Archive for the ‘News’ Category

The UpStairs Lounge Tragedy: Now A Musical

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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Dear Media Idiots: Hurricane Isaac Is Not Hurricane Katrina

Let’s get one thing clear: Hurricane Isaac — or, at the moment, Tropical Storm Isaac — is not Hurricane Katrina.

Katrina was a monster, scaling the heights of the Saffir-Simpson scale to become a rare Category 5.

Katrina was also huge. At one point, she covered almost the entire Gulf of Mexico.

Worse, Katrina arrived in the middle of a relentless hurricane season — one that produced so many storms, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ran out of names for them and had to start using Greek letters.

In New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, our nerves were shot. By the end of August 2005, we felt like we were swimming in a shark tank, with paper cuts etched across our ankles. (Don’t ask me how the cuts got there, just go with the metaphor.)

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Tonight In New Orleans: Pause4Dinner, Supporting The LASPCA

Just a reminder that tonight is the Louisiana SPCA’s annual “Pause4Dinner” event. If you want to give the organization a leg (or a paw) up in helping strays and other animals in need, all you have to do is grab a bite tonight at any of these participating restaurants. Each and every one of them will donate 20% of dinner proceeds to the Louisiana SPCA.

See you tonight!

Why Isn’t New Orleans’ Mayor Supporting Marriage Equality?

At last week’s U.S. Conference of Mayors, nearly 80 of those in attendance voiced their support for marriage equality. In that number: mayors of places like Lima, Ohio and Hallandale Beach, Florida. New Orleans didn’t make the cut.

Now, I like Mitch Landrieu. I like him a lot. He’s one of the smartest men I’ve ever met, and in less than two years, New Orleans has seen more improvement than it did in its eight-year-long love/hate (but mostly hate) relationship with He Who Shall Not Be Named. But given the size of New Orleans’ LGBT population, you’d think Landrieu might be able to come out in support of marriage equality.

New Orleans has a huge gay base, and we’re surrounded by a warm and welcoming straight community (so long as you don’t count parts of Kenner). As a matter of fact, in a recent poll of travelers taken by American Airlines, New Orleans was named one of the world’s top 10 gay destinations, alongside London, New York, Tel Aviv, and Toronto.

Of course, I know Landrieu didn’t ride into office on a platform of LGBT rights. New Orleans’ queer community is so old and entrenched that gay rights might seem like a non-issue. But we’re here, we’re queer, and we would like some support, please. And let’s not make excuses about Louisiana’s state law forbidding gay marriage: mayors from Texas and Alaska and Michigan and Minnesota were on that list, and they’re in the same boat.

So I ask: Mayor Landrieu, where is the gay love?

Much Of America Still Hates Louisiana (And Our Congressional Delegation Isn’t Helping)

Many of us bitch and moan about the commenters on NOLA.com. To the site’s credit, it’s doing a better job of moderating these days, but it’s still pretty easy to find racist, homophobic, inflammatory remarks lurking below the fold. I mean, I’m not asking anyone to curtail her right to free speech — if you want to expose yourself as a bigoted asshat, that’s your prerogative — but for Pete’s sake, STAY ON TOPIC.

More troubling than the folks at NOLA.com, though, are the people who comment on New Orleans stories found elsewhere on the web. This piece on CNN.com about the marsh fires generated some fairly representative remarks. For example:

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Hurricane Irene: Be Prepared (And Please Don’t Blame The Gays)

Since New Orleans isn’t directly in the path of Hurricane Irene, I haven’t heard as much discussion about the storm and all that she threatens to disrupt as I normally would. But of course, Irene is likely to cause a lot of damage, and at the very least, she’ll put a serious damper on people’s weekend plans along the East Coast.

One of the biggest disruptions is undoubtedly the official dedication of the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, which is scheduled to begin on Sunday at 11am — almost exactly the time at which Irene will be giving D.C. her most powerful stink-eye. It looks as if the storm will be downgraded to a category 2 by then, but that’s more than enough to flood roadways, knock out power, and force cancellation of all outdoor events.

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Suddenly, Storm Season

Four storms in the Atlantic? When did this happen? Ack.

 

Also: for those keeping track at home, we’re just four weeks away from the peak of the North Atlantic hurricane season, which is generally considered to be September 10. Fingers crossed, bags packed….

 

 

 

Well Lookie Here…

Check out what showed up at my house the other day.

That’s right, it says “recyclables only” on the top. To say I am excited is an understatement in fact it’s probably wrong to be this excited about something such as a garbage can but I can’t help myself. I have a hard time believing it took this long for the city of New Orleans to revive it’s recycling program which is just a sign that we are still recovering every day. Now that it is here I am overjoyed.
Recycling pick up begins on May 2nd for those who have already registered. Find out which day of the week they will pick up in your area by visiting the WDSU website (I couldn’t actually find the info on the city’s site, weird.) If you haven’t registered not to worry you can still register on the city’s website
Some extra awesome things about this recycling program is that nothing needs to be separated, as residents we just throw everything into the bin and they take it away. Also, they accept pretty much everything, here is a list of what they will pick up according to the city’s website:
– Paper products (Examples: office paper, newspapers and color inserts, magazines, catalogs, junk mail and telephone books)
– Plastic containers coded #1 through #7 (Examples: water, soda, juice, detergent containers, etc., plastic pots from nurseries)
– Metals (Such as: aluminum, tin or steel cans)
– Cardboard (Examples: brown corrugated boxes used for moving or merchandise packaging)
– Boxboard (Examples: cereal, food, detergent, paper egg cartons)
– Waxed cartons (Examples: juice boxes and milk cartons)

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!

“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

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