May 052016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Caroline Zetzmann Calhoun, 2016 Whitney Bank Zoo To Do Chair, and her team of 400 volunteers serving on 15 committees have been working overtime for weeks to put the final touches on May 6th’s thirty-ninth annual extravaganza which will draw 5,000 attendees and benefit Audubon Zoo’s Tropical Bird House.

The culmination of a year’s worth of cajoling corporate donors, restaurants, bars, and other sponsors, this year’s gala is expected to raise $1.2 million and serve as the match for millions more in foundation, public and private sector gifts which form the basis of Audubon Institute’s almost $50 million annual budget. Continue reading »

Apr 292016
 

Guy’s is back. Marvin is back. Lunch is back.

Roast Beef Po-Boy from Guy's (Kristine Froeba)

Roast Beef Po-Boy from Guy’s (Kristine Froeba)

Guy’s Po-Boys reopened last week. There was little fanfare, but owner, chef, and sole sandwich maker Marvin Matherne doesn’t operate on fanfare; he serves lunch. The restaurant is already packed daily, the small dining room filled. The exterior paint is brighter, the fixtures newer, but the menu remains unchanged.

Kristine Froeba

Kristine Froeba

Guy’s doesn’t serve fancy food. It serves great food. The Po-Boys are of the variety found in the traditional corner New Orleans Po-Boy shop. Overfilled seafood with pickles and hot sauce and Blue Plate slathered, messy, gravy-laden Roast Beef – all on Leidenheimers. Continue reading »

Apr 282016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Instead of making his passionate plea from one of the city’s more dangerous inner city neighborhoods where residents experience crime day after day, Mayor Landrieu chose the relative safety of Tulane University and the campus police who could help protect attendees. Who was Landrieu’s real intended audience — the neighborhoods that can afford extra security or the law-abiding citizens who are afraid to let their kids play outside? Was Landrieu’s speech a positioning statement for his future in the Clinton administration? Continue reading »

Apr 252016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Perhaps the most crucial skill a citizen can have when viewing the myriad policies proposed by politicians is knowing the difference between that which is substantive, and that which panders. The electorate should know when a politician is genuinely trying to make the world better, as opposed to merely looking like they’re trying to make the world better.

Alas, New Orleanians were exposed to the latter this past Friday, when Mayor Mitch Landrieu, flanked by Councilmembers Jason Williams and James Gray, proposed a five-part ordinance “aimed at promoting gun safety in New Orleans.” Continue reading »

Apr 212016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Charter schools are big business in New Orleans. They basically operate in their own world and are answerable not to the voters but only to their individual boards, each of which is like a mini OPSB.

Charter school organizations can hire whomever they want, pay whatever salaries they want, and purchase supplies and equipment from vendors of their own choosing. As the more successful charter school organizations get the opportunity to start up (or take over) additional schools, their fiefdom grows. Continue reading »

Apr 152016
 

Daily Brunch, Goat Cheese Enchiladas, and Mirlitons in a French Country Setting

The Standard. Did you ever stumble upon a restaurant so delightful you immediately wanted to text all of your friends, but also wanted to keep it all to yourself? I found one on Wednesday. The Standard. It was one of those cool rain drenched days in New Orleans–the kind where you can’t decide if outside is worth the effort.

Lump Crab, Crawfish, Mirliton, and Alligator Andouille Sausage Gumbo (Kristine Froeba)

Lump Crab, Crawfish, Mirliton, and Alligator Andouille Sausage Gumbo (Kristine Froeba)

Kristine Froeba

Kristine Froeba

Wellie-clad, I peered through the window of the new place across from Magasin Café. I saw a roaring fire. I was sold. Provencal décor at its most simple and elegant. Reclaimed wood. It looked expensive. It wasn’t. It should be. Continue reading »

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Apr 142016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

The voters’ rejection of Mayor Landrieu’s tax proposal to fund additional police officers and pay firefighters’ back pensions was not a vote against the need for the tax but a clear sign of voter dissatisfaction and mistrust of Mayor Landrieu’s public safety policies and leadership. While the mayor obviously needs to address that anger, new sources of funding are still desperately needed if devastating cuts are to be avoided.

Landrieu and the City Council could shore up our tax base by ensuring New Orleans becomes the next American city to enact a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. A “sin tax” on the purchase of carbonated soft drinks is on the books in many countries around the world including France, Barbados and Mexico, where consumption of sodas declined after the tax was enacted. Continue reading »

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Apr 112016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

On Saturday, around 11:30 p.m., former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith was driving through my neighborhood. He was with his wife, Racquel. As he approached Felicity Street while driving eastbound on Sophie Wright Place, he was allegedly rear-ended by one Cardell Hayes.

Hayes and Smith exited their respective vehicles and got into a heated argument. Hayes pulled a gun, at which point Smith ostensibly turned. Hayes then sprayed out a hail of bullets, hitting Smith in his back and right torso. Smith bled out at the scene. Raquel was struck in her right leg.

Smith was much beloved in New Orleans, and this senseless act of violence has thus struck a chord with many. A makeshift memorial appeared Sunday near the scene of the shooting. Continue reading »

Apr 082016
 
Imperial Woodpecker Sno-balls (Kristine Froeba)

Imperial Woodpecker Sno-balls (Kristine Froeba)

The tradition of the corner snowball, snoball, or sno-ball stand in New Orleans lives on. If you’re a local, you already know all about the famous Hansen’s Sno-Bliz. The Hansen family invented their Sno-Bliz machine in 1939. The Nectar Cream, the beloved Wedding Cake flavor, and the line around the corner on Tchoup. Visitors see the line and ask: “What are those people waiting in line for…?” If you’re not a local, you’ll know soon enough.

Kristine Froeba

Kristine Froeba

The latest entrée into the snowball scene is Imperial Woodpecker Sno-balls on Magazine near Harry’s Ace. Gourmet flavors such as Cardamom abound, the service is uber-friendly, special flavors are made daily. The Natural flavor range is a big hit and locals are taking notice. Continue reading »

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Apr 072016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Now serving his eleventh year as Orleans Parish’s top jailer, Marlin Gusman could easily be called the “Teflon Man”. Whether being attacked by the Legislative Auditor, Federal Judge Lance Africk, the consent decree monitors, Mayor Landrieu, the City Council or even the VOTE (Voice of The Ex-Offender) organization, the criticisms just roll off him. Continue reading »

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Apr 042016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

New Orleans is not a kind place to renters. Last week, CNN/Money named our fair city one of the worst cities for renters in the U.S. Last year, the Atlantic opined about the “myth” of New Orleans’ affordability, highlighting our low wages, increasing rents, and lack of habitable housing units. In general, the press has been rather negative of late.

Worst of all, we can’t say it isn’t true. Continue reading »

Apr 012016
 
Quattro Formagi and Ricotta, Arugla, and Speck Neapolitan Pizza (Kristine Froeba)

Quattro Formagi and Ricotta, Arugla, and Speck Neapolitan Pizza (Kristine Froeba)

Ancora Pizzeria and Salumeria’s website quotes the Vera Napoletana Rules: the pizza must be made with flour, water, salt, yeast only, no fats. The pizza must also be a particular width—12 inches—and must be hand-rolled, cooked at 400 degrees, while the oven must be refractory and fired with wood. The laws of Naples and Italy are strictly adhered to on Freret. The Pizzeria’s site further specifies that Neapolitan Pizza should be well done, fragrant, and the border high and soft, never crusty.

Kristine Froeba

Kristine Froeba

The Vera Napoletana Rules are perfectly executed at Ancora. The oven is exactly as it should be, as are the local fresh ingredients. While the Rules mention only four official types of Neapolitan Pizza, the Margharita, Four Cheese, Marinara, and Calzone, variations are allowed if the Rules are respected. Continue reading »

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Mar 312016
 
Women officials at the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee meeting (from left): Nadine Ramsey and Deborah Langhoff, Susan Guidry and Kristen Gisleson Palmer, Angele Wilson and Caroline Fayard. (photos by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Women officials at the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee meeting (from left): Nadine Ramsey and Deborah Langhoff, Susan Guidry and Kristen Gisleson Palmer, Angele Wilson and Caroline Fayard. (photos by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Based on the past week’s nasty exchange between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz about their respective wives, do the Republican presidential candidates really think of women as “objects to ogle or protect” as a New York Times columnist suggested? Or do the GOP contenders recognize female voters to be the savvy constituency that will decide the outcome of this year’s presidential race? Continue reading »

Mar 282016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

New Orleans drivers, I’ve found, are not particularly fond of pedestrians. Venturing forth on New Orleans roads seems to have become an exercise in big game hunting, as some cars actually speed up to honk and shout obscenities at people whose only crime is walking. The closer they come to running them down, the greater their warm fuzzy.

New Orleans pedestrians, on the other hand, often seem to have little regard their own lives. They seem to be unaware of these strange strips of pavement adjoining streets called “sidewalks” and instead saunter about in the middle of the roadway, appearing inconvenienced when a car has the sheer audacity to attempt to use a traffic lane for its intended purpose.

Both sides need a lesson in the law and simple etiquette. Continue reading »

Mar 252016
 
Crispy Pecan Catfish Des Allemands, over Crab Boil Creole Potato Salad with Creole Mustard Braised Cabbage and Mirlitons with Pickled Okra Aioli and NOLA BBQ Vinaigrette (Kristine Froeba)

Crispy Pecan Catfish Des Allemands, over Crab Boil Creole Potato Salad with Creole Mustard Braised Cabbage and Mirlitons with Pickled Okra Aioli and NOLA BBQ Vinaigrette (Kristine Froeba)

Friday luncheon traditions are entrenched in New Orleans. Amongst professionals and the ladies who lunch, Uptown’s luncheon tradition is Commander’s Palace—since 1890. It still is. While the CBD traditional crowd may also focus on Galatoire’s, an upstart founded in 1905, the grandest of luncheons continue to be enjoyed daily under the moss-covered oaks where Washington joins Coliseum. Actually, the statement is true any day of the week. Weekends are reserved for Commander’s Brunch. Bourbon Milk Punch sets the pace.

Kristine Froeba

Kristine Froeba

Commander’s, famous since the turn of the century, became a Brennan’s restaurant in 1974. Much remains constant, although in recent years Ella, Dottie, Dick, and John Brennan passed the reins to cousins Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan. The residents of the Garden District still stroll to frequent the most elegant of historic restaurants and its Haute Creole Cuisine, as do I. The walls are still “Commander Blue.” The cocktails unequaled. Reservations are usually needed. Coats are still required. Martinis are still 25 cents. Continue reading »

Mar 242016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

OPSB Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis sent a letter to central office staff this week who were not eliminated in the first round of staff changes last summer advising them that more cuts were on the way but that they could apply for jobs remaining, if they were qualified. Even the current principals were told that their re-employment was not certain. Staff members are bracing for these inevitable changes, which will likely occur during the summer months. Continue reading »

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Mar 212016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

“You’re an idiot.”

It wasn’t much of an argument. These were the words written to me by Taylor Huckaby, a social media spokesman for Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the regional transit agency serving the San Francisco Bay area. Clearly, he didn’t like to be challenged. Continue reading »

Mar 172016
 
People sleeping in the doorway of a Royal Street business this past weekend. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

People sleeping in the doorway of a Royal Street business this past weekend. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Sunday morning during an early walk through the CBD and French Quarter, I encountered more than two dozen homeless men and women sleeping in the doorways of some of our city’s most fashionable establishments. While I paused to shoot a photograph on Royal Street, a State Police cruiser passed right by, unfazed. Whether people are sleeping (or eating or anything even more personal) in a vestibule, outside the Cabildo, or along the Moonwalk, it’s an unsightly, unsanitary situation that negatively impacts tourism and everyone’s quality of life. Continue reading »

Mar 142016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

It’s not uncommon for something to sound wonderful that is ultimately a bad idea — “freemium” games, bacon-wrapped pizza, going to Bourbon Street — the list is endless. It’s easy to get whipped into a frenzy by hype or sexiness and ignore practical realities.

That’s the category to which the oft-debated commuter rail line between New Orleans and Baton Rouge belongs. Continue reading »