Friday, March 27, 2009

New Orleans Sports Scuttlebutt 3-27-09

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2009 at 8:00 PM

by Clay A. Smith

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A whole mess of people

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Photograph by Jonathan Bachman

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The ailing Hornets suffered another Western Conference loss in a key battle with the Denver Nuggets. Still missing starters Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic, New Orleans had their 3-game win streak snapped, 101-88.

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But despite Carmelo Anthony's 29 points and Chauncey Billups' 26 points, Hornets' head coach Byron Scott said he's unconcerned with his team's play. Hilton Armstrong continued to take advantage of his opportunity with 10 points in twenty-four minutes. David West added 18. Chris Paul had a double-double as usual with 19 points and 13 assists and if not for Julian Wrights' 9 point night all five Hornets' starters would have scored in double figures.

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However the Hornets' reserves remain the achilles heel of an otherwise effective unit. They've been outscored in nineteen of their last twenty-four contests -- with the rare exception usually being a byproduct big nights from James Posey. Billups alone scored more than the entire Hornets' bench who only contributed twenty-two points. And they allowed ex-Hornets Chris "Birdman" Anderson and J.R."Jack-it-up" Smith to  team up for 25 points and 9 rebounds.

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At the moment, New Orleans remains a team unable keep up against potential playoff foes. After the Nuggets scored an impressive road win at the Hive, their should be some concern that they could meet Denver again.

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Patois Film Fest

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2009 at 7:22 PM

Crips and Bloods: Made in America is one of many stellar films in the Patois New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival that runs through next week. Crips and Bloods screens at Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center at 7 p.m. Sunday. Besides documentaries, there are feature films like Medicine for Melancholy (7 p.m. Saturday at Zeitgeist), a great debut from director Barry Jenkins. A full list of films and links to Web sites and trailers is available on the film fest Web site. Films address topics issues of race, incarceration, AIDS, Hurricane Katrina, Cajun music and Middle Eastern politics and much more. For Gambit reviews of some of these films, go here.

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Black Friday in Newspaperville

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2009 at 7:01 PM

Exhibit A -- the big boys:

For staffers at The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, this week can’t end soon enough.

On Monday, news broke that The Wall Street Journal was losing two top investigative reporters. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama snubbed reporters from the big dailies at his primetime press conference. On Wednesday, Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald Graham signaled to shareholders that 2009 would be worse than the previous year.

On Thursday, the Times and the Post announced broad cost-cutting measures and plans for reductions in staff. And Friday will bring the final print edition of the Christian Science Monitor.

The Times handed out pink slips Thursday morning to about 100 staffers on the paper’s business side.

For those Times staffers who didn’t get the ax, there was still unpleasant news in memo form: a 5 percent pay cut beginning in April. The consolation: Staffers will now receive an additional 10 days off annually.

Exhibit B -- the alt-weeklies:

CityBeat
A memo from Bruce Bolkin, president of Southland Publishing, which pulled the plug on its publication L.A. CityBeat rather abruptly this morning:

It is with great regret that as of the March 26, 2009 issue, Southland Publishing, Inc. has decided to discontinue publishing the Los Angeles CityBeat alternative weekly publication.

For 6 years, the Los Angeles CityBeat has offered a fresh perspective to the readers of Los Angeles, and Southland is extremely proud of its writers and entire staff who have contributed to the paper.

Exhibit C -- even fictional characters are not safe:

The newspaper business is tough all over. Things are so bad that even comic strip heroine Brenda Starr -- that feisty gal reporter -- will be put on furlough this week.

In a strip that runs Saturday, Starr's cigar-chomping boss, B. Babbitt Bottomline, calls Starr into his office and declares, "I can't afford to pay you anymore." The budget cuts inside Starr's fictional newsroom reflect the bottom line at real-life newspapers, which are slashing staffs and freezing salaries in the face of steep declines in advertising and circulation.

Excuse me. I'll just be in the Gambit restroom, hanging myself.

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Everybody Is Welcome

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2009 at 2:46 PM

All people from all races are invited to participate in tomorrow’s rally “Yes We Care” – an anti-violence protest against the killing of young black men -- that will take place in Armstrong Park, starting at 10 a.m.

     “It is for the African American community, but they’re not the only ones invited,” says Richard Weber, a spokesman for New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, which is organizing the event under the leadership of its pastor, Rev. John Raphael.

     The event was planned and organized by black people in order to demonstrate the African American community as a whole is heartbroken over the murdering of so many and willing to standup against the violence.

     “We’re hoping that ones that are concerned about it will show up,” Weber says. “That’s why we’re saying it’s not only for black people because I’m sure there are some whites who are concerned about it also.”

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The New York Times on New Orleans brew

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2009 at 6:25 AM

Interesting piece by Nick Kaye in The New York Times about New Orleans craft breweries. He manages to hit up not only Abita, but also Heiner Brau and the young NOLA Brewing Company, whose wares I have yet to sample.

Kaye even works in a bit of history about Jax and Dixie. Worth checking out (and don't miss the photos by Gambit ace photographer Cheryl Gerber).

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jindal proposes 83% cut in Louisiana's decentralized arts funding

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 11:36 PM

LPA

This year's state budget shortfall seems certain to have harsh reverberations in Louisiana's arts community ... but few probably suspected how deep the cuts would be. As Mary Tutwiler at The Independent reports:

Arts officials gathering in Baton Rouge yesterday for a meeting of the Louisiana Partnership for the Arts got the grim news. Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing to cut nearly $2.5 million, an 83 percent reduction, from Decentralized Arts Funding. The sweeping cut would leave little more than $500,000 for DAF funding statewide. Jindal also proposed cutting statewide arts grants by 31 percent, slicing regional folklife funding in half and eliminating funding for artist fellowships....

Scott Hutchenson, assistant secretary of the state Office of Cultural Development in Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu’s office, says these grants are a tremendous economic boost to every parish in the state. “The cultural economy is a $10 billion industry supporting 144,000 jobs. It’s certainly worth the investment, and the return on the investment has been significant. Our cultural stakeholders have made the industry a significant player in Louisiana’s economic health.”

Both Landrieu's office and state arts organizations have vowed to work to change the proposed budget during the legislative session.

Already the local arts community is asking its supporters to mobilize and give legislators constituent ammunition to keep the funding. The Arts Council of New Orleans has directions on its Web site:

Please go to the Louisiana Partnership for the Arts website, and type in your zip code in the Write Your Legislator box at the lower left hand corner....

Click on Take Action, read the Alert, then scroll down to Compose Message where you will see the brief letter that Louisiana Partnership for the Arts has composed to be sent to each member of the Appropriations Committee.

We need to HIT HOME that this 83% cut of Decentralized Grants and the 31% cut in Statewide Arts Grants will devastate the cultural economy of Louisiana which is the number-two industry in the state.

Once you have TAKEN ACTION, please pass this email on to your board members, membership and friends. Through grassroots efforts in 1994, we were able to restore the arts funding when faced with a similar situation. WITH YOUR HELP WE CAN DO IT AGAIN, NOW.

Tax dollars for arts programs aren't popular with many conservative and libertarian legislators during even the most flush of times (witness the 1980s dustup over the National Endowment for the Arts). And the state budget will have to be cut this year; it's just a question of where and how much ... and, quite possibly, how much muscle Mitch Landrieu can and will exert behind the scenes when the legislature convenes in April.

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"We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So!"

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 10:11 PM

I’ve always been a big fan of Maurice Sendak, as a kid and then as a children’s librarian. His books -- like “We Are All in the Dumps With Jack and Guy” – aren’t your run-of-the mill kids books, and approach larger societal problems like homelessness, AIDS, overcrowding, war, crime and pollution. Not all of his offerings are quite so complicated, and “Where The Wild Things Are,” probably (interpretation is always open to interpretation) falls in this category, which didn’t stop it from being a banned book when it was first published in 1963, and is still problematic nowadays.

     It will be interesting to see what director, Spike Jonze, will do with the short, original script. Here’s the preview.

 

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The View from the Other Side: The Hornets need Peja

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 3:40 AM

Well this sucks

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Photograph by Jonathan Bachman

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With the way things have gone this season with the Hornets, last night should not have come as much of a surprise. Sure, a 13-point loss at home to team that's fighting you for home-court advantage is dissapointing (and infuriurating), but anything short of Chris Paul going on killing spree mid-game can't be considered a shock.

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Now stop me if you've heard any of this before:

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"We would have liked to finish the season 13-0, but it probably wasn't going to happen. We've just got to continue to play hard and get ready for the Knicks." -- Chris Paul

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"Bottom line, second half we just didn't make shots." -- Byron Scott

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"We made them take though shots. ... In this league, that's the only thing you can ask for. ... If they knock it down, more power to them." -- Antonio Daniels

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

City Park and the Voodoo Music Experience: Four Weddings and a Funeral?

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 11:12 PM

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Tensions in the City Park/Voodoo Experience snafu (Dategate?) continue to simmer, and conversations today with principals on both sides indicate the issue is no closer to a resolution. The conflict arose when Voodoo producer Stephen Rehage chose to move the annual music festival from its scheduled Oct. 23-25 dates to Halloween weekend, a change he says was approved by park staff in January. The problem: City Park already has multiple weddings and a fundraiser scheduled for the last weekend in October. Those events have been slated since 2008, according to City Park CEO Bob Becker.

“Why would we go and tell him the date was OK when we had booked and scheduled events?” Becker asks rhetorically. “That’s our view of it. … This is just a very tough issue because of something we all tried to avoid by booking these dates long out in the future, so you wouldn’t book conflicting events.”

But Rehage maintains the financial commitments he’s made since January — which include booking dozens of bands, including headliner KISS, specifically for Halloween — were based on approval from City Park’s department of special events. (Department director Julie LaCour declined comment.)

“It’s two people that work very closely — our production manager and their special events person — had a miscommunication,” Rehage says. “I think Bob feels that they never did agree to it, and we feel the opposite. We’ve been negotiating that point for 11 days now.”

The two parties each proposed an alternate site — Rehage suggested the grassy area in front of the New Orleans Museum of Art, where Voodoo was held in 2006; Becker offered a spot north of I-610 — but both deemed the other’s option a nonstarter. “We told him he could have Pan American Stadium,” Becker says, “and that we would take whatever he paid us for the event and put it into that site, because we recognize that it’s an unimproved site. He’s rejected that.”

As for the 2006 site, Becker says it’s not feasible. “If you go out there right now, you will see we are transforming that area from a former golf course into a new passive recreation area. We’re doing new plantings all around the lake under a partnership we have with the Trust for Public Land. We just think that is not a compatible place for an event now. We’re spending a lot of money to transform that into a really nice area.

“We have [Rehage’s] place held for him,” he adds, “in the place he had it last year that worked well.”

Continue reading »

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After 2006, 2008 elections, failure is new GOP talking point

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 10:42 PM

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In what's becoming a more regular event, on the same night Pres. Barack Obama spoke to the nation, Gov. Bobby Jindal was discussing the future of the GOP. Instead of speaking (down) to a national audience, Jindal was addressing a private audience at a Republican fundraiser. (He's in D.C. attending four this week.) He entered into the difficult verbal gymnastics of explaining how Republicans can want Obama to fail and avoid the appearance of opposing what's best for the nation. He accused Democrats of using wishes of failure or success as a form of political correctness with which to beat down Republicans. Though in all fairness, it was Jindal's fan Rush Limbaugh who coined the phrase about wanting Obama to "fail," and offered it as a rallying point for the GOP to regroup. One wonders why Jindal is spending his time defending Limbaugh's stance instead of talking about what the party's elected officials are doing. Apparently some GOP congressmen skipped the fundraiser in favor of catching one of Louisiana's other bright young troubadours, Britney Spears, at the Verizon Center. It's not clear who House Republican Whip Eric Cantor went with. Wonkette reports that his office said he attended with other congress people including, the spokesperson said, Democrats like Sen. Mary Landrieu, but then retracted the certainty of Landrieu's appearance. Other folks talking up failure today included entertainer Fred Thompson and Czech prime minister.

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