Category Archives: BP – British Petroleum

Emerging Views: Chapter Ten, The Premiere at the Frank’s and the Years that Followed

This is one of the posts which is very different from the way things would be if this were and actual book.  If this were a proper book with an actual promotions budget which most readers had bought in advance or at least borrowed from a library that had bought it then I could let this chapter stand without mentioning the next chapter. But in this case I know that only a few readers are reading this text directly from the site at this time. A good portion of those few readers are reading as the texts appear in these blog posts. So it may be that some are relative experts on the local scene. If you are don’t get discouraged by possible inacuracies or near inaccuracies in this chapter’s account of the premiere of Louisiana Story.  The next chapter is a near companion piece and the two together make one more or less complete telling of the  story of the  long remembered premiere.

new courthouse clock going up in Abbeville... at the time of my last post...

new courthouse clock going up in Abbeville…
at the time of my last post…

The town has a life, a memory and a folklore, this book is in a sense a part of that as well. In the conclusion there will be more mention of yet another view of the premiere that has become part of our heritage and reality.  But in terms of this event, these two chapters should make things right in themselves.

 

The St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church Where I was baptized, made my First Communion and was wed.

The St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church Where I was baptized, made my First Communion and was wed.

I am typing this post at the Vermilion Parish Library Main Branch, also the Abbeville Branch which stands at the site of the Old Palms hospital. I wrote and article and took pictures and collected pictures for Bonnes Nouvelles describing both the library and the Palms and how these two histories come together.  In that story there were multiple points of view and multiple perspectives.that is the way history and time works its way out in our world. The Premiere discussed here was in a sense celebrated as a key event in Abbeville’s sesquicentennial.  That telling is the one highlighted in the conclusion.

 

Me in front of a Christmas lights nativity scene shot by one of the proprietors on my phone as I walked into the Donors Dinner.

Me in front of a Christmas lights nativity scene shot by one of the proprietors on my phone as I walked into the Donors Dinner.

But as I type this today, I simply urge the experts to accept what this chapter has to say but wait until the next chapter has been absorbed to come to a full judgement.

 

Palms Hotel & Hospital owned by great-grands, later grandmother &sibs

Palms Hotel & Hospital owned by great-grands, later grandmother &sibs

 

Here is the  Chapter in a pdf format: EmergingVIewsChapterTen

 

Here is the text itself:

Chapter Ten:

The Premiere at the Frank’s and the Years that Followed

 

While most people who arrived at the premiere of Louisiana Story either walked from nearby or arrived in automobiles one is impressed by the horses and buggies hitched and posted around the Frank’s Theater in the images of the premiere. There is something about a horse and buggy being driven to a movie premiere that is in itself noteworthy. Movies and automobiles seem to come together on to the world stage and we expect them to stay together.  In addition, there are no horses in Louisiana Story. Furthermore it was funded and largely produced by Standard Oil which depended on selling fuel for automobiles for much of its income. Horses as most readers will grasp consume very little gasoline. So the buggies at the premiere are worth a comment or two and there will be a few comments here about them.

 

However, the cars not in this picture were also part of this scene. Postwar Acadiana was everywhere changing even as it continued to be a place either backward or culturally conservative depending on one’s point of view. Or from this writer’s point of view a little bit of both. The world of the fictional Latour family was being affected by all sorts of change and some of it was of a more global nature and some of it was profoundly local.

 

Some might think that the life of a trapper remained much the same as long as the person remained a trapper but that is not necessarily the case. Trapping continues in Acadiana today. The same Nunez family that provided pelts and alligator skins for the film operates just such a business today. I spoke with them and took the photograph below in working on this  draft of this text.  There is no hitching post notable in front of the fur trading post in 2016. But there are places where horses could be hitched. Many alligator skins are farmed today, many come from the broad expanses of the Atchafalaya Swamp and then some do come from the harvest of alligators during the carefully managed hunting season. Alligator hunters discuss the decline of nutria  populations in Vermilion Parish and the impact that has on alligators. But in 1948 nutria pelts were the up and coming source of revenue for trappers in the region. Trapping was a more mainstream and less controversial part of life in those days. Today we live in a world where trappers and fur traders are more defensive about their way of life than was the case in those days.

 

The world depicted in the somewhat arranged swamp and marsh scenes in Louisiana Story had been changing in the years since the first camera had taken the first pre-production shots for the film had been taken. In the January 23, 1947 issue of the Jeff Davis Parish News there was coverage of a report to the Kiwanis Club. Earl Atwood of Lake Arthur was an employee United States Department of the Interior in its Department of Fish and WIldlife. The man was speaking about the growing importance of the species called coypu and nutria variously. In the 1945 to 1946 season the nutria pelt on the coypu held the sixth place in the number of pelts taken in Louisiana went to the more or less invasive species at 8,784 pelts in the trapping season. But according to Atwood the following season had led to an improvement in the rank of the number of pelts taken to fifth place and the market allowed those pelts to take fourth place in total money value for a species of fur-bearing animal. The nutria (as it is almost always called in Louisiana) had some impact on plague of invasive water hyacinths. Those were promising results for trappers oilmen and anyone else struggling to keep rural waterways open in those days.

 

In the January 18, 1945 issue of the Jeff Davis Parish News there had been reporting of the shutting down of camps which provided German prisoners of war as local farm labor to area farmers.  Four hundred hostile soldiers in that camp had then been returned to Camp Polk. The same process occurred elsewhere in Acadiana and Southwest Louisiana. The fabric of rural life no longer featured these exotic features. America’s own veterans returned to seek out a path forward in this as in many other parts of rural America. The oil industry would play a large role in forming the economic structure of rural Acadiana and its fringes from the very moment the war ended. Abbeville was a little East of Jeff Davis Parish and Iberia Parish was East of Abbeville But trapping farming and the oil industry were affected by these same very specific factors that got little national attention. People cared a good bit about  nutria and hyacinths and German POW farm labor. By 1948 the nutria had abated the worst of the hyacinth crisis despite it continuing negative effects to this day. By 1948 POWs were gone and for all practical purposes all the troops were home who would be coming home. Abbeville where the film would premiere was a postwar town in the definable postwar era locally and nationally.  

 

The postwar era if defined in almost any way that one might define it would not end in 1953. The year 1953 is chosen as the end of the period which is the direct focus of this study because it is the last year in which the Standard Oil of New Jersey documentary projects were working in Postwar Acadiana. Actually the date may be imperfect even for that standard but it is suggested by many of the most important and highly accessible sources. When this narrative arrives at the end of the year 1953 we just more or less magically stop without apology. But the postwar reality which had begun to take shape in 1945 was in full swing in 1948 when the film Robert Flaherty had made was exhibited at the Frank’s Theater in Abbeville.  The idea of a postwar era involves two smaller ideas forming a single complete idea. The idea is first that the war has ended and that is pretty well established in the case of World War Two to a higher and more certain degree than is the case with most wars. The second part of the realization of a postwar reality is the realization that the society, community, region and people being described as postwar entities are not merely the same as they were before the war. Rather they are somehow at least significantly transformed by having passed through the war. Louisiana Story was and is, I believe, a truly  postwar film. That reality is essential to all that it is. It has a great deal to say about a new stage for the oil industry and for the Cajun people and for the region after the end of the Second World War.  The transformations that had occurred during the war years were at a worldwide, a national and at smaller scales. Some of the transformations were directly related to the war, some were indirectly related and some were coincidental. But all of these transformations came together to create a single reality. That reality is what we have been describing as Postwar Acadiana.     

 

The house on Main Street had settled back into its existence as something other than a place to make movies. Robert and Frances Flaherty had completed their last real collaboration on the full and complete work of making a movie. His filmography was not yet complete but the last film would be an editing and reworking of an existing film far more than anything else. Louisiana Story had really brought their lives as married filmmakers to a close.  They had been busy promoting the film before its premiere and after the last edit and would continue in that mode for a while. Their agent and principal publicist for Flaherty productions always felt they were not getting enough money for the film in various deals they made with exhibitors and distributors. The Flahertys had been paid all along, they did not have to share any of the current and future proceeds with Standard Oil and they had been able to keep a film unit together under their command for a reasonably long time. People do and don’t become very rich for real reasons, in some ways it is not so different than having a talent for sports or music. The Flaherty’s had lived well, had made a movie that they were proud of, had built a further basis for their legacy, had unique ties to a major industry. It is really not surprising that they were not in the mood or of the mind to drive hard bargains for the money to be paid by exhibitors and distributors.

 

In the few years since the surrender of Japan on the ship in the waters joining the vast and far off Pacific Ocean life had changed on the Gulf Coast of the United States of America.  Abbeville, Acadiana and the rest of America had decisively and clearly moved from the wartime to the postwar American experience. While things were not yet as they would be in 1953 they were well on their way to that exact configuration of American life and society. The good and the bad of a really postwar way of life was making itself felt. The Louisiana Maneuvers which had trained so many men and some women for service in the U.S. Military during the Big One had involved an element of involvement by several colleges and universities in Louisiana. The funding and resources that came into the region at that time helped to remake Southwestern Louisiana Institute which was in Lafayette, Louisiana and now exists there as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Abbeville is its own Parish Seat in Vermilion. New Iberia and Lafayette are each larger cities that have their own Parishes: Iberia and Lafayette respectively. Lafayette is to the North of Abbeville and New Iberia is to the East. At the time of Flaherty’s residence the cities had about an equal influence over the town and Avery Island where they and their SONJ photography visitors traveled most often was almost in New Iberia. But Lafayette was on the way to being the much greater influence and that is true now although New Iberia remains a very important  neighboring seat of a neighboring parish.The postwar years brought back many men and a good number of women who had seen much of the world, achieved new skills and made more connections than they would have otherwises and all these factors contributed to dramatically accelerating the pace of life in south Louisiana. The oil business that SONJ was trying to promote and document was indeed growing rapidly, Lafayette which had already had SLI  was emerging as a significant medical and financial center. Students and returned military service personnel would be among those attending the premiere of Louisiana Story.

 

Mr. Joel Lafayette Fletcher the former Dean of the College of Agriculture at SLI, became the president of this institution of higher learning in 1941 just before the years at the center of our study at the onset of U.S.becoming fully engaged in World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Not ignoring the draft it is also true that a huge number of people rushed off to volunteer out of reasons not so different than those which caused recruiting to reach new heights  after the attacks of September 11, 2001. SLI had not had any really substantial military component to its institutions and so enrollment dropped both at very high rates and very suddenly. Fletcher had faced the prospect of presiding over the collapse of an institution starting with huge reductions in the number of faculty. Fletcher took action and with his academic vice president, Dr. Joseph Riehl, went to the nation’s capital and negotiated all that was necessary for the Navy to locate its V-12 and V-5 officer training programs at SLI. Among the results of all this change was the coming of recruits who were also athletes  as All-Americans from many colleges transferred to SLI in Lafayette, Louisiana. As the SONJ film and photography projects were getting underway SLI won the first Oil Bowl in 1943 with these players. During the war years and early postwar years this same institution organized a College of Engineering. Some of it had a military component and a great deal of it would be about preparing engineer for the oil industry and is service sectors even when the engineers were not petroleum engineers as many would eventually be. When World War II ended the school was associated with the Oil Bowl, had served as a major part of the war effort and was ready to provide engineers for the oil industry The school realized a further advance because of the war when it  purchased 108 units of veterans housing, buildings that became known as “Vet Village”. The tradition of military roles for schools that were not particularly military was well established in Acadiana. St. Charles College in Grand Coteau in St. Landry Parish was the first Jesuit College in the Southern United States. This school which combined a preparatory academy of high standards and an abbreviated University level curriculum was a key institution for the Cajun elite and others of means in the region during its tenure. It was where future Confederate General Alfred Mouton had studied before attending the US Military Academy at West Point, where future Louisiana Speaker of the House and District Judge Estilette studied before continuing on at Yale.  It had been a site for an army student company and a military radio course during World War Two. However St. Charles had closed after a fire in the early 1920s and one more connection to the golden era of Cajun Americanism in the late 1830s and the 1840s was lost. By the time World War II came around a period of real marginalization had preceded the changes brought about by that conflict. The fictional Latours really represented that marginalization in a strong way but one that people could identify with fairly well. Their feelings about the portrayal and the realities it represented might be complex but almost nobody doubted that the  oil industry offered the best chance forward for a culture and ethnic community that was not thriving economically to the degree it once had and which was showing other signs of strain. .

 

War of course is never off of the radar screen of the entire planet. The military cullture and the warlike conditions of the war years that had ended in 1945 and wrapped up in 1946 really had left a period of peace which was notable and profound in the Acadiana region. But there were seeds of the next war blooming and not all were oblivious to them. Yet it was already possible to guess that the next war would be huge and bloody but contained in the quiet and sense of restraint created by the unique Cold War conditions that were emerging. .  Korea was to be the next place where many men and some women would serve under their country’s arms and some would die for these United States of America. Korea had been  ruled by the Japanese Empire from 1910 and was one of the last foreign possessions rested from that dying and remade Empire in the 1945 and 1946 period when so much was happening around the world that defined the closing act on the real and bloody drama that was World War II. As part of that grand finale of struggle at a date later than many Americans would guess once this period faded into the past, that is in August 1945, the Soviet Union joined in on the great Pacific theater of the war as allowed by the defeat of Germany in  its very belligerent form as the Third Reich and  declared war on Japan. This Communist ally to the United States who was already becoming a potential adversary in Europe undertook these efforts with the understanding of the United States and by specific agreement with the United States occupied Korea north of the 38th parallel. After the first and only recorded events of atomic warfare and all else that was involved the  U.S. forces subsequently occupied the south and integrated a rule of the region tied to the rebuilding of the Philippines and most of all Japan which had surrendered. By 1948 when Louisiana Story premiered at the Frank’s, two separate governments had been set up on opposite sides of the agreed line. According to what all parties saw as the state of international law both the  government of the Soviet client state and the American client state believed the border dividing the country could not be permanent. Each of these countries claimed to be the legitimate government of Korea as a whole — with some willingness to consider accommodations of the other government’s claims and forms to some degree.. Cajuns like other American military personnel were already serving in a region offering signs of future conflict and a serious war at that. The Chinese Civil War was yet another strain in this growing symphony of tension and brewing violence likely to bring in the United States. But despite all of that this was a period of peace and hope in which the oil industry a path into the future and a new order distinctly different from the period before the Second World War or the period of that war. Louisiana Story was a good film for that sense of the likely trend of local events.

 

Postwar Acadiana was increasingly going to be an oil industry dominated Acadiana. Louisiana Story told a tale which many could relate to very well.  It may not have been the story of very many lives directly in the sense that a tiny percentage of Cajuns or Acadiana residents were trappers and not such a large percentage were landowners who signed oil leases. Yet nonetheless the film was very relatable and relevant in that it showed the oil industry bringing in the promise of a new prosperity. That was in itself a hugely important theme of everyday life and daily conversations.    When the film was exhibited it was not terribly hard to connect with local audiences. Horses and buggies and antique wagons nearly filled the town center as people chose to participate and show support for the event and the film that occasioned it. Cajuns were known for being the inhabitants of a part of the country where people kept their old buggies and related gear long after they had begun to rely on automobiles for daily transportation.

 

One of the realities of life in the Acadiana of the 1940s was that it was a society in which the horse which is absent from the film Louisiana Story still played an important role. The horse was still truly useful for working cattle and is still of some use in that regard. However, it had even more usefulness in other areas of life which focussed on ritual and recreation. Horses of course do not burn petroleum based fuels and that may explain why although they are not absent from the SONJ documentary projects they are very little represented there.

 

The role of Cajun quarter horse racing in shaping the cultural landscape is among the greatest realities in recreational life of the 1940s and fifties. The roots of these events and the impact they had on the larger world of quarter horse racing also revealed a number of realities within the evolving culture of Acadiana which addressed a set of circumstances that were in themselves due to change. The horse was a mode of transit on and between farms especially for young people when the family automobile and tractors were engaged in the business of farming. The word Cajun had by force of varied circumstances come to have multiple meanings even in the Acadiana region itself and some people grew up especially as white creoles with no blood ties or marital ties to the ethnic community and no grounding in its folklore or associations who believed that they were Cajuns because they spoke French and lived in Louisiana’s Acadiana region and were Catholics this was emphasized by the influence of the outside world calling all such people Cajuns in many newspaper and other media outlets. In addition the Cajuns did have many countless ties to the White Creoles in the community’s vicinity and were not eager to be too earnest in excluding them. The larger world began to associate many of the most rural and poorest people with being Cajun and very often those people were not at all Cajuns. In fact though poor and very rural Cajuns did exist they might or might not differ sharply from those held up as examples of the group by the incredibly misguided flounderings around of the mainstream consciousness. The Cajuns did really do a lot of ritual horseback riding and bring to the  to the areas near the community many racing events and venues. So did some of their neighbors. But among other things the Cajun horseracing world was a form of employment for the most needy young boys and men and a handful of girls as well.

 

Much like trapping , jockeying offered a life at the edges of a society that was not all that likely to offer many opportunities. Some people made a really “excellent living” at trapping to use the term Helen Van Dongen used to describe Lionel Leblanc who portrayed the trapper Latour. Such people like Leblanc usually had a whole series of enterprises besides trapping to engage their energies and fill their hours or as in the case of Leblanc had a single job or regular position which allowed them to trap as well. A few became fur buyers and brokers and of those a few got rich rich. The abundance of the nutria, the rising market for furs in a world recovering from the austerity of war and many other factors contributed to the sense of hope that trappers had for prosperity. Into all this mix the oil industry in real life as in the film Louisiana Story offered a few new chances for a good livelihood.  Even a new canal or a an improved waterway in the vast marshes could make the lives of some number of trappers substantially easier. It was also noted fairly early on that the alligator benefitted from the rise of the nutria population. The alligators also controlled what was already coming to be recognized as the real risks and dangers associated with a large nutria population. While the muskrat built a kind of artificial island nest and was a small animal the nutria was much bigger and burrowed into natural and man-made levees which joined with emerging oil activity to disrupt water and drainage patterns. This whole set of pressures on the marsh seemed to be creating more understanding of fur trapping and alligator hunting — both of which were often done by the same people as in the film. The sense of the way that these pressures would join with other emerging pressures to really challenge the fur trapping industry was not yet very manifest to everyone involved in the newly emerging economic situation in the marsh. People who might attend a premiere of a film in Abbeville were interested in fur trapping and felt as much connected to it almost as to the oil industry. Both industries were relevant to their daily lives.

 

The horse racing, breeding, cattle working and other industries of the Cajuns and of Acadian were significant. Throroughbreds get more attention for many reasons but in the world of quarter horses many prizes and titles were associated with this very unique section of a very rural environment. The world of major thoroughbred racing has continued to feel the impact of Acadian’s jockeys in recent decades as such greats as Calvin Borel, Shane Sellers , Randy Romero and Kent Desormeaux have created an almost incredible record in that more international, national and glamorous sport. All had deep roots in the races dominated by quarterhorse contests which have for generations filled the rural areas of Acadiana. Today these tracks may be in decline (although how seriously is hard to say) but in 1948 they were very much a going concern. Horses then which appeared outside the premiere in 1948 were very much a symbol of the Cajuns and Acadiana. Of course horses have been symbols of many peoples and countries. In fact that is probably why unlike the Russian bear, the English Lion, the American Eagle and so forth they do not stick. They are real and powerful symbols and images and realities for many peoples and so they do not come to be associated with one people. If there is an animal that now must recognizably is associated with Cajuns it is the lowly crawfish. A distant second would be the alligator.  But the horse has always been very important and even now continues to be relatively important. The traditional length for a rural race in Acadiana is four arpents (quatres arpents). The arpent is 64 yards. The original yards would have been slightly different from the yards in the American system of measure and on real estate transactions this all led to confusion. However, in the racing world the standard American yard had been completely adopted by 1948. The riding of horses also at the heart of much of traditional identity.

 

The jockeys that made their livings and rose to some sort of prosperity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were often the most malnourished young boys whose families were perhaps genetically small but also did not have enough to eat. They started off earning enough to get a few meals for themselves and their families and perhaps some would gain enough weight to be disqualified from greatness. The rare combination of malnutrition, genetic smallness and coming to manhood without getting big but while growing in reputation, skill and business savvy laid the foundation for a successful jockey of the era between the 1860s and 1948. But the great rewards of the recent batch of professionals did not exist. Likewise Cajun rodeo cowboys were around and could supplement an income with skills used in ranching and the life of the old vacherie.  However, this life was not built on the shadows which haunted the jockey culture but neither were Cajun cowboys extremely successful in the world of rodeo. There were plenty who were somewhat successful and there were a handful who were very successful but there was not kind of institutional dominance which united the Jim Boudreaux, Kenny and Jim Bergeron and Ernest Theriot with others in creating a kind of dynastic tradition atop the sport.

 

In addition the equivalent of the smallest bush races was more like the informal rodeos after a local cattle drive or roundup. That kind of activity fed and defined the local culture and had a lot to do with shaping local life and values but it did not make as good a basis for a larger connection with society as a whole. It made for a world where the skills of the cowboy were tied to the business of raising beef and breeding horses almost entirely.     

 

The buggies that appeared at the Frank’s were part of a dying breed. 1955 is a year that folklorisitically and generally speaking one could say and people did say (as confirmed by the Buggy Festival materials online) that almost all regular use of buggies as transportation in Cajun towns effectively ended. In 1961 Church Point Louisiana, which preserved a mounted Courire  with mounted Mardi Gras riders when changing torts law made it more rare also chartered and organized a Buggy Festival where  antique buggies were preserved and paraded.  The horse played many roles in  Acadiana. Horse breeding accomplishments have been significant. Lynn Richard’s book A History of Cajun Quarter Horse Racing has done a decent job of documenting the achievements of these local breeders, trainers and jockeys and the fans who supported them in achieving national, regional and even international excellence. The stock used for racing bled its way into the farms and ranches of the region. The sense of communal economy was both real and promoted in this culture. Acadiana does not manufacture cars and trucks.  All the dealerships, mechanics and roads in the region will not allow it to participate in the car based economy in the way that it could participate in the  horse industry.

 

The new Postwar era of increasingly worldwide oil and petroleum was a set of opportunities that Cajuns wished to participate in as much as they could. However, it was also a period of many risks. The Cajun rancher could control the herd of horses and make their future and current plans adapt to current conditions. Like many other aspects of life the role of the small town and the common man in the coming years seemed likely to be more passive.  But Louisiana Story told a true story of  trappers given a new security by the newly confident industry.  This was set around fictional events but it was the experience of many.

 

The troubles over lands and navigable marshes, old rights and state laws in the larger swamps would all have new aspects as the oil industry advanced. But those disputes were like the Korean War — one can see the  pieces in place but the troubles are not yet in full swing. Coastal erosion and the role of abandoned canals, cuts and the depredations of the nutria which allowed hurricanes to wreak vast damage. These things would be mostly whispers after Audrey would come in a couple of years and Hurricane Rita was far off. The BP oil spill and the discussions which followed were still a long way from center of most people’s thoughts.

The days would come when trappers, coastal ranchers, shrimpers like those pictured above going out to fight the BP spill with specialized gear and others among the Cajuns and their neighbors would have to consider whether the promise of abundance offered in  Louisiana Story was a  fair promise. There would be times of trouble and many problems would not be resolved. Yet when the film premiered at the Frank’s it offered a happy ending that people could relate to easily enough. People wanted to be optimistic about the role of petroleum in the future and they were.   
 

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BP-Transocean Macondo Oil Leak Disaster Anniversary

It is time to remeber that the oil disaster in the Gulf occurred almost a year ago. There are old problems syill being made worse. There are new problems still being identified. There are people sick and suffering. There are wildlife populations and habitats under stress. There are industries and employers in severe distress. There is a great deal we do not know. There is a great deal we are not ever likely to know.

Here are some links to things I wrote about the story:

1. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/08/22/the-bp-spill-and-the-lessons-we-will-have-to-unlearn/

2. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/a-tiny-bp-macondo-leak-round-up/

3. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/bp-has-announced-cementing-in-the-macondo-well/

4. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/looking-at-the-bp-macondo-oil-leak-today/

5.https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/why-the-oil-leak-in-the-gulf-has-dominated-this-blog/

6. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/bp-oil-leak-and-the-technology-we-do-not-have/

7. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/the-bp-oil-spill-the-anderson-cooper-response/

These are just a few of the many things that I have written. IF THE LINKS DO NOT WORK WHEN YOU CLICK ON THEM COPY THEM INTO YOUR BROWSER.

It is nota time for summing up all these matters and I doubt that this will be my las t note on this profile which touches on the subject. However, it is a time to to spend alittle while looking at where we are now. That means remebering where we have benn as well. That is the purpose of today’s note

What about BP? More thoughts on the midterm election…

I would like to think that the election results last night had to do with Sarah Palin and the ruralists reasserting their fair share of a national consensus…

1. BUT, was a lot of it about money supporting an injured oil and gas former governor who  was simply pushed forward by  a BP  orchestrated cartel?

I would like to believe that Main Street and Wall Street interests here in America formed part of the coalition which fought for our national growth…

2.BUT, was part of it the fact that British creditors hold so much paper that they could exercise subtle pressures to make people stop the administration that chewed out the centerpiece of their economic all-stars — BP? 

I would like to see that Rand Paul and Rubio and Haley and Cantor show a real ripening of American diversity into the political process…

3. But, how much of their limited government philosophy is a desire to abdicate cultural maturity to the Brits again because of BP’s threatened status in the public eye recently?

I personally have set out many reasons why BP and the oil industry have got to be protected from the ravening and nationalizing interest I myself opposed in this process….

4. But has BP orchestrated a bought and paid for coalition of GOP oil-friendly officials and legislators who will let them continue to really fail in every honest measure and tell themself how successful they are?

I would like to think that the organization that pulled this off was homegrown and shows that America’s business lobby has not decayed as much as so many measures suggest about our management….

5. BUT, how much of this machine was made in the UNited Kingdom and not the USA?

For me every day is more or less a bad day. I will try to see the good and hope for the best.  But I still think we are in a self-destructive cycle. I am hopeful that the many good things, ideas and people in this country will find a way forward in this society.  However, I am not pleased that Obama’s administration handled the details the way they did with BP and left such a clear occasion for them to retaliate and find sympathy. I am sure nobody in the White House was ever more peeved with BP than I was. But I fancy that my own enraged and wounded approach was always more tempered with reason and civility. Those are qualities the British establishment sees in itself but rarely can be honestly said to have possessed. Keep your eyes out and find some descendant of Paul Revere because the British are always coming, have always been coming and always will be coming.

South Louisiana Blues

In my last post I blogged on the anniversaries of the 9-11 attacks and the Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg. But before we even get to those we have the anniversary of  Hurricane Katrina which I remember both as all Americans do and as a Louisiana native does. For me it falls into an arrangement with the memory of our devastating follow-up hurricane here in the western part of coastal Louisiana — Rita.

We face the uncertainty of this BP Oil Leak and we still deal with all the storm damage which is as bad as it is in part because of damage to the coast caused by other bad behavior from oil companies. Thank God we are struggling with all this because it proves we are not dead. There is a lot of sadness in the story of so much of the world. I think sadness is actually an important part of humanity and human life. However, we are really having our share here. We have known numerous very rough storms, the 9-11 attacks and the levee collapse that made Katrina what it became. Now we are dealing with the largest ecological disaster in our country’s history.

It is not that things cannot get worse. They can get a lot worse and very possible they will get a lot worse. There are some improvements in New Orleans since Katrina. Before Katrina seventy percent of New Orleans Schools were failing  now sixty percent are passing and only forty percent are failing. There is the Musicians Village put together by Harry Connick Jr. and the Marsalis family as well as their backers. There is the movement back of some celebrities and environmental lobbies who are investing talent and interest in rebuilding the city and the region.

I was partly inspired to write this post by shows I have seen on LPB lately as well as by Anderson Cooper’s show emphasizing the anniversary of Katrina. However, we face as many reminders of all of these crises as anyone would like pay attention to today and any day here on the coast..  

The story goes on but there is a lot of sadness in the story. Maybe the time to write some more music about all of this is very much here.

September 11 and September 17 Anniversaries Approach

The three days on which  the Americans lost the most lives to violence on a single day were quite different and each adds complexity in attempting to describe them. If one says Americans that is sort of ambiguous and if one says citizens of the United States that leaves out many of the dead Americans.  Of the three bloodiest days one was in December –that is December 7 and the bombing of Pearl Harbor in World War II. The other two bloodiest days were in September. The lesser in blood is the one sharper in our own minds in which many alive today lost loved ones. But the bloodiest of all was September 17, 1862 and the Battle of Antietam or of Sharpsburg as most Southerners call the same combat event. This was something many of us were aware of as we watched 9-11 unfold. At first we thought the number of those killed might surpass the 23,000 killed that day in the War Between the States on that series of Maryland fields and hills. We now seem to all agree the numbers fell far short of that. I wish to extend my condolences however to anyone reading this who lost a loved one or several in the 2001 event which makes it impossible to compare to events outside living memory.

Today, we are also seeing Ken Feinberg head up the BP funded compensation fund to try to make whole those injured by the Gulf of Mexico Macondo oil leak.  Surely connections  and comparison will be made with the 9-11 crisis and his role in guiding the compensation fund that dealt with those tragic events. We will see how those energies play out as we watch this new thing develop.

One notable thing is that we have never had a half Japanese President of the United States and LBJ as a son of the States in the former Confederacy was brought in by assassination and only after one hundred years. However in this case we have not even passed a decade and we have a President who is the son of a Moslem foreigner. I really believe this is enough to show that our country is almost entirely dead and almost entirely insane from a sociopolitical point of view. I really do not think much else matter after we have elected President Obama. Our policies, votes and laws are all silly papers in my view. I do not act as this suggests but it is still my conviction.

The BP Spill and the Lessons We will Have to Unlearn

One of the things blog does is advocate for radical constitutional change and another thing it has been doing and continues to do at the current time is to cover the BP Macondo Oil Leak in the Gulf of Mexico and its effects. Sometimes these activities have come together in a single post and sometimes these two join with another prevalent theme and motif. One of the things that can be confusing to some people is the idea that I do not use very many slurs, cuss words or hateful epithets and do not advocate genocide or the wholesale and unexcused confiscation of all the property of a particular class of people who I am not really angry, radical or committed. Perhaps I have no enemies and am entirely unwilling to kill or die for anything. I can only try to assert that this is not the case — I really am seeking radical change.

One problem that we will have if we ever overthrow the vast murderous tyranny of horror under which I have lived my whole life is that we are not bound by a handful of hated laws that are very well-known and which aim death and horror at a specific set or a few specific groups of people. Instead we have huge volumes of regulations in the WTO Treaty, the NAFTA treaty, The UN Charter, The IMF Charter and other systems which do harm and add to a horrific murderous tyranny which hurts innocents and loots and destroys across the world. These strengthen an unassailed and largely idiotic worldview which saturates and defines both our present and all future possibilities. Let me be clear that much of the time I feel my soul life is spent like a man who passes much of each day waist or shoulder deep in raw sewerage.  But I am not going to attack all of this vast reality in this post. IF we do change it will be important that we not rush willy-nilly to get out of or destroy every large treaty structure in the world. Those involved in whatever may be described as a movement  that is represented by this blog seek peace and prosperity and stability as much as possible for as many as possible. This is true despite the fact that charitable giving and development aid are tied here to warrior culture and property rights and true although they may have more reasons for war, austerity and hardness than many other people. The legal regime may be ignored in some new structures but it will not be assaulted — these regimes will have to attack us where we ignore them to get a fight. We will attempt to pay our dues and keep up the obligations made. Here I am going discuss the oil leak in terms of waste again.

I have quite a few post relating to future structures for dealing with waste. These structures are rather grand and elaborate and have to be taken as a whole and in context. They do not exist in time to deal with all the waste water and waste oil which exists as a result of this spill. People do not trust the storage of weathered BP oil near them, they have good reasons. I believe we are a vast distance from real solutions. Here are few specific waste programs not in a structure we need to just do whether they can be well understood or not.

1. We need special lands and zones where a few really enormous and several times as many just large  waste treatment centers. These will be kept as clean and neat as possible and will have secure housing for forced labor from all able-bodied prisoners in the entire country who are serving long sentences, forced labor from illegal aliens and short-term labor contracts  for the needy and unemployed. Each   of these groups will have some of their small pay withheld to the end and will earn educational credits so that they move to schools offsite before the end of their programs. They will also all receive some good in kind on release. These groups will constitute low status labor which will build up the position of the salaried regular waste workers.

2. All restaurants and food businesses will be forced to segregate food wastes. Really clean food will go to a food ban for humans, some will go to a washing and slop program and go to pigs and chickens raised at these centers. These will be slaughtered cooked and irradiated and the meat used for disaster relief, stockpiling and part of the diet and release good of the low status labor.   The lowest grade foods will go to the soil and fuel programs.

3. Paper, yard clippings, coal dust, trees waste, plastics, weathered oil, oil wastes in sand and other resources will go to a separate department. Some will be recycled to really good uses, some will go the soil program but most of it will go into the fuel programs.  Composite fuels will be formulated which will power a system of steam locomotives and steam locomotive trains operated by the new structures. The most regular recovered fuels can be sold and used to power the waste centers and other government facilities.  What must be stored can be placed in the foundations of the expanded human habitat sites.

There are many more things that need doing. Probably none will get done and if change comes war or other crises may keep it from doing these things effectively. Meanwhile I get a day older in a world that makes me sick in so many ways and yet I can’t find the energy to scream at people in public.

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A Tiny BP-Macondo Leak Round-up

1. BP has brought a suit and is acting as a complaining witness for prosecution against two fisherman who it claims reported false fishing and related expenses and incomes on claim forms. I will try to follow that till later as it becomes clearer.

2.Ken Feinberg’s settlement fund like all before it and like almost all settlement funds requires those taking the money to promise not to sue and to give up the rights to sue. It appears that some people have felt misled in this process.

3. BP claims that there is not much leakage to speak of and will wait to put the relief well in place untill after Labor Day.

4. Despite these first three points and others I could mention but won’t it appears the wheels have not yet come off of this process and that is a good thing.

5. The moratorium continues to stir emotions we hope it is also producing excellent research and change for the better. There is no doubt it has a high expense side does it yield  a good profitable outcome?

Anniversary: This Blog One Year Old

Well folks, this blog is one year old on August 18, 2010 .  That is in itself some kind of achievement. However, it also possible to see some progress compared to the cold start of a year ago.  I am not sure where exactly I am going to do this year but I have had the chance to get some things done this year.  To see the conveniently provided WordPress starting mark for this blog you may go to this link.

1. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/hello-world/

I have come closest to ordinary journalism in covering the BP Transocean rig explosion and the BP-Macondo Oil Leak as ongoing stories. Though I did so in my own way of optimizing how a  blog of this personal nature might best cover a story. Of course there was advocacy in this coverage as well.

I also had a bit  of regular journalistic coverage in dealing with the Healthcare Reform Bill, NASA’s moon missions searching for water and the death of some children recently. In addition to that I have done some obituaries in the style of my own blog. These have been occasioned by the death of Bobby Charles Guidry, William Charles Summers, Revis Sirmon and Ardley Hebert since this blog began. There has also been a retrospective obituary on my grandmother Beverlee Hollier Gremillion who died two months before this blog began.

I have also set up over fifty permanent pages. These pages deal with my life and themes that interest me. It is also true that many of the posts are truly personal in nature and deal with the mundane events of my life.

Quite a few categories get left out even if I mention space and Christianity and history in this sentence. I have various features and pages to help readers sort out what else is going on in this blog. However, the great risk and commitment of the blog is that here I advocate for royalist political change in America and draw upon Acadian royalist traditions as the principal source for this change.

Well, whoever you are I hope you read and return to read again…

BP has announced cementing in the Macondo well

BP has announced it has cemented in the Macondo well from above.  It claims it will still seal things off from the bottom through the relief well. This is good news. Let us see what happens next.

Awareness of Pain: A Post With Many Links

I think that most people who read this blog with any sense of fairness will recognize that I advocate much more sweeping and radical constitutional change in the United States than almost anyone with prominent access to prominent media advocates. It is a basic truism (and almost a basic truth) that in order to justify advocating  radical change a responsible person must have already found or must promptly find very serious problems and dangers that justify undertaking the risks inherent in making large changes. It is also fair to assume that regular readers will notice that in fact I have often pointed out very serious problems in this country. This post is about the awareness of those problems and dangers which beset our country. 

There is a film which by using Homer’s Odyssey set in the south of this country shows a bit of the gritty reality of our near past. It is part of a method of a awareness to watch such films and in that film there is song. The song does not  reflect the situation in the film. Go to the next link to find the film However, these lyrics are not taken directly from the film.

“Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0190590/

Big Rock Candy Mountain

        C                                    F                     C
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, there’s a land that’s bright and fair,
           F               C                   Am               G7
For the doughnuts grow on bushes, and there’s lots of cookies there,
         C                                F                C
For the dogs and cats are happy, and the sun shines every day,
            F         C              F          C
There are birds and bees, and the bubble-gum trees,
         F         C                    F         C
by the lemonade springs, where the whippoorwill sings
        G7                C
in the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

It seems a pleasant and fun place doesn’t it? Yet we also live in beautiful world and being aware of it and what endangers it is also a sacred trust. Here is a post where I linked to others sharing the burden and duty of that awareness:  https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/bp-spill-environmental-awareness-links-questions/ 

Let’s get back to that song set in a film reworking Homer’s Odyssey with slightly different lyrics longer and a bit more on our point but similar. 

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, the houses are built of blocks
And the little streams of sody pop come trickling down the rocks,
The soldiers there are made of lead, and they are very brave,
There’s a lake of stew, and ice cream too
You can paddle all around in a paper canoe,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

If the soldiers were all made of lead one cannot help but wonder if it would be less important to fight just wars nobly and to seek peace. If ice cream fell like snow and lakes were full of stew then perhaps our agriculture and employment policy would matter less.  But for now we must be aware of how living things, people and communities do find their sustenance. Here is a post where I linked to others who were making us aware of what was at risk in the BP-Macondo Oil Leak:  https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/the-bp-transocean-gushers-risk-some-links-and-notes/

Now, we can return to  song which stands in for many other points of view. I recall, but have not checked, that in the film Brother Where Art Thou? they used the version of the song where the word “frogs” is replaced with “cops”. I think the cops version is the original there would be less food in a world where frog legs were toothpicks and that does not go with the song. On the other hand for someone who wants a free lunch the world would be more abundant if there were only cops with wooden legs and bulldogs with rubber teeth keeping him from other people’s property. 

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, the frogs have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth,
and the hens lay hard-boiled eggs
There’s chocolate pie in all the trees, and jam in all the lakes,
Oh, I’m going to go where the wind don’t blow,
there’s a big free show, and candy snow,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

The song is fun. Living in a world where policy is made on the basis of the idea the song represents but reality is what it is  would not  be fun for a whole lot of people. In many ways that is the world we live in today. Below is a link to a biographical entry describing the life and work of the physician who discovered that the horrors and deformities of leprosy must be understood almost entirely as resulting from the victim’s loss of sensitivity to pain.  

The Wikipedia Biography of Paul Wilson Brand: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Wilson_Brand

The use of leprosy and its horrors as a metaphor for the results of many of the ills of humanity and  society are not starting with this blog post. In fact the next link is one to a poll as to whether the denial of sin by atheists is precisely that kind of leprosy  we are discussing:

http://jyte.com/cl/pain-insensitivity-is-to-lepers-as-denial-of-sin-is-to-athiests

Old Testament prophets decrying impiety and humanity, Romantic poets decrying the loss of understanding of nature, Revolutionaries decrying the loss of national integrity or sanity — these are  all examples of a nation’s pain response and awareness. Life is made less frivolous and harder because of the pain we feel when we want to lose ourselves in the moment or the life time of doing whatever it is we would rather be doing. Documentarians have played an important role in recent decades and over much of the last century in pointing out what is wrong  with the world — a useful thing to know.

The first shows a part of the truth of how America becoming play obsessed and focused only on market discipline can play out in a complex world. There is a lot more that is only hinted at such as the destruction of some of the local Mardi Gras and Carnival traditions by visitors who only come for debauchery without the limits of traditions. There is also the fact that things may be much worse than the show portrays in China since they are not exposing anything but what they are told willingly enough. 

Chinese workers export Mardi Gras in Mardi Gras Made in Chinahttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436569/

The second film shows how complex struggles of oil and gas profits, ethnic values and wetlands management affect all of Louisiana and the nation. However, this is done in the context of a close-up portrayal of a few crawfishermen in the Atchafalaya who are not even filmed in an entirely accurate or honest way. The film is in many ways anti-Acadian in it biases and is only forced in the other direction by Katrina. The tendency is to represent swampers as typical Acadians and to represent all swampers as more cut-off from the larger economy than they are. But regardless of where it comes from it says good things with important images.

Angels of the Basin:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1338547/

Then we have the vast problem of angry,ignorant and hate-filled black racist destroying this country in so many ways with the support and formation that has poured in from the west-hating Moslem world for centuries but especially the last fifty years. We ignore all the signs and are headed to destruction but at least our reports give us some of the relevant factoids:  

Omar Thornton ‘s recent shooting is a good example: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20012557-504083.html

However, we have many others as well. We can turn to Wikipedia to remember the Fort Hood Shooting. However let us not remember how much racial-ethnic and religious and social forms of non-awareness contributed to this disaster. The way we have handled the aftermath is a terrible disgrace as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Hood_shooting

Then we have two movies that show a somewhat unfavorable vision of the military and those who serve in it as well as showing why the enemy would not be so ready to flee at their approach. However, the movies are also full both of whole and partial truths as well as humane insights.  I recommend watching them both with a critical eye  but not disparaging the critical eye they turn towards our country and armed forces.

The Lucky Ones: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0981072/

Brothers: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0765010/

The truth is that we have so very much to do as soon as possible if we are to be in any way successful as a society. We have many enemies and competitors around the world who will try to keep us from making and then securing the right transitions. However, we are full of internal problems that are far more dangerous. The time to act is here and will not last forever. However, awareness of the pain is the first step towards healing the wounds and pains.

In the models for change I have described here I have set forth a path that can lead to a btter future. But getting there will not be cheap and easy.