Me, that's who.
I was born a "Charles", but I've been "Chuck" since infancy, as my parents figured that one Charlie in the house was enough. These days the legal monicker in my driver's license says Charles Eamon Taggart. My parents are Pat and Charlie Taggart of New Orleans, Louisiana. They were both from the old Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood now known as Bywater, but currently they live in the Upper Ninth Ward in the dreaded New Orleans East. (Okay, sue me ... I'm not a fan of suburbia.) They did a good job and raised a good kid (look how fabulously I've turned out!). I also have two sisters: Marie, age 31, an intensive-care nurse; and Melissa, age 27, a 1997 graduate (Woohoo! She graduated!!) of the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette, and who became Melissa Willmon on November 15, 1997 (my brother-in-law Jeff is a great guy).
Other than the sibs, the only immediate family members have been animals -- Sparky, a toy fox terrier, back when I was a kid, and Scotty, an Irish setter who had the same color hair as Melissa. Both dogs mysteriously disappeared after we had had them for several years. I think they were abducted by aliens. Or rednecks, or something like that. Same thing. I also had two cats out here in L.A. -- Space Cat, and Vic. They both got squashed by cars, thanks to their extremely ill-advised habits of cleaning themselves while sitting in the middle of the street. Heed this, folks -- if you're going to obliviously lick yourself, do it on the sidewalk, or the sofa, or some place like that. Jeez ... I guess I don't have very good luck with pets.
I was born at 4:18 a.m. on November 11, 1961 (you do the math), at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, California, while my dad was stationed there as a Navy dentist. When I was about 7 months old, I realized that my parents had been deceiving me all along -- I was not in New Orleans, but in fact, in southern California. A clever ruse on their part, I thought at the time, but they couldn't fool me for long. I was appalled. I immediately demanded to be taken back to New Orleans, as I knew without question that that was where I belonged. Fortunately, this demand coincided with my dad's discharge from the Navy, and I didn't have to get nasty with Dad's C.O. (luckily for him; I'd have eaten him for lunch).
Despite the unfortunate set of circumstances that resulted in my being born in San Diego, of all places, instead of my beloved New Orleans (okay, San Diego's actually a really nice city, albeit a tad dull), I most certainly consider myself a native New Orleanian, and a native Louisianian, and from da Ninth Ward, having spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house back in da ol' neighbahood in da Lowuh Nint' Ward. We lived in da Uppuh Nint' Ward, in New Orleans East, but that area is, to me, devoid of the soul and character that is New Orleans. I'm out there a few times a year when I go back home to visit da family, and nowadays it's mostly a decaying, depressing, dull little splat of suburbia (Mom and Dad have a nice house, though.) But my little Yat soul feels much more of a connection with da ol' neighborhood where my grandparents lived, and where my mom and uncles grew up. Dat's neighbahood's Bywater, bra ... as seen below.
My maternal grandparents, Joe and Dot Luquet, ran a little neighborhood corner grocery store called Niedermeier's (after Granny's father, who first opened it), on the corner of Mazant and Royal Streets in the Bywater neighborhood. It was a tiny place, but it served its little working-class community well, and my grandparents often seemed to be regarded as the matriarch and patriarch of the neighborhood; I remember being told once, for instance, that occasionally neighborhood women would tell them they were expecting, before they would tell their husbands! They worked their fingers to the bone and I think most of the other members of my family despised the place, but I thought the grocery to be a magical, fascinating place, mostly because of the incredibly strange and motley crowd of people who would come in there. The place had nothing if not local color. Perhaps I'll write more about the place later on ...
Anyway, November 11th (a national holiday, no less, and also the birthdays of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Thomas à Becket, Fëdor Dostoevsky, Daniel Ortega, Leonardo DiCaprio and the King of Bhutan) will be upon you before you know it, so be prepared.
I managed to survive a lifetime of Catholic education. I had years of Saturday catechism classes (no cartoons, waaaah!) while I was at two private elementary schools, as the local parochial school was not yet up to snuff, academically. The first was an utterly horrid little private school run by a woman whom I remember primarily as a sadist -- The Ferncrest School in Gentilly (now mercifully torn down and out of business); as soon as my parents realized what was going on they yanked me out of that place. The other, Clifton L. Ganus School, is also gone. I remember some good teachers and good kids (and some rotten apples in both), and it was a better experience than Ferncrest. Terribly conservative, but a parochial school wouldn't have been any less so.
School Days ...
Eighth grade through senior year was at Holy Cross High School, down in da Lowuh Ninth Ward on the Mississippi River. It was sort of a family tradition, as my uncles Joe and Mike had both gone there. I very nearly went to Jesuit High School in Mid-City, Holy Cross' arch-rival. It's actually quite a good school, but I couldn't quite perfect the "Jesuit smirk" (as my old friend and Jesuit grad Peter Simoneaux calls it) -- that, plus the mild scandal it might have caused in my family had I attended the arch-rival school led me to Holy Cross ...
College took me to Loyola University in New Orleans, the alma mater of both my parents. I was egregiously lied to by Loyola's recruiter (thank you, S*z*nn* M. T*pp*n*) when I was in high school, who led me to believe that Loyola had "one of the finest filmmaking programs in the South." (*Guffaw!*) I may elaborate on that later, but for now, let's say that at the end of my sophomore year they guillotined what little fledgling program they did have.
What I did get at Loyola, though, was a rather fine undergraduate liberal arts education; the Jesuits are pretty good at that, after all. My Communications degree itself might have been fairly worthless as a major, but I minored in English, and had almost enough credits for minors in psychology and history.
Gradual school was a blast. Loyola Marymount had a great film program, and I had a wonderful time there. I did a lot of good work, made lifelong friends, and developed a passion for the art of film that drove me to many sleepless nights of agonizing but rewarding work. Unfortunately, the actual film industry managed to kill that off in not too many years ...
Shall we move on? Here's a bit on where I live now.
chuck's bio | gumbo pages
Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)