We visited the regions around the coast for a bit in the occasional free time. I drove a few hours up that great river as well. Louisiana is pleasant in February, and there is a toughness and an honesty that is elemental. The oil-fields and coastal fisheries create a rugged aesthetic. Signs advertise "underwater welders wanted" and "fresh seafood daily". The insanely tough men and women who tend to all aspects of commercial fishing and oil-based commerce are rugged and charming. A man taller and twice my weight stood in line next to me at the local fish-shack for lunch, still smelling of torch-joined steel in his fire-retardant cover-alls. Like nearly everyone in this region, his tough exterior melted away when he starting chatting me up in his pleasing-to-the-ear Cajun patois, recommending various items on the menu, substantiating his evaluations with actual local trivia.
"Onna Tuesday, yor gonna want the shrimp, 'cause Eljay does the buyin' that mawnin' an he's picky. If ya come tomarrah, ya gonna wanta git the fish, 'cause it's only been on ice faw 'bout three awahs when they open."
He was a man who obviously had no fear of butter, heavy cream, sugar, or deep-fried anything.
The region is packed with beautiful bones of houses, still viable with a lot of elbow grease. If any elbow grease is left over, the folks here would surely fry something in it.
I was given a tour of the parade costume warehouse to the north. Almost three decades of costumes filled the hangar, many of which were fantastic.
From the hard-boiled pipe-welders, steel cutters, fishermen, engine mechanics, and oil workers, to the delicate and elaborate pomp and flashy ostentation of the parade participants, I had come full circle. Louisiana is always thought of in terms of either the Bayou or Bourbon St. While the live music, parades, and generous open-container laws are very nice, I have developed a love for the industrial side of the state, and I am happy to remain among the petroleum pipes and ships, eating the oyster stew and the grilled fish for days on end. I stick out like the sorest of thumbs, but the hospitality is unparalleled. The giant fella in the welding cover-alls said that if I was around this Friday, he would like me to attend his cookout. All around, people seemed more concerned that a stiff in a suit felt out of place, and invitations to a church fish fry were inescapable.
Back home and at the office, my shoe-polisher had arrived, and while I was eager to spin a shine onto my oxbloods, I couldn't help but notice the picture on the box.
What exactly do they think I am going to go with it? I had intended on everyone polishing their shoes, but this horrible picture makes me feel naive now.
Maybe it will spin me back to the mid-80's when Paul Hogan was still trying to charm us with his Humor Australis or when Andrew McCarthy was trying to date one of the figures from the top of this post.
PRESS BUTTON FOR SHINE.