Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Freedom of speech: Should the identity of online commenters be shielded?

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2011 at 10:21 AM

There is an interesting case in Hawaii that could have repercussions for website readers all over the country. The Maui Police Department (MPD) is subpoenaing the IP address of a person who commented on a story about a confrontation between the publisher of the alternative weekly Maui Times and an MPD officer.

In the story, Maui Times publisher Tommy Russo claims he was assaulted by an MPD officer and a member of the security team for Dog, the Bounty Hunter because he refused to quit filming them in a parking lot near his office. Lots of people commented on the post, mostly maligning the police action but some supporting the officer in question. One commenter in particular drew the interest of the police, which concluded it is a terrorist threat against the officer:

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 Tom Dent Tennis Tournament

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2011 at 7:56 PM

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What could be better than a great excuse to play a game you love — and pay homage to a legendary New Orleans author and activist?

The seventh annual Tom Dent Tennis Tournament is scheduled for Memorial Day weekend: Friday, May 27, through Sunday, May 29. You’ll be home in time to fire up the grill and call all the special veterans in your life to say thank you for their service and commemorate the lives of those who died in battle.

The tournament will be held at the Dillard University tennis courts (2603 Gentilly Blvd.). It’s easy to sign up, but you’ll have to pay an extra $5 per player for late entry (the deadline was midnight May 23). Regular entry fees are $35 for singles only, $25 for doubles only and $55 for both. Proceeds benefit the Tom Dent Memorial Fund.

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2011 Hibiscus Show at Ursuline Academy

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2011 at 5:32 PM

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Do you have some extraordinarily beautiful hibiscus that you think might be award winners? Or do you just want to dress up your yard with some of the newest and most sought-after cultivars of hibiscus.? You can do either or both Sunday, May 29, at Ursuline Academy (2635 State St., 861-9150) during the New Orleans chapter of the American Hibiscus Society’s 14th annual show and sale.

Growers can enter flowers for judging from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. The public can attend an exhibition of the flowers entered as well as a sale of hibiscus from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Admission is free.

In addition to plants, the show — one of the largest among AHS chapters in the country — will include special fertilizers for hibiscus, specialty soils, books and growing information. Bring cash or checks to pay for items. No credit cards will be accepted.

Free parking is available in a lot on the Nashville Avenue side of Ursuline Academy near the entrance to the show. Those entering flowers for judging should bring them to the Lion’s Den inside the school.

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Bob Dylan turns 70

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2011 at 5:26 PM

Dylan at the 2006 Jazz Fest.
  • Paparazzo Presents
  • Dylan at the 2006 Jazz Fest.

Bob Dylan is most likely quietly celebrating his 70th birthday today — he has a string of June dates in Europe to make. He last appeared on a New Orleans stage in 2006, headlining the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. It's a place he's loved, or still does love. It's Highway 61, after all, that led from Dylan's birthplace to New Orleans.

Then there's this passage from Chronicles, in which he introduces the reader to New Orleans, though his description winds up to something exciting, lets go, then grasps again at its possibilities. He implies the city's not something easily described, and that's OK with him. (The throwaway line, "Great place to be intimate or do nothing." may be the most accurate.) He said it's a place saturated with ghosts and melancholy, darkness and sometimes light. He noted the city's "rhythm" and "pulse," too, and set out to record here in 1989.

Here, Dylan recorded Oh Mercy (and tracks appearing on The Bootleg Series 1-3 and Tell Tale Signs, also a part of the Bootleg series) with producer Daniel Lanois, who at the time was working with the Neville Brothers (on 1989's Yellow Moon). Dylan (just a couple years into his quest, the Neverending Tour, which intends to do exactly that) and Lanois met for sessions on Emlah Court and in an empty, five-story apartment building on Soniat Street. Dylan used local musicians Mason Ruffner, Brian Stoltz, Tony Hall and Willie Green, as well as Cyril Neville and Rockin' Dopsie, on the recordings. The sessions didn't go too well — there were arguments, smashed guitars — but the album is one of Dylan's best "comeback" works.

In the Tell Tale Signs liner notes, Peter Stone Brown writes, "Oh Mercy wasn't New Orleans R&B, it was Bob Dylan music. The sound was dense with layers of guitars, the production steamy. The songs were deep, dark and mysterious, some funny and some with anger brewing beneath the surface. In other words, everything you want in a Bob Dylan album." Or, everything Dylan liked, or disliked, about New Orleans. And he's welcome back any time.

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Esquire issues its annual Best Bars List

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Esquire likes to drink!
  • Esquire likes to drink!

Oh, editors of Esquire, you sure know how to tie one on. Today the magazine issued its annual ranking of the Best Bars in America (a bit of a misnomer, since the subhead says it's "our favorite new places to drink"), along with a "Complete List" of the ultimate Best Bars they've found in six years of best-barring.

New Orleans made the 2011 list for Cure, the Freret Street mixology shop that Esquire's David Wondrich says is "dedicated to pushing the art of mixing drinks past its conventional categories, traditions, and self-imposed limitations."

But it's the cumulative "Complete List", a compendium of the last five years' Best Bars lists, where New Orleans truly shines. On that list are The Spotted Cat, The Chart Room, The Bar at Tujague's, Napoleon House, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, Harry's Corner, Fritzel's, Coop's Place, the Carousel Bar in the Monteleone and Arnaud's French 75.

Next year, can someone take Esquire to Mimi's when DJ Soul Sister is playing?

Deutsches Haus trivia night

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Deutsches Haus is hosting its first trivia night since it moved from its longtime Mid-City home to Metairie. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 27, at the new Deutsches Haus (1023 Ridgewood Drive, Metairie, 522-8014). Trivia categories include “children’s cartoons,” “today’s news,” “local stuff,” and more. The game includes five rounds with 10 questions each and a bonus round.

Participants can form teams or join with others to form a team after arriving at Deutsches Haus. There will be food, drinks and prizes. Doors open at 3 p.m., and the whole family is invited.

Deutsches Haus, a nonprofit German heritage club, opened in an old telephone company building on South Galvez Street in Mid-City in 1928, where it remained until it moved to Metairie in November 2010 as its neighborhood was cleared to make way for the new University Medical Center complex. The Mid-City building was torn down May 17. Deutsches Haus operators say they expect to stay in their Metairie location for about two years, until they can find a suitable site in New Orleans.

Deutsches Haus’ bar is open Wednesday through Saturday.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Should it be saved?: A forum on blight

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2011 at 10:00 PM

This once-grand home on North Claiborne Avenue has a For Sale sign on it but is open to the elements. Should it be demolished?
  • This once-grand home on North Claiborne Avenue has a "For Sale" sign on it but is open to the elements. Should it be demolished?

What criteria makes one blighted property ripe for demolition and another worthy of expensive and time-consuming repairs? Is it the history of the house, who lived there, the architectural style, or whether it is structurally dangerous or a haven for vagrants and illegal activities? How much weight should the desires and needs of the neighbors carry?

These concerns and others will be addressed at a blight forum Wednesday, May 25, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Church Christ Cathedral at Stuart Hall (2919 St. Charles Avenue — enter on Sixth Street). The forum and panel discussion are hosted by Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative, and focuses on current demolition policies and how to address the thousands of blighted properties all over the city in order to best revitalize neighborhoods.

“Our discussion will focus on the big picture — blight throughout the city of New Orleans,” Alison Ecker, program manager for vacant land management at Jericho Road wrote in an email. “As this is an ongoing issue affecting all neighborhoods, we hope to draw a large crowd.”

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has pledged to demolish 10,000 blighted properties by 2013. Panelists at the forum will discuss the challenges and opportunities of using demolition to eliminate blight. Opinions about that subject vary greatly among residents and organizations in the city, with some opting for tearing down deteriorating properties and starting with a clean slate, while preservationists often argue for saving buildings that have been damaged in storms or have fallen into disrepair because of neglect because of their historical, cultural or architectural values. Residents who live near blighted properties often face problems with rodent infestations, squatters, vacant properties being used as drug houses and declining property values because of the deteriorating buildings and unkept yards.

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How you can help Nathanial Zimet

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2011 at 6:54 PM

By now many of you know that Nathanial Zimet, the smiling guy with the big purple "Que Crawl" food truck and the restaurateur who opened Boucherie, was shot early Sunday morning in the latest damn piece of absolute senselessness in this city. He's recovering. It won't be easy.

The NOPD still hasn't said much about this crime, but people are asking what they can do, as Zimet's hospital bills are expected to be daunting. Here are a few things:

• You can make a donation to the Nathanial Zimet Fund at any New Orleans branch of Capitol One Bank.

Jeremy Labadie, aka The Beer Buddha, has already begun organizing a Beer Tasting Benefit for Zimet. If you can help in any way, contact Jeremy at thebeerbuddha AT gmail DOT com.

• We've heard that a large group of local chefs has already met to begin planning a culinary benefit, and we'll pass along that information as soon as we have it.

• If you know anything about this — as always, Crimestoppers: 504-822-1111.

We'll have more later, when there's more to report. If you know of any other benefits for Nathanial Zimet, leave the information in the comments and once they're confirmed we'll add them to this post.

EDITED TO ADD: This Thursday (May 26), Pizza Delicious will be giving 20% of all sales, as well as 100% of tips, to the Nathanial Zimet fund. Here's all the info.

Don't mess with wildlife escaping floodwaters: Scenes from the Atchafalaya Basin

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2011 at 5:06 PM

Deer run to get out of floodwaters in the Atchafalaya Basin
  • Photo courtesy Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
  • Deer run to get out of floodwaters in the Atchafalaya Basin

An alligator swims past a partially submerged highway sign.
  • Photo courtesy LDWF
  • An alligator swims past a partially submerged highway sign.

As water gushes from the opened gates of the Morganza Spillway into the Atchafalaya Basin — and the Atchafalaya River laps over its own banks — wildlife are fleeing the expanding flooded areas and heading for higher ground. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is warning people to let wild animals be, even if you see them lying on a levee for a long while. They could just be resting after an arduous and exhausting effort to get away from rising water, and startling them could prompt them to retreat back to where they came from and possibly drown, or get tangled in fences built to keep domesticated livestock off the levees.

Animals being displaced by high water include alligators, armadillo, black bears (which are on Louisiana’s endangered species list), deer, opossums, raccoons, snakes and wild boar, hogs and turkeys.

(More photos below the jump).

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The AP wants to replace your decaying Stylebook

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2011 at 3:39 PM

My copy, which looks OK aside from the hardened food stains.
  • My copy, which looks OK aside from the hardened food stains.

If you're a newspaper person, chances are your copy of the Associated Press Stylebook is a bit run down (unless you never use yours, forcing your poor editors to clean up after you). Your copy of the media person's bible* is probably filled with ripped pages, outdated entries (you're still writing "Web site"? So 2009) and stains from coffee, food and your tears. It also might be a little beat up from the many times you've chucked it at the wall or at an errant writer's head. Thankfully, the AP released its 2011 edition last week, and they're giving cheap journos a chance to win a sparkly new copy — in exchange for photos of your decrepit paperback.

Just post a picture of your copy on the Stylebook's Facebook page and you could win one of the five spiral-bound books or five Stylebook Online subscriptions the AP's giving away. Don't be embarrassed; some users have already posted their photos, and there's some rough-lookin' Stylebooks out there.

The 2011 edition contains 500 changes, including more Internet-y stuff and a 16-page food section with such foodieisms as locavore ("the preferred term for a person who strives to eat locally produced foods"), ghee ("a clarified butter used in Indian cooking," not the TV show with the singing teenagers) and orecchiette ("a small, disk-like pasta" ... and also, Italian for "little ears"!). You can buy your copy here or at many bookstores, or you can get an online subscription or download the smartphone* app here.

* According to the 2009 edition: "Lowercase bible as a nonreligious term: My dictionary is my bible."
* Although the 2010 edition favored the two-word "smart phone," the AP announced it would be one word at a American Copy Editors Society conference in March of this year.

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