Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jovi Witness

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Tara Jill Ciccarone stands in front of her Sacred Shrine to Bon Jovi.
  • Marta Jewson
  • Tara Jill Ciccarone stands in front of her Sacred Shrine of Jon Bon Jovi.

By Marta Jewson

Tara Jill Ciccarone, creator of the Sacred Shrine of Jon Bon Jovi, is not trying to give love a bad name. But she can’t contain her adoration for the New Jersey rocker.

The Sacred Shrine of Jon Bon Jovi spills off the front porch of her home and onto the lawn. Besides posters of the rock legend and his flowing locks, there is a dollhouse fan club and multiple ‘fan’ dolls housed in a birdcage. Ciccarone’s favorite part (newest work-in-progress addition to the shrine) is the dollhouse. Its four rooms showcase lyrics literally translated, including a “bed of roses,” a “bed of nails,” a “cowboy on a steel horse” and “bad medicine.” The shrine is also quipped with free Aqua Net Hairspray. People can visit the shrine at 2943 Maurepas St. or follow updates on Ciccarone's shrine blog.

Before Bon Jovi takes the Acura Stage at Jazz Fest (4:50 p.m. Saturday), Ciccarone will host multiple Jon Bon Jovi-inspired contests and serve his favorite dish: macaroni and cheese.

“Jon Bon Jovi and his fans know that they are welcome here,” Ciccarone says, standing in front of the shrine, just a couple of blocks from the entrance to the Fair Grounds.

(More shrine photos after the jump.)

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Modern art in New York

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 3:23 PM

“Art is now predicated on what the agent can sell, and not on what the artist can do." -George Rodrigue

Modern Art, a predecessor to Contemporary Art, breaks ranks with traditional representational painting. It includes everything from Monet’s reflections to Pollock’s drips, and its paintings are among the most popular in today’s museums.

Currently, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City presents “The Great Upheaval,” a selection of Modern Art from 1910-1918. The exhibition spotlights European artists and their output just prior to and during World War I.

Surprisingly, this early twentieth century collection includes an almost hopeful view of the oncoming war, as philosophizing artists focus on possibilities of renewal, liberation (particularly for women), and a rejection of elitism. The artists transfer their open-mindedness to their paintings, rendering natural subjects in unnatural colors. They reveal emotions and essences, looking beneath the subject, even inside of it, to expose more than its physical makeup.

In early 20th century Modern Art, Franz Marcs Yellow Cow (1911) is an endless source of debate regarding its meaning (most often interpreted as a portrait of the artists new bride, an interpretation that, as a woman, I find doubtful).  Were it painted today,  it probably would mean nothing more than a dancing yellow cow.
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
  • In early 20th century Modern Art, Franz Marc's 'Yellow Cow' (1911) is an endless source of debate regarding its meaning (most often interpreted as a portrait of the artist's new bride, an interpretation that, as a woman, I find doubtful). Were it painted today, it probably would mean nothing more than a dancing yellow cow.

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Can the Hornets become the Packers of the NBA?

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 3:05 PM

Buy Dem Hornets is trying to do exactly that.
  • Courtesy of
  • Buy Dem Hornets is trying to do exactly that.

Whether or not the Hornets win Game 6 tonight at the Hive (essential pre-game info here), the fate of New Orleans' second basketball franchise remains in limbo. David Stern has recently said that the NBA — which purchased the team back in October 2010 — is in no hurry to sell the Hornets and is still actively pursuing local investors.

Fans of the team must feel helpless at a time like this. No matter how much merchandise or tickets they buy, the ultimate decision about where the Hornets will play next season is not up to them.

Or is it? An organization called GroupGain has launched "Buy Dem Hornets", an effort to get as many Hornets fans to pool their resources and buy a significant minority stake in the team.

What is GroupGain?

GroupGain is a new social e-commerce platform where everyone wins. It allows people to aggregate others who want the same product in order to lower prices for the consumers while allowing the merchant to profit on increased volume.

Sounds familiar.

GroupGain's Community Manager, Neil Soni, said that they believe if enough Hornets fans get together to buy 10% to 25% of the team, the NBA and local investors will take enough notice to keep the Hornets in New Orleans. They also said that they'd donate half of the companies regular commission to local charities (though none specifically have been named).

This would be an unprecedented step for an NBA franchise (then again, so was the league buying the team) but it's an idea with tangible roots. The Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers are the only completely fan-owned, not-for-profit team in American sports. Obviously, the NFL isn't quick to mention that right now, but the Packers have been a model of success, winning nine NFL championships (before the NFL-AFL merger) and four Super Bowls.

Most importantly, the Packers achieved all this success in tiny Green Bay (pop. 104,057) and, were it not for the public ownership, you can bet this team would have moved away to a larger market long ago.

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The "Hit n Run" Jazz Fest map

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Over time, the annual trip to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival gets easier. Once you get your footing — knowing what paths to take to what stages, what and who to avoid, shortest bathroom lines — you get wise (like how to spot passive aggressive crowd members, burnouts and bros). Now, thanks to Ian Hoch, creator of the most useful drinking guide to New Orleans since "This is a bar, go in it," those years of experience have been summarized in map form. Hoch unveiled his "Hit n Run" Jazz Fest map — you'll find "blunts everywhere" near the Congo Square stage, "windchimes and shit" in the crafts area, "cool shit you can't afford" and respective tents for drunk, high and sober visitors.

From Hoch:

As a college lad, my first visit to Jazzfest confused me. I got turned around a lot, got stuck a lot, and I sometimes didn’t know what I was watching or why I should care. Why should you be eating hot food in the sun when it’s 90 degrees? How the hell do they get those flags in here? And why is that lady in that nutty dress making advances on that watermelon?

Click here for a larger version.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Landrieu re-blasts Nagin on the mess in Armstrong Park

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 11:36 PM

Geez! Everyone in town seems to be a little touchy about the construction pit that is the entrance to Armstrong Park in the Treme, and now Mayor Mitch Landrieu is throwing another punch at his predecessor, Ray Nagin, over the decrepitude. Blake Pontchartrain told the story in a March column:

Armstrong Park is indeed a mess. And it began in the waning days of former Mayor Ray Nagin's administration.

Near the end of his term, the former mayor decided the park needed a facelift. Before he left office, Nagin unveiled the park's new Roots of Music Sculpture Garden — but a series of construction blunders caused damage to the statue of Louis Armstrong, and the park had to be closed.

Last July, crews employed by the original contractor, AME Disaster Recovery Services, cracked part of the Louis Armstrong statue, separating the left shoe from the statue's base. After he took office, Mayor Mitch Landrieu ordered the contractor hired by Nagin to stop work, and the park was closed for the rest of the summer.

The original contractor created more problems when crews poured concrete pathways incorrectly. These had to be ripped out and repoured — twice. Workers who were careless with tractors also managed to damage curbing and other sculptures in the park. A light pole was knocked down as well as a 50-foot palm tree. Water pipes were broken and buried power and phone lines were cut.

The destruction has been in place 10 months — which made it all the more bizarre yesterday when Nagin took to his Twitter account to offer a photographic tour of the park ... with pictures taken from the dedication of the sculpture garden, before it all had to be ripped out. "Some tried to say the park was F-up," he wrote.

Today District C councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, whose district includes Armstrong Park, joined the fray, giving the Landrieu administration a little public nudge:

Tomorrow also marks Mayor Landrieu's "State of the City" address. The Mayor has chosen the Mahalia Jackson Theater, located in Armstrong Park, as the location for this important speech, but sadly Armstrong Park will not be opened. Regardless of the ongoing construction delays, parts of Armstrong Park should be opened to serve as a public recreational area and also as a throughway for pedestrians and cyclists commuting between neighborhoods. ... I greatly appreciate the mayor's recognition of the importance of this park through his choice of venue. It is evident that he appreciates the value of this place, and we are extremely grateful. I urge and request the Administration to open the sections of Armstrong Park that are not undergoing repairs."

Gambit asked the mayor's office if there was any timetable for reopening the park, and received this response, attributed to Landrieu, late tonight:

Armstrong Park is just another example of a deal the previous administration improperly executed. It was ill-conceived and was fraught with problems from the outset. Since July 2010, we have been unraveling a bad and unconventional deal and have been engaged in legal wrangling with A.M.E. and American Contractors Indemnity Company since we kicked A.M.E off the job for causing serious damage to the park and to the statue of Louis Armstrong. We, like the citizens of New Orleans, are outraged that it has taken 10 months to bring this to a resolution.

Finally, we have an agreement in place with the surety that ensures that the park will be restored this year at no additional cost to the taxpayers of New Orleans. Additionally, we have been working for some time to reopen other portions of the park to the public and plan to make an announcement in the coming days.

Landrieu will be delivering his annual "State of the City" address at 10 a.m. April 28 from the Mahalia Jackson Theater in Armstrong Park, the beautiful performance space which opened in 2009 ... and the front steps of which overlook the park's current vista of chainlink fence, concrete, rubble and dirt.

Illinois, Missouri, the levee and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 11:08 PM

A federal judge in Missouri will decide a Midwestern Sophie's choice April 28 — to allow the rain-swollen Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to flood the town of Cairo, Ill. (pop. 2,800), or have the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blow the levee and flood farmlands in neighboring Missouri, which would likely wash out an area the size of Chicago. The state of Missouri has filed a federal lawsuit to stave off that possibility:

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says floodwaters would leave a layer of silt on farmland that could take a generation to clear and also could damage 100 homes. And Missouri's governor, Democrat Jay Nixon, has said the corps is "trying to solve the entire watershed pressure on the back of Missouri farmers and Missouri communities" and should instead explore other methods of relieving pressure on the levees.

A 1997 aerial view of Cairo, Illinois.
  • A 1997 aerial view of Cairo, Illinois.

Meanwhile, Cairoites are arguing lives and structures over farmlands:

James Wilson, a former mayor of Cairo, said if the Corps of Engineers does not blow up the levee, Cairo could see flooding along the lines of Hurricane Katrina. "There's going to be another 9th Ward if something is not done," Wilson said, referring to the section of New Orleans that flooded after levees along the Mississippi River were breached.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, one-third of Cairo residents live below the poverty line, and average family income there is less than $29,000 per year.

Regardless of the judge's ruling, officials are expected to assess the state of the rivers this weekend before coming to any final decision regarding the levees.

Here's a picture of Chris Paul as a baby

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Chris Paul as a toddler, already drooling at the thought of beating the Lakers
  • Photo courtsey of @NickiJhabvala from
  • Chris Paul as a toddler, already drooling at the thought of beating the Lakers

You know, to keep your mind off of this.

Commence the drool puns. I'll start: "I always knew Chris Paul was a natural dribbler"

Game 6 is tomorrow. Can't wait.

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Theresa Andersson turns to Kickstarter

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 2:55 PM

Local performer Theresa Andersson grabbed worldwide attention the way many modern people do: By going viral. The 2008 YouTube clip of her performing "Na Na Na" in the robin's egg blue kitchen of her Algiers Point home, in which she navigates her signature one-woman-band set-up with aplomb, has garnered more than 1.3 million hits. It's refreshing to revisit this video depicting actual talent amid these times of Rebecca Black and people getting YouTube-famous for fighting at IHOP.

Now Andersson is bringing Internet audiences back into that kitchen as she records her next album Street Parade, and she's using the fundraising site Kickstarter (which is all the rage these days) to get the project going. The adorably pregnant Andersson says in a video on the site (embedded below) that she's going to involve audiences in the album's creation through a series of live streams of recording sessions and other aspects of the creative process. The pledge levels on the site, which range from $50 to $1,000, entitle backers to various things, from advanced digital copies of the album, to having access to the live streams, to front-row tickets and back stage access at one of Andersson's shows.

The fundraising goal is $15,000, and the deadline for pledges is May 19. The link to the project's Kickstarter page is below the video.

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Royal ring

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 1:16 PM

You, too can dress your hand like a royal.
  • Photo courtesy M.S. Rau
  • You, too can dress your hand like a royal.

Everyone’s love is special, even if you aren’t Prince William or Kate Middleton. With the royal wedding just two days away, interest in all things nuptial and of the crown are peaking, including Middleton’s dress, hairstyle, etc. Those things may be secret, but the engagement ring Prince William gave Middleton; he gave her the engagement ring his mother, the late Princess Diana, picked out for herself. It’s an 18-carat blue sapphire and diamond cluster that awed fans of Diana’s when she married Prince Charles in 1981 and is still easily recognized by royals watchers today.

You may not be on the guest list for the Westminster Abbey wedding (Don’t feel bad, neither are Tony Blair or Barack Obama), but you can wear (or give your girlfriend) an engagement ring like Middleton’s — and you can have it in time for the royal wedding on Friday.

M.S. Rau Antiques has one ring in the store that is very similar. It has an 8.82-carat blue oval sapphire surrounded by almost 2 carats of diamonds in a platinum setting. It can be yours for $45,000. Better hurry, you'll want an outfit that matches to wear to your own royal wedding watching party.

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The 2011 Big Easy Music Awards in pictures

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 1:13 PM

The 2011 Big Easy Music Awards ceremony was held April 25 at Harrah's New Orleans, with performances by many of the nominated artists. A few images of the evening:

Photos by Gary Loverde and Jose Garcia

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