The Keeper of the Gorilla Tuesday, Dec 4 2012 

-1The nice folks at Country Roads let me write about my favorite yard art.

When most people think of yard art, they envision flamingos, plastic light-up Virgin Marys, and gnomes with pointy hats and mischievous grins. A five-foot tall, 2,300-pound cement gorilla dressed in a holiday costume is never the first thing on the list—unless you live in Plaquemine.

For over ten years, the Plaquemine Gorilla has dutifully guarded the Schwing family home on Highway 1. Gayle Schwing says her Fay Wray-esque love affair with the gentle giant began as a long running joke with her late husband, Edward. The couple owned a vacation home on Grand Isle. On the way there, they would pass D&D Ornamental Concrete in Napoleonville. Schwing says her husband would point to the statue and say, “I’m gonna get that gorilla.”

In September of 2002, the gorilla found his way to her front yard. At first, Schwing was unhappy and embarrassed with her husband for his large impulse purchase. But the gorilla eventually wormed his way into Schwing’s heart.

During a heavy storm that fall, the family decided the gorilla needed protection. Schwing’s daughter managed to squeeze him into a rain slicker. Later that year he donned a witch hat for Halloween. Schwing’s husband demanded more professional costumes for his unlikely muse. A seamstress was hired and the gorilla found himself decked out for Christmas in Santa Claus suit complete with a hat.

When Edward died in April 2003, Gayle took all of the flowers from his service and placed them around the gorilla. At that point, it was obvious the concrete giant had become a member of the family.

Schwing kept the new tradition of dressing the gorilla. It takes two people to help him into his custom-made couture. His collection has even grown to six signature looks. He dresses for Mardi Gras, Easter, Fourth of July, LSU football season, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The Santa Claus suit remains Schwing’s favorite. The gorilla even has a spotlight so he can be viewed from the road at night.

The town has embraced this loveable ape as their unofficial mascot. People have brought their children to have holiday portraits taken with him for years. Passing motorcycle clubs have been known to snap a picture or two.

Schwing believes that Edward bought the gorilla so she would always have something to remember him by. Even though it has never occurred to her to name her giant brute, she says, “It means so much to us as a family. No one else should ever have it. And I will never move it.”


Louisiana Craft Beer Article for Country Roads; Bastille Day; Lillet Cocktail Friday, Jul 6 2012 

DBG—Country Roads


Hi Red Stickers!


Our friends at Country Roads Magazine were nice enough to let DBG write an article on craft beer in Louisiana.  And oh boy, the “research”  DBG got to do was mighty fun.  Beer fans should check it out.  You might find a new favorite brew.


Missed celebrating the 4th of July because it was in the middle of the week? The French will be celebrating La Fete Nationale 10 days later. So storm the Bastille and whip up a cocktail made with France’s favorite wine aperitif—Lillet.  Lillet is available in both blanc or rouge.  It is a blend of either is Bordeaux or Sauvignon Blanc, citrus liquor, and quinine. (Think Pimm’s, but different.) Lillet Blanc over ice with a slice of orange makes an excellent summer cocktail.  You can find Lillet at your nicer liquor stores.  Lillet was also a favorite of Hannibal Lector, and we all know how serious he was about his food and beverage.  Want to get fancy?  Check out the recipe below. 


Liberté Cocktail


3 ounces Lillet Blanc

1 ounce gin

2 dashes orange bitters

Garnish: orange peel


Stir ingredients together with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin slice of orange peel.


Louisiana did fly under the French flag for a while. So eat some frites, play some Petanque (French Bocce Ball) and celebrate the nation who gave us Chanel, Hermes, Cartier, and the metric system. 


PS–DBG would never let you eat cake; she would let you eat an éclair.





Juban’s Sunday, Mar 11 2012 

Juban’s & Country Roads

DBG just wanted to thank Country Roads Magazine for letting her be a guest columnist for their Favorite Things
issue. See the rest of their Favorite Things at Without
further ado…here is a reprint of DBG’s take on Juban’s.

Juban’s has been an unlikely inhabitant of the Acadian Perkins Shopping Plaza since 1983. Dive Bar Girl has
always found it odd that a fine dining landmark is nestled into the corner of the aging strip mall. It even shares a
wall with a local hardware store.

While Juban’s and its signature “Hallelujah Crab” are familiar to Baton Rouge diners, the Courtyard Bar is a
hidden gem that deserves more attention than just for being a place to get a quick drink while waiting for a
dinner table to open up.

The bar recreates the ambience of a hidden French Quarter courtyard, but not in a cheesy Disneyland Pirates of
the Caribbean way. It is subtle and tasteful, and this courtyard has air conditioning in the steamy summer
months. Whenever Dive Bar Girl feels herself missing New Orleans, she puts on her patent leather Mary Janes
and her grown-up jewellery and heads to Juban’s. It is one of the few establishments in Red Stick that can make
a proper martini. The bartenders use the perfect amount of vermouth and shake it up until it is so cold small ice
crystals dance across the top and eventually fade into the sides of the glass.

Juban’s makes the type of grown-up cocktails Elizabeth Taylor could hurl at Richard Burton while spouting lines
from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? While other drinking establishments have seen their cocktail menus
become littered with sweet flavored martinis designed to be swilled by pretty amateurs wearing too much eye
makeup, Juban’s proudly serves Sazeracs and Pimm’s Cups. Dive Bar Girl feels these beverages are best
paired with seersucker suits, red bow ties and hot summer days.

And then there is the fireplace for those lonely winter months. Dive Bar Girl can easily envision some wayward
politician romancing a potential mistress while sitting fireside, sipping honey bourbon cocktails and talking about
his waning idealism and her vibrant energy and enthusiasm for life.

So stop in one night on your way home from work, or arrive a little early for your dinner reservation.