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Wi-Fi, Dirty Gig & Unorthodox View of Shreveport

March 30th, 2015 · Tags:Arts · Cities · Coffee Shops · Wi-Fi

 

 

Amazing, the way people drive between Fort Worth, Texas and Shreveport, La. I suppose if you are going to drive that far to lose money in a smoky casino, you better get there ASAP, right?:) As for me, I kept it pretty much within the legal limits, as I headed out to make money in Cajun Country … At least, on the third leg of my four trips between those two cities on the latest installment of The Dirty Gig.

 

This time, the gig is to build huge plastic tents — or “containments” — around many large computer cabinets at a manufacturing plant … as well as setting drying equipment inside the plastic to remove condensation. Sounds simple. Did I mention there were three rooms of computer cabinets, the largest cabinet being 66 feet long, 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide? Thats a lot of bytes. When the drying is done, we also have to cut down the plastic, roll it up and dispose of it … Ha … out of boredom on The Dirty Gig, often times we coin terms for the more mundane tasks we have to do. (I think there was an entire list of silly terms on the book repository job in the cave in Columbia last year.) This job, one term stands out. At first, we called the process, the “filet.” We used “filet” to refer to a long plastic strip cut out of the tents, our blades carving around, avoiding all the tape and adhesive spray … trying to salvage one strip of pristine plastic that could be used again in another containment. After a few days, as we became more and more jaded, we changed the name … Ha … are you familiar with the term “bris” from Jewish tradition? (Amazing the things you can pick up from Seinfeld. You just never know where these things will come in handy.)

 

Anywho … it what we do.

 

After hours, away from the factory, the other thing I do is seek out wireless Internet. The first hotspot I found in Shreveport was a good one — where I stay — at the Hampton Inn. As I was saying … good Wi-Fi there although a little cumbersome having to sign in — name and room number — EVERY time I got on line, with three devices in my Wi-Fi arsenal. I mean, it is not like I was going to leave room 321 to trick them. But I should have. You see, there was something “special” about 321. Most hotel rooms “save the planet” by offering you a chance to sleep on dirty sheets and use your hotel towels more than once … Ha … who thought of that PR spin? … Convincing guests they are doing the right thing for the planet, so that the hotel can keep housekeeping/operating expenses down. I tip my cap to you, oh great spinmeister … I digress … So back to room 321. That unit of The Hampton Inn was equipped with a bathroom sink that didn’t dispense water. How clever. Think of the swelling water reservoirs. Ha … I jest, but, no there was no water from the sink when I moved in. But hey, I can cut people a little slack. I stopped at the front desk and asked that a plumber fix the faucets while I was at the factory sucking water from computers.

 

It didn’t happen.

 

I complained again — fairly politely, at least by my standards. The best response I got from the front desk was “you could move to another room.” (Or another hotel was my thought … ) Should I go back and tell the person that at most hotels, when there is a problem with a room the management A) fixes it or B) bends over backwards and packs your stuff for you and moves it for you? No such offers at The Hampton. I stuck with my guns and said, I didn’t want to move. (I have 2.5 suitcases of work clothes, safety helmets, tools, computers, camera, etc. … kind of a hassle. (“An ‘lode’ knows I ti’ed.”) I wanted the problem fixed. I mean, was I at the hotel for their convenience, or perhaps vice versa?

 

After several visits to the front desk, with no better results, I took action. OH, the power of Twitter, and more specifically, a well-chosen #hashtag. (If you don’t fully understand hashtags, e-mail me and I will make a believer out of you …) I tweeted that #HamptonInn in Shreveport took little interest in the fact that I was having to wash my hands, toothbrush and dishes under the faucet of my bathtub. Ha! I also included the hashtag #travel … so just about every person in the entire travel industry, all over the planet, on Twitter had access to the “funny” little story. I got a direct message tweeted from the Hampton corporate social media people within an hour or so. I gave a few specifics, although by this time, I thought they might just track down the Shreveport Hampton on their own, and ask about the one room in the hotel that didn’t have a functioning bathroom sink. Anywho … the social media folks tracked it down, and a few days later … magically … there was in fact a plumber gifted enough to make water run in the Hampton sink. Oh, I forgot to mention, the first person at the front desk told me there was an issue with the city’s water. Yep. They threw the city of Shreveport under the bus. Finally … after a week of being unable to shave in front of a mirror … I too had running water.

 

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Good Wi-Fi for the most part at The Hampton Inn … one of the best breakfast service people ever … clean room … but the visit spoiled by poor plumbing and more so by lackadaisical front desk types. Thanks to the social media team, you saved face and at least scored 2 pings.

 

Next up … Cheesecake Bistro by Copelands. Question which came first, this place, The Cheesecake Factory or the hot blonde who works at The CCF on Big Bang Theory? I don’t know. But I know Shreveport’s Cheesecake Bistro doesn’t have Wi-Fi … hard to believe in a very hot little retail “boardwalk,” just off the banks of the muddy Red River … with so many tourists and shoppers … just doesn’t seem kosher. Which reminds me … if you are othodox and you order a salad at Cheesecake Bistro … it might still be served with bacon. (What? You mean bacon is pork?) Once again, Shreveport has not impressed me with its customer service or attention to detail. My friend was not happy about his order, but this time I was lucky. My seared tuna was excellent … almost worth the 30-minute wait. Ha … this meal just started off wrong and never got back on the track. As my friend asked a few questions about the menu when we first sat down, the waiter actually pulled another chair over and sat down, like he was tired of waiting. Have you ever seen that before? … Ha!  Then he sneezed. Sounds pretty special, huh?

 

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Have to wonder if they merely scraped the bacon from my friend’s salad, but maybe not. No Wi-Fi … the evening saved only by the nice tuna entree and a very nice bartender who took over for the sneezing waiter … BTW … I was sick too … and of course C-Bistro was out of chicken soup – 3 pings

 

Hotel #2

With only a few days left in the Dirty Gig Shreveport edition, our entourage moved over to The Residence Inn … yes, the day after I finally got my running water at The Hampton. The Residence Inn, as you probably know, is much more like home away from home — has an oven, big-boy fridge … ha … even running water. RI also has great free Wi-Fi … but I suppose if you just get a kick out of shopping online, you can also choose a pay-plan for Wi-Fi at Residence. Do people fall for that? The free-fi seemed more than sufficient, although, I never gave it the old Netflix test … since the rooms have AMC and it was Walking Dead season finale week.

 

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I love to cook — home or on the road — so Residence Inn satisfied that need and the ever-important Wi-Fi craving as well … and I think the person from housekeeping who cleaned up my mess was about as nice a person as I have met in that position — 6 pings.

 

To Cork Or Not To Cork

 

Near the end of The Dirty Gig, one of the clients mentioned there was a wine festival in downtown Shreveport … and at first blush my buddy and I were all in. However, I vetoed with all that was within me, when I learned the tickets were $85 … I mean … I don’t even drink alcohol, and I don’t think I could have imbibed $85 worth of bottled water, even on a hot/humid day. In retrospect, it might have been really fun to watch people falling all over each other, because I bet you a dollar, they all tried to drink their money’s worth at $85 a pop. Had I known in advance, I would have gone through the PR channels with my media pass and probably been kinder/gentler with Cork. I heard it was a blast. Looked like an impressive list of wines poured … my favorite from afar, based solely on brand equity, star power — the Francis Ford Coppola red. (Aren’t wine labels and names so fun?)

 

Cork Festival

 

SHREV Panorama

 

 

However … as my buddy and I drove around downtown looking for Cork we found Cambodia … or rather a Cambodian culture festival called the 8th Annual Aseana Spring Festival, on a side street in an arts district. The place had caught my eye earlier, because of the terraced, Asian-garden layout of the park. So glad we stopped. This, my friends, must have been Shreveport at its best. There were about 30 booths set up, with sights, sounds and smells from many different cultures … I sampled Philippine cuisine, tried Thai, chatted with a Pacific Islander group about kava … and enjoyed an Asian dance step or two. Favorite part of the day … after people had been walking around for an hour or so, the entertainment started. With all the crowd noise, very few people heard the announcement that a young Asian-American woman was going to sing The National Anthem. Pretty sure I was the first one up on my feet. And it was so cool to see the crowd gradually realize what the woman was singing … and like watching fans at a baseball stadium, you could just see the “wave” of patriotism as people stood up. I should have mentioned first … many of the people in the crowd probably were first- or second-generation immigrants to America and they seemed to LOVE it. Everywhere there were different colors, creeds and cultures represented. Multi-ethnicity families … a melting pot. These people obviously had not forgotten their backgrounds nor their own cultures … but they had assimilated happily into American culture … you could see it on their faces … And they seemed to appreciate and embrace their new country … the way it is supposed to be. God Bless America!

 

Ha … and I thought I had a bizarre sense of humor. I turned my back for only a second and my non-pork-lover friend took a particular interest in a small hog, roasting and rotating on a spit in one of the islander booths. Ha … he posted then removed from his Facebook page a “porky” … rather, a selfie photo with the rotisserie ham … my friend, holding his hands up in the photo, gesturing, like he was trying to talk to the pig or joking around with it. So funny, Rony!

 

Last thought on the festival … were there “plants” in the crowd, or is the Asian community in Shreveport just that nice? My buddy and I were joined at our table by a couple and some children. The woman was a Philippine native, who grew up in Japan, and her husband was an American-born member of The U.S. Air Force. They chatted with us for a couple of hours, recommending the best neighborhoods for great architecture (Fairview, Southern Highlands, Kings Road area) … taking photos of us with the traditional dancers … recommending foods to try … and their children played smart phone games with us. After we left, I wondered if nice people sat by all the “touristy” looking people and made conversation and recommended that we buy and eat more … probably not. Seemed legit.

 

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Add Wi-Fi and the event would be perfect. But, we say 7 pings regardless … The weather was perfect … a few clouds, a slight, occasional cool breeze, with temperatures in the upper 70s. A most perfect evening … great food, good conversation and the people watching! Wonder if I will run into any of my new Asian Shreveport friends at Starbucks on Line Avenue.

 

 

We saw lots and lots of cool old buildings in and around downtown … many seemed just ripe for the pickin … if you could get them up to code. Two of the most interesting architecturally/historically significant buildings we photographed were “caddy corner” to each other. A grand monster of a building — the Scottish Rite temple and across the street, sadly, the fading-fast B’Nai Zion Temple. The latter, adorned with awesome stain glass, somewhat still in tact … featuring Torah icons such as The Ark of The Covenant, The Star of David, and I presume, the horn that brought down the walls of Jericho. (I so wanted to see an icon featuring “a jawbone of an ass” from the Samson story … I digress …)

 

B’Nai Zion

 

My buddy and I also shunned pork several times at our favorite new BBQ in Shreveport – Podnuhs. Well … I guess I didn’t do my part on the shunning … because I enjoyed the ribs over and over at this joint. Podnuhs isn’t exactly a “hole in the wall” BBQ joint, but the taste is authentic, with a good selection of meats for every palate and/or belief system, with lots of side entrees served in a buffet-type line.

 

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I highly recommend the ribs, corn on the cob, the collard greens and a cup of banana pudding. No Wi-Fi though, but lots of napkins as needed – 5 pings.

 

SHREV Dog Lean sized

 

On the final day in town, I found myself at Starbucks, as I often do — any city, any time. The one on Line Avenue in Shreveport is great. The Wi-Fi provided by AT&T has only kicked me off once (no make that twice … as I continued to blog) … an annoying habit that seems to happen all too often at Bux these days … I digress … My green tea frap tasted wonderful, just as it always does at any cafe under the green mermaid emblem … and of course the people watching was awesome … This must be the most upscale section of Shreveport … the kind of place in which I don’t belong, but I hang out anyway. But what’s this!?! Does Louisiana have “open carry.” (Google say it do …) Minutes after I began blogging at Bux, I noticed a man and woman dressed in nice professional attire, accessorized with what looked to be a .45 caliber and perhaps a 9 mm pistol, respectively. For the record, I also noticed their holsters were adorned with some sort of badge … maybe detectives … Starbucks CSI? Who knows … Then another gentleman strutted on in wearing basketball shorts, work boots, a t-shirt and a gimmee cap — sporting a belted holster with what looked to be a big ol 357 magnum. Maybe he was undercover, swamp style. Who knows?

 

Lastly … oh the timing. I just found out that a touring act I have been wanting to see is playing Shreveport … naturally, the night after I am scheduled to leave. I would have given just about anything to see the Tedeschi Trucks Band at The Strand Theater! (The old theater was another architectural gem downtown.)

 

Tedeschi Truck @ Strand

 

 

Are you familiar? She — Susan Tedeschi — has about as hot a sultry voice and guitar talent as you will find … and her husband — Derek Trucks — rubs elbows on compilation projects with the likes of Eric Clapton (Eric, who turned 80 the day this blog was written …) AND … Trucks is southern rock royalty — the son of one of The Allman Brothers Band. How cool. Any of you attended a concert in this great looking venue?

 

 

Oh get this … Primus — nuts that they are — are playing The Strand in May. But, alas, I am headed back to Fort Worth tomorrow. Who knows … Maybe a Primus road trip!?!

 

Know what I sayin?