And he seems to delight in it.
In the field of outdoor writing, there is a definite pecking order. Lowest on the rung are humble freelance writers, such as the one pecking out this story. They are part of no team and sell their product to the highest bidder — if they can find one.
A step up are stringers. Generally modestly paid, they at least have a steady outlet for their work, for which they are paid by the article. Farther up the food chain are staff writers for magazines. They get a salary and can claim regular employment.
Near the top are outdoor magazine editors. They hold life-and-death power over freelancers' fates and call the shots for staff writers. They may or may not write, as well.
Finally, and arguably at the very top of the heap, are outdoor writers for major daily newspapers. Only two of those prestigious jobs exist in Louisiana, with The Advocate in Baton Rouge and the Times Picayune in New Orleans. (The Shreveport Times long ago gave up full-time outdoors coverage.) Joe Macaluso holds the former job.
Until early 2013, the job at the New Orleans paper was held by Bob Marshall.
The youthful 63-year-old worked for the Times Picayune or the States Item, the afternoon paper owned by the same owners as the Times Picayune, for 41 years. Although Marshall's "retirement" has been busy, his close hunting and fishing pal, Feleciano "Junior" Mendoza, arranged a fishing trip out of Port Sulphur to get Marshall out on the water after a long winter.
Nothing brings out the soul of a person more than sitting in a boat or duck blind with him, so I quickly arranged to accompany the pair. I wanted to pick his mind — see what makes the sometimes controversial, always interesting man tick.
Fishing conditions were tough. A 20-plus-mph wind was howling in advance of a late front and the tides were super high.
It was a day to challenge Mendoza's abilities as a speckled trout and redfish guide (Shallow Water Charters 504-258-2131), which he did successfully, giving us plenty of fish to pose with.
We talked while we fished — or at least Bob talked a lot, and Mendoza and I listened.