More Laurels for Louisiana! More proof of our raging and unquenchable blood lust! You don’t get cuisine like ours without it.
Turns out that JBL, the nation’s biggest speargun manufacturer, sells more spearguns in Louisiana than in any state in the Union. We burst with pride at the news! The Saints in the playoffs , LSU at the Sugar bowl, a Huey Long Turnpike christened in Washington D.C., Edwin Edwards cleared of embezzlement and racketeering — none of this could compare.
Yet Louisiana has fewer scuba divers than Indiana or Colorado. We have a tiny population. We’re not even in the top twenty states in number of Scuba certifications. But we’re all predators. Yes sir, participants in nature’s bloody game of fang and claw, not passive voyeurs. Let the yuppies “go down” with their cameras. We’ll grab something more lethal. Let them coo and sigh over their pictures. We’ll slobber and belch over the Creole Red Snapper and Grilled Amberjack.
Granted, the official certification figures may not give the number of actual scuba divers here. Louisianians have always regarded certifications (of any type) like Kaiser Wilhelm regarded treaties with Belgium — “a scrap of paper.”
I say JBL’s figures reflect our maniacal predatory instincts, our Mediterranean culture, our obsession with marching clumpingly out of step to the Beltway parade. Imagine Al Gore trying to shuffle and pivot in rhythm with the Temptations. Imagine Bella Abzug following the Rockettes. That’s Louisiana following the Beltway.
Nationally, scuba diving has never been more popular; spearfishing, never more dammed. The Enviro-yuppies who make up today’s Scuba divers regard a speargun about like Diane Feinsten regards an Assault rifle ( Potemkim deer-rifle, I call them) , about like Dracula regards a cross — Dracula?! What am I saying? — about like the Federal government regards a cross. That’s better. They horrify them.
I’ve had these yuppies shrieking and sputtering at me across a restaurant table over spearfishing, pelting me with masticated grilled grouper. We’re the clods right? We’re the simple-minded yahoos, right? — the rustics, the unimaginative oafs, right? Yet the process by which the little pet they fed on the reef that morning turned into dinner seems to escape them. Unreal.
Even better, JBL’s news comes atop Louisiana’s rating at the very pinnacle of the Fund For Animals, “Cavalcade of Cruelty, ” on which I reported last week. That was because Louisiana hunters assassinate the most animals in any state. And that’s just hunting. PETA calls fishing “the cruelest form of hunting.” Then by golly let’s see us rated there also! We’d be at the top there too. I ga-ron-tee.
And Geezuz, if fishing is cruel, how about spearfishing? What a tale that would make! They’d need sedatives if they saw that in action, especially down here around an oil platform. Here’s a scene to boil the blood and foam the brain of any Greenpeacer, a sleep-choking nightmare. Here’s a huge steel spider sucking greedily at Mother Earth’s molten innards and converting them to lifeblood of the very system bent on shackling, defiling and mutilating her. Industrial capitalism’s very lifeblood courses through those pipes. The black gold will be pumped to shore via pipeline and start the evil process; refineries will belch their flatus towards the ozone layer; they’ll poison streams and wetlands with their toxic excreta. Cars will clog the freeways and foul the air with noxious exhaust. Shell Oil will profit, stockholders will gloat and workers will be exploited. Fossil fuels, pollution, “obscene” profits….and — YE GODS!, a boatload of southern drunkards capitalizing on it all, playing macho around the steel legs, killing defenseless fish for the sheer thrill of it between slugs of beer and belts of whisky…..Boat decks awash with beer foam, empty cans and the slimy blood of huge fish with sad eyes and gaping holes in their flanks. That evening at a Marina crammed with the yachts of the oilfield gentry ( rich White Trash) a forklift will unload the carcasses amidst a drunken din of whoops, high fives, rebel yells and sexist jokes.
Every rule broken, every ox gored, every sacred cow yanked up on a hook and slit open — then butchered, diced, marinated, skewered, grilled, chewed, gulped and crapped out of rectums reddened and inflamed by cayenne pepper and whiskey.
Here’s the eco-weenies’ Earth Goddess Gaia, her gown in tatters, her blond hair matted with blood and sweat, screaming in terror while belted around a Biker bar by grimy thugs, then gang-assaulted on a pool table. She’s red-eyed, tear-soaked and whimpering. The grimy, pot-bellied mob jeers, guzzles, snarls and whoops around her…
(My GOD!…What kind of a sick mind would come up with this crap?!)
Point is: Any Greenpeacer or Sierra Clubber who came upon us would need electroshock and heavy sedation for a week. Here’s a methodical, relentless, point by point savaging of every principle they hold dear. Heresy is one thing. This is a 16th century Pope with Martin Luther, Mohammed and Beezlebub mooning him.
The culture clash became thumpingly evident on a recent Dive trip to Cozumel by three Louisiana couples — two of the husbands with even more ominous cultural baggage, they were Cuban-American.
The people surrounding us on the dive boat in Cozumel were New-Age divers from central casting. Cousteau Society and Sierra Club patches on their bags were a dead giveaway. They looked like classic yuppies from the northeast, jabbering excitedly about some purple-peckered parrotfish that ate from their hand.
To the little Mayan divemasters we probably looked like part of the group. Just another bunch of gringo tourists unable to understand the salacious comments they were making about the dripping gringas they were helping aboard after the day’s first dive, three of whom happened to be our wives. Little did they suspect that Pelayo (my cousin) and I understood every word.
I noticed Pelayo’s jaw muscles harden and his eyes narrow after a particularly lewd comment by the little Mexican with a shark tooth earring on our left. Good Lord, I thought. Here we go.
I could already see the news release: “Wild fracas on Cozumel dive boat lands two Louisiana men in notorious Mexican jail. Local Police Chief, Emiliano “El Guapo” Sanchez gave little hope to those working for their early release, who appear to be very few.”
“These cabrones insulted the honor of our nation!” he growled. “They must pay! They are very fortunate to be in here, rather than out there!” Chief Sanchez then pointed through his window where a machete-wielding crowd was massing and shouting: “Give us the Gringos!”
U.S. ambassador Alphonse “Buzzy” McKee says prospects of having the Louisianians released anytime soon appear bleak. “Mr Fontova and Pelaez, like most Cuban-Americans are exceptionally crude, unreasonable and hot-headed men. There’s no reasoning with these people. Pepper spray in the face, rifle butts to the head and machine guns poking their chest is all they understand,” he said in an interview in Chief Sanchez’ office. “We’re doing all we can but I’m not optimistic.”
When contacted on ambassador McKee’s summer estate in the exclusive “Dinero” district outside Cancun, The Louisiana men’s wives appeared remarkably calm and cheerful. “We have full faith in Buzzy’s efforts.” The wives chirped while sipping margaritas from a revolving Jacuzzi. “Besides, we’re in no hurry.”
The hideous vision rattled me deeply and I nudged Pelayo. “Come on man.” I stammered. “Let it slide. It’s no big deal. We’re on vacation. The girls don’t even understand.”
“But I do!” he snarled. “Did you hear that last remark about Cindy?!”
I didn’t think Pelayo had much justification. We’d been doing the exact same thing all morning. It was hard enough to resist commenting when the skimpy swimsuits were dry and strategically positioned before the dive. When wet and haphazardly positioned after the dive….well. I’d need 100 more pages to list all the advantages of speaking a second language that your wife doesn’t.
But Pelayo wouldn’t listen to reason. He shook me loose and started walking over to the giggling divemasters. “Chris, Shirley, Toni, Cindy!” I suddenly yelled. “Let’s walk around to the other side of the boat for a minute. I think they sighted a Manta ray over there.” An ugly scene was bound to unfold. I wanted them shielded.
“Be ready for trouble.” I whispered to Chris.
He made a fist and bashed it against the railing. “Don’t worry.” He snarled. “We’ll stomp em.”
I pretended to scan the emerald waters around us for the mythical Manta Rays but nothing happened. No wild yells, moans, grunts, thumps or splashes from the other side of the boat. Hummmmm. A few minutes later Pelayo walked around with a big smile on his face. “He said he’ll take us out tomorrow morning.” He beamed “Spearfishing, on the northern side of the island.”
“I thought that was illegal down here.” Chris said with a bewildered look.
“Nothing’s illegal down here.” Pelayo smirked. “For the right price.”
“What’s he charging?” I asked.
“NOTHING!” Pelayo said. “He keeps all the fish we shoot. We’d never be able to bring it home anyway.” he shrugged.
We were on. And we desperately needed it. These sightseeing Caribbean dives have the same effect on diehard spearfishermen that a visit to the Gold Club (on business, strictly business) has on non-gelded males. All looking but no touching. “Oh allright, go ahead,”say the more tolerant ( or wine-mellowed) wives. “Work up your appetite there — but you better dine at home.”
We worked it up on those sightseeing dives allright. The next morning we got our release. A frenzy of marine murder. Fish blood and scales clouding the water. But that’s another story.
On the boat ride out the girls had befriended a New Jersey couple who spent most of the first dive feeding and petting a huge black grouper that hovered around us. Spencer and Meagan were on their fourth trip to Cozumel in as many years. “Did you see the beautiful grouper?” Meagan beamed at our wives.
“Sure did.” Pelayo interrupted. “Looked just like the one I speared last week at the oil platforms.”
Spencer and Meagan both grimaced and shook their heads. The wives rolled their eyes, curled their lips and jerked their heads in the unmistakable: BUTT OUT!!
“Blam!” Pelayo motioned with his fist. “Shot the big sucker right through the gillplates! ” Pelayo’s eyes blazed with blood lust. He licked drool from his lower lip. “But I still went to the mat with him. Good thing Chris showed up and finished him off with the ice pick.” Chris made muscular jabbing motions in the air to demonstrate.
“You’re….You’re AWFUL!” Meagan cried with her voice cracking. She and Spencer walked off. The girls followed, apparently unimpressed with our subtle approach to explaining our sport.
We mended fences that night at Carlos & Charlie’s. Tequilla does it every time. The day’s events take on a special charm about that time. You forget the sunburn. Sitting on that sea urchin now seems amusing. The cure involving uric acid even more so. The Moray that clamped it’s teeth around your wife’s hand until you diced it with a dive knife now elicits guffaws from people into their third round of half-gallon margaritas. In minutes your wife raises her bandaged hand to beckon the waiter for the fourth. After the fifth you give in and show everyone the urchin wound, about a foot below the fire coral burns that cover your lower back……
* A book crammed with this type of cruelty, infantilism, misogyny and lechery, titled Helldiving, will be out this winter.
August 25, 2000
Humberto Fontova’s book entitled Helldiving — about cajun-style undersea lunacy — will be out this winter. This is from Salesrep Survival Guide, in progress.