(Photo by Michael DeMocker, The Times-Picayune)

Tourists are flocking to Woldenberg Park in New Orleans to watch CNN’s Anderson Cooper report his nightly “AC360” take on the BP oil spill.  Referring to Cooper as “the blue-eyed heartthrob of CNN fame,” the Times-Picayune reported that about 40 people showed up one recent evening to watch Cooper tape his introduction for the cablecast.

Cathy Parnell and her husband, from Peachtree City, Georgia, took time out from their New Orleans vacation to track down Cooper. “I knew he was here because I watch him every night and I recognized the bridge,” Cathy Parnell told the Times-Picayune.  Her husband added, “She just kept saying, ‘That’s the bridge, that’s the bridge.'”

The Times-Picayune says Woldenberg Park is also used by anchors and reporters from ABC and Al Jazeera, apparently because of its view of the Westin Hotel and Harrah’s New Orleans Casino, and the bridge’s distinctive silhouette.

As she watched Cooper, Michelle Doroz, an Arizona physician, typed a Facebook entry to her sister: “I am watching Anderson Cooper putting on bug spray in front of the Natchez in New Orleans.”  Doroz told the Times-Picayune that her sister is “a big Anderson Cooper fan, but she’s in Israel right now on a tour of the Middle East.”

More Southern Oddities and Entities

A good oil guy?  John Hofmeister told a Charlotte, North Carolina, audience that oil companies are worried only  about making money, declaring,  “Time is ticking, energy is disappearing. We need an intervention.”  Such comments would not be unexpected in the wake of the BP oil disaster, except John Hofmeister used to be president of Shell Oil.  He is now head of Citizens for Affordable Energy and proposes getting rid of the internal combustion engine, which he calls “a dreaded 100-year-old device.”  Hofmeister, who retired two years ago, is out promoting his new, appropriately named book, Why We Hate the Oil Companies.

Litigating for the turtles: Four animal rights groups have sued BP in federal court in New Orleans alleging that BP is burning endangered sea turtles alive in the Gulf of Mexico. According to  2Advocate.com , the lawsuit was filed by the Animal Welfare Institute of Washington, D.C.; Center for Biological Diversity of Tucson,Arizona; Turtle Island Restoration Network of Forest Knolls, California.; and Animal Legal Defense Fund of Cotati, California.

South makes another list we don’t want to be on: Eight Southern states made the Top 10 on the latest “fattest” list issued by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

1. Mississippi
2. Alabama (tie)
2. Tennessee (tie)
4. West Virginia
5. Louisiana
6. Oklahoma
7. Kentucky
8. Arkansas
9. South Carolina
10. North Carolina (tie)
10. Michigan (tie)

Sometimes, texting and not driving is dangerous: The state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety released text messages that cost longtime North Carolina Highway Patrol spokesman Everett Clendenin his job.  According to the NewsObserver.com, the messages were sent to a secretary whose husband is also a trooper.  One apparently was in response to a photo the woman had sent Clendenin:  “Sweet Yup Damn Mmmmmm When u gonna wear those??:D They look hot U been on a shopping spree. Lol Mmmmmm I like themmmm. :p”

Sometimes, texting and not driving is dangerous II: The attorney for an Asheville, North Carolina, police sergeant accused of sexual harassment acknowledged in a court filing that the officer sent lewd and racist text messages. According to CitizenTimes.com, one message sent around the time of President Barack Obama’s election in November 2008 said that “due to recent events: grape soda, red kool-aid, fried chicken, malt liquor, menthol cigarettes and gold teeth will be tax exempt.”

This is not what the World Cup is about: Two Springfield, Georgia, men were arrested on animal cruelty charges for allegedly “violently” kicking a puppy back and forth next to the Effingham County sheriff’s office.

Don’t try this at home, either: An assistant principal set Gallatin High School in Gallatin, Tennessee, on fire when he used an outdoor torch to clean up some weeds around a shed attached to the school.  The local fire department was able to extinguish the blaze before the school was seriously burned.

Check out our News and Opinion Feeds for a lot more Southern happenings.

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Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor was born and raised in Georgia and worked more than 40 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a reporter and editor and as an online producer for ajc.com and AccessAtlanta. He served for a time as the newspaper's regional editor, overseeing coverage of the South. He is co-author, with Dr. Leonard Ray Teel, of Into the Newsroom:  An Introduction to Journalism and has conducted workshops in the Middle East on feature writing.