Sep 292016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

In a speech laced with religious references, Governor John Bel Edwards told 200 attendees at a dinner last night sponsored by the Jefferson Parish Democratic Executive Committee that he was pleased that the federal government has taken the first step in committing $500 million of what he hopes will be a multi-billion dollar aid package for Louisiana’s flood victims. The group honored Edwards with their 2016 Blue Horizon award. Continue reading »

Sep 282016
 
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

Tuesday morning I awoke abruptly just before 4 a.m. from a dream.  Convinced I was awake for the day, I decided to send a few emails.  While clacking out my correspondence in the dead silence of pre-dawn I heard in the not-too-far distance successive gunshots.  I thought it was about eight rounds.  Maybe it was seven.  But does it even matter how many there were?  I called 911.  They took my location, name, etc.  Then I went for a run.  And this is normal in New Orleans.  At least for now. Continue reading »

Sep 232016
 

The corridor of Jackson Avenue near Annunciation has its first restaurant in years, and it’s a perfect fit for the neighborhood. Mason Hereford and Lauren Holton are the duo behind the new Irish Channel sandwich shop, Turkey and the Wolf. Hereford, former Chef of Coquette, and Holton, formerly of High Hat, have created a menu with southern soul and a dining room reminiscent of your grandmother’s porch.

Chicken Fried Steak Sandwich (Kristine Froeba)

Chicken Fried Steak Sandwich (Kristine Froeba)

Continue reading »

Sep 222016
 
Jay Dardenne speaks to the Bureau of Governmental Research in New Orleans on Thursday morning. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Jay Dardenne speaks to the Bureau of Governmental Research in New Orleans on Thursday morning. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told the Bureau of Governmental Research today that the state will have no choice but to make additional cuts to departments and agencies of state government starting in January 2017 to balance the budget for the remainder of the fiscal year that ends June 30. It’s simply a matter of cash flow, Dardenne explained. Continue reading »

Sep 212016
 
A second line for Cindy McCurry will be held this weekend. (courtesy photo)

The late Cindy McCurry, photographed at the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone. A second line for her will be held on Saturday through the French Quarter. (courtesy photo)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

My family and I might never have met our beloved neighbor Cindy because we never intended to live on S Liberty St; it just sort of happened.  One day in 2006 while slinging lattes down at my then day job I took a phone call from some one seeking to sell a piece of property.  After my shift ended I pedaled over to examine the wreck of a double that would become my future home.  Initially my wife and I decided to purchase the careworn home as an investment and rent it out.  But after starting the work and getting to know the neighbors, we paused and shifted our focus.  This was the house and these were the people we wanted to raise our kids around.  And when Cindy and her husband Bob arrived a year later moving in to the white single story across the street, they could not have been a better fit.  Earlier this month and quite unexpectedly, Cindy passed, and S Liberty St just won’t be the same.

Front porches.  In 2015 Matthew McConaughey composed and shared a beautiful perspective to this immutable facet to life in the Crescent City.  Our almost daily exchange with Cindy and Bob embodied their presence on their front porch.  The same front porch Cindy meticulously would curate for most any and every holiday.  A true spectacle each time, always with the utmost attention to detail and maximum effort.  After all, if it’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing well, right?  Halloween epitomized these forays into the celebrated life she lived.  I mused on it once, and always found inspiration in her executions, not that she could ever be topped.  She was the queen bee here.  I would imagine even a little compulsive, like she had to do it, otherwise what’s the point?  So get out of the way or lend a hand; these decorations were going to happen, and be ready to be impressed.

Forget the holidays.  That front porch, that was their perch most days of the year.  Their gateway to connecting to the city and to us.  A growing family, we are always coming and going.  Over the last 9 years those few moments here and there however brief, catching up for a few minutes or more while dashing off to ballet or returning from the school day, these ordinary exchanges wove the fabric of our very being without even realizing it.  My two youngest daughters, now aged 5 and 7, have only known a world with Cindy in it.  How she always gave so selflessly of her time and attention.  My children, my wife and I grew to adore Cindy – and Bob too of course – their pairing and presence presumed to be a fixture.  But life happens, and things change.  When we learned of Cindy’s passing we all sort of stopped.  Myself I was traveling when I heard, and I broke down immediately.  Each day since – – – well, it varies.

No coincidences.  Raising four young women in our household and having the privilege to share our lives with Cindy’s illuminated sensibility, our paths were unquestionably meant to cross.  Our four little ladies looking up to Cindy’s unabashed approach in what it means to be a woman living your life on your terms as loud and as proud as you want, meeting life’s moments however ordinary as an opportunity to elevate them and make them something more.  I will never forget, last year in her infectious trademark giggle she called out to my wife and I, each of us adorned in not much more than luchador masks and booty shorts, “So long slut puppies!” as we departed to join our dance krewe.  So long, Cindy. Our hearts are heavy in losing you, but your light and energy will always be an inspiration. Thank you.

A second line will take place this Saturday celebrating Cindy’s life, details here.  If you knew Cindy, I hope to see you there.  And If you didn’t know Cindy, well, she certainly wouldn’t mind if you tag along and surely would enjoy the company.

Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Sep 192016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

On Monday, Mayor Landrieu honored his vainglorious pledge made earlier this year to when he signed a new gun ordinance. The final draft of this absurd farce of legislative dreck was mercifully stripped of all provisions that completely merely mirrored existing state law. This left only three remaining restrictions. Continue reading »

Sep 162016
 
Charcuterie Board of Duck Liver Mousse, Lamb Terrine, Bavarian Gelb, Roquefort Cheesecake, Salami, Thomasville Cheese, and Zucchini Pickles (Kristine Froeba)

Charcuterie Board of Duck Liver Mousse, Lamb Terrine, Bavarian Gelb, Roquefort Cheesecake, Salami, Thomasville Cheese, and Zucchini Pickles (Kristine Froeba)

What can one say about a restaurant so fastidious they bottle their own ketchup?

Not just any ketchup: a tomato sauce laced with coriander, cinnamon, thyme, and apple cider vinegar. A ketchup so tasty, I stole a baguette from a gourmet charcuterie board to dip – in ketchup. I’m using italics because this ketchup cannot compare to that bottled red stuff of the Heinz variety. Chef Brack May, formerly of Cobalt, wants people to know that Cowbell is more than just gourmet burgers. It is–a lot more than just burgers. However, no fear, the famous burgers are still on the menu. Continue reading »

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Sep 152016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

As Election Day grows closer, there is lots of political jockeying at the national and local level. Hillary Clinton has decided to be more open about her health, Donald Trump is calling for paid maternity leave and tax credits for working parents, and Sept. 16 birthday boy Governor John Bel Edwards is making progress after two relatively successful trips to Washington to help flood victims. Continue reading »

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Sep 122016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

There is a strain of thought in some police circles that cops need the ability to charge citizens with a crime for doing nothing more than disrespecting them. In order to command respect on the streets, the trope goes, mouthing off to a cop can’t be tolerated.

This pernicious notion is the source of much police misconduct, and it persists to this day. Continue reading »

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Sep 092016
 

Italian cuisine has arrived in the Lower Garden District, albeit tucked beneath an unlikely package. The Italian-American Trattoria is housed on the first floor of the historic Harris-Maginnis House, the antebellum boutique hotel currently known as the Magnolia Mansion. The location is an irresistible combination of soaring Corinthian columns, ancient oaks towering over equally ancient iron gates, craft cocktails, a piano bar, “Mack the Knife” wafting through the air, and the perfect Osso Bucco.

Spiedini Mozzarella, pan-fried thick house bread topped with Mozzarella with an Anchovy-Lemon Caper Sauce, the way Frank Sinatra ordered it (Kristine Froeba)

Spiedini Mozzarella, pan-fried thick house bread topped with Mozzarella with an Anchovy-Lemon Caper Sauce, the way Frank Sinatra ordered it (Kristine Froeba)

The signature appetizer is Spiedini Mozzarella, served with authentic Rat Pack origins. Chef Sonny DeCrescenzi or “Sonny D”, as he was known, was the originator of the dish. Continue reading »

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Sep 082016
 
State Rep. Helena Moreno and Orleans Parish School Board member Nolan Marshall speak during last night's meeting of local Democrats. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

State Rep. Helena Moreno and Orleans Parish School Board member Nolan Marshall speak during last night’s meeting of local Democrats. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

For the first time in many years, the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee gave candidates an opportunity to meet with their voting members prior to their upcoming endorsement meeting. Last night’s meeting brought out more than a dozen candidates for U.S. Senate, Congress, various judgeships and the Orleans Parish School Board. They distributed hand cards and football schedules while pouring on the charisma and munching on finger sandwiches. Continue reading »

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Sep 072016
 
(Illustration by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

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

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

Last week while combing through the this and that’s of the intrawebs as one is want to do, I took a shine to the hubbub surrounding Don’t Breathe, the first in a bloodied flurry of new horror films visiting theaters over the next weeks, building up to…  Halloween, of course.  So I made a date for an evening viewing at Canal Place and 90 minutes later walked out one sated genre lover.  Now I’m no horror aficionado really, but when fresh thriller content comes on the scene, I don’t mind giving it a go.  In truth, my journey into love of scarier cinematic fare almost never happened, and for that I blame the 1988 sequel Phantasm II.  Really. Continue reading »

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Sep 062016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Samuel Johnson once said that “[e]very man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it.”

Many armchair commentators from the past couple of weeks should heed Johnson’s words. When San Francisco 49’ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem, many of his supporters immediately began spouting platitudes about freedom of speech and the First Amendment. Kaepernick, the trope went, was being squelched by his critics Continue reading »

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Sep 022016
 
The One-Eyed Jack Burger on French (Kristine Froeba)

The One-Eyed Jack Burger on French (Kristine Froeba)

Breakfast at Slim Goodies is an Uptown mainstay, whether rolling out of bed at noon for casual brunch or as the last stop of another late NOLA night. The six a.m. crowd arrives in sunglasses seeking one of the best hangover breakfasts in town. The families, tots in tow, are the next shift, early risers staring down plates of whipped cream topped waffles, chocolate chip pancakes, and eggs over easy.

The place is also popular with the Hollywood South crowd, expect to see actors, even A-list, but pretend you don’t. Vegan and healthier-type diners arrive at all hours. I usually stroll in post early-birds, before grabbing my favorite booth by the window. It’s my time, after the noise, but before the tourists and college students wake up. Continue reading »

 Comments Off on Kristine Froeba: Slim Goodies Diner switches gears, still cooks with ‘Luv’
Sep 012016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Mitch Landrieu is one smart cookie. Residents all across New Orleans are salivating that their neighborhood streets might get repaired with the $2 billion FEMA allocation, the starting point of the city’s massive $5 billion street rebuilding project. Continue reading »

 Comments Off on Danae Columbus: Mayor will saddle Council with street-repair funding question
Aug 312016
 
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

Earlier this week Monday evening arrived as it dutifully does, and as it did a twinge of uneasiness ping-ponged my internal clock on into the dusky dusk.  Something was amiss from my weekly regime in the form of a cinematic excursion.  You see, for more dates than not these summer months I attended the (largely free of charge) Orpheum film series; it crescendoed last Tuesday via a revival screening of Steven Spielberg’s 1980s masterpiece Raiders of the Lost Ark.  And when the lights came up after Indy once again successfully avoided melting alongside the Nazis (thanks Ark of the Covenant!), the applause flew and fell, and that was that.  Summer 2016 was over, at least from the point of view of free movies in a stunning, air-conditioned space. Continue reading »

 Comments Off on Jean-Paul Villere: Dear Orpheum, thank you
Aug 292016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

It’s almost as though Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter were spat out of central casting.  The portly, arrogant, hot-headed lawman is the archetype of the corrupt Southern sheriff.  “You ain’t from ‘round here, boy,” might as well be tattooed on his forehead.

Playing to form, Larpenter doesn’t appreciate being criticized.  His thin skin was certainly on display when a local muckraking blog called “Exposedat” suggested that Larpenter had misused public funds due to a conflict of interest. Continue reading »

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Aug 262016
 
petrossi

The Petrossi family behind the bar at Charlie’s Steak House, later 1940s (via Charlie’s Steak House)

Charlie’s Steak House is many things. There’s the menu, or lack thereof, the history, and then, there’re the anecdotes. It’s an old school New Orleans restaurant of the neighborhood variety. It’s a tad “Goodfellas”, in the best way; its Italian origins are everywhere. It’s a place where local’s grandparents drank highballs and chain smoked between courses. Of course, it’s not an Italian restaurant; it’s a Steak House. The Original New Orleans Steak House.

Continue reading »

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Aug 252016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Yesterday evening, the Orleans Parish Republican Executive Committee heard from seven of the two dozen candidates running for the U.S. Senate to replace David Vitter. Although their endorsement won’t be announced until after tonight’s forum for candidates running for judgeships and Orleans Parish School Board, it was obvious from the vibe in the room that state Treasurer John Kennedy is the clear choice of many New Orleans Republican heavy hitters. Continue reading »

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Aug 242016
 
The corner lot at the beginning of the summer. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere)

The corner lot at the beginning of the summer. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

As summer’s sizzle dissipates over the coming weeks, the back-to-school throngs may muse on their most recent season away from academia, and some may even have it as their premiere assignment upon recommencement.  While I don’t really recall in my younger years a time when this was asked of my fertile student mind, my 42-year-old memory ain’t what she used to be.  So color me pseudo-nostalgically amused when my oldest had this very task put to her and she wrote about our family train trip to Chicago.  Which I totally dug too.  Except, and in honest reflection, my real takeaway for summer 2016?  Pecking away, hours over days and largely singlehandedly, at an overwhelmingly under-maintained vacant corner lot in my neighborhood. Continue reading »

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