Apr 232015
 
Public Service Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle (at right) is joined by Phil Nugent (left) and Bob Edmundson at a recent campaign event in New Orleans. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Public Service Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle (at right) is joined by Phil Nugent (left) and Bob Edmundson at a recent campaign event in New Orleans. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As Acadiana-based gubernational candidate and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle made the rounds at a Cajun Fais Do Do held in his honor last night in New Orleans, he reminded the close to 100 attendees that Louisiana voters have a history of electing governors who hail from Acadiana — Edwin Edwards and Kathleen Blanco — and that several of our recent governors — Mike Foster and Buddy Roemer — were early dark horses.

One of nine children whose father headed up the state’s Wildlife and Fisheries department and passed down his passion for the environment, Angelle was quick to differentiate himself from front-runner U.S. Senator David Vitter and his old boss Bobby Jindal. Continue reading »

Apr 202015
 

Owen Courreges

There’s an old episode of “The Simpsons” where Marge is mugged and the police are useless to catch the perpetrator. Nevertheless, Marge conquers her own fear and anxiety, managing to capture the guy who did it single-handedly.

Police Chief Wiggum arrives at the scene and proceeds to lecture the gathering crowd. “She caught her own criminal, unlike the rest of you lazy bones.”

The crowd begins to look down sheepishly. “You’re not gonna find those criminals looking at your feet, people,” Chief Wiggum chastises. Continue reading »

Apr 162015
 
Official photograph of Abraham LIncoln, taken Nov. 8, 1963. (source: Library of Congress)

Official photograph of Abraham LIncoln, taken Nov. 8, 1963. (source: Library of Congress)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Americans rich and poor, old and young, paused yesterday to remember the 150th anniversary of the assassination of America’s first martyred commander in chief, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is often considered America’s greatest president, polling way ahead of even George Washington.

A self-educated lawyer born in Kentucky’s western frontier, Lincoln became an early leader in the newly formed Republican Party and always spoke out against the expansion of slavery. Lincoln won the presidency by sweeping the North, causing the Confederate States of America to be created even before he was sworn in as America’s sixteenth president. Continue reading »

Apr 152015
 
Sleater-Kinney (via facebook.com/SleaterKinney)

Sleater-Kinney (via facebook.com/SleaterKinney)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

It all happened so innocently, my love for riotgrrl queens Corin Tucker, Janet Weiss, and Carrie Brownstein, collectively and arguably better known as Sleater-Kinney.  While living in Austin in the late 90s, I wanted to attend an in-store performance at Waterloo Records by this well-regarded female rock trio which at the time I had never heard of.  Unable to make the event I sprung for a copy of their third studio album, Dig Me Out, and lost my mind.  Just lost it.  What was this sound?  Who were these ladies?  The hungry, urgent beats, the sharp, frenetic guitar work, and the layered, waling vocals.  And the lyrics?  Each song was a visual field infused by carefully chosen wording arcing in harmony.  I was hooked, taken, even smitten, and I wanted more. Continue reading »

Apr 092015
 
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and supporters at the Cabildo this week. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and supporters at the Cabildo this week. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

By almost all accounts, Jay Dardenne has been a pretty good Lt. Governor. Though not a “tourism person,” Dardenne ran an efficient bureaucracy, shrunk the budget and did more with less. Under Dardenne’s watch, the number of visitors to Louisiana has grown along with tourism related jobs.

While Dardenne was solid administrator for the state’s cultural attractions and museums, he was never really embraced by tourism’s heavy hitters. That’s probably why the turnout for Dardenne’s New Orleans announcement for governor at the Cabildo yesterday was so light and why his campaign has attracted few New Orleans donors, especially among the tourism leadership who know him best. Continue reading »

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Apr 062015
 

Owen Courreges

If I had to write a motto for the Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC), it would be: “Making you kiss the ring to replace your roof.”

There are few examples of useless bureaucratic slime worse than the HDLC. This gaggle of architectural fetishists has crafted a Byzantine set of design guidelines, many of which have nothing whatsoever to do with preservation and appear specifically designed to render any renovation prohibitively expensive.

The only saving grace of the HDLC is that their authority is limited to a small number of core neighborhoods. This is kind of like saying that the saving grace of buck moth caterpillars is that they only come out in the Spring – it’s a restraint, but not exactly what I’d call a redeeming quality. Continue reading »

Apr 022015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Louisiana donors will get their first chance to view former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s all-but-declared presidential candidacy up close and personal when Bush comes to New Orleans on April 15 as the special guest at U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s fundraising reception. Dozens of Louisiana’s heavy-hitter Republican donors — and a few Democrats too — are sure to find their way to the Metairie estate of Joe Canizaro, one of the most prolific bundlers in the Gulf South. Continue reading »

Apr 012015
 
(Illustration by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

(Illustration by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

For more months than I care to count, and for surely as many more to come, I have been watching and experiencing firsthand the utter madness that is the ongoing construction along Napoleon Avenue.  All for the sake of what we all cross our fingers will be improved drainage.  Hold your breath, boss!  Residing where I do half a block off of the thoroughfare in the middle of the stretch just two short blocks to Freret Street, the impact has been a daily reminder to take nothing for granted and be ready for anything.  Some weeks I can cross Napoleon at my street, most I can’t.  Some days I do a U-turn at Loyola, others it’s like a whimsical journey into the unknown peppered with hungry potholes and vaporous boundaries.  But with all these catch as catch U-turns, that’s when it hit me: why isn’t the Freret intersection a rotary anyway? Continue reading »

Mar 302015
 

Owen Courreges

Collegiality and basic civility where in short supply this past week when the city council passed two controversial street name changes – as I originally predicted they would. Sadly, this is what happens when those elected scamps start to break the rules.

Usually, rules are there for a reason. They’re the bedrock of civilized discourse, the roux of the gumbo of organized government, and the something-something of something (note to self: think up more metaphors). With the run-up to the council’s decision, rules the rest of us learned in nursery school were broken left and right, to wit: Continue reading »

Mar 262015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

There’s a battle brewing in the Oct. 24 election for Secretary of State that will pit the Republican incumbent, former State Senator and De La Salle High School graduate Tom Schedler, against LSU law professor Chris Tyson, an African-American Democrat. Continue reading »

Mar 252015
 
Riders in Iris toss beads from the "Strawberry Festival" float in 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Riders in Iris toss beads from the “Strawberry Festival” float in 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

If you give a New Orleanian a festival, they will probably want some music to go with it.  Without too much trouble, blues or brass ensembles will appear on a nearby stage and perform.  And the New Orleanian will shake a leg, strut, and possibly queue a second line.  This will surely take place outdoors, so, the New Orleanian will require loose fitting colorful clothing, hopefully some sunscreen, and ample regional fare found in fresh, seasonal food and craft beverages.  But most importantly they will require dollar bills.  Copious quantities of cold, hard cash.  After all, even the free-est of festivals aren’t really free, are they? Continue reading »

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Mar 232015
 
(map via roadwork.nola.gov)

(map via roadwork.nola.gov)

Owen Courreges

The city of New Orleans has never been very good at doing things, although it has consistently shown a remarkable ability to publicize those few things it actually does.

It’s like a child who draws crude stick figures and insists on displaying them prominently on the fridge. Were they older, the self-promotion would seem ridiculous, but because of lowered expectations afforded to children onlookers are expected to feign awe and admiration.

These thoughts came to mind when I heard about the city’s new website, RoadWork (http://roadwork.nola.gov), a joint project between the Department of Public Works and the Sewerage & Water Board designed “to inform citizens about past, current, and future road work projects that affect their daily lives.” Continue reading »

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Mar 192015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

New Orleans streetcars are our version of light rail transit, and they have made living in the city’s core more attractive.

We know of a one-car family on Carrollton Avenue. The wife uses the SUV to ferry the three kids back and forth and handle the other daily necessities of life. The man of the house only needs to look as far as his neighborhood streetcar to give him access to downtown New Orleans. Continue reading »

Mar 182015
 
The author and bride, still on honeymoon. (submitted photos by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

The author and bride, still on honeymoon. (submitted photos by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

My wife and I celebrated 17 years of marital bliss this past Saturday, Pi Day of Pi Days, 10 years more than that well-tread, betrothed bauble: the Seven Year Itch.  How do we do it?  Maybe the question is why?  Better, does it matter to the world at large?  Answer: I don’t know, maybe, and kinda.  A pearl I’ll toss in your general direction is this: never stop being on your honeymoon.  Sage advice?  The credit goes to the wise Carl Hampton, a native New Orleanian I met years ago who — without being prompted as I recall — wised me to what makes a marriage last. Continue reading »

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Mar 162015
 

Owen Courreges

Note: The author has once again suffered a mental break and lapsed into his s“Bland Landers: Advice Columnist” persona. The following is the grisly outcome.

Dear Bland,

I am a developer pitching plans for the old World Trade Center building. My proposal includes a plan for a some twisty-gondola things that go up to an observation deck, and then come back down. Remember those gondolas at the World’s Fair back in ’84? Well, it’s like those only instead of taking you across the river, it just takes you up and then back down again (kind of like an elevator, but without the utility). I guess my question is, what in the World Trade Center is wrong with me? Continue reading »

Mar 122015
 
Immigration papers for the author's mother, Vera Columbus. (submitted photo)

Naturalization papers from 1944 for the author’s mother, Vera Columbus. (submitted photo)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

My mother Vera was a scientist, a University of Pennsylvania-trained microbiologist to be exact, who integrated the miracles of science into her everyday life as a wife and mother. Unfortunately, all the recent advances in medicine could not protect her from the ravages of dementia which eventually robbed Mother of the ability to walk, talk or even feed herself. At 88, Mother succumbed to that often misunderstood disease last Saturday. Continue reading »

Mar 112015
 
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

Prologue: Each Saturday at noon on WTUL 91.5 FM in New Orleans, Mark Tobler’s DJ set almost always opens with John Hartford’s song “Back in the Good Old Days.”  The song is a projection of a future population residing at a city dump, and while there — though they may imbibe as a community — the topic of discussion and conversation will be remembering when things were better and wondering how things became what they are.

The 21st century has been a veritable roller coaster thus far for the Crescent City.  Storms, diaspora, growth, crime, food highs, political lows, Hollywood South, hospital hubbub, even an entrepreneurial hotbed too.  It’s downright dizzying at times.  And then there’s our blight — and the quest to remedy that scourge, often via demolition.  We as a city often decry the Big Easy brand as slipping away via noise ordinances, smoking bans, whatever legal challenges and changes that float through City Hall.  But removing the landscape in the name of the greater good?  To be sure, there’s no faster way to becoming Anywhere, USA. Continue reading »

Mar 092015
 

Owen Courreges

If there’s anything that probably deserves government attention, it’s preventing children from getting mowed down while they get to and from school. No politician has ever, to my knowledge, run on a platform of exposing children to the greater risk from Mr. Distracted McNeglient’s murder-mobile.

Thus, if you’ve been reading The Lens lately, you’ve been understandably disturbed by a series of articles regarding the operation (or rather, the lack thereof) of New Orleans’ school zone lights. The first article detailed the results of a Lens survey performed this January which revealed that “[s]ix out of 10 — 87 out of 147 in active school zones — were malfunctioning.” Continue reading »

Mar 052015
 
Marijuana plants seized in raids on two Uptown homes in July 2011. (UptownMessenger.com file photo via NOPD)

Marijuana plants seized in raids on two Uptown homes in July 2011. (UptownMessenger.com file photo via NOPD)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As Gov. Jindal continues to make drastic cuts to the state’s budget, especially in education and public safety, income from the sale and cultivation of marijuana — even medical marijuana — could begin to fill the state’s budget gap.

Already three states and the District of Columbia have legalized the sale and consumption of marijuana, although the D.C.’s Council passed emergency legislation just yesterday to tighten up the law voters recently approved. Twenty-three states along with the District of Columbia have also legalized medical marijuana. The voters of Louisiana overwhelmingly supported the legalization of medical marijuana in a 2014 LSU poll. With tight regulation, it may also be possible that Governor Jindal could support medical marijuana, according to news reports. Continue reading »