Friday, March 23, 2012

Opinionated jerks? Not always

"It helps to be an opinionated jerk. It's expected of you." -- Jim Murray, on being a sports columnist

      He was one of the greatest sports columnists of our time, Jim Murray was.
      The top honor in sports journalism, however, is named the Red Smith Award, presented annually by the Associated Press Sports Editors organization. Walter "Red" Smith was its first winner, in 1981.
     Jim Murray was the second winner, in 1982. They could have reversed the order and called it the Jim Murray Award, and I suppose not many people would've objected.
     But where Red Smith -- opinionated as he was -- was known for his prose and his brilliant command of the language, and he was regarded as a class act in every way, Murray was known for his razor-sharp wit and his often unkind commentary.
     Murray was, from all accounts I've read, a humble guy without much ego. He had a lot of people fooled the way he wrote. He came off as ... an opinionated jerk. Red Smith didn't.
      We were fortunate for about a decade (mid-1960s to mid-'70s) to see their work regularly in The Shreveport Times when their columns were syndicated by The New York Times (Smith) and Los Angeles Times (Murray).  It was brilliant writing, of course, and it was a nice balance to the local copy.
      I was always more of a Red Smith guy, loved his take on things. Murray, to me, was a novelty act -- a series of one-liners. As great (and wacky) as my sense of humor is, I just never was much for a column full of that. But lots of people thought Murray's work was hilarious.
       And he was great. His columns on his blindness and on the death of his first wife were classics, as moving as anything I've read.
       Anyway, this discussion is about sports columnists -- a more narrow focus than my piece earlier this week on sportswriting in general these days.
       I've known a lot of "opinionated jerks" and I've worked with some. But many sports columnists are fine people, genteel even, and they could be critical, yet not leave people with hurt feelings.
      Some really can be jerks, intentionally slamming people, and I don't like dealing with them (nor them with me). Still, they are effective columnists. People read their stuff and talk about it -- and that's what a newspaper wants from a columnist.
       Opinionated columnists can carry a sports section; they can help sell newspapers, they provide that "edgy" factor we talked about earlier this week. No question. That's why some make big bucks, bigger than sports editors. No problem with that.
        What I've found over the years is that these people often had large egos and were terribly self-involved. They had "I" problems; they couldn't see the world outside of their own viewpoint. No opinion counted, except their own. They were absolutely convinced they were correct.
       (Having been called "condescending" repeatedly this week by a co-worker, I can identify. Obviously, I may fit into the "opinionated jerk" category at times. I'm sure I've left that feeling dozens of times over the years, and sometimes I'm guilty. Bedside manner, dealing with what I perceive as mediocrity, is not a strong suit.)
      Being a columnist, sports or otherwise, requires dealing well with criticism. I didn't have thick enough skin or enough writing confidence to be a fulltime columnist. I do admire people who have that.
       I'm also grateful to those columnists who, when a copy editor (such as me) points out something that might not be factual or expressed correctly, are appreciative of input. That is often the case ... but not always.
        Some resent any input, any correction. And their final fallback position is this, "It's my column; it's my voice; that's how I want it to read."
       Here's an example.  In the first of my 10 years at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a columnist writing about the Dallas Cowboys quoted coach Dave Campo on something he screamed at the officials during a game. What he had Campo saying wasn't correct; I know it wasn't correct because I saw the moment first-hand. When I called the writer to voice that, he didn't want to hear it. He insisted Campo had screamed what he had written.
        I left it the way he had it. I knew it wasn't correct. I also knew I couldn't trust what the guy was writing; it wasn't the first questionable thing I had seen by him.
        He was being an opinionated jerk. In this case, he twisted reality for what he needed to make his case.
        He wasn't at the paper much longer.
        So there's a lot of opinion and there are a lot of jerks in this business. There are not a lot of Red Smith Award or Jim Murray Award winners. But we -- writers and editors -- should all strive to do the work we do with integrity, don't throw a bunch of crap out there. That's just bottom-line important.
    

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's still worth reading, but ...

    I've thought about this for a long, long time -- almost a lifetime, really -- because sports journalism has been my business.
    Is sports journalism today better than ever? Yes, it is.
    Is sports journalism today worse than ever? Yes, it is.
    You can have it both ways, and in my opinion, we do. And let me draw a distinction right away ... I'm going to talk about the written word -- newspapers and Internet -- not spoken ones.
    That's because I am no fan of sports television -- be it play-by-play announcers, analysts, pregame/postgame analysis, newscasts (local, ESPN, whatever). More often than not I prefer to watch games without sound. To me, the announcers clutter what I'm trying to watch.
     (I will make an exception for radio announcers, especially for baseball. Maybe because that's where I started, but it's still a neat way to take in a game. Thank Irv Zeidman in Shreveport and Gene Elston of the Houston Colt 45s/Astros for that.)
     But I still love to read sports sections, and I'll read for news on the Internet. I am, however, pretty selective.
      I believe this: There are more good writers today than there have ever been; they are more versatile, more educated, they had more opportunities early in their careers; they have the advantage of a lot more technology than ever; and there are more ways to find those writers (thanks to the Internet).
      Look, I read for information and to try to stay current. I want to know what's going on with my teams. I do not read, necessarily, to be entertained.
      But this is where sports journalism has gone. Where it was once a news/facts business, the emphasis is now -- as David Humphrey, one of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's deputy sports editors, like to say so often -- on being "edgy."
       So columnists -- and even beat writers -- jump on any controversy they can find (with Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, that's easy). And while the columnists have the "in my opinion" tags on their pieces, I want to be able to form my own opinion. So put the arguments out there, but I resent the columnists who tell me what to think, who preach to me, who make it clear that their opinion is the only one that counts.
      I'm sorry, but some of the things I read are so far out there -- just for the sake of being sensational -- that they're just ridiculous.
       Don't tell me in August that the Cowboys are going to make the playoffs, period. Don't tell me that Dirk Nowitzki or Jason Kidd are washed up. Don't tell me day after day that the Rangers' starting pitching is going to be a problem (see spring training a year ago).
     Don't tell me the BCS is a sorry system (because you telling me that is a waste of my time). Don't tell me that Mark McGwire/Roger Clemens/Rafael Palmeiro, etc. will never make the Baseball Hall of Fame. You just can't know what future voters will do.
       Don't give me nicknames on every reference (Owner Jones, Cowsheep, Coach Wade, A-Fraud)   or gimmicks (the infamous Bottom Ten, interviews with fictional characters) or abbreviations at every opportunity (GP, CGP, MY, VY, RHG) or references such as Dallas Cowboys of Arlington, Hated Yankees. When I see someone referred to as "dude," I know I'm in the wrong generation.
      And I especially abhor seeing this in any form, in any section: The. Worst. Writing. Technique. Ever.
      Instant turnoff for me. End of my reading that piece.
     In summary, there's far too much "cute" in sections for my taste.
      I still see many excellent beat writers who cover their teams thoroughly, who know how to write, how to give the readers information on the everyday business of sports, who keep you up to date on one team.
     But I also see writers who can't find the best stories from a particular game, who are repetitive, who jump to conclusions, who have little substance in their copy, who don't make it very compelling to read, and who simply screw up the facts.
     And I know from being a copy editor for many, many years, that far too many writers are weak on grammar and punctuation. Unfortunately, some of that gets into the newspaper. Because I'm a copy editor, I probably see those things more critically. My wife's theory is that most readers aren't concerned with that; that it is a copy editors' thing.
      I can say that I wrote a lot of things over the years -- or edited them -- that I look back and regret, and offered some opinions that looked ill-advised afterward. So I shouldn't be too critical of today's sports journalism. It's changed, I believe, and "edgy" is in more than ever. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it's just not my thing.
  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Postseason? How about postmortem?

    With apologies to my LSU friends, and my Tennessee, TCU and UT Arlington friends, our men's basketball teams don't need to be playing tonight.
    If you are excited about being in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) -- or in TCU's case, something called the College Basketball Invitational -- have at it. I'm not joining you.
    If a team can't play in the NCAA Tournament, it shouldn't play anymore at all. Thank you.
    LSU's goal -- or anyone else's -- should not be the NIT. That tournament, once upon a time, was played entirely (with only 12 or 14 or 16 teams) at Madison Square Garden in New York City -- the only reason it was glamorous.
    They could have quit after the 1970 tournament, which was glorious because LSU was in it (the Tigers' first postseason appearance since a Bob Pettit-led NCAA trip in 1954). That gave us four extra games in Pistol Pete Maravich's career -- and he had a spectacular Garden party.
     After that, don't know that I've ever cared much (or any) about the NIT, exception being an occasional Louisiana Tech appearance.
      So I read this Monday: There are 148 men's teams playing in the basketball postseason -- 68 in the NCAA, 32 in the NIT, 32 in the College Invitational Tournament, 16 in the College Basketball Invitational.
     Too many, way too many.
      Like the college football bowl season ... and I'd do away with about 20 of those bowl games right now. Teams with 7-5 and 6-6 records don't need to keep playing.
       The college basketball season starts far too soon, and lasts far too long. There is now a Preseason NIT and dozens of other warmup tournaments in November. I'm still footballing then, OK.
      And now we're playing basketball on several fronts deep into baseball spring training.
      Here's what else makes no sense about the NIT ... LSU is playing at Oregon tonight, UT Arlington is at Washington. Exactly how many Tigers and Mavericks fans are able to make that trip?
       Used to be, the NIT would have regional matchups in the first round. At least the organizers -- which is now an NCAA-run committee -- put Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, Savannah State and Marshall in the same pairings for the first two rounds. That's regional.
     Why not, say, LSU and UT Arlington, Oral Roberts and Ole Miss or Mississippi State together in a "pod?"
        I can even be critical of the NCAA Tournament expanding. Look, it was perfect at 64 teams. Didn't need the expansion to 65 -- the Tuesday "play-in" game -- and now it's 68, with four "play-in" games (two tonight, two Wednesday).
      The NCAA's first two full-schedule days are compelling -- the prospects of the smaller schools from the smaller conferences (Butler, Valpo, Western Kentucky, Northwestern State, etc.) knocking off one of the big names. Great stuff, great television as they roll from game to game. It's wall-to-wall basketball.
       It's almost as good in the women's tournament, but not quite. Honestly, the parity in the men's game doesn't carry over to the women. If they cut the women's NCAA field to 32 instead of 64, a lot of bad matchups would be avoided.
       Sorry if that sounds sexist. I wish there were more competitive women's teams. It's just not so.
       Anyway, if you're a college hoops fan, enjoy the games. I'm only going to watch some of them. Won't even watch LSU at Oregon live on TV tonight (Bea wants to watch the Dallas Mavericks' game, as always, and the postgame show).
       Besides, it's the NIT -- the Not Interesting Tournament.  And that's not even the CIT or the CBI ... or the CIA. Whatever.   

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reflections on Trey

    After my "Fallen Warrior" post on Feb. 10 about Henry Lee Prather III -- "Trey" -- I received several e-mails and Facebook comments. Here is a sampling:

     Bruce McMellon: "You are on the mark about Trey. When my father was buried at Arlington, I went to "The Wall", to Panel 34E, Row 24. In a way, that was more difficult than my father's funeral. Trey left behind his future on earth, and it had so much promise. We know that God is putting together a fine football team, just from Woodlawn."

    Pam Shaw White: "The last time I saw him, he came by the house a few days before he left for Vietnam.  He was driving a convertible.  He seemed happy.  Who knew we would never see again."
   
    Dr. Leonard Ponder (one of Trey's junior high coaches):  "The teacher/student and coach/player code required the teacher or coach to maintain a wall (albeit a glass wall) between the two. So I didn't know Trey nearly as well as you did. I had little personal contact with him after he left Oak Terrace so we were never able to establish an adult relationship like the one you and I enjoy. I did recognize early on what a fierce competitor he was. Joe Ferguson tended to hang his head when he made a mistake. Some saw that as a weakness, but I saw it as his method for drawing internal strength to do better the next time. Trey, on the other hand, never hung his head. He kept his head high and one could almost see his resolve to not let that particular mistake occur again. I am sure his mistakes bothered him, but he was among the best at playing in the present---not letting the last play adversely affect the next one and not getting too far ahead of himself."
     
    Anonymous: "[We] were at Trey's funeral as well. Do you remember the pastor's story about a family in Baton Rouge who named their son Trey Prather and asked for a picture of Trey to keep for their son? I had forgotten it until one afternoon I Googled 'Trey Prather' and found that son's website. It really sent chills down my spine until I remembered the burial service and the preacher's story. The information on the web would confirm that he is the baby discussed at Trey's funeral.
    "My personal view is that Trey’s death is the result of an era when (for young men of a certain age), the draft was waiting for you if you could not (or chose not to) attend college or otherwise arrange for a deferment.  ... I can’t say that I think of Trey every day, but he is often on my mind.  I visit his grave every time I visit my parents’ graves at Forest Park West. I also make a point of mentioning Terry Bradshaw’s comments about Trey at every opportunity. In short, the Vietnam “war” left its mark on our generation and on our nation and its leadership. The WHS Class of ’65 has a personal reminder of that mark, as does the class of ’64 (Glen Ogburn). ... Sorry for the disjointed comments, but 44 years just seem like the blink of an eye."

     David Worthingon: "I wanted to respond to your article about Trey Prather…'Fallen Warrior.'  I am only slightly older than Trey and remember his high school feats at Woodlawn very well. I had played quarterback at FP when Joe Geter  was QB at Woodlawn. After my five years of college, I spent three years in the Army. I had gone through Army ROTC at Northeast and took a 2nd Lt. commission upon graduating and became an officer in the Transportation Corps. My first year was in Virginia, my second year in Vietnam, and my last year in California. It was a time that impacted my life significantly.
     "Last year, here in Monroe, I was involved with a group of people that worked with our Chennault Aviation and Military Museum in bringing “The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall” to our town. We had it here for three days around Veterans Day. It was an awesome event, and former soldiers treated it very reverently and respectfully. I made sure to look up the name of Trey Prather. Although, I never knew him personally, I felt connected to him through following his high school career and realizing what a superb athlete he was. I sadly learned of his death and remember feeling a sense of shock and loss.
     "Thank you for remembering him through the flow of your writing. ... I am a Vietnam Vet and there will always be a part of me that will honor and remember those 'Fallen Warriors' for how they fought for the freedom of an oppressed people group. There is never any shame in the tears that remember a fallen soldier. It is an appropriate way to show them honor and respect."

     Jim Robinson: "Trey's picture in the LSU uniform hangs in the foyer of the Woodlawn High School gym. There probably aren't a handful of students or athletes currently at Woodlawn that actually know what Trey means to Woodlawn High School and Woodlawn athletics. They should have an orientation class for all students and especially athletes that teaches them about the pride that we had to be part of one of the greatest athletic departments and one of the finest schools at the time in Shreveport."
     
     Bill Smith: "When people bring up Bradshaw, I always tell them that the best was Trey Prather. Although I was just a sophomore on the team when he was there, he was always the one we looked up to."

     Deborah Valentine Collins: "I visited the memorial in Washington DC and found Trey's name and traced it onto paper. I suspect there are lots of former Knights that did the same. Everyone loved Trey."

     Joyce Williams Brown: "Deborah, I agree with you, been there and as the Platters would have said, Many a Tear Must Fall when you see something so touching as this and know the person so well that it happened to. So touching to know that your classmate loved our country enouth to give his all!!! God bless him!"

     Herman Garner: "Trey was my hero growing up. Thanks for these beautiful words."

     Earl Hebert: " I visited the 'wall' in Washington several years ago. It was an emotional experience, one everyone from our era needs to share. I made sure we visited every one of the Woodlawn graduates that gave their lives for our country. I didn't know any of them very well, but at the time it sure felt like I had."

     Gary Ferguson: "My wife and I have also seen the Wall in D.C. I think I went thru a box of tissue. Not only did I see Trey's name but I saw other friends on the Wall who I knew when I was in Nam."

    Brenda Laird: "I will never forget where I was when I heard of Trey's death."

     Elizabeth Loftin: "I once saw Terry on TV tell the audience about the best, Trey Prather. Your blog brought tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart."
     
      Barbara Shaw Clark: "A meaningful and heart rending tribute to someone I had known from 4th grade on. We weren't close, but athletes seem to become a part of all students' lives. I was the one who told Palais Royal that Trey would pose for a photo in the football program ad when I was on on the ad staff. I had no clue if he would, but if it would help me sell the ad, I was going to try. Palais Royal had never bought an ad and I wanted badly to make that deal. I didn't get to attend the service held for Trey. I was expecting my first child and was extremely ill and weak. Jerry and I have been to The Wall in D. C. It took a while for us to go. Jerry had bad memories from Vietnam he had to deal with before he could go and we had several on The Wall we knew or knew those who survived them. I ran my fingers over each name and tears fell. Thank you for bringing back memories. While they are sad and are a part of my life I wouldn't want to relive, I'm glad I have them."

  

Monday, March 5, 2012

JKey ... always our J-Man

  Late summer 1976. My relationship with Beatrice was growing. Was this the girl? Was this my future?
  I was wavering. I knew she had a 2-year-old boy; I could become an instant daddy.
  I wanted to meet him, and she brought Jason to my apartment. I opened the door and there he was, the cutest kid I'd ever seen, blond as could be, dressed in overalls, big belly, he waddled when he walked. He had a prominent dimple in his left cheek.
   Cute doesn't describe it. He was beautiful.
   He talked a little -- he could tell you he was Jason Shawn Key -- but that night what he mostly said was, "No, that's my mommy. I want my mommy. Don't touch my mommy."
     Talk about falling in love at first sight.  I've always joked that I really married Jason; Bea was just part of the package.
     Soon we were a threesome. He was sweet and animated, self-assured, a people pleaser, he behaved ... he could make you laugh with his animal sounds -- "dobble, dobble" and "ka-doo" were the best -- and his expressions such as, "Don't see me" and "forgot about it." Everywhere we went, people stopped to converse.
     I became "Nito," as when I first took him to the newspaper to visit and after about five minutes, he said, " 'Bout ready to doh, Nito?" Then I became Daddy Nito, and finally just, Daddy.
    It evolved into Dad. He was JJ at first, then at age 6, he came home from school and said he wanted to be "Jay" or "Jason." Later, when his school clothes had to be marked, his mother wrote, "JKey." So he became Jake, or the J-Man.
     He loved entertaining his Paw-Paw and Granny Shaw in Jamestown and his new Oma Ro and Opa Louis in Shreveport with his songs and his flourishes -- "tah-dah" -- and his bear-hunting in restaurants and, when deep in the woods, asking, "Are we too lost, Paw-Paw?"
     He was a good big brother to Rachel, five years younger; he was always curious, always wanting to try something new. He took to SPAR Stadium and Centenary's Gold Dome, and made them his own. He came in when I was watching games on TV and said, "Who we rooting for, Dad?"
      He began his soccer career at age 6 on a schoolyard in Hawaii. The first day his coach told his mother, "He's our franchise." He could run fast from the start, and he was naturally aggressive. He was always one of his teams' top players, though seldom the best. He just played; he didn't need motivation. Even with a maniac dad baiting referees, he kept his cool.
      He became a good junior high athlete, in football and basketball and especially track. Ran back an opening kickoff for Elm Grove Middle School for a touchdown one night with his mom, usually not demonstrative, screaming, "Go, baby, go!"
Jay as a high school senior.
     He didn't do a thing the rest of the first half, and Dad -- I swear I didn't do this often -- went down at halftime and had "a little talk" with him. On the second-half kickoff, he flattened the ballcarrier. Ken Kruithof and Bobby Marlowe, who had been coaches at Parkway High but were then the Elm Grove principal and assistant principal, looked at me sitting a couple of rows away and had a big laugh.
       At Orange Park High, Jay played soccer, mostly as a defender in his junior year because of his speed and tenacity, then up front as a senior. He scored 10 goals for a team that made the Florida Class 5A state semifinals. For me, the feeling of being so involved with a team brought memories of Woodlawn 30 years earlier.
      Through the years, he went to hundreds of games with his sportswriter dad, including trips to LSU football in the early 1980s. Couldn't get him that interested in the Yankees and Cowboys, but LSU caught his attention.
The Cajun Tailgators: Jason and Ann.
       Never a great reader but a conscientious student, he got plenty of help from someone in our family preparing for tests and projects. His grades were good and he thrilled us when early in his senior year, he announced he wanted to go to LSU. And he qualified, plus we got in-state tuition because his father (Jerry Key) still lived in Sulphur.
      He spent five great years at LSU, saw the Tigers bring back the magic in football and then lose it again. He graduated in 1997, immediately got a job in Dallas -- and he's been there ever since, through ups and downs in business and through a 10-year courtship with the beautiful Miss Ann, who he met early in their time at LSU.
Jacob and Kaden.
      He's still as intense an LSU fan as ever -- he's attended national championship games in football and baseball, an NCAA Regional in basketball in Atlanta. He's the No. 2 guy in a plumbing construction supply firm, a do-it-all type with amazing energy and business acumen, still a people pleaser, with a great number of friends and contacts. Ann has begun her Cajun Tailgators food truck business in Dallas-Fort Worth, and Jay is all in.
       Most importantly, Ann and Jason have curly-haired Jacob, 3, and Kaden 1, two blond boys who give me a sense of deja vu of the little boy I fell in love with all those summers ago.
     Jay turns 38 today, the boy now a man with a purpose.  But he's still sweet (although a bit more cynical) and self-assured; he's still our J-Man. And the dimple remains just as prominent.
      

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Matters of death, and life

   What a week this has been, the grieving and acceptance of the death of a beloved brother and brother-in-law one day, the joy of the birth of a family member the next day.
    On Monday, we drove four hours to southwest Texas -- to the Stoneham community -- for the funeral and burial of Howard Clinton Shaw Jr., who passed away Feb. 23 one week short of his 65th birthday.
    It was a sad occasion; personally, the tears came often Monday.
     On Tuesday, the word came out of Portland, Ore. -- the arrival of Max Joseph Wellen, my younger sister's first grandchild, my parents' fourth great grandchild. Happy day.
Taking Howard and the tagged casket to the final resting place.
    Happy, except I couldn't get Howard's voice out of my head that day. Back in our apartment in Fort Worth, where he had spent three days visiting with us last May, I could feel his presence all day.
     When we had arrived at his and Nance's house the day before, the loss was palpable. This was the house he had built himself, and had renovated, and had added on; he built a garage and apartment behind the main house; he had worked the land; and he had built the wraparound deck and the patio in the past couple of years.
      Going into the house, there was an abundance of food -- much supplied by the community in that Navasota/Hempstead/Stoneham area -- and an abundance of family.
      The family had held a rosary on Sunday night; we couldn't make that. It had been emotional, and there was some carryover. But the full effect of the emotions didn't hit us until we arrived at the church.
    St. Joseph's Catholic is a quaint building deep in an area with acres and acres of scorched land after last summer's wildfires. The 10-minute drive from the house to the church brought back last summer's scare when Howard and Nance twice had to abandon their house as the fires drew near.
     Beatrice, two years older than Howard (there are two younger sisters), had remained composed through the days since we learned of his death. But the sight of an open casket and four of Howard's daughters -- there were seven kids --  tearfully sitting at the edge of that casket was difficult.
     I had to turn away as Bea sobbed into an equally tearful Theresa's shoulder.
     "I had been dealing with this possibility [Howard's death] for a year," Bea said today. "I had been preparing for it. But to walk in and see where his kids were, to see their pain, it was overwhelming."
      But those kids -- those lively, loud, close-knit kids -- gave their dad a "tagged" casket. People were invited to write their final message to Howard on that casket, or draw a picture (as his  grandkids did). It was quite something.
      The ceremony in the church was beautiful. So was the graveside ceremony, just a hundred yards from the church. It included the Jewish tradition of people shoveling dirt on the lowered casket -- something Nance and Howard had first seen at my dad's funeral.
Max, with daddy Adam.
     It was difficult to say good-bye. But we all felt that we had honored Howard's life and his influence on all of us in the proper manner.
    And then it was on to the next day. Bea awakened me with the news, "The baby is here!" 
    Max, whose parents are my nephew Adam Wellen (Elsa and Jim's oldest) and his wife Tania, weighed in at a hefty 9 pounds and 5 ounces. He was born 11 days past his due date. 
    We were eager to see the photos and it took a while, but there he was, and the smile on his proud daddy's face was like the baby, a beautiful sight.
    Max is nice and round, like Howard had been.
     We're going to miss those bear hugs from Howard, but we are looking forward to holding little Max in a couple of months at his uncle Josh's wedding in Baton Rouge.
    "One soul out, one soul in" is the way Bea described it. How true.
    What a week it has been.