Oct 242012

Jean-Paul Villere

Recently en route to a morning meeting, I got pulled over by the NOPD, with good reason: my license plate had long expired.  And I knew it, and I knew what was next.  My inspection sticker?  Expired.  Insurance?  Legit, but no proof therein.  The only saving grace was that my license to drive happens to be aces with nothing attached, plus I operated the vehicle in a stellar manner.  Okay, the officer didn’t use the word ‘stellar’, that’s my own embellishment.  But trust me, I’m a good driver, just maybe not always a 100-percent legal one. Continue reading »

Oct 232012

Actor Wendell Pierce describes his proposal for a Sterling Express store anchoring a gas station on Tchoupitoulas at St. James before the City Planning Commission on Tuesday afternoon. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Actor Wendell Pierce plans the next location of his fresh-food convenience store concept, Sterling Express, for Tchoupitoulas near the old Market Street power plant in the Lower Garden District, but the proposed gas station he wants to put it in received a split decision from a city panel Tuesday on its request for two bays for large trucks. Continue reading »

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Oct 222012

Article by Marta Jewson, for UptownMessenger.com

An undated image of the building at the corner of Leonidas and Willow from Google Maps.

The owner of a building at the corner of Leonidas and Willow is proposing to change its zoning from residential to neighborhood business for a contractor-training office and community space, raising some questions among surrounding neighbors. Continue reading »

Oct 222012

Owen Courreges

D.J. Luddite is no more.

Some explanation is required.  My day-to-day persona is that of Owen Courreges, Attorney at Law.   However, on Thursday evenings I have been breaking out my 1923 Brunswick suitcase phonograph at the Bayou Bar in the Hotel Pontchartrain.  There, I play 78 rpm records as my alter ego – D.J. Luddite (because D.J. Luddite eschews modern technology).

It’s kind of like Garth Brooks and his rock alter ego Chris Gaines, only far less lame and pretentious.  Well, at least less pretentious.

However, for the past few weeks I’ve been absent.  Music has been silenced at Bayou Bar.  This is regrettable, because Bayou Bar has a storied history in the music community.  Reportedly Cole Porter played here somewhat inconsistently on weekends for about twelve years.  Frank Sinatra and Frankie Lane used Bayou Bar as their watering hole, and are even rumored to have performed on occasion. Continue reading »

Oct 172012

Dana Kaplan is surrounded by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond and other elected officials Wednesday afternoon in a news conference announcing their endorsements. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A week after grabbing attention with the largest remaining fundraising war chest, Dana Kaplan bolstered her campaign for the open District B seat on the New Orleans City Council by announcing endorsements Wednesday from Mayor Mitch Landrieu, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond and five other prominent elected officials.

“I’m very excited by this broad base of support,” Kaplan said after the news conference. “I didn’t run for office knowing I would get it.” Continue reading »

Oct 152012

Owen Courreges

Just a block over from my house is Mr. John’s Steakhouse. In my humble opinion, it offers the best steaks in the city. They use only the finest cuts seared in butter and cooked to perfection. And of course, like all of the finest steakhouses, they are not cheap. Mr. John’s is synonymous with special occasions.

This is not, however, the case for the Board of Trustees for the New Orleans Firefighters’ Pension and Relief Fund. Apparently, they believe in spending thousands of dollars at a time at Mr. John’s and other expensive restaurants in the city. Continue reading »

Oct 112012

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

The 2012 Republican Party platform is a voluminous document that is filled with wisdom and purported wisdom. But, sadly, one of the few possible subjects of Republican wisdom that is omitted is the fate and future of American cities. Now, to be fair, the platform does excoriate the City of Washington D.C. as an example of every urban failing that can be attributed to the incompetence of Big Government – i.e., the Democrats.

But, the fact of the matter is that American cities, including Washington D.C., Uptown New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, are filled with Republicans. And, in many cases, as often occurs in Uptown New Orleans, these registered urban-living Republicans reside right next door to conservative Democrats who regularly and predictably vote Republican in Presidential and other elections. Continue reading »

Oct 102012

Sewerage & Water Board “work” on Freret Street. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere)

Jean-Paul Villere

Yet another rhetorical pop quiz from the Sewerage & Water Board this past Monday left Orleans Parish residents (read: me and likely you) wondering if our one and only water supply was safe for consumption.  And the solitary answer everyone can agree on equals “Maybe.”  Forget that it’s the 21st century, forget that Roman aquaducts remain a marvel to humanity and civilization on the whole, and forget too that over the next five years an Orleans Parish water bill will grow incrementally like a film of algae from a broken fire hydrant to the nearest street drain.  But remember this: your vote still matters.  And why this will always be important remains a let-me-speak-to-your-supervisor line of thought.  The S & W B does not answer to much, or do they?  So who’s in charge? Continue reading »

Oct 092012

Violent crimes in the Freret area since mid-April, according to NOPD crime maps, include a teen being shot, a dispute in which a gun was fired, a fracas at a now-closed high school and a charge of illegal carrying of a weapon. (via NOPD.com)

The murder of a prominent Freret Street bakery owner 25 years ago is still regarded as the seminal moment in the commercial corridor’s long period of neglect. Now, even amid the street’s current renaissance, some residents still feel that they are living just on the edge of the next violent crime.

Several Freret residents and business owners have recently begun discussing the possibility of hiring private security patrols similar to those in other neighborhoods around the city, and Tuesday night, began what they see as a long conversation with their neighbors about whether to move forward. Continue reading »

Oct 052012

Amid questions about whether the streetlights were working on the block where an attorney was carjacked and shot Tuesday evening, city officials say they are unsure whether they can fulfill the promise to repair every streetlight in the city by the end of the year, following setbacks and damage caused by Hurricane Isaac, reports Monica Hernandez of our partners at WWL-TV. Council president Stacy Head, however, says that money originally budgeted to the streetlight effort should have put the project much farther along by now.

Continue reading »

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Oct 042012

After a 14-year-old arrested on charges relating to Tuesday night’s carjacking spree across Uptown New Orleans was found to have a non-working ankle monitor, the sheriff’s office has pledged to look into what went wrong with the electronic monitoring program and a City Council committee is promising its own investigation. Continue reading »

Oct 022012

More than 120 people attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the redevelopment of the Centennial Cotton Press and Lykes Steamship building on Tchoupitoulas. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The Centennial Cotton Press, left, and adjacent Lykes Steamship Building. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A former cotton press on Tchoupitoulas dating back more than 100 years is slated to become a kitchen cooking fresh, healthy meals for local schools next year, with office space in front and 52 apartments next door as part of a riverfront development just blocks away from the former Entergy power plant. Continue reading »

Oct 012012

After assistant city attorney Jason Cantrell was cited for possession of what police say was a marijuana joint that fell out of his pocket in court Monday, his wife, District B City Council candidate LaToya Cantrell, issued a statement about her dismay over his “lack of judgment.” Continue reading »

Oct 012012

Owen Courreges

About a year ago I was in a United Cab with a friend headed for Banks Street Bar to see a band perform. Although I normally maintain a “no conversations” rule with cabbies due to my own social awkwardness, the driver was friendly and we started a conversation.

He was from Pakistan. I received my undergraduate degree in political science, and I was interested in a native’s take on the political turmoil there. The discussion was enlightening. After the ride, the driver continued to converse with me for a while as we parked – my friend had to come grab me to tell me I was going to miss the music if I lingered much longer.

A few months ago I read an article that a Pakistani cab driver had been murdered in Eastern New Orleans. I recognized the man I had spoken with from his photo. He had been robbed, shot and left for dead. Continue reading »

Sep 302012

New trees at Washington and Broad, better landscaping around Benjamin Banneker Elementary School and a community garden at South Claiborne and Jefferson are among the latest round of neighborhood beautification projects that will each receive a boost from the city’s “Love Your Block” grant program. Continue reading »

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