Books

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Two New Orleans Public Library branches to close in early November, with the future of one still in question

Posted By on Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 1:26 PM

The Mid-City branch of the New Orleans Public Library will be closing Nov. 1 with no new home. Meanwhile, the Milton H. Latter branch Uptown will close the same week for several months of renovations, reopening sometime in early 2016. - KEVIN ALLMAN
  • KEVIN ALLMAN
  • The Mid-City branch of the New Orleans Public Library will be closing Nov. 1 with no new home. Meanwhile, the Milton H. Latter branch Uptown will close the same week for several months of renovations, reopening sometime in early 2016.


Two New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) branches will be closing in the next few weeks, with the future of one still in question.

New Orleans City Councilwoman Susan Guidry says she’s hoping to secure an extension beyond the Nov. 1 deadline for the city to vacate the American Can Apartments building, where the Mid-City branch library currently operates. City officials are scrambling to secure a new Mid-City location, but finding a space that meets NOPL’s needs is not a simple task. Those requirements are a minimum of 4,500 square feet, adjacent parking and visibility, not to mention affordability, says NOPL Executive Director Charles Brown.

Brown says there’s no timetable for completing the move. “Negotiating a lease arrangement, and doing any kind of buildout or renovations that might be necessary make it unlikely – it’s possible, but it would be unlikely – that we would relocate from the American Can location directly into another location,” Brown said. The Mid-City Library left an earlier location on N. Carrollton Ave. in October 2010.

Meanwhile, the Milton H. Latter branch in Uptown will close for about three months starting Nov. 6 for the second half of a two-phase renovation project costing $2.1 million. The first phase was completed in October 2013. The project includes interior and exterior finishes and electrical replacements. The Friends of the New Orleans Public Library book sale will temporarily move to the Algiers Regional Library while the Latter branch is closed.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Girl down: Big Freedia's memoir hits ... as does "Big Freedia in Your Pocket"

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 3:58 PM

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Popular New Orleans bounce artist Big Freedia’s memoir, Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva, officially goes on sale today. The Queen Diva's autobiography deals with her upbringing and the “relationship between her personal life and her career as an artist,” according to a summary on the Octavia Books website. Freedia will be appearing at Octavia Books (513 Octavia St.) on Fri., July 10 at 6 p.m., where she will be reading from the book and signing copies.

Also available for sale this week is a new product called “Big Freedia In Your Pocket,” a small plastic soundboard that, when pressed, emits some of Big Freedia’s catchphrases (a la "Cajun in Your Pocket" and "Mr. Okra in Your Pocket").

Among the familiar Freedia-isms are “You already know!” “Release your wiggle!” and “Big Freedia, Queen Diva, you besta believa!” The gadget is available on the Fleurty Girl website for $10. 


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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Vic and Nat'ly cartoonist Bunny Matthews announces he has brain cancer

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 3:25 PM

Bunny Matthews' first "Vic and Nat'ly" cartoon as it appeared in 1982. - BUNNY MATTHEWS
  • BUNNY MATTHEWS
  • Bunny Matthews' first "Vic and Nat'ly" cartoon as it appeared in 1982.

"Without its curious and diverse denizens, New Orleans would just be a swampy environment with poor drainage and too many mosquitoes.”Bunny Matthews  
Bunny Matthews, who created the quintessential comic-strip Yats "Vic and Nat'ly" in 1982, announced today in a Facebook post that he is suffering from brain cancer. 

Matthews, whose cartoons appeared in Gambit for years (along with every other local publication), has provoked, skewered and amused the New Orleans arts, music and media communities in cartoons and print since making his debut in the now-defunct Figaro in the 1970s. Two compilations of Vic and Nat'ly were published in the 1980s, featuring the flamboyant, buxom Nat'ly and greasy, cigarette-ash dripping Vic (whom Matthews said was modeled after former New Orleans Mayor Vic Schiro). In recent years, Matthews has created advertising campaigns for local businesses (including Vic and Nat'ly biting into a loaf of bread on the sides of Leidenheimer Bread trucks).

Last year, his exhibit at Arthur Roger Gallery, The People of New Orleans from A to Z, was a success; Gambit art critic Eric Bookhardt noted it was drawn in Matthews' "traditional post-psychedelic baroque caricature style."

A Leidenheimer bread truck with Bunny Matthews' characters Vic and Nat'ly. - CREATIVE COMMONS/VXLA
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/VXLA
  • A Leidenheimer bread truck with Bunny Matthews' characters Vic and Nat'ly.

In a definitive 2002 Gambit cover story about Matthews, written by Scott Jordan, Matthews said:
"One of my big role models would be Pete Fountain. I'd like to be like him when I'm old. You know, where everybody likes you even if they really don't know you."

It's a somewhat contradictory statement from a man who has built a large part of his career on drawing, writing and saying what he wants, consequences be damned. Asked about the dichotomy, Matthews is silent for a moment, and stares off into his backyard. "I guess we all want to be popular," he says. "I feel like I've always been on the outside. I've never been this person that hung out with all the guys out drinking or anything.

"Even when I was a kid in bands, I was always kind of a pain, because you can be creative, but you have three other people you have to deal with, and that's difficult. If you're alone, you don't have to compromise."
Matthews' Facebook statement under the jump.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Talking with the editors of Mixed Company

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2015 at 9:00 AM

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The recently released book Mixed Company is a self-published collection of writing and visual art from New Orleans women of color. A compelling read on its artistic and literary merits, it also repeatedly defied my expectations, hitting from multiple unexpected angles. This is a book that will startle, enrich and engage its readers, challenging assumptions and sticking in the memory.

I spoke with Jeri Hilt and Kristina Kay Robinson, Mixed Company's editors, about the book and the approach it represents.



How did this collection come together? What was the impulse or idea behind Mixed Company?

ROBINSON: The idea to do the collection was kind of a co-project with the New Orleans Loving Festival wanting to put out a publication, and us being in relationship with them, and reaching out to others who we knew would be willing to be contribute something to an independent publication. We all knew each other in different capacities— whether we go to school together or participate in other writing communities together.

HILT: The impulse was very much the want and need for an independent, unfiltered voice from communities of color, and an acknowledgement that it wasn't always happening in ways that were inclusive or in ways where we showed up in multiplicity as opposed to in isolation. So the community was formed quite organically with the Loving Festival... and the impulse was independent black art, on our own terms.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Irish House welcomes Bloomsday again June 16

Posted By on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 at 3:16 PM

Last year's Bloomsday at The Irish House - ANN BENOIT
  • ANN BENOIT
  • Last year's Bloomsday at The Irish House

"Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past," James Joyce wrote in Ulysses — which is excellent advice, especially for a book who's entire course of events takes place in a single day (June 16).

Lucky for readers, they can keep coming back to "the here" as often as they want by simply cracking open the book again, or by attending Bloomsday at The Irish House this coming Tuesday, June 16. 

Bloomsday is an international literary festival celebrated in cities all over the world to pay homage to the steam of conscience-rich day-in-the-life of Dublin citizen Leopold Bloom on June 16, 1904. If it's one of those books that you've been meaning to get around to, a live reading by a host of local literary celebrities and performers is a good way to start; Brian Boyles, Yurri Herrara, Mwende "Freequency" Katwiwa, Maurice Carlos Ruffins, Benjamin Morris and Katy Simpson Smith are all on board to select and read 10-minute segments of the book. 

The reading is scheduled to run from 6 to 8 p.m. and is free and open to the public, with food from a menu inspired by the book and drinks available for purchase. It all takes place upstairs at the restaurant, and Michael Zell, who resurrected Bloomsday after Hurricane Katrina, will host. There will be six spots for guest readers. 

This Saturday, June 13, there will be a pre-party at the Irish House from 5 to 7 p.m. with chances to win free Guinness beer, a tasting of Guinness Blonde and live music. 

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Monday, June 1, 2015

New Orleans Public Library hours to expand in 2016; some branches to provide 7-day service

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 4:29 PM

The Rosa M. Keller branch of the New Orleans Public Library, prior to its opening in 2012. This branch will be open six days a week starting next year, while five other branches and the downtown main library will be open seven days. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • ALEX WOODWARD
  • The Rosa M. Keller branch of the New Orleans Public Library, prior to its opening in 2012. This branch will be open six days a week starting next year, while five other branches and the downtown main library will be open seven days.

New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) hours will increase in 2016, NOPL Executive Director Charles Brown announced today.

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Library millage approved overwhelmingly, 75-25 percent; law enforcement millage redirection passes 52-48 percent

Posted By on Sat, May 2, 2015 at 10:30 PM

The main branch of the New Orleans Public Library. - CREATIVE COMMONS/JASON PARIS
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/JASON PARIS
  • The main branch of the New Orleans Public Library.


New Orleans voters today chose overwhelmingly to create a new 25-year, 2.5 mill tax to support the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL). While the library already is the recipient of a 3.14 mill tax, library officials warned that it wasn't enough to support the system long-term and said without new funds branches would shutter and hours would be cut.

With 99 percent of the vote counted, 75 percent of voters supported the tax, while 25 percent did not. The measure is expected to bring $8.25 million a year to the NOPL.  

The measure had wide community support, including endorsements by local newspapers and a number of New Orleans mayor's wives. The major opposition was stated by the Bureau of Governmental Research; officials said they supported the NOPL, but wanted a more detailed plan and urged that it be put on the fall ballot instead.

As of 10:25 p.m., another measure was too close to call — the redirection of a part of an existing millage to pay operational expenses at Orleans Parish Prison. That measure was barely ahead, 52 percent to 48 percent.


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Friday, April 17, 2015

Tonight: Order pizza with a side of poetry

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 4:27 PM

BIG CLASS
  • BIG CLASS

The last food item that you need additional incentive to eat is probably pizza, but just in case you were hesitating to pick up a pie, tonight you can get it served with a side of poetry and eat for a good cause, in honor of National Poetry Month. 

Big Class, the writing and tutoring arm of Press Street that brings free creative writing programs to underserved youth, is attaching student poetry to pizza boxes for pickup and delivery from G's Pizza, Garage Pizza, Magazine Pizza, Mid City Pizza, Pizza Delicious, and all Reginelli's Pizzeria locations. Poets range in age from six to 18.

Ten percent of proceeds earned tonight will support Big Class and the work it does year-round.

In addition to the poems attached to pizzas, Big Class is also compiling a book of student work about Italian pies, and will select 20 "pizza poet laureates." The organization has asked recipients of pizza and poetry to share their poems on social media suing the hashtag #pizzapoetry15. A Pizza Poetry Project party is scheduled for April 29 to celebrate student work at Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center. 

Check out the Pizza Poetry blog for writing prompts, poems, stories and interviews. 

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Young Leadership Council selects One Book One New Orleans 2015

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 2:08 PM

One Book One New Orleans' 2014 announcement event. This year's book is Brian Boyles' New Orleans Boom and Blackout: One Hundred Days in America's Coolest Hotspot. - JEANIE RIESS
  • JEANIE RIESS
  • One Book One New Orleans' 2014 announcement event. This year's book is Brian Boyles' New Orleans Boom and Blackout: One Hundred Days in America's Coolest Hotspot.


Each year, the Young Leadership Council (YLC) chooses a book for One Book One New Orleans, a citywide reading event meant to encourage community reading and promote literacy across New Orleans. The YLC announced in a press release today that the book it's chosen, with the help of an online poll, is New Orleans Boom and Blackout: One Hundred Days in America's Coolest Hotspot, by Brian Boyles — a look at the city in the run up to Super Bowl XLVII.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

April Toole's Day brings Ignatius J. Reilly to life at The Irish House

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 1:52 PM

click image A statue of Ignatius J. Reilly. - FLICKR USER TODD MURRAY
  • FLICKR USER TODD MURRAY
  • A statue of Ignatius J. Reilly.

Public displays of affection for literary heroes are not unfamiliar in New Orleans, from the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival's Stella! shouting contest to the annual Bloomsday celebration for James Joyce's Ullyses

But on April 1, it's April Toole's Day upstairs at The Irish House. A half-dozen readers will flesh out John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, with excerpts that introduce key characters and dramatic tension in the novel.

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