MARCH MADNESS: Crooked vs. Cooked – Day 6

Day 5 Results: James Monroe Smith (6) defeated Jerry Fowler (11) with 56.5% of the vote. Boudin (11) upset jambalaya (6) with 60%. 

Week 2 of our tournament kicks off with pairings that include “The Boss of the Delta,” crazy Uncle Earl, laboriously prepared creamy deliciousness, and a friend of the hungover.


CROOKED: “Judge” Leander Perez (3) vs. Earl Long (14)
For most of the mid-20th century, No. 3 seed Leander Perez was arguably the closest thing to a Third World despot Louisiana has ever seen, wielding seemingly absolute power over the people and political process of Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes from the 1930s to the 1960s. Though he served as a judge for only five years, he was henceforth known as “Judge” for the remainder of his political career, which spanned five decades.

After becoming the district attorney for the two aforementioned parishes in 1924, Perez began to amass wealth and power by successfully defending Gov. Huey Long during his impeachment trial in 1929. Long rewarded his new ally from southeast Louisiana with legislation allowing him to exploit oil on public lands for personal gain, which he then used to regularly rig elections and force the parish councils to pass laws he desired.

Candidates Perez endorsed often won with a North Korea-esque 90%+ of the vote.

Elections were blatantly falsified during Perez’s reign as political boss. Voter rolls were padded with fictitious people with names like Babe Ruth, Charlie Chaplin, and Herbert Hoover. Perez sent burly men into voting booths to “help” people vote, and even testified he bribed voters $2, $5, or $10 to vote his way, depending on who they were. Candidates he endorsed often won with a North Korea-esque 90%+ of the vote.

When anti-Long Gov. Sam Jones ordered the National Guard to invade Plaquemines Parish – yes, invade Plaquemines Parish – to enforce the installation of a state-appointed interim sheriff in 1943, Perez marshaled a mob of men, including the American Legion, who built and ignited a roadblock of gasoline-soaked oyster shells – that’s right, gasoline-soaked oyster shells … in the midst of rationing for the war effort – to stem the invasion by the National Fucking Guard and turn back the appointee. Perez then fled by boat (burning more gas that could have been used to fuel a tank fighting the Germans) to Mississippi, where he fired off a barrage of lawsuits before ultimately regaining power. Like we said, “Third World despot.”

Perez was also a supremely staunch segregationist, so much so that he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in April 1962 by New Orleans Archbishop Joseph Rummell. In addition to calling blacks “animal(s) right out of the jungle,” Perez claimed the civil rights movement was the work of “all those Jews who were supposed to have been cremated at Buchenwald and Dachau but weren’t.”

The legacy of Perez’s greed and corruption is still being felt throughout Louisiana to this day. In his Continental Shelf Proclamation of 1945, President Harry Truman declared that the federal government had jurisdiction over all offshore resources, but was willing to bargain with Gulf states most affected by the burgeoning offshore oil-drilling industry. So in 1948, House Speaker Sam Rayburn, acting as Truman’s emissary, met with Perez and other Louisiana officials in Washington and offered a deal giving the state 2/3 of all revenues from mineral bonuses, leases, and royalties in a three-mile band extending from its coast out into the Gulf of Mexico, and 37.5% of all revenues in the tidelands outside this boundary.

Earl Long might have been a little nuts, even bipolar, but not once did he ever try to block the National Guard with flaming oyster shells.

Perez, who was making tons of cash from leases back home, told Rayburn to tell Truman to take his deal and shove it, adding that he’d tell Louisiana Gov. Earl Long (his opponent in today’s matchup) to reject it. Perez “convinced” Long to turn it down by threatening to take Long’s nephew Russell, son of the late Huey Long, off the States’ Rights ticket for the U.S. Senate race, which would have all but guaranteed victory for Republican Clem Clarke.

The federal government later filed suit against Texas and Louisiana, claiming sovereignty over the coastal waters. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1950 that all submerged land along the coast belonged to the feds, not the states. It’s widely believed that because of Leander Perez, Louisiana has missed out on more than $100 billion from oil and gas revenues.

By contrast, fourteenth-seeded Earl Long was more entertaining than he was corrupt during his three nonconsecutive terms as governor. Oh sure, he purportedly was involved with organized crime and allegedly wiretapped the home phone of his 1956 gubernatorial opponent Chep Morrison, but the folksy, animated “Uncle Earl” is mainly in this tournament because he’s Huey Long’s brother, was unabashed about his torrid affair with Bourbon Street stripper Blaze Starr, was committed to a mental institution while in office in 1959, and was portrayed by Paul Newman in a movie.

Yes, Earl Long might have been a little nuts, even bipolar, but not once did he ever try to block the National Guard with flaming oyster shells.

COOKED: Crawfish Bisque (3) vs. Grits and Grillades (14)
South Louisiana favorite and No. 3 seed crawfish bisque is probably the most labor-intensive contestant from the Cooked category; that is, if you do it right. A real crawfish bisque (as far as we’re concerned) is one in which crawfish heads are stuffed with a crawfish stuffing. This means somebody – either the cook or some person at a seafood company – has to clean a bunch of crawfish heads before they are painstakingly stuffed one at a time. And that’s before you even get to the sauce, which, of course, is boss!

Fourteenth-seeded grits and grillades is a traditional breakfast/brunch dish in New Orleans, as well as other parts of the state. It’s a fairly simple concept: Meats like beef, veal, or pork are slow-cooked with vegetables and served over grits. And if you’re hungry and nursing a hangover, you can always just throw leftovers on some instant grits in a pinch. It still counts. We won’t tell anybody.

Ready. Set. VOTE! (Polls close nightly at 10 p.m. CDT.)


FYI: If you’re trying to make sense of this graft vs. grub competition, here’s an explanation.RedShtick-Top-ColumnStop

About Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff
A random collection of overqualified, underachieving smartasses.

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