Before the Whistle – one of the best local sports folks has an insightful podcast.
Maddy Hudak – Before the Whistle
Maddy Hudak is a sports journalist based in New Orleans. An alum of Tulane University, Maddy is a Sideline Reporter for Tulane Football, as well as a very busy freelancer. She’s appeared on television, radio, and podcasts since before she popped up on my personal radar, and now it’s great to see Maddy doing her own pod.
Here’s her description of the pod, from her episode website:
Maddy Hudak is one of the rising stars in sports journalism. She provides her insights each week as a sideline reporter for Tulane University football, as a contributor to The Saints Wire for USA Today and ESPN 104.5, as well as many other television and radio programs. A lifelong student of the game, Maddy is also a graduate of The Scouting Academy. Before the Whistle isn’t about hot takes. The ”why” and the ”how” are just as important as the ”who” and the ”what.” If it impacts winning and losing, Maddy will be talking about it on Before the Whistle. New episodes each Tuesday and Friday.
I listened to her ep of 5-May-2023, Rethinking Sports Through The AIQ w/ Mike Clark, Ph.D. Very informative! I learned much about heard of the concept of “Athletic IQ.’ So much of football talk focuses on the games and not what happens behind the scenes. Maddy drills deep into that content. It’s not the kind of thing you hear from your average sports reporter.
With the exception of Association Football, I avoid sports podcasts. I’m a soccer kind of person. Other than soccer-specific pods, the only omnibus sports pod in my playlist is Hang Up and Listen, from Slate. While I don’t see increasing my diet of football coverage, I think Maddy’s pod will be fun. Check her out!
Understanding the origins of Alphabet Soup – Black Political Organizations.
Marc Morial, 59th Mayor of New Orleans.
Alphabet Soup – Black Political Organizations
I read with interest an article on Verite News, The rise and fall of Black political organizations in New Orleans. My first reaction to the Professor Collins’ article was, as I tweeted, disappointment. The story of Black political organizations in New Orleans deserves a full telling.
A second reading revealed it wasn’t intended as a full treatment of the subject. The editors tagged it as a “4 min read.” Perhaps what was delivered was all Verite wanted.
What really struck me, though, were two serious omissions.
The first is in the telling of the rise of BOLD, COUP, LIFE, SOUL, and other groups. Collins offers no background here, other than increasing Black voter registration was how these groups came into being. That’s true, but only a small part of the story. The Black organizations did indeed come together. They supported Dutch Morial in his campaign to succeed Moon Landrieu as mayor. Collins doesn’t mention the biggest accommplishment of the political groups at that time.
The Deal With The Judges.
Collins offers this summary of the political landscape of the 1980s:
It should be noted that by the late 1980s, suburban white flight was in full effect in New Orleans, decreasing the white population, and increasing the Black population. The Black organizations enjoyed their most power during this period when the city voting rolls flipped from majority white to majority Black. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the groups increased their power by electing many city council members, state legislators, and judges.
This is entirely accurate, but it’s not enough. The whyte infrastructure of New Orleans eroded over time, starting with Dutch’s election in 1977*. A Black leader in City Hall marked the start of the transition, but for all intents and purposes, city government was incredibly whyte. Right out of the gate, Dutch was forced to face down the whyte police union, as NOPD went on strike. While Dutch overcame the union, the strike demonstrated just how deep the whyte roots of government extended.
That’s when the Black organizations discovered a way to strengthen their position. They struck an unofficial deal with the judges of Orleans Parish. In exchange for the Black political infrastructure allowing those judges to run unopposed, the judges agreed to not endorse whyte candidates to succeed them. Black lawyers fought it out as the incumbents retired. It took longer to shift the balance, but it worked.
There are other stories related to the Black organizations that don’t fit in a “4 min read,” and I can’t hold Professor Collins for that. Still, the piece leaves so much out.
Collins writes about the groups’ decline:
There were several structural factors that led to this decline. The first was unique to New Orleans: Hurricane Katrina in 2005. These organizations are neighborhood-based. The hurricane ripped apart many traditional neighborhood ties as former residents rebuilt in new locations.
The decline of the Black organizations pre-dates Hurricane Katrina. Department of Justice came for these organizations almost immediately after George W. Bush took office as President. James B. Letten succeeded Eddie Jordan as US Attorney. Letten and staff came for outgoing Mayor Marc Morial (LIFE). He then came for Congressman Bill Jefferson (Progressive Democrats). Years before the storm, Republicans aggressively came for the Black political infrastructure.
They incarcerated Oliver Thomas
DOJ locked up Bill Jefferson.
The feds came hard for Jacques Morial, in the hopes he would roll on his brother.
Bush’s Department of Justice seriously damaged the Black organizations in Orleans Parish.
Understanding the past is how any group moves forward. Understanding just how much Republicans want to destroy voting blocs who will never support them is important.
*While Dutch did not take office until 1-May-1978, he won the election in November of the previous year. That long delay between election and inauguration was changed for Mitch Landrieu’s second term.
There’s a Mayoral Recall in New Orleans.
Mayoral Recall is dumb
Residents of Orleans Parish filed a recall petition against Mayor LaToya Cantrell in August. It was a silly idea then and it continues to be a month later. Here’s the top five reasons the recall is dumb:
5. City Leadership aren’t interested
At least in public. Oh, you know full well they’re quite interested. Like most folks, they just don’t want to give the petition oxygen.
4. Horrible timing
Petitioners filed on 26-August, which means they must produce 54,000 signatures. While the grass isn’t greener for the other six months of the year, the Fall, going into Carnival, is dumb. Any and all events taking place during this period become automatically more interesting. Events that attract tourists make it more of a challenge to collect valid signatures.
3. Costs will be more than $30K
The recall effort will absolutely cost more than $30,000. That’s basically the amount at issue here. Yes, the petitioners have a lot of things to say about the mayor’s “leadership” and such, but what they’re really upset about is that her honor sat in the front of the planes she took on her European junket. Your opinion on spending city money on flight upgrades doesn’t matter at this point. Someone decided first class was the rallying cry. That means the direct outrage focuses on thirty large. If the organizers get their signatures, the city will then be forced to spend half a million on the election.
2. Most problems with the city date back decades
While there are many things a city chief executive or manager can do to screw things up in a couple of years, those are relatively minimal. Pumping stations? The electric grid? NOPD? All of these items were a mess when Cantrell took office. Shit, they were a mess for Morial. That’s why the pro-recall types needed a specific incident that they could hang directly on Cantrell. This is why almost all of the city’s elected officials are silent on the recall. They don’t want to kick the hornet’s nest. They know this is a “there but for the grace of god” situation. It might not be air travel upgrades, but there’s something worth $30K in everyone’s past.
1. It’s racist
The motivation behind the Cantrell effort is absolutely racist. How dare a Black woman fly first class? Imagine having to sit next to her?! Horrors! Racism is what brings Whyte New Orleans out to vote.
New Orleans is a minority-majority city/parish. This drives the larger whyte population in suburban parishes insane. We’re talking about whyte people who simply loathe the notion of Black people in charge. If there’s an opportunity for the whyte folks to increase their control in the city doesn’t come around every day.
So, let’s rile up the whyte people! We’ll bring along some Black folks who don’t agree with the flight reservations, either. While whyte legislators squeeze the city regularly, this would be an internal foothold. And yes, I know how this sounds. This nonsense is for real.
It’s too late to completely stop the recall process. It’s possible to remind folks of why it’s dumb until next February.
Audubon Place is a “private” street in Uptown New Orleans, but it’s so much more to the city.
Audubon Place gate at St. Charles Avenue, 1900s (Detroit Publishing photo)
Audubon Place and its residents
The area of New Orleans now referred to as the University District stands in between Faubourg Bouligny and the old City of Carrollton. The city reserved a large amount of land for a public park. The Cotton Centennial Exposition of 1884 drew attention to this part of town. Additonally, Tulane University moved uptown in 1884. New Orleanians looked past Napoleon Avenue. With Tulane’s property lines now defined, developers built streets and sold lots just off campus.
In the 1890s, George Blackwelder created a single-street development on the western side of Tulane. He allocated 28 large lots along Audubon Place. The development required builders construct large single-family homes with high values. With city approval, the neighborhood association took Audubon Place private in the early 1900s.
The notion of a gated street with one way in, one way out appealed to wealthy New Orleanians. The late Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans (both Pelicans, BTW, the NBA team, and his abortive attempt to buy a minor-league baseball club), lived on Audubon Place. His widow still owns the house. John Georges, owner of Imperial Trading, the Times-Picayune, and Galatoire’s Restaurant, also lives on Audubon Place.
Zemurray home at 2 Audubon Place. (Infrogmation photo)
The most notable home on the street is 2 Audubon Place. Samuel Zemurray, founder and first president of United Fruit Company, built a magnificent home on the left side of the main gate, facing St. Charles Avenue. Zemurray later donated the mansion to Tulane. The university uses the home as the official residence of their president.
More than 28 lots
Mrs. Gayle Benson’s home on Audubon Place was built in 1902 for a coffee merchant.
So, Audubon Place isn’t the only street where rich people live. After the Cotton Exposition at Audubon Park, other wealthy residents bought into the neighborhood just to the east of the park. Streets such as Henry Clay, Webster, State, and Nashville sport large houses owned by wealthy families. This continues up to Faubourg Bouligny and into the Garden District. Drive through these neighborhoods during Carnival season, and you’ll see the flags of the School of Design and the Mystick Krewe of Comus from a number of these homes. Those flags indicated that a member of the family was/is a past king of either parade.
These rich New Orleanians are the city’s business elite. They also donate large sums to the campaign funds of Orleans Parish politicians. While they don’t all live in Audubon Place, that 1900s gate and those 28 lots represent the class and their way of thinking.