Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Rising Tide screens at Zeitgeist

Posted By on Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 10:12 PM

In the past week, during which hysteria over the proposed Cordoba House in lower Manhattan reached new fervor and polls revealed that 18 percent of Americans falsely believe President Obama is Muslim, a couple of interesting news stories came out about China. Many newspapers reported that China had surpassed Japan and became the world’s second largest economy. And then there was an absurd story of a Chinese traffic jam that is 60 miles and an estimated 9 days long. While mainstream America has been focused on the Middle East for the past decade, it would seem that in the future, we will be more concerned with China, which has an economy enjoying three straight decades of economic growth.

A film about globalization in China, as seen through the world of contemporary art, Robert Adanto’s The Rising Tide is a visually fascinating profile of the change happening there. In the relatively short period since the rise of Deng Xiaoping, China has undergone tremendous change and tremendously fast change — vis-à-vis its thousands of years of history and the shift away from Mao’s communism to an orientation toward economic development. It screens at Zeitgeist this week (7 p.m. Wed.-Thu., Sat.-Sun.), and Adanto, who is in town working on another documentary, will attend screenings.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Chicago Chef to Announce New Orleans Venture

Posted By on Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 8:04 PM

The business publication Crain's Chicago Business reported today that one of the biggest names in the Windy City's restaurant scene plans to open a new restaurant in New Orleans.

Chef Rick Tramonto has racked up quite a few national culinary accolades during his career, and this week he will unveil a new partnership with Louisiana chef and food entrepreneur John Folse. The chefs plan to announce details on Wednesday.

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NOPD: Serpas' 65-point plan

Posted By on Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 7:18 PM

At NOPD headquarters this morning, Superintendent Ronal Serpas introduced a 65-point plan to reform the troubled department and allow citizens to track its progress. You can download your own copy of the report here, but here are a few items of interest.

An outreach program to the growing number of Spanish-speaking residents who settled in New Orleans after the storm:

39. The NOPD in the First Quarter of 2011 will establish an El Protector Program to engage its Hispanic/Latino community. The El Protector Program originated in the California Highway Patrol and was initiated in the Washington State Patrol in 2002, and the Nashville Police Department in 2005. Nashville’s El Protector Program, in February 2009, received national recognition from the Vera Institute of Justice as a “best practice” in reaching across the language divide. El Protector-type programs will enhance the NOPD’s ability to serve the ever changing diversity of our community. The NOPD will also analyze the need for this or a similar program in our Vietnamese community, as well as others that may have language differences.

More cops on bikes, in all districts:

41. The NOPD in 2011 will field Bicycle Units and an expanded Mounted Officer program in the eight Districts. It is well established in Community Policing literature that programs such as these serve to put officers closer to the communities they assist, thus creating better relationships, communication and information sharing.

And -- as Serpas told his officers at the meeting this morning -- "If you lie, you die":

44. The NOPD on September 1, 2010 will implement a revised Honesty and Truthfulness policy that will call for presumptive termination, without progressive discipline, for any employee who makes a materially false statement with the intent to deceive. IN PLACE

45. The NOPD on September 1, 2010 will implement a revised False or Inaccurate Reports policy that will call for presumptive termination, without progressive discipline, when an employee knowingly makes, allows or causes to be made, a false or inaccurate oral or written report of an official nature. IN PLACE

There's more (including a prohibition on accepting cash payments for paid details). Get your copy here -- and chime in with what you think about it below.

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Riverbend Tapas Crawl Returns

Posted By on Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 5:18 PM

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When Xavier Laurentino, owner of the Spanish restaurant Barcelona Tapas, explained the concept for last month’s inaugural Riverbend International Tapas Crawl, he told me he hoped it would eventually grow into a regular event.

That seemed like a good idea to me, though it’s come together faster than I thought.

This Wednesday, Aug. 25, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., a group of restaurants clustered in the Riverbend will host the second edition of the Tapas Crawl, and participating chef Frank Brigtsen says it will now be an ongoing dining event for the neighborhood held on the last Wednesday of each month.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Second Line Season Starts Tomorrow With The Valley Of Silent Men

Posted By on Sat, Aug 21, 2010 at 5:16 PM

The Valley Of Silent Men kick off second line season tomorrow. Small club, discreet... just what you need to ease you back into the groove.


SUNDAY, AUGUST 22, 2010 1-5pm

Start: Club S&S, 2600 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Down MLK to S. Liberty. Left on S. Liberty.

Stop: Dorothy's Lounge, 1739 S. Liberty. Up S. Liberty to Felicity. Left on Felicity to Simon Bolivar. Right on Simon Bolivar to Jackson Ave. Left on Jackson Ave. to S. Saratoga.

Pause: Tribute to the late Ja'Shawn Powell. Don Jackson Ave. to Danneel.

Stop: Single Ladies S&PC. Up Jackson Ave. to Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. Left on OCH to St. Andrew. Right on St. Andrew.

Stop: Uncle P's Barbeque., 1718 St. Andrew (20 minutes). Right on Brainard to Philip St. Right on Philip St. to Baronne St. Up Baronne St. to Second St. Right on Second St.

Stop: Sportsman's Lounge, 2433 Dryades St. Back on Second Street to Danneel St. Left on Danneel St.

Stop: Bean Bros Lounge, 2601 Danneel St. Up Danneel St. to Washington Ave. Back on Washington Ave. to S. Rocheblave St.

Stop: Tapp's Lounge, 2800 S. Rocheblave St. (20 minutes). Back on Washington Ave. to S. Dorgenois St. Right on S. Dorgenois St. to Martin Luther King Blvd. Right on MLK to S. Galvez St.

Stop: Ladies of Perseverance Social & Pleasure Club. Out MLK.

Disband: Club S&S, 2600 Martin Luther King Blvd.

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Coming up in this week's Gambit

Posted By on Sat, Aug 21, 2010 at 4:26 PM

I particularly love the cover this week -- conceived and executed by art director Dora Sison.


Interviews with filmmakers Harry Shearer and Spike Lee, whose documentaries The Big Uneasy and If God is Willing and the Creek Don't Rise both make their debuts this week -- plus a review of The Big Uneasy.

A look at the state of medicine in New Orleans, five years later.

Clancy DuBos examines the reforms made after Katrina. Chris Rose asks the unanswerable: What if it never happened?

Noah Bonaparte Pais remembers big-box music stores and reflects on how music retailing has changed since the storm. Lauren LaBorde surveys local booksellers and gets their picks for the best post-Katrina literature.

Dalt Wonk on post-K theater; D. Eric Bookhardt on post-K art; Ian McNulty on the restaurants that vanished in 2005 and never came back.

It's a good issue. Pick it up around town starting Sunday afternoon, or check back Monday for the online edition. And next week: the annual Best of New Orleans.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Restrepo presents soldiers on the frontlines in Afghanistan

Posted By on Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 9:20 PM

Restrepo is one of the best combat documentaries I have seen, and also one of the best films about U.S. involvement in Afghanistan (I would add Alex Gibney's Taxi to the Darkside as well). What allowed Sebastian Junger (A Perfect Storm) and Tim Hetherington to make such a riveting film was the amount of time each spent with Battle Company in the Korengal Valley in eastern Afghanistan. Each spent five months with the unit, going on missions and living with the soldiers at the forward outpost Restrepo, which they named after a fellow soldier killed in action, PFC Juan Restrepo (who is on film in the opening scene, footage taken by another company member in Italy before deployment). Junger was in a Humvee that was almost destroyed by a bomb planted in the road. It was detonated prematurely, going off under the engine block. A few feet further back and it would likely have killed or critically injured men in the Humvee. The scene comes early in the film, and it sets up what the deployment was like for Battle Company: 14 months in one of the war's deadliest combat zones; in which their unit was often attacked four or five times a day by Taliban fighters.

Junger had met some members of Battle Company while embedded with it in 2005, doing an article for Vanity Fair. He decided to return to Afghanistan with the unit in 2008 (which by then had mostly different personnel). He had no advance notice they would be deployed to Korengal. When they got there, Capt. Dan Kearney decided to push back against the heavy fire from the Taliban by creating a forward outpost on a ridge. The soldiers literally dug into a rocky mountainside ridge to build what came to be known as Outpost Restrepo. Soldiers lived there for one and two-month stretches (and Junger and Hetherington stayed with them). Over time, the soldiers accepted the two journalists as if they were company members and opened up to the cameras, offering revealing interviews about what war is like on the frontlines. There also are follow up interviews in Italy after the tour of duty.

In an interview with Gambit, Junger talked about what they were able to get on film and what was left out. More after the jump.

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The V Word

Posted By on Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 8:47 PM

Up until a couple weeks ago, I hadn't eaten meat in almost four years.

I wasn't entirely meat-free. There are the occasional seafood po-boy and Gulf-caught fish. And I eat cheese and eggs and drink milk — on the conditions they come from safe, humane and local sources, if possible. I don't support factory farming. Period. And for obvious reasons.

Last month, I cut all of those foods from my diet and committed to a vegan diet for a month. I wrote about that experience in this week's Gambit. And judging by the comments and emails I've received about it, I did it wrong. Never mind that I consulted with a vegan dietitian, as well as Peter Singer, a vegan scholar if there ever was one, and my vegan friends, who have navigated the halls of New Orleans restaurant culture and could steer me in the right direction — and that was what I wanted to find out: can a vegan experience the restaurant culture in New Orleans the same way a non-vegan does, which is something people in New Orleans live to do and some would feel they can't live without. I let a few others answer that in the article.

And I ate well. I won't bore you with my month-long meal plan, but it was balanced, healthy, nutritious, and I surprised myself in the kitchen. Katelynn Phillips said it perfectly: "If you think about all the plant varieties in the world, there are thousands. And there's really not that many meat options, so there is a ton of stuff you can eat ... People are just used to the American diet."

But I had cravings — omelets and grilled cheese sandwiches, mostly. (I settled for a cheese pizza — manchego on flatbread — at the end of the month.)

As the month went by, I opened up the conversation to both vegans and people who eat meat, like Scott Gold. I don't personally agree with much of what Gold said (like the "sad, deprived existence" comment), but he echoed points made among many in the meat-eating community. I hoped his voice could lend some balance to the issue. It's one thing to introduce why one should consider veganism, but it's another to leave out the voice on the other side of the fence, which there clearly is, as Gold illustrates. After all, not only was I writing a personal experience, I had to produce a balanced story. I wasn't eating meat, anyway, so whose team was I rooting for?

But when I went out to eat the weekend after I finished the month, I ordered a sandwich with bacon. I didn't expect to order it, and I didn't feel guilty about it. It wasn't a decision I thought I was going to make, ever, but I did, and I'm in no rush to eat meat any time soon.

Perhaps that's where I went wrong, according to some readers: I didn't end the month deciding to become vegan full-time. Bottom line was, It wasn't for me, at least right now. This was just one man's attempt, not a vegan manifesto. At the very least I hope I started a conversation about veganism and hopefully readers will make better eating decisions because of it.

In a letter to Gambit, Derek Zimmer offers some (delicious) advice:

Buy a bag of kidney beans, a container of seasoning, and maybe a tub of Earth Balance spread, and treat yourself to some classic red beans and rice. Heck, grab a pound of soy-based sausage if you must! Top that off with a loaf of Leidenheimer's French bread if you're feelin' real saucy, and that's simply days of leftovers! Alternatively, touch a couple boxes of the ol' Zatarain's Jambalaya mix, add some chopped bell peppers, mushrooms, whatever (maybe more of that aformentioned mock sausage), and -- tadaa! -- you got yourself a delicious plant-based meal in 30 minutes! There's also this thing our ancestors invented back in the day called a "roux" -- basically you heat up oil, add flour, then water, which you then use to to make a cabbage, potato, bean, etc., stew! Oh, and ever heard of okra gumbo? Whew! What what a "sad, deprived existence" veganism in the Big Easy is! (Though certainly no where near as "sad" and "deprived" an existence as those of the animals inside factory farms!)

For more information, here are some New Orleans-related vegan and vegetarian groups and blogs:





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48 Hour Film Festival

Posted By on Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 7:29 PM

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The 48 Hour Film Project is sort of a poetry slam for aspiring filmmakers. No professional experience is necessary; just a team with a camera and some sort of editing equipment that can crunch out a movie in just 48 hours. The annual event is in its 10th year and includes contests in 90 cities worldwide. New Orleans' filming weekend started on August 13, and the finished films are ready for their premiere and judging. Teams were given a genre, a character, a prop and a line of dialogue that had to be used. Twenty-six teams competed. Their films are split into two showcases which will screen at Warren Easton High School (3019 Canal Street) on Saturday at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. The winners will be announced at a party following the screenings at Chickie Wah Wah (2828 Canal Street.) The best film will then compete in the 48HFP Filmapalooza in spring 2011 (last year's event was in Las Vegas). The grand prize at Filmapalooza is $3,000, and the top dozen films are screened at the Cannes Film Festival in its short film program. Tickets for film screenings are $10.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Where is the oil? In enormous undersea plumes

Posted By on Thu, Aug 19, 2010 at 9:14 PM

During the winter of 2001 and throughout 2002, Miller produced a series of stunning stories about Saddam Hussein’s ambition and capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction, based largely on information provided by Chalabi and his allies—almost all of which have turned out to be stunningly inaccurate.

At what point are some in the media going to admit they Judy Millered the impact of the oil disaster?


where is the oil

vanity fair

The Washington Post: Scientists report undersea oil plume stretching 21 miles from BP spill site

Academic scientists are challenging the Obama administration's assertion that most of BP's oil is either gone or rapidly disappearing -- citing, among other evidence, the discovery of an undersea "plume" of oil stretching more than 21 miles from the well site.

The New York Times: Gulf Oil Plume Is Not Breaking Down Fast, Research Says

“I expect the hydrocarbon imprint of the BP discharge will be detectable in the marine environment for the rest of my life,” Ian MacDonald, an oceanographer at Florida State University, told Congress in prepared testimony on Thursday. “The oil is not gone and is not going away anytime soon.”

The Wall Street Journal: Study Says Gulf Oil Spill Caused Manhattan-Size Plume

At the height of the Deepwater Horizon spill, oil escaping from the damaged well was trapped underwater in a drifting plume of hydrocarbons the size of Manhattan and helped turn the Gulf of Mexico into a test-tube of experimental petroleum chemistry, scientists who probed the submerged spill region said Thursday. ...

By confirming the existence of this submerged plume, the new data also challenge government estimates that the vast majority of the 4.9 million barrels of spilled oil is already gone from the Gulf or being rapidly broken down by bacteria, several marine experts said.

Instead, some of that oil may persist deep underwater and in seafloor sediments—at levels thousands of times higher than those caused by the natural oil seeps that dot the Gulf sea floor—where it can elude conventional detection and clean-up efforts, scientists said.

Meanwhile, here's ABC News' front page at this moment. It contains news about Jennifer Aniston, the "Mystery of Beer Goggles Revealed," the new girlfriend of cable star Jesse James, and something about blind waiters serving people in the dark ... but not word one about the reappearing oil, much less the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico:

abc news

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