UptownMessenger.com

Jan 102015
 

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

With the 2015 JazzFest lineup set about to be revealed on Monday, my thoughts have escalated into the unknown and the possible for who and what might appear this season.  In the past my notions have been met with mild success, what with HangoutFest and its line-up, now firmly affixed in mid-May, often casting a who’s who of who isn’t playing JazzFest.  Somehow I feel like this is my year.  The Who / Joan Jett are touring ensemble at this time with a mysterious void in their tour around JazzFest, same with Hozier and Wilco; so to say they’re all candidates exceeds likelihood.  As such, I shall humbly exclude them from my top 10.  Therefore without further delay: prognosticate this! Continue reading »

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Jan 082015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Why hasn’t the Steve Scalise story died down yet? Because Rep. Scalise was less than forthright when he first spoke about the incident. Therefore, reporters and others continue to analyze the story and what it means about the Republicans’ ability to build a larger, more diverse constituency before the presidential elections.

Some things are certain. David Duke was a Republican elected official and a member of the Louisiana Legislature. That gave him respect. Other legislators secretly — or not so secretly — liked his ideas. Duke was wildly popular with white voters in Jefferson Parish and Louisiana in general, by his strong showing in the governor’s race against Edwin Edwards. Continue reading »

Jan 072015
 
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

It’s officially Mardi Gras in New Orleans again.  And thank goodness.  It truly is my favorite holiday anywhere every period, for true.  Parties, parades, shenanigans, and any semblance therein.  The rituals, the costumes, and it being New Orleans, of course, the food.  In that vein, part of the hoopla embraces the incessant consumption of brightly colored, sugared up beyond belief, roundish breaded pastry, that may or may not have a wee plastic baby figurine inside, simply and distinctly known as king cake.  Only, I turned 40 recently, and this season I’m watching that part of Carnival from the cheap seats. Continue reading »

Jan 052015
 

Owen Courreges

Since August 2004, six New Orleans police officers have been killed.  Two died in auto accidents with other motorists.  One died from an illness contracted while conducting rescue operations during Hurricane Katrina.  Another was killed off-duty during a home invasion.

The two remaining officers were killed while on-duty.  Both were killed by men suffering from severe mental illness. Continue reading »

Jan 012015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

When we look at the many national experts who are predicting Americans – in general – will have a good 2015, we also want to look at those indicators in terms of New Orleans. The U.S. and certainly New Orleans’ economy appears to be hitting its stride. GDP growth nationally will rise approximately three percent, despite turmoil in global oil markets, concerns over stock valuations, war and the recession, according to WalletHub, a one-stop information source for consumers and small business owners. Continue reading »

Dec 292014
 

Owen Courreges

New Year’s Day is now nearly upon us. As has always been the case, the libations will flow and drunken debauchery will rule the streets. We will celebrate having endured one more journey around the sun on this world of ours by getting blotto.

Of course, there was a brief period when that wasn’t the case.

“The first day of the New Year was observed, rather than celebrated by New Orleans, with hushful Sabbatical ceremony,” a reporter for the Times-Picayune observed during Prohibition. Continue reading »

Dec 252014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Each year at this time, we reflect on how blessed we are to be citizens of the United States of America and thank God for our courageous grandparents who came to this country with little more than the clothing on their backs. They opened doors for us and we will always be grateful for their courage and the many great things about being a U.S. citizen. Continue reading »

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Dec 242014
 

jewel bush

Today, on Christmas Eve, the holiday classic, “A Christmas Story,” will air for 24 hours straight.

I’ve indulged in this marathon, a new-fangled Christmas tradition, for many years.

But this year, I just can’t approach this movie with the same light-hearted spirit. My thoughts turn to Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Cleveland boy, who was shot by a police officer on November 22 — shortly before Thanksgiving — for playing with a toy gun in a park. Continue reading »

Dec 222014
 

Owen Courreges

Christmastime in New Orleans is magical.  Whether you’re a visitor or a local, there is much to enjoy.

You can take a sojourn to “Holiday in the Oaks” at City Park, ride a streetcar down St. Charles adorned with festive holly, enjoy a hearty, traditional Reveillion dinner, or you can get brutally beaten in the CBD in a random attack with no discernible motive or purpose. Continue reading »

Dec 182014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

A recent WSJ/NBC News poll pointed out that the majority of voters were pleased with the results of this year’s midterm elections and thought the Congress — rather than President Obama — should take the lead in setting policy for the country.  Though an overwhelming majority felt that not much change in direction for the country will result from the election, the numbers are a good starting point for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, 61, as he aims to clear the field in advance of a brutal campaign against Hillary Clinton.

Although there are other GOP candidates worthy of voter consideration (including Mitt Romney and Chris Christie), Bush — with his “Double B” presidential pedigree and easy access to donors — is the early favorite, ramping up pressure on potential rivals and reshuffling the GOP’s policy debate. Continue reading »

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Dec 152014
 
(illustration by Owen Courreges)

(illustration by Owen Courreges)

Owen Courreges

Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell is set to preview the next installment in her cavalcade of “progressive” policies enacted by other cities. This past week, she announced her intention to introduce a non-binding “Welcoming Resolution” early next year that will include a laundry list of policies proposed by immigrant rights groups.

Don’t get me wrong – some of the policies being suggested are perfectly reasonable. I can hardly dispute the need for multi-language signs and forms at City Hall, or for hiring more Spanish-speakers in the NOPD and in government offices.  We’re relatively close to the Mexican border, and we do need to accommodate the needs of Spanish-speakers.

However, Cantrell’s brief tenure thus far has shown that she has never been one to stop with reasonable policies.  Thus, she also announced that she wants to create a system of municipal identification cards, ostensibly so that illegal immigrants can have photographic identification and proof of residence. Continue reading »

Dec 112014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Congressman Bill Cassidy’s strong win against Sen. Mary Landrieu last week and Sen. David Vitter’s role as chief strategist has set up a powerful Cassidy/Vitter connection that will put an imprint on Louisiana for years to come.  Together they will also be a powerful force in Washington as Vitter uses his clout in the Republican Party to help better position Cassidy, who could quickly find himself Louisiana’s senior senator if Vitter becomes our next governor. Continue reading »

Dec 082014
 

Owen Courreges

It’s a catchy title: “91%.” However, it stands for something far less significant.

Local documentary filmmaker John Richie has certainly adopted a theme. His previous effort, “Shell Shocked,” aimed to portray the gritty reality of youth gun violence in New Orleans. He now plans to follow up that film with “91%,” which is being pitched as “a film about gun background checks and the people whose lives they impact.” Continue reading »

Dec 042014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Excitement was definitely in the air at the Windsor Court Monday night as 150 well-heeled donors patiently waited for an intimate concert by the great Stevie Wonder to begin.  Attorney Tim Francis convinced Wonder, his old boss, to perform at the big ticket fundraiser for Mary Landrieu and served as master of ceremonies. Wonder told the crowd he and Landrieu “shared the same values” and that’s why he came. Continue reading »

Dec 012014
 
A sinkhole stretches across Coliseum Street while orange cones mark the city's response. (Owen Courreges for UptownMessenger.com)

A sinkhole stretches across Coliseum Street while orange cones mark the city’s response. (Owen Courreges for UptownMessenger.com)

Owen Courreges

Procrastinating until something becomes absolutely critical is undeniably an American tradition.  And when it comes to procrastinating, New Orleans is always at the forefront.

There’s an example of this phenomenon just down the street and around the corner from my house.  In the 2000 block of Coliseum Street there has long been a broken water or drainage line (it’s unclear which).  It first became obvious over seven years ago when the street began to sink and the adjacent brick sidewalk began to break apart. Continue reading »

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 172014
 

Owen Courreges

There’s an old joke that “NOPD” stands for “Not Our Problem, Dude.”  When it comes to investigating sex crimes, alas, it’s simply the reality of the situation.

A report from the New Orleans Office of the Inspector General released this past week showed that the NOPD is essentially ignoring the vast majority of sex crimes.  The OIG report studied 1,290 sex crime incidents from 2011 to 2013 assigned to five detectives (almost a third of the 16 detectives in the Special Victims Section).  Of those, only 179, or 14%, included a supplemental report reflecting that the claim had been properly investigated. Continue reading »