Smiley: Messy democracy

Independence Day Eve was a good time to finally watch the movie “Lincoln.”

I figured it would be reverential, but Daniel Day-Lewis portrayed him more like Lyndon Johnson than a deity — wheeling, dealing and arm-twisting to get the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery through a reluctant House.

The movie demonstrated how messy, chaotic and even ugly the democratic process can seem at times.

In the struggle for freedom and equality, it sometimes seems we take one step forward and two steps back. The process can be frustrating.

But over time we finally get it right and do the right thing, as Congress did in Lincoln’s day.

Happy Independence Day.

Square no more

Remember when you were in your 20s and thought your parents were hopelessly square, stodgy, un-hip?

That was the view I had at that age — until one morning …

I was doing PR work for a conference in New Orleans, staying at the Roosevelt (Fairmont at that time).

My folks lived in Kenner and knew I was in the city and that the meeting was over on Saturday night.

After the conference ended and we finally shut down the press room, it seemed to me and my fellow workers that a small celebration was in order. (I was in my 20s, remember …)

We headed for the French Quarter, and stayed out WAY later than we should have.

That morning, as I was sleeping in, the phone rang.

It was my dad, who said, “Hello, boy, what you up to?”

“Uh, I’m sleeping, Dad …”

“Well get up, son. Your mother and I are having martinis in the courtyard at Brennan’s. Come join us.”

I looked at the clock.

It was 9:30. On a Sunday morning.

I declined the invitation, pleading a near-death condition.

And I never again thought of my parents as square …

Attention parents!

Yes, Mom and Dad, I’ve found a way to get your child’s snare drum and/or bugle out of the house and for a good cause.

Thomas Bergeron, a cadet with the U.S. Sea Cadet Corps, Baton Rouge Division, says, “My unit is looking for a marching snare drum and bugle. They don’t have to be new, just in working condition.”

Thomas is at

Songs of America

Ken Toups, of Lafayette, who came up with some very old train songs for us, has collected some early patriotic songs.

He sent over a few, including “The Star Spangled Banner” by Prince’s Band. (No, not THAT Prince; it’s from 1916); “The Grand Old Rag” from Billy Murray (No, not THAT Bill Murray; it’s from 1906), and a 1918 gem by the Farber Sisters: “If He Can Fight Like He Can Love (Good Night, Germany).”

Nice People Dept.

Louise Lauter thanks the folks who paid for pizzas at the Fleur-De-Lis when her two grandchildren took her there:

“I suppose they saw how lovely my grandchildren were to me.

“Tara is a recent LSU graduate (cum laude) going to graduate school and working to pay for her schooling. Her brother hopes to get into community college this fall.”

“Happy herbing”

Nice phrase, that.

Rita Salman uses it in her note saying that the Herb Society of America’s Baton Rouge unit “has all types of seeds (herbs, vegetables, flowers, ornamentals) to give away to nonprofit organizations.”

Go to

Special People Dept.

Leon J. Minvielle Jr., of New Iberia, celebrates his 96th birthday Thursday. He served in the 7th Armored Division in World War II.

Garland Bond, former longtime postmaster of Denham Springs, celebrated his 94th birthday Wednesday. (He says he was “born so far back in the sticks that no one heard about it until the 4th,” which is why the celebrations take place then.)

Earl and Darlene Flatt celebrate 61 years of marriage Thursday.

Sign language

Hayden Tucker saw a sign on a landscaping firm’s truck in Irvine, Calif., a few years back that “made me smile.”

It read “Lon Moore’s To Go.”

Rita Sander, of Slidell, says, “I noticed the new name of the bar across from Ochsner Hospital on Jefferson Highway yesterday: ‘The Recovery Room.’ ”

And Patrick Howard says, “A few years ago, there was a store on U.S. 65 in Damascus, Ark., called ‘Sharp-Payne Grocery.’

“You probably got the sharp ‘payne’ when you pulled out your wallet to pay for the groceries. It is definitely a sharp pain nowadays.

“That would probably not be a good name for a dentist’s office, would it?”

Sorry, techies

I’m sure this is the way I’m viewed by The Advocate’s tech support people when I ask a question that causes them to roll their eyes and sigh:

Dan Burkhalter, the Carencro Curmudgeon, tells of this exchange:

Tech Support: “No problem. I just received your fax.”

Customer: “The hell you did! It’s still sitting right here …”

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.