Sunday, February 19, 2012

Try Banofee and take a Lenten walk

I’ve always enjoyed the food and surroundings at Beau Reve, and my recent fish poboy was no exception. I did try something I’d never experienced: Banoffee. I used one of those wonder phones to Google the dessert, which is English and involves bananas and toffee. Beau Reve’s version is lightly-grilled pound cake with vanilla mousse, freshly-made toffee and fresh bananas. The lunch came with an adorable small glass bowl of the creamy stuff and a tiny silver spoon. It hit the spot.

While Mardi Gras chickens were getting tossed along Lakeshore Drive, I partied with Seahawks. Scott Street, the health, fitness and sport director of Athletics at Lamar State College-Port Arthur, set out an unusual version of King Cake on the table at White Haven. It looked much like an iced version of the pizzas next to it. College students love pizza parties, but the adults associated with this college were enjoying pizza during Courir du Mardi Gras. What makes a party better? Having a parade pass by the front windows. That historic home is so beautiful and elegant. I wonder when inhabitants first enjoyed boxed pizza on the marble table.

Five miles for Lent

Mardi Gras has actually helped me learn about my faith. I’m happy to put away the party to reflect on Lent. Marilyn Morrell, who I met through her work promoting Latin Mass, and Ben Broussard are working on a Lenten Pilgrimage. It will be a 5-mile walk with stops at Port Arthur’s two Mary shrines. The group will meet at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, March 3, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine and proceed to Queen of Peace Shrine and Gardens to begin the walk. The day will include spiritual talks, reciting of the rosary, Way of the Cross, singing, Latin Mass, benediction and more.

Marilyn Morrell, an organizer, said there’s no need to head to France or Italy for a pilgrimage when Port Arthur offers so many reflective stops. Port Arthur Police will provide parade escort for the walk said Morrell, who asks that participants bring a rosary and wear comfortable walking shoes and modest clothing. No shorts, please, she added. Bread, water and a shuttle from the Our Lady of Guadalupe parking lot to the Queen of Peace Shrine will be provided. The day’s events will take walkers back to the Our Lady shrine and wrap up around 2 p.m. The schedule is:

· 8:30 a.m. – Meet at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, 3648 Staff Sgt. Lucian Adams Drive, includes a chapel and prayer wall. Walkers will take a shuttle to Queen of Peace.

· 9 a.m. – Walk to begin at Queen of Peace Shrine and Gardens on Ninth Avenue. Arthur.

· 9:30 a.m. – Way of the Cross, St. James Catholic Church

· 10 a.m. – Christus St. Mary Hospital

· 10:30 a.m.- Calvary Catholic Cemetery

· 11 a.m. – St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church

· Noon – Arrive at Our Lady of Guadalupe; confessions

· 12:30 p.m. – Latin Mass and benediction

For more info contact Ben Broussard at (337) 527-7463, email, or Marilyn Morell at (409) 724-1456.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mardi Gras a 20-year keeper

I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since Mardi Gras ignited Port Arthur’s holiday spirit. I’ve met so many people who have joined church groups, staged amazing balls and developed businesses through Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas.

My own fondest memories include years of practice tossing beads and riding the Port Arthur News float with Martha “Toodlums” Ferguson, who arrived to the sea wall in a police car and had a chair bolted to the float floor for stability. She was a queen. Or, as she would say, a grand dame.

This year I had the occasion to chat with Wayne Toups himself over the phone, who said he “just can’t get enough” of Mardi Gras. He will again close down our festival with a Sunday concert.

Longneck Road, a local band, will offer the first concert of the season on Thursday. Bassist Ron Arceneaux said they’ve played before and are kicking it up a notch this time around.

“We’re thrilled to be on the main stage this year and are grateful to Norman Land and Laura Childress for making that happen,” Arceneaux said.

Drummer Adam King says events such as Mardi Gras have spread their name across Texas. This past year they opened for national touring artists Chuck Berry, John Anderson, Ronnie Milsap and the Paul Thorn Band, Bart Crow Band and Aaron Watson.

Here’s the schedule:

Thursday, Feb. 16

· 4:45 p.m. - Curir du Mardi Gras, to begin at Rose Hill and Lakeshore Drive, ending at festival grounds.

· 6 p.m. - Longneck Road

· 8 p.m. - Joel Martin Project

Friday, Feb. 17

· 6 p.m. - Longneck Road

· 8 p.m. - Joel Martin Project

· 7 p.m. ­- Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie

· 7 p.m. - Valero Krewe of Krewes Parade from Rose Hill to Procter Street to Houston Avenue.

· 7 p.m. - Golf card and ATV Parade, from Rose Hill to Procter Street to Houston Avenue.

· 10 p.m. - Kevin Fowler

Saturday, Feb. 18

· 1 p.m. - Krewes Royalty March, inside festival grounds

· 3 p.m., - Jivin’ Gene Bourgeois and the Ken Marvel Band

· 5:30 p.m. - Leroy Thomas & The Zydeco Roadrunners

· 5:30 p.m. - Motorcycle Showcase Parade, from Rose Hill to Procter Street to Houston Avenue

· 6 p.m. - Total Krewe of Aurora Grand Parade, from Rose Hill to Procter Street to Houston Avenue.

· 8:30 p.m. ­- Champagne Room

· 10 p.m. ­- Stoney Larue

Sunday, Feb. 19

· 2 p.m. – Munchkin Parade, costumed children, inside grounds

· 3 p.m. – Ryan Foret and Foret Tradition

· 4 p.m. Richard Industrial group Motor Parade, from Rose Hill to Procter Street to Houston Avenue.

· 6:30 p.m. – Wayne Toups & ZydeCajun

Tickets range from $5 to $15 and are available at the gates and at The Mardi Gras Store, 3830 FM 365, (409)721-8717.

A peek into March: Be certain of Carter

Lower Pecos Rock Art makes the cover of the March issue of Texas Highways, but a more modern and local artist is discussed within the pages. “From Uncertain to Blue” is called photographer Keith Carter’s seminal work, published about 25 years ago. The Beaumont photographer spoke at my Lamar University photography class, back when we used dark rooms. The class loved his oversized, squared-off, black and white photos. In this book he captured images of down-home people in Texas towns with names like Poetry, Blue, Comfort and Rosebud. Leathery-faced ranch hands, a vintage theatre, a lone dog on the road or a boy with his chicken tell stories that begin before a camera snap and never end. Carter has published several amazing books. This Texas tale is my favorite.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mardi Gras season brings convergence of personalities

Hotel lobbies are full of stories. While attending a local function I noted a Mardi Gras ball, wedding party and family gathering all at the same site. Then there were the actual lodgers. The elevator door opened to a barefoot couple. Each one had towels around the waist. They were apparently in search of the pool. Another couple who looked like they’d returned from the rodeo were getting on, as a woman in a fur stole and evening dress readied for the next ride.


Jan Walker is conjuring Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau for Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas, and she’s bringing her coconuts with her. Zulu Krewe of New Orleans is famous for these “throws” which are actually handed out. You just shouldn’t toss a coconut.

“Some friends and I sat down together one weekend at Paige Bigler's house on the bayou and set out to create our own special Southeast Texas version. If you're very lucky you may just score one during this years Royalty March!,” Walker, of Majestic Krewe of Aurora, said. Wayne Toups, Kevin Fowler, Geno Delafose, Jivin’ Gene Bourgeois and Ryan Foret are among performers set for concerts Feb. 16-19 in downtown Port Arthur. Lighted parades, a carnival and bead catching make this a family affair that draws revelers far and wide.

The Royalty March is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18.

More info is at, and

Cat Scan a keeper

Krewe Mon Ami’s Mardi Gras Ball featured several Port Arthur YMCA attendees who got a work out on the dance floor. I met all sorts of guests from throughout the area, including Cat Scan, a local roller derby skater, who sports a team number of 911. People are fun.

Stephan Briscoe’s work is always at Texas Artists Museum. The permanent stained glass window honoring Challenger 13 has been at the museum since it opened. Briscoe’s later works are on display in February, including a large panel featuring Port Arthur’s favorite pink bird, the roseate spoonbill. His latest is a blue heron, also native to this area. He started it before the last hurricane, but his commission work for churches pushed it back. Briscoe has also been involved in an African ministry, teaching stained glass to students in Accra, on the west coast. An artists reception will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9 at the museum, 3501 Cultural Center Drive. Work by Slava Protopopov and Lou Handley will also be featured.