Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Written by Kevin Allman
|Photo by Mark Manne|
“What’s wonderful about the Louisiana Legislature is that its timing is awesome,” says Lee Papa. He’s just getting wound up. “Within months of Katrina, they were debating and passing an abortion ban that would go into effect only if Roe v. Wade was overturned, a bill that helps approximately nobody. Now, with the oil creeping onto the shore like a stoned Blob, they actually debated whether or not to allow concealed weapons in church. Again, just awesome.
“It’s not just fiddling while Rome burns. It’s using the flames to smoke crack.”
It’s observations like those — witty, angry, often as not profane — that put Papa in business as the Rude Pundit, which is also the name of the blog he launched in 2003 (rudepundit.blogspot.com). In the seven years since, Papa — by day, a drama professor at the College of Staten Island in New York — has become a regular on radio’s syndicated Stephanie Miller Show (introduced by the Rivingtons’ “Papa Oom-Mow-Mow”), issued his first comedy CD and performed a one-man show titled The Year of Living Rudely, which led The New York Times to dub the Pundit “a child of Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and Hunter S. Thompson.” (The paper also could have mentioned Sam Kinison, Lewis Black and Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi.) And this fall, Papa’s first book, The Rude Pundit’s Almanac, will be published.
Not bad for a man who moved to Cajun country at the age of 4 from Queens, N.Y., grew up in Lafayette, and studied at Tulane (“briefly”) and UL.
As a Carencro High School sophomore, Papa’s contribution to the local science fair consisted of two dioramas: one representing creation, the other representing evolution. As he remembers it, a judge wanted him to reconcile the two concepts, “which is, you know, stupid,” Papa remembers. “So I said, ‘Well, I guess you could say that God created the Big Bang and sort of got things going,’ and that pleased him to no end.
“Of course, being a cocky bastard, I added, ‘But that’s not what happened.’”
Though he may share the politics of a better known Cajun country pundit, James Carville, the resemblance stops there. Papa says his blog has “probably become a bit less profane, if only for the sake of not becoming boring. I mean, there’s only so many sodomy jokes one can make.” And Carville is unlikely, as Papa has, to recommend setting the CEO of BP on fire, or to tell his readers, “The entire ‘I Want My Country Back’ meme is such a lie because that crazy woman with that sign never had her country. And it ain’t going back because what she wants to go back to never existed.”
Papa’s inspirations, he says, were the protest publications of the 1960s, “old-time muckrakers” and comedian-turned-pundit-turned-Sen. Al Franken. “When Franken’s book Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them) came out, there was this uproar over how Franken was ‘lowering the level of political discourse,’” Papa says. “I read it and found Franken thoughtful, reasonable and vaguely profane at times.
“So I thought, ‘That’s not lowering political discourse. Let me show you what lowering political discourse is.’” Thus was born the Rude Pundit.
BP, not surprisingly, is the current target of his rude punditry. On May 25, the Pundit wrote, “When (BP) managing director Robert Dudley says that ‘there’s nobody — nobody — who is more devastated by what has happened’ than BP, well, what can one say to such touching human emotion other than ‘We hope you get raped by alligators while the pelicans cheer.’ For, see, if BP was honestly devastated by the oil gushing out of the hole in the ocean floor in any way other than its bottom line, then why the f— is it resisting or delaying anything asked of it?”
For Papa, it’s personal. “I’ve had friends who work out on the rigs. The parents of friends growing up used to go seven-and-seven,” he says. “When I was a kid, we would go down to Grand Isle and to the delta parishes for festivals or fishing. Again, I’m not gonna act like I’m debating whether to put my shrimp boat in dry dock and fire the crew. But it’s heartbreaking, for so many reasons, not the least of which, as with the levees, it was preventable, but greed — simple greed — got in the way.
“Like Katrina, though, it’s another catastrophe that’s going to wreak havoc for years. This is the start. Wait until oil starts appearing in the Atchafalaya.”
For those who think the mainstream media are liberal, reading a few entries by the Rude Pundit may be the verbal equivalent of knocking back a shot of gasoline; his invective regarding Ann Coulter and Dick Cheney is only suitable for a family newspaper published by the Manson family. Left though he may lean, however, Papa is no ideologue.
“If it was Bush who was letting BP run the show, the howls from the left would be deafening,” he says. “Maybe by the time this interview comes out, things’ll change, but the Obama administration, which has been active and involved since day one, needs to treat this like a terrorist attack, bringing everything it has to take care of such an emergency, shoving BP aside until they get the bill.” (A few days later, on his blog, the Pundit would write, “How do you think this plays out? That some f—ing miracle happens? That BP pays every dollar to every fisherman, every shrimper, every marsh tour boat operator, every business that has to cut back or shutter because of lost tourist dollars? That Congress will pass any regulations that have gums, let alone teeth? That President Obama will put on his Aquaman Underoos and dive down a mile to personally shove a cork into it? Hey, if we’re gonna fantasize, we may as well have fun with it.”)
Still, Papa is wary of being accused of carpetbagging — or carpetblogging — Louisiana’s tragedies from his perch in New York. “If any of your readers want to respond with a ‘Screw you. You don’t live here anymore,’ well, you’re right,” he says. “But my family’s there, and your legislators’ incompetence is helping them live amidst ignorance and pollution.”
And speaking of ignorance, Mr. Pundit: Whatever happened at that science fair in Lafayette?
“I got second place. I think I lost to the volcano,” Papa says, adding philosophically, “One always loses to the volcano.”
Kevin Allman is editor of Gambit Weekly, where a version of this story was first published.
Friends and family will celebrate Spider's life in September.
Saints safety Jairus Byrd has rarely been so eager to hit and be hit, if only to reassure himself that his surgically repaired back is as healed as doctors believe.
Jindal privatized nearly all the LSU hospitals without waiting for federal officials to sign off on financing arrangements that rely on millions of federal Medicaid dollars.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her main Republican challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy, verbally sparred as they officially signed up on the opening day of qualifying for Louisiana's November election.
Superintendent tells crowd he'd just emerged from a four-hour meeting with the attorney hired to investigate him.
A hint of game day glam
The start of the three-day qualifying period for November’s elections has so far yielded 10 official bids and one new announcement from candidates seeking a seat on the school board.
The eagerness shown earlier this week by Lafayette Parish School Board president Hunter Beasley upon receiving a findings report from the special attorney investigating Superintendent Pat Cooper quickly faded once his fellow board members started asking for copies.
It’s been just over four months since attorney Barry Domingue committed suicide the morning before he was to stand trial for a second day in the federal Curious Goods case, leaving his fellow attorney/co-defendant Daniel Stanford with a temporary mistrial and awaiting his day in court.
Candidates for Louisiana's Nov. 4 election must officially sign up for the ballot this week.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's effort to derail Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards was halted Tuesday by a state judge who said the governor's actions were harmful to parents, teachers and students.
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram isn't letting a humbling start to his pro career lower his opinion of what he can still accomplish in the NFL.
Phoenix flooding stuns residents; Gaza truce talks collapse, NFL vets defy age label and more national and international news for Wednesday, August 20, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
A vegan and gluten-free bakery tasty enough for any skeptic
In the Pelican State, Benjamin Franklin buys you about $109 worth of stuff.
Visualize Lafayette’s next great thing from 3,000 feet.
A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday against enforcing a law that prohibits anyone 70 or older from running for justice of the peace or constable.
Gov. Bobby Jindal believes the last-minute passage of a pension hike for his state police superintendent, Col. Mike Edmonson, was improperly handled, according to the governor's office.
Four bedroom colonial or three bedroom traditional home
Brittan Bush joins Liskow & Lewis, Blake David installed as the Third District Member of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s board of governors, and Simien & Miniex announces 2014 scholarship winners.
“In some cases, we’ve found that these parts are nothing more than used junk yard parts. In others, we’ve found them to be foreign knock-off parts of questionable quality.”
The relaxed fan
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
As the courts hash out the attempts to preserve and shelve Common Core in Louisiana, a group of six state lawmakers are planning an Aug. 22 trip to Oklahoma to meet with their counterparts and strategize for the 2015 regular session.
While hopes are high for turnout this fall, a new report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate suggests that Louisiana's midterm face-offs may amount to nothing special in terms of votes cast.
The attorney hired by the Lafayette Parish School Board for a special investigation of Superintendent Pat Cooper has submitted his final report, though it may be another week before the findings are made public.
IberiaBank and LHC Group are presenting co-sponsors of the popular luncheon.
Hub City Cycles hits the ground running through small-business center opportunity.