It was the best of Carnivals, it was the worst of Carnivals, it was the time of bare masking, it was the time of warmth sought, it was the suspension of disbelief, it was the veritable cold reality, it was a season of sunscreen, it was a season of wool stockings, it was the glimmer of spring, it was the end of our disparate winter, we had baubles thrown to us, we had rainsoaked remnants, we were heading to heaven, and we were all surely going to hell — in short, the 2014 Mardi Gras season gave us everything and in the end took it all away. Maybe in a way no one would expect especially given the late date: foiled by the longest, weirdest winter the Big Easy hopefully will ever know and never repeat.
It’s always fun to go to the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball at Gallier Hall because you never know who you are going to run into. Last night’s ball was a jam-packed but chilly affair with plenty of women in stunning backless, strapless creations and masks. The first people Danae saw crawling out of a big SUV were James Carville (New Orleans best known media darling) and Ryan Berni, the Mayor’s former press secretary/campaign manager who is now contemplating his next step. Could Hillary’s campaign be on Berni’s horizon?
Greetings fellow revelers! Happy to report the first weekend of Mardi Gras 2014 seemingly unfolded with minimal fuss and maximum fanfare. While I personally stayed Uptown, walking to this parade and that corner on Friday and Saturday, we heeded caution for Sunday’s wetness and took in a matinee at the Prytania. So while my own experiences stayed squarely in the 70115, from all the posts I read, the otherwise premiere Carnival activities in the remainder of the Crescent City happened as expected: ‘tit Rex got small, Chewbacchus made the kessel run in less than 12 parsecs, and Barkus took a dip. All on a Mardi Gras first weekend, as it were.
Everywhere you look these days you hear an ongoing debate over a simple app known as “Uber.” The concept is simple: the San Franciso-based company provides an app that connects passengers with “for hire” vehicles and rideshare services via their cell phone. Pricing is handled through Uber on a distance or time basis.
During times of peak demand, the price can be several times normal taxi rates. At other times, Uber may cost less than a regular cab. The goal is to provide a functioning market within the app whereby users can always receive prompt service.
Voting is one of the most treasured rights of every American. But it is amazing how many people either never register or find some excuse not to vote. Then of course there is the perceived voter fatigue caused by having too frequent elections, failure to educate oneself on the issues, or being too lazy to physically go to the polls.
With early voting set to begin March 1, political eyes will be watching to see what impact voter apathy – due in part to our love of all things Mardi Gras – will have on voter turnout for the March 15 runoff elections for Council At Large, Council C, Sheriff and Coroner. In the primary election held on February 1, approximately 12,000 voters cast their votes early and a much smaller number voted by mail.
Bon to the jour, 2014 Carnival people! You may or may not know that the powers that be — read, your New Orleans City Council — have seen it in their infinite wisdom to make this Mardi Gras season one of change. “How so?” you may ask. That is, if you missed all the fuss last month? Before we roll through my standard top 20 we publish annually, in short here are the new rules and ordinances, with a few editorial embellishments:
As the celebrities and athletes who came to town to party during the NBA All-Star Weekend board planes heading back to their posh lives — after they Instagram images of themselves looking fabulous and doing fabulous things like eating beignets and shooting hoops with underprivileged youth — New Orleans remains as bloody as ever.
The past twenty years have seen the popularization of a relatively new word: Disneyfication. The Wikipedia article on Disneyfication defines it as “a term which describes the transformation of something, usually society at large, to resemble The Walt Disney Company’s theme parks.”
Many people, including me, have linked this concept to policies coming from New Orleans City Hall.
Those of you who went to see the Krewe du Vieux parade Saturday evening were greeted by a float emblazoned: “Dizneylandrieu.” Beneath a caricature of Mitch Landrieu as Mickey Mouse, Krewe members dubbed “Mitchkateers” distributed maps of “mayor-approved adventure[s] in the Gentrified Kingdom.”
It has been exactly a year since I was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma, having fairly large tumors in my lung and my abdomen. The good news is that I feel great and I have less cancer in me today than I did a year ago. The bad news is that I still have one large tumor and, as of today, there is no cure.
I already knew what was ahead for me as I sat in the doctor’s office on Feb. 7, 2013, listening to him confirm that the lung tumor biopsy results showed my melanoma had returned, three years after I had it removed from my face. The lymph nodes had come back clear, and my dermatologist and I were celebrating moving the big decrease in the chances it would return — except, unbeknownst to us, it already had. I knew the percentages of patients with melanoma metastasis to the lungs who survive one, two and five years are 33%, 18% and 10%, respectively. I also knew there was hope, with many stage IV survivors out there and ground breaking new treatments on the horizon.
But more than anything, I knew I felt good and I needed to get to 8th & St Charles and start setting up for the Muses parade that night before there were no spots left.
Good for the jurors who yesterday found former Mayor Ray Nagin guilty on 20 of 21 criminal charges in federal court.
Those of us who have watched Nagin closely for the eight years he was in office believe Ray thought he could con the jury, just as he fooled New Orleans voters in the 2002 and 2006 mayoral elections. His hubris brought to mind Danae’s initial impression after Ray’s emergence as a major candidate in the 2002 election. “Ray is a rock star,” Danae said. “He’s cool, handsome and clever. Ray’s not about substance. He’s about being Ray.”
“I play the cello, but I’m not a cellist,” clarifies Keller Strings’ Paula Keller Smith. Paula, her husband John, and their charming 10 year old Boston terrier Cooper became Riverbend’s newest New Orleanians June 1, 2013, transplanting their decades-old business in stringed instrument restoration and repair from Kansas. To meet them and hear their story is at once refreshing and uplifting: one part love story, two parts musical passion, and a liberal sprinkling of creativity and drive and voila! (or viola!), you have New Orleans’ latest — for lack of a better descriptor — “violin shop.”
Mr. Landrieu, tear down this fence.
I am speaking, of course, of the fence that has spanned the end of Newcomb Boulevard at Freret Street for the past several years. The installation of the fence was approved by the city at the behest of Newcomb’s well-heeled, well-connected residents who were concerned about through traffic clogging their street.
You have to hand it to Mayor Mitch Landrieu. He ran a flawless campaign. His message was just what the voters wanted to hear and of course it helped that he had many millions of dollars to drive home his message through mail and tv, along with a very strong Get Out The Vote effort that capitalized on pure volunteers, unclassified employees and a skilled team of out-of-state professionals.
Judge Michael Bagneris, who got a late start, could not keep up. Judge Bagneris had to spend so much time driving to explain to the voters the Mayor’s failings, that he never had time to define his goals and method to reach them.
If you’ve never traversed the Crescent City by foot, you are missing out. You can really dig in the cracked pavement and tiered landscape, plus there’s a whole host of scents to engage traveling by bike or car one is likely to miss. Just the other night a group of us walked from Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop over to the Marigny and the wafts of equal parts liquor, urine, and pot made for a less-than-appetizing nasal gumbo. But while one wrestles over the legal and the sanitary, in the French Quarter the street surfaces historically remain level. To say the least, it’s refreshing, especially if one is familiar with any other stretch within New Orleans where the mature oaks that pepper the streets over time have broken new ground, so to speak, giving the citizenry, say it with me: more broken sidewalks.
Sometime after the Iran-Iraq broke out in 1980, Henry Kissinger was quoted as saying: “It’s a pity they can’t both lose.”
These words seem appropriate following the results of the Orleans Sheriff’s election day this past Saturday. Incumbent Marlin Gusman received 49% of the vote, falling just short of the amount required to avoid a runoff. The runner up with 29% of the vote, Charles Foti, is also Gusman’s predecessor. Each of these men have made their own contributions to a Sheriff’s office that is beyond dysfunctional.
It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that an Allan Katz would be fond of four-legged cats.
Allan, the co-author of this column, is host to three inside cats who never leave his house and as many as six orange feral cats who mostly reside in his backyard. The ferals never enter the house. Allan provides food, water and litter boxes inside and outside. It’s a pleasant arrangement except when New Orleans gets one of our rare winter freezes that give weathercasters reason to remind us to bring pets inside.
PREDICTION: Nine months from now the New Orleans metro area will be flush with newborns courtesy one winter storm Leon. Grumble, groan, no, you say? Prove me wrong, people, prove me wrong. With residents’ fave go-to spots for music, grub, and beverages largely on hold paired with a do-not-drive announcement unless vitally important, do the math. You’re off work, you can’t go anywhere, and there are only so many shows you can binge watch. And I’m guessing with the masses clamoring for foodstuffs at the nearby grocery, they did not also take time to sweep the birth control from the shelves. So congrats y’all, it’s a storm baby!
Standing somewhere in between the Blue Runners and Trappey’s Butter Beans, a woman in Rouses asked me had I heard that wind gusts were supposed to reach 100 mph.
I was in the supermarket, like everyone else, buying provisions for an intended few days spent home due to sleet, freezing rain; and hopefully, snow, but mostly what’s expected to be an icy mess of local roads and bridges.
But I hadn’t heard that.
With only a few days left before Saturday’s election, the five candidates running for the District A seat will meet twice in the Carrollton neighborhood this week — discussing housing issues on Tuesday and fielding questions from neighborhood leaders Wednesday.