MVB had a short but glorious run as an Uptown pop-up, taking over Slim Goodies Diner (3322 Magazine St., 891-3447) on Sunday nights to serve burgers. Starting Thursday, Feb. 2, the star item from its menu, the Most Valuable Burger, will have a permanent home at Liberty’s Kitchen, a nonprofit café in Mid-City that doubles as a training program for teens and young adults who want to change the course of their lives.
MVB was a side project of Liberty’s Kitchen chef Hardie McDonald, local restaurateur and caterer Joel Dondis and Peter Thriffiley and Rene Louapre, two attorneys who run the food blog Blackened Out. They ended the project last year, and McDonald credits Louapre with the idea of using the MVB recipe as a way to help Liberty’s Kitchen.
“It makes a lot of sense,” McDonald says. “Our students will get experience making burgers from scratch and cooking them to order properly in the cafe.”
The way burger joints are proliferating around town these days, that looks to be pretty marketable experience. In fact, Liberty’s Kitchen has already placed one of its graduates at Tru Burger, the new burger joint from chef Aaron Burgau and partners, and McDonald says the nonprofit is also talking with the Company Burger, chef Adam Biderman’s burger shop, about a job there for another graduate.
He often haunted flea markets and rummage sales, and with his leather jacket and shades, Jimmy Descant looked more like a musician than a visual artist. Then his retro-futurist rocket ship sculptures cobbled from vintage vacuum cleaner and car parts began turning up at emerging artist galleries, and he called himself “Rocket Man,” which fit his hip persona. His early work was always fun but more cool than deep, more pop than profound. When Hurricane Katrina struck he lost his home and studio, and like many orphans of the storm he wandered, finally settling in Colorado. Flash forward six years and he now has a show at the Ogden Museum, and while the Ogden has always had a populist flair, his recent wall sculptures based on the “shape” of Louisiana, both geographically and figuratively, stand on their own.
More urbane than many other self-taught artists, his works mingle the aura of the past with acerbic social commentary. Louisiana Family Farm (Angola) is a miasma of colorful old electrical parts, telephones, crucifixes, handcuffs, dials, gauges and plastic praying hands all mounted in orderly anarchy on a board in the shape of Louisiana. And like the state itself, it’s a mixture of sweetness and irony, nostalgia and strangeness. Nights of Drunk Driving in the Days of K&B is a tartly amorphous evocation of his Chalmette adolescence complete with old K&B beer cans, chrome trophies, hood ornaments, window cranks and chicken bones all arranged with the taxonomic precision of a hex. We N.O. (pictured) expresses solidarity with tsunami ravaged Japan, and another features an old photograph of Jimmy Swaggart in a rusty frame encircled by a halo of mouse traps, gears and chicken bones in a metaphysical gumbo. Like the recent video exhibition at the Pearl, or the Music Box performances, or Dawn Dedeaux’s Prospect.2 piece, most of these works convey a surreal sense of place. As Descant puts it: “I live and create in Colorado, but I will always be a New Orleanian.”
The Shape of Louisiana
Through April 8
Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St., 539-9600
Following this month's conference of U.S. mayors announcing support for the Freedom to Marry initiative, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) this week announced new provisions to "ensure that its core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."
HUD secretary Shaun Donovan said "the Obama Administration has viewed the fight for equality on behalf of the LGBT community as a priority and I’m proud that HUD has been a leader in that fight. ... With this historic rule, the Administration is saying you cannot use taxpayer dollars to prevent Americans from choosing where they want live on the basis sexual orientation or gender identity — ensuring that HUD’s housing programs are open, not to some, not to most, but to all.”
Provisions to protect LGBT communities in public housing previously only fell into the Fair Housing Act's considerations. Donovan announced the latest Equal Access to Housing rules on Saturday, Jan. 24 at the 24th National Gay and Lesbian Task Force “Creating Change” Conference. The ACLU called the announcement a "tremendous step forward" — the final ruling (as "Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs — Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity") will be implemented 30 days after its publishing, next week.
HUD also is expanding its race and gender discrimination studies (performed every 10 years) with a study on LGBT discrimination in public housing.
Safe Streets / Strong Communities has created a petition calling for an end to the New Orleans Police Department's highly popular, as-yet-unquestioned policy of publicizing the arrest records of homicide victims.
From the group's petition page at Change.org, which has 39 signatures as of this writing:
"If Chief Serpas' goal is to show that the commission of previous crimes, violent or non-violent and regardless of the length of time that has passed, is relevant and related to being a victim of homicide, then the release of such records could be easily accomplished through aggregate and anonymous data later on, not during the most significant time for grieving and healing from the death of a love [sic] one.
NOPD should follow best practices in other cities that have reduced crime. We call on the leadership of our city to prohibit the NOPD from publically announcing the criminal records of homicide victims."
Today's the last day at work for WWL-TV sports director Jim Henderson, and his appearance on the 10 p.m. edition of Eyewitness News will be his last before he retires after 33 years at the station. Co-worker Tom Planchet has written a great essay about his many years working with Henderson, and the WWL-TV webpage is largely given over to farewells ... including this blooper reel. Good luck, Jim.
Following a weekend at the Monster Jam and a live-tweet sesh (both the Grave Digger's paint job and the Robosaurus were "awesome"), Sen. David Vitter appeared on this morning's edition of CNN's Early Start. Host Ashleigh Banfield diverted from discussing the Republican primaries and brought up Vitter's issues with prostitution in 2007.
Banfield had a long wind-up pitch: "I know coming on TV with me today, you had to know that this question was coming, so, and it's awkward for me to even ask it, but I gotta, and I think you know where I'm going with this..." To which a mildly confused Vitter replied, "I don't, but go ahead."
Banfield asked Vitter to compare his prostitution scandal to Republican presidential nominee Newt Gingrich's infidelities, and "what it is like to be a politician who has some serious baggage trying to be elected."
"The good news is, in America, it's not up to CNN," Vitter said. "It's up to voters." Vitter said what voters will focus their attention on is a tanking economy.
Banfield asked again if Vitter can compare his past "serious sin" to Gingrich's in their respective election cycles. "No I can't," he said, and awkward pauses follow.
The smoke is getting thicker in Fat City these days. Last fall, Saucy’s BBQ Grill opened within sight of the Lakeside Shopping Center, and more recently Smokin’ Buddha BBQieux joined the scene just a few blocks away.
Smokin’ Buddha BBQieux is the first restaurant venture from Rob Bechtold and Eric Heyde, two friends who share a passion for the smoker.
“Rob has cooked at just about every major restaurant you can think of and I’m a carpenter by trade,” says Heyde. “We got together and started cooking barbecue and people kept telling us we had to open a restaurant.”
They previewed their barbecue at the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival last fall and did a pop-up for a while at the Dragon’s Den (435 Esplanade Ave., phone n.a.) bar in the Marigny.
Last week, for what seems the umpteenth time, an act of violence shattered the calm of a quiet neighborhood and shocked the sensibilities of a city already numbed by an out-of-control murder rate. Harry “Mike” Ainsworth, 44, was shot and killed in Algiers Point on Jan. 25 when he tried to stop a carjacking near a school. His two young sons, on their way to school, watched him die while his killer fled. The city wept yet again, as it did on Dec. 18, when Keira Holmes was killed by a stray bullet in the B.W. Cooper Housing Development just days before her second birthday. Between those two killings, more than a dozen others were murdered in New Orleans.
Enough. Enough! — That’s the sentiment in every corner of town. In Algiers the night after Ainsworth’s murder, several hundred angry and frustrated citizens turned out for a previously scheduled neighborhood watch meeting. They demanded — and deserve — more from New Orleans police. We all share their frustrations.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu decried the city’s “culture of death” and called on local judges to impose high bonds on defendants arrested for gun violations. The idea is to keep them in jail pending their trials rather than release them back upon an innocent and unsuspecting public. We like the mayor’s idea for higher bonds, but we reject his notion that New Orleans has a culture of death. We believe the opposite is true, that New Orleans actually has a longstanding, very vibrant culture of LIFE — a culture that celebrates every aspect of life here. Unfortunately, a very small minority in New Orleans embraces a culture of violence and death, and they are at war with the rest of us. We cannot, we must not, lose that war.
In the Hot Wheels monster tuck with professional Monster Jam driver Dan Evans. Shot with two GoPro HD Heros
As we mentioned earlier this week, Monster Jam is returning to the Superdome tomorrow night (Saturday! Saturday! Saturday!) and, as promised, here's a video to show you what it's like to ride inside of a Monster Truck. Aside from being really loud, it's also a little hot, very shaky and a complete adrenaline rush.
The truck we rode in is a custom built one designed to carry passengers. Usually monster trucks have just one seat placed in the middle to keep balance, but this one has three seats with two sitting behind the driver. Sadly, we didn't get to crush any cars but believe us when we tell you that just being inside this thing when it accelerates is a complete rush.
Special thanks to truck driver Dan Evans for the ride and Bridget and Carrie from the Ehrhardt Group for hooking it all up. Tickets for Monster Jam can still be purchased.
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