Christy Lorio: Get aboard the Polar Express

With the holidays coming up, we often reflect upon our riches and give to those that are less fortunate than us. The Polar Express benefit is a concert that doubles as a toy drive for kids at Children’s Hospital and Ochsner. Attendees can either pay a $10 cover ($7 for students with college ID), or opt to bring a toy donation instead. Founder Molly Portier, a music industry studies student at Loyola University, organizes the event with a host of other Loyola students. The entire event is organized by volunteers from Loyola.

Christy Lorio: Black Friday? I’ll pass.

Who’s ready for some serious shopping today?  Prepared to fight the masses for a 2-for-1 special on socks? Willing to get elbowed in the ribs for some celebrity endorsed perfume gift sets? Risking life and limb for a deeply discounted flat screen TV? No thanks, I think I’ll pass.

Christy Lorio: See you at the book fair

No matter how quick and accessible digital publications are, a good ol’ fashioned  IRL (netspeak for In Real Life) book fair is far more inspiring than a Google search for new reading material. Get out from behind your iPads and Kindles and take an afternoon to explore The New Orleans Bookfair and Media Expo, held this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 725 Magazine St in the CBD. With over 70 vendors participating from as far as Kansas, the roster is diverse. There’s self publishers, small printing houses, outreach groups, and artists, not to mention t-shirt designers and jewelry makers. Leo McGovern ran the Alternative Media Expo from 2003-2010, and was asked to combine forces with the New Orleans Bookfair this year.

Christy Lorio: Fall dressing

Growing up here in the New Orleans area, you’d think I’m accustomed to mild winters. Fall down here is just a quaint notion, one that comes from a brain soaked with humidity in desperate need of some crisp cool air. I’m not one to obsess over the weather, but I get antsy in anticipation of consistently nippy days. Unfortunately, we all know drinking pumpkin spice lattes while wearing shorts is inevitable, but with a little careful planning you can make sure you are dressed for Mother Nature’s most erratic behavior by planning ahead on a daily basis. Here’s my mitten-full of tips:

Unless you want to get stuck in a wooly jail when the sun comes out, stick to wearing clothes you can peel off.

Christy Lorio: Shop local in style

With everything from dog treats to beauty products available at deep discounts on flash-sale sites such as Fab, One Kings Lane, and Gilt, it’s no wonder small local businesses have a difficult time staying afloat in this era of Internet-savvy consumers. While the rallying cry of “Shop local!” feels like a good way to support the local economy, more often than not even the staunchest of locavores will succumb to a good deal. Former boutique owner and native New Orleanian Sarah Winston saw the need to give small, locally owned shops a leg up on their Internet brethren. Developed with Joe Luft,Shop Local Style was developed. The site offers high end bargain hunters 15-80% off regular retail prices, and gives small shops an online boost with search engine optimization and marketing that they might not have had otherwise.

Christy Lorio: The Orleans Parish jury duty survival guide

Everyone at some point gets that dreaded little letter in the mail, with two words stamped on the front in unmistakable red letters: JURY SUMMONS.  Having never been called to serve jury duty until this past month, a string of expletives left my mouth when I found that little love note from Orleans Parish in the mailbox. It couldn’t have come at a worse time: October is absolutely the busiest month of the year for me. There’s New Orleans Fashion Week to attend, Halloween costumes to sew, and given I work in a retail store that sells costumes, we are really damn busy. Like “curl into the fetal position under the bathroom sink after the shift” type of busy.  But instead of trying to lie and weasel my way out of it, I chalked it up to my civic duty, sucked it up, and went.

Christy Lorio: Get on the map

While there’s no mistake that New Orleans is known for its rich culture, many people tend to only think of prime locations such as the French Quarter or Magazine Street. The Claiborne Corridor Cultural Collaborative (C4) Mapping Project seeks to document culture makers in New Orleans by having individuals and businesses take a brief online survey mapping out a  wide variety of cultural activities , organizations, and businesses. Just think of it as a census for the creative class. What qualifies as a “creative place-making” business? Food trucks, second line food vendors, recording studios, arts markets, art supply stores, libraries, music stores, to name a few.

Christy Lorio: Isaac’s wicked games

“Expect the worst and you won’t be disappointed” was the most solid piece of advice my dad ever gave me. I find my dad’s words of wisdom oddly comforting in the most dire of situations, including the panic felt when dealing with named storms.

With Hurricane Isaac whipping through town, there was nary a household saved from the massive power outages. And while we were charging our phones in the car, checking our Twitter feeds, and complaining about Entergy not doing it’s job, I have to admit I chuckled a bit as to how spoiled we’ve become. In the July 2010 issue of National Geographic, Joel Achenbach explores how reliant we are on “the grid”. “Juice from the grid now penetrates every corner of our lives, and we pay no more attention to it than to the oxygen in the air.

Christy Lorio: I can love New Orleans without loving football

I’m a part of a very unpopular, secret club where the members only speak amongst themselves in code and whispers. Stepping out as a whipping boy, I speak on behalf of the people that are too chicken to admit it: I’m not a football fan. Admitting you aren’t a football enthusiast in the post-Saints-Superbowl climate is about as popular of a proclamation as stating that you worked at BP after the oil spill. I’ve attempted to understand football, but I don’t quite get it. I was in marching band all four years of high school, which meant I had to go to every single game.

Christy Lorio: Kid-free

I knew I didn’t want kids as early on as middle school, and high school squelched any maternal instincts I might have possessed. Going to an all-girls Catholic school in the 90s, we were succumbed to scare tactics such as watching videos of abortions on a projector screen in the school’s gym to prevent us from experimenting sexually. And since having sex before marriage is a sin, pregnant students were permanently kicked out, their only option being attending an alternative school until they gave birth. Since I was barraged with so many negative connotations about sex and pregnancy at such a young age, I associated pregnancy with delinquent behavior and never had much desire to go through what was described to me as an awful experience. On the contrary,  writer Allison Glock describes southern women as baby making machines in Garden & Gun’s August/September 2011 issue.