Nov 272014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Danae arrived in Arkansas just in time for the annual Thanksgiving dinner at The Brookfield, where Vera, her 88-year old mother, resides. A place card on the table proclaimed “I am thankful for Vera.” It made her also reflect on the many things in New Orleans we are thankful for this year. Continue reading »

Nov 262014

jewel bush

My 11-year-old son used his allowance to purchase a BB gun at Academy Sports & Outdoors on a shopping trip with his grandfather a few weeks ago.

Needless to say, I wasn’t happy about it. My father, who grew up in Rosa, a rural agricultural community in St. Landry Parish, thought nothing of it. He grew up hunting deer, rabbit and whatever else was in season along with his eight brothers and scores of cousins. Back in his day, as kids, they handled real shotguns, not replicas, and missed weeks at a time of school to help his father in the fields. Continue reading »

Nov 242014

Owen Courreges

Aldous Huxley once wrote that “a fanatic is a man who consciously over compensates a secret doubt.”  This helps explain the bizarrely-detailed 25 page anti-smoking ordinance proposed this past Thursday by Councilwomen Latoya Cantrell and Susan Guidry.

Even I didn’t predict the staggering scope of the ordinance.  Instead of being content to simply ban most indoor smoking, already a contentious proposal, the bill seeks to ban most outdoor smoking as well and treats electronic cigarettes, which produce no smoke, the same way as traditional cigarettes.  It contains no exceptions for hookah lounges or cigar bars. Continue reading »

Nov 202014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Excitement spread quickly among well-heeled Democrats that the great performer Stevie Wonder would be the special guest for an “Intimate Evening” at the Windsor Court to benefit Senator Mary Landrieu on Dec. 1, but we’re not sure that even a visit by the famed Stevie Wonder will help energize voters enough to carry Mary over the top. 

First, the Democrats pulled away a $12 Million advertising budget previously designated for Landrieu.  Now, Republicans have decided they don’t even need to run third-party attack ads against Landrieu next week. Despite a re-energized campaign, Team Landrieu continues to face an uphill battle and time is running out. Continue reading »

Nov 152014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Like other remaining Democratic candidates around the country, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu knows she must increase her support among black and white females to emerge victorious on Dec. 6. That’s why Norma Jane Sabiston, Kristin Palmer, Angele Wilson and others are again reaching out to 5,000 key women supporters statewide to build Mary’s Army, highly committed grassroots warriors who will knock doors and work phones non-stop for the next three weeks. Armed with pink t-shirts and lists of likely voters, these women clearly understand the campaign’s success rests largely on their ability to persuade voters one person at a time. Not only does the Landrieu camp need to turn out a larger number of African-American voters, they also need to convince white voters to switch from Cassidy. Continue reading »

Nov 142014

On Nov. 14th, 2008, I was lucky enough to be graced with daughter number three. Third time’s the charm, right? After a relatively short, natural labor at Touro Hospital, post lunch at the then Blue Bird Café (now Coulis), Rosalie Eleanor deVille Villere popped out about 5 o’clock that Friday evening, and things have never been the same since. Today she turns a mighty six, and here’s a little glimpse as to why she’s so special:

Jean-Paul with a then 3 1/2 year old Rosalie in Summer 2012 at Coliseum Square.  Photo credit to Brenda Hanegan.

Jean-Paul with a then 3 1/2 year old Rosalie in Summer 2012 at Coliseum Square. Photo credit to Brenda Hanegan.

First of all, the labor: again, it was just a few short hours. Really. Granted I didn’t do the heavy lifting here, but what makes mama happy makes papa happy; ergo, kudos to the kiddo. This was a more than welcome event given the birth of daughter number two was an emergency C section. Allow me to understate that it was a showstopper, and leave it at that. Continue reading »

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Nov 122014

jewel bush

One day last week, I was walking down Magazine Street when this guy screamed out to me from across the street, “Hey! You so pretty.”

First off, being yelled at startled me. I was horrified when I turned to find this strange man speeding toward me.

With a blank look on my face, I said, “Thank you,” and began to walk faster. Continue reading »

Nov 112014

Owen Courreges

Three years ago, on November 11, 2011, I published a column entitled “The O.C. Haley Non-Commercial District.”

Within that piece, I criticized the notion that O.C. Haley Boulevard, a noted commercial street in Central City, was ripe for private investment.  Led by Councilwoman Stacy Head, it had become a common trope that any business afflicted with zoning issues should simply move there, where City Hall wanted them to be.

In response, I suggested that the use of O.C. Haley as an example of an opportune destination for businesses crushed by obscenely unreasonable zoning restrictions was crass and, frankly, just added insult to injury.  The only virtue of O.C. Haley was that it was being pushed by government interests, which explained why only a handful of private businesses moved in.  The only major influx was the veritable cavalcade of nonprofit entities (i.e., non-taxpayers). Continue reading »

Nov 072014
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

Presently there is a billboard that slaps you in the face as you travel southbound on I-55 away from Ponchatoula at the turn, before the stretch over the Maurepas. Quite simply, it reads, “Eat Louisiana Sweet Potatoes.” When I first saw it, I was getting ready for a potluck a few days later. I immediately considered the command and thought, “Okay.” Next trip to Rouses?  Sweet potatoes acquisition.  Served at the potluck?  Super tasty sweet potato casserole with a touch of cayenne and crunchy, melty marshmallow topping.  Ah!  The power of advertising!  Pat yourself on the back, powers that be. Continue reading »

Nov 062014
Allan Katz poses with Seymour D'Fair, portrayed by Mark Romig. (photo courtesy of Allan Katz)

Allan Katz poses with Seymour D’Fair, portrayed by Mark Romig. (photo courtesy of Allan Katz)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As we mark the 30th Anniversary of the 1984 New Orleans World’s Fair, the memories come flooding back.
It was underfunded and always in crisis, and for those who were part of the World’s Fair team it was a six-month roller coaster ride with near spills every day. Continue reading »

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Nov 042014

jewel bush

By 10:30 a.m. yesterday, the eve of the 2014 mid-term elections, I had already received three political campaign calls.

When my cell rang for the third time in an hour with a call from yet another unfamiliar phone number, I was beyond perturbed. I heard President Barack Obama’s voice and immediately hung up.

Yes, I hung up on the leader of the Free World. Continue reading »

Nov 032014

Owen Courreges

Election day is tomorrow.  If you’re like me, you’re relishing in the opportunity to vote for a smattering of ill-considered proposals and lackluster candidates in the vain, fleeting hope of actually making this city a better place.

However, I am also aware that there are those of you who are just short of hopelessly ignorant when it comes to the proposed state constitutional amendments.   Usually, constitutional amendments are for matters of great public import; in Louisiana, though, they tend to be a bunch of random crap.

With this in mind, I have created the following voters guide to the proposed Louisiana constitutional amendments, together with my recommendations (spoiler alert: I hate pretty much all of them). Continue reading »

Nov 012014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Since Danae has been on the sidelines in two current campaigns, we thought it was only appropriate that Allan — who wrote his “cloudy crystal ball” political predictions in the Times Picayune for decades — pen this column.

A very important election will be held in New Orleans and throughout America on Tuesday. What do the pundits think is going to happen? Who cares? You’re the ones who are going to the polls to vote. Your opinions are worth as much or more than some self-appointed seer who thinks he or she knows more about Louisiana politics than voters just like you.  Early voting set an all-time record. But traditional voters like Allan will still vote next Tuesday. Seize that power and help decide our political future.

Here is some information about several of the elections that will be on the ballot in New Orleans. How good are you at picking the outcomes before the polls open? Continue reading »

Oct 312014
Miss Cindy's awesome Halloween house on South Liberty Street. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Miss Cindy’s awesome Halloween house on South Liberty Street. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

I’ll be honest.  When I think of Halloween these days at four decades in I get a little, well, meh.  For me the gusto goes primarily to my kids and their assorted notions.  “Nerd vampire” here, “moustachioed lumberjack” there, maybe a growling bat, maybe a smiley cowgirl.  Costuming druthers swirl into the ether, their ideas and pairings, until something likely unforeseen altogether comes to fruition.  The freedom of imagination and living in a town where almost anything goes.  Swoon.  And to be 12! Continue reading »

Oct 282014

jewel bush

My son was 5 years old when he made the disturbing announcement that “Cornbread” had been shot.

He told me a detailed account of Cornbread dribbling a basketball in the rain when “they” shot him — shot him in the back! Panicked at the thought that my son might have somehow witnessed a murder, I interrogated him: Who is Cornbread? Who is “they”? Where did you see Cornbread? When did you see Cornbread? Continue reading »

Oct 272014

Owen Courreges

When it comes to Alcoholic Beverage Outlets (ABOs), the city is an irredeemable bully.  Unless Mayor Landrieu steps in, it’s likely to continue.

Case in point: The Country Club, a bar and restaurant located in the Bywater, has long been famous for amenities such as its pool and sauna.  It is also known for its freewheeling, hedonistic atmosphere particularly characterized by its “clothing optional” policy. Continue reading »

Oct 232014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We’re Mary Landrieu fans, so we’re used to her “Perils of Pauline” routines where she somehow squeezes out an unlikely victory at the very last instant. But in her current reelection campaign, her Road Runner gig seems to have run its course and her Republican opponents are certain that she’s ready for their cooking pot.

“This is the fourth time I’ve opposed Mary Landrieu in a U.S. Senate race and I’ve lost three times,” says Roger Villere, Chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party. “So I have a lot of respect for her. But this time, everything seems to have fallen in place for us. It won’t be over until it’s over but I think that this time we may finally have her number.” Continue reading »

Oct 212014

jewel bush

Last week, an eighth grader at a ReNew Schools charter in New Orleans East suffered second-degree burns from having scalding water thrown on him by another student. He required skin grafts for the wounds to his legs. This wasn’t the first time this student had been attacked on campus. A few months earlier, a different student slammed his head into the concrete.  He reported that incident too.

I applaud this student for being brave enough to come forward. It takes guts to speak out against bullying.

Anyone who caught the RTA, or the “Rita” as we called it, to school in New Orleans in the 1990s or 2000s has a wild story or two to tell about extreme bullying. Continue reading »

Oct 202014

Owen Courreges

With certain issues, there’s often a central figure whose opinion you always want to know.  If there’s a foreign policy incident, the Secretary of State should probably be consulted.  If there’s a disease outbreak, the head of the Center for Disease Control should probably be on board.  Want to gauge response to a major crime?  Let’s see what the chief of police has to say.

And if you want to take some radical step pertaining to city streets, like taking out a traffic lane in the middle of downtown New Orleans, surely you’d want to know what Chief Traffic Engineer Allen Yrle thinks of it. Heck, you might think his support would be considered crucial.

Alas, you would be wrong. Continue reading »

Oct 162014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Investors in the U.S. and around the world have been getting an economic reality shock as the markets are adjusting to a new normal. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen five percent in the last five days. Though certainly not the biggest loss in history, it does send a clear message that growth has been slowed in every corner of the planet — probably by “bad policy making and political inaction”, according to TIME. Continue reading »

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