Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Recession Raining on Mardi Gras? Fat chance!!!

Mardi Gras 2009

Mardi Gras 2009

Mardi Gras 2009

Mardi Gras 2009

Mardi Gras 2009

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The economic downturn could not overshadow the revelry of Mardi Gras on Tuesday as partiers jostled for beads on parade routes and the French Quarter swelled with boozy fun and masked crowds.

In fact, many revelers poked the recession in the eye, dressing in costumes riffing on the bailouts, the stimulus package and busted budgets.

Suzanne Gravener dressed as the Statue of Liberty - but without a crown. That, she joked, had to be sold for cash because of the hard times. Her husband lost his job as a dairy salesman, she said.

"I still have my torch, though," the 59-year-old New Orleans school teacher said.

Carnival was one luxury the family could afford, she said. "This is the greatest free show on earth."

The day opened with clarinetist Pete Fountain leading his Half-Fast Walking Club out onto Uptown streets and headed for the French Quarter in a trolley car. The marching club marks the unofficial opening of Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the last day of celebration before the solemnity of Lent.

By dawn, spectators crammed parade routes in anticipation of the day's biggest parades and costumed revelers mingled with all-night partiers in the French Quarter's narrow streets.

"It was cold, but nobody minded," said Delores Johnson, 53, of Slidell, La., who staked out a place on St. Charles Avenue with a group of friends dressed in matching green and gold shirts. They arrived on the oak-lined historic parade route just after midnight Monday.

The first parade of the day was Zulu, the traditional African-American parade, followed by Rex, the king of Carnival, and hundreds of truck floats.

At 4 a.m., Zulu members got into costume, which for them means blackface, huge afro wigs and grass skirts. Zulu marks its centennial this year.

"Oh, my God, if my family could see me now, the only good news is that they wouldn't recognize me," said Zulu member John Rice after his face was painted. "This is the only city in the world where you can get away with this."

In the company of Zulu rode Mayor Ray Nagin on horseback. The mayor was outfitted as a gladiator, or as he called himself a "recovery gladiator," in honor of a city's rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina.

Katrina was on the mind of Cherry Gilbert, a 42-year-old Seattle bus driver who helped organize a family reunion for about 80 members of the Gilbert clan, many displaced to cities like Dallas and Atlanta by the 2005 storm.

"This is the first time since Katrina we've all gathered here and it's a beautiful thing. There's nothing like New Orleans ... and family," Gilbert said, camping out on St. Charles.

It was the 49th time Fountain, 78, has made the journey from Commander's Palace, one of the city's most famous restaurants. Costume-clad revelers snapped photographs of Fountain and his entourage of men dressed as toy soldiers in reds, greens and aqua blues. Fountain has had health problems since Hurricane Katrina, but still plays his clarinet during the parade.

Along for the walk for the 43rd time was Jim Ponseti, 74, of Gretna, La. "We don't play, we just play around," Ponseti said of himself and his fellow nonmusical marchers.

The weather was expected to be mild, with temperatures in the 60s and the skies sunny.

Big crowds over the weekend and nearly full hotels bode well for a busy Mardi Gras. Visitors bureau spokeswoman Mary Beth Romig said officials were cautiously optimistic because of the slumping national economy.

Tourism officials hope to match last year's crowd of about 750,000. Before Katrina, Fat Tuesday typically brought in about 1 million people.

There was a shooting after Friday's parades and police said there was another shooting about 6 a.m. Tuesday near Bourbon Street. Still, police said the celebration was mostly peaceful.

"Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves and not making trouble for anyone else," spokesman Bob Young said.

Many visitors gather in the French Quarter area, where Carnival's more ribald side takes place.

"I just keep calling my friends at work and telling them what they're missing," said Bud Weaver, 31, of Philadelphia. "It's 40 degrees colder there and none of them had beer for breakfast."

Mardi Gras officially ends at midnight Tuesday. Police, followed by street sweepers, move down Bourbon Street announcing the event is officially over and Lent has begun.

In heavily Catholic New Orleans, many revelers will be in church Wednesday to have ashes daubed on their foreheads as they begin 40 days of prayer, penitence and self-denial leading up to Easter.

Check out the article at The Advocate.

The Spanish Town parade was awesome, as usual!!! Unfortunately, we can't make it to NOLA this year.

Have a Safe and Happy Mardi Gras!!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2009

Buy Yeaux Bailout - Spanish Town Mardi Gras Theme 2009 - Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade 2009 - Baton Rouge, Louisiana - Buy Yeaux Bailout

Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade 2009 - Baton Rouge, Louisiana - Buy Yeaux Bailout

Spanish Town, the quirky, yet charming section of Baton Rouge that is inundated with multitudes of pink flamingoes year round, is the inspiration behind one of Baton Rouge’s most famous parades – The Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade.

“Buy Yeaux Bailout” is the politically charged theme of this year’s Spanish Town Mardi Gras parade, which runs in the heart of downtown Baton Rouge, and it is like no other. It is hysterically insulting to all it pokes fun at, and it is done so in the worst taste possible – all in good fun of course.

Many are familiar with the parade, but lack knowledge on the way that it is coordinated, which is very fitting to its fun-filled theme.

“The board meets 10 to 12 times each year mostly from August to March,” said Jim Work, Society for the Preservation of Lagniappe in Louisiana (SPLL) Board Member. “We have a few drinks then go into a communal trance. When the trance is broken, voila, we have a theme – maybe.”

In keeping up with the socio-politic trends, SPLL works to find a fitting theme each year, drawing crowds of 100,000 to 200,000 spectators who can’t wait to participate in this event.

“You cannot describe the STMG [Spanish Town Mardi Gras] parade without visual aides,” said Work. “It is un-quantifiably the best political satire event since the ’64 Democratic Convention. Spectators are mostly from here, but thousands come from other planets to catch this extravaganza.”

Those who attend can look forward to seeing this parade’s 75 floats, which is the maximum amount of floats the city will allow, explains Work. This parade brings out so many spectators that you can’t park for miles around downtown. It is custom to get out there early, spending the day eating, drinking and hanging out with friends up until the time of the parade. Think of it as Mardi Gras tailgating.

When preparing for the parade, many hours of, let’s call it “work” – are put into SPLL’s parade planning.

“Decorating a float for the parade requires countless hours of drinking, thinking and planning – and decorating a couple of hours, I guess,” said Work.

With this kind of planning, who wouldn’t be interested in joining the fun? Spanish Town Parade entices many, encouraging their involvement in what is certainly an entertaining time.

“Fun-a-holics have found a way to reach the towering heights that are necessary to slide into the inner circles of STMG mosh-pit,” said Work.

Although Spanish Town has residents that vary in socio-economic status, they are unified as one, symbolizing this with their treasured pink flamingoes regardless of whether the home is extravagantly large or whether it small and rented by a poor college student, trying to make a place in this world. This heart of Baton Rouge is inhabited by lawyers, doctors, artists, writers, and many others who may not see eye to eye on all issues, but they do agree on one – the pink flamingo that is the inspiration for all who live there, characteristically representing unification – if you will. This simple, tacky lawn ornament represents so much to this town, and they are placed in the lakes downtown prior to each Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade, as a reminder to all, that Spanish Town is one of a kind.

“Why Spanish Town?” said Work. “Because they worshipped the humble pink, plastic lawn ornament from which we all draw strength and wisdom,” Work said. “Enthusiasm of all the fruit-cakes that have made this parade what it is today,” continues to spike Work’s interest in the Mardi Gras mayhem.

Check out the article at Tiger Weekly.

It's that time again... I love PINK, it's my favorite color!!! ;-) We'll be out there all day!!!

Be sure to check out the Official Spanish Town Mardi Gras website!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy 200th Birthday Lincoln!

New Pennies 2009 honoring Lincoln's 200th birthday

Who needs more pennies?

HODGENVILLE, Kentucky — The first of four new pennies chronicling Abraham Lincoln's rise from a small Kentucky cabin are being put into circulation to honor the 16th U.S. president's 200th birthday.

The coin's front is unchanged but the reverse depicts a tiny log cabin, representing the one-room dwelling where Lincoln was born near Hodgenville, Kentucky.

The one-cent piece is being unveiled by the U.S. Mint as part of Lincoln's bicentennial celebration Thursday near his birthplace.

The remaining coins will be released later this year and show other phases of Lincoln's life: a young man reading while sitting on a log during his formative years in Indiana; Lincoln the state legislator speaking at the Illinois capitol; and the unfinished dome of the U.S. Capitol.

Check out the article at Fox News.

The new penny designs are really cool! However, I'm not sure where they will be much use other than as a collectors item (pennies ARE the most collected US coin). I mean, let's be realistic - in this economic climate, even $1 bills aren't very useful. I dunno, it just seems like a big waste of money to me.

Friday, February 06, 2009

LSU Bash 2009 = Top Recruiting Class!!!

LSU Bash 2009

LSU Bash 2009

LSU Bash 2009

LSU Bash 2009

BATON ROUGE -- LSU coach Les Miles and his coaching staff hauled in one of the best recruiting classes in college football on Wednesday as the Tigers signed 25 players in what could be considered one of the strongest groups in school history.

Of LSU’s 25 signees, five were named to the prestigious Parade Magazine All-America squad, while six were named All-Americans by USA Today. The class also included 10 members of the EPSNU 150, eight members of the Scout.com 100, and six members of the Rivals.com 100.

LSU’s class was rated No. 1 in the nation by ESPN and No. 2 by Rivals.com.

“I think that this class answered our needs,” Miles said. “It’s nice to be complimented by being ranked number one in the country. Certainly we see this class as a class that we must develop; that we must improve; that we must challenge; we must make it bigger, faster, stronger and more technically competent.

“I’m probably most excited about the character of these men. I don’t really look at how the rankings fare because I feel like the old clich√© is two or three years from now you’ll find out how good they were or were not. I see them as guys that will do very well in the classroom and guys that will represent this school very well off the field. Potentially, this is the style of class that competes for championships year after year and people will be attracted to the style of men that we recruited this year.”

Six members of the 2009 signing class have already enrolled at LSU, a group that includes all-everything quarterback Russell Shepard. Shepard is concerned the top dual-threat quarterback prospect in this year’s class. He finished his high school career with more than 8,000 yards of total offense and 98 touchdowns. He accounted for nearly 4,000 yards and 48 TDs as a senior.

Other early enrollees for the Tigers include running back Drayton Calhoun, quarterback Chris Garrett, linebacker Kevin Minter, defensive back Rockey Duplessis and junior college punter Derek Helton.

Other highlights of the class include Bastrop High School wide receiver Rueben Randle, who is widely considered the nation’s top prospect at his position. Randle, who played quarterback as a senior in 2008, recorded 2,461 yards and 20 touchdowns through the air, while rushing for 683 yards and 12 scores. He is considered the top prospect in Louisiana.

Michael Ford, a running back from Leesville, La., comes to LSU after rushing for 2,953 yards and 29 TDs as senior. Ford, who earned both Parade and USA Today All-America honors in 2008, had nine games of 200-yards or better in 2008, including a career-high 443 yards and six TDs in a win over Tioga.

On defense, safety Craig Loston, defensive end Sam Montgomery and defensive tackle Chris Davenport highlighted that group. Loston is considered the nation’s No. 1 safety prospect. He was named to the Parade and USA Today All-America teams.

Montgomery, rated as the No. 2 defensive end prospect by ESPNU, had 11 sacks as a senior for Greenwood High School. Davenport earned USA Today All-America honors despite playing in just four games as a senior due to an injury. In four games, Davenport still recorded 45 tackles and nine sacks for Mansfield High School.

LSU’s class included 13 players from the state of Louisiana, four from Texas, two from Georgia and one each from Alabama, California, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.

“We do what we can to control this state and we’ve done so very effectively during our tenure here,” Miles said of recruiting Louisiana. “It’s always been our view that ‘in-state first’, but we offer national credentials with our academics; our school is well respected throughout the country, so we have great attraction to those surrounding states and those people that have proximity.”

LSU will now turn its attention to spring practice, which starts on March 12. The annual LSU Spring Game is scheduled for April 18 in Tiger Stadium.

Check out the article at LSU Sports.

Looks like another top-ranked recruiting class for the Tigers! Geaux!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Cheney Warns of New Terror Attacks!

former Vice President Dick Cheney

10 Ways Dick Cheney can kill you!

Former Vice President Dick Cheney warned that there is a “high probability” that terrorists will attempt a catastrophic nuclear or biological attack in coming years, and said he fears the Obama administration’s policies will make it more likely the attempt will succeed.

In an interview Tuesday with Politico, Cheney unyieldingly defended the Bush administration’s support for the Guantanamo Bay prison and coercive interrogation of terrorism suspects.

And he asserted that President Obama will either backtrack on his stated intentions to end those policies or put the country at risk in ways more severe than most Americans — and, he charged, many members of Obama’s own team — understand.

“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said.

Protecting the country’s security is “a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business,” he said. “These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.”

Citing intelligence reports, Cheney said at least 61 of the inmates who were released from Guantanamo during the Bush administration — “that’s about 11 or 12 percent” — have “gone back into the business of being terrorists.”

The 200 or so inmates still there, he claimed, are “the hard core” whose “recidivism rate would be much higher.” (Lawyers for Guantanamo detainees have strongly disputed the recidivism figures, asserting that the Pentagon data have inconsistencies and omissions.) Cheney called Guantanamo a “first-class program,” and “a necessary facility” that is operated legally and with better food and treatment than the jails in inmates' native countries.

But he said he worried that “instead of sitting down and carefully evaluating the policies,” Obama officials are unwisely following “campaign rhetoric” and preparing to release terrorism suspects or afford them legal protections granted to more conventional defendants in crime cases.

The choice, he alleged, reflects a naive mindset among the new team in Washington: “The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected. Sometimes, that requires us to take actions that generate controversy. I’m not at all sure that that’s what the Obama administration believes.”

The dire portrait Cheney painted of the country’s security situation was made even grimmer by his comments agreeing with analysts who believe this recession may be a once-in-a-century disaster.

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Cheney said. “The combination of the financial crisis that started last year, coupled now with, obviously, a major recession, I think we’re a long way from having solved these problems.”

The interview, less than two weeks after the Bush administration ceded power to Obama, found the man who is arguably the most controversial — and almost surely the most influential — vice president in U.S. history in a self-vindicating mood.

He expressed confidence that files will some day be publicly accessible offering specific evidence that waterboarding and other policies he promoted — over sharp internal dissent from colleagues and harsh public criticism — were directly responsible for averting new Sept. 11-style attacks.

Not content to wait for a historical verdict, Cheney said he is set to plunge into his own memoirs, feeling liberated to describe behind-the-scenes roles over several decades in government now that the “statute of limitations has expired” on many of the most sensitive episodes.

His comments made unmistakable that Cheney — likely more than former President Bush, who has not yet given post-White House interviews — is willing and even eager to spar with the new administration and its supporters over the issues he cares most about.

His standing in this public debate is beset by contradictions. Cheney for years has had intimate access to the sort of highly classified national security intelligence that Obama and his teams are only recently seeing.

But many of the top Democratic legal and national security players have long viewed Cheney as a man who became unhinged by his fears, responsible for major misjudgments in Iraq and Afghanistan, willing to bend or break legal precedents and constitutional principles to advance his aims. Polls show he is one of the most unpopular people in national life.

In the interview, Cheney revealed no doubts about his own course — and many about the new administration’s.

“If it hadn’t been for what we did — with respect to the terrorist surveillance program, or enhanced interrogation techniques for high-value detainees, the Patriot Act, and so forth — then we would have been attacked again,” he said. “Those policies we put in place, in my opinion, were absolutely crucial to getting us through the last seven-plus years without a major-casualty attack on the U.S.”

Cheney said “the ultimate threat to the country” is “a 9/11-type event where the terrorists are armed with something much more dangerous than an airline ticket and a box cutter – a nuclear weapon or a biological agent of some kind” that is deployed in the middle of an American city.

“That’s the one that would involve the deaths of perhaps hundreds of thousands of people, and the one you have to spend a hell of a lot of time guarding against,” he said.

“I think there’s a high probability of such an attempt. Whether or not they can pull it off depends whether or not we keep in place policies that have allowed us to defeat all further attempts, since 9/11, to launch mass-casualty attacks against the United States.”

Check out the article at Fox News.

I sure hope that Cheney's prediction doesn't come to fruition... and that Obama has the presence of mind to take the necessary actions to prevent it!