Since early March we have all become accustomed to — and perhaps cynical of — phrases like “the new normal” and “these uncertain times.” Nothing quite describes what so many of us are experiencing, this constant hum of anxiety and powerlessness. In contrast, we also see celebrations of creativity, of learning a new skill or reinventing yourself. But even this encouragement exhibits problems, as for many these past months have simply been about trying to keep it together, a constant struggle to preserve their sanity and well-being. There are so many ways we describe the pandemic experience and so many ways we have responded, but there is one movement I have seen in neighborhoods that has not only captured my attention, but as of late, drawn my family in. Early this summer, my wife discovered The Little Copa — fresh fruit daiquiris prepared right in our neighborhood, the Irish Channel.
The Big Easy ain’t so easy no more. Across the board, almost all of today’s citizens are paying for 150 years of benign neglect during which those who had money led a “laissez les bon temps rouler” lifestyle while many others struggled just to get by.
What’s gotten under my skin? Evacuating during Hurricane Ida to a town where potholes are at a minimum; no one is looting, panhandling or carjacking; and residents are not automatically carrying concealed weapons for personal protection. I stood in a long line at Walgreens on St. Charles Avenue yesterday to fill a prescription and listened to local residents complain about the piles of garbage and debris in front of their homes while also claiming much of the Garden District and St.
No matter the crisis — pandemic, plague, zombie apocalypse or, even worse, a Cat 3 barreling toward the mouth of the Mississippi — New Orleanians never lose their sense of humor. The world might just end, but even if it does, we’re going out with a wink and smile, drinks held high, ironic swagger intact. (COCKTAILS REQUIRE ICE)
The cone of uncertainty is old hat to locals. We’ve been helping our family and friends prepare for Armageddon since before we finagled fake IDs. Supermarket and hardware store shelves empty at an alarming pace when there’s a storm in the Gulf.
With the recent retirement of WYES president Allan Pizzato, two native New Orleanians who are driven to broadcast excellence, Robin Cooper and Dominic Massa, have taken the helm to bring new ideas to the Crescent City’s iconic public television station.
Leading the station since 2013, Pizzato oversaw the station’s tricentennial coverage, the creation of new shows and documentaries, and the construction of the $17 million headquarters that opened in 2017. The chief operating officer under Pizzato, Cooper assumed the position of president and CEO last month, leaving her previous spot available for long-time WWL-TV Executive Producer of Special Projects Dominic Massa. “WYES was built by some of the city’s best and brightest leaders, who believed in the power of television to educate, inform and inspire. That mission couldn’t be more important or needed today,” Massa said. By all accounts, Massa is one of the hardest working and most respected broadcasting professionals in New Orleans television.
In wide-ranging, almost hour-long remarks on Wednesday (Aug. 18), U.S. Rep. Troy Carter — who has yet to serve 100 days in office — touched on issues from the pandemic to the American Rescue Plan Act, the Child Tax Credit and support for small businesses. Throughout the Zoom speech to the Bureau of Governmental Research, he emphasized that common sense solutions can make a real difference.
“I want to be that bridge of reasonableness,” the New Orleans Democrat told the BGR. “When you’re building relationships, it’s policy over politics, people over politics.”
Carter said that Louisiana does not have the luxury of divisiveness. “We need to concentrate on things that bring us together — education, infrastructure, health care, safety, flooding.
I’ve been waiting for a savvy organization like the Audubon Zoo to announce plans to vaccinate vulnerable animals against COVID-19. Since the virus might have started in wild animals and was later transmitted to humans, it makes good sense that the zoo’s four-legged residents — and even our family pets — could catch the virus. Mike VII, LSU’s live tiger mascot, is probably the best-known animal in Louisiana to be vaccinated against COVID-19. He got his second dose earlier this week and will again be available for close-up visits later this month.
Mike’s vaccine was donated by the drug manufacturer Zoetis, which is also providing more than 11,000 vaccine doses for mammalian species residing at the Audubon Zoo and dozens of other conservatories, sanctuaries, zoos and academic institutions around the country. Audubon will use their doses to inoculate at-risk animals including apes, big cats, and such mustelids as ferrets, according to WWL-TV.
Most of us don’t have an ape or big cat at home to protect, but we do have domestic pets.
The Delta variant is quickly overtaking America. It already accounts for 93% of Covid-19 infections. To combat it, government and the private sector are announcing new mandates almost daily. Anyone planning to pay $200 or more to see the Rolling Stones at Jazz Fest in October must surely be wondering if a vaccination card or a recent negative Covid-test will be required for admission. Without such precautions, the Jazz and Heritage Festival, French Quarter Festival, Saints games and other fall special events could become superspreaders unlike any seen before.
Jazz Fest producer Quint Davis has always said the Fest will adhere to the prevailing Covid guidelines.
Raphael Goyeneche, head of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said Wednesday (July 28) that the city’s political leadership “must step up and give the NOPD the resources they need to protect and serve the community. Politics needs to get out of the way of public safety. Citizens want to feel safe in their neighborhoods.”
Earlier this week, the MCC released the Orleans Parish Violent Crime Maps, a three-year look at violent crime by police district. Also included are results from the New Orleans Crime Coalition’s 2021 Police Satisfaction and Police Policymaking surveys.
The majority of Orleans Parish voters (64%) who participated in the surveys clearly stated they believe the city is not safe. An even larger majority (74%) said that the crime problem has worsened over the past year.
While Mayor LaToya Cantrell told members of the Save Our Soul (SOS) coalition Tuesday that she was “good” with the Municipal Auditorium not becoming the next City Hall, the historic structure remains her first choice probably because of the $38 million allocation from FEMA that comes with it.
Cantrell has given SOS a 90-day deadline to come up with a solid, fully funded plan to renovate, operate and maintain the auditorium. In the event that SOS successfully meets that goal, city officials might want to start looking at other suitable ›locations across New Orleans. If the prevailing sentiment is to stay in the downtown area, the Plaza Tower could be ripe for the picking. The 485,000-square-foot building features 45 floors, 13 elevators and its own parking garage. There’s even a separate parking lot for sale directly behind the building.
Dozens of candidates and their handlers headed to Criminal District Court early Wednesday (July 14) to beat the long lines of those expected to qualify for the fall municipal elections. While Sheriff Marlin Gusman drew the coveted No. 1 ticket, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Assessor Erroll Williams and many others patiently waited their turn. It’s always fun to watch the maneuvering as candidates jockey for attention. Although Cantrell drew seven opponents, she is still positioned to glide to victory.
A large crowd gathered Wednesday evening (July 7) at Calcasieu in the Warehouse District to show their support for City Council President Helena Moreno, one of dozens of candidates who will be qualifying next week for various municipal offices. Popular with voters, Moreno has put together a substantive war chest, which makes her a formidable candidate. Only affordable housing activist and former candidate Kenneth Cutno has signaled he will run against her for the City Council at-large position.
There is lots of competition in many of the other races. Former state Sen. J.P. Morrell will face off for the other council at-large seat against two current City Council members: Kristin Gisleson Palmer and Jared Brossett, who is term-limited. Morrell is well-situated financially.