Fergie, The Captain and his ‘Star-Spangled’ tingle

Editor’s note from John E. Bialas: I found only one person who enjoyed Fergie’s national anthem this past weekend and that person is named Captain Tenacious, the lifelong Playboy of the Mississippi Coast, sportswriting legend, Biloxi Sports Hall of Famer and future Gulfport Hall of Famer. He shares his love for Fergie in this guest commentary, a fine piece of quality journalism.

By CAPTAIN TENACIOUS
Special to the Broadmoor Bureau

No matter what all the haters say, Fergie sang American history’s most coochie-coochie version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles on Sunday.

It was lusty. It was sultry. It was hot. Fergie was hot. She made me hot.

Forget about patriotism. It was a frisky pop-culture moment, and I wanted Fergie to be my new girlfriend.

Her hair was down and her dark dress was captivating and shoulder-baring.

Twitter people have ripped, mocked and laughed at Fergie for her jazz-inspired performance. For example:

Though I haven’t seen such a post, I can only imagine that one of the snarkers tweeted, “The rendition was so bad, it sounded like Francis Scott Off-Key wrote it.”

I tingled in appreciation of Fergie’s presentation. I bet the All-Stars tingled, too, as they heard Fergie sing.  I’m sure that’s why Draymond Green was smiling.

I’m 66 years old going on 67 in June, but Fergie made me feel like a young man again.

Photo credit: Mundo Fergabee on Instagram. I endorse Fergabee’s message.

 

The end of Sun Herald sports as we know it

This old newspaper box is outside the Chevron Mart at the corner of Railroad Street and Kelly Avenue in Gulfport. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Newsroom reinvention means the end of Sun Herald sports as we know it.

I say we and maybe I just mean me, because I’m connected to the newspaper in my hometown of Gulfport, Miss.

I retired from the Sun Herald last year after a long career in which I was a sports writer, weekend sports editor, sports page designer, slot editor, copy editor and headline writer, and since March 3, 2017, I have stayed in touch with people who work there or used to work there.

Now the sports department is down to just one man, and you, dear reader, may not be aware of that.

Sports/features editor Scott Hawkins and James Jones, the paper’s longest-tenured sports writer, were laid off two weeks ago and sports writer Patrick Ochs was moved back to the news side, where he started at the Sun Herald.

That leaves Patrick Magee as the last sports writer standing.

These moves are part of McClatchy’s newsroom reinvention, McClatchy being the company that owns the Sun Herald and 30 other newspapers.

The reinvention includes a change made after I retired. Sun Herald page designers were assigned to the three regional hubs that serve all the McClatchy newspapers. The former Sun Herald designers work on pages for other papers and do it from the Gulfport office or at home.

The pressroom became history last month, with the newspaper being printed in Jackson instead of at the Gulfport plant. That change means earlier deadlines because Jackson is three hours away.

The emphasis is on digital and I like digital. I just wish I could remember the password for my sunherald.com subscription.

I don’t know if Magee has to take calls or read emails from digital subscribers needing password help, but I’m sure he will continue to do a fine job covering sports and I wish him all the best.

Actually, he does a fantastic job. Hell, he wrote all three stories for Wednesday’s sports front.

The picture running with this quality piece of blogging was taken outside the Chevron Mart at the corner of Railroad Street and Kelly Avenue in Gulfport on Wednesday afternoon. It must have been a good day for the Sun Herald because there were no copies inside the Chevron Mart.

I also wish Scott, James and Ochs all the best. Ochs just needs to work on improving his taste in music (Huey Lewis? Really?) and pizza (Imo’s? Yuck! ).

I’m not sure what James and Scott will do next. I have an idea for them.

They can both create the newsroom version of “Barney Miller” for Netflix.

They have years of comedic newspaper material. I can’t wait to see who might play Fish and Wojo.

Phooey on all the hype for Dong Phuong king cakes

This screen grab promotes king cake season at Dong Phuong in New Orleans. DONG PHUONG FACEBOOK PAGE

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

I’m sick and tired of reading all the craziness involving New Orleans East Vietnamese bakery Dong Phuong and its fab king cakes.

Back when the 2018 king cake season was calm, my daughter got one at a Dong Phuong off-site in Mandeville a couple of weeks ago and said it’s the best  she’s ever had.

I’m happy for her and unhappy for me.

I wanted to get one of my own on Monday so I drove from Gulfport and took scenic Old Highway 90, also known as The Jayne Mansfield Memorial Road, in hopes of getting a cream cheese king cake for $16 at 14207 Chef Menteur Highway.

I arrived at Dong Phuong at 4 p.m., walked through the front door and saw a barren bakery. Nothing. Nada. No king cakes at all. Sold out.

Son of a brioche.

I suffered in silence while taking the back roads home. Old Highway 90 runs through Lake Catherine Island, the home of fishing camps and their creative signage, and I stopped a couple of times to take pictures.

This sign on Highway 90 is just east of New Orleans East. JOHN E. BIALAS
This sign on Highway 90 is just east of New Orleans East. JOHN E. BIALAS

The fish camps are just minutes from Lake Pontchartrain, the Rigolets, Lake Borgne and the Biloxi Marsh, and the waters are loaded with redfish, trout, flounder, drum and sheepshead. I wish they would also be loaded with Dong Phuong cream cheese, cinnamon and pecan king cakes.

One of the fishing camps on Lake Catherine Island displays the logo of a New Orleans soft drink company. JOHN E. BIALAS
One of the fishing camps on Lake Catherine Island displays the logo of a New Orleans soft drink company. JOHN E. BIALAS

When I stopped to take pictures, I didn’t dilly dally because I feared a gator might cross the highway and attack me. I was right in the middle of a swamp or a bayou or what have you and I wanted to be home for dinner.

The next three days, the Dong Phuong sugar hit the fan.

I blame the James Beard Foundation. The bakery was named one of the winners of the James Beard America’s Classic awards on Jan. 18. Since then, the popularity of the Dong Phuong king cakes has skyrocketed to the point that demand has overwhelmed the business this week.

A Dong Phuong Facebook post Tuesday said, “We will no longer be taking online orders. King Cakes are now ONLY available for walk-in purchase at the Bakeshop through Lundi Gras!”

Lundi Gras is the Monday before Mardi Gras on Feb. 13.

I suppose that’s a good thing, because The New Orleans Advocate reported on Wednesday that “the bakery has even heard reports of people buying their king cakes to resell at inflated prices – essentially, king cake scalping.”

A $14 king cake was going for $60. I would like to see where that transaction went down. Venetian Isles? The 24/7 Fort Pike boat launch? Outside Mr. Bubbles on the West Bank?

On Thursday, Dong Phuong suspended deliveries to other retailers, such as the Mandeville business where my daughter bought her king cake.

Dong Phuong said on Tuesday it would stop deliveries and the news led to an entertaining thread on Reddit where 107 comments were posted.

Someone under the name DongPhuongDriver  kicked off the thread with a “PSA” that cited “multiple fist fights at locations we deliver to, and King Cake fraud with our pick up orders.”

OK, I’ve had enough.

I’ll take my business to Nonna Randazzo’s, which is just a few minutes from my daughter’s office in Covington.

Randazzo’s has excellent king cakes and tasty Mardi Gras layer cakes as well.

I’ll go there next week and get a Mardi Gras cake.

And I promise I won’t scalp it.

 

 

 

 

Fondest memory of old Gulfport Shipley doughnut shop

Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. LOCALS LOVES US
Shipley Do-Nuts has stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. LOCALS LOVE US

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

My fondest memory of the old Gulfport Shipley doughnut shop goes all the way back to when I was a member of the Mississippi Air National Guard from 1971 to 1976.

After I checked in for weekend duty at the base in Bayou View, it was time for me and a couple of other Guardsmen to drive down the street to Shipley, where we would hang out and then ride through the neighborhood before it was time to go to lunch.

I thought the Shipley doughnuts were the best around,  and my favorites were the good ol’ glazed and the paczki kind filled with chocolate or vanilla icing.

The doughnut trips were the only good thing I experienced in my long and boring National Guard career, and it’s amazing none of us was caught being MIA from working on what looked like Korean War-era generators at a time the Vietnam War was still being fought.

I was lucky our unit was never activated. I didn’t want to go to Vietnam. I was a war dodger, though never a doughnut dodger.

The Gulfport Shipley was at Hewes Avenue and Pass Road, but it’s long gone from what it is now one the city’s ugliest strip malls about one mile north of Highway 90 and the beach. When I drive past there on my way home, I always think of what it used to be like.

The Dizzy Dean fast-food restaurant was right across the street and Tastee Donuts, also a favorite, was at Courthouse Road and Pass Road.

The reason I bring up my fondest Shipley memory is that the company is looking to make a long-awaited return to the Biloxi-Gulfport market, according to a story in the Sun Herald.

I’ve been to the Shipley shop in Hattiesburg, the closest to the Mississippi Coast, and to ones in Houston and Starkville, but my last trip was in 2005.

I’m hoping my next trip will be much  closer to home.

 

Frozen tundra in Broadmoor on this hysteric day

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor News Bureau

After I observed the online hysteria over the freezing weather that was in South Mississippi on Wednesday, I took a walk at 3 p.m. in our Gulfport neighborhood of Broadmoor and noticed many yards with frozen tundra.

Frozen tundra? In Broadmoor?

I’ve heard that Lambeau Field in Green Bay has it, but that could be an urban myth. I do know the Rocky Mountains have it because I saw it last summer.

It’s a rare sight here, though we got it for the even rarer second time in the same season, though the first time I was unable to see it because I was bed-ridden with the flu. That was in December, when I also missed the snow.

So it was nice to get out Wednesday for a stroll from the hood to the beach, where it was sunny and a balmy 34 degrees, a heat wave compared to the 20 degrees at noon and the record-setting low of 14  hours earlier.

During my walk, I knew it was getting warmer because a brown bagger was stumbling to the light from the shadows along Kelly Avenue. We had something in common: It was our first time outside after hours of staying inside.

This is some of the tundra I saw during my walk.

In front of a home on East Avenue. JOHN E. BIALAS
In front of a home on East Avenue. JOHN E. BIALAS
The corner of Broadmoor Place and Magnolia Place. JOHN E. BIALAS
The corner of Broadmoor Place and Magnolia Place. JOHN E. BIALAS
Our driveway. JOHN E. BIALAS
Our driveway. JOHN E. BIALAS
In Tilly's dog run. Tilly tundra. JOHN E. BIALAS
In Tilly’s dog run. Tilly tundra. JOHN E. BIALAS

My fascination with the Broadmoor tundra is probably just the interest of one man, the man being me.

Ice scrapin’ was the frenzy that went widespread on social media. Many lifelong Southerners had to improvise when it came to scrapin’ ice from their cars and trucks because they don’t have a legit ice scraper.

Check out this Facebook post from Tammy Smith of the Sun Herald.

Tammy used a plastic spatula and turned her experience into a story.

Sun Herald news editor Lauren Walck shared the story on Twitter and showed a photo of how she handled ice before driving.

“The one time it pays to have Yankee parents that put an ice scraper in your glove box,” Lauren tweeted.

Yeah, a legit scraper, or as Lauren said, “A whole new meaning to Scrapin’ the Coast.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to get a free copy of ‘Fire and Fury’

JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

I found an easy way to get a free copy of “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolff’s new book about the first year of the Trump administration.

Just hit this link: “Fire and Fury” for free.

It will give you a PDF of the book, which debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times nonfiction list with record-setting first-week sales for its publisher,

The source of the PDF is www.alfredojalife.com, and that might be the website of 69-year-old Mexican journalist Alfredo Jalife-Rahme.

My biggest fear is www.alfredojalife.com is some kind of s—hole Russian operative tracking my laptop, which I used to read the first chapter of the book, so I may just have to skim through the rest of it and then clear my history.

My biggest Festivus grievance this year

You can rent this Santa if you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Santa  is my biggest Festivus grievance this year, and I’m not talking about the real Claus.

I’m talking about the men who pass themselves off as Professional Santa Impersonators. Yeah, that’s a job category and I’ve seen it in print.

Santas are everywhere on the web.

Gigmasters.com says you can book the perfect Santa in your hometown.

SantaForHire.com promises to make your season bright at home and office parties and other holiday events.  Their Santas are so professional, they will sweat out Christmas in July.

The Best Santa Claus Agency says it will make your event memorable for both children and adults.

Rent Santa DFW is in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. You can hire a black Santa, an ethnic Santa, a jolly Santa and a DFW Santa. I wonder if the DFW Santa resembles Jerry Jones.

All you St. Nicks, I don’t care if you’re a pro or an amateur or an impersonator.

Just be the best Santa you can be.

Pay to see Gulfport holiday lights? Bah humbug!

This is the third year for the Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

The third annual Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival at Jones Park is beautiful and helps set the holiday mood.

I’m just not willing to pay the cash-only $10 admission fee to see the lovely display of multicolored lights. I ain’t goin’ to do it. Bah humbug!

I can do a drive-by for free. I can head west on Highway 90, look left and admire the lights or I can head east on 90, look right and admire the lights.

The show hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., so I can drive by as many times as I want for four hours a night.

The festival should be free. Certainly the city and Island View Casino, two of the sponsors, can afford to pony up enough money to present a free show for all.

They should make this  a Christmas gift to the Mississippi Coast.

Once you pay admission to get in Jones Park, you also have to pay if you want tickets  for rides such as Santa’s Big Wheel and the Merry Go Round Carousel. It’ll cost you even more if you also want concession items.

When I’m not doing a free drive-by, I’ll stay home and be the hermit of my hood in Gulfport. If I feel like  looking at Christmas lights, I’ll take a walk and enjoy my neighbors’ creative displays.

The hood has been known to have such events as Festivus and to have such attractions as Santa’s Outhouse.

And it never costs me a thing.

This pole was part of the Festivus observance in my hood in 2013.
This pole was part of the Festivus observance in my hood in 2013. JOHN E. BIALAS
Santa's Outhouse is on 22nd Street. JOHN E. BIALAS
Santa’s Outhouse is on 22nd Street. JOHN E. BIALAS

Gulfport pressmen did a fine job and they will be missed

Pressmen are going the way of the typewriter, never to be seen again.

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

I saw the news on social media Wednesday that the pressmen I know will no longer be printing the newspaper in Gulfport beginning Jan. 15.

Their jobs will be outsourced. One of the pressmen is Gary, my next-door neighbor. His wife, Lisa, also works at the paper, from which I retired in March after a long newsroom life in which I was a sportswriter, weekend sports editor, interim copy desk chief, copy editor and slot editor.

I’ve always enjoyed my conversations with Gary and Lisa.

Of all the pressmen, I’ve known Todd the best and the longest.

Todd is a funny guy. He’s a character.  He can grow a beard that makes him look like Santa Claus.

Sometimes he would drive through my neighborhood with his friend Mark, who worked in the camera room, and Todd and Mark would throw empty beer bottles in my front yard.

As a member of the copy desk who checked the paper every night, I would call Todd to tell him whether a page would be re-sent to fix a head bust or factual error.

He would answer, “Johnny B!”

Sometimes I would say, “Uh, I’ve got a remake.”

Todd would say, “You have a comma out of place? Is that why you are re-sending the page?”

We would laugh, although I remember the days from long ago when you could re-send as many pages as you wanted and they would stop the press so that the remade pages would show up in print.

Eventually, it took an act of Congress to stop the press and the only way to expect the remake to get into print would be a web break, something that has nothing to do with the internet.

I re-sent so many pages in my career, I became known as “Captain Remake.”

When I saw the news about the outsourcing, I also thought of Dean and Matt and Rat and Brett and Charlie, friendly guys like Gary and Todd.

One pressman, who will go unnamed, enjoyed writing on the monthly employee birthday list posted in the break room and at the time clocks. What he would do was a merry prank and people got a kick out of it.

For example, he might scratch out the first name of  a reporter with the last name of “Lee” and write “Robert E.” in place of the first name. A guy named Charlie James would be “LeBron.”

I like to think I got along with pressmen because my Dad was one when he was young, or maybe he worked with pressmen. I’m not really sure what his printing job was.

I believe he worked at R.R. Donnelley in Chicago before he fought in World War II.  The company is the world’s largest commercial printer.

Other pressmen I’ve known are Bob, who passed away a few years ago; Stennis, who was a jogger; Brian, a hockey fan from Canada; and Mr. Melancon, whose son attended my high school.

I believe the grandfather of one of my longtime friends, David Lawrence, was a pressman at the paper many decades ago, long before I ever worked there. I think Mr. Bills was David’s grandfather. Bills was not his first name. It was his last name.

Ink is in my blood because of guys like Gary and Todd.

All of them have done a fine job for many years. They will be missed.

 

Save the Great Southern Golf Club in Gulfport

The Great Southern Golf Club in Gulfport opened in 1908 as a nine-hole course and expanded to 18 in 1922.

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Save the Great Southern Golf Club in Gulfport.

Paul Hampton of the Sun Herald reported Tuesday that “the Great Southern Golf Club, the oldest course in Mississippi, could become a housing development if the club that owns the course sells it. But the president of the club and the course superintendent said they want it to remain a golf club.

“They believe most of the stockholders agree.”

You can go right here to read the rest of the story.

I have sentimental reasons for the Great Southern, a scenic spot that offers beach views, to remain a golf course instead of becoming a housing development.
My parents bought a house at 221 Venetian Gardens in 1964, and the house, which survived Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is right next to the course. The back yard is the seventh hole, a par 3.
When we were junior high and high school students, my brother Mike and I would sneak on the course before twilight to play three holes before the club pro, Charlie Webb, would try to chase us down in his European sports car.
Ol’ Charlie never caught us. We would hide on the back porch as he looked for us.
Other times, Mike and I would play football on Saturday afternoons with our friends on the fairway of the second hole and we would get irritated when golfers delayed our game as they hit chip shots to the green.
I’ve got other memories. The Mary Mills Classic was an LPGA Tour stop named for the Gulfport golf star, and we would watch some of the best players in the world try to birdie the seventh hole.
My most memorable moment living next to the course was the summer afternoon I heard a booming voice as I was watching a major-league baseball telecast in the living room.
I recognized the voice. It was distinctive.
I ran outside, and the man with the booming voice was in a foursome that included Gulfport attorney Boyce Holleman. Holleman’s group was putting on the seventh green and his partner was Dizzy Dean. Yes, that Dizzy Dean.
As he was walking off the green, I got Dizzy’s autograph and to this day I’m amazed I got to meet him in our back yard.
We lived near College Park, a neighborhood known for streets named after famous golfers because the area is close to the course. Palmer Drive. Demaret Drive. Middlecoff Drive. Ford Street. Sarazen Drive. Snead Street.
I stopped living at home in 1976, and years later, a fence was built to keep young rubes from sneaking on the course.
I take pride in believing that the fence was probably built because of what we did as teens.

 The Sun Herald reported that “the almost 130-acre site and clubhouse is listed by broker Lenny Sawyer for $9,750,000. The sale brochure pitches it as prime beachfront land for residential redevelopment with the highest beachfront elevations on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

A potential buyer is interested is making the course a residential area and the club’s stockholders are considering the buyer’s offer.

The stockholders will likely have a vote in January on the offer.

Please, save the course.