City Council approves revival plans for the historic Dew Drop Inn

Plans to revive the historic Dew Drop Inn music venue and hotel in Central City moved another step forward last week with the City Council’s unanimous approval. “Putting this back into commerce is a wonderful, wonderful thing,” said District B Councilman Jay Banks before the conditional use application went up for a vote. “It adds to the musical legacy of the wonderfully musical city that we have. I am extremely excited about this.” The council attached 11 provisos to the approval to make sure the developer will provide a passenger drop-off zone, noise abatement, a landscape plan and other city requirements, but no off-street parking is required of the development.

Uptown’s Cajun luminary finds new audiences in virtual concerts

The last live show for musician David Doucet, a longtime Uptown resident, was March 8, 2020, at The Dakota in Minneapolis, playing with Cajun band BeauSoleil. David, guitarist for the Grammy-awarded band, is widely credited with transforming the acoustic guitar into an important voice of southwest Louisiana’s signature music. The younger brother of Cajun fiddler Michael Doucet, the Touro area resident has used his distinctive hybrid of fingerpicking and flatpicking guitar playing to enhance the performances of BeauSoleil, the band he and his brother have performed in since the mid-1970s. In 1991, David Doucet launched his own solo debut with the release of the album “Quand J’ai Parti.” David is bilingual, having learned French from his parents and grandparents, who luckily still spoke the language.

Really, Really Old Book Sale offers rare books to fund summer program for kids

On Saturday (March 27), the Friends of the New Orleans Public Library will host an outdoor “Really, Really Old Book Sale” at the Carriage House located behind Milton H. Latter Library at 5120 St Charles Ave. This outdoor sale will feature hundreds of out-of-print, signed, first editions, rare, antiquarian books and fond treasures from your childhood. Prices start at $1, and all proceeds will go toward the 2021 Summer Fun and Reading Program at the New Orleans Public Library. “The public library needs community support now more than ever before,” FNOPL Executive Director Dixon Stetler said. “Through fundraisers like this one, we can fund important library programs, and also provide access to high quality reading materials that are affordable to all.”

The Friends of the New Orleans Public Library raises money from the books sales year-round to underwrite critical library programming, including the annual Summer Reading Program, Black History Month Programming and the Every Child Ready to Read Program.

How junction boxes on Uptown neutral grounds are transformed from blight to works of art

As Uptown resident Ivana Dillas drove home from work every day along Louisiana Avenue, she noticed how the junction boxes on the neutral ground attracted tags and graffiti and were surrounded by litter. “Studies have shown that neighborhood beautification reduces these unsightly activities, as well as crime,”  Dillas said. 

She saw the website address for Community Visions Unlimited, the organization behind the beautification initiative, written on painted boxes elsewhere and contacted them. She asked how she could help, especially along the Louisiana Avenue corridor. “I loved the idea of putting artists to work, and I began fundraising and directing donors to the CVU website,” Dillas said. Then Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who had supported the project when she was on the City Council, got wind of the effort, and her office stepped in with a significant donation. The section of Louisiana Avenue now has almost all of the junction boxes painted. 

Two of the Louisiana Avenue boxes, the “Horn Players” at Baronne and “The Dancers” at Carondelet, were painted by Linda LeBoeuf, the artist behind 39 art boxes citywide.

Walter Isaacson discusses ‘The Code Breaker’ at event celebrating Garden District Book Shop’s 40th year

 

At the garden of the stately manor house of Katherine and Tony Gelderman, on Saturday (March 13), the Garden District Book Shop hosted acclaimed author and Tulane professor Walter Isaacson for a combined celebration of his new book “The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race” and a celebration of Garden District Book Shop’s 40th anniversary. “For 40 years, Garden District Book Shop has charmed us,” said Christopher Tidmore, one of a group who purchased the store from founder Britton Trice earlier this year. “It has been a great 40 years, and we’ve overcome a lot of obstacles,” Trice told the assembled audience. Despite bookstore chains, the rise of e-books and the gobbling maw of Amazon, Garden District Book Shop is poised to enter its fourth decade with a new children’s reading room and plans to add a connecting cafe and bistro, with three enthusiastic new owners besides. When Isaacson, smiling, took the stage, it was for the first in-person event that the bookshop has hosted through the pandemic.

Walter Isaacson will discuss ‘Code Breaker’ at in-person event on Saturday

Bestselling author and New Orleans native Walter Isaacson will host the first national signing of his new book, “The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race,” on Saturday (March 13) at a private home in the Garden District. The book is an account of how 2020 Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that allowed us to cure diseases, fend off viruses and have healthier babies. Isaacson will share his insights into the work of Doudna, which is increasingly topical as we navigate through this pandemic and aim to understand the technology behind the new vaccines. The event is limited to 150 guests, due to COVID-19 restrictions. At the home of Tony and Katherine Gelderman on First Street in the Garden District, it will be outside, socially distanced and fully masked.

Sponsored: Engage your kids in creative play and promote development

‘Take Me Down to the Second Line’
Young Audiences of Louisiana’s Artsplay! at Home has returned. Mardi Gras Season may be over, but the spirit is alive year-round in New Orleans, as YALA’s latest workshop series reminds us. Crafted by Young Audiences of Louisiana and Louisiana Wolf Trap Teaching Artist Janese Brooks-Galathe, “Take Me Down to the Second Line” is based on the traditional indigenous culture of New Orleans Second Line and Black Masking Indians. Each New Orleans-themed session is designed to promote childhood development and expand caregiver knowledge—all to the tune of play.

Uptown’s independent booksellers find ways to provide their essential service during the pandemic

Independent booksellers ordinarily rely on foot traffic and in-person browsing for their sales. That all changed in March of last year. Two Uptown bookstores, however, have found ways to adapt and even thrive through the pandemic. Garden District Book Shop, in a historic building that once housed a roller rink on oak-canopied Prytania Street, and Octavia Books, set back on a diagonal on its quiet eponymous street near the river, have both continued to sell books to residents across the city. By altering their in-store browsing, as well as shipping and delivering tomes directly to the homes of their devoted clientele, the booksellers have shown tenacity in a time of chaos and uncertainty.

New neon studio lights up Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard

The space at 1618 Oretha Castle Haley surely never looked like this before. The Big Sexy Neon studio is filled floor-to-ceiling with fantastic new neon works and vintage signs waiting to be restored. There are fleurs-de-lis, there are corkscrews, there are quirky signs, there are gorgeous works of art — all on dazzling display. Nearly a year ago to the day, Nate Sheaffer signed a lease on the space that formerly housed the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Art Center, which is now on St. Claude Avenue in Arabi.

Nix Library to close temporarily for ADA renovations 

Nix Library will temporarily close to the public for facilities upgrades to bring the building to American Disabilities Act standards, starting Monday (Feb. 22). 

The project includes the installation of an ADA-compliant wheelchair lift and an accessible public bathroom. 

Located on South Carrollton Avenue, Nix Library has been a part of the New Orleans Public Library since 1930. Executive Director and City Librarian Gabriel Morley said the renovations will make Nix better equipped to serve the entire community. 

“The Nix Library renovations will ensure that this community treasure truly is for everyone,” Morley said. “We’re thrilled to be revamping one of our oldest library locations in a way that will allow us to increase access and continue to fulfill our mission to transform lives, enrich neighborhoods and preserve history for years to come.” 

Construction for the project will begin March 1, and Nix Library will be closed for the duration of these renovations and will reopen following their completion. 

Items may not be returned to Nix Library during its closure, but library users can return items checked out from Nix Library to any other library location. 

This project is expected to be completed in Summer 2021. A reopening date will be determined when renovations are complete. 

For the duration of the closure, Nix patrons can use any of the other 14 library locations.