Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

“Exhilarating and frightening to behold”

curtis-architecture-new-orleans-wide

I’m not sure where I found this article about New Orleans’ rebuilding process — probably via Gambit or from my pal Tyler. But no matter: it’s a beautifully written piece. Here’s an excerpt:

Four years after Katrina, the rebuilding of New Orleans is not proceeding the way anyone envisioned, nor with the expected cast of characters. (If I may emphasize: Brad Pitt is the city’s most innovative and ambitious housing developer.) But it’s hard to say what people were expecting, given the magnitude of the disaster and the hopes raised in the weeks immediately following. Seventeen days after the storm, President George W. Bush stood in Jackson Square and promised: “We will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives.”

The terms we, as long as it takes, and help turned out to be fairly elastic. The Federal Emergency Management Agency shuttered its long-term recovery office about six months later, after a squabble with the city over who would pay for the planning process. Since then, depending on whom you talk to, government at all levels has been passive and slow-moving at best, or belligerent and actively harmful at worst. Mayor Ray Nagin occasionally surfaces to advertise a big new scheme (a jazz park, a theater district), about which no one ever hears again. A new 20-year master plan and comprehensive zoning ordinance was being ironed out early this summer, but it remains subject to city-council approval. A post-Katrina master plan has been under discussion since before the floodwaters were pumped out.

In the absence of strong central leadership, the rebuilding has atomized into a series of independent neighborhood projects. And this has turned New Orleans—moist, hot, with a fecund substrate that seems to allow almost anything to propagate—into something of a petri dish for ideas about housing and urban life. An assortment of foundations, church groups, academics, corporate titans, Hollywood celebrities, young people with big ideas, and architects on a mission have been working independently to rebuild the city’s neighborhoods, all wholly unconcerned about the missing master plan. It’s at once exhilarating and frightening to behold.

“If you look at the way ants behave when they’re gathering food, it looks like the stupidest, most irrational thing you’ve ever seen—they’re zigzagging all over the place, they’re bumping into other ants. You think, ‘What a mess! This is never going to amount to anything,’” says Michael Mehaffy, the head of the Sustasis Foundation, which studies urban life and sustainability and has worked with neighborhood organizations here. “So it’s easy to look at New Orleans at the grassroots level and wonder, What’s going on here?’ But if you step back and look at the big picture, in fact it’s the most efficient pattern possible, because all those random activities actually create a very efficient sort of discovery process.”

–full article at TheAtlantic.com

Open mouth, insert foot

America's most ignorant man

America's most ignorant man

I haven’t been paying attention to the wonderful Mayor of New Orleans lately mainly because he has become irrelevant. No one pays attention to him locally because he is a buffoon. Actually he is the leader of the buffoon’s. Now that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been screwing things up, saying dumb things or attempting to hide his corrupted ways but I just haven’t had the energy to care for the last year.

My ears did perk up last week though when it was announced, 1 hour before he boarded a plane to Cuba, that he was going to Cuba, along with other politicians (all of them of the worthless variety of course) and other in the loop business people, to learn about Hurricane Evacuation techniques from the Communist regime in Cuba. You are reading that right. The Mayor of a major American city flew to Cuba to learn what a police state government does when a Hurricane approaches.

Well it seems that the Mayor of New Orleans learned more than any of us thought was possible. Or maybe he didn’t. In a statement to the Associated Press correspondent in Havana, the Mayor of New Orleans praised Cuban leaders for “knowing their citizens at a very very detailed level,block by block.” Really Mayor of New Orleans? Please tell me why you think that is the case. Is it because that government is so concerned about their safety? Or did you think it’s possible that the Cuban leadership knows so much about it’s citizens on a very detailed level because they keep those citizens on a tight leash and possibly watch every move they make or do not make?

This isn’t the first time that the Mayor of New Orleans has gone to a country with a history of repression. Last year the Mayor of New Orleans traveled to China and stated that he “didn’t see a communist country. There are Chinese people there making serious money.”

I am all for safety. I am all for people evacuating in the face of a hurricane approaching New Orleans. Evacuations in Cuba basically go this way. Get on the bus or you will be shot.  Seeing how this still is America Mr Mayor of New Orleans, I will pass on the “Cuban Evacuation Plan”, thank you very much.

The Valley of Silent Men Walk For Peace TONIGHT

This one is pretty much copied from an email I received today but I want to get the word out so here is the info:

This evening at 6pm, the Valley of Silent Men Social Aid and Pleasure Club will lead SilenceIsViolence and the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force in a Walk For Peace through the Central City neighborhood. The peace walk begins and ends at 2220 Jackson Avenue, near Van McMurray Park. Earlier this year, the Task Force memorialized two-year-old homicide victim Ja’Shawn Powell in this location as part of the January 9 Strike Against Crime. We all pledged on that day to keep the park as a special site of remembrance and anti-violence activism. Please join the Valley of Silent Men, the Task Force, and SilenceIsViolence as we stand up for peace in our communities this evening.

WHAT: A Walk For Peace

WHEN: Thursday, August 27, 2009, 6pm-7pm

WHERE: 2220 Jackson Avenue

WHO: Valley of Silent Men SAPC; SAPC Task Force; SilenceIsViolence

WHY: WE WALK FOR PEACE through our neighborhoods each month!

For more information about this evening s walk or the SilenceIsViolence/Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force partnership, call Tamara Jackson at (504) 453-1155.

www.silenceisviolence.org

Dubai on the bayou

Half of me thinks this is crazy. Another half of me thinks it’s nice that someone’s envisioned New Orleans’ architectural landscape in a wacko, high-on-life, rich-from-petroleum, bring-on-the-Bangladeshi-slave-girls kind of way. And a third, nonexistent half of me thinks that the residents of One River Place are probably already pissed that someone bothered to imagine this Tron-style tenement (click through for video):

noah1

Rebuilding New Orleans is an ongoing effort and pitching into the concept-zone is the New Orleans Arcology Habitat or NOAH. Since the details on this structure are in-depth and plenty, lets plunge into them right away. NOAH proposes to be a habitat for 40,000 residents who can benefit from the planned residential units, school system, commercial, retail, hotels, casinos, parking, and public works facilities.

NOAH is based upon the following preliminary program outline.

1. Residential Units / Rental and Condominium; 20,000 units @ average 1100 Sq ft
2. Three Hotels; Average 200 rooms plus associated services
3. Time Share Units; 1500 units @ average 1100 sq ft
4. Three Casino Facilities
5. Commercial Space / Rental and Condominiums; 500,000 sq ft
6. Commercial Space / Retail; 500,000 sq ft
7. Parking Garage / within foundation; 8,000 cars
8. Cultural Facilities; 100,000 sq ft
9. Public Works; 50,000 sq ft / includes storage
10. District School System; 100,000 sq ft
11. District Administrative Office; 50,000 sq ft
12. District Health Care Facility; 20,000 sq ft

Estimated Total Square Footage : 30 million

Location/Site Specific: In reviewing all the options and possible sites for NOAH, the most logical location is on the Mississippi riverfront and adjacent to the Central Business District.

Oh: and it goes on.

Down on the Corner…

Today we went to Satchmo Summerfest in the French Quarter. Baby Boyz Brass Band It was the perfect afternoon for it, there was a little rain earlier and the sky remained overcast which means the whole area stayed much cooler than it had been yesterday. We began our Search for good music at the U.S. Mint building, a logical choice since it seemed to be the center of all the festivities this year but so many people in such a small space overwhelmed us so we moved on down the French Market toward Jackson Square, after a while we crossed over and watched the boats on the river for a while before beginning our leisurely journey in the direction of home. That is when the real fun began, we ran into the Baby Boyz Brass Band playing on a street corner. This band put a smile on my face not to mention a dance in the step. I want to ask you a question. Do you see the young man in this first picture, see his dreads and his sagging pants? Do you also see that he is playing an instrument with a band? These things put together completely endear him to me, I love that he can be at seemingly two ends of a spectrum. This picture (ok it’s not the picture but the subject) represents what I love about New Orleans. After 4…5…6 songs with the Boyz we walked on till we came to the Balcony Music Club where we dropped in to listen to Dominic who we used to live across the street from and who has known the little guy since before he was born. We all had a seat and the little guy danced and was given a Sprite by the bar back for doing nothing more than being little and looking cute, he is good at that. It was a great day, we listened to some great music and had tons of fun doing it, couldn’t ask for much more than that.Baby Boyz Brass Band 2

Good news for New Orleanians (maybe)

Apparently, New Orleans City Business covered this Cold Storage story last week, although they’ve just posted an update on their WordPress (freebie WordPress!?!) blog. Keeping up with the Joneses, the Picayune has now pubbed an article of its own:

Facing mounting opposition to the construction of a poultry exporting operation at the foot of the French Market, the Port of New Orleans is looking for a new home for New Orleans Cold Storage.Port administrators are asking tenants along the Mississippi River if they could make room on their property for the company, which the port fears will leave New Orleans without a new headquarters. New Orleans Cold Storage is the port’s second-largest customer.

“They’ve made it very clear that they’re going to continue to oppose this, and we’re going to see what the other alternatives are,” port spokesman Chris Bonura said of residents in the French Quarter, Marigny and Bywater. Signs emblazoned with the message ‘Poison Port’ can be seen posted throughout the neighborhoods.

There are no guarantees that the port will find another home for New Orleans Cold Storage, Bonura said, and the company may very well end up on the Gov. Nicholls Street and Esplanade Avenue wharves as planned.

But the fact that the port is even considering a new home for the company represents an aboutface for the agency, which just a few months ago said that the wharves near the French Quarter were the only option for New Orleans Cold Storage.

NOLA.com

But really, who cares who ran the story first? We’re close, y’all! Not out of the woods, but, you know, cross those fingers.

Hurricane Ceremony XII

It’s that time of year again, folks:

Our Lady of Prompt Succor

HURRICANE CEREMONY XII

What: Public prayer ceremony dedicated to Our Lady of Prompt Succor (who has intervened historically on New Orleans’ behalf when a hurricane has threatened) and Ezili Danto (also associated with Mater Salvatoris and Moumt Carmel) to ask for protection from hurricanes

When: Saturday, July 18th at 7:00 pm

Where: Achade Meadows Peristyle, 3319 Rosalie Alley (off of Rampart, between Piety and Desire)

What to bring in offering:

For Our Lady: flowers, statues, candles, religious pictures, jewelry

For Danto: Barbancourt Rum, Clarin, Florida Water, candles, daggers, dolls dressed in red and blue with gold trim or calico prints, spicy black beans, peasant cakes, unfiltered cigarettes, pan fried cornbread with peppers, fried pork, white crème de menthe

What to wear: Please dress in white (the color of purity), with red head scarves, or all red (the color of Petwo rites).

Rosalie Alley

Heritage Foundation & Solar Energy?

Weirdest email I’ve received all week (and I’ve already gotten some doozies):

Greetings and salutations!

I would like to let everyone know of our upcoming Permaculture Courses.

RiverSolar in cooperation with the Heritage Foundation is offering weekly courses in Permaculature and Design concepts. Core concepts will be provided in block format on Fridays from 12 – 2 PM beginning July 10, 2009 at the ArtEgg Building.

Students can choose to take one class or all leading to a Permaculture Design Certificate. Please contact Doris for enrollment information.

RiverSolar
riversolar@gmail.com
1001 So. Broad St. New Orleans, LA
504-729-8226

Which sounds great except for the part about the HERITAGE FOUNDATION.

Seriously: THE Heritage Foundation? The same ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation that worshiped at the feet of Ronald Reagan? The same war-mongering Heritage Foundation that pushed heavily for the invasion of Iraq (and, less successfully, Iran)? The same Heritage Foundation that looked at the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina and found it a perfect example of the need for relaxed environmental regulations? That Heritage Foundation?

UPDATE: Of course it’s not that Heritage Foundation. As the friendly Alex just pointed out:

It’s actually the Heritage Foundation for Arts and Cultural Sustainability, which shares a space in the ArtEgg building, along with RiverSolar.

Which is great, but also a really unfortunate choice of names. Oh well: at least the world makes sense again.

It’s Cocktail Time in New Orleans

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Well that phrase is actually stated every minute, every hour and everyday in New Orleans but Tales of the Cocktail is something entirely different. Normally I would be blogging about some perceived slight or some moronic decision made by a so-called New Orleans leader but Tales makes even me stop and enjoy a little down time.

I first met Ann Tunnerman, the creator of Tales of the Cocktail, sometime early in 2006. Those early days after Katrina brought people together that may not have ever gotten together before. The radio station was up and running, Ann was a faithful listener and wanted to create a partnership between the station and Tales. We thought the event had potential so we joined up and became part of the event.

Tales of the Cocktail, started in 2002, has become one of New Orleans must-do events of the summer. Locals know that generally, festivals and such are not real wise in the summertime because of the heat but this one is different. How different? Well first, Ann Tunnerman is a marketing genius. I doubt she reads my blog so it’s not like I am kissing butt or something. She has taken this event from a fun humble small start and turned it into something that people from across the country come to our fair city to attend.

Tales of the Cocktail is scheduled from July 8th thru July 12th. Many hotels, restaurants, bars etc are involved in the event so I don’t want to bore you with all of that. You can click the link above and check out all of the events and places. The Hotel Monteleone is the base headquarters though. Events scheduled for the 5 days including mixologists competitions, seminars about cocktails and the creation of cocktails, spirited dinners (which include some of the best restaurants in New Orleans, which also means some of the best restaurants in the country) which are six course dinners that include specialty crafted cocktails that work in conjunction with the fantastic dinner, and of course many many many “tasting rooms”. I don’t really need to explain that do I?

If your a local or a out-of-towner, think about doing some of the events associated with Tales. It is a special event and since New Orleans created the cocktail, what better city than this one to create and host this kind of event?

It’s not the destination

Phone Box at Washington Square park It’s the journey. And today was a perfect example of why that saying is spot on. The Little Guy and I headed out to the Creole Tomato Festival at the French Market today after nap time.

If anyone went outside at all today you will know it was damn hot so our adventure had a lot of pit stops and every single one of them was better than the actual festival.First we stopped over at Washington Square Park to play and rest, there were more than the usual crowd in the park, I think there was a memory service being held for someone who has passed but with the little one I did not want to disturb anyone and so I could not get close enough to really hear what was going on. As we left the park we noticed what someone has done with the old pay phone box on the Royal side, it does not specify what the money is for but there are flowers and other decoration inside a custom made shadow box and a request for change. If I had any change on me i would have given to Chance to put in the box. We didn’t get much farther before it was pit stop time again as we passed Cafe Rose Nicaud I was informed that we needed a cookie from the coffee shop so in we went and cookie we did procure. Cookie at Cafe Rose Nicaud After we filled up on cookie off we set for the push to the actual festival crossing Esplanade and crossing Decatur over to the French Market and into the action or more realistically the crowd of tourists in fleur-de-leis T-shirts and too short, impossibly plaid shorts fanning themselves with cardboard fans shaped like (Creole?) tomatos, talking loud and occationally doing what they could to insult the local people.

I was told (though under their breath) in so many words more than once that because I wasn’t carrying my son he would get kidnapped. Well, I am happy to say there were not a million people around, I was walking two feet behind him at all times, it’s none of your damn business and as far as i could tell the worst people around at that time were their sorry asses. fountain I’m sorry but the next time a swarovski crystal embellished grandma wants to give me parenting tips, I say bring it on but, Do It To My Face!

Where was i? Oh yeah it was hot really, really hot and the booths for the festival were all out in the sun so we took ourselves through the festivities at a pretty quick pace, landing ourselves at the fountain near Decatur and Ursuline where we rested another few minutes in the shade, I could have sat a little longer but a two year old never really rests no matter how hot and tired they are so off we went again. This time we followed Decatur back till we hit Angeli’s a tasty restaurant with highchairs (even though we didn’t need one this time) where we went in for a drink and a bite to eat. The place was nearly empty which I though strange for all the people that were out and about but I guess we were a little early for the dinner rush. The little guy amazingly sat in a regular chair the whole time amusing himself by making faces in one of the mirrors that decorate the dinning area.
We made one more stop at Washington Square Park, much shorter this time, before heading on home. Just a block from the house someone stopped us and told me that “something smells dead back there” as he gestured over his shoulder in the direction we were going. Nothing came of it since I did not smell or see anything that smelled/looked dead all the way home but it did add to the adventure of the day.

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