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Co-prizes Claimed for Coastal Characters Contest!


Kemp, Hopkinson, Bahr and Day

Kemp, Hopkinson, Bahr and Day

Editor’s note: LaCoastPost recently featured a coastal characters contest in which readers were challenged to identify the four freaks pictured in a 30+ year old photo taken at LSU. The contest deadline was midnight on Halloween. Boo! That time has now passed.

The fab four in the old photo (below) are, from left to right: Paul Kemp, Chuck Hopkinson, Len Bahr and John Day.

In order to both aid and confound contestants in the challenge to attach correct names to each of the four hippie scientists, recent photographs of eight named coastal authorities were provided, four of whom were also in the old pic. Photographs of Gene Turner, Don Boesch, Paul Templet and Ivor van Heerden were included as ringers.

Several contestants got three out of four correct but were stumped by Chuck Hopkinson, the only clean shaven dude in the picture. At that time Chuck was one of John Day’s doctoral students. He eventually overcame that handicap, went on to better things and currently heads the Sea Grant program at the University of Georgia.

I think the four hippie researchers bear an uncanny physical and/or personality resemblance to the four stars of one of my all time favorite comic strips,*  the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and Fat Freddie’s Cat, immortalized by Texas-born Gilbert Shelton.**

The following description of the four principal Furry Freak Brothers characters (above left) was borrowed from Wikipedia:

Fat Freddy’s Cat, who appears mainly in his own, separate strip at the bottom of the one-page Freak Brothers strip…is sometimes known as “Fat Freddy Scat” and has used the alias “F. Frederic Skitty”…He often finds himself confronting an army of cockroaches and a huge tribe of mice who share the apartment with the Freak Brothers. A sort of hippie “Garfield,” he is far smarter than his owner (whom he frequently refers to as “the obese one”) and regards the Freak Brothers with amused contempt.

Freewheelin’ Franklin, although laid-back, is the most street-smart of the trio. Apparently he has always been on the streets. In one story he reveals that he grew up in an orphanage and never knew his parents. Tall and skinny, he has a big bulbous nose, a waterfall moustache, and a ponytail, and wears cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. He might be a biker if he didn’t spend all his money on drugs…

Fat Freddy Freekowtski is the least intelligent, and can be seen as an embodiment of pure appetite. He is fat, or at least plump, with curly yellow hair. He regularly gets “burned” on drug transactions, and when he does “score,” he usually manages to lose the drugs in various ways, such as by dumping them out of a shopping bag in front of a fan which then blows them out the window onto a police car…

Phineas T. Freakears is the intellectual and idealist of the group; he can and has created new drugs, takes an avid interest in politics, and is the most committed of the three to social change and environmental issues. He hails from Texas, and while his mother is relaxed and open-minded, his father is a card-carrying member of the John Birch Society. He is the hairiest, tall and skinny with a thick bush of black hair, a beard, a nose that bears more than a passing resemblance to a marijuana joint, and glasses. He is the stereotypical left-wing radical…

When the contest photo was snapped, the four coastal freaks were about to embark on a field trip to collect water quality data in the Barataria Basin along a transect from Chackbay to Grand Isle. Information garnered on this trip would presumably have been relevant in the current effort to rescue the coast.

During the ensuing three decades roughly six hundred square miles of coastal landscape have gone under water, including most of the landmarks that guided the (pre-GPS) trip in 1977. This would suggest that the 1977 research trip was less than a resounding success!

Anyhow, the envelope please…(tearing sound). And the overall co-winners are: (drumroll) Nancy Jo Craig and Steve Peyronnin.

Nancy Jo is my long time friend who, at the time the old picture was snapped, was sometimes referred to as “Hatchet Woman” for reasons that are far too complicated to explain here. Nancy Jo was another former grad student of John Day, during the time when my office was in the old wooden LSU Monkey House, alas long since demolished. Nancy Jo once headed The Nature Conservancy in Louisiana, a post now held by Keith Ouchley.

Steve Peyronnin is a relative newcomer to the coastal scene, having inherited his current post as executive director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) from Mark Ford, Mark Davis, Paul Kemp and (I think) Paul Davidson.

Congratulations Nancy Jo and Steve! You are both hereby invited to submit guest posts to LaCoastPost on coastal issues of your choice.

Len Bahr (

*Along with Gary Larson’s The Far Side and Gary Trudeau’s iconic Doonesbury

**Readers are not discouraged from commenting on which specific Freak Brothers characters Kemp, Hopkinson, Bahr and Day remind them of.

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