Make old Gulfport VA like Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

I thought of the old Gulfport VA property last week when I made a day trip to Baton Rouge, with Perkins Rowe my last stop before I went back home.

Perkins Rowe is a mixed-used development that the old Gulfport VA, now Centennial Plaza, should become.

I’d like the beachfront area on Highway 90 to become the best Coast hub for shopping, dining and movies once the Holiday Inn Resort, Centennial Plaza’s first major anchor tenant, becomes reality on the site that was a Veterans Administration medical center until it was shut down in 2005 because of Hurricane Katrina.

Ten historic Spanish Colonial Revival buildings, half going back to the 1920s, remain and two of them will become part of the Holiday Inn Resort.

Once the hotel is complete, developers should bring some Perkins Rowe flair to Centennial Plaza.

Here’s what I saw at Perkins Rowe and all these fine examples of quality photo journalism are mine.

Quite a landmark

Starbucks inside spacious B&N

Better looking than your Gulfport Cinemark

Lit well

Walkable

Pizza!!!

 

The trip to Baton Rouge was my first since 1993, and if Centennial Plaza never becomes the Perkins Rowe of the Coast, I will know where to stop the next time I’m in Red Stick.

And I won’t wait another 25 years to go back.

Last week, I also made two stops on Government Street, which is north of Perkins Rowe and reminds me of Midtown Memphis.

One of the Government Street stops was for a cheeseburger, fries and root beer.

Curbside

The other stop was to scout an old pizza joint.

Fleur de Lis Cocktail Lounge

I didn’t go inside Fleur de Lis, also known as The Pink Palace of Roman Pie, because I was on my way to Curbside, but now I can’t wait to try the pizza.

It’s been three weeks since my last pizza, so I’m revving up plans for the next Baton Rouge trip.

 

In retirement, print work is a nightmare

JOHN HAIN/PIXABAY

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

I’ve been retired from my Sun Herald newspaper job in Gulfport, Miss., for more than a year, but I have work-related anxiety every night resulting from dreams of things going wrong at press time.

Some have to do with my computer locking up right before deadline in my work as a slot editor. Others are about page design in which I can never find an image to run with a story after hours of wasted searching.

Because of this, my teeth grind and my nerves wrack.  And once I sense calm, the feeling goes away. I hear an uptight editor yell at me to “SEND THE DAMN PAGE,” even though I’m dreaming that we have more than two hours before the presses start.

The bane of a sportswriter's existence in the 1980s. FLICKR
The bane of a sportswriter’s existence in the 1980s. FLICKR

I also have stressful dreams about covering sports, which I did for many years before moving to the editing side, and the sports dreams are about using a second-hand 20th-century Teleram Portabubble to transmit stories from  football, basketball and baseball games to my office during the 21st century.

The Portabubble was a portable computer and it haunts me more than 30 years after I last used one. I’m now jealous of sportswriters who have the pleasure of just emailing their stories.

The keyboard on a Portabubble was used to type a story and once the story was complete, a classic telephone handset was placed into acoustic couplers for delivery to the sports desk.

Sounds easy, but it wasn’t. I once shoved a handset so hard into the couplers that I might have damaged the Portabubble. All but the keys and the tiny screen were useless. The story would not bubble in unless I could reach a Teleram tech.

Good luck with that because it was 10:30 on a Wednesday night  in 1983 in the South Mississippi mini-metroplex of Wade-Hurley.

I ended up having to dictate my story to the frustration of the guy receiving the dictation.

A colleague the previous week also had to dictate because of a technical problem and then faced the embarrassment  of being summoned to the editor’s office two days later for a Portabubble demonstration.  The editor wanted to see what the sportswriter did wrong, but keep in mind the editor himself didn’t know how to use it. His point was to make the sportswriter look bad and feel worse.

Can’t blame the boss for expecting nothing but successful results from his investment, but the thing looked like it came from a pawn shop on Highway 49.

Somebody on eBay is trying to sell a Portabubble print ad right now for the ridiculous price of $14.95 plus shipping, but that may sound like a bargain to you if you’re nostalgic for pieces of crap.

My latest dream was about a night in which I went to distribution, on the first floor in back of the plant, to check the paper in my role as the slot editor. Copies of the paper roll into distribution from the second-floor pressroom starting at midnight and copies are gathered for carriers to bring to readers.

I check the paper for spelling in headlines, captions and other display type, and I end up missing a headline bust.

A pressroom guy ignores me about it, goes right to a distribution guy who knows nothing about editing and the pressroom guy tells the distribution guy, “Hey, there’s a misspelled headline. It’s supposed to be Ohio, not Ohi. Go ahead and fix that.”

Hey! WTH!

I go to the press guy and tell him, “That’s not distribution’s job. That’s my job. If you have any problems with headlines, you come to me and I’ll take care of them. I’m going to fix Ohi right now.”

I go back to my desk in the newsroom and get ready to use my computer to make the fix, but it turns out that my computer is frozen. It stays that way for 30 minutes, which is a lifetime when the pressroom is waiting for a remake.

Once my computer is unlocked, I make the correction and call the pressroom, and the press guy tells me, “We already have it. Distribution took care of it 25 minutes ago.”

WTF!

There is a bright side to this tale: I don’t have to go to work today, tomorrow, next week or even next year.

The dark side? The next workplace nightmare is coming around 3 a.m.

Image credit: JOHN HAIN/PIXABAY

 

Coast doughnut shops grow to more than 2 dozen

The new Ana's Donuts is at the corner of Pass Road and Washington Avenue in Gulfport. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

The list of doughnut shops on the Mississippi Coast has grown to 30 and one of the newest is the soon-to-open Dunkin’ on Highway 49 in Gulfport.

But I don’t care about Dunkin’. I prefer Ana’s Donuts, the new place at the corner of Pass Road and Washington Avenue in Gulfport.

I like Ana’s, whose neighbors are Domino’s and Cajun’s, even though I’ve made just one visit so far.

Ana’s is in an old building that has been the home of numerous businesses, and one of the most forgettable was Liberty Pizza many years ago. The doughnuts at Ana’s are far superior to the pizza that Liberty served in its brief time at one of the city’s busiest corners.

When I went to Ana’s, I got apple fritter bites, which are bigger than your regular bites. I got three and the third one was free. All were very good and I would like to get more.

I also picked up a menu and part of it is reproduced right here just for you.

The menu at Ana's Donuts includes Bavarian cream-filled doughnuts, Boston cream doughnuts and Bavarian cream doughnut holes. JOHN E. BIALAS
The menu at Ana’s Donuts includes Bavarian cream-filled doughnuts, Boston cream doughnuts and Bavarian cream doughnut holes. JOHN E. BIALAS

I think Ana’s could become my second go-to doughnut place right behind Daylight Donuts on Pass Road near 25th Avenue in Gulfport. Daylight is a family favorite, so much so that we stopped at a Daylight in the downtown of a small Colorado town last summer while we were on vacation. It reminded us of home as we ate our share of glazed twists and drank chocolate milk.

I’ve come up with a list of other Coast doughnut shops, and if I have made an omission, left me know ASAP.

BILOXI

Dunkin’ at the corner of Pass Road and Eisenhower Drive.

Dunkin’ at Cedar Lake Road.

Dunkin’ at Hard Rock Hotel.

Fantasy Donuts on Pass Road.

Angkor Donuts on Shriners Boulevard.

Electrik Maid on Pass Road.

D’IBERVILLE

Glazed Donuts on Sangani Boulevard (the Boulevard of Dreams).

GULFPORT

Krispy Kreme on Highway 49.

Kreamy Donuts on Broad Avenue.

Jelly Donuts and Kolaches on Highway 49.

Quality Bakery on 25th Avenue.

LONG BEACH

Long Beach Donuts on Beatline Road.

King Donuts on Klondyke Road.

OCEAN SPRINGS

Tato-Nut on Government Street.

Ocean Springs Donuts on Government.

Krispy Kreme on Bienville Boulevard.

Simply Donuts on Old Spanish Trail.

GAUTIER

Luxury Donuts on Highway 90.

Jelly Donuts and Kolaches on Highway 90.

PASCAGOULA

Delicious Donuts on 14th Street.

Anderson’s Bakery on Market Street.

MOSS POINT

Doughboy Donuts on Highway 63.

Sunshine Donuts on Highway 613.

VANCLEAVE

Lou-Joe’s on Highway 57.

BAY ST. LOUIS

Grammys Donuts and More on Highway 90.

DIAMONDHEAD

D.H. Donuts on East Aloha Drive.

KILN

Daylight Donuts on Highway 63.

ON THE MAP

I also have a Bing locator map showing the names of 10 doughnut shops that I mentioned.

If you are a dough nut like me, eat them if you got them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 5 saddest songs on The Captain’s Spotify

Editor’s note by John E. Bialas: The 5 saddest songs on The Captain’s Spotify is the second part in a series about his play list. The first part was published Feb. 28 and it features disco, dance and funk. Part 2 shows The Cap’s melancholy side.

By CAPTAIN TENACIOUS
Special to the Broadmoor Bureau

I can’t be the upbeat 24-hour bar-hopping guy I used to be because I’m three years away from my favorite birthday number, which is 69, and I get bombed and rejected at 66 years old more often than I did when I was 22.

The young lovelies who ignore my glances and advances mean a lot of lonely nights for me at home in Gulfport, Miss., and these are the songs on my Spotify that remind me I’m among all the lonely people.

 

The first song was the suggestion of Young Miami Dave, who responded to a Facebook request: What songs do you think are on The Captain’s Spotify play list?

The other picks are mine and the one stands out is “Lonesome Loser” because it reminds me of one of my worst dates.

A hippie chick went on a Little River Band date with me after I bought tickets for both of us, and even before LRB started playing the set, the girl slipped out of the auditorium with another guy.  I never saw her again.

She missed out. I would have bought her a T-shirt after the concert if she had stayed with me.

That night, I was the Lonesome Loser and when I got home, I was all by myself.

Image credit: A screen grab of Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself” on YouTube.

Getting down and dirty with The Captain’s Spotify

The Trammps perform "Disco Inferno." YOUTUBE

Editor’s note by John E. Bialas: I asked Facebook friends last week to name the songs they think are on Captain Tenacious’ Spotify play list, and I enjoyed all the selections because they fit the persona of the retired sportswriter: Most Experienced Playboy in the Western World, 1979 Disco Dancing World Finalist, 1984 Pensacola Twist Contest Winner, 1994 Mississippi Breakdancing Champion, Legend in His Own Dirty Mind and Master of the Quadruple Entendre. Today, he writes about songs on his Spotify list in this quality piece of fine journalism.

By CAPTAIN TENACIOUS
Special to the Broadmoor Bureau

I saw all the Facebook submissions and all of them fit my personality and taste in music.

All the selections are spot-on. They are always streaming on my Spotify, and anyone who knows me knows how much I love streaming if you get my drift.

Thirty-five songs were posted  on John’s Facebook and my story features 10 of them.

I am listing each pick  this way: The first name of the person who submitted the song, the song on YouTube and my comments below the video.

Freddie

In 1975, the year the song came out, the ladies called me “The Hustler” for my moves on and off the dance floor.

One more from Freddie

Reminds me of the nights at the Fiesta in Biloxi, where I mixed poppers with Jacks and Cokes.

Mike

Whoa baby! Funk me!

Slim

My kicks are fast as lightning, although I’m more of a lover than a fighter.

Judy

That’s the way I like it, connotations and all.

Derek

I can relate to these words: “If morning’s echo says we’ve sinned,
it was what I wanted now.” I say this to myself lying in bed alone and thinking of a Twin Peaks girl.

Kristin

This song is preparing me for my Roman and Mediterranean holiday in April, when I’ll be on my Continental Love cruise where I hope to meet the Gina Lollobrigida, the Claudia Cardinale and the Monica Vitti of my dreams.

Gene

Yep, I am a hugging and kissing fiend.

George

I got a gal, she lives on the block, she is kind of funky with her pink and black socks.

Hannah

The ear worm I get from this song is “Stand Really Close to Me.” Close counts.

This ain’t no disco

One song that will never make my list is “Dirty Boulevard” by Lou Reed.

I remember the time I was riding in a car with a couple of other sportswriters and that song was playing. It was ear-splitting and headache-making.

I yelled, “What the hell is that crap? Change the station.”

It turns out the song was blaring from a cassette player and not the radio.

No disco! Son of a bitch!

Image credit: The Trammps perform “Disco Inferno.” This is a YouTube screen grab.

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.”