Oct 172012
 

Jean-Paul Villere

“Da-aad?” called out my 3-year-old in a singsong, next-room voice as the Sunday sun crept up over the horizon, “This morning (pause) I didn’t pee in your bed.”  I respond, same singsong and with a slight smile, “O-kay, thank you.” And while I was pleased to learn for at least one night my mattress went urine-free, I had to laugh a little.  The night before, 4 hours away, and a state over, my 20-year high school reunion had taken place without me, and frankly I’m OK with that.  But after waking up before the sun and seeing the ample Facebook posts from those in attendance I quickly wondered how many therein also woke up to a urine-free slumber and based upon the pics I wouldn’t say it was a lock.  Everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves, maybe some more than others, and maybe others more than some.  That said, I hope everyone made the effort enjoyed themselves responsibly, urine-free sleep and all. 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 032012
 

A campaign sign on Louisiana Avenue. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

The other day my 10-year old says aloud to me as I scrawl something somewhere with my trusty ink pen, “Hey, I have that pen too!”  I respond quickly, if not a little gruff, “You do?  Well, it’s mine, so give it back to me.”  To which she closes me down, “Well, it has my name on it soooo – - – ”  She spins her (my) pen in her hand and holds it horizontally toward me, and sure enough there’s her full name spelled out.  And there you have it!  Possession remains 9/10ths of the law big, beautiful world.  Lap it up!  Ahhhhh, rules!  That one’s going to be a lawyer I tell you; her mother and I have always said this. Continue reading »

Sep 262012
 

Jean-Paul Villere

In a day and age when both rents seem outta wack (read: way high) but loan rates seem equivalently outta wack (read: historically low), to follow are the pros and cons, or the likely benefits and potential headaches, of landlording.  

Personally my journey to becoming a landlord was fairly accidental and organic.  My (then fiance but shortly thereafter) wife and I purchased a little single shotgun Uptown in the late 90s only to move out of state within the year.  We didn’t want to re-sell so we leased it out, and for 3 years we kept the same tenant which in turn paid our note and then some for miscellaneous upkeep.  When we returned to re-occupy the space in 2001, a little while later we felt we kinda missed managing an income producing investment.  In short order we made the leap proper and bought a duplex in early 2002, and we’ve been in the business since.  So if you wanna be a landlord… Continue reading »

Sep 122012
 

2505 Napoleon, in March and again in June.

Jean-Paul Villere

Seven years ago the Crescent City got tossed on its backside, the likes of which many believed just might be too much for the Big Easy to really rebound from; why would anyone reinvest in a little troubled city below sea level?  Logic and heritage debates aside, today the tone of recovery happens to be very much on the uptick, despite folding into it an oil- and dispersant-crippled Gulf as well as the dizzying highs and lows of our beloved sports teams.  Even a massive implosion of the lending market in the last four years did not shake the steadfast commitment to rebuild from newbies and returnees alike.  In short, not only are home values stable and improving, investors seeking a viable flip are doing so and how.  Case in point: 2505 Napoleon. Continue reading »

Sep 052012
 

Jean-Paul Villere

We might all agree the digital world is awesome till the power goes out. Suddenly you’re missing out on your next play on Words With Friends, status updates, tweets or what have you, but go ahead and scream because you’re miles from where anyone with a MacGyver-like sensibility (MacGyvine? maybe?) or open Radio Shack might hear you. No sir, the DTs of the smart phone come down ain’t nothin’ pretty, and at press time the Betty Ford clinic ain’t servin’ the likes o’ you. Continue reading »

Aug 012012
 

Jean-Paul Villere

The other evening, without thinking and in passing, I addressed a colleague who I’m guessing is a few years my senior with a “Miss” and her last name — let’s call her Jane Doe.  We ran into each other on Magazine Street, and I was trying to keep track of my 4 girls when she walked by.  Frankly I didn’t think she had recognized me as, much to my wife’s dislike, I’d recently trimmed my beard down to a fu manchu, and let’s be honest, a fu manchu makes a face present differently (and debatably embraced).  So here I was keeping count of my brood when after she passed she turns and says with a smile “Oh, hello!”  To which I, admittedly somewhat distracted while actively parenting, utter an “Oh, hello Miss Doe – - -”

She stopped, and her jaw dropped. Continue reading »

Jul 182012
 

Jean-Paul Villere

Monday morning I woke up with a crusty old ’90s grunge rock song rattling around in my head, which I suppose isn’t too big of a surprise.  It was “Overblown” by Mudhoney.  And unless you were or are a student of grunge, which I kind of was, or spun the soundtrack to the movie Singles more than a handful of times (guilty) you might never have heard this jangly noise bomb.  It drives a careening beat and rhythm accompanied by these opening lyrics:

Everybody loves us
Everybody loves our town
That’s why I’m thinking lately
The time for leaving is now

Hey, hey, hey, hey (x4)
It’s so overblown
Continue reading »

Jul 112012
 

Jean-Paul Villere

It’s no secret that politics in New Orleans can get dodgy fast.  As voters, we can blame ourselves only so much for a politician’s decisions or behavior.  “Don’t Blame Me I Voted For the Other Guy” a bumper sticker reads.  Or more locally famous “Vote For The Crook – It’s Important” when Edwards went up against Duke some years ago; Edwards won, and both have since spent time in prison. 

Between crime stats, budget concerns, and yes even and of course scandals, as citizens our vote does matter, but if you don’t register to vote, your voice silences completely; you effectively vote not to participate.  Unless you just never registered?  Which if you just moved here or are moving here, it’s a strong possibility, wouldn’t you agree? Continue reading »

Jun 272012
 

Jean-Paul Villere

“Scare the hell out of ‘em,” my grandfather used to routinely yell at the TV during the weather under a hurricane watch.  Louis was a funny, old guy.  Spot on, too.  Laying back in his ratty, leather Lazy Boy, he’d peer at the precipitation prognosticators through his thick glasses and maybe shake his right index figure counterbalanced by a crooked pinky a la an old football injury incurred when shoes were still and truly spiked.  This phrase accompanied every foreboding forecast while my grandmother Mireille would counter his groans with a dismissive “Oh Louis . . .” Continue reading »

May 232012
 

The special offered at an Uptown eatery, with creative spelling and use of quotations. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

I have no problem with the language skills of the average New Orleanian.  If anything I fully embrace it, however I have to confess it often leaves me scratching my head if only because more often than not the word, syntax, and otherwise grammar choices made seem to be born out of sheer whim rather than deference to text.  Mostly I might chalk this up to New Orleanians’ frequent disregard for accuracy (and this might include driving habits, but another column for another day).  Generally, we all understand one another well enough, so what’s the difference, right?  For example, do quotation marks “really” have to be placed appropriately?  If it’s me, then “yes,” they do; but if it’s your favorite po-boy spot’s menu “board” detailing specials, “then” no, not so much. Continue reading »

Apr 042012
 

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

As we warm into spring and the real estate market heats up, I’ve been reflecting on some recent conversations with buyers, sellers, and lessees.  Among the topics covered include agency, deposits, pricing, and on.  Not surprisingly there are more than a few misconceptions in navigating the world of real estate, so please embrace the following 10 myths as a sort of primary guide. Continue reading »

Mar 282012
 

My first home purchase was a shotgun in the Riverbend on Dublin St. It faced west, sat in the middle of the block, and was a stone’s throw to the streetcar and not much further from all the other things a 23-year-old finds indispensable (read: Cooter Brown’s). At the time, I didn’t think much of my new residence. I clearly liked it enough to buy it, but frankly I was mostly happy not to be paying rent any longer. Continue reading »

Mar 142012
 

Jean-Paul Villere

Whether you realize it or not, there’s an annual gathering in Austin, Texas, this week called South by Southwest, abbreviated SXSW for all those in the know.  Like all successful annual gatherings I’m sure it started out small, maybe in someone’s garage, maybe in a cow pasture; afterall, it is Austin.  Its primary purpose remains to promote new musical talent and revisit some icons of various genres as well.  Over the years SXSW has morphed from just music to music and movies to for the last little while, well, music, movies, and media, the latter a no brainer given the IT juggernaught the city is.  All in all, a perfect amalgamation for the Texas capital known as “The Live Music Capital of the World” that has spawned cinematic wonderment from big screen director darlings Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, and even Mike Judge.  So what if anything does SXSW have to do with New Orleans?  In my estimation, two, and now even three, things really: Continue reading »

Feb 292012
 

Move out day for a double shotgun in the Bywater. (Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Being in real estate, I respond to inquiries about moving to New Orleans almost every day.  Some are here presently and somewhat homeless while some won’t be here till Fall.  The average inquiry looks like someone new to the area, and excitedly shopping for May or June, because of a new job in queue.  The hardest to manage are the parental inquiries seeking accommodations for their barely out of the house undergrad child and their three “closest” friends.  Sigh.  Really?  Sounds like a thankless journey, that one.  Do you know how hard it is to get a 19-year-old and – or even 24-year-old – and their friends du jour to show up to an appointment at the same time?  Much less get them to agree on anything.  Who gets the biggest room?  Who gets which bathroom and who will they share it with?  It’s messy and overly time-consuming at best. Continue reading »

Feb 082012
 

Since a neighbor was ticketed for parking in front of his own house during last year's Mardi Gras, the backyard is his new hiding spot from the meter maids during Carnival. (photo by Jean Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

Greetings revelers!  Two weeks ago I posted 10 points as a basic parade goers guide with some wonderful responses.  This week as we ramp up toward the mania now less than two weeks out, expounding on, otherwise clarifying, and adding a second ten seem in order. Continue reading »

Feb 012012
 

The gym is relocating to O.C. Haley. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

The invention of gunpowder was an accident. So was plastic. Viagra too. The reinvention of Freret similarly so. Despite decades of best efforts of local government, administration pledges, and the citizenry alike and at large, Freret couldn’t get any measurable play until after Katrina. But to be clear, no one thing has made Freret what it is today. It has taken a village, um, of events, so to speak. But let’s start with the birth of the Freret Street Boxing Gym, established seven years ago. At the time, Freret’s business offerings were basically tattoos, red beans and hardware. Today, as it has been for decades upon decades, the hardware store is still there. But not the tattoos. And not the red beans, either. And, as of the last month, the gym has moved as well — to O.C. Haley Boulevard. Continue reading »

Jan 252012
 

Someone staking a false claim to the neutral ground in the 2300 block of Napoleon on Mardi Gras Day 2011. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Each Carnival I approach parade routes with glee and caution.  As such please find the below pointers, tips, alerts, and otherwise whacks to the back of heads as the 2012 Mardi Gras season kicks off.  We all want to embrace the revelry, so let’s all do our best to help each other enjoy, shall we?  Let’s! Continue reading »

Dec 282011
 

Jean-Paul Villere

As the 2011 calendar year winds down, New Orleans property owners’ thoughts turn toward their 2012 property taxes due by the end of January, because the city has mailed out its annual notice and reminder – just in time for the holidays!  However, this is not a new phenomenon.  It is effectively an annual ritual, like Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest, though clearly with less pageantry.  And it applies to property owners only.  Not renters.  And not non-profits, which are another article for another time.    Continue reading »

Dec 212011
 

Alex McMurray performing in New York. (photo by Dino Perruci, via alexmcmurray.com)

Alex McMurray sings songs and plays guitar in and around the Cresecent City.  You know him.  That guy with the often echoed and round, but sometimes raspy, roll of a voice, too articulate to be local, but dirty enough not to be.  With a storyteller’s gaze that locks you into his howls and the masterful resonance from his guitar, his playing is both unmistakable and hypnotic.  Personally, I find myself saying his lyrics to myself at various moments in my life, occasionally posting them to social media.  One of my favorite New Orleanians, McMurray has a gift and he shares it weekly with us.  While I’ve caught many of his performances over the years, including Royal Fingerbowl’s reunion at the recent (and supposedly 1st Annual) Mermaid Fest (which included an off-the-cuff cover of Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher”), I have remained a fan from afar until I recently swapped a few emails with him. Continue reading »