Fishing with Too $hort

“Mad technician / that loves to go fishing” – City Morgue, YZ’s Acid Rain, 1993 

I like to fish. I think I’m pretty decent for a person who has no boat.

In every body of water I cast on, I try to read what the fish are doing, to understand the type of fish I am targeting. Where are they most likely located? What are they feeding on? Do I have a lure that mimics their prey? Can I cast where I need to?

All of this is not something you can just pick up on. It takes years of trial and error to become seasoned. It’s fitting, then, that my seasoning came from Louisiana.

I spent alotta time honing my skills in areas surrounding Jefferson Parish. I remember me and a bunch of kids from the neighborhood using thread, a broomstick, safety pins and bacon to catch gar out of the canals.

As we got older and our allowances started to increase, we started to save up and buy actual rods, reels and hooks. I was in middle school when I got my first Zebco 202 combo. I felt invincible. But as my skill and finesse increased, so did my need for better gear.

The better my gear, the better success I had on any body of water. By the time I hit High School, I was basically a pro (with no boat, sponsorship or notoriety). I had my gear, my lures and my bike.

I lived in Kenner my freshman year at East Jefferson. A canal was the border of the district between East Jefferson and Bonnabel High. My sophomore year, we moved across the canal but I continued attending EJ. Even though I had outgrown the canal, I would still sneak a peek looking for gar every time I crossed it.

The weekdays belonged to school and chores. The weekends were mine.

Depending on the weather and my ambition, I would spend time fishing in one of 3 places: Lafreneire Park, The Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain. Lafreneire Park was cool but it was small. It was a nice place to test yourself though.

The river has a serious current and all you are really promised out of there are catfish. I knew every carcinogen known to man was in there but I heard rumors of catfish the size of Volkswagen.

Pontchartrain was my best bet. The brackish water has the most potential. You could catch bass, but there are also redfish and specks. And everyone wants a big redfish at the end of their line. Although I mostly caught the dreaded hard head cat while there, the potential was the real draw to the location.

As I made that ride on my bike, I would start reciting rap songs to make my trip go by faster. I noticed that one song’s duration always seemed to be perfectly in sync with my riding time. And people wonder how I could like Todd Shaw.

Some songs are the themes of a slice of time in your life. Too $hort’s “Cuss Words” still takes me places.

I saw Too $hort open up for Public Enemy in the U.N.O. Lakefront Arena. It was him, a mic and his dancer. When he performed “Cuss Words”, he let the crowd participate in reciting the lyrics. I remember seeing a security guard falling out on the floor laughing when Mr. Shaw pointed the mic to the audience prompting them to finish the “corn on the cob” line.

I lived off of 25th and Illinois.

According to Google Maps, I was 2.8 miles away from the lake. That song is 7 minutes and 47 seconds long. That is about 2.78 miles per minute or 21.6 miles an hour. That’s a pretty decent pace on a bike.

Of course the land was flat. The only real obstacles were Veterans Blvd and W. Esplanade. Google says it will take 15 minutes by bike. I am not too sure about that. I know people that can run close to that pace. I am on my bike and I am on a mission and I am a non-smoking high school student with decent cardio.

By the time I was saying “Cuss words, just let em roll…,” I was near my destination.

But ain’t a “cussword” just a word?

“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a darn,” would have left theater goers in a state of blah when they went to see Gone with the Wind. Instead, the good Christian people left the theater offended in many cases, because the word was so taboo.

That won’t happen today. The word has lost it’s bite. Some say Richard Pryor did the same thing with the ‘N’ word. Of course, Todd Shaw popularized the ‘B’ word (even stringing out the vowel sound to emphasize his point).

Bad words just don’t have that edge anymore because they are so commonplace. So are they still bad?

Language evolves just like my fishing equipment. In recent history, I bet many people would rather be called a female dog, Too $hort-style, than be called “Anti-American.”

In some parts of the country, being called an “atheist” or a “socialist” is almost like being called the N word during the ’60s. In a few years, things will change.

Hopefully, I will see a time when people being called “Christian” or “Republican” will urge them to be embarrassed or offended enough to want to trade blows.

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