Lynch jumped into the conversation:

Facebook 3/17/15

To be fair, I can't find where Ms. Lynch said anything about white people not understanding hard times.  Not saying it isn't there, just that I haven't been able to find it.  It's possible someone at the meeting heard her say it, but I don't know that.

The source of her outrageous comments was the Caddo Commission video that isn't available any longer -- the comments where she said Mooretown is a black community that takes care of its own.

The Shreveport City Councilwoman spent the rest of her evening engaging the people commenting on Mr. Redford's post:

Facebook 3/17/15

And later:

Facebook 3/17/15

And later:

Facebook 3/17/15

Get that:  "In no way" does she "care about what most of you have expressed in your comments...".  And ""no one person can say they pay my salary," she said; true enough.  Only the taxpayers, but she doesn't care what you think, so there you go.

There's more:

Facebook 3/17/15

Again, to be fair to Ms. Lynch, there was trash talk on all sides, but shouldn't a city official refrain from such behavior on social media?  Not according to Ms. Lynch; even the pros do it:

Facebook 3/17/15

This sort of thing went on for hours last night.  I finally got bored with her and went to bed.

March 18, 2016:  Today the plot thickened.  And got nasty.  The photographer that volunteers her time to Companions of Caddo Animal Services and who has been taking beautiful photographs of the shelter dogs (109 dogs and 67 cats - many of whom were adopted because of her) was refused admittance today to the shelter to take her photographs.

Not only that, Everett Harris said he was in fear for his life from her and called the police.

The photographer spoke at the Parish Commission meeting Monday.


Fear for his life?

That photographer is devastated.

Let me remind you that the Caddo Parish Animal shelter has a 72% euthanasia rate for dogs and over 80% for cats.  They need all the help they can get.

All of this because some people wanted to help two starved, neglected dogs.  People are getting personal, getting attacked, and reputations are being damaged.

There is no reason this should have gotten this nasty.  None whatsoever.

There's no reason Mr. Harris should not release the two dogs to a rescue and save the taxpayers the money.  Apparently, the Caddo Animal shelter will treat heart worms in your neglected dogs and give them back to you.  I wonder if all the dogs in the shelter are being treated for their parasites?

Why make this so personal?  What is the motive for Caddo Animal Services and why does Councilwoman Lynch feel the need to take to Facebook to insult people, call them names, and make this a racial issue?

What in the world is going on in our parish and city government?

The Caddo Parish Commission will have their regular meeting tomorrow afternoon, should you decide you want to go watch this circus.

UPDATE:  Remember, once you put something on the internet, it's never really gone.  Here's the video of the Caddo Commission that they don't want you to see) (thanks to some folks with techie skills!:

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Change is Needed at Caddo Animal Services

Citizens concerned about the welfare of two starved and neglected dogs have united to enact change at the administration at Caddo Animal Services who, once again, do not seem to have the actual welfare of animals at heart.

On March 6, 2015, two starved Pitbull dogs were reported to Caddo Animal Services by a concerned citizen. The dogs were severely malnourished and had no shelter; nothing but a small piece of foam to sleep on.  CPAS responded, gave the owners 24 hours to improve the living conditions for the dogs and that was it.  The original complainant followed up with the Shreveport police department when conditions were not improved as ordered, and Caddo Animal Control did not follow up.  After SPD was contacted, CPAS again returned to the home and seized the two dogs.  No charges were filed against the owners; the owners signed a release of ownership of the dogs to CPAS.

The dogs were evaluated and found to have heart worms, whip worms and hook worms.

The mission statement of Caddo Animal Services:
The Caddo Parish Animal Services mission is to protect the citizens of Caddo Parish from dangerous, nuisance, and uncontrollable animals and ensure the protection and welfare of domestic animals.  The Caddo Parish Animal Services Section responds to approximately 13,000 citizen requests each year.  We also provide pet adoptions and help rescue injured animals.
Local rescue groups have attempted to pull the two dogs from Caddo Animal Services but have been refused.

Of course this is all reminiscent of the Braveheart story; you will remember the puppy found in a storage locker in September 2013.  He was very near death and through miraculous efforts he survived, recovered, and is now a symbol of the fight against animal abuse and neglect. When Braveheart was seized by Caddo Animal Services he was declared "evidence" until public outcry forced the agency to release him to the care of a veterinarian.

This situation is alarmingly similar.  The two dogs rescued last week have been named Lucky and T-Bone.  There is a Facebook group where supporters have now garnered help from animal rescue workers all over the country who want to help and who have the know-how to get it done.  They have posted a petition calling for the release of Lucky and T-Bone to a rescue group. At this time the petition has over 2,800 signatures garnered in just about 24 hours.  There is also a GoFundMe page to raise money for vetting which has raised over $1300.00.

Rosheen Rayburn works in animal rescue in Arizona and runs the highly visible Rally Against Animal Abuse page and website.  She put together this video that succinctly states the situation:

After this story hit social media last week, Caddo Animal Services director Everett Harris was hit with a barrage of emails and phone calls asking that the dogs be released to a rescue.  Harris refused and also refused to let concerned animal groups see the dogs.  A shelter volunteer reported that the two dogs were being held outside in the stray/hold pen; the weather last week in Caddo was cold with a constant rain.

Harris held a hastily called press conference to reassure the public that the shelter can care for the animals "just like they can," referring to the rescue groups asking for the dogs; he took no questions during the conference.

Harris's reluctance to release the dogs to a certified rescue is a concern.  Bo Spataro, owner of Braveheart and a warrior for animal rights posted this comment on Facebook last week:

Let's do the right thing. And Caddo doesn't have to go very far to learn how to work with rescue. JUST WALK ACROSS THE RIVER DUDE. What government agency wouldn't let the private sector help them. We have the money. He have the resources. We have the heart. Don't tell us how to spend our money... just take it. Get out of the way and let "good people" help. Hey new mayor. You gonna keep being so animal UNFRIENDLY over there across the river. Dig in on how your commisioners keep thinking this 100k plus year employee is doing a good job. More to it than fresh paint on the walls. YOU HAVE A PUBLIC OPINION PROBLEM. And this problem has merit. Read your email. ~ Bo

Valid points.

Caddo Animal Services has a 72% euthanasia rate because they refuse to work with rescue groups; Bossier Parish has a significantly lower rate because they do work with rescues.  Look at the numbers:



72% of the dogs and 87% of the cats that go to Caddo Animal Services are euthanized.  That's a problem.

The problem in this case is leadership; Everett Harris's refusal to do the best thing for the animals in his facility has been documented; he has been rude and abrasive to the public on numerous occasions.  During the Braveheart crisis when his agency refused to release Braveheart, Harris was verbally abusive to rescuers who offered help.

I get that his is a high stress position, but he could alleviate that stress by accepting help.

As citizens of Caddo Parish we need to demand a change.  Caddo Animal Services must reevaluate their position with rescue organizations.  All you have to do is look at those numbers for Bossier Parish to see that there is room for improvement in Caddo.  There must be a change of leadership at Caddo Animal Control.

To initiate this change, please contact the Caddo Commission:,,,,,,,,,,,

The email address for Everett Harris, Director of Caddo Animal Services is

Write to them all and demand that they first release these dogs to PetSavers who has volunteered to pull them, and then demand that Everett Harris resign in favor of a director that truly cares about the high kill rate at our shelter.

If you can, please attend the Caddo Commission meeting Monday, 3/16/15 and step up for your three minutes to speak to the commission about this problem.  The meeting is at Government Plaza at 3:30.  Even if you don't want to speak, come show your support.

Caddo Animal Services is an embarrassment to our community; we have got to do better.

An Important Petition

I'm working on a post for later this evening about the latest crisis at the Caddo Animal Shelter but for now, please visit this page and sign this petition if you can.

The latest concern is about two malnourished and neglected dogs that were picked up by Caddo Animal Services after a concerned citizen reported the situation.  The dogs are sick with parasites, starved, and need specialized care.  In a flashback to the Braveheart story, Caddo refuses to release these dogs to rescue groups who are volunteering to care and to pay for treatment for these dogs.

Part of Caddo Parish Animal Control's responsibility is working "closely with rescue organizations and humane societies to save as many pets as possible."  It is time for animal officials to care more about the animals, their relations with the public who pays their salaries, than power and money.  There is absolutely no reason T-Bone & Lucky shouldn't be put in the care of a rescue organization, and there is no reason for our public officials to ignore public outcry. 

In all likelihood these dogs will needlessly die at the shelter.

There is a Facebook group working hard to ensure that doesn't happen.  For now, you can help by signing the petition.

It's time for a change.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Michael Grady and a Sort of Cotton Kings Shreveport Reunion

Michael Grady
Wednesday I got an email from Mike Grady:


Michael has been in Playa del Carmen for the past few years, popping in and out of Monroe now and then to see his mother. The Carribean suits him; he looks strong and well.  He's not drinking and I'm told he quit smoking.  I've tried to keep up with him through the years and a while back I found a video of him playing in a beach bar in Playa del Carmen, did a blog post  or two about him, and still get emails and comments about where Michael is and what he's up to, and I get the occasional request for his email address. The post has become sort of a portal for people who want to keep up with Grady.  

I've not known Mike as long as a lot of people, only 38 years (damn, I'm getting old...), but he's the kind of fellow that makes an impression.  His distinctive music style has been the genus of several permutations of his original band and the music business is a brotherhood. Musicians that last and that people remember are the ones that take care of their brothers and mentor the up and comers in the business.  Back in the 1970s and '80s there weren't many people in the Shreveport music scene who didn't know who Michael Grady was. 

Robert McLane, Pat Austin-Becker, Michael Grady
Mike played his gig solo sometimes, he played with "Howdy" and "The Cotton Kings."  Around here they played The Royal Room and the infamous Lakecliff Club on Cross Lake, among others.  The Royal Room was a real dive, but that was part of its charm. The dingy beige walls, the red glass candle holders on the laminate tables, the metal & upholstery chairs you see in every dive bar....  There was a window unit in the wall behind the stage, mounted up high, pumping stale air and dripping water.  But nobody cared about the decor; that's not why you went there.  

The Lakecliff (or is it Lake Cliff?)  was on Cross Lake by the water plant; it's hard to find any remnants of it at all now.  But oh man, that place...; it was just a sort of road house, a big, barn looking place with a stage and a bar.  Elvis played there.  It was just a nowhere place that kind of sprung up and took off, but the musicians that played on that stage....

Anyway, so when I got Michael's email Wednesday, of course I'm "along this trail."  Let's get together for coffee, I said.  Then I decided maybe I'd invite David Shelton to come, Michael's drummer back in the day, and a fabulous musician and all around good guy today.  David was all in for a coffee date and suggested we call John Bicknell. Before you know it, we have a reunion on our hands.

David called me Thursday morning and said, "Hey, you know of any place we could get together and play a little while Mike is here?"  

No.  But my brother might.

Michael Grady, Bruce Flett, David T. Shelton, Robert McLane
So my brother gets to working the phones and gets Stan Hoffman in on it who eventually hooks us up with Gary Graves who was booked to play at Lee's Friday night with his new band Funhouse.  Gary is a class act and (see paragraph above) a longtime, well respected Shreveport musician who takes care of his brothers.  I sent Gary a text, told him Mike was in town, and asked if it would be okay if Michael played a bit? 

"Yes," he said.  No hesitation.  


"That's what its all about," Gary said.

So Friday we take over Strawns on Kings Highway. I'm sitting there looking at David Shelton, John Bicknell, and Michael Grady, wondering how long it has been since these three guys were in the same room together when in walks Bruce Flett.  There are cheers and hugs all around and I spent the next hour and a half listening to them all reminisce and tell stories. 

"Remember that time we played in...."

"I was on the bus with...."

"Havana is the place to go now, man!  You'll forget all about Mexico once you go to Cuba."

"I went to visit that sonofabitch ...he's laying in a hammock listening to all the Cotton Kings tapes...."
Micahel Grady and Bruce Flett

(I WANT those tapes!)

"I was sitting there with Guy Clark and Jerry Jeff and...."

I pulled out some old pictures from the 1986 reunion gig they played at The Royal Room and those were passed all around and we all marveled at our youth.  Looking at those guys, and listening to their stories, I remain flabbergasted at how much musical talent this town has produced.

"Oh hell, he probably has half of the remnants of the Lakecliff at his house...."

"What ever happened to Mike Coker?  Where is he?"

"Last I heard he went to Acapulco."

Looking at the pictures..."Damn, my beard used to be black!"  Mike said.  "I got my cataracts done a few years ago and looked in the mirror one day and said 'oh shit!'"  

David Shelton has a memory like an elephant and remembered every gig, every date, every place, every detail.  I'm going to get David and a tape recorder and we're going to write a book.  I'm not sure who our market audience will be, but we need to record all of it.

Michael Grady
It was a grand reunion.  Really.  

Later, I picked up my brother and we went to pick up Stan Hoffman and head to Lee's.  (Getting Stan's equipment into my Jeep, in the dark in the alley behind his house, along with the three of us is a story unto itself.)  

At the bar, the ever-gracious Gary Graves embraced Mike, they caught up, and after Gary's band finished their first set Mike Grady took the stage in Shreveport one more time.  He plugged in his guitar, settling his lean, lanky frame on a bar stool, and started to sing.  The bar-chatter stopped and everyone was watching the legend on the stage. He did three songs, which wasn't nearly enough but it was everything.  

"Who is that?"  I heard behind me.  

"That's Mike Grady."  

"I've heard of him, but I've never seen him play!"

"He's great!  I like it!"

He opened with his classic "Do Wah Ditty," then "Let Him Roll" and then "a song I wrote," he said which was perfect because the chorus is "this is my town, these are my people...".  And indeed this is, and we are.  

Here's a snip:  (sorry for the poor lighting)

And hey, if you guys every figure out what happened to the sparkly tip jar found under the Lakecliff stage that said "Elvis's tips," let me know!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lady Gaga Amazed Me at the Oscars

Well, this blew me away last night.

Who knew?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dear Neighbors: We Have a Dog Theft Problem

Dear Shreveport-Bossier and neighbors:

We have an animal control problem.  There is an epidemic of pet theft and dog-napping happening right under your nose.  It seems like every day I hear of someone whose dog has been stolen right out of their own yard or car.  What in the hell is going on?

Yesterday, a woman in Highland let her dog out into her fenced backyard and in ten minutes someone opened the gate, snatched the dog, and drove off.

In September a woman's Pomeranian was snatched in Highland:
Lindsey Combest says she didn't see the abduction herself, but a witness tells her that someone in a white 4-door truck pulling lawn care equipment picked her dog Wesson up near the corner of College St. and Centenary St. "It happened in about 15 seconds."
Also in Highland:
Joe Young says he put his 3-year-old terrier Dixie outside on a clip in his Highland neighborhood yard last week, and "45 minutes later the dog was gone." He asked neighbors in the area, thinking that the dog had just gotten loose, and learned there might have been something more sinister behind his pup's disappearance. "I found out that my dog had been picked up by a woman in a reddish-colored Jeep-type vehicle." He says a neighbor told him that they saw the dog-napping happen. "It makes me angry mostly. A dog-napper has got to be one of the worst kinds of person, I mean that's next to kidnapping as far as I'm concerned."
In Bossier Parish five boxer puppies were stolen.

There are countless reports of stolen -- not lost -- dogs on social media.

The Shreveport Pets section of Craigslist has at least a dozen pitbulls for sale right now; those ads often include a photo of the worn out, over bred mother to prove the dog's "champion blood line." There are other breeds there too: Chihuahuas, German Shepherds, an Akita....

There is a huge dog fighting problem in our area and almost certainly the rash of stolen pets is linked to this problem.

In January 2014 Jody Lowery with KTBS reported on the local dog fighting epidemic:
 Just last November, the SPCA found 16 pit bulls at a property in Gregg County, thought to have been used in dog fighting. Those dogs are said to be linked to an August multi-state bust involving Texas. It was the second largest in history where 367 dogs were originally rescued across the South. Then in March, two people were arrested in East Texas and nearly 100 dogs seized.
Lowrey points out that this area is perfect landscape for dog fighting because of all our rural areas and piney woods.  Lots of places to hide.  This is a nasty business that the perpetrators would like to keep hidden; it comes with a variety of other crimes.  Drugs, gambling, theft top the list.

Just two months after Lowery's report, a dog-fighting ring in Sabine parish was discovered:

Ten people were arrested in Sabine Parish over the weekend, accused of dog fighting. 
Saturday, around 11:00 p.m., the Sabine Parish Sheriff's Department along with several deputies from the DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Departed, executed a raid on a suspected dog-fighting operation on Hicks Drive. 
Two pit bulls were reportedly in the pit at the time of the raid. The dogs were taken to the Sabine Animal Shelter. Their condition as well as the condition of other animals on the property are unknown at this time. 
According to the Many Police Department's Facebook page, ten people, from as far away as Gibsland, Louisiana, were arrested and two juveniles were also at the scene. 
What police found there was horrible.

This is a real problem in our area and it's past time we faced it and did something about it.

There seems to be a number of factors contributing to this problem:

1.  The laws and penalties are not severe enough; the laws on the books are not clear enough.

2.  Dog-fighting is so secret and so hidden that not enough of the right people know it's a problem.

3.  It's a horribly unpleasant subject and any article about it often comes with graphic photos of abused and mutilated dogs; nobody wants to see that.  (How often do you change the channel or mute the TV when those poor shelter dogs look at you through cages while Sarah McLaclan's ASPCA commercial comes on?  Hell, even she changes the channel!)

4.  It's dangerous to get too involved in exposing these rings; this is big money.  These people are serious.

So, what can we do about this?

First, learn about what's going on. Pay attention in your neighborhood and learn who your neighbors are and their pets.

Monitor social media sites such as Shreveport/Bossier Lost and Found Pets or Lost and Found Pets Shreveport/Bossier on Facebook.  If they're stealing dogs in your neighborhood, you'll probably hear it there first.

Do not leave your dogs unattended outside.  If you work and you have a dog that stays outside during the day be sure your gates are locked and your neighbors can help keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

Be part of your neighborhood - help watch for suspicious vehicles or suspicious activity.  If you see someone stealing a dog, call 911 just like you would if you saw someone breaking into a house.

Educate yourself.  The Animal Legal Defense Fund is an excellent resource and has a great section on Pet Theft.  Follow them on Facebook.

Many of these stolen dogs are used for bait dogs.  Like many people, I knew what a bait dog was, but it wasn't until a few months ago when I helped rescue a starved, abandoned dog that I learned what really happens to bait dogs.  This dog had odd indentions on his tail that looked like a rubber band had been left on it for too long.  I assumed someone had tried docking his tail with a rubber band; the vet tech told me that dog fighters tie the dog's tail to a stake in a dog fighting ring so he can't get away.

This dog had defense wounds all over his face and legs; his ears were chewed all along the edges, and he was starved.  His feet were flat because he had never the proper nutrition necessarily for the bones in his feet to develop properly.

And still this dog was full of love and trust for the human that rescued him.

This dog was a bait dog in Bossier City.

We must do something about this problem in our area.  We have to lobby our legislators to strengthen the laws and up the penalties.  I firmly believe that the jury in the Braveheart trial came back with a verdict of "Simple Animal Cruelty" against abuser Gabriel Lee because the difference between "Simple" and"Aggravated Animal Cruelty" was just one word - intent.  The distinction between the misdemeanor and the felony was too close to distinguish.

This must be changed.  The language must be rewritten.

Not everyone is a dog lover; I get that.  But this is a real problem in our community and has ramifications for us all.  The thieves that steal dogs are horrible people that will go to any lengths to protect their cash source.  They are dangerous.

Go here and get started.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Take a Trip to the Barkus and Meoux Parade 2015

Here are a few photos from the Barkus and Meoux parade today:

Grand Marshall Braveheart was quite the celebrity!  Very cool under pressure.

He met many fans today.

This is Angel:

And Mrs. T:

Of course we had lots, and lots of dogs but there were also pigs, goats, cats, rabbits, and chickens.

We had dogs dressed up as people and people dressed up as cats.

And people dressed up for the Bone Appetite theme!

People and dogs dressed alike...

Dogs dressed as bones...

Goat tacos...

And, of course, Blue Dog...

This event has grown so much since the days when it was a little neighborhood thing at A.C.Steere park!  The turnout each year is huge.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

The SIGIS Take a Trip Series:
Take a Trip to the 2012 Defenders of Liberty Air Show at BAFB
Take a Springtime Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden, LA
Take a Trip to Logansport, Louisiana
Take a Trip to the Lock and Dam on Red River
Take a Trip to the 2012 Barkus and Meoux Parade
Take a Christmas Shopping Trip to Second Hand Rose in Minden
Take a Trip to the Fourth Annual Barksdale AFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Grand Cane's Fifth Annual Pioneer Trade Day
Take a Trip to the 2011 Highland Jazz & Blues Festival
Take an Autumn Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Take a Fall Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to the 8th Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base
Take a Summertime Trip to Grand Cane
Take a Trip to Desoto Parish
Take a Summer Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Melrose Plantation 
Take a Trip to Ed Lester Farms and a Random Antique Stop
Take a Trip to the Norton Art Gallery and the Masters of Cuban Art Exhibit
Take a Trip to Natchitoches to See the Christmas Lights
Take a Trip to the Third Annual BAFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Oakland Plantation

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Cane Juice: One of Louisiana's More Interesting Scandalous Novels

In the course of my research on Cammie Garrett Henry, I've come across some truly wonderful, all but forgotten literature by Louisiana writers.  I've lived in this state my entire life and was at least in my thirties before I ever heard of Lyle Saxon.  I never heard of Ada Jack Carver until I began my research on Mrs. Henry.  And now, there's John Earle Uhler.

Mr. Uhler was an English professor at LSU and in 1931 he published a book:  Cane Juice:  A Story of Southern Louisiana.  

And then he got fired.

Mr. Uhler was a native of Pennsylvania but came to Louisiana in 1928 to teach freshman English at the university.  His book centers around the "Cajun Gorilla," Bernard Couvillon, who was born and raised on Bayou Lafourche.  Bernard's father runs a sugar plantation and as the novel begins, sugar in Louisiana isn't doing very well.  The borer and the mosaic are taking their toll and the cane is no longer producing much juice; the mills that used to run constantly are falling quiet.

Bernard, as it turns out, is a pretty intelligent fellow and because of his excellent grades in school, (well, except for English - most people around the bayou still spoke French then...), the local police jury awards him a scholarship to LSU.  Bernard dreams of going to the university sugar school in order to learn just enough to save the sugar production in Louisiana.  His father is torn; he wants Bernard to stay and work with him.  "We don't need no book learnin' to raise sugar," Bernard's father said.  "This boy work wit' me in the mill...".

But, Bernard packs his $2 suitcase and walks down the levee to the university where he is promptly met with the ritual hazing of freshmen ("dogs") by upperclassmen and his temper is tested.

The book is filled with local color and Uhler's plot moves quickly.  As a piece of regional literature, it's as good as anything I've read.  It lacks the syrupy moonlight and magnolia prose that so many books of local color seem to have.  The protagonist, Bernard, is beautifully drawn and you pull for his success from the very beginning.  The dialect is just enough without being over done.

"Sugar-raisin's dead in Loosana," Bernard is told, but he refuses to give up his dream of saving the industry.

At the university, Bernard meets an assortment of characters from his mentor, Professor Paul Gatz, to the lovely Juliette Filastre who dates Morgan Fairchild, the star quarterback on the football team.  We also meet Bernard's sister with the dubious reputation, who lives in New Orleans.

When Mr. Uhler's book came out in 1931, it ignited quite the controversy.  The powers that be at LSU rather objected to the portrayal of the university - the hazing, the wild parties on the levee or at abandoned plantations in the countryside.  Chapter 25 describes a party at a deserted plantation house, Shadowlawn, which was now "waiting for the tragic end that has befallen so many of the old Louisiana river houses...within a few years it will go into the Mississippi."  At this party there is an abundance of drinking and more than a few intoxicated young women, one of whom makes very direct advances toward Bernard which the boy gently refuses because he doesn't want to take advantage of her in her intoxicated state and notes as well, "You' only a babee."  Bernard, in fact, takes measures to protect the young lady's reputation before he leaves the party.

Scenes like this one, while quite tame by our standards today, led to vigorous objections about Uhler's book by the Right Reverend Monsignor E. L. Gassler of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Baton Rouge.  Monsignor Glasser objected to the young people in the novel "seeking out dark corners" at these parties, insisting that none of the fine ladies in southern Louisiana would act in such a way.  Scandal!

He also highly objected to the portrayal of university boys (and sometimes ladies) "breaking the Eighteenth Amendment" and consuming (sometimes in great quantities) alcohol.  There is one scene where at a party in a hotel where Bernard is challenged to a drinking contest - a challenge that actually Juliette Filaster finds offensive, not so much for the use of alcohol but that it targeted and was mean-spirited to, Bernard.

As it turns out, Huey Long (who never actually read the book) was displeased that an employee of "his university" would write and publish anything that would damage the reputation of the school and so Professor Uhler was fired.  Whether or not Huey Long actually had anything to do with the firing is still a matter of debate, and it, as Thomas W. Cutrer points out in Parnassus on the Mississippi, "cannot at this late date be verified."

In response, Uhler enlisted the aid of the ACLU to get his job back.  He was reinstated within the year.

In Cammie Henry's Scrapbook no. 12, housed at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, there are pages and pages of clippings from newspapers around the state as this controversy unfolded. There is also a letter from Mr. Uhler to Mrs. Henry in which he thanks her for her letter of support and promises to send her an autographed copy of his novel which was sold out all over the state.  Otto Claitor, a frequent correspondent with Mrs. Henry, noted that he simply could not keep the book in stock.

While Cane Juice is probably not considered "fine literature" by the literati, I found it to be a jolly romp through the LSU of old and through the cane fields, levees, and plantations of the old south.  At the very least it is one of the more colorful controversies in our state's literary history and one that is worth preserving.

And how did Bernard Couvillon fare at LSU?  Did he save the sugar industry?  You'll have to read the book for yourself!  I found my copy on the third floor of an antique shop in Minden, Louisiana, a nifty little first printing, hardback edition with a tiny bit of water damage to the cover.  It's got a few pages breaking loose from the binding, but to me, it's a treasure.