Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Armani Exchange opens in the Lakeside Shopping Center

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Ah, the Lakeside Mall. The Shops at Canal Place may be ritzier, and the Mall of Louisiana may be bigger, but to me, Lakeside exemplifies everything a mall should be: a single, non-confusing, non-pretentious level, powerful air conditioning and indoor fountains sparkling with enough pennies, nickels and dimes to finance an Auntie Anne's pretzel, if you're bold/broke enough to plunder other shoppers' wishes. And now it has another feather to add to its cap: it's the first mall in Louisiana to feature an A|X Armani Exchange store.

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The 4,835 square-foot store, which opened this month, features "a collection for the generation of the young, urban and sexy," according to the press release. Our li'l Metry mall is growing up.

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Mayor Landrieu: "Be ready" for hurricane season

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 5:17 PM

With "hurricane season" underway, Mayor Mitch Landrieu briefed the city on its hurricane preparedness plans. Landrieu said the city “dodged a very difficult bullet” as the rising Mississippi River threatens much of Louisiana, but officials are assured "the levees are doing exactly as they’re supposed to be doing," he said. But, “We know we’re not out of harm’s way.”

"It’s wise of us to be aware hurricane season is upon us," he said. "Forecasters again have predicted a very aggressive season — that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re gonna get a storm, but it absolutely means we’re gonna have to prepare for one."

Should the city experience a potential Category 3 or higher storm, Landrieu will order a mandatory evacuation of the city, and the city's storm plan will kick in between 80 and 64 hours before coastal Louisiana experiences tropical force winds. Deputy mayor Jerry Sneed urged (twice) that there are no shelters of last resort in the city for a Category 3 or higher storm. The Regional Transit Authority will activate 17 pickup sites to send passengers to Union Passenger Terminal. RTA manager Justin Augustine stresses passengers bring only one piece of luggage — to carry on their laps.

Landrieu said situations like those inside the Louisiana Superdome and at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in 2005, leaving thousands stranded, are "not gonna happen," he said, stressing residents heed the city's warning and plan ahead. "If you can leave on your accord that's fine. If not, we have a way to get you out."

Landrieu urged residents to come up with an evacuation plan and supplies (batteries, bottled water, first-aid kits), and pointed to www.getagameplan.org and www.nolaready.info. Businesses looking for re-entry placards need to re-register at services.nola.gov. "The permission you had last time doesn’t exist anymore," Landrieu said. "The placards you had have now expired. You have to sign up again."

Though the Army Corps of Engineers has not completed all its flood protection projects, Landrieu said the system is “more robust” than before Hurricane Katrina and the 2005 levee failures. Mike Park, chief of the Corps' Task Force Hope, said its "system is stronger and more resilient than it’s even been before," though, "it's not done yet." The Corps has identified 21 flood protection locations still under construction.

Landrieu said he will continue to push both the White House and Congress for category 5 flood protection.

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A European City in America

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 4:38 PM

When Sophie, “The Frida Kahlo of Nominingue,” as my friend described her, asked me in her lilting French accent about New Orleans, I touted ‘the most European city in America.’

She stared at me, confused, and I stared back, wondering (stupidly, in retrospect) at my offense.

We sorted out the tangle and my arrogance while she explained, as we stood in the remote woods near Nominingue Lake, Quebec, that she lives in America, while I live in the United States.

Sophie and her husband Alex build a greenhouse from old windows and a dismantled Romeo and Juliet set in the Quebec woods
  • Sophie and her husband Alex build a greenhouse from old windows and a dismantled 'Romeo and Juliet' set in the Quebec woods

More confused than ever, I recalled the hurt replies from Canadians who received our thank you letter following their purchases of George Rodrigue’s print God Bless America, benefiting the American Red Cross after September 11, 2001:

“You only thanked Americans!” they exclaimed. “Canadians also are devastated by this event, and many of us bought the print.”

I apologized to Sophie just as I apologized back in 2001, knowing that Quebec, a North American city, is far more European than New Orleans. But I still had a question concerning her status as more American than mine.

“If I’m not an American, what am I?”

“Ummmm," she offered, shrugging her shoulders, "a United Stateser?”

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Lessons of the St. Pierre Trial

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2011 at 4:37 PM

The guilty verdicts rendered last week against former City Hall vendor Mark St. Pierre sent a thunderous message about the wages of corruption and arrogance. The fact that jurors convicted St. Pierre on all 53 counts should also embolden federal prosecutors in their ongoing investigation into the Nagin Administration — and give future defendants pause.

However, knowing how clueless some people are (need I name names?), let’s connect the dots on the lessons that the St. Pierre verdict holds for potential defendants.

Herewith the Top 10 Lessons of Mark St. Pierre’s Trial:

Lesson No. 10 — Don’t tug on Superman’s cape. Defendants have limited resources. The feds print money. “Standing up to the government” sounds noble, but arrogance can be as big a mistake as paying bribes.

Lesson No. 9 — Don’t talk to the FBI. Remember former Insurance Commissioner Jim Brown? He was acquitted of the underlying crime but convicted of lying to the FBI about the alleged crime. He went to jail because he didn’t know when to shut up. Obey The Jim Brown Rule: If you even remotely MIGHT be in trouble, don’t talk to the FBI.

Lesson No. 8 — Don’t lie to the FBI. Okay, if you’re too stupid to obey The Jim Brown Rule, at least be smart enough not to lie to guys who don’t let you record your conversations with them. And don’t expect your lawyer to save you; Brown’s lawyer was with him when he talked to the feds.

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Fellow dying city responds to Newsweek ranking with lipdub

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2011 at 3:21 PM

America's number 1 dying magazine Newsweek came out with an "America's Dying Cities" list in January and chose New Orleans as the most dyingest city of them all. Fellow zombietown Grand Rapids, MI, which appeared at number 10 on the list, recently created a gargantuan lip dub to let Newsweek know they're not dead yet.

Lip dubs, single-take videos of people lip-syncing to a song, are a YouTube trend that has become far too ubiquitous (good examples here and in this clip from an episode of The Office). But unlike most lip-dubs which are set in relatively confined spaces like office buildings and college student centers, Grand Rapids' video elevates the genre in the quest to prove its alive-ness. The YouTube video's description says the lip dub involved 5,000 people and "a major shutdown of downtown Grand Rapids, which was filled with marching bands, parades, weddings, motorcades, bridges on fire, and helicopter take offs." The end result — with brigades of firetrucks, cheerleaders, men strumming guitars, kids waving sparklers — is a poignant portrait of an American city that's "alive" simply because, hey, people live there.

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Listen: Gambit's free music Friday

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2011 at 11:42 AM

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Here's the new Lil Wayne single from the upcoming Tha Carter IV. (Grab it here quick.) On "How to Love," producer Detail backs Wayne — in full crooning, slow jam R&B mode — with acoustic guitars and breathy synths. A pretty dramatic turn from the bass-destroying, wordplay crazy "6 Foot 7." Detail, who produced the track with Wayne in Miami, told MTV that he was "shocked" how well Wayne responded to the song. Considering how hard Tha Carter IV has been leading itself on to be, well, I'm sure people will be shocked, too, after hearing "How to Love."

Complex this month listed its 50 best New Orleans rap songs — all free for you to stream. (Topping the list: TT Tucker and DJ Jimi with "Where Dey At.") Start from 50 and get a killer N.O. rap history lesson, courtesy of Andrew Noz.

Here's a dollar sign duet with Curren$y and Ka$hflow on Paper Mi$$ion. Grab it here.

Cincinnati's stripped-down psychedelic garage rockers and Third Man recording artists The Greenhornes perform at 10 p.m. at Siberia tonight. The band — featuring members of The Raconteurs — offers up streaming tracks from its albums on its website. Here's "I'll Go Crazy," live at the Troubador:

Download the mixtape from N.O. hip-hop supergroup The Rap Pack, featuring Dappa, K. Gates, The Show and Y. Luck. (Jay-Z, take note: New measure of ballin' goes beyond white tuxes. Add The Roosevelt, streetcars, and "in the new whip, I'm on factory, with Hannah Montana on the TV and my daughter in the backseat.")

Check the video for "Ooh La La La" below the jump.

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Mayor Landrieu stands by NOPD chief Serpas

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2011 at 10:08 AM

Following a petition circulated by anti-crime and victim support group Silence Is Violence that called for Mayor Mitch Landrieu to fire New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas, Landrieu issued the following statement last night — with no mention of the petition, or Silence Is Violence:

We’ve been informed by the Inspector General that he has conducted a thorough investigation and found no wrongdoing by Chief Serpas. The Inspector General also reported that the Chief has been incredibly cooperative and helpful in this and other reviews of the NOPD by the Office of the Inspector General. Together, with the Department of Justice, we will restore public confidence and trust in the department and make the streets of New Orleans safer for all of our citizens.

Tamara Jackson, Silence Is Violence director of victim and community outreach, told Gambit yesterday that the group is "the voice of the community. We just ask that people sign on, and their voices will be heard through their signatures. We're asking Mitch to fulfill his promise."

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Silence is Violence calls on Mayor Landrieu to fire NOPD chief Ronal Serpas

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Alex Woodward contributed to this report.

Silence Is Violence, the citizen activist group that sprang up after the murders of Dinerral Shavers and Helen Hill in 2007, is calling for Mayor Mitch Landrieu to dismiss NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

In an email this afternoon, the group cited three reasons it was calling for Serpas' ouster: "An inability to break the cycle of corruption," "Criminalization, disengagement, and antagonism of victims" and "A lack of clear strategy for addressing and collaborating with cultural traditions and practices, especially street practices."

Tamara Jackson, the group's director of victim and community outreach, told Gambit this afternoon:

"Today is not anything significant. We've met with several organizations that have this position. Silence Is Violence works with victims of crime, and (releasing the petition) was a response to their concerns, and we felt the need to move forward with their concerns. ...

"Safety is a major issue. When you have the community that already has trust issues, and then you have that officer — and not all officers are bad, but they're in the uniform and it becomes a dangerous situation when they go out into the community — and the community doesn't trust them. They're hesitant about how to interact with the community because of barriers that already exist. ... So it's hard on both levels. It's hard for the policemen to go out, and it's hard for the community to trust them.

"Serpas for sure needs to be removed. And we need somebody, maybe the federal government, to take over, so people can feel safe and that the community can feel safe, as well as the officers feeling safe about doing their job.

"We're the voice of the community. We just ask that people sign on, and their voices will be heard through their signatures. We're asking Mitch to fulfill his promise."

Silence is Violence is the group that led the 2007 crime march on New Orleans City Hall, where an estimated 5,000 New Orleanians excoriated then-mayor Ray Nagin and then-chief Warren Riley. The march was reenacted in last Sunday's episode of the series Treme.

We've reached out to Landrieu and Serpas' offices for reaction, and will update if there's any comment issued.

More benefits for Nathanial Zimet

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2011 at 2:08 PM

We've been hearing about more benefits for Nathanial Zimet, the chef of Boucherie who was shot early Sunday morning near his Uptown home. Let's start with today, May 26:

Pizza Delicious will donate 20% of its sales and 100% of its tips from tonight and Sunday to the Nathanial Zimet Fund at Capitol One bank.

Frank Brigtsen of Brigtsen's Restaurant will donate 100% of all bottled wine sales from tonight's dinner to the fund. "It's the best way to help," Brigtsen says. "I can write out a check Friday morning."

• Tonight Adolfo Garcia will be donating proceeds from the wine sales at his restaurants RioMar, a Mano and La Boca (via: Brett Anderson).

In coming days:

• Jeremy Labadie, the beer blogger known as The Beer Buddha, is organizing a beer tasting to benefit Zimet. Kristina Bradford of Whole Foods Market says the market will be providing some food and a gift basket.

• BooKoo BBQ (inside Finn McCool's) will be donating a portion of sales this Saturday.

Howlin' Wolf in the Warehouse District will be holding "Beasts, Booze and Brass," a food-and-drink-and-music fundraiser, on July 10.

Taceaux Loceaux will be donating a portion of all sales from their taceaux truck through the weekend (they'll be at 45 Tchoup tonight).

And, of course, going to eat at Boucherie would be a great help. Bookmark the restaurant's Facebook page for all the latest. If you want to help with any of these benefits, this email address has been set up specifically for that purpose.

If you know of any other fundraisers, hit us up in the comments.

Iron Rail to reopen in French Quarter

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Despite closing its doors in March, the Iron Rail Book Collective in the Faubourg Marigny's A.R.K. building maintained its Uptown satellite in Hey! Cafe and its presence at shows and community events — tables stacked with vinyl records, literature and 'zines.

Tomorrow, Iron Rail opens its "boutique" next to GNOME in the French Quarter (at 503 Barracks St., by Barracks and Decatur streets). The grand opening is 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Proceeds from the boutique will go towards reopening a new lending library and bookstore.

The nonprofit bookstore was founded in 2003, and its A.R.K. location housed a lending library with thousands of titles as well as records and 'zines, an alternative to independent bookstores and libraries in the city. It also was the first library to reopen after Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures. Julian Mutter (of the Mutter family, which owns Doerr Furniture) purchased 511 Marigny St. in 1995, and in March, both parties agreed the Iron Rail would voluntarily leave the building, after New Orleans Police Department officers from the 5th District advised to close the building for alleged permit violations. (Read more on that closure in Gambit.)

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