Apr 042017
 

No stop sign on St. Andrew at St. Charles Avenue (photo by Owen Courreges for UptownMessenger.com)

Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Although I am trying to seize the mantle of New Orleans’ resident anti-government curmudgeon, I generally try to avoid playing chicken little. However, it is becoming increasingly evident to me that local government is incapable of providing certain very basic services. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that the city has simply run out of money.

Earlier this year, I wrote a column in which I pointed out that the city was doing an extremely poor job of replacing street signs. Now, months later, things have become much worse. Continue reading »

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Feb 202017
 

Empty portable chairs block an intersection as a parade rolls on Sunday, which is against the law and also just rude. (Photo by Owen Courreges for UptownMessenger.com)

Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Mardi Gras season has generally been considered a prime time for breaking the rules. Whatever terrible activities your nefarious mind has contemplated, Carnival can accommodate.

Drink to excess? Do it during Mardi Gras!

Dress up in a ridiculous, profane costume? If it’s Mardi Gras, I’m there! Continue reading »

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Dec 192016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

The cutest Internet video of the week from New Orleans was, inarguably, that of “disco cop.” NOPD Sgt. L.J. Smith was providing security at the Luna Fete light/art festival as electronic dance music brayed from a nearby DJ when he began enthusiastically dancing along with the crowd.

In a city beset by violent crime that has been braced with recurring police scandals, the sight of a cop stepping side-to-side and blowing his whistle in time with the music was a welcome diversion. Continue reading »

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Dec 052016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Personally, I’ve never been one to armchair quarterback murder investigations or second-guess police when their actions could be described as “restrained.” I’m not a cop and I have no law enforcement training. My relevant expertise as an attorney is limited to simply whether police are operating within the law, and that’s a limited scope.

However, it is difficult not to look a little cock-eyed at the investigation into the killing of Joe McKnight down in Terrytown. Publicly-released information makes one wonder: Why hasn’t the perp been charged yet? Continue reading »

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Nov 282016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”

Vietnam War Correspondent Peter Arnett claimed to have overheard this quote from an unnamed American major regarding the shelling of of Bến Tre city in early 1968. Its veracity is questionable, and in any event, Bến Tre was largely rubble due to attacks from the north before US artillery began its assault to rout the Vietcong.

However, that dubious quote has lingered as a paradigmatic example of a peculiar brand of cognitive dissonance: the notion that you can intentionally eradicate something in the midst of preserving it. Obviously, you can’t have it both ways, but a similar idea has come to mind in the wake of the shooting on Bourbon Street this past weekend in which one person was killed and nine others were wounded. Continue reading »

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Nov 212016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

The owners of the erstwhile New Orleans Zephyrs have earned our gratitude. In the aftermath of the 2016 election, which pitted friends and family against each other, New Orleanians needed a common enemy – a foil so blatantly awful that it would distract from divisive partisan politics and give time to heal the wounds.

The “New Orleans Baby Cakes” will serve that role. Continue reading »

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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 »

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Aug 012016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Oscar Wilde once called experience “the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” In this sense, it is very useful to discuss Austin’s “experience” in building commuter rail. You see, commuter rail was originally envisioned as a remedy for congestion and an environmental boon, a sound investment in transportation infrastructure.

Instead, it turned out to be a cautionary tale, one New Orleans would best heed. Continue reading »

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Jun 272016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

I’ve only been to New York City once in my life, on a family vacation when I was in my early teens during the notorious reign of Mayor David Dinkins. We stayed in a hotel on Times Square rising high above the debauchery below.

After we arrived, I ventured off briefly on my own to see a smattering of strip clubs, peep shows, purveyors of adult materials and the like. There was virtually nothing I could legally enter. I finally caught sight of a video arcade, which seemed wholesome enough. It was wallpapered floor to ceiling in pornography. Continue reading »

Jun 202016
 
Police investigate reports of gunfire in the 2200 block of Prytania Street. (photo by Owen Courreges)

Police investigate reports of gunfire in the 2200 block of Prytania Street. (photo by Owen Courreges)

Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP!

I awoke as the shots rang outside my bedroom window in the wee hours on Saturday. By the time I emerged from my house, wearing a garish, plaid Sears robe with my trusty shotgun in hand, there was nobody to be seen save a lone security guard. He crept forward from Eiffel Society, a venue down the street, his pistol drawn and at the ready.

The police arrived, shutting off the 2000 block of Prytania, but aside from collecting a few random shell casings there was ostensibly little investigation to be performed.

Naturally, I was unnerved by the experience. However, my fear was not turned against a mere instrumentality. Alas, the same cannot be said of the reaction of many Americans to the mass shooting that took place a week ago in Orlando. Continue reading »

Jun 132016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

“These modern verandahs . . . afford a perfect shelter from the sun and weather, to passers by the front of the houses to which they are attached. In sultry climates, the necessity of shade from the sun, to health, and comfort, has universally introduced the custom of balconies or verandahs; which in this respect, are equally beneficial to the inmates of the houses, and to wayfarers.”

Durant v. Riddell, 12 La. Ann. 746, 747 (La. 1857)

“It is a matter of public and judicial history that galleries, or ‘verandas,’ as they are also called, have been sanctioned by usage in New Orleans almost from time immemorial.”

Lambert v. American Box Co., 144 La. 604, 611 (La. 1919).

An iconic feature of New Orleans architecture, particularly in the French Quarter and present on most historic commercial strips, is the wrap-around, double-balcony – also called a “gallery” or “veranda” – that extends over the sidewalk. They serve not only as an attractive architectural element and to provide outdoor space for the owners of homes and commercial buildings, but they also shield passers-by on the sidewalk from the elements, thereby providing a public good. Continue reading »

May 232016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Long ago, the law respecting the idea of sanctuary was embedded in British common law. Fugitives would be immune from arrest in sacred places, such as places of worship. You’ve probably seen a movie where some neer-do-well runs into a church with police on his heels and yells “sanctuary,” as though he’s discovered some trump card against getting caught.

However, sanctuary wasn’t quite the unequivocal boon to absconding felons as it would first appear. If he made it inside a church, the fugitive would then have 40 days to surrender to secular authorities or confess their crimes and be subject to forfeiture of their worldly possessions and permanent exile, i.e., “abjure the realm.” 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 »

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 »

Jan 042016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

It is often said that prefacing bad news with good news helps soften the blow. We have now cross the threshold into 2016, which seems to be giving New Orleans equal parts of each. Thus, at the risk of sounding trite, I have some good news, and some bad news. Continue reading »