It’s the first week of October and it’s still hot: July hot, August hot. People are trying to convince themselves that it’s not *that* hot but they’re as delusional as your basic red-hatted Trump supporter. In the immortal words of Cole Porter:
Complaining about the heat usually makes me feel better as does hearing Ella’s voice. It didn’t work this time because it’s October. Climate change is real, y’all.
Last Saturday, my wife Grace and I attended the memorial service and second line for Gilgamesh Atticus Alexander Homan whose tragic death at the age of 18 was noted in my last column. It was a beautiful ceremony held in a modernist chapel on the Xavier University campus where Gil’s father Michael professes.
The highlight of the service was when one of Gil’s buddies began his talk as follows: “Gil was a legend.”
Also legendary is this image from the second line handkerchief, which we waved as we followed Egg Yolk Jubilee to the wake:
Gil *was* a legend. He will be missed.
Let’s move on to our first full-blown segment. I have prepared a meme to serve as the subject header. It’s Claes Oldenburg’s clothespin sculpture commissioned by the city of Philadelphia in 1976.
Confessions of a Clothespin Voter
A truism of being a red state liberal is that we’ve all had to vote for statewide candidates we were not crazy about. I’ve voted for people whose views were similar to mine but whose ethics I was dubious of Edwin Edwards, Dollar Bill Jefferson, and Cleo Fields come to mind in this category.
Then there are the Blue Dog Democrats I’ve voted for with varying degrees of enthusiasm: Bennett Johnston, John Breaux, Kathleen Blanco, and John Bel Edwards fit neatly in this category.
Mary Landrieu was a sui generis Blue Dog because of her pro-choice stance. It drew withering criticism from the beloved Archbishop and friend of the Landrieu family, Philip Hannan. Senator Landrieu stood her ground.
That brings me to the 2019 Gret Stet governor’s race. I am unabashedly pro-choice. I have obviously voted for pro-life Democrats but all of them supported exceptions; typically for rape, incest, and to protect the life of the mother. Earlier this year, we learned there was an exception to this list of exceptions: John Bel Edwards who signed a barbaric anti-abortion bill aimed at overturning Roe vs. Wade.
I was an enthusiastic Edwards supporter in 2015. A squeaky-clean West Pointer was the perfect foil to the man who was clearly the worst person in Gret Stet politics: then Senator David Vitter aka The Sinator, Vitty-Cent, and Diaper Dave.
There’s nothing worse than a sanctimonious hypocrite and there was never a bigger one than David Vitter. He was a dragon that needed slaying. Bobby Jindal was bad enough but replacing him with Vitter was like going from the frying pan to the fire. I will always be grateful to JBE for sparing us Governor Vitter.
I voted for Edwards in 2015 knowing that he was anti-choice. If he was a no-exceptions right to lifer then, I did not want to know: he was the anti-Vitter. I assumed that such a basically decent man would have the same position as former Governor Blanco and other Blue Dogs. I was wrong. These are darker times and the so-called pro-life right believes they can realize their dream of reversing Roe in one fell swoop. Their dream is my nightmare.
That brings me to the choice we face in 2019. For me, it will be a clothespin vote to re-elect Governor Edwards. I am disappointed in his no-exceptions position on a woman’s right to choose BUT he’s been a good governor on many important issues, especially Medicaid expansion. He’s clearly an abler man than his Republican challengers, Doc Abraham and Major Donor Rispone. Rumor has it that the latter is a “conservative outsider and Trump supporter.”#sarcasm
Having affixed my clothespin, I pledge to respect those who cannot vote for Edwards because of his retrograde position on reproductive rights. I have not and will not donate money to Team Edwards or advocate his re-election with so much as a yard sign. He is, however, much better than the alternatives.
I hope Edwards wins in the primary, so I won’t have to see Rispone and Abraham ads every time I watch the local news. I hear Rispone is a “conservative outsider and Trump supporter.” I never want to hear that again.
The last word of the segment goes to Dwight Yoakam:
Louisiana began life as a French colony. The influence of France looms large in the Gret Stet. It has influenced our food, language, music, and place names throughout South Louisiana. New Orleanians may not pronounce Burgundy and Chartres Street as our French cousins do but the sensible among us honor our French legacy. C’est magnifique.
That brings us to a segment in which we honor the passing of a man who was such a good friend to America that he told us the truth about the Iraq War and tried to stop it. That’s what real friends do: they level with you. But there was no talking sense to the Bush-Cheney administration. Their supporters were worse: they tried to rename French fries, freedom fries. It didn’t stick.
Jacques Chirac, R.I.P.
Chirac was a colossus who stood astride French politics for nearly 50 years. His passing last week at the age of 86 was overshadowed in the news by the impeachment mishigas.
I’m here to restore Chirac to the limelight. He was so fond of our country that one of his nicknames at home was l’Americain.
Jacques Chirac was Mayor of Paris, twice Prime Minister, and President of the Republic from 1995-2007. He won two presidential elections and lost two more as a candidate of the Center-Right. By American standards, he was more like a moderate Democrat than a conservative Republican. He was a staunch supporter of the European Union as well as of closer ties with the United States but as equals, not poodles. Chirac did his own bit of dragon slaying by defeating the neo-Fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002.
One of my stock jokes during the second Bush presidency was that Jacques Chirac was more fluent in English than his American counterpart. Chirac studied in America as a young man; spending two years in New Orleans:
“If you flagged down a taxi in New Orleans during the early 1950s, your driver might have been a future president of France.
Jacques Chirac, who died Thursday in Paris at age 86, used his income as a cabbie to help pay his expenses during a two-year stay in New Orleans while he was working on a postgraduate thesis about the port.
New Orleans originally was going to be just a stopover during the young man’s 1953 road trip around the United States, according to a 2003 story in The (Lafayette) Daily Advertiser.
But, the newspaper said, Chirac was so taken by the city’s post-World War II growth that he changed his thesis topic to concentrate on the port and stayed for two years.”
This proves that Jacques Chirac was a man of taste and refinement. He was also, like many Louisiana politicians, something of a rogue:
“By the time he left the mayor’s office, in 1995, there was increasing evidence that corruption and political skulduggery had been widespread during his tenure. But despite his later conviction in court, there were no allegations while he was in office that he had enriched himself. There were suspicions, however, that he must have been aware of the corrupt schemes of his associates, particularly of Jean Tiberi, who succeeded him as mayor.”
Chirac did no prison time and his reputation was merely dinged by the conviction. It’s what happens when you’re a lovable rascal with a reputation for personal kindness and warmth.
Back to New Orleans. Chirac’s bona fides as an honorary local were reinforced by the sub-krewe of PAN in the first Krewe du Vieux parade after Katrina and the Federal Flood with this theme:
That was the year before I joined Krewe du Vieux. The Buy Us Back, Chirac theme was one of the reasons I begged Ashley Morris for a spot in PAN as I recounted earlier this year inConfessions of a Krewe du Vieux Member.
PAN subsequently passed from this mortal coil to be reborn as Spank. It’s a pity that the same can’t be said for Jacques Chirac. Repose en paix.
That concludes this edition of 13th Ward Rambler. In an oddball tribute to Jacques Chirac’s 18 years as Mayor of Paris, Joni Mitchell gets the last word: