Monthly Archives: July 2015
One of the most topsy-turvy months of recent memory, maybe of my 38 years and 9-plus months on this planet, is ending in less than an hour.
It began so well for me. I had the great trip through Nebraska four weeks ago where I got to experience one of my favorite restaurants from my days in Louisiana, Raising Cane’s, plus I got to see what has become of Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium and the new TD Ameritrade Park.
It got even better the next weekend. There was that big wedding reception in St. Joseph on the 11th. Great night. Thought nothing could go wrong.
Then came the next weekend. It went straight into the toilet and way, way below. I made some really stupid threats and really stupid postings on social media. I meant none of them, but if I’ve done irreparable harm, I have only myself to blame for opening my mouth and inserting my big foot. As bad as that was, it got the authorities involved, and that’s never pleasant.
There are ways to express anger. None of them involve going public. If you do, you run the high risk of scaring people off. Please don’t do it. Trust me, it won’t work.
Thankfully, Crista and my guardian angel from San Diego talked me off the ledge and told me it wasn’t that bad. They also helped me come to the realization that it was my own doing, not anybody else’s. I have trouble with it, but I’m not going to lay blame at anyone’s feet.
I also had some help from Liz, whom I got to see Wednesday before she leaves tomorrow morning for her new life in Colorado, one which I hope is very, very happy and fulfilling. I am going to miss her. A lot.
The month also saw the United States reclaim the FIFA Women’s World Cup after a 16-year drought, Zach Johnson prevail in a tense Monday playoff to win golf’s third major, The Open Championship; Tom Brady’s four-game suspension upheld by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, with Brady now suing the league in federal court; and the Royals and Blue Jays going all-in with blockbuster trades. Kansas City got right-handed ace Johnny Cueto from Cincinnati and dynamite utility man Ben Zobrist from Oakland, while Toronto acquired super shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from Colorado and stellar southpaw David Price from Toronto.
We’ve also lost some good people. Just in the last three days, former professional wrestling superstar Rowdy Roddy Piper, White Sox ace lefty Billy Pierce, Chicago Bears All-Pro center Mike Pyle, and country singer Lynn Anderson, who gave ust the timeless classic “Rose Garden”, have all left us. Also passing away this month were Raiders quarterback Kenny “Snake” Stabler, crime author Ann Rule, longtime Buffalo Bills radio play-by-play announcer Van Miller, actor Omar Sharif, and actress Amanda Peterson, the star of the 1987 romantic comedy “Can’t Buy Me Love”.
August has always been a very brutal month for me for some reason. Can it be any worse than July 2015 was? It can always be worse. Always. Hopefully not this year.
Today was the 40th anniversary of the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.
Hoffa, who greatly expanded the membership and power of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in the 1950s, was scheduled to meet associates for lunch on July 30, 1975 at the Machus Red Fox restaurant near Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, approximately 25 miles northwest of General Motors headquarters in downtown Detroit, and not too far from the then-brand new Pontiac Silverdome, home to the Detroit Lions from 1975 through 2001.
Hoffa was the subject of several major criminal investigations, the most notable of which were that of the Senate committee headed by Arkansas’ John McClellan, and later by Robert F. Kennedy, who stepped up his pursuit of Hoffa after he was named Attorney General by his brother in 1961. The Teamsters president was convicted of bribery in 1964, but did not report to prison until 1967 following
On Christmas Day 1971, Hoffa was pardoned by President Nixon, although the pardon stipulated Hoffa could not seek the presidency of the Teamsters until 1980. Hoffa ignored the provision, and by 1975, was planning his comeback to the top.
There were numerous leads and searches for Hoffa’s body, but it has never been found. He was declared dead in absentia by the state of Michigan in 1982.
The most likely scenario is he was kidnapped and murdered by a group of Teamsters with deep connections to the mob, led by Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano, a caporegmie (captain or capo) in New York City’s Genovese crime family. Provenzano was staunchly against Hoffa regaining the Teamsters’ presidency. The probable explanation is Provenzano and associates Anthony (Tony Jac) Giacalone and Salvador (Sally Bugs) Bruguglio, among others, took Hoffa, beat him to death and then either encased his body in concrete or shred it to small pieces.
In June 1978, Provenznao was convicted of the 1961 murder in upstate New York of Anthony Castellito, whose body was shredded in much the same manner as which happened to Hoffa.
The joke for many years was Hoffa was buried underneath Giants Stadium, which was under construction at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey at the time of Hoffa’s disappearance. It opened a year later and hosted the Giants for the next 34 seasons, and then the Jets from 1984-2009. When the stadium was razed after Met Life Stadium was built, no trace of a body was found.
Hoffa’s son, James R. Hoffa, is currently president of the Teamsters. His daughter, Barbara Ann Crancer, was a judge for many years in St. Louis.
Those who grow up in New Orleans know all about famous people disappearing.
Hale Boggs, a longtime U.S. Representative from the Big Easy, was in an airplane which disappeared over the Alaska wilderness October 16, 1972. He was flying from Anchorage to Juneau for a fund raiser with Alaska Rep. Nick Begich. It was the largest search in United States history at the time, spanning 39 days and involving the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. Boggs, who became House Majority Leader in 1971, was declared dead by the House three days into 1973. His widow, Lindy, was elected to his seat in March of that year and served through 1990. Lindy, the mother of former ABC commentator Cokie Roberts, was later the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican before she passed away in 2013 at age 97.
Hoffa, Boggs, Natalee Holloway…where are you?
I just wrapped up the best 24 hours I’ve had in a very long time. I needed it. I had come out of the terrible funk I was in 10 days prior, but yesterday and this morning were the first times I really had reasons to smile in awhile.
I was at Buffalo Wild Wings from 2 to 8:30 yesterday. I was hoping to see Tori behind the bar in the afternoon, but Lauren swapped with her. It was still a wonderful time with her, and then with Stephanie in the evening.
Ashley is almost ready to deliver. She looks really good for almost full-term. Molly, Jaclyn and Rue were all there too.
I feel really good I was there for Liz. And I also am very grateful that she came when she didn’t have to. Everyone should have a friend like her. I’m lucky I do.
After leaving Kansas City, I had to make a stop in Topeka to pick up some more food and get gas at Hy-Vee. Between Topeka and Kansas City, I picked up eight two-liter bottles of Dr. Pepper Ten. For some reason, the two-liter bottles are no longer sold in Hays and the rest of northwest Kansas.
The Coca-Cola distributor in Victoria bottles Dr. Pepper for the 18 counties in northwest Kansas, stretching from Russell, Osborne and Smith Center in the east to Sharon Springs, Goodland and St. Francis in the west. The Dr. Pepper two-liter bottles here are shaped like the Coca-Cola bottles, and apparently, they aren’t getting enough sales of Dr. Pepper Ten to continue to bottle it.
That means no more Dr. Pepper Ten two-liters in Wichita or Hutchinson, either. Same thing as it is here.
In Salina, Topeka and Kansas City, Dr. Pepper is bottled by either Pepsi or Cadbury-Schweppes, and the bottles are shaped like “normal” two-liter bottles, the ones you’ve seen since the late 1970s.
Also, since Coca-Cola bottles Dr. Pepper in Wichita and northwest Kansas, Pibb is not available, since it would be in direct competition with Dr. Pepper. I smuggled three 12-packs back (Pibb Zero, not the full strength).
Today’s therapy session with Crista was far more upbeat than last Tuesday. No crying, no screaming, just a calm discussion of what went on. Next session is Aug. 13, at which time I’ll also see Dr. Patriarca for an update on my medication.
Going to relax today. Thinking about a trip to Salina. Maybe not. I’ll think it over.
For the first time since my unfortunate incident of July 17-18, I have returned to Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa in Kansas City.
I am glad to report today’s visit is under much happier circumstances, although I don’t know if I will be able to get through tonight without tears.
The tears will be for my dear friend Liz, who will be leaving Kansas City with her longtime boyfriend, Sean, Saturday morning for their new life in Colorado Springs.
Today was supposed to be her last day of work at Buffalo Wild Wings, but Liz switched with someone to make yesterday her last. She’s here, though, which I really appreciate.
Unlike most other trips to Kansas City, this one will be brief. Later tonight I’m back on Interstate 70 headed for Russell. I have a 9 a.m. appointment in Hays with Crista. Very important. It’s very tough to get on her schedule, so I don’t want to miss it.
It was bearable today, unlike most of July, where the temperatures have constantly been above 100 in Russell and the rest of western Kansas. In Kansas City, the heat index has been over 110 on many days. That’s hot. Hotter than Louisiana on most days. I would venture to guess there have been at least seven days of Excessive Heat Warnings in the Kansas City metro since July 13.
Buzztime’s science fiction specific game is going on right now. It’s every Wednesday at 7 p.m. I play it just to kill time before SIX, my favorite game, which will start at 7:30.
If I had my druthers, I’d go back to a hotel and crash until 9 or 10 tomorrow morning, then check out at noon and then leave. But I’ll be sleeping (very little before the appointment) in my own bed. It’s fine.
I was freaking out a this morning. The good news–only my parents saw.
For the life of me, I could not find my Oakley sunglasses in my car. I realized I didn’t know where they were when I filled up my gas tank at 10 a.m. I got home and frantically looked for them, but to no avail. Both my mother and father looked, but they struck out, too.
My fear was they had been stolen out of my car. Maybe I had forgotten to lock my car when I was in Hays one day last week, either going into Walgreen’s to pick up prescriptions, or maybe when I was inside Wal-Mart, or even when I was at Crista’s office last Tuesday and Dr. Custer’s office the next day.
My mother suggested I could have left them inside somewhere. But I almost never wear my sunglasses inside. No reason to.
It turns out the sunglasses had been in the car all along….at the bottom of a trash bag which was on the floorboard of the passenger side.
Not much to report from the last Monday of July. Good. It beats the alternative to where I was last Monday, when I really angered a couple of my Twitter followers by sending them delusional direct messages. Both of them jumped me pretty good for it, and I deserved it. Thankfully, Crista came to the rescue the next day, and although at first I didn’t pull out of it, it finally got me turned around.
It looks like I’ll be making a trip to Kansas City Wednesday, my first since the traumatic incident in the wee hours of July 18. My closest friend at Buffalo Wild Wings is working her last day before she moves with her boyfriend to Colorado. I figured I owed it to her to be there, because she has been a very good friend to me.
Right now, I’m feeling pretty good about this. The bartender whom I melted down over the last time I was there is not scheduled to work. It’s all my fault what happened and how I smothered her; however, I still feel the wounds are too raw, too fresh to be opened right now. I really want to apologize to her, and Iwant to make things right, but this is not the time.
Besides, I do not want to get into the wrong frame of mind for my dear friend. That would not be fair to me, to her, or to anyone else.
Even if I go, I cannot stay overnight. I have to be in Hays at 9 a.m. Thursday for another session with Crista. We have sessions four of the next five Thursdays, with the only open date next week (August 6). This means I don’t have to invest too much time if I don’t want to, because I have a built-in legitimate excuse to leave. I don’t like 500-mile round trips in the same day, but this time, it’s one of those circumstances. I’m not going to be ready to leave tomorrow and stay overnight.
My San Diego guardian angel and her husband are huge into music. I promised I would list some of my favorite artists and songs when I got the chance, and I figured this was as good a time as any.
I am a big fan of Sir Elton John. I’m not getting into the flamboyant costumes he wore in his early days, or his choice of lifestyle, but the man was born to sing and play the piano. And he has one hell of a lyricist, Bernie Taupin, who has penned so many smash hits I’ve lost count.
My father had the original vinyl double LP of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the smash issue of 1973 which included the title track, “Daniel”, “Bennie and the Jets”, “Candle in the Wind”, and “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”. Great songs all, but none rank up there as my favorites by Mr. Reginald Dwight.
My #1 Elton song is the 1980 ballad “Little Jeannie” from the album 21 at 33. It is a beautiful song with a sensational saxophone solo following the second verse. I find the song to be very soothing and very relaxing when I need a calm moment .I remember it well, since I heard it on the way from Bunkie to Cottonport as I drove from Bill and Yvette Franques’ wedding to their reception in November 1999.
It was not written by Taupin, but rather by Gary Osborne and Elton. The song went to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s often lost in some of other smash hits earlier and later in John’s career, but I love it nonetheless.
Two more Elton songs I really enjoy from the 1980s were “I”m Still Standing” from Too Low for Zero (1983) and “Who Wears These Shoes” from Breaking Hearts (1984). The first Elton song I remember listening to on the radio when it was released was “I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That” from Reg Strikes Back. That song came out at the end of my sixth grade year in mid-1988, a blissful time because I got to know some of my favorite people at Arabi Park Middle.
From the earlier days, I like “Crocodile Rock”, “Philadelphia Freedom” (which is about Billie Jean King and the Philadelphia Freedoms of World Team Tennis, not the American Bicentennial) and “Island Girl”.
Of the three main versions of “Candle in the Wind”, my favorite is the live version done in December 1986 while on tour in Sydney.
I’m going to surprise a lot of Americans with my next revelation, but I really, really enjoy two songs by an artist who is revered in the United Kingdom but had precious little success in the United States, Sir Cliff Richard.
If “We Don’t Talk Anymore”, Cliff’s multi-platinum hit of 1979, is playing, I’m turning up the volume. The opening keyboard riff gets me hooked, and the lyrics are catchy and easy to follow. I also am a big fan of “Devil Woman” from 1976, which came out a few months before I was born.
Yes, I have a lot of disco on my iPod. Lots of disco.
A disco song was #1 on the day I was born (October 13, 1976), Some will say it was “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy. I say it was “Disco Duck” by Rick Dees.
Here’s why I go with Dees’ novelty tune.
The Billboard charts are dated to be released for a particular Saturday. However, the data collection for the chart ends nine days prior to the dating of the chart. While Murphy’s instrumental was atop the charts for October 9, 1976, the Saturday before my birth, Dees’ tune had moved into the top spot when collection for the October 16, 1976 chart ceased October 7.
Figures that I would be born between two of the strangest songs to ever occupy the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Thank God I was born October 13, 1976. Had I been born October 13, 1972, I would have had to claim Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-A-Ling” as the #1 song on my date of birth. YIKES. If I hear “My-Ding-A-Ling”, I immediately turn the dial, hopefully in time to save my ears. “Disco Duck” was strange, but I’ll listen to that any day over Chuck Berry’s song about male genitalia.
As the late great Casey Kasem said, on with the survey.
No disco collection is complete without some Bee Gees, of course, with “Tragedy”, “More Than a Woman”, “Stayin Alive”, and my favorite disco song, “Love You Inside Out”, the #1 hit of 1979 which also was the last chart topper for the trio. I also have three hits from Andy Gibb, younger brother of Barry, Maurice and Robin, with my favorite being “An Everlasting Love”. Also have “Shadow Dancing” and “I Just Want To Be Your Everything”.
One song not credited to the Bee Gees or Andy Gibb, but one with a definite Gibb influence, is Samantha Sang’s “Emotion”. Lovely. Another song which puts my mind at ease. I wish it were longer, but it is so beautiful.
Donna Summer, the queen of disco, has a few spaces on my iPod. Favorite is “Heaven Knows”, although second on the list is a curveball, her last big hit, 1989’s “This Time I Know It’s For Real”. “Hot Stuff” and “On the Radio” are great.
If you’ve noticed a trend, a lot of my favorite songs appear to be from one year–1979.
I was a little under 27 months old when the year began, but for some reason, I’ve discovered so, so many great songs from the year which gave us Three Mile Island, Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson for the NCAA basketball championship, Hurricane Frederic, the Iran Hostage Crisis, and the debut of Knots Landing.
“We Don’t Talk Anymore”, “Love You Inside Out”, “Tragedy”, “Heaven Knows” and “Hot Stuff” were all 1979. Some more I love from ’79 include “BIg Shot” by Billy Joel; “The Logical Song” by Supertramp; “Sail Away” by The Oak Ridge Boys; “Fins” by Jimmy Buffett; “Heartache Tonight” by the Eagles; “Rise”, the instrumental by trumpeter Herb Alpert which gained popularity when it was used in a scene on the ABC soap opera General Hospital involving Luke and Laura; “Come to Me” by France Joli, a 16-year old sensation from Montreal; “What a Fool Believes” by the Doobie Brothers; “Shine a Light” and “Don’t Bring Me Down” by Electric Light Orchestra; “Good Times” by Chic; “Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now” by McFadden and Whitehead; “We Are Family” and “He’s the Greatest Dancer” by Sister Sledge; “Reunited” by Peaches and Herb; “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, and the number one song of the year, “My Sharona” by The Knack.
I could fill my iPod for four hours with 1979 songs. I figure this is a good place to cut it off for now. Boy my word count is getting up there.
I haven’t done a darn thing the past three days. Then again, given what I went through last weekend and the first couple of days of the work week, it’s far from the worst thing to be doing nothing other than sitting in my basement in Russell, watching reruns of The O.C. and Shark Tank. I have not watched a single inning of baseball since getting back from Kansas City, and I have hardly watched SportsCenter. Maybe watching sports will remind me of all the problems I had that infamous night, but sooner or later, I’ll have to get back on the horse and get back into my normal sports patterns. Then again, there was a time where all I watched was sports, so expanding my horizons is not a bad thing.
I ate with my parents for the first time in over a week. My mother cooked shrimp scampi. It was outstanding as always. She was going to cook it last Sunday, but I was teetering on the edge, and besides, my mother’s right arm was killing her, so it was best she didn’t cook.
I have a column to write this week for my newspapers, something I usually do for Monday mornings, but I didn’t last week because I felt like I had nothing but venom to spew.
This column won’t be too hard, because I’m going to focus some of it on the theater shooting in Lafayette, considering I spent much time in the Louisiana city and that’s my native state. I guess I’ll also have to touch on the trade this afternoon which sent Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto to the Royals. The Royals are so often sellers at the trade deadline, which is Friday, but they were in dire need of a starting pitcher, since their rotation has been mediocre to pathetic this season. Not re-signing James Shields was a huge mistake. I wonder now if Big Game James would rather be pitching for the best team in the American League, or making more money for a bad team, like he is right now in San Diego.
My guardian angel in San Diego said she had made lists with her husband Friday night, and she would like to know some of my favorites. I’m going to oblige her, not only because it’s a good exercise, but I feel comfortable opening up to her and letting her glimpse into my life.
Like her, I am into food. Big time. You could guess that from looking at my less than impressive physique. I love to eat, like many from New Orleans. My biggest problem is I can’t find most of those dishes I ate in Louisiana now that I’m in rural Kansas, where it’s all about beef, beef and more beef.
I am a seafood junkie. I could eat seafood every day of my life if need be. Although I’m not so despearate for seafood that I rush off to the McDonald’s in Russell and order a Filet-o-Fish. I haven’t been to McDonald’s in over two months, and I don’t think that will change anytime soon. I was very tempted during my deep depression to go just to make myself feel better, but I said no.
I would give anything for oysters. Oysters are my favorite food, period. I loved them fried and charbroiled when I lived in Louisiana. I never ate them raw, but right now, I would probably devour a dozen on the half shell. My mother makes the best oyster dressing at Thanksgiving, but I would much rather her use the oysters for something else.
The oyster po-boy is my favorite sandwich. The last time I had one was in June 2010, the most recent time I visited Louisiana. I ordered it FOUR times when I visited Ivar’s, my favorite hangout in Baton Rouge. If by some miracle I can get down to Louisiana, I am tempted to smuggle as much oysters as can fit in a cooler back to Kansas.
I can eat shrimp all day, too. My mother’s shrimp scampi is first rate, and I will never pass up the coconut shrimp at Outback Steakhouse. In fact, I have to get two orders most of the time to satisfy my need. I also could go for shrimp cocktail right about now.
One of my favorite orders at Outback is lobster. In fact, there was a point where I would order it all the time from Outback, skipping the steak. Every time I go to a fancy steakhouse, like Ruth’s Chris, I have to get a lobster tail with my steak. I know it costs a pretty penny, but I can’t pass it up.
I am also dying for soft shell crabs. Dying. Haven’t had those in over a decade. As for fish, I prefer tuna, salmon and swordfish over catfish. Catfish is too cliche for the Deep South. You can do much better in south Louisiana than fried catfish. Leave that to the piney woods of Mississippi, where they wouldn’t know how to cook without lard and cornmeal.
I love steak, too. If I had a choice of cuts, I would choose the T-Bone. The strip is also a favorite. And do not overcook it. I want to see blood coming out of the meat. I want my steak RARE, as close to raw as humanly possible. There are times where I think medium rare is overdone for me. If it’s more than medium rare, I am a very unhappy camper. It happened in March when I went to Outback in Overland Park. I complained about the steak being medium, so I wrote about my displeasure on Outback’s website. The next day, someone from the Outback in Overland Park called and said they would send me a $20 off coupon for a future visit. Still haven’t used it. Now, when I order from Outback, I will remind them to not overcook. I like rare. And no, I do not want blue cheese, Bearnaise sauce or anything else on top of my steak. Blue cheese is for salads and buffalo wings.
I can eat buffalo wings, but the best buffalo wings are not from Buffalo Wild Wings. I was going to Buffalo Wild Wings in Kansas City much more for the people and the other attractions than the food. Some of the sauces are totally inedible to me, especially the mango habanero and the blazing. Way, way, way too hot. If I
The best wings I’ve eaten are still at the first place I ate buffalo wings, Ivar’s. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the sports bar on Perkins Road in south Baton Rouge was my favorite hangout in Red Stick. I would go there four, sometimes five, times per week, often arriving at opening at 11 a.m. and staying well past 2 p.m. Other times, I was there from 4 p.m. until 9 or 10. The buffalo wings were the best, and on many days, I’d eat the double order of 20. The sauce on the wings was just perfect–not too hot, but not too mild, either, the perfect orange color you want in a buffalo wing sauce. And on most days, the wings were huge. As I mentioned earlier, the oyster po-boy was awesome, and so was the cheeseburger and chicken cordon bleu sandwich.
Sushi is something I’ve become a big fan of recently. The Hy-Vee on Barry Road in Kansas City, which I frequent often on my visits there, has a really great selection. The other Hy-Vee locations in the Kansas City area also have fine selections, but it too often has the sauce on it I don’t care for. For me, dipping the sushi in some soy sauce is plenty. The Dillon’s stories in Salina and Wichita also have great selections. However, I cannot stand cream cheese. No way. Cream cheese is for bagels. Got it?
I am tempted to go to Denver to go to Benihana. I could go for a lot of sushi right now.
I’ve become hooked on the Kettle potato chips, which are gluten-free. My favorite flavors are the buffalo bleu (big surprise) and the pepperocini. The pepperocini are the peppers Papa John’s puts in its pizza boxes. Most people will break open the pepper and spread the juice over the pizza, but I have eaten them whole, too. I wish there were a Papa John’s in Hays. The closest for me is in Great Bend, which requires a 40-mile drive down the two-lane US 281.
Two fast food chains from Louisiana I really miss in Kansas are Raising Cane’s and Whataburger.
Cane’s is a chicken finger restaurant which began in Baton Rouge in 1996. It’s not so much the chicken fingers, but it’s the awesome toast and sauce which I love. In fact, I bought two quarts of sauce earlier this month when I went through Omaha and Lincoln.
Whataburger has a much better selection of burgers than the Big Three, and the pies are more than worth the trip. Too bad the closest one to me is in Tulsa.
I also wish there were a Cheesecake Factory closer than Overland Park. My favorite is the Kahlua, although I’m also craving the tiramisu and Godiva chocolate right about now.
I’d better stop for now. I’m going to make myself really hungry.
In my last blog post, I stated what I went through last weekend was not worth dying over.
Sadly, two beautiful ladies from Louisiana’s Cajun Country with so much to offer the world didn’t have the choice whether or not to continue their lives.
Jillian Johnson was a 33-year old graphic designer and musician. She owned a fashionable boutique, Red Arrow Workshop, was a member of an all-female Cajun bluegrass band, The Figs, and designed logos for many corporations and groups in Acadiana.
The other murder victim, Kayce Breaux, was a 21-year old native of Franklin, a small city southeast of Lafayette in St. Mary Parish. Franklin is best known ast he home of former Louisiana Governor Mike Foster (1996-2004).
Breaux was a radiology student at LSU-Eunice, a two-year branch of the state’s flagship university. She was scheduled to continue her education in the radiology department of Lafayette General Hospital. Her fiance was with her in the theater and may be one of the wounded.
Johnson and Breaux were murder victims at the hands of John Russel Houser, the 59-year old drifter from eastern Alabama who opened fire in a darkened movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana’s fourth largest incorporated city, which likes to call itself “The Hub City” and the “Capital of Acadiana”.
Lafayette is a booming city of 125,000 located at the junction of Louisiana’s two major Interstate highways, I-10 and I-49. The oil industry is the main cog in the economy of the area. Many high ranking executives work in offices in Lafayette, and many workers on the rigs live in the city and commute to the coastal areas via US 90, which will become part of I-49 in the very near future.
During my years in Louisiana, I made many a trip to Lafayette. Most of the time in the city was spent at the Cajundome, the multi-purpose arena best known as the home to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette basketball teams. The arena also hosted the Louisiana High School Athletic Association boys basketball championship games during the era, and I really enjoyed those games.
I also spent a couple of very forgettable nights in Lafayette in March 2002. My car was stolen from the parking lot of a hotel the first night, and the second night, I witnessed LSU’s baseball team get totally worked over by ULL, and the fans at the Ragin Cajuns’ Moore Field ate it up. My good friend Bill Franques drove me back to Baton Rouge following the game, and the next morning at 4 a.m., I got a call from the Lafayette Police Department that my car had been located off an I-49 exit. It was towed back to Baton Rouge that day and it needed to be repaired.
Bill grew up in Lafayette and graduated from Cathedral-Carmel High School (now St. Thomas More) in 1981. His father, Howard, was an attorney in the city and is well known throughout Baton Rouge and Lafayette for his letters to the editors of The Advocate and the Lafayette Daily Advertiser, most of them shredding Bill Clinton and others of the left-wing ilk.
I had another car related mishap at the same Lafayette hotel in 2005. I left something plugged into the socket, and the battery of the rental car was drained. Since it was a rental, Avis came by and replaced my car with no trouble.
Lafayette would be the last of Louisiana’s major cities where I would expect something like this to occur. Sure, there are bad areas, just like there are in any city of appreciable size, but such incidents are nowhere near as frequent as the other three big cities of Louisiana:
- Shreveport has had gang problems going back to the 1950s and murder and drug use are rampant in pockets of the northwest Louisiana city.
- Baton Rouge has gotten very bad. Very bad. The areas north of the LSU campus are ghettos. So are many parts of nroth Baton Rouge and Baker, a small city just north of the city limits.
- New Orleans? Still as dangerous as Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis. In 1994, the year I graduated from Brother Martin High School, there were 421 murders. That’s more than a murder a day for those mathematically challenged.
This is not the worst incident of spree killing in Louisiana.
That dishonor belongs to Mark Essex, the former Black Panther who killed seven, incuding three New Orleans Police Department officers, during a siege at the Downtown Howard Johnson’s (now a Holiday Inn) in the Crescent City’s Central Buisness District on January 7, 1973. Essex grew up in Emporia and entered the Navy two years later. He had a cushy job in the dental office at the San Diego naval base, but went AWOL and was dishonorably discharged for unsuitability. Essex also killed two police officers one week prior to the siege at the Howard Johnson’s, and also started the November 29, 1972 fire at the Rault Center, another high rise near the Howard Johnson’s, which killed five.
In January 1972, there was a shootout in downtown Baton Rouge between Black Muslims and Baton Rouge police officers and sheriff’s deputies. Four died, and WBRZ television news reporter Bob Johnson was severely paralyzed.
It’s pouring in many Kansas locales along the Nebraska border tonight. Of course, none of that rain will come close to Russell. Typical.
Before I go any further, I am dedicating this blog post to my newest guardian angel. Someone who truly cares about not only me, but everyone in her life. I feel honored to be a small part of it.
I know, I know. I haven’t posted in a week. This time, however, I thought it was best if I didn’t post. Last Saturday at 1:15 a.m., I experienced one of the most traumatic episodes of my life in Kansas City. It was very explosive. To say it was painful would have been an understatement. I was about to throw my iPhone and cause other destruction, It was going to be far worse than the hole I put in the door leading from the kitchen to the basement at the house in March 2006.
I called the mental health center where I am a patient (see below) begging for my therapist. I said I was suicidal and that I only trusted her with my problem in Kansas City. Well, this got a lot of people alarmed, and about an hour later, the Russell police came looking for me at 1224 North Brooks after receiving a call from the mental health center. My dad said I was in Kansas City, and Russell’s police wanted to contact the KCPD. The only thing that saved me was the fact my dad didn’t know where I was.
In the wee hours, I began posting some very nasty things on social media. I left Kansas City for Russell at 10 a.m., and that’s when the eruptions began. Mount Steinle was belching lava and hot ash over the skies along Interstate 70. The only good news was drivers were not going to be buried like the unfortunate souls on the side of Mount St. Helens 35 years ago. I said I would never help anyone again and become a gigantic jerk (well, using a much stronger word). I compared myself with Lauren Hill, the courageous young lady who lost her battle with pediatric brain cancer in April, but before she did, got to live out her dream of playing college basketball for Mount St. Joseph’s College in Ohio. I said Lauren had it easy compared to what I have to go through with Asperger’s Syndrome.
The rant about Ms. Hill was dead wrong. She showed so much courage in battling a debilitating disease and kept fighting until her very last breath. And here I was ready to give up? That’s cowardice, not courage.
Then I made a huge mistake. I got personal. I said I hated someone. Then I went extreme and said since the person I said I hated didn’t like me anymore, I would commit suicide. I asked sarcastically “Who’s watching?” As one might imagine, that drew a bunch of bad responses. Someone said I was drowning in “toxic self-pity”. Very true.
I am very fortunate a guardian angel has come into my life. She guided me through some very rough times with both tough love and tenderness. It was a very dark and scary period, and I am lucky she was willing to listen, even if I angered her and left her feeling she could do nothing to help me.
Actually, this beautiful lady is the second guardian angel who has taken me under her wing recently.
The first is my therapist, Crista. I penned a letter to her Sunday outlining just how depressed i was about the whole situation, and I outlined a plan of how I would take my own life. Well, the Russell police were back Sunday night, and the officer read my letter I was going to deliver to Crista’s office in Hays Monday morning. The police took me to the Russell County jail, although I was not arrested (I was handcuffed, but the cuffs were put on in front, and I was not read my rights), fingerprinted or searched.
Eventually, I held a video conference with one of Crista’s co-workers, and she determined it was safe for me to go home, since my parents could keep an eye on me. The Russell police faxed the letter to Crista, who called me Monday afternoon. She was very worried saw me Tuesday since she had an opening in her schedule.
I felt terrible I laid so many things at her feet and I got a little belligerent when she would not accept one of my suggestions. However, she said no because she cares and she didn’t want anything worse to happen to me. We have another session coming up Thursday, then three more on the docket in August. Before I began seeing Crista in December, I would have been in a lot worse shape. I didn’t have anyone to talk to really. We all need a little help sometimes. I’m fortunate I don’t have to go it alone, thanks to Crista and a lady who reached out to me when
My newest guardian angel lives in San Diego. San Diego isn’t the most popular city among Kansans, given the Chargers are a division rival of the NFL teams favored by the vast majority of Sunflower State residents, the Chiefs and Broncos. The rivalry in baseball only exists between San Diego and Denver, since the Padres and Rockies are in the same division, although the Royals and Padres do share a bond as being the postseason victims of the steamroller which was the 1984 Detroit Tigers. Both cities also received NBA franchises from other places; the Cincinnati Royals moved to Kansas City in 1972 and renamed themselves the Kings (actually, the Kings split their first three seasons in the heartland between Kansas City and Omaha before moving to Missouri full-time in October 1975), while the Buffalo Braves moved to San Diego in 1978 and were renamed the Clippers. Both Kansas City and San Diego were without NBA basketball by June 1985; the Clippers moved north on Interstate 5 to Los Angeles in the summer of 1984, while the Kings headed to California’s capital, Sacramento, one year later.
I started communicating with my California confidant in March. We had a common thread, since she works at a company whose product I am a HUGE fan. of. In fact, it was one of the biggest reasons I kept going to a particular establishment in Kansas City. The other reason I was in KC so much were the people. I could have used this product at many locales closer to home, including one each in Hays and Salina.
Last Saturday, desperate for someone to talk to, I began sending direct messages via Twitter to her. She told me to hang on, to push through it, and to call the National Suicide Prevention Line. She wasn’t the first person to tell me to call the hotline. I also had sent messages to another Twitter follower, one I had met at the establishment in Kansas City.
Monday was another terrible day. I kept telling these two ladies how much I felt one person had control over my life. i was becoming delusional. It was sad. Finally, after the session with Crista Tuesday, I began to think it over, and I came to the realization that I, not the person whom I had the run-in with, was to blame.
All I had to do was speak up and ask. All I had to do was back off. I told my San Diego sweetheart my new thinking. She liked it. I think that lifted a huge weight off of her shoulders, too. She knew I wasn’t going to hurt myself. She knew I would get better. As it turns, out, the establishment in Kansas City would like for me to come back. There are still plenty of people there who care about me. I know I wronged this young lady. I want to apologize.
However, time is needed. The wounds are still too fresh, too raw. Maybe they’ll never completely heal. Right now, I need to make sure I’m emotionally ready to handle it before I try. One hundred percent ready. And I am so thankful we’ve progressed past that. We’ve been exchanging messages on Twitter and Skype the last three days. I’m so happy she’s come into my life. Even if I never meet her in person, I have found someone I know I can count on. Someone who will help me as much as she can. That takes someone with a beautiful soul, and my newest angel has it. So does Crista.
It’s hotter than hell in western Kansas today. I’m taking it easy. Nothing in life comes easy, and totally forgetting what got me so down in the first place is no exception. It isn’t worth dying over.
I figured nobody would miss me if I took three days off. If you missed me, I apologize.
It’s just after 5 a.m. Friday morning, and I’m gearing up for another trek east on I-70 to Kansas City. There’s a special someone i HAVE to see at Buffalo Wild Wings.
I had to get out of Buffalo Wild Wings for a little while Monday night. Something back at work was upsetting me, and I had an outburst, which has been rare these days. Tori told me to calm down, and she had to. I left without saying goodbye to her, but I came back later and she was very happy about that, as was Rue, who took two cupcakes I had left over from Brittany and Zach’s reception.
I got a nasty e-mail from someone at work Tuesday. I tried to shake it off by time i left Kansas City for the return to Russell, but it still bothered me. Then I got called into the office. Oh boy. It took four episodes of Shark Tank and some sleep to finally shake it off.
Saw Dr. Custer Wednesday. My A1C is not where it should be so I have to take more insulin each time. I know it should be better. Gotta lay off the sugar.
Thursday was what I was really looking forward to. In fact, if it had not been for last Saturday’s reception, I would have been on pins and needles for three weeks.
It was my first session with Crista since June 25. We have usually been having sessions every other week, save for a couple of times where we went three consecutive weeks or three out of four. However, there was an extra week in between sessions this time because Crista went on vacation with Lance and their daughter.
It was a great session. I showed her plenty of photos from the reception and a few from Buffalo Wild Wings. I let her keep those photos because I printed some more for Brittany and everyone else at Buffalo Wild Wings.
Okay, time to get ready to roll. Next stop KC.