UptownMessenger.com

Oct 092014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

For Democratic candidates in Deep South and Border States, carrying President Barack Obama on their backs is a bone-breaking load that may very well end their political careers.

There is no better example of that than the multi-talented U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu who has every right to feel exhausted from carrying the weight of the unpopular President every day, every hour and every minute. But Landrieu isn’t alone. In Arkansas, U.S. Senator Mark Pryor is also staggering under the Obama load. And, in a border state like Kentucky, Democratic challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes would surely defeat Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell if it were not for the Obama load that threatens to sink her in a race so close that the winning margin may well be one percent or less. In Mississippi, Democrat Travis Childers is so far behind Republican U.S. Senator Thad Cochran that the race could well be considered over and settled. Continue reading »

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Oct 072014
 

jewel bush

During the month of October, we’re left to drown in a pink sea of bumper stickers and T-shirts emblazoned with sparky catchphrases about “boobies” and “ta-tas.”

This messaging is near impossible to escape. While absolutely catchy, this sexualized rhetoric places an increasingly disturbing emphasis on breasts over breast-cancer patients. Continue reading »

Oct 062014
 

Owen Courreges

It’s called the “BigBelly,” and it’s being pitched to cities across the country as a miracle of American innovation.  It’s a solar-powered trash compactor designed to replace ordinary city trash receptacles.  There is practically no green-tech buzzword that doesn’t apply to these things.

I first began seeing the BigBellies in New Orleans last year along the Canal Streetcar line.  The website Clean Technica reported in December 2012 that the city hoped to have “at least 150 solar-powered trash compactors installed,” before the Super Bowl and that, contracts and bidding permitted, “[t]his number could be expanded to 242.”

Presently, the city is planning on expanding the BigBelly receptacles to the French Quarter and Downtown Development District.   The bid date is set for October 30th at 11 a.m.  It’s happening, and it’s happening soon.

What hasn’t happened, at least as far as I can see, is proper due diligence. Continue reading »

Oct 032014
 
Ty Segall plays to a sold out crowd at One-Eyed Jacks on Sept 6, 2014. (Jean-Paul Villere, Uptown Messenger).

Ty Segall plays to a sold out crowd at One-Eyed Jacks on Sept 6, 2014. (Jean-Paul Villere, Uptown Messenger).

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

Prologue: Most of the music I get to see live happens at the last minute or very accidentally; very little, if anything, is ever planned.  But something changed for me over the summer, and a self-imposed “pseudo-mandatory attending of live music moral obligation” was born. 

Earlier this year on a cool and sunny Thursday evening I accidentally saw, moreso listened to, Lyle Lovett. Maybe you did, too? It was smack dab in the middle of the JazzFest whirlwind of tornadic possibilities, and it being ‘local’s day,’ the crowd was thinner than one might expect, ergo more inviting.  The sweet and hard honeysuckle ramble that is wholly Lyle’s cadence drew me to lazily lay reposed at the back of the field.  And as I drifted between waking and dreaming at dusk, pleased as punch, I composed a pseudo commitment to myself that for the remainder of the year and beyond I would challenge myself to go forth and rock, as often as possible.  And so my journey began. Continue reading »

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Oct 022014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Let’s start with some full disclosure — Danae will be among the dozens of table captains at Senator Mary Landrieu’s women’s fundraising brunch later in October. It will be a star-studded affair with well more than a thousand women present — many of whom have been devoted to Mary for decades. In fact, Danae can remember walking in Broadmoor with a much younger Mary Landrieu during her first race for the Louisiana Legislature.

Fast forward a few decades to this week, when you might have heard one of the state’s leading elected officials say that he is concerned about the unwanted scrutiny and negative attention Louisiana will receive during a very divisive Senate run-off campaign. The nation’s eyes will be watching us as PACs spend millions to damage opposing candidates.

Even with Mary’s traditional luck in pulling narrow election day victories out of the proverbial rabbit’s hat, we think it will be hell-hard for her to forge a clear victory on Tuesday, Nov. 4. We savored this week’s poll that showed Mary pulling ahead of Bill Cassidy. But we also looked at the strength of Rob Maness’ numbers. With two well-financed Republicans and associated Republican PAC dollars tearing away at her, it’s hard for us to see how Mary can avoid a runoff. It also doesn’t help Mary that Cassidy is avoiding all those televised debates. Continue reading »

Sep 252014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

State Representative Helena Moreno has turned out to be a savvy lobbyist for issues important to women and families and easily able to cross the political aisles to get the votes she needs. That’s the sentiment of the Legislative Agenda for Women (LAW), a coalition of organizations including the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, the Independent Women’s Organization, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the National Organization for Women, who hosted a reception in her honor, courtesy of attorney Pamela Gibbs. Continue reading »

Sep 222014
 

Owen Courreges

Cedric Grant and Mayor Landrieu want everyone to know that they plan to repair New Orleans’ chronically ill-maintained street infrastructure. They also want you to know that they have no creative plans for funding it.

Grant is New Orleans’ new grand poobah of public infrastructure. He is simultaneously the executive director of the Sewerage and Water Board and the head of the Department of Public Works. He gets to serve two masters – Mayor Landrieu and the quasi-independent S&WB. Continue reading »

Sep 212014
 
Ralph Adamo (photo by Camille Bullock)

Ralph Adamo (photo by Camille Bullock)

At some point in all of our academic experiences poetry enters the fold.  For some it’s a blessing, others a curse, but for me it became a curiosity.  And then as a pup of an undergrad at Loyola some 20 years ago, I met and had the privilege of being taught by Ralph Adamo, whose classes offered a quiet exploration into language, form and intent. 

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

Until that point in my life I’d always considered poetry melodramatic and esoteric, if not silly.  The calm focus Ralph navigated the material made the journey one of intrigue and wonder.  I began to really enjoy and even write (gasp!) poetry.  Once he even held a class at Carrollton Station, which to any undergrad is a bonus.

Over the last two decades we’ve kept in touch intermittently, and then one recent almost-drizzly evening as I stood in my driveway, end-of-day beverage in hand, likely disciplining one of my brood, Ralph happened to pass by walking his dog.  In a very New Orleans moment, someone I hadn’t seen in so long just — appears.  And we picked right up where we’d left off, and of course to prolong that magic the Crescent City can conjure, turns out he (now an English professor at Xavier) and his family had recently moved into the neighborhood just around the corner.  So our dialogue kept unraveling and here we are: Continue reading »

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Sep 182014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Recent headlines about highly-regarded athletes such as Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald and Oscar Pistorius illustrate just how pervasive domestic violence still is in America and around the world. Whether readers realize it or not, everyone knows someone who has been a victim – a neighbor, an auntee, a best friend or even the writer of this column. Continue reading »

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Sep 152014
 
The Preservation Resource Center recently celebrated the renovation of the Rountree House at 1421 Josephine, noting that a sketch of it is included in the PRC logo. (image via Preservation Resource Center)

The Preservation Resource Center recently celebrated the renovation of the Rountree House at 1421 Josephine, noting that a sketch of it is included in the PRC logo. (image via Preservation Resource Center)

Owen Courreges

I’ve written a lot of columns since I started to write for Uptown Messenger in January of 2011.  Sometimes I look back over them and realize: “You know, there have been some interesting developments with this since I put pen to paper.”

Accordingly, every now and again, I revisit a few old columns to provide brief updates on some of the topics I’ve written about.  Some have happy endings, some less so.

So, without further ado, I give you The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Continue reading »

Sep 112014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

With the court challenge period mostly over and marginal candidates having dropped out, the hard-ball campaigns for various judgeships, the DA, and State Representative have begun in earnest.  Though several organizations like the AFL-CIO, RDO and LIFE, the group founded by former mayor Dutch Morial, completed their endorsements early, we attended three public forums in the last week – the Orleans Parish Republican and Democratic Executive Committees and the Independent Women’s Organization — to get a first-hand look at all the remaining candidates.

Last night’s contest at OPDEC (the Democrats) was a real slug fest with numerous candidates hurling allegations of impropriety at each other which made that crusty audience gasp.  One of the moderators, Jason Coleman, found himself inviting candidates up for the next round, as if it were a boxing match. Continue reading »

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Sep 042014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

African-American organizations and others are holding dialogues across America to bring home the lessons from Ferguson as a basis for creating change in their communities. Former Mayor Marc Morial, national president of the Urban League, is in the forefront of this movement through his weekly column which appears in newspapers and e-letters around the country and local action through the Urban League chapters. Continue reading »

Aug 252014
 

Owen Courreges

I’m just going to come right out and say what everything is thinking: What the @#$% is going on with home prices in Orleans Parish?

It’s getting crazy out there. I’ve been seeing listings of renovated homes for over $300 per square foot on the edge of Central City.  A “fixer-upper” needing a “total renovation” on the edge of City Park recently hit the market for $700,000. Continue reading »

Aug 142014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

What trait did actor/comedian Robin Williams and many of New Orleans homeless share?  Mental illness.  Like a majority of the homeless in New Orleans, Williams battled periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression until he finally “silenced the demons that relentlessly targeted him” earlier this week, as the Associate Press put it.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the rate of mental illness increases as boomers age. According to the Center for Disease Control, the suicide rate for adults -  aged 45 to 64 – increased 40% from 1999 to 2011. An analysis by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that the suicide rate for middle- to late-middle-aged adults is higher than any other age group. Continue reading »

Jun 262014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Since Mayor Landrieu did not succeed in getting the Legislature to approve many of the new taxes he wanted to pay for the police consent decree, the firefighters’ lawsuit, the jail consent decree, etc, it is no surprise that he is punting to the voters to choose. Continue reading »

Jun 232014
 

Owen Courreges

Nobody will ever accuse Mayor Mitch Landrieu of being creative.  Time and time again he has traveled down the same well-worn path of shifting blame to justify pursuing unpopular fiscal policies.

Most recently, Landrieu did the ol’ bait and switch by proposing cigarette and hotel tax increases that he knew he lacked the clout to get through the legislature.  Next, he turned around and pushed through authorization to double of the police and fire property tax millages, subject to approval of that proposal on the city and state ballots in the fall. Continue reading »

Jun 192014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As readers are well aware, the Tea Party is a growing anti-big government movement that seeks to change American politics by often promising to get government out of the lives of citizens – as if that is even remotely possible. Most people of our generation began their voting lives as Democrats.  We understand that when people get a little older, more successful and sometimes more conservative, they might transition from being moderate Democrats to Republicans.

That’s fine. But right-leaning Tea Party Republicans are as out-of-step with middle America as the left-leaning fringes of the Democratic party. And they certainly won’t help the Republican party attract the ever-growing number of  Hispanic, Asian and African-American voters they must have to win another presidential election.  As the voting majority nationally because more non-white each year, both parties are scrambling to embrace those voters. Continue reading »

Jun 162014
 
(via habananeworleans.com)

The corner of Esplanade and Rampart, site of the proposed Habana Outpost. (via habananeworleans.com)

Owen Courreges

Put a fork in it.  The Louisiana Landmarks Society is done.  They’ve bought the farm, cashed in their chips, and kicked the proverbial bucket.

I could go on listing aphorisms signifying death or obsolescence, but the gist is that the Louisiana Landmarks Society has become a joke.  They have abandoned their mission of helping preserve landmarks in favor of the far less laudable enterprise of hawking restrictive zoning for the benefit of local NIMBYs.

I have reached this conclusion following the society’s release of its annual “New Orleans Nine Most Endangered List,” which lists “at-risk historic properties.”  The Louisiana Landmarks Society as a whole was founded in 1950 in order to promote historic preservation, and the list was envisioned as a means to highlight certain properties at risk of being lost.

After this year’s list, it’s clear that is no longer the society’s agenda. Continue reading »

Jun 122014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As someone who grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Danae has been a Bill and Hillary watcher for more than 40 years, really since Hillary gave her first stump speech at her Wellesley graduation.  Hillary was outspoken and quite direct that day. For better or worse, she still is. Continue reading »

Jun 102014
 

jewel bush

You’ve seen them at many intersections and overpasses across the city.

They weave in and out of traffic at red lights, often dressed in team jerseys or uniforms, their sweet faces so hard to say no to.

They work in teams usually. There are the sign carriers. Sometimes the signs are pithy and drum up sympathy. Other times, the words on the poster boards are a scrawl so faint you can hardly decipher the exact message. One thing is unmistakable, though. They want money. Continue reading »