Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sex With a Dog? The Caddo Commission Must Act!

Kennel worker: arrested for having sex with dog
The problems at Caddo Parish Animal Services have been epic and have gained national attention for the neglect, abuse, and high-kill rate that is ongoing at this facility.

Many of the neglect issues are documented here in this post.

One would think that it couldn't get much worse, but one would be mistaken. Consider the latest news this week that a CPAS worker has now been arrested for "crimes against nature," specifically, having sex with a dog while a co-worker filmed the event. Via KSLA news:

A Caddo Parish Animal Shelter kennel worker is out on bond after her arrest on a charge of crimes against nature and a former CPAS employee is accused of recording the act on video.  
According to Shreveport City Jail booking records, 24-year-old Celina Ann Cabrera of Shreveport was arrested Friday after police investigated a report that she had sex with a dog and that she had videos of the act. A former CPAS employee was also arrested Friday in connection with the case. 41-year-old Booker Talioterro Thomas, Jr. of Shreveport was booked into the Shreveport City Jail, charged with principal to crimes against nature.  
Booking details indicate Booker recorded Cabrera having sex with his dog. Caddo Parish Public Information Officer Krystle Grindley initially said Monday that Cabrera was placed on administrative leave immediately after the commission was made aware of the arrest, but later confirmed that Cabrera had already been on leave since February 15. 

What is it going to take for the Caddo Parish Commission to do something about this place?

Was it not embarrassing and disgraceful enough when a large national rescue came in and cited terrible neglect, starving dogs, and horrendous facilities as rationale for pulling dozens of dogs from this facility?

It wasn't enough that several dogs over several weeks were "accidentally euthanized" after being tagged for rescue?

It wasn't enough that at least one dog starved to death in his kennel?

It wasn't enough that the agency failed to bring charges against a man who sicced his dog on a hungry stray who wandered into his yard - this dog then died from her injuries. No charges filed.

It wasn't enough that they held a sick and injured dog, refusing to let her owner reclaim her until the four day hold was up?

Now this?

Is THIS enough?

The Caddo Commission must act to regain the public's trust in this issue. The leadership and operation of this facility must be changed immediately.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Celebration of Sicilian Heritage in Shreveport Hosted by Norla at Red River Brewing

Norla: Love Your Sicilian History
On February 19, the Norla Preservation Project hosted an amazing event at Red River Brewing in Shreveport in which four Sicilian Shreveport families shared stories, memories, memorabilia, and history in a panel discussion to a large crowd.

If you've been in Shreveport longer than five minutes, you can't miss the profound effect that these families, and many others of Sicilian descent, have made on this city.  Their restaurants, grocery stores, and other businesses are legendary and even more profound, their work ethic, their love of family, and their spirit, has made Shreveport a better place to be. They became business owners, doctors, lawyers, writers, clergy, accountants, you name it.

Many of these families migrated to Shreveport through New Orleans. As you will see in Joe Fertitta's speech below, many were escaping civil strife and a poor economy in Italy. They came to America for opportunity and they became productive, working citizens. Then they became employers, many opening their own businesses. They shared their culture with their new country and they assimilated into the fabric of society while still keeping close their family ties and communities.

The event had a standing room only turnout. There were delicious home-made Italian cookies and
Pre-event beer tasting
iced tea. You could, of course, also choose from one of the many fine craft beers on tap at Red River and a dollar from each beer sale was donated to Norla. (If anyone has the recipe for those cookies that were jam filled, send it to me, please!)

The panel opened with Lynn Mandina who spoke about her family memories, many of which centered around food. Her family lived in Oil City. She and Vita Gregoria tag-teamed their discussion as one memory often provoked another one. They had plenty of memorabilia on a display table next to the panel filled with family photos, books, and documents to share with the audience.

Joe Fertitta was the third speaker and focused primarily on the restaurant industry. I was a bit late in starting my video of his discussion, but he was kind enough to share his notes with me and so I have transcribed the video for you and filled in the beginning that I missed on tape.  Joe and his family have been major contributors to the restaurant and grocery industry in Shreveport.

Here is Joe's speech:
Early Migration of Italians and Sicilians to Louisiana began in the 1870's after the unification of Italy by Giuseppe Garibaldi an Italian general, politician and nationalist. After the unification, Sicily was left with a failing economy, its fishing and agricultural economy had little or no industry while the northern part of Italy grew with the industrial revolution of the 19th century.  
This led to the migration of job seeking immigrants in the rural south who were trying to rebuild their economy after the civil war. New Orleans was the port of entry for many of our Sicilian ancestors and as they were able to find work, many of them went from workers, to employers of others as they established their own businesses as farmers, fishermen, laborers in the trades of plumbing, electrical, and construction businesses and as distributors of the food products these families looked for in their new country.  
Fertitta Family
 From the growth of these endeavors, grocery stores, restaurants and boarding houses that served meals to their boarders led to a thriving food service business in New Orleans and surrounding areas.  
Later some of these families migrated to Shreveport, Alexandria, and Monroe. One of these food distributors was Charles Pisciotto, a small family distributor, who drove a truck from New Orleans to north Louisiana and sold his wares from the back of the truck, going house to house to sell to the Sicilian families in each city.  
 Another company was the Uddo & Taormino Importers. Their office and warehouse was in the French Quarter at the corner of St. Ann and Chartres Street next door to Saint Louis Cathedral. They later expanded their products to grocery stores in the New Orleans area and throughout the state and their brands, Little King Pasta, Flag Brand Olive Oil, and Progresso brands still survive today and are still distributed under the Progresso Brand labels.  
 In Shreveport these foods were the basis of the early Sicilian food sources that led to the growth of corner stores, that also served hot lunches to working men in our city. Many were small corner grocery stores that served some basic homemade foods and later became restaurants: The Despot Family bought the Columbia Cafe on Market Street in 1927. Although the family was not of Sicilian descent they were an early forerunner of the following great restaurants:  
 Mr. Joe Brocato's Spring Street Restaurant. It was relocated and later moved to Kings Highway and called the Stopmoor Restaurant. Its menu featured steak and seafood, and the everlasting staple, spaghetti and meatballs. The location is still open as the Stone Fork Restaurant.  
Tony Sansone and Vito Cefalu opened Sansone’s also on Kings Highway. This fine dining establishment expanded the menu to include many gourmet Italian and French
Family photos
Ernest and Gladys Palmissano who came from New Orleans…worked downtown as a bartender at the Gardener Hotel. Later he opened up a place in a building called Le Chat Noir, The Black Cat, corner of Kings and Youree, corner to the west of there. They ran that business for several years then he moved to the riverfront and he opened up the Shreve Landing Club with Orlando Hawkins, his financial backer and then later they turned it in to Ernest’s Supper Club and the Stable Club which later became Dino's and Italian Restaurant that was owned by Anthony Maniscalco.  
There was The Florentine Club, a grand Victorian mansion owned by the J. V. Sclifo family, classiest restaurant in the city of Shreveport – candlelight dinners, white tablecloths, and two guys playing piano: Ferrante and Tiecher. That’s where they got their start, in Louisiana. Mr. Ferrante actually lived in Shreveport until about 1966 or ’65. He moved to Florida. They continued to tour, he and Teicher, both of them are now dead, but they started here in Shreveport on Austin Place.  
You had the Joe Dolce family; they owned the Picadilly Restaurant located on the corner of Snow Street and Louisiana right across the street from the Union Station, the Kansas City Southern Railroad. Upstairs was the Rio Hotel [laughter] …they had those cute girls out there, I remember…they used to deliver food down there too.  
Then you had Greco’s Restaurant, corner of Mansfield Road and Kings Highway. Mr. Greco later moved from there out to the lakefront, Cross Lake. He opened a place there called Greco’s and then it later became the Aid Station, it’s been through several different changes along there but Jimmy Rosso ran that for a while, Jimmy Sr.  
Also, near Kings Highway, you had right where the BioMedical Center is today, there was a drive-in CaliBurger – fifteen cent burgers. You know where the idea came from? Mr. Joe Tempa; he had been out in California, he had seen it, and he was actually the original McDonalds with the fifteen-cent burger!  
The Pedro Family opened a restaurant on Linwood Avenue and Wilkerson Street. Phillip Pedro and his son Sam were the proprietors. The building featured a basement Rathskeller bar that served drinks and had live entertainment.  
Charlie Rinaudo, the original Mirror Steakhouse, started right down the street here on the corner of Louisiana and Short Line – it’s called Fairfield now, part of Fairfield. Later he moved to the corner of Kings and Highland into a former movie theater that he renovated. A large glass etching done by a Shreveport artist by the name of Minor Vinck graced the dining room.  
 From there, moving on to some of the other families, my family owned a grocery store, it’s still there, on the corner of 1124 Fairfield, it used to be Powell Street, my grandfather started in 1927, my father took it over after the war in 1947 and my sister is still running it today, it’s the oldest family owned grocery, or business, in the city in that area.  

Memorabilia Table
After apprenticing in Baton Rouge at Leon's Italian Kitchen, the Village, and in New Orleans at Brennan's Restaurant, Joe and Mickey Fertitta opened, L'Italy Ristorante at 6301 Line Avenue in 1970...the name later changed to Fertitta's 6301 Restaurant, and in 2010 became the Anvil Restaurant Bar & Grill. Other restaurants opened by Joe Fertitta included, Central Station Restaurant and Railroad Museum, The Medical Corporation Food & Spirits, and The Huddle Club in Shreve Square. 
 The Cariere and Rosso families started Monjuni’s restaurant, their families both put out a lot of good food.  
Giuseppe Bruca came to Shreveport in 1976. All Sicilians. Where Ernest’s is today that was called Gambrinos. Vincent Campanella a cousin of Giuseppe, opened Firenze and Olive Street Bistro. That family, the Giacalone Brothers, now own Chianti and L’Italiano.  
The Cush family opened the Village on Louisiana Street in a quite intimate setting and operated there for many years.  
 Not to be left out of the Culinary scene, Bossier City, had the Spataro Family, they owned the studio Steakhouse, (you and I got thrown out of there before, cuz!), right there on East Texas St just east of the Kickapoo. Those of you who didn’t know the Kickapoo Motel, you could [bunk] for a dollar – it was great. If you couldn’t drive back home just go down there and see Sammy or CJ or Bubba and say I can’t drive they’d say go get a room, throw you in a bed, bunk and sleep it off and you could go home the next morning.  
 And you have Notini’s Restaurant on Airline. I can’t leave my family out, Peter’s. Although it was a grocery store, they make the best Italian sausage in the city.  
All of these were contributions made by the Sicilian families to this area and all of us have been around to enjoy it. I love your story about Sicily – I remember the first time I went there and the carpet rolled out…and I filled up on pasta and I shouldn’t have because there were nine courses after that.

Following the speeches by the panel, there was an extended question and answer period which soon dissolved into a general mingling and spontaneous family reunion by attendees.

Kelly Rich of Norla promises another event soon featuring the Greek heritage in Shreveport. Follow their Facebook page for updates on that.

A rather poor video of Joe Fertitta's speech is below; I apologize for the wobbly-ness of it and the sketchy sound. I was using my phone rather than video camera and was not prepared for how very cool this event was going to be. I wish the entire thing had been professionally recorded.

I would dearly love to see a repeat of this event, extended to more speakers, and I would love for some historian to capture the stories and priceless anecdotes of these families in a book. As we were reminded yesterday: one's heritage is something that must be nurtured and preserved.

If any of the families see this post and want to send me their stories, I'd love to compile them. My email address is in the sidebar or you can contact me through Joe, Jerry, or Mickey Fertitta.

Italians in the Delta: Pioneers of Monroe

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Yesterday Was a Good Day to be Clio

Rusty Brenner and Clio: February 11, 2017
It's been quite a journey, but our Clio now has her hand back.

One day last June, Steve and I were at the Caddo Parish courthouse and noticed that Clio, the Muse of History, part of the Caddo Parish Confederate monument, had a broken hand. It was lying at her feet in several pieces.

The monument was designed by Texas sculptor Frank Teich for the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the early 1900s during the monument building phase of that organization, and now it has been restored by another Texan, Rusty Brenner of Texas Cemetery Restoration in Dallas, Texas.

As soon as the damaged monument was discovered, the alarm went out and the UDC president, Jackie Nichols, was notified.

An investigation was done, cameras were checked, and the culprit was found. A transient trumpet player had climbed over the decorative wrought iron fence, climbed up the steps, climbed atop the busts of Confederate dignitaries, and either pulled himself up with Clio's arm or rested his foot on it while he played. The arm was broken and her hand shattered.

I was dispatched to the security office in the basement of the courthouse to retrieve the pieces of the hand and it was a pretty dismal sight:

Clio's hand as retrieved from security office: June 2016

To add insult to injury, not long after Clio's arm was broken, a vandal threw paint on the monument.

Paint vandalism: 2016

The monument is owned by the Shreveport Chapter #237 United Daughters of the Confederacy and stands on a parcel of land donated to the chapter for use in perpetuity by the Caddo Parish Police Jury. As the police worked their dual investigation into the vandalism, the chapter immediately began collecting estimates and fundraising for the monument repair.

Enter Rusty Brenner of Texas Cemetery Restoration. UDC Chapter president Jackie Nichols found out that Rusty working in Shreveport's historic Oakland cemetery on a couple of large restoration projects and she had him look at Clio's hand; at the time of Rusty's examination, the paint vandalism had not yet occurred.

The arm had been previously broken and poorly repaired and Rusty really wanted to repair the arm properly, stabilizing it, and using more advanced materials than what was used in previous repairs.

Clio: June 2016
I met Rusty at the monument on a blazing hot June morning. I opened the cardboard box and he examined the pieces of the hand and then he scrambled over the fence and examined the entire monument up close. Rusty is a good ol' Texas boy with an easygoing manner and a serious dedication and love for his work.  He fell in love as a teenager with the art of the craftsman while working with his father who had a monument company in Crocket, Texas. By the time he was nineteen he decided to form his own company for the purpose of preservation and restoration of historic cemeteries and monuments, and now his reputation is pure gold.

While Rusty compiled his estimate, the UDC got busy fundraising. Soon a very generous, anonymous donor stepped forward to finance the lion's share of the restoration which would include not just Clio, but also the paint damage. The donor wanted to honor his Confederate ancestor who fought at the Battle of Mansfield and who very likely had attended the monument dedication in 1905.

After all the bids were compiled, the UDC accepted Rusty Brenner's offer and so work to clean and restore the monument began. The TCR crew rented a cherry-picker lift-type vehicle to reach the top of the monument and treated it with a bio-cide which literally works from the inside out, over a period of weeks, to eliminate the algae and discoloration of the monument caused by street traffic, trees, and other agents in the air.

"You see that sort of pink color on the busts," Rusty pointed out to me yesterday. "That will disappear over the next few weeks and get rid of the discoloration" on the monument.

As for the broken arm, he reassembled the hand and then in preparation for reinstalling it on the arm, used a system of braces and clamps while pins and adhesive in the arm hardened.

Clio: February 11, 2017

Then the hand was reapplied.

Clio: February 11, 2017.

By the end of the day yesterday, Clio was once again intact.

Clio: February 11, 2017

As I said, the cleaning process is ongoing as the bio-cide leeches out the staining and discoloration, but Clio is on her way to being almost as good as new. The scroll that was once in her left hand was broken years ago and there is a poor repair job on that left arm. Rusty says he knows a carver that could recreate the scroll and perhaps even redo that entire arm with a scroll for better stability.  There are options.

But that takes more money.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy is committed to the maintenance and restoration of the monument and thanks to their work, the fabulous donors, and Rusty Brenner, it was a good day to be Clio!

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Confederate Battle Flag Rises Again in South Carolina

Old Joe (via AmRen.com)
My topic at DaTechGuy blog this week is the ongoing battle over Confederate monuments.

A clip:
In Florida, “Old Joe” has been standing on the grounds of the Alachua County Administration building in Gainesville since 1904. The statue of the Confederate soldier is now facing removal and perhaps donation to a local history museum.  
As one activist said, “It’s a symbol of slavery.”  
 Perhaps to him it is, but to others it’s a symbol of the sacrifices of ancestors who fought to defend hearth and home. The overwhelming majority of the soldiers who fought for the Confederacy did not own slaves. Why does one perception of a symbol get to override another? Why are we all so offended all of the time?  
And in perhaps the lamest argument ever proffered against a monument, there’s this:  
David Gold of Gainesville, an Army veteran who was an infantry soldier during the Vietnam War, said Confederate sympathizers should not be allowed to have a statue in downtown Gainesville. "You Confederates lost the war, and you don't get to have a statue in the middle of our small downtown," Gold said.

Jazz Shaw at Hot Air also noted the resurrection of the Confederate battle flag in Walhalla, South Carolina, on a memorial that is located on private property.

Pop over to DaTechGuy for the whole post.

(Photo of Old Joe from AmRen.com)

Previous Posts at DaTechGuy blog:
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's Solution to 172 Murders: Equity Circles (12/26/16)
Removal of Historic Confederate Monuments in New Orleans Thwarted -- For Now (12/21/2015)
Report from Louisiana: Update on the Confederate Monument Removal Controversy (1/18/2016)
The Lives of My Ancestors Mattered Too (2/1/2016)
The Ongoing Battle of the Confederate Monuments: An Update (4/18/2016)
Confederate Monuments and Unintended Consequences (6/27/16)
Report from Louisiana: Revisionist History and Confederate Monuments (9/19/2016)
Report from Louisiana: Mass Shooting in New Orleans While Landrieu Fiddles (11/28/2016)

Previous Posts on This Blog:
Can the Violence in NOLA be Alleviated with Equity Circles? (12/26/16)
Shreveport Work of Art Still Needs Funding for Restoration (10/22/16)
Can You Help Clio? Restoration Fundraiser is Now Underway (9/5/16)
Epperson Demands UDC Remove Confederate Monument Within the Year (7/6/16)
Epperson's Continued Attack on the Confederate Monument (6/22/16)
Report from the Caddo Commission Meeting in Which Ken Epperson Blasts "Jake-Leg Bloggers" (6/9/16)
Caddo Parish Confederate Monument Under Attack (5/19/16)
Joseph Welsh Texada's Life Mattered Too (1/31/16)
The Heartbreaking Removal of the New Orleans Confederate Monuments (1/17/16)