The Ties That Bind
So much for storms named after men. It seems the male of the species can be deadlier than the female.
As Hurricane Harvey overwhelms Houston, the irony of it — nearly to the day of Katrina a dozen years ago — is inescapable. So much also for the myth that lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place, as many in that beleaguered Texas city sought safety there after the 2005 New Orleans deluge.
As always during a disaster of this magnitude, images of desperation and despair are plentiful. Hope, not so much. On a better day, Houston is a big society town. I still keep a stack of glossy Houston Magazines from when Lafayette native Jeff Gremillion was editor. The two cities have more in common than you know.
And for whatever reason, I’ve also held on to Bryan Smelker’s images of the Cajun Navy mobilizing during Katrina. They came my way via local filmmaker Allan Durand and his documentary about them, and one in particular still stands out: south Louisiana men amassed on the interstate with their trucks and boats, headed out no matter what. Other than the photograph — as visually compelling now as it was then — there are only the words of those who were there. Smelker, who disguised himself then as part of a prison escort in order to bypass law enforcement, said, "We could look off into the distance and see people hanging out of the windows. There was no way I was going back to Lafayette."
It was a small gesture for me to post it on social media, but a large measure of hope. And perhaps more important now than ever.
Houston, we’re coming.
Save the Last Dance for Me
The Petroleum Club hosted the Krewe of Zeus for its “Dress in Red” dance honoring the Ragin’ Cajuns, and the Red Sea it was. A packed ballroom danced its cares away to music duo Bill & Trey and tearing up the dance floor as always were Richard and Gwen Guidry, Jim Grace, Doug Jasper, Delores Lanza, and dancing queen Sunny Williamson. We have it on good authority that Williamson learned her jazz steps from Patrick Swayze’s mother, Patsy Swayze, while he stayed on the stoop as a child, and Williamson, in turn, taught Patsy Swayze’s husband ballroom dancing. Now you know how Swayze got his moves.
Tapas & Tasting
Others who could afford it sought solace from the weather at well-known watering hole Charley G’s. Nothing like some rosé to turn everything rosy again, especially when it’s accompanied by lobster rolls and asparagus soup. “Actually, we’re really excited,” said Select Wines’ Mattie Hebert. “Finally, rosé is getting its recognition.” Seeking comfort in some excellent cava were Jimmy and Sherry Andrus, Kerri Breaux, Allison Gauthier, and our all-time favorite Southern gentleman, Jason Fontenot.
Petroleum Club Wine Tasting
The liquid consolation continued as The Grill Bar held its own wine tasting for club members and guests. Republic National Distributing sent its reps well-supplied from the looks of the half-dozen glasses at each place setting. “Six wines from all over the world,” said Jared Cocke, whose job was to teach everyone the how-to. In the mix: The Cajun Navy’s Mark Mouton, who doubtless was in need of a drink after Harvey.
At the carwash
Carol Trosclair and the UL-Lafayette Kinesiology Department kicked off its annual raffle event at Todd’s Carwash. Funds benefit the David Trosclair Memorial Scholarship at a time when tuition money may be needed now more than ever with some students impacted financially by Harvey. “My parents and family were in Houston, and I had friends rescued by boat,” said graduate student Stacy Imagbe. “I was physically helpless here but sent money for others when I still needed textbooks. It’s good to know I’ll be taken care of and can still focus on my academics.” Guests can enjoy a free carwash with the purchase of a $10 ticket, a chance at an all-expenses paid Caribbean cruise and other incentives during the campaign through October. Doing his share? Donald White.