UptownMessenger.com

Jan 162014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

How many of you watched the season premiere of Duck Dynasty last night and watched it for the first time because of Phil Robertson’s outlandish but right-in-character remarks? How many of you think that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had no idea that his staff were orchestrating a traffic calamity as pay-back for a lack of endorsement? Christie is lucky that the problem occurred now – so early in the presidential campaign – and probably recoverable, though time will tell for sure. Continue reading »

Jan 162014
 

A new petition protesting a plan to reroute freight trains through Hollygrove has gained 1,000 signatures, according to a report in Mid-City Messenger. “We Won’t Be Railroaded,” the coalition of Hollygrove and Mid-City residents behind the petition, hopes to have 10,000 signatures by mid-Spring, according to the story. Continue reading »

Jan 132014
 

Owen Courreges

Howdy, folks! My name is Owen Courrèges and I’m here to regale you with my unique brand of stand-up comedy.

…So the City Attorney, the Head of the Taxi Bureau and the Chief of Police walk into a bar.  The Taxi Bureau Chief says: “Barkeep! Three beers for these dedicated mayoral appointees!”  Obligingly, the bartender slides three bottles of beer down the bar. Continue reading »

Jan 082014
 

Jean-Paul Villere

At last! As of earlier this week Carnival has officially begun, and the dawn of the first day found me eating king cake for breakfast. No, this is not a tradition in our house, and while I can earnestly say in my 39 years I cannot recall my first taste of the seasonal treat as a boy, my joy for this pastry in general spans decades, leaving me to weep for the scores that remain uninitiated. But then that’s New Orleans all over to me. Red beans on Monday? Every chance I get. Poboys for lunch more than once a week? Absolutely. Editing my overall caloric intake this winter holiday season? Well, let’s not get too hasty, ‘kay? Continue reading »

Jan 062014
 

By Louise Hoffman, St. Charles Avenue Association

All the discussions about how to – and how not to – change New Orleans’ sound management efforts is much like being in a bar with too much noise: A lot of raised voices, so you have to strain to understand what’s going on. So here is some context and additional information I hope you’ll find useful.

On December 19, 2013, the City Council introduced some amendments to the city’s current sound ordinances. All seven of the City Council members signed on as co-sponsors. No one, including and especially any New Orleans’ politician, wants to kill our local music scene as has been alleged on the Internet. If all the City Council members signed on, they don’t believe this will change music as we know it. It won’t. Continue reading »

Jan 062014
 

Owen Courreges

When it comes to noise laws, the constitutional issues arise on both ends.  The way the law is written is crucial, because it must be narrowly tailored.  The way the law is enforced is equally essential, because Courts will look to practical realities.

All of this is essential to understanding the problems inherent in New Orleans’ proposed revisions to its noise ordinances. Continue reading »

Dec 302013
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

That old Morial magic still works.

When the invitations went out from National Urban League CEO Marc Morial’s office for a Friday luncheon at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, you could feel the stir in the political community. Last Friday, with the restaurant closed for the private event, there wasn’t an empty chair in the place. Continue reading »

Dec 302013
 

Owen Courreges

With New Year’s Eve a scant day away, it is only fitting that I commit this column to a particularly relevant topic: Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

First, I’d like to preface this piece by observing that nobody actually supports drunk driving.  It’s a contributing cause to innumerable auto accidents and fatalities.  It frustrates law enforcement and makes mothers M.A.D.D.

However, in spite of popular efforts to present a DUI as the moral equivalent of nun beating, activists and local governments are committed participants in a conspiracy to presenting driving drunk as a mere peccadillo – a “petty offense” that does not merit significant concern. Continue reading »

Dec 252013
 

Jean-Paul Villere

Each year, the winter holiday season always finds me greeting it with fidgety awkwardness.  Why?  For one, the holidays are completely unavoidable.  For two, they’re always rigidly defined.  And for three, the expectations can mash into dizzying highs but swiftly sail into cavernous lows.  These things might be what draws me so closely to Carnival, as Mardi Gras remains fairly avoidable, it changes timelines every year, and no one really cares throughout its discourse anyway.  Miss a parade?  Fine.  Wanna skip town altogether?  No big.  Do whatcha wanna is more than a new ad campaign for Touro.  It remains a relatively new staple in the Fat Tuesday song cannon courtesy of none other than the Rebirth Brass Band.  And God bless ‘em and the song, because for me, it sums it up.  But personal preferences on Christmas and New Year’s?  Not so much. Continue reading »

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Dec 242013
 
Seventh Ward Santa with Akhil Isiah Ricco-Thompson on Dec. 23, 2013. (submitted photo)

Seventh Ward Santa with Akhil Isiah Ricco-Thompson on Dec. 23, 2013. (submitted photo)

jewel bush

It’s the weekend before Christmas at Dennis Photography, a quaint picture studio. It’s the calm before the storm, a studio attendant explains, before the gallery is packed with crying babies, active toddlers and parents filling out picture packets on one of the busiest Santa Claus picture-taking days of the season.

Seventh Ward Santa, as he has grown to be known in his 43 years, is nowhere in sight. According to his business agent, Fred Parker, Santa is in between photo shoots as is typical during this time of year working to make as many appearances and greet as many little ones as possible. He’s been on call since Nov. 1 visiting multiple New Orleans daycare centers, elementary schools and high schools daily in addition to his regular sittings at the studio.

“I’m dog-tired. I can’t sleep. I’m up at 5 and then up until 12 and 1 at night,” Seventh Ward Santa said. “I’m looking forward to Christmas Day so I can get to sleep.” Continue reading »

Dec 232013
 

Owen Courreges

This past Thursday, the City Council introduced an ordinance to strengthen New Orleans’ noise regulations.  Predictably, I am less than thrilled.  Because the issues involved are multifaceted and I always seek to edify my valued readers, I have written the following Q&A regarding these newly proposed noise laws. As a holiday bonus, the questions will be asked by the ghost of John Wayne. Continue reading »

Dec 162013
 

Owen Courreges

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.” 

That’s apparently the motto of the First Spanish American Baptist Church (FSABC), which owns the dilapidated wood-frame building located at 1824 Sophie Wright Place in the Lower Garden District.  Their latest application to demolish the structure was rejected this past Thursday by the Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC). Continue reading »

Dec 122013
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We are not fans of racial divisiveness. But lots of time in politics, voting occurs along racial lines. This election cycle may be a prime example of that.

Danae drove to Judge Michael Bagneris’ home early this morning because she wanted to be among the first to show her support for the Bagneris For Mayor Campaign. Actually, Danae should have gone yesterday evening when a small crowd gathered on Bagneris’ doorstep. In light of Bagneris’ resignation yesterday from his long-time post at Civil District Court, chances are very strong that he will qualify prior to the 4:30 p.m. Friday cutoff. Continue reading »

Dec 112013
 

Jean-Paul Villere

I woke up yesterday morning to social media posts that Frank Davis had passed, and I kind of sunk.  While I did not personally know Mr. Davis, we — you and I – as a collective viewing audience certainly knew him, or at least his highly personalized way of storytelling over the decades.  As a species, I think we can easily take for granted the things and people around us that populate our visual landscape, presuming they’ll always be in sight.  Except they never are.  And when the periphery changes and we lose one of our voices, it’s hard not to pause and reflect on what we’ll be missing. Continue reading »

Dec 092013
 

Owen Courreges

There is little uglier in this world than rent seeking, particularly when it’s specifically aimed at eliminating competition by reducing opportunity for others.  Longstanding, established businesses can be especially guilty of this.  After all, why beat your competition fairly and squarely when you’ve been around so long that you can simply send in the cops?

Recently, rent-seeking has come to Frenchman Street. Continue reading »

Dec 022013
 

Owen Courreges

In the wake of recent high-profile complaints about the New Orleans Taxi Bureau, one suggestion has been for New Orleans to emulate New York’s system for regulating taxi cabs by creating a new taxi/limousine commission and adopting a medallion system.  In my view, this is a monumentally bad idea.

An impetus for this proposed change is related to complaints against the New Orleans Taxi Bureau and its chief,  Malachi Hull, including an incident I wrote about previously when a Taxi Bureau inspector, Wilton “Big Will” Joiner, slammed a tour guide in the side of a parked car full view of a crowd of appalled tourists.  This was troubling because Taxi Bureau investigators aren’t peace officers; they lack authority to detain or arrest anybody.

It’s clear that the Taxi Bureau is ill-managed and corrupt, and institutional changes certainly shouldn’t be rejected out of hand.  However, New York’s supposed “reforms” are not something New Orleans should replicate. Continue reading »

Nov 252013
 

Owen Courreges

“Smart growth” is a concept that I have long derided.  Reduced to its essence, smart growth is an ideology borne of a single idea (that the rise of the suburbs is somehow evil), and dedicated to forcing people to live in dense cities.  Their boogeyman is sprawl, which they condemn endlessly.

Oversimplified?  A bit, sure, but then the rhetoric and policy proposals from smart growth advocates strike me as simplistic and single-minded. Continue reading »

Nov 212013
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We could not let this week pass without commenting on the 50th Anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s death. Allan was a reporter at the States Item Picayune when Kennedy died and actually met and talked with Lee Harvey Oswald during a trip to the newsroom just weeks before. Allan’s memory of Lee Harvey Oswald 50 years ago is that Oswald was considered a very weird, insignificant guy who was an advocate for Fidel Castro, not a very popular point of view in 1963 New Orleans. At the time, Danae was in junior high school in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Continue reading »

Nov 192013
 

By Tracy A. Buccino

(image via norta.com)

(image via norta.com)

In response to Mr. Courreges’ recent piece regarding NORTA fare increases (“Necessary or not, RTA fare hike makes New Orleans two bits closer to unaffordable“), I suggest that one way to increase revenue without socking it to the poor, elderly, and others with no alternative would be to increase the single-ticket price while keeping the monthly-pass price the same or perhaps even lowering it. I would also suggest offering discounted monthly passes for the same categories (and perhaps others) that are currently offered for the single fares. Continue reading »