Aug 302014
 
Retired Gen. Russell Honore speaks at the GreenARMY Katrina commemoration at Xavier University. (Zach Brien for UptownMessenger.com)

Retired Gen. Russell Honore speaks at the GreenARMY Katrina commemoration at Xavier University. (Zach Brien for UptownMessenger.com)

As New Orleans continues to recover from the devastation that followed Hurricane Katrina nine years ago, the city should pass a law preventing any schools or daycare centers from being built on top of toxic soil — including the proposed rebuilding of the Booker T. Washington High School over the old Silver City dump site in Central City, retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honore and local allies said Saturday morning.

“We’re the oldest city in this part of the country, and we ought to be the first to make a stand,” Honore said. “We’re not going to put a school on a dump.” Continue reading »

Aug 292014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It seems like just yesterday that we were packing up our TV cameras and computer hard drives to get out of Dodge before Katrina struck. Danae finally took Ray Nagin’s pleas seriously about 4 a.m. and began the long, slow journey to her parents in Arkansas with five dogs and our photographer. Allan, his sister Sandy Levy and their aged Mother, Miriam Katz, left several days earlier for Birmingham in an abundance of caution. Continue reading »

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Aug 282014
 
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

I want to tell you a story, though it’s a tired one.  It’s one of watermarks, floodlines, and rust.  It’s one of great sadness, overwhelming emotions, and glorious reunitings.  One that over the last 10 years most Americans are tired of hearing, and one that many New Orleanians have a version of.  It’s Katrina.  And Rita.  And levees breaking.  And the curious nine years that followed the moisture-rotted rollercoaster of events in latter 2005 in the Crescent City.  And while my tale unfurls I will ask you to remember two words: gumbo party. Continue reading »

Aug 262014
 
Streetlight repairs have been completed in neighborhoods marked in green, are underway in pink areas, and still to come in orange zones, as of August. (source: nola.gov/DPW)

Streetlight repairs have been completed in neighborhoods marked in green, are underway in pink areas, and still to come in orange zones, as of August. (source: nola.gov/DPW)

When New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked the residents of City Council District B how the city should spend their tax money Tuesday night, the answers nearly all involved streets: the holes in them, the lack of light on them, and the people who sleep on them.

Most of those problems — like all of those before the 300-year-old city — lack easy answers, and have been compounding for decades, Landrieu replied. But on at least one complaint, there is a glimmer of hope: the long-darkened streetlights along St. Charles Avenue are scheduled for repair in September. Continue reading »

Apr 032014
 

the big issueThe entrepreneurship boom in New Orleans is a real phenomenon, and a crucial factor in the city’s continued rebirth — but it must also be accompanied by more economic opportunities for the unsustainable number of jobless African-American men in the city, a panel of business leaders said Thursday evening.

“We can get there,” said Rod Miller, CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance. “We are a ‘new’ New Orleans, but we’re not our best New Orleans.” Continue reading »

Mar 312014
 

the big issueHas post-Katrina rebuilding really created a new city out of New Orleans, or is the “boom” more of an artificial economic bubble that is bound to burst? This question will drive the next installment of Tulane Hillel’s occasional series of “The Big Issue” discussions, set for Thursday evening with the title “New Orleans 2.0: Fact or Fiction?” Continue reading »

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Feb 252014
 
A drawing of the proposed community center included in city documents.

A drawing of the proposed community center included in city documents.

Kevin Brown (via tccno.org)

Kevin Brown (via tccno.org)

A long-delayed plan to create a new community center on Monroe Street in west Carrollton — now slated to be a new home for Hollygrove’s Trinity Christian Community — received a thumbs-up from the New Orleans City Planning Commission on Tuesday, and organizers say they now have the funding in line for the project to move forward. Continue reading »

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Feb 242014
 

LaToya Cantrell

LaToya Cantrell

The state lawmakers who sit on the legislature’s Hurricane Recovery Committee will take up the issue of “intimidating” Road Home collection letters previously raised by New Orleans City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell in a meeting this evening (Monday, Feb. 24), officials said. Continue reading »

Jan 222014
 
The site of the former Martin Wine Cellar on Baronne Street is still surrounded by chain-link fence, but the new roof on the old New Orleans Bicycle Club building can be seen behind it. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The site of the former Martin Wine Cellar on Baronne Street is still surrounded by chain-link fence, but the new roof on the old New Orleans Bicycle Club building can be seen behind it. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Although the site of the former Martin Wine Cellar on Baronne Street remains a quiet concrete foundation, neighbors have been cheered by the sounds of construction at the old New Orleans Bicycle Club building next door, and owner Cedric Martin says rebuilding his beloved grocery remains on track to begin in March and finish six months later. Continue reading »

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Nov 142013
 

The one-day “After Katrina: Transnational Perspectives on the Futures of the Gulf South” conference Friday at the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South at Tulane University will feature keynote presentations by Richard Campanella and Kalamu ya Salaam, as well as a range of other local cultural figures, neighborhood leaders, activists and academics. Continue reading »

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Oct 092013
 
Prytania Theatre owner Rene Brunet laughs with his son, Robert Brunet (right), as he arrives at Sunday night's Oscar-watching party in February 2012. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

Prytania Theatre owner Rene Brunet laughs with his son, Robert Brunet (right), as he arrives at Sunday night’s Oscar-watching party in February 2012. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

Jean-Paul Villere

As a child of the 80s reared on cable and the small screen, my first opportunity to see The Wizard of Oz on the big screen came in a mid 90s summer-revival series at the State Palace, and the experience remains with me today.  First of all, the movie alone to be seen in this fashion should not be missed, I don’t care how many times you’ve seen it.  Secondly, to see a film in a somewhat decrepit but likely once masterful venue layers the sensory.  Creaky, spent springs and paint-chipped seating, flooring with decades of goo, and echoey cavern of yesterday celluloid dank and dark.  And then Mr. Brunet spoke. Continue reading »

Oct 072013
 

Owen Courreges

The Saenger Theater has finally reopened.  The opening gala took went off without a hitch over the weekend, with the facility receiving rave reviews.  Public and private dollars funded the whopping $52 million renovation that has been in the making for eight years, so expectations were running high.  Thankfully, the Saenger seems to have delivered.

Even cantankerous Times-Picayune theater critic (and sometimes theologian) Ted Mahne, whose scathing review of “Avenue-Q” is the stuff of legend, gushed that the Saenger was “magical.”  Oh, and the sense of civic pride? It was “palpable.” Continue reading »

Sep 132013
 
The former Frank's Steakhouse site on Freret Street. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The former Frank’s Steakhouse site on Freret Street. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The possibility that an upscale student-housing development may be planned for the large block of Freret Street where the former Frank’s Steakhouse still remains a shuttered landmark is being met with concern and questions by people in the neighborhood. Continue reading »

Sep 122013
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

In our opinion, C. Ray Nagin was the worst mayor of our lifetimes. It is entirely possible that Nagin was the worst mayor in New Orleans’ 295-year history, going all the way back to the French and Spanish chief executives whom Danae has been studying recently.

However, being a terrible mayor is not of itself a crime. Later this month, a jury will be convened in federal court to consider whether accepting some $200,000 in cash and gifts, along with several truckloads of free granite, is indeed a federal crime. The jurors will presumably hear Nagin’s Chief Administrative Officer Greg Meffert and big-time vendor Mark St. Pierre, both of whom are currently doing time in the federal pen. Continue reading »

Aug 122013
 

Crowds gather in front of The Company Burger on Freret St. as owner Adam Biderman hands out hamburgers for free Thursday, Sept. 3, 2012, while most of Uptown waits for power to come back. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

Freret Neighbors United president Andrew Amacker talks with residents during a crowded neighborhood meeting about a security-district proposal at Samuel J. Green Charter School. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

When more than 100 Freret residents gathered in the Samuel J. Green Charter School cafeteria in March to discuss a proposal to use a property-tax fee to hire private security guards for the neighborhood, the meeting had every appearance of a textbook example of gentrification and its painful fallout. Two white people sat at a table marked “FOR,” two African-Americans sat at a table marked “AGAINST,” and a room full of other black residents argued bitterly against what they saw as the secrecy of the proposal, about their sense of disenfranchisement amid an influx of “new residents,” and about the rising costs of merely remaining in their homes.

Given the explosion of commercial growth on Freret Street — from only a single restaurant four years ago to 14 blocks of highly-lauded cuisine, new entertainment venues and businesses ranging from a dog-groomer to a craft-cocktail lounge — concerns about gentrification should be expected. But after that heated meeting in March, the proponents and opponents literally walked away from the school building together down the sidewalk, relying on relationships and respect forged over decades to find a middle ground — suggesting that, perhaps, something is different about what’s happening on Freret. Continue reading »

Aug 012013
 

The Lyons Center pool is empty on Wednesday afternoon after all outdoor pools in the city closed Monday, July 29. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Less than two months after Mayor Mitch Landrieu celebrated its reopening with a jubilant splash, the pool at the Lyons Center is now closed for the summer, along with all the other outdoor pools in the city.

Closing the pools at the end of July was budgetary decision based on the return to school in August, but residents and some officials say another week or two would have been appropriate. Continue reading »