Books

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Maple Street Book Shop to stay open — at least for a while longer

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2015 at 11:21 AM

Gladin Scott announced Maple Street Book Shop will remain open through spring.
  • Gladin Scott announced Maple Street Book Shop will remain open through spring.

Maple Street Book Shop
owner Gladin Scott had planned to hold a clearance sale after Christmas, but it's taken on a new purpose. In early October, Scott announced the bookshop would close at the end of the year. But that news spurred a wave of support that has enabled him to keep the store open.

"It started as a wake, but it turned into a celebration," Scott says.

Scott announced Sunday the store would remain open and held the sale as a thank you to customers. The store is using proceeds to buy new inventory, ordering new releases and scheduling events for coming months, he says.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Book from New Orleans "White House chef" pulled after fraud claims

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2015 at 4:53 PM

Ronnie Seaton meets First Lady Laura Bush at Willie Mae's Scotch House in 2007. - SHEALAH CRAIGHEAD / THE WHITE HOUSE
  • SHEALAH CRAIGHEAD / THE WHITE HOUSE
  • Ronnie Seaton meets First Lady Laura Bush at Willie Mae's Scotch House in 2007.

Ronnie Seaton, 
grandson of the late New Orleans restaurateur Willie Mae Seaton, claims to have served five U.S. presidents in White House kitchens. He writes about his life in his new autobiography, Sir White House Chef. He says he also was knighted by the Queen of England and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice — once from President George H.W. Bush.

Seaton also claims to have been drafted into the Vietnam War in 1973 while a senior at "St. Augusta High School," which he describes as an "all white school" and home of the Purple Knights. He says he was a prisoner of war, broke free from his captors and finished eight years in the military before receiving a scholarship from the Culinary Institute of America.

President Ronald Reagan hired him in 1982, he says, after dining on his cuisine at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, and he began a long career at the White House — from cooking for former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev and former Prime Minister of England Margaret Thatcher to witnessing Monica Lewinsky's infamously stained dress heading to the dry cleaners.

But the White House denies Seaton ever worked there, according to the New York Post. The National Personnel Records Center has no record of his military service in Vietnam.

And now Seaton's California-based publisher, Heritage Builders, has pulled the book. In an email to Gambit, Brian Mayes of the Nashville Publicity Group, which was coordinating press for its publication, wrote "The publisher is pulling the book, and we have ceased all promotion. Very disappointing."

So here are some highlights from Sir White House Chef:

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Maple Street Book Shop to close at end of 2015

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 1:56 PM

Gladin Scott is a longtime customer and owner of Maple Street Book Shop. - COURTESY MAPLE STREET BOOK SHOP
  • COURTESY MAPLE STREET BOOK SHOP
  • Gladin Scott is a longtime customer and owner of Maple Street Book Shop.

Maple Street Book Shop owner Gladin Scott announced the store will close at the end of 2015.

"With dwindling sales, it's tough to keep open a bookshop that isn't self-sustaining," he said.

Scott said changing technology contributed to the difficulties of keeping the shop open.

"I think technology has changed the way people read and buy books," he said.

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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

mixed-co-cover.jpg
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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