Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Zombieproofin', Drunken Lawn Moving, 0-0-100

Chronicling Southwest Louisiana and the Cajun World


Those who think of Louisiana as bringing up the bottom of lists may or may not know the state is near the top of the list when it comes to zombie-proof architecture.

With NASA releasing a paper on what should be done if aliens invade, maybe it’s not such a bad idea for Louisiana architects to be thinking of ways to use architecture to circumvent the zombie threat. The architectural firm behind the recent Zombie Safe House Competition effort is Architects Southwest, which is based in Lafayette. Artists, architects and others were invited to submit designs for structures that could best withstand a fierce attack of zombies.

One entry was the Zombie Ranch, which is (hypothetically, of course) powered by a big turbine that’s turned by zombies as they chase around bait traps. Other designs feature houses that float on air or are built into cliffs or atop abandoned oil rigs. One design looks exactly like a birdhouse.

You can see the entries at Architects Southwest will have chosen a winner by the time this issue hits the stands.

Zombie movies have long considered the relation of architecture to the zombie menace. In George Romero’s first zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead, barricading oneself in a solidly constructed basement turned out to be the one viable defense against zombies. Subsequent Romero films explored the feasibility of keeping a shopping center, a military bunker and a high rise free of zombie infestation. The films have shown that architecture is only as good as the people who use it and that zombies are hard to stop.

You Mean That’s Illegal Too?

Please excuse me for delaying the Up Front look at the vital October elections while I make a brief police report. In the last Up Front, it was revealed that the Ville Platte gubment had outlawed the act of walking on Ville Platte streets. Now, it might be possible to convince a Louisianan he couldn’t walk on his own street at night. But what Louisianan worth his salt would ever submit to being forbidden to driving his riding mower while he was drunk?

Bobby Punch, a 22-year-old resident of Lafourche Parish, was recently obliged to endure the indignity of being arrested while he was on his own lawnmower. Punch probably hurt his case somewhat with his apparent inability to keep his riding mower in his own lawn. After cutting down some shrubs in a neighbor’s lawn, Punch took his mower on the road, forcing cars on Highway 1 to back up behind his mower.

Nothing puts a Louisianan in greater jeopardy than forcing other drivers to slow down. Police were all the more interested in that Punch was in the mood to drive on both sides of the center line.
After they arrested Punch, police found that he had a blood alcohol concentration of .312. They obliged him to take a sobriety test at the station. In an unintentionally humorous note, WVUE-TV reported that Punch “performed poorly.”

One of several crimes Punch was charged with was “Not Driving on the Right Side of the Road.”

Election Report No. 2,109

The races for lt. governor and secretary of state turned out to be real mud-slingin’ and character-assasinatin’ smackdowns. It was fascinating stuff, but not fascinating enough to get the public interested in the races.

Predictions were correct; barely a third of Louisiana voters made it to the polls for the elections of statewide offices, such as those of governor and lt. governor. It was the most anemic turnout since at least 1975.

It will go on that way for a while. In Louisiana, the Republican Party is in like flint and the Democratic Party is in a rout. The Democrats will eventually rebuild and become aggressive opponents. But I predict that process will take quite a while.

You’d think that transitional process might slow down the flow of political news in the state. Most likely it won’t. Any party that’s in power eventually grows accustomed to power, gets complacent and starts making mistakes. Things will stay interesting.

Of course, on the local front, there was election news that came as a great relief to all, regardless of political affiliation. The great anxiety about who the next tax assessor is now at an end. With the cessation of the long-term agonizing about the outcome of the tax assessor’s race, stress-related illnesses in the are will decrease, and workers will no longer call in sick, or will simply find themselves unable to get out of bed as they struggle with and succumb to the mental anguish of tax assessor uncertainty.
One thing’s for sure: no trial or tribulation we go through hasn’t been endured by others who came before us. I remember many and many a time hearing an elder at the old country breakfast table saying, “Lord, I just don’t think I’m goin’ to be able to relax and enjoy my biscuits and gravy until I know who the tax assessor is goin’ to be.” Well, now we can all rest easy and get back on our feed.


The Up Fronter keeps reading that the Republican presidential candidates want not only to roll back taxes on the rich but also to increase taxes on the middle class. Pooyee! Have the Republican candidates developed a taste for the wacky weed? If I’d spent a decade trying to think of a more effective way to come in second to Obama in spite of it all, I wouldn’t have been able to think of a more surefire election loser.

One of the Republican candidates, Herman Cain, has a tax plan he calls 9-9-9. Part of the plan is that a 9 percent sales tax will be imposed on the entire U.S. population. Imagine that. You wake up one morning and all your expenditures increase by 9 percent. Now that’ll put a spring in your step, eh?
It’s been a while since I mentioned my campaign for president in the Up Front column. But I am running for president and my campaign is almost as hot as Buddy Roemer’s. I’ve come up with my own tax plan. I call it 0-0-100.

Here’s how it works. I pay 0 percent tax, people who make more than $250,000 pay 0 percent tax and people who make less than $250,000 pay 100 percent tax. I think this bold plan will eliminate once and for all the tiresome discussion about whether rich people pay too much taxes and people who aren’t rich pay enough.

We Are in the Northern Hemisphere

Herman Cain may be getting some attention. But when it comes to making comments that trigger the raising of brows and dropping of jaws, Cain is still a neophyte in comparison to presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, who’s previously earned Up Front space with her unorthodox utterances. In an Oct. 19 Republican candidates debate, Bachmann said, “He [Obama] put us in Libya; he is now putting us in Africa.” This is like saying Obama put something in Monroe and is now putting it in Louisiana.
If Bachmann didn’t think Libya was in Africa, where did she think it was? Back in the 1970s, when President Gerald Ford said in a debate that Poland wasn’t communist, everyone figured (I guess) that Ford knew what continent Poland was in.

Not everyone could get worked up about it. The morning after the debate, the lead story on Google News was “Ohio Police Hunt Escaped Wild Animals.” As the guy in Anchorman says, “Ooo, that’s a hot lead.” The Republicans could get more coverage for these debates if they could knock the number down to five or six a day.

More on Avoiding Victory

The award for Funniest Political Tweet of the Issue goes to Time columnist James Poniewozek who wrote “Herman Cain leads NYT/CBS poll. Does he have enough time, staff to avoid winning the GOP nomination.”

The day the poll was released must have been a very bad day indeed for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who was able to muster only 6 percent.

Don’t Be The Last To Be Steampunked

What's the hip new word everyone is using? Steampunk! No consumer product or experience wants to be the last consumer product or experience on the block to describe itself with this awesome, bodacious and extremely popular term.

Let’s see what’s new in your steampunk world. Of course, there’s Tim Burton's automated feature Steampunk Willie, in which Micky Mouse subdues Pete with coal gas delivered through a hookah. Justin Beiber's new CD, My Little Steampunk Girl, is set to drop any day. There’s the new talent show, Bristol Palin's Steampunk Explosion, and two new reality TV shows: Steampunk Brides, in which brides-to-be compete to incorporate the heaviest amount of cast iron into their bridal dresses, and Steampunk Staten Island, in which a group of young, photogenic boot models sit around a luxury loft drinking beer, cursing, whining and listening to Rasputina MP3s.

Finally, look for the two New York Times bestsellers The Huff and Puff Principle: Using The Green Steampunk Law Of Attraction To Grow Your Life by Victoria, Mistress of Charlton Grange, and the latest Sookie Steampunk vampire novel Dead As A Hydraulic Punch Press.
Still not sure exactly what steampunk is? Just watch that old Will Smith movie Wild, Wild West and you’ll know everything there is to know about it.

‘This Has Got To Be Weird’

Now, to shift the focus to something that really is hip, word is that Tim Burton is working on a film version of the hippest of old TV shows, Dark Shadows, and Johnny Depp will play the suave and sinister vampire Barnabas Collins. Burton is just the man to tell the story and Depp is ideal for the role of Collins.

An entertainment blogger for Yahoo incorrectly identified Dark Shadows as a 1970s show. While episodes aired briefly in the 1970s, the show became a controversial hit in the mid-1960s. The Up Fronter can remember being forbidden to watch the program when he was a young boy. Depp says, in a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, “I do remember, very vividly, practically sprinting home from school in the afternoon to see Jonathan Frid play Barnabas Collins. Even then, at that age, I knew — this has got to be weird.”

Dark Shadows was a cult phenomenon from the beginning, and the Yahoo story may be an early instance of the sort of thing that will take place as young writers struggle to pin down a pop culture phenomenon they’re unacquainted with.

Those who haven’t had the Dark Shadows experience are invited to watch the creepy adventures of Barnabas; his neurotic, vampiric assistant Willie; and the con man Jason, Willie’s silver-tongued partner in crime. DVDs of old Dark Shadows episodes are a little expensive if they’re bought at full price. But they’re available on Netflix for the regular prices.

News Counseling — $150 CHEAP!

The Up Fronter recently saw on the cover of some magazine — it might have been People — that Ashton Kuthcer and Demi Moore were going to marriage counseling. How, I wondered, is that going to work? I imagine it happening something like this:

Counselor: OK, so, uh, Ashton, you’re, like, uh … married … so, uh, you can’t uh, like, go to, uh, clubs by yourself and, like, spend the night with, uh, models.

Ashton: Wow! I never thought of that! That’s amazing advice. This marriage counseling stuff really works.

The whole thing gave me an idea for a new business — news counseling, which I’ll be happy to provide at a cost of $150 an hour. In the first session, I’ll explain that news about celebrities isn’t really news unless I write it.

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