Archive for June, 2005

Go-Go Gambling

Harrah

History Mystery

Spent some time today down at City Hall, researching as much as we could about the history of our Irish Channel house.
It was represented to us at sale that the main part of the house was built in about 1850, with the addition tacked on about 1910. Though the neighborhood is certainly that old, it’s hard to put a lot of stock in anything said by someone who’s trying to sell you something.
At any rate, we spent about an hour in several City Hall offices, meeting some very helpful people in the Real Estate Records office, the Conveyance Office and so forth. This led to opening of several large books of handwritten bills of sale, kept in the basement.
We were able to trace ownership back to December of 1888, at which point we hit a dead end. There was apparently a mistake in the recording of information. Each document of sale refers to how the seller obtained the property and where to find that record. But in this case, the reference would have moved FORWARD in time instead of backward. Going to that reference, we found nothing remotely related to the 1888 owners or even to the property in question.
This hints that 1) a mistake was made, or 2) some sort of malfeasance was going on at City Hall. I consider both scenarios equally likely.
…so, for now, roughly 30 years of the house history remains a mystery. But I want to go back to find out more about the earliest recorded owner and possibly to find out exactly when this house was built. I also want to know what various things it might have been before it was a residence, since the bones of the building suggest some sort of bar or possibly a retail establishment. Or both.
For the most part, over the past 100 years, the owners of the propety were Italian. In this city, that hints at possibly some type of grocery or other food-related business.

…and that would be very, very neat — given that I’m in the food business myself. So the effort will continue.

Boudin Link

As someone who runs a website devoted to encased meats, I know a good sausage website when I see one. And one of my favorites is Boudin Link at http://www.boudinlink.com.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, Boudin is a sausage-like food made from pork liver, rice, and delicious seasonings that’s stuffed into a sheep intestine casing. Trust me, it’s wonderful, and it’s almost nonexistant outside of South Louisiana. The webmasters of Boudin Link have taken it upon themselves to sample the boudin available at every gas station and grocery shop in the Lafayette area and rate the goods on their site. Their search continues to widen. This is an invaluable resource for New Orleanians who want to visit cajun country but don’t know where to go for the “good stuff” – the list at Boudin Link gives you a plethora of options.

Suspect Device


Every Sunday I always grab a Gambit to see what’s happening in the coming week. A point of joy and sadness is always Greg Peters’ Suspect Device comic. He’s a master of making art out of the absurdity of Louisiana politics. This latest comic is tragically hilarious and motivated me to find out where Opelousas is located.

You have a point, jfbiii.

Our Priorities Are Backwards

Though we missed the boom of the 90s,

“the tables have turned, according to an American City Business Journals analysis of 33 years of federal data. New Orleans, despite a sluggish labor market, has enjoyed the nation’s sharpest increase in per-capita income since 2000…”

The distribution of this income using these statistics is questionable but we can be sure that more income overall is going to those who are employed. More income means more tax dollars. So where are our tax dollars going?

In terms of economic development, I commented this past November on the Bureau of Governmental Research report telling of how funds were spent without regard to their investment value.

In terms of education, the T-P notes “Fiscal irresponsibility, bad Board politics and possible state takeover all add insult to the fact that Orleans Parish is at the bottom of the list for worst public schools in the nation.” at the top of its “Orleans Schools in Crisis” section.

It looks like no matter how much money we put into education and economic development, our local leaders can’t handle it responsibly.

Now they are using money that they don’t have to pay the Saints for another year of disappointment and preparing to cut more than 800 jobs at New Orleans schools (as many as half would be teachers) and “cutting a $5.3 million payment to the United Teachers of New Orleans Health and Welfare Fund, a pool of money that pays for various teacher benefits such as dental and vision coverage, life insurance and partial hospitalization reimbursement.”

Money means nothing without substantial leadership. As part of the New Orleans community, we must act with our pens and act with our votes.

Contact the Mayor’s Office.
Contact the Governors Office.
Contact our state senators here and here.
Contact your appropriate house representative here.

Tell them that you want to see our priorities put back in line and the action to back them.

Wallet Punch Plus

Fifteen years ago or so, I recall enjoying my first smoothie from Smoothie King. Yum! It was tasty, allegedly nutritious, and you could have one as a snack or in place of a meal. All for only 3 bucks or so.

Sure, I know how prices rise over time. But has anyone else had a smoothie recently and payed nearly ten dollars? Seriously. Order a large smoothie, plus an additive, and after tax you just shelled out ten bucks for a big hearty beverage.

I reflected on this yesterday after I took my wife to Cafe Reconcile and we stuffed ourselves for just over $10 total. We weren’t even hungry for dinner afterwards– and that’s a rare, rare happenstance at our place.

And speaking of bargains, I think the Palace Cafe is running its popular two-course “temperature lunch” special again this summer.

Another world

We crossed a great cultural divide again yesterday — passing from NewOrleansWorld and into another dimension. By this I mean we went across the St. Charles Parish line and down into the swamp, headed for Houma and Thibodaux to do a little bidness.

Despite our Mulate’s, the blaring, pre-recorded Cajun tunes in the French Quarter, the many various menu items and all the ‘ueaxs and ‘ots in the phone book, New Orleans itself remains much more Anglo/African/Creole than Cajun. It’s always been that way, I guess, and the differences appears to be getting larger instead of smaller. The accents are different, the conversational patois shifts and the overall attitude transforms once godforsaken Jefferson Parish is left behind.

We had a delightful couple of beers and then a light dinner at Tab Benoit’s Lagniappe Cafe in Houma. I’d been wanting to go since it opened a couple of years or so ago, and my mind had pictured it as being a glorified blues hall similar to the Southport Hall over in the Riverbend area. What we found instead was a fairly upscale place with a menu and ambiance that would be a reasonable draw on St. Charles Ave. Entirely worth the one-hour cruise down Highway 90. Then it was on to business.
We attended a wine and cheese tasting at Cannata’s, the flagship of the small grocery chain stretching from Houma to Morgan City. The place has a touch of Whole Foods, a lot of Rouse’s, but the overall congeniality and familiarity of the Uptown locations of Langenstein’s or even Zara’s. We passed a wonderful couple of hours, tasting some very good but mid-priced wines and engaging in conversation with then-unknown but friendly locals of various ethnic extraction. They first smiled, then laughed, then began slapping on the back as the wine flowed. We arrived as businesspeople but left as friends, and that’s part of Acadiana’s lure.

It’s definitely worth a long daytrip and even an overnight to become immersed in Swamp Culture.

Allons.

4th Street (Westbank) Visitors Guide

For some time during 2002-2003 I ran a website called bottledviolence.com. This was an attempt to resurrect, in web form, a BBS that I ran back in high school. The BBS was scatological, juvenile, and irreverent. Lots of teen angst. The Washington D.C. City Paper once featured it in a cover story.

The website was not nearly as interesting, but at the time I was obsessed with New Orleans and had a whole section of the site devoted to some of the quirkier attractions I found. One popular item was a photo travelogue of 4th Street on the Westbank, which is one of the more “down and out” areas across the river. The travelogue was narrated as if it were a brochure from the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau. This juxtaposition proved humorous to some.

I have decided to put the 4th St. pages back online. It’s a couple of years old, so some of the things in the pictures may no longer exist. If anyone enjoys it, I have more stuff like this I can post.

So without further ado: A Journey Down Fourth Street

Food Radio

Is there any other town in the US so obsessed with food that it has a three-hour talk radio show dealing solely with local eating?

Tom Fitzmorris’ program 4p-7p M-F on WSMB (1350 AM) can be highly entertaining and (at least in my listening) stays away from food snobbery. It has been my only reason to actually switch on the AM dial anymore.

For da kiddies

New Orleans’ own extraordinary trumpeter, Irvin Mayfield, will host a special storytime followed by a musical performance Wednesday (6/22) from 10:30am-11:30am at Rosa Keller Library (4300 S. Broad).

So why not bring the youngsters to the Broadmoor, and enjoy a story and some jazz at the library?


Speaking of libraries, were you aware that there are a number of excellent blogs published by good folks who work at various branches of the NOPL?

Two that immediately come to mind include: Jeffrey at Library Chronicles and Angela at Glass Beehives…

Here’s more bio on Mayfield from a recent CityBusiness article:
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