Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

The UpStairs Lounge Tragedy: Now A Musical

From "Remember the UpStairs Lounge" by Skylar Fein

From "Remember the UpStairs Lounge" by Skylar Fein

Here is a conundrum: since fourth grade I’ve been involved in theatre, I have a degree in theatre, and I currently work with a theatre company in New Orleans. Some of the first shows I ever did in the theatre were musicals. And yet: I hate musicals.

“Hate” is a strong word. Let me rephrase that: I don’t hate musicals, I’m just very, very, very wary of them. And in fairness, it’s probably because I’m getting old.

As a kid, the premise of musicals — the literally fantastic idea that entire groups of people would suddenly break into song and dance — didn’t bother me at all. I mean, my parents took me to plenty of Disney movies. What was the difference between a pack of singing mice on screen and a posse of singing cowboys on stage?

With age, however, comes experience. More specifically: bad experiences. I’ve seen more terrible musicals than Rose Kennedy saw funerals. I’ve choked on plot twists more times than Lindsay Lohan has choked on ‘nads. (Then again, she’s surely developed a gag reflex by now.) I have been through some shit, is what I’m saying.

Comic musicals are a little easier to swallow because they don’t usually take things too seriously. Nine times out of ten, they’re more interested in entertaining audiences than getting all wrapped up in “art”. Dramatic musicals, on the other hand? Break out the Klonopin.

I mention this because someone in San Francisco is writing a musical about the fire at the UpStairs Lounge. And I am not entirely sure what to think.

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Hints From A Homo: Things To Remember During Carnival & MardiGras

Fat Tuesday 2010 (photo by Jonno)If you’re heading to New Orleans within the next few weeks, there are plenty of ways find Carnival-themed fun.* Gambit’s Best of New Orleans website is a great place to start your research, and if you like the printed word, every Walgreens in town has copies of Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide.

I’ve also cobbled together a few Carnival pointers of my own, which should give you a sense of what to expect during your visit.

But beyond the basics, there are other Carnival rules to consider. Well, maybe not “rules” per se – more like “tips” that will make your trip much more pleasant.

Here are nine of my tips for having a successful Carnival. There are plenty more where these came from, so if you still have burning questions when you reach the bottom of the page, feel free to drop me a line.

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WTF, Spongebob? Jazzland/Six Flags Needs Another Buyer

Two years ago — nearly two years ago to the day — a certain cueball-headed mayor of New Orleans announced that Jazzland/Six Flags was coming back. The theme park where so many of my friends had worked before the storm, performing to crowds of dozens (on a good day), has done nothing but gather mold since Hurricane Katrina swamped it. Which wasn’t hard to do, since the whole thing was built on a swamp anyway.

But I digress.

On August 19, 2009, Nagin stood for a photo op with Spongebob Squarepants and announced that Nickelodeon would be redeveloping Six Flags. But like a good souffle, the deal didn’t keep, and now the city is looking for a new partner to rescue the property.  If you’re the sort of person with a dream in your pocket and several million dollars in a Swiss bank account, you have until October 10 to submit your proposal.

My personal take? There are certain parts of New Orleans that are perfectly fine for habitation and others that should return to their natural state. There were some contentious discussions about which neighborhoods fit into those two categories after the storm, but I don’t think anyone would complain if Mitch Landrieu ripped Jazzland off the map and signed the deed over to Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge.

Festival weekend

The French Quarter Festival is this weekend, starting Friday and blowing it out through Sunday. Having been based in the Quarter since Katrina, and right up the street from the quarter for two years before, the FQF has always been a favorite and I’ve been lucky to be around the last six festivals. The FQF is now the largest free music festival in the South and from experience, I can say it has done nothing but grow in the last few years.
Friday was always somewhat of a “so-so” day for the FQF. It’s always been more of a local festival than say Jazz Fest obviously, but I think that is changing. I have done my tour of the Quarter today and I know I have never seen this many people out and about on the Friday of FQF. It was always the slow day of the festival but not anymore. People are everywhere in the Quarter already, food cooking, people dancing and music playing. It feels like a Saturday already.

This is what people who don’t live here have a hard time understanding. The FQF is a perfect example of why New Orleans is one of a kind. When Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Bonerama, Rebirth, The Radiators, Rockin Dopsie plus jazz and brass bands from around the world come to town and play for free well it’s something special. The list of performers is rather long, not to mention the food/drink vendors. I have already chowed down on a BBQ Brisket sandwich and some baked beans from The Joint. I highly recommend it, very tasty!! Did I mention that this festival goes from one end of the quarter to the other? Start at the Old Mint on Decatur and work your way to Woldenberg Park on the river, making sure not to miss all the stages in-between. Do I need to mention again that it’s free? No ticket to get in, just find somewhere to park (legally of course) and do your thing. This is the reason we stay here. Get out and enjoy!!!

What it really means to New Orleans

The victory by the New Orleans Saints, 31-17 over the Colts of Indiana in the 44th Super Bowl in NFL history, was frankly a sight to behold both in Miami and in New Orleans. Eruptions of joy and euphoria of the highest degree has overtaken New Orleans for the last three days. With Mardi Gras rolling along, the Super Bowl victory party and Mardi Gras have melded into one big We Love New Orleans Festival. There is certainly nothing wrong with that and I think many locals would give you a look and say…we deserve this one. Can’t really disagree with that. Anyone who has ever rooted for the hapless Saints deserves this one. And we never want it to end.

As the seconds clicked down on the Saints dominating, invigorating, full of heart and guts comeback victory, it’s funny the things that come to mind. For some reason I thought of the first time the Saints had a chance just to make the playoffs in 1983. I was in my older brothers car, he was driving me somewhere, and we were listening to the end of the Saints-Rams game. Saints win, they make the playoffs for the first time ever. Of course the Saints lose on a last second field goal. Of course they had given up TWO interception returns for touchdowns and a punt return for a touchdown to get to the point of losing at the last second. That’s what Saints fans expected. Find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. My other thought drifted to September 25th, 2006. The return to the dome. I was there for that one too and that victory over Atlanta was the starting point for this Saints team bringing New Orleans it’s first professional world championship.

What does it all really mean though? Can a world championship in a professional sport change New Orleans for the better? Can it fill the pot-holes and rebuild the houses and parks and businesses that all are in need of rebuilding? Can it turn inept politicians into politicians who lead by example? Does a world championship end the years of frustration from the citizens when it comes to a racial divide?

Of course, a championship does not solve any of those issues. Trophy’s don’t hammer nails or magically turn a bigot into a diverse human being. But New Orleans and frankly America in general would be wrong to just dismiss this as another sports team winning a championship and moving on to the next big story. What these Saints showed is that a commitment by everyone, putting your own personal needs to the side maybe, to accomplish something bigger than themselves can be done. When everyone is on the same page, focused on the same goal, this Saints victory shows that nothing is impossible.

The Saints have done their part. They showed the path to greatness. Teamwork, accountability, passion, faith and trust in each other. Now it’s time for the citizens of this great city to come together and carry the banner from here. The Saints did their part, now it’s time for us to make it really matter.

What a party

Mardi Gras or Football? Was it Mardi Gras? Did I miss all the parades that come before Fat Tuesday? Or was all of the excitement last night for a little sports contest that was held in the Louisiana Superdome yesterday? I have been around this city for many events and I have never seen a reaction like the city of New Orleans had last night. When Garrett Hartley’s 40 yard field goal was halfway thru the uprights for the game winning points in the 2009 NFC Championship game, the streets of New Orleans erupted. People poured out of restaurants, bars, strip clubs, trinket shops and all points in between like they had just won the lottery. And in a sense, they had won the lottery. For a city that has been under-appreciated for it’s loyalty to below average sports franchises, Sunday night was a event that was beyond comprehension. Everyone can and will focus on what this team/franchise has meant to the citizens of New Orleans for the last five years. How the Saints were the one thing that we could all embrace and root for and at times kept us sane during a insane period in New Orleans history. The pure joy that was felt and seen on the streets of the French Quarter last night and into this morning, late this morning by the way, is something that just does not happen in other American cities. No other city identifies with it’s football team like New Orleans does and of course no other city knows how to show it like the great city of New Orleans. Who dat!

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

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

logotm

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?

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