April 20: Brittney Pelloquin holds a premiere party at Club 337 in the Doubletree Hilton. The 27-year-old Lafayette native has a degree in visual arts from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and pursues body painting, an ephemeral art form much like the sand and ice sculpture, all of which wash away. Skin Wars is a painting competition where contestants undertake challenges and strive not to be eliminated. Pelloquin says her goal is to open people’s minds to personal identity and for people to embrace who they are as a person. “There’s an innocent beauty,” she says.
Reality TV may never wash away.
Festival International de Louisiane takes place downtown. Some 400,000 visitors descend on Lafayette, according to The Advocate, to hear everything from African drums to Spanish rappers. The free shuttles from Cajun Field work wonderfully well, although it takes the excitement out of paying $20 to park in a makeshift lot downtown and being blocked in.
The society tent is next to the main stage, and Event Rental’s Richard Young has decked it out this year in hubcaps and lights. Those who underwrite the Festival get meat pies, festival punch and private port-o-lets, as well they should.
Despite heavy security and required wristbands, it’s just as easy to jump the fence here as at the White House and the gate cop gives chase. Reality TV hasn’t discovered this yet, or it would be a series.
There’s an innocent beauty.
First Week in April: The Ragin’ Cajun Athletic Foundation holds its famous night with Jake Delhomme at the exclusive Evangeline Downs Clubhouse. This is a beautiful party. The horses aren’t bad either.
April 9: The Alumni Center also throws its superb Spring Gala honoring Gail Romero and Nancy Van Eaton Prince. Romero says when she and Nancy entered the real estate business, it was all men, but it was not their intention to compete– they just wanted to make some money. Once they were successful, then it was on.
Lafayette’s controversial “Nude Artwalk” takes place, a protest in support of artist Nicole Touchet. Touchet received a notice and reprimand from her lessor for showing figure paintings in public view, and the community turned out in force. Sadly, there were no nudes and the only shame was Moss Motors ran out of champagne in the first hour.
By the way, this piece is by me. No men were harmed in the making of this drawing.
Advanced Piping Solutions presents the 19th Charity Challenge Golf Tournament at Le Triomphe. Eighteen teams turn out to play for the Acadiana Outreach Center and the community’s most needy.
I can’t promise no men were shamed.
Late March: My daughter’s boyfriend returns and builds her a shed, shingles it, and cuts his hair like Vikings. He then washes my house. It’s like having your house washed by Ragnar Lothbrok.
Rhythms on the River begins again, a certain sign of spring. Everybody who’s anybody is there in the Square to hear the Molly Ringwalds, although it’s not clear if the sound system or the Mollies are in need of a tune-up. The lines are long at Lafayette’s mini-Woodstock, both at the bar and the port-o-lets, and one gentleman assumes out loud I’m trying to cut although I’m simply trying to make my way out.
I’ll show you cuts.
The Advocate in Baton Rouge travels to Lafayette on behalf of Team MacKenzie. MacKenzie Bourg is the American Idol Top 4 Finalist appearing in Parc Lafayette, and my capital city associate asks me for a restaurant recommendation.
Sorry, I’m Team Ragnar.
An Advocate subscriber in Oaklawn Heights writes me about her delivery difficulties. Apparently the new Advocate carrier, in an effort to improve service, elected to place red reflective tape on mailboxes and telephone poles in her neighborhood. This resulted in a misunderstanding of monumental proportions and residents calling the police, who advocated more patrols, a stake-out, and advised residents to be on high alert and not to remove the reflective tape because then fingerprints could not be lifted.
By the way, during Passover, the Israelites marked their doors with red so the Lord knew not to strike their firstborn.
Without the red reflective tape, the carrier struck your newspaper.
March 9: They are sandbagging New Iberia and cancelling school, but the Haiti: Paintings from Paradise opening at Acadiana Center for the Arts goes on. Ben Berthelot, Gerd Wuestemann, and Scott Feehan make a pretty snappy portrait of their own.
March 10: Save Ze Ta Taz takes place at River Oaks. This is an event where art bras are put up for auction. An art bra is like an art car, a vehicle that has had its appearance modified as an act of personal artistic expression. It was a tough call, but I have to go with the antlers.
Less louche, the University Art Museum has a Bienvenu Lecture by Dr. Richard Brettell from UT Dallas, who talks about French Impressionist gardens. The lecture series is in honor of the late John Bienvenu—he used to sit next to me in drawing class and I used to tell him his work looked really impressionist. He may be the first and only man who ever listened to me.
The Presidents Ball is held at the Petroleum Club.
March 12: The Advocate sponsors the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in Lafayette due to the concentration of local inductees. Every politician in the South and then some is there, including both Governor Edwards.
On the way I see flashing blue lights and sirens behind me and assume it’s someone’s police escort. It wasn’t. Nervous, I pull over and hear driver- step- out- of- the- car- please- and-step- to –the- front- of- the- vehicle.
Seems I neglected to put the 2017 sticker on my license plate. The sticker’s in my glove compartment.
However, I would like to commend patrolman Ruiz and his partner as both officers and gentlemen.
It’s been ages since a man made my heart pound.
February 28: Krewe of Rio has its last-krewe-standing brunch at River Oaks in the Camellia Room. The party is for past and present King Dom Pedros and Queen Isabels. Larry Swindle is there, and says the reality series “Found” is coming to his home on March 2 to film a fossil from Oklahoma. No, it’s not me.
February 29: The Acadiana Symphony Women’s League stages its 25th Mad Hatters Luncheon at the Doubletree Hilton. The hats were formidables, and it is suggested by one League volunteer I wear one also, perhaps a fascinator with butterflies.
Why-aren’t-you-in-Vegas Sinatra singer Spencer Racca performed and at one point, walked by and kissed my hand.
I don’t need no stinkin’ butterflies.
March 3: Go Red for Women holds their annual luncheon and fundraiser, also at the Doubletree Hilton. There are Mardi Gras-like boas and cowboy hats, but some sharp-dressed gals also, including elegant Chanel lady Deborah Girouard.
Following heart-rending testimonials, men dance down the runway in women’s wear. It wasn’t clear which needed more work, the men or the clothes.
February 15: My daughter’s old boyfriend comes home for a visit and his family and I have lunch at French Press downtown. He’s the chef from Boston, not the one whose clothes she set on fire. The only burning this one did was in the kitchen.
I get an actual hand-written nuptial thank you note. Not only is it the first one in forever, it’s personally written by the groom, former LSU offensive lineman Josh Dworaczyk. Rarer than a Cleveland Browns win.
February 17: The Lafayette Young Lawyers Association holds an alfresco winter social at Café Vermilionville. According to the waitstaff, the restaurant has a resident chicken, a stowaway who came to work one day and stayed. It mingled briefly but did not care for the legal eagles and left.
February18: Sharon Moss kicks off the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man & Woman of the Year campaign. Various individuals throughout the town fundraise for them and whoever has the most dollars at the end of 10 weeks, wins. Interestingly, I discover I’ve taught all of the younger guests, including the LLS Girl of the Year Kacie Francois. I take complete credit for them.
On the other hand, I can’t teach Don Allen a *!#% thing.
February 5-6: And so it begins. Xanadu and Triton each have their balls.
February 7: King Gabriel LXXVII Dewitt Clinton David has his lunch at the Cajundome Convention Center. There is none higher.
February 8: Queen Evangeline has her luncheon at the Petroleum Club the next day. It is the premiere ladies social event in Lafayette.
Bonaparte has their ball at the Cajundome Convention Center with deputies, purse- searching, and more, as there has been alleged illegal alcohol smuggling. Not by either of the men shown.
Mardi Gras Day: King Gabriel has his breakfast at City Club before the big parade. He is resplendent in his finery, as is most everyone else.
Gabriel’s parade rolls past The Advocate office at 815 Johnston and he catches sight of me, says my name, and blows me a kiss with his scepter. I am now top dog. I have witnesses.
My daughter rolls in the Independent Parade. That’s my hat she’s wearing from 20 years back when I used to pull floats. She throws me a bone.
An altercation takes place outside The Advocate over beads.
Happy Mardi Gras.
January 27: My daughter’s birthday gift arrives, a portrait of her beloved Dingo by Austin-based artist Thad Morgan. If she wasn’t my daughter, I’d keep it.
It still crosses my mind.
The FedEx guys stay and carefully unwrap it to make sure there’s no damage. They’re not always the bad boys they’re made out to be.
Thad, I don’t know.
February 5: In the end, there can be only one. I have my official interview with King Gabriel. His identity is always kept a secret until the Sunday before Mardi Gras. King Gabriel is the top dog of Carnival.
The Gabriel ladies committee says there’s an embargo on the story, our metro editor in charge asks ‘til what time, the ladies say “You can’t post online until Monday” and the metro editor says,”Sorry, Sunday.” An editor is top dog at a newspaper.
My daughter’s boyfriend returns from offshore and she borrows my hat from back in the day when I used to pull floats.
City Club hosts a $6,000 gypsy baby shower.
God, I love Mardi Gras.
She went down like a cheap Chardonnay.
I reread the letter, but there was no mistaking its tone. As a journalist for many years in Japan who was also an attorney, she wouldn’t strong arm me if I’d just go along quietly. It was either do what she wanted or “go ahead, make my day.” You know, Dirty Harry stuff.
It was also signed in Japanese. Nothing says intimidation like a ninja lawyer.
I’d gotten the heads up from the Puerto Rican that she was looking for me and I should have known. All of his friends are trouble. Just pick one.
“There’s no easy way to put this,” he’d said. “She wants the picture gone.”
I was puzzled. What exactly had she been doing for an entire year? She’d been at one of those fashion shindigs last spring and I’d taken her picture. It had been a good party, but strange, like all New Orleans parties. She was fine with it. Even mugged for the camera, with her red hair and Japanese print dress. That should’ve been my first clue. Yakuza, maybe.
It’s not that I could care less. I’ve dumped photos a couple of times before. Once, because the guy was arrested on the way home from a party for decking his girlfriend. The other time was when a dame called after the Apollo Ball and didn’t want to be in that number. I don’t mind doing a favor, just don’t twist my arm. This one twisted my arm.
I thought it over.
I take it back. The Yakuza are nicer.
Noir in the 21st Century. Where society’s the perfect crime.
January 22: My daughter goes with me to the Krewe des Chiens People Ball at City Club. She is big into animal rescue and the ball, unlike the others, raises money for local animal charity. Interestingly, there are enough humans in fur coats to spark a PETA protest. King Gumbo XVIII Oliver kisses her.
I notice her shoes are better than mine.
The Mystick Krewe of Louisianians hold their ball in Washington D.C. and get stuck in the Washington D.C. blizzard. Why I never go to this.
January 23: Don Allen accompanies me to Apollo’s “Forty Years of Fabulous.”
More like a rave than a ball, Don gives away his glow-in-the-dark red light sabre to the first man who begs and I am the first one hit by beads.
The New Orleans gentleman sitting next to me is curious to know what journalists say about Apollo. He mentions the MOMs Ball in New Orleans—Mystick Krewe of Orphans and Misfits– where you must go either fully costumed plus mask or naked. I could be wrong, but I don’t think The Advocate covers that.
There’s a man in the parking lot wearing a tuxedo with red high heels.
His shoes are better than mine too.