An Open Letter to Michael Crouch, Downtown Building Owner

From The PublisherMr. Crouch:

Go fuck yourself.

I know that may seem rash, blunt, and crudely hyperbolic, but I mean it. Go fuck yourself.

You’re the kind of asshole who gives capitalism a bad name. The shit you pulled last week with the venerable, last-of-its-kind Coca-Cola sign sitting atop your building at the corner of Florida and Third in downtown Baton Rouge is such a dick move, Gordon Gekko wants you to tone it down a notch.

Now that your long-vacant building is finally getting some attention because Cane’s opened a downtown location there, you’ve covered up the sign until you get paid.

Look, I’m sure you paid a pretty penny for that landmark building, which has been the home of the Willis-Liggett drugstore, Souper Salad, Richoux’s Night Club, Parrot Beach, and Dante’s Inferno Room. I know nothing downtown is cheap.

This is what the historic Coca-Cola sign looked like when the building was owned by respectable people, like Pete and Joy Richoux.
This is what the historic Coca-Cola sign looked like when the building was owned by respectable people, like Pete and Joy Richoux.

I’m also confident you dropped a good chunk of change fixing up the place so you could get a quality tenant like Raising Cane’s to move in. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I used to produce weekly comedy shows in there when it was Richoux’s. I remember Pete Richoux mopping up lakes of rainwater on the floor before some of our shows after heavy downpours.)

It’s a big, old, downtown building that needed a lot of work. I get that.

What I don’t get is how you have the fucking gall to shroud the historic Coca-Cola sign the day before Raising Cane’s grand opening and demand you get paid for maintenance of the sign, as well as reimbursement for advertising space.

You obviously bought the building knowing the sign was there. You also obviously had no problem with the sign being seen until Wednesday of last week.

But now that your long-vacant building is finally getting some attention because Cane’s opened a downtown location there, you’ve covered it up until you get paid.

Here’s the thing. If it were actually your sign, I could maybe understand your actions. If the sign were yours and in unsightly disrepair, I could definitely understand your actions. After all, if it’s your property, and if you aren’t breaking any preservation ordinances or laws, you could do with it as you please.

BUT IT’S NOT YOUR FUCKING SIGN.

Sure, it sits on top of your building, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your property, no more than when your wife, girlfriend, poolboy, or whoever the hell finds you fuckable sits on top of you does she or he becomes your property.

You bitched about needing money for maintenance of the sign. Mutherfucker, Coca-Cola just spent $20,000 fixing the goddam thing!

Let me fill you in. In 2002, the then-storm-damaged sign was donated by Pete and Joy Richoux to the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. The Downtown Development District brokered the deal, which included an agreement with both Coca-Cola and Entergy. The former agreed to handle and pay for all maintenance of the sign, while the latter vowed to provide free power to light it, so long as the sign was donated to the Arts Council.

That’s why Coca-Cola just dropped $20,000 on maintenance, and why they’ve spent in the neighborhood of $150,000 over the past 30 years maintaining a sign they (and you) don’t own.

Coca-cola-sign-night-baton-rouge-downtownYet in a letter from your attorney, you bitched about needing money for maintenance of the sign. Mutherfucker, they just spent $20,000 fixing the goddam thing!

Then, in that same letter, your lawyer (on your behalf) expressed outrage that Coca-Cola performed maintenance – something you say you want to be reimbursed for, even though Coca-Cola’s already taking care of that – without getting your permission to do the work.

Question: What kind of fucktard bitches about needing money to maintain property he neither owns nor maintains, and at the same time, bitches that someone else is maintaining that property without first getting his permission to do so?

Answer: Look in the fucking mirror.

Yet you still seem to think the sign is yours. Word is you’re contesting the legal “act of donation” documenting that the Arts Council is the rightful owner.

How interesting. You think the sign is yours, even though the guy you bought the building from, attorney Danny McGlynn, said you got him to knock $15,000 off the purchase price when you realized that the sign wasn’t included in the sale.

Last time I checked, Fortune 500 companies aren’t in the business of being bamboozled into donating free shit to private citizens.

Furthermore, your actions and your attorney’s words lead me to believe that you believe that both Coca-Cola and Entergy – two Fortune 500 companies – somehow fucked up and didn’t make sure all the i’s were dotted and all the t’s were crossed in 2002. If you really are the rightful owner, that would mean that for the past 12 years, two Fortune 500 companies have been providing free goods and services in bad faith since the whole deal hinged on the sign being donated to the Arts Council, a nonprofit organization.

Last time I checked, Fortune 500 companies aren’t in the business of being bamboozled into donating free shit to private citizens. Also, last time I checked, Fortune 500 companies hire a lot more and a lot better attorneys than piss-ant commercial property owners such as yourself do.

I’m no legal expert, but you might as well file suit claiming Johnny Manziel texted you harassing photos of his tiny penis (aka his “Vienna sausage”).

You obviously don’t give a shit it’s not your sign. You obviously don’t give a shit it’s the last sign of its kind in the entire fucking country, including Atlanta, the home of Coca-Cola. You obviously don’t give a shit that you covered up one of the few cool and unique things in Baton Rouge that serves as a beloved icon of downtown Baton Rouge’s history, a constant that has seen the surrounding businesses change names too many times to count.

No, obviously, the only thing you do give a shit about is demanding something you don’t deserve in return for exploiting something that does not belong to you.

Am I calling you a sign terrorist? Well, you assumed control of it, put a bag over it, and say you won’t release it until your demands are met.

You know who does that? Hostage takers.

Am I calling you a sign terrorist? Well, you assumed control of it, put a bag over it, and say you won’t release it until your demands are met. Let me guess. You want Coca-Cola to pay you in small, untraceable bills?

You wonder why people like me are so cynical? You wonder why our best and brightest are leaving every fucking year? You wonder why so many think the notion that Baton Rouge is “America’s next great city” is total pollyanna horseshit? It’s because this town has too many people like you, people with more money than sense and class.

Now maybe – just maybe – all the negative publicity you’ve been getting since last week will make you reconsider. Perhaps the outcry – along with legal documents from Coca-Cola, Entergy, the Arts Council, and Danny McGlynn – will give you pause … and refresh (Coke joke). That would be great.

However, just remember, doing the right thing only because you are disgraced into doing the right thing doesn’t make you any less of an asshole. It only makes you an asshole who’s tired of being called an asshole, but that doesn’t mean people stop thinking you’re an asshole, asshole.

So, in summary: The sign isn’t yours. You’re a hostage-taking asshole. Go fuck yourself.RedShtick-Top-ColumnStop

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About Jeremy White

Jeremy White
Jeremy White is an engineer by education, but a smartass by birth. He managed to overcome the obstacles presented by his technical background, and has brilliantly devised a way to make a living making fun of people.

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