Wednesday, October 26, 2016

On the Clock: Troy Delaney, steamboat Natchez pilot

Posted By on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 8:41 AM

Steamboat pilot Troy Delaney in the pilot house (sometimes called the wheelhouse).
  • Steamboat pilot Troy Delaney in the pilot house (sometimes called the wheelhouse).

Like Prince once said, there’s joy in repetition. Think of a chef, working the line in his restaurant night after night; a chess master, reaching to select a pawn for her first move; a basketball player shooting free throw after free throw on an empty court. Repetition is the key to mastery, “flow,” the elusive art of moving without thinking. 

That’s what I think about, sitting with pilot Troy Delaney in the glass-windowed pilot house of the steamboat Natchez, little wavelets crumpling the river’s surface way below us. Delaney has been steering the Natchez for 12 years, working five days a week, making three voyages a day. Even considering the month or so the boat spends in “lay-up,” when it stops service for painting and other maintenance, that’s as many as 720 trips over the course of a year, making the run downriver toward Chalmette Battlefield, where the Natchez turns around, and back.

Delaney knows everything about the boat and almost as much about the glassy bends of the river. Together, they form a tranquil kingdom he takes pride in leading.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Affordable housing exhibit pops up at Tulane City Center

Posted By on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 5:00 PM


As chatter about Airbnb, gentrification and volatile rental markets flies fast and thick, a new exhibit at the Tulane School of Architecture's Tulane City Center/Small City Center (1725 Baronne St.) examines affordable housing issues in New Orleans. 

Rather than focusing on what makes the city unusual or exceptional, this exhibit places local housing challenges in a broader national and international context. 

“There are many ways New Orleans suffers from, and rises to, the same challenges as many other cities,” center public programs manager Sue Mobley says. “(Calling it exceptional creates) a write-off of learning from others.”

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Free eye exams and glasses offered in New Orleans this week

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 3:49 PM


Free, comprehensive eye exams and prescription glasses are available to eligible patients at two locations in the city this week. 

A press release from the City of New Orleans announced the program, which is a partnership between the city and Eyes of Hope's VSP Mobile Eyes mobile eyecare clinics. Patients can go to the Sanchez Multi-Purpose Center (1616 Caffin Ave.) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday and the Rosenwald Recreation Center (1120 S. Broad St.) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday for exams, which will be given on a first-come, first-served basis.

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On the Clock: Waymon Morris, Carousel Gardens director of recreational services

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 9:58 AM

Waymon Morris takes a break to drive the train at Carousel Gardens Amusement Park.
  • Waymon Morris takes a break to drive the train at Carousel Gardens Amusement Park.

Waymon Morris and I sit on the bench-style conductor’s seat as the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park train pulls out of the station, into the dappled lawns and mossy shade of New Orlean City Park. The engine rattles crazily underneath us, like a piece of high-powered farm equipment or someone’s fixer-upper car that hasn’t yet been blessed with a muffler. Morris points to the timer on the rudimentary dashboard, which helps drivers know if they’re keeping pace with the train’s typical runtime, and pulls the shrill whistle, warning any wandering toddlers, errant ducks or distracted drivers of our approach on the 2-mile track. From the conductor’s perch, the whistle is so loud it could pop an eardrum, but literally everyone we pass  —  infants in Baby Bjorns, picnickers, a grandma out for a stroll with her Shih Tzus  —  smiles and waves. 

“I don’t care how old you are,” Morris half-confides, over the chuff and rumble of the engine. “Everyone loves the train.”

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Five books events to check out in October

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2016 at 11:30 AM

  • CREATIVE COMMONS/somegeekintn

Along with crisp, autumnal 80 degree weather, this fall brings a full slate of activities for local readers, writers and other word enthusiasts.

Here are five best bets for book nerds in October. 

• Oct. 5: Ethan Brown. The true crime writer presents his latest page-turner, Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women Known as the Jeff Davis Eight? at Garden District Book Shop. (Check out Gambit's interview with Brown.) 6 p.m.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On the Clock: Dinah Maygarden, UNO Coastal Education Program director

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 2:48 PM

Dinah Maygarden unwinds from a day of science education workshops.
  • Dinah Maygarden unwinds from a day of science education workshops.

If you were to drive east on Chef Menteur Highway, past the motley blocks of businesses in various states of well-being, past the Pleasantville-on-stilts development at Venetian Isles, and over the rickety truss bridge at Chef Menteur Pass, eventually you’d find a three-story waterfront building emblazoned with a comically large University of New Orleans (UNO) Privateer logo. 

There, you might find, as I did, a large group of squirming third-graders vastly outnumbering their adult chaperones, all anxious to start one of science educator and UNO Coastal Education Program director Dinah Maygarden’s activities at the UNO Coastal Education and Research Facility (CERF).

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

CAC to renovate, add The Domain Companies as tenant

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 3:46 PM

Screen grab from
  • Screen grab from

The Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) announced it will begin renovations and add as a tenant The Domain Companies, the New York and New Orleans-based developer behind South Market District, Ace Hotel and other local projects. The project will begin Oct. 1, according to a press release. 

The third and fourth floors of the CAC will become The Shop, an office hub for "technology, arts and cultural-based businesses." The Idea Village will be a tenant of The Shop, which is expected to open in early 2017. The Shop will include 40,000 square feet of space and accommodate 350-400 people, according to the press release. There will be common areas, meeting and office space and a rooftop deck.

"Over the years, the CAC has leased space to unique and complementary partner tenants — including the New Orleans Film Society, the National Performance Network, and Junebug Productions. The mission of The Shop is to bring members of the creative class in to our building as their tenants," said CAC Executive Director Neil Barclay in a released statement.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

On the Clock: N'Gai Smith, French Market maintenance superintendent (slideshow)

Posted By on Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 4:53 PM

N'Gai Smith, French Market maintenance superintendent, at Latrobe Park. - KAT STROMQUIST
  • N'Gai Smith, French Market maintenance superintendent, at Latrobe Park.

N’Gai Smith is a popular guy. As we walk the grounds of the French Market, where he serves as maintenance superintendent, it seems like we can’t go 10 steps without someone waving, calling out, or stopping to shake one of his big hands. A woman on a cellphone standing over a table of pastel-colored bath beads flashes a huge smile and waves. An electrician in head-to-toe khaki buttonholes him on the sidewalk to shake and say hello. We “just happen” to run into one of his top lieutenants near Latrobe Park.

I’d suspect it being stage-managed, if everyone didn’t seem so genuinely overjoyed to see Smith. It’s like walking through the French Market with Santa Claus.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Interview: Richard Collins, New Orleans Zen Temple abbot

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 5:07 PM

Photo Courtesy Richard Collins - PHOTO CREDIT: CORTNIE ENNS
  • Photo Credit: Cortnie Enns
  • Photo Courtesy Richard Collins

In the lived-in rooms on the fourth floor of a Camp Street building, the New Orleans Zen Temple is very quiet  —  so quiet you can hear the bristles of a broom brushing the carpet as one of its attendees prepares the dojo (literally: the way place, or the place where you practice the way) for evening meditation practice. Outside, the bells of a nearby cathedral ring faintly; inside, people begin gathering and removing their shoes to prepare for a different sort of seeking. 

“The Buddha never talked about God. [Zen] is much more about the nature of life, suffering, and how you have to life in this life with other people,” explains Richard Collins, the temple’s recently appointed abbot. “It’s not going to give you the answer to life, but it will certainly give you the discipline to appreciate the life you have.” 

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Saturday, September 3, 2016

On the Clock: Bob MacLean, Audubon Nature Institute senior veterinarian

Posted By on Sat, Sep 3, 2016 at 4:00 AM

Katie Christiensen hangs with Southern white rhino Macite, one of veterinarian Bob MacLean's patients.
  • Katie Christiensen hangs with Southern white rhino Macite, one of veterinarian Bob MacLean's patients.

In a metal outdoor stall adjacent to her enclosure, the 5,000 pound, 53-year-old Southern white rhino Macite bumps her big prehistoric head lightly against the bars. The horn at the end of her nose looks like an ancient relic, but she scrapes her giant flat feet in the dust just like a cow shuffling in a pen on a hot day. 

Around Macite’s enormous backside, veterinarian Bob MacLean uses a hand brush and a gel to clean, disinfect and pack the chronic pressure sores (similar to human bedsores) on the elderly rhino’s back legs. She’s thought to be the oldest living female of her kind, and MacLean’s team is doing its best to keep the sores from growing. It’s part of a litany of tasks large and small that make up his role as senior veterinarian for the Audubon Nature Institute

“We’re trying to keep it from going systemic,” he says, as he finishes rinsing the sore. “We’re treating her every day.” 

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