The Louisiana Press Association held its 129th annual convention in Baton Rouge on April 25, which included an awards lunch for outstanding achievements in the field of journalism in 2008. First, second and third place awards, as well as honorable mentions, were given. The Kansas Press Association served as judge. Seventy-nine newspapers and other publications submitted a total of 3,812 entries.
Gambit was honored in the Free Circulation and Special Interest division in the following categories:
Best column (1st place): Clancy DuBos
Best feature (2nd place): Kevin Allman, Tims Place
Best editorial cartoon (2nd place): Greg Peters, Suspect Device
Best news story (3rd place): David Winkler-Schmit, Whats in Their Wallets?
Most effective use of graphic design (honorable mention): Amy Morvant
Community service to readers: (1st place for Gambits Shop Local campaign)
Sources in Baton Rouge confirm U.S. Sen Mary Landrieu will recommend U.S. Attorney Jim Letten this afternoon.
Edited to add: Landrieu will also nominate Michael Bagneris as district judge to replace Stanwood DuVal, and Lt. Col. Genny May of the Louisiana State Police as the first woman U.S. marshal from Louisiana.
These folks were on their balcony just outside the exit for Jazz Fest, enjoying some adult beverages, blasting tunes and throwing beads to the crowds streaming out of the racetrack ... just keeping the party going for a few more minutes. Between them and the kids who had set up in the middle of the street with their instruments and a tip bucket, playing the opening bars of "Second Line" over and over again, the party continued into the streets around the Fair Grounds.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: The very worst photo of the day of the very best act...
What a day for Jazz Fest. Even when the sun came out and threatened to broil, it would scuttle behind the clouds again in a minute or so and a cool breeze would come across the Fair Grounds. Some random notes in a notebook stained by spearmint snowball...
RTA had it together! Nice air-conditioned #48 bus right to Esplanade and City Park, and plenty of streetcars awaiting those who were leaving the festival. Transportation cost: $1.25 each way.
Managed to catch almost a dozen performances, including Craig Adams and the Higher Dimensions of Praise in the Gospel Tent (terrific) and the Pfister Sisters (crowded, and ended up drifting out when they started "Louisiana 1927" -- great vocals, but enough with that song, please).
The Pine Leaf Boys (my favorite Cajun group) were great as always, even without the estimable Cedric Watson, who has left to lead his own band. Missed his fun instrument-swapping with Wilson Savoy; the two would often switch up accordion and guitar between songs. But without Cedric the PLBs were stretching in some new directions, interspersing zydeco and Cajun waltzes with even a bit of rockabilly. (Still...I miss Cedric.)
Bathroom tip for next weekend (guys only): When the lines at the Port-a-lets are 20 deep, slip into the grandstand, make a left into the cooking-demonstration hall and ... bathroom! No waiting!
Foods consumed: Cajun duck po-boy, Vaucresson hot sausage po-boy, spinach-artichoke dip, sweet potato pone, Prejean's pheasant and quail gumbo with swamp-dark roux (worth a drive to Lafayette just for a bowl), and both spearmint and pink-lemonade snowballs.
Miss Joyce Montana (widow of Big Chief Tootie Montana) was sporty as hell walking across the grounds in a gold lamé hat, toting a Boomtown Casino folding chair. Unfortunately my photo didn't turn out. Also walking around: District 97 candidate Jared Brossett, stumping for votes in next weekend's runoff election....
Etta James closing out the Gentilly Stage ... this was one of those performances I really wanted to like, and the woman is a legend whose voice is still strong. (And some of her improvised hand movements had the camera crews scrambling not to broadcast them on the video screens for the family audience.) Unfortunately, the first five songs were all slow-tempo blues and she didn't seem like she was going to be inclined to switch it up, so I wandered over to the Blues Tent to see if I could get a glimpse of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, figuring it would be packed....
...and found the best show of this and any other Jazz Fest I've ever attended. Sharon Jones is an incredible belter and the Dap-Kings as tight a band as can be, but what was going on at the Blues Tent was a show that would've rocked the New Orleans Arena. It's hard not to compare her to some of the all-time greats -- she's got the showmanship of James Brown, the chops of 1960s Aretha, the audience rapport of Patti LaBelle and the stamina of Tina Turner. For more than 90 minutes, she did not stop moving or singing. She interspersed all her songs with a few surprises, including a brief scat on "When the Saints Come Marching In" and her distinctive soul cover of "This Land is Your Land." By the time she got to "100 Days, 100 Nights," the audience was screaming and jumping in the aisles. I've seen standing Os at Jazz Fest before, but never a performance that left people standing on their chairs. Glad I saw it in the tent, because the next time Sharon Jones comes back to Jazz Fest, she'll be on the Acura or Gentilly stage and playing for tens of thousands. The woman is an arena act waiting to happen.
Jazz Fest wrapped up a first weekend full of beautiful weather and hard choices. Closing the day on Sunday were Etta James, Dave Matthews, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Earth, Wind and Fire. Some moments of note Sunday:
The Big Chief of the Golden Blade Mardi Gras Indians welcomed Fest attendees with the standard "Indian Red" on a beautiful day at the Fair Grounds. Of note Saturday:
At Jazz Fest on Saturday, Wilco unleashed the special guest of the day late in its set when a shirtless cowbell player stole the show during a cover of Woodie Guthrie's "Hoodoo Voodoo" (which Wilco recorded on Mermaid Avenue with Billy Bragg). Will Ferrel eat your heart out.
The Hornets managed to claw their way back into their first-round series against the Denver Nuggets, winning FINAL SCORE. It was as an improbably a win as they come considering how badly the Hornets played in their first two games of the series and considering that the Hornets were trailing by as much as 16 in the first quarter of today's game.
It was when the Hornets were down double-digits early that the I noticed the Hornets had given out voodoo dolls to fans top of the free gold "Fan Up" t-shirts. Now, the voodoo dolls are definitely the most creative giveaway the Hornets have had all season. There's only one problem: they're adorned with Hornets colors and logos.
Now, I'm no expert on voodoo, but the quick Googling I did on the subject confirmed that, if you want to put a hex on someone with a voodoo doll, you dress the doll to resemble the person being hexed, not as yourself. So it's pretty confusing to see the jumbotron show pictures of voodoo dolls when the Nuggets shoot free throws (pictured below) and urging fans to squeeze their voodoo dolls to hex Denver. The only possible explanation is that the dolls had all-black backs, and black voodoo dolls are meant to repel negativity. But that doesn't explain why they were used to hex the Nuggets.
Today, though, New Orleans found a way to win, hex or not. But if the Hornets end up losing this series, New Orleanians will know definitively that their team was cursed. It's just jarring to think the Hornets may have cursed themselves.
(All that said, though, the voodoo dolls are still pretty freakin' cool).
(Every Friday afternoon [we're late today 'cause of Jazz Fest] Gambit will be posting a story from the upcoming weeks print edition as a Web extra early edition for our Internet readers. This week: Noah Bonaparte Pais takes a look at the upcoming Ponderosa Stomp music festival, which will nicely fill those long days between the first and second weeks of Jazz Fest.)
TWIST AND STOMP
By Noah Bonaparte Pais
Ira "Dr. Ike" Padnos curates his Ponderosa Stomp music festival the way most people cue up their stereos. For the 2009 edition, he dug up '60s psychobilly trailblazer and David Bowie treasure the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, aka 61-year-old Californian Norman Carl Odam. What prompted the excavation? "I've been wanting to hear (his 1968 single) 'Paralyzed' again," Padnos says casually, as if calling in a request to a radio station DJ.
??Welcome to the good doctor's musical dollhouse, where latent rock 'n' roll cravings often lead to career revivals. Now in its eighth year (and fourth venue), the Ponderosa has evolved into more than just the anesthesiologist-by-day's moonlighting plaything; it's a time warp, a cultural preserve and a seemingly nonstop, 36-hour concert all rolled into one. Soul singer Howard Tate, rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson and a reunion of the Flamin' Groovies' Cyril Jordan and Roy Loney headline this year's twin bill, which has been known to bleed together into one long jukebox-sprung-to-life bender.
??"Nowadays, it's not going until 6 in the morning; it's kind of ending at 3:30, 4 (a.m.)," Padnos says. "More people are actually making it. We probably had 500, 600 people pogoing to Question Mark (and the Mysterians) at the end of his set last year."
??The Mid-City Rock 'N' Bowl might have ceded to the House of Blues out of necessity, but the spirit of those raucous, early years lives on. Even its creator expresses surprise at the exponential growth rate of the festival, which was launched in 2002 as a curio for record collectors with "10 to 15" hand-plucked obscurities per night. It now garners dozens of rare performers and glowing reviews in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone....
The feds have arrested St. Bernard District Judge Wayne Cresap on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He was arrested late Friday and transported to the federal wing of Orleans Parish Prison, sources say (think: Jefferson Parish District Judge Ronald Bodenheimer). U.S. Attorney Jim Letten has confirmed only that the case involves attorneys, bribes and bond reductions. I have a feeling this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The case has been under investigation for a while and remains ongoing.
Cresap is wired big-time into the prevailing St. Bernard Parish power structure. He is pals with all the entrenched political players, and if he rolls, we may see some big names come tumbling down. My sources describe Cresap as someone unlikely to withstand the kind of pressure that the feds can put on somebody they want to turn. Hell sing like a canary, one source says, if hes not doing that already. Suffice it to say that sphincters are raging in Da Parish this weekend.
The timing of this case is interesting. When the feds want to sweat someone, they often arrest him late on a Friday afternoon, as was done here. That way, the perp gets rolled into the federal wing of OPP after the last federal magistrate has gone home for the weekend, which means he will spend a weekend from hell as the guest of Sheriff Marlin Gusman (no reflection of the sheriff, but I cant imagine a weekend in OPP being anything but hell). By the time he gets his constitutionally guaranteed appearance in front of a magistrate on Monday morning, hell be a basket case. Think the feds might ask him between now and then if he wants to talk about any of his friends in St. Bernard? Hmmm
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