Newly planted Napoleon Avenue trees shielded from barrage of beads

By Nicholas Reimann, Uptown Messenger

It’s become one of the postcard images of Carnival in New Orleans — beads and other debris lining trees along the Uptown parade route, some to the point of being hardly recognizable. But parade-goers this season on the Napoleon Avenue portion of the route won’t take in any sights that like there — at least if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has its way. That’s because over the past week, the corps has installed more than 100 nets to block beads from latching onto trees on the Napoleon Avenue neutral ground — trees that have just been planted in the past month and are still getting used to their environment, according to corps spokesman Ricky Boyett. “The timing and impacts of Mardi Gras season have been a known factor in this project since its early planning. Netting has been placed to shield the trees from beads becoming wrapped around young branches,” Boyett said, adding that temporary fencing has also been put up around trees to keep pedestrians from walking on the developing root systems.

But what would likely be the most damaging for the trees actually wouldn’t be the beads themselves, according to Boyett, but their removal, which he said could damage new growth.

Krewes moving away from all the throwaway throws

By Christian Willbern, Loyola University New Orleans

In a rainbow sea of glitters and feathers, NOLA Craft Culture owner Lisette Constantin is working towards a greener Mardi Gras. “Here, in house, we’re trying to do wherever we can to make as much of an impact as possible it does in terms of sustainability,” Constantin said. After years of throwing plastic trinkets in the streets, krewes and community members are looking for a more sustainable way to celebrate, including collectible and reusable throws, recycling programs, and the creation of biodegradable Mardi Gras beads. The City Council had litter in mind when it prohibited riders from tossing single-use plastic bags, paper products that do not biodegrade and any package containing bulk throws in its recent revisions to the Carnival parade ordinances. It’s not just the bags littering the streets, however.

Coyotes are here to stay in New Orleans

By Sue Strachan, Uptown Messenger
After his vehicle was broken into, Tracy Wimberly purchased on Mother’s Day 2019 a Ring camera for security. But it wasn’t car thieves that Wimberly caught on video. It was coyotes. “As soon as I installed the camera,” said Wimberly, “I started seeing them.” He hadn’t realized they were around before. A resident of the 3000 block of Octavia Street, his neighborhood has had a cluster of recent coyotes sightings. 
Wimberly said he sees typically a pair of coyotes – one that is black, the other a mixed tan colored – that travel together, with the mixed tan colored one occasionally by itself.

New wine store planned for Carrollton near Oak

By Sue Strachan, Uptown Messenger 
For Allyson and Milton Hernandez, the dream of opening a wine shop just off Oak Street started fermenting back in June. “We live in the neighborhood and didn’t see anything like it,” said Milton Hernandez, with Allyson Hernandez adding: “We thought ‘why not us.’”
Their business, Vino Wine and Spirits, is tentatively scheduled to open at 1124 S. Carrollton Ave. in March 2020 if a zoning change and permits are approved. A City Planning Commission hearing, scheduled on Jan. 14, is for a specific zoning request for a conditional use to permit the retail sale of packaged alcoholic beverages, according to the business’s land-use application.

Padlocked for two months, Lafayette Cemetery’s future still unclear

By Nicholas Reimann, Uptown Messenger

Tourists flocking to what’s become one of the Garden District’s most popular destinations are met with is just a padlock and a sign: “Lafayette Cemetery #1 will be temporarily closed for repairs.”

It’s been over two months since the city of New Orleans, which owns the cemetery, shut down the area for public access, as it performs the most extensive restoration effort in recent history on the site, which has graves dating back to the 1830s. The city says that work there is long overdue, with natural weathering and a massive spike in tourist interest taking a toll on the historic tombs. That work so far has been scarce, though, according to Martin Leblanc, who says the tour groups he leads there will regularly consider the site among the top three or four to visit in the city. “I think they’re going to finish this cemetery after they finish the streets in New Orleans,” he said. “We haven’t seen any work.”

Martha Griset, who’s overseeing the work with city Property Management, said the city has spent time evaluating how to move forward on the restoration, and has already done some work clearing plant debris.

‘King Ester’ honors Pre-Katrina New Orleans, normalizes marginalized voices

The New Orleans Film Festival turned 30 this year, and their diversity in films and filmmakers is a point that they stress. This year, they screened “232 visionary, thought-provoking films that represent a wealth of perspectives,” 26% of which were Louisiana-made and 56% directed by people of color. One series based in Uptown New Orleans made its debut on the NOFF big screen and online simultaneously. “King Ester”—directed by Dui Jarrod and presented by Issa Rae’s ColorCreative production company—takes the viewer into the world of a black trans woman right before natural disaster. Filmed all over New Orleans and based in Pigeon Town (P-Town), the series is described as such:
“Ester is a trans woman struggling to find her path in New Orleans during the week before Hurricane Katrina. In the face of an evacuation order, she is forced to make a choice that will impact her future forever.”

A conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jesmyn Ward

By Emily Carmichael, Uptown Messenger

Elbows lined bannisters and pews Thursday night at Temple Sinai as a packed audience leaned in to hear two of our nation’s most celebrated narrative craftsmen, Jesmyn Ward and Ta-Nehisi Coates, discuss how to reconstruct the story of the United States. The event hosted by Octavia Books was part of Coates’s nationwide tour promoting his new novel “The Water Dancer.”

The book is Coates’s first foray into fiction after gaining fame for his journalism at The Atlantic and his nonfiction book “Between the World and Me.”

For this discussion, Coates sat on the other side of the interview as Ward, a two-time National Book Award winner and Tulane University professor of creative writing, asked Coates about genesis of his latest book. Ward and Coates’ works live on common ground. Both are African-American writers whose publications center on accurately representing the black experience in the United States, pushing back against what Coates referred to as centuries of “obfuscation and annihilation” of black realities, minimizing the pain and flattening the individual identities. It is this systemic misrepresentation that inspired Coates to write “The Water Dancer.” As he explained to Ward, Coates wanted to write a story that showed the human experience of enslaved persons beyond what has become the common imagery of enslavement.

New ‘carnival’ makes space for artistic entrepreneurs

One’s social network can influence important decisions like who they ask for business advice, where they shop and how they listen to music. For professionals in the arts, that network could dictate their standard of living, job consistency or perceived professional value. On Saturday, one couple will bring together creative business owners, branding strategists, entertainers and more to share industry insights and grow their networks together. Crescent City Creative is a nonprofit creative agency based in New Orleans and founded by husband and wife Willard Hill and Quan Lateef-Hill, who want the city’s talent to thrive more. “We really see New Orleans as this cultural epicenter that is often overlooked as people focus in on New York, L.A., Atlanta and coastal cities,” said Lateef-Hill, a filmmaker and producer.

Video: Ghost Manor lights up the October night

by Andres Fuentes

At the corner of Magazine and Second Streets, lit-up pumpkins, skulls, and spiderwebs provide a spooky spectacular for your evening stroll and, on Halloween, trick-or-treating. The Ghost Manor annual Halloween display has a bit more flare this year—21 more pumpkins were added to the front lawn, fitted with lights that flare to the sounds of haunting music. “I think it just really puts you in the spirit of Halloween,” neighbor and spectator Lyndsey Edwards said. “It’s super fun to see all the pumpkins and all the lights.”

The Queen Anne-style Victorian home was purchased in 2011 by its current owners, David Gentry and Jessica Douglas, and they thought their home was the perfect place for their spooky dreams to come true. Since 2012, the owners have been growing the display with new props, updated technology, and even animatronics.

‘Spy Boy Dow,’ celebrating Black Masking Indians, premieres tonight at Film Festival

Dow Michael Edwards — a lawyer from Uptown New Orleans who grew up loving the Black Masking Indian culture — is headed for a big screen debut in the short film “Spy Boy Dow.” The film directed by Carl Harrison Jr. follows Edwards’ suit-making process in preparation for Mardi Gras Day. This is Harrison’s second project to be accepted into the New Orleans Film Festival in three years, and it premieres at The Broad Theater tonight (Oct. 18). The birth of Spy Boy Dow
“The Spy Boy is first in the front… he is ahead looking for trouble.