One of the MANY cool things about working for WWL is working on Mardi Gras day. As a guy who was born here and has constantly jockeyed for position to see the parades, I am lucky enough to have the best place in the entire city to see Zulu, Rex and all of the great things that Mardi Gras has to offer. On Fat Tuesday, on the street in front of Gallier Hall, I have already had to dodge the champagne glass that Rex and Zulu throw down into the street after toasting the mayor.
My favorite part of all, though, was being the first to talk to Pete Fountain as he shepherded his "Half Fast' marching club through the streets of the Crescent City. To me, it wasn't really Mardi Gras until I talked to Pete. Sadly it won't be that way this year...or any other year. Pete passed away a few days ago. If making people feel good is a measure of how you've lived your life, Pete Fountain lived a life that few have. After a mere conversation with him, you walked away feeling that you, and he, had made a new best friend.
Years ago I was emceeing a concert at which Pete was the headline performer. My late mother came to see "me" but I sense, as she was a HUGE Pete Fountain fan, she may have wanted to see him too. I summoned up the courage to introduce myself to him and, in typical Pete Fountain style, he made me feel as though we'd been friends for years. Emboldened, I asked him to come over and say hello to my mother. He not only went to meet her, but sat down next to her and chatted for several minutes. Before leaving, he gave her an autographed CD with a message personalized just for her. Like me she had only known him for minutes but Pete made her feel as though they'd been lifelong friends.
Pete Fountain was an extraordinary musician and an even better man. I'm lucky to have known him. A friend sent me this picture of Pete and I chatting on Mardi Gras 2016 which would be, sadly, the last time. For me Mardi Gras will never be the same. Pete Fountain was good people. By the way he told me he liked my wig. Thanks for everything Pete. It really was MY pleasure.
A recent poll by Quinnipiac University says that 89% of Americans support cannabis for medical use, while 54% said they think cannabis should be available for recreational use.
You may notice I used the word “cannabis” instead of “marijuana” because I was informed by David Brown, a former Baton Rouge prosecutor and a member of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) that “marijuana” was pejorative in that it described the part of the plant used to get high as opposed to “cannabis” the plant. After mutually agreeing the plant wasn’t being grown for shade, we moved on.
My guest said the war on drugs has cost over one trillion dollars and asked me if I thought it was a success. Let’s be honest; it’s been a complete and total failure that’s ruined far more lives than it was ever intended to save. Weed is perhaps more available now than if it were legal and the related criminal activities over disputed turf have caused violence that’s ruined families, neighborhoods and, in some cases, whole cities.
I’ve never tried marijuana… er, cannabis. I know lots of people who have and use it regularly. People like mechanics, managers, engineers, lawyers and doctors. You know…THOSE types.
Marijuana and much harder drugs are readily available in schools starting as early as 5th grade so if you think de-criminalization would make it easier for your kids to get, I think its time ya’ll had a serious conversations about drugs, school and friends.
I never thought I’d say this but I’m FOR the legalization of marijuana. It would probably be less available than it is now. I would hope and pray it would cut down on street violence. And if it doesn’t work make it illegal again. It couldn’t be any worse than it is now.
To listen to the conversation I had this morning, click the link below.
I’m reasonably sure when Monty and Ingrid Williams last saw each other, neither thought that would be the last time they saw each other. But it was. You never know.
As you probably know by now Ingrid Williams, the wife of former Pelican’s coach Monty Williams was critically injured when another driver crossed the center line and struck Ingrid’s vehicle head on. The other driver, who police say was driving with a dog on her lap, died instantly. Ms. Williams passed away on Wednesday. You never know.
How many times have we angrily walked out on a spouse after an argument? Or dropped off a child at school after expressing our disappointment over bad grades or unacceptable behavior? What about a rift with relatives that goes on for months? Maybe you’re one of these hard a^%es that refuses to say I love you. What if you NEVER got to speak to them again? Would you regret your actions or convince yourself that “well, they knew even though I …”. You never know.
Anthony “the Brow” Davis said that Ingrid Williams was like a “mother to him” when he first came to the Crescent City. I sense he told her how much of a difference the 44-year-old mother of five made in his life. You never know.
Circumstances change. I now find myself living alone with a lot of time for reflection. Sometimes I don’t like what I see staring back at me. I’m trying my best to connect with people whom I may have offended to make things right. I’ve also tried to reach out to those who have helped me to let them know how much of a difference they’ve made in my life. I hope they realize that I’m sincere and don’t want anything from them. You never know.
Before I lost my mother and father I made sure I thanked them for all they had done for me and reminded them of specific advice they had offered to get me ready for life and how it did just that. Since they’ve passed away that gives me great comfort when I miss them, which is every day. I do my best to communicate that to grown children who are still lucky to have their parents with them. If you have anything to say to them in gratitude let them know; tell them now. I hope they take that advice. You never know.
The phrase “life’s too short” has become cliché. But it’s true. We have to be responsible. We have to raise our children properly. We’ll never get along every day in every way with our families. But life is too short to sweat the little things and when you really think about it they’re ALL little things. If today was the last time for you…would you have any regrets or be at peace? You never know.
Do we do enough for our veterans? I feel like we send them into dangerous situations, but we aren’t giving them the resources they need.
I spoke with a friend of ours, Shad Meshad, the President and Founder of the National Veterans Foundation, about our service members and some of the trials they face.
“I think it’s very difficult for the American people – because most of them don’t go to war – to understand the horror that comes with being a war fighter and coming home and just trying to move like you went to camp for the summer. That’s really the big bridge; they just don’t really appreciate it.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an enormous problem for veterans, and it can unfortunately lead to some tragic consequences.
“We talk about it, but really the solution is what we struggle with. 22 suicides or more a day, and we’re just sitting here looking at it like a weather report or the stock market.”
It’s terrible. They do so much for us. We need to be there for them. Can the average person help out?
“We can’t forget this. We have to buddy up with these returning men and women. Find out through organization what you can do. They’re not expecting you to do the dirty work or handle the calls we do…you don’t have do that, but we need your support.”
So please, if you can, help out. The National Veterans’ Foundation is a great organization, and they’re just one group of many doing this important work. You can visit them at www.nvf.org, and I’ve linked up some more information in the Tommy Cares section on my web page.
You can also check out the entirety of my interview with Shad here:
WHO knows what's best for us to eat. No, there shouldn’t be a question mark at the end of that sentence, because it’s a declarative statement. You see the World Health Organization a.k.a. WHO has determined that processed meat can, however slightly, increase your risk of cancer.
At this point I have to reflect on all of the studies of everything that have already been done and ask - what doesn't give you cancer!? Among the carnivorous delights to be avoided - steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, pork chops, bacon and veal.
For those of you who love veal but don’t know exactly what it is… it's baby cow. The beef industry decided long ago that the public didn’t want to know what it didn’t know, and few diners, if any, would order the “baby cow parmigiana.” Veal sounded as good as anything so they went with that. By the way, I think “lamb” is actually a sheep but that’s not the point and I’m no veterinarian.
I’ll take the recommendations from WHO on what I should do and process this report with all the others in the "I don't know" portion of my brain. Now its beginning to sound like an old Abbott and Costello routine, just in time for the World Series.
I do know this. I’m not going to change my eating habits every time a new study comes out. Moderation was, is and always will be the key. But I do have one question about this study. Could those “EAT MOR CHIKIN” cows have in any way tampered with the results?
Cycling is a hot button topic here in New Orleans. Whenever we talk about it, the phones light up with people on both sides of the issue weighing in. We hear a lot of complaints from bike riders, accusing of drivers of being reckless and endangering them. On the flip side, we hear drivers accusing cyclists of ignoring the rules of the road.
We spoke with a friend of ours, Dan Favret, the Executive Director of Bike Easy, who was glad to see this conversation happening. Is one group (drivers or cyclists) more at fault?
“You can’t really choose one group that’s the most problematic; there’s bad apples in every bunch… People in cars, people on motorcycles, people walking, everyone is making mistakes. I see cyclists get pointed out. I think there’s some fair criticism, but I think there’s often confusion about exactly what the law is and how people should ride bikes.”
We’ve had suggestions from some listeners that cyclists should have to pass a test in order to use the roads just as drivers do. Favret isn’t sure about that right now, but he hopes for more education.
“If we did more bicycle and pedestrian education as part of the drivers’ tests for young folks who are going through drivers education and getting their license, that would be great.”
The bottom line really is to make the roads a safer place. There’s a lot of debate over the best ways to do that, but that’s why having the conversation is important. Whether you’re driving, or cycling, or walking, or whatever, you want to be safe; and you want the people around you to be safe.
“Safety on the road way is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone’s making mistakes nationwide, when it comes to crashes that involve a motor vehicle and a bike, it’s about half and half in fault. We’re all people out there on the roadways.”
For the rest of our interview and to hear what some of the audience thinks, check out the podcast:
A Lakeview man was arrested… for shooting and killing a possum outside his business. The police come out and charged him for discharging a firearm within the city limits. They’ve got bullets flying around this City like doubloons on Mardi Gras, so if you’re going to worry about a bullet, I don’t think you really worry about the one that clipped a possum.
What are you supposed to do? You let the vermin come in, eat whatever it wants out of the refrigerator? Then before you know it the possum’s sitting on a stool in your own business with a cigarette dangling out its mouth saying, “What do you want?”
What is he supposed to do? Just sit back and let the vermin take over? Call the SPCA and wait around until they can do something with it?
I talked with Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino just to get a legal perspective on this. Was he really in the wrong?
“It all comes down to the question of justification. The question is, ‘Was there any justification in shooting the weapon and in killing the animal?’ And you’d think there was here. A possum is a varmint, and he said the possum was attacking him. If that’s true, he was defending himself; and it would be justifiable."
Another thing… don’t the police have more important things to focus on? What really gets me is that this was a THREE DAY investigation. With the manpower shortage facing NOPD, was this the best allocation of resources?
“It does seem like a questionalable use of police resources. Particularly to go to those extents for a follow-up: photo arrays, identification procedures, actual arrest rather than the issuance of a citation. It really does seem to be a bit of overkill.”
“A bit of overkill” sounds about right to me. Is this crazy?
“One thing I noticed when a firefight was about to happen in Vietnam was the quiet…the stillness. It seemed as though the birds and insects knew something bad was about to happen so they left. I notice that same quiet now.”
With those words, spoken by Garland Robinette, who would become the voice of Katrina, my perception of the storm barreling towards us and me…quickly changed from “just another false alarm” to “this could finally be the big one.” It was an unusually hot Sunday morning, filled with the soul-crushing heat and humidity that precedes and follows tropical weather.
I was doing my best to finish boarding up my house by myself. I had spent the previous day doing the same thing, but after throwing up, cramping up and exhausting myself, I didn’t have much gas left in the tank to finish up the job. NOTE TO SELF: Do the more difficulty part first, when you're less tired. Fighting heat exhaustion and dehydration is no time to singlehandedly board up two dormers on a roof.But let’s get back to that day.
As was most of the Gulf South, I was listening to WWL as I worked and others “contra flowed” to safer locations, seeking shelter and safety from Katrina. This storm that changed its destination days before was getting closer with every passing moment. But so many previous times approaching storms had bypassed us. As I fought exhaustion I wondered to myself - is all of this boarding up really necessary? Then Garland made his observation. I put down the circular saw, turned down the radio and just listened. I heard nothing. No birds, no insects and certainly no traffic or people as I was the last in the neighborhood. It was, as the cliché’ goes, eerily quiet.
I got back to boarding up. Soon I heard Todd Menesses on WWL along with the Archbishop. His Excellency was on the air to say a prayer that the city be spared. That was the most sobering moment of my life and I remember it as vividly today as though it happened yesterday.
Katrina was brutal. Katrina was dangerous. And it had us in its crosshairs. This was REAL.
Oh boy. Saints training camp hasn’t even started, and I’ve got my first worry of the season already.
New Saints cornerback Brandon Browner was in Seattle for Richard Sherman’s charity softball game and made some comments that raised a few eyebrows - including my own.
He told a Seattle newspaper that, after his contract with the Saints is up, he hopes to return to the Seahawks!
What? Is that a crazy thing to say? Or maybe I’m crazy... I wanted to get another opinion, so I spoke with my friend Doug Mouton, WWL-TV’s Sports Director.
“I literally read it and couldn’t believe that a guy who just signed as a free agent would say that about any team. This would stir the pot anywhere,” Doug said.
And stir the pot it has! Mouton went on: “If you look at it from his point of view, he’s back in Seattle where he had a great experience; and maybe he’s playing to his audience a little bit. If you look at it from a New Orleans point of view, you’re paying a guy $15 million… and before you’ve played one down for that team, you’re talking about going back and playing for another team.”
My immediate concern is could this affect the Saints on the field. Sometimes when anything happens in life, you’re tempted to say, “That’s a bad sign.” And I think Brandon Browner saying that is a bad sign. I know it’s all about performance; but if your heart is in Seattle… I just think it’s a bad sign. I wish he wouldn’t have said it.
Maybe I’m overthinking this and reading things that aren’t there, but I just can’t shake a bad feeling about it.
Whether or not it’s a bad sign, I think Doug Mouton hit the nail on the head.
“Brandon Browner is 30. When you get north of 30, you have to get smarter about self-preservation. And saying those kind of things, that's just wrong. You can’t sign for $15 million and then immediately express that your heart is sort of in another place… It’s just not a smart thing to say.”
To listen to my full conversation with Doug, click the link below