UptownMessenger.com

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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Oct 102014
 
All eyes were on Beck at his sold out performance at the House of Blue in New Orleans. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere)

All eyes were on Beck at his sold out performance at the House of Blue in New Orleans. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

In all likelihood your favorite rock band or artist got their wee start doing someone else’s material.  It remains the sort of natural path most musicians follow as they begin to hone their own sound.  Some artists do go forth and produce new and original works while others may wish to rely on other’s material still, hence the staying power of the cover band proper.  In the world of cover bands there happens to be a whole swath of styles, everything from the hardcore playing of all songs in any given single artist’s catalog to “wedding” bands who play very familiar material but from a spectrum of the well-known, like Steve Miller, the Rev. Al Green, and maybe some Hall & Oates or even Loverboy, for good measure.  The latter are the bands everyone secretly loves because they tap into the collective social psyche as most everyone may relate to much of the material, though few would ever claim true fan status. 

Finally, there’s what I’ve come to loosely define as the “meta” rock band. Meta, as you may know, can be defined as “referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential.”  There exists a fine line a cover band walks between being cover or meta, in my opinion.  Why?  Because cover is exactly that, but meta plays on a participant within the genre either going back to the good old days of when they sucked, perhaps playing a tune with a previous ensemble or just flat out paying homage to whomever.   Continue reading »

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 »