It’s long overdue, but it’s finally here. And it was worth the wait.
We’re talking about Life in Looziana, a book of vintage Fred Mulhearn cartoons.
Fred, many around Ruston will remember, once ran Mulhearn’s Florist Shop in what is now Monjunis Restaurant. Then, for some inexplicable reason, he gave up the serenity and aromatic delights of the florist business in favor of LSU Law School. He now works as an attorney for the Louisiana Department of Revenue and Taxation.
But he never gave up his passion for pithy editorial cartoons.
Introduced along with some samples of this work to the late Jim Hughes, at the time executive editor of the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, he was quickly signed on as a part-time editorial cartoonist for the newspaper.
Justifiably, the unofficial title of “Louisiana’s Own Cartoonist” was bestowed upon him by the late Secretary of State Fox McKeithen. The fact that Mulhearn was born in McKeithen’s neck of the woods (Winnsboro) probably didn’t hurt. Mulhearn and wife Roxanne currently reside in Denham Springs.
In addition to his book, a whole boatload (which is an exact term of measurement in south Louisiana) can be found on his internet web page: http://www.fredmulhearn.com.
But back to the book: it is, he proclaims “a collection of cartoons and commentary about what makes Louisiana different, unique, and sometimes just plain weird.”
Without giving anything away, all of Fred’s observations are accompanied by the appropriate cartoon illustrations.
He notes, for example, that “Translucence is not a desired quality in coffee.”
If you have ever attended a crawfish boil in south Louisiana, you understand Fred when he says, “In other states, old newspapers are taken to recycle bins. In Louisiana, we use them as table cloths.”
Most businesses have their own special niche when it comes to profitable holidays. Toy stores have Christmas, jewelry stores have Valentine’s Day, florists have Mother’s Day. In south Louisiana, car washes have love bug season.
The Lord may have sent plagues of frogs and locust on the Egyptians, but they somehow missed out on nutria, West Nile mosquitoes, and Formosan termites.
When a candidate for governor is tossed out the race by the courts because of a prior felony, Fred notes that the poor guy should’ve run for Insurance Commissioner.
Among the great chefs of Louisiana, Fred did not neglect to include “the folks who fry the chicken at Popeye’s.”
On a Sunday morning in Podunk, Louisiana, a couple walking to church observes that the governor is flying in for the day’s service—again.
And when food comes in a brown paper bag and the grease soaks through the paper, you know it’s got to taste good.
Out of professional courtesy, the Ringling Bros.-Barnum and Bailey Circus waited until the legislature adjourned before coming to Baton Rouge.
In one cartoon that hits very close to home in its timing, Fred notes that everyone is relieved when elections are finally over. Everyone, that is, except consultants, pollsters, ad agencies, printers, TV stations, newspapers, billboard companies, advisors, direct mail firms, etc.
One of the more unrealistic mass marketing schemes is that of Christmas cards depicting snow scenes when real Looziana Christmas weather involves dreary, rainy days.
And when you forget to purchase your Lottery and Powerball tickets, you can always simply flush a five dollar bill down the toilet: same result, just as much fun.
What possible purpose does the Rose Bowl Parade serve? They don’t even have throws.
Finally, Fred observes that in other states, women would be insulted by a gift of cheap plastic beads.
In Louisiana, some women disrobe in public to get them.
The book, at $14.95, is a bargain if you’re from Louisiana. If you’re not from Louisiana, you can’t possibly understand its contents or its concept. But get it anyway. It’s sure to be a classic. You can get yours at Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs, order from Cavalier’s website at http://www.cavalierhousebooks.com or by ordering direct from Fred at http://www.fredmulhearn.com.