Hurricane Katrina

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Rising Tide 9 set for Sept. 13 at Xavier University

Posted By on Tue, Sep 2, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Dr. Andre Perry will be the keynote speaker at Rising Tide 9 on Sept. 13 at Xavier University.
  • Dr. Andre Perry will be the keynote speaker at Rising Tide 9 on Sept. 13 at Xavier University.

Rising Tide
, the bloggers' conference that began in summer 2006 one year after Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods, will hold its 9th edition Sept. 13 at Xavier University.

This year's keynote speaker is Dr. Andre Perry, founding dean of the College of Education at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Michigan and former associate director of the Loyola Institute for Quality and Equity in Education at Loyola University. Among this year's panels: Using Mobile Devices to Uncover Seemingly Lost Historical Memory of the Confederacy, Leprosy, and White Supremacy in New Orleans; Building Capacity in Marginalized Communities; Saga at Treme: The Story of How A Quest for Personal Resilience Exposed Incompetence and Waste in Government; and Religion in Post-Katrina New Orleans.

Tickets for the all-day event are $10 (available here). An additional (optional) $10 fee buys catered lunch from Lucky Rooster.

Previous editions of Rising Tide have included keynote speakers David Simon (former journalist and creator of the television programs The Wire and Treme), Richard Campanella (author of Bourbon StreetGeographies of New Orleans and Bienville's Dilemma) and writer/actor/part-time New Orleans resident Harry Shearer.

For more information on the conference, visit Rising Tide's schedule page.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

One New Orleanian's struggle with depression — and ways to get help

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 1:06 PM


NOTE - I work for 
Gambit in the advertising department. This is a description of my struggle and some small advice to any of you that are having difficulties with life. This was my personal struggle and is certainly different than many others who have seen dark times. Should you feel compelled to reach out to me after reading this, please do.

With the news of Robin Williams' suicide and the news he had been suffering from severe depression shortly before his death, I felt the need to share my own experience with depression in hope it might help any of you that may be in a bad way.

My difficult times started after Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods in August 2005. I moved almost 10 times in four months. I only saw my then-wife on weekends from September to December 2005. My family in St. Bernard Parish lost everything. My brother had damage to his place. Everything was a wreck physically and so was I — mentally. I had all the signs of a severely depressed person: feelings of worthlessness and guilt every single day, couldn't sleep at all, no interest in things that I once enjoyed, and recurring thoughts of death — particularly my own due to suicide. 

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

The "Zack and Addie" story comes to TV

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Investigation Discovery premieres "Hurricane Love," the latest episode from Handsome Devils, a true crime dramatization and narrative series about "real life lady killers," tonight at 8 p.m. The episode follows the much-publicized post-Katrina deaths of Addie Hall and Zack Bowen. Here's the network's episode description:

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

As the Carver Theater prepares to reopen, a look at the renovations

Posted By on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Final touches were being put on the Carver Theater marquee last week. Its grand opening is April 30, with a panel discussion about the history of the theater and a performance by Big Chief Donald Harrison. - KEVIN ALLMAN
  • Final touches were being put on the Carver Theater marquee last week. Its grand opening is April 30, with a panel discussion about the history of the theater and a performance by Big Chief Donald Harrison.

On Saturdays at the Carver Theater, 10 Pepsi-Cola bottle caps earned you a free movie ticket. So Leah Chase would dress up her children, round up all the neighborhood kids and head to the movies — carrying a sack of Pepsi bottle tops she’d collected from behind the bar at the family restaurant, Dooky Chase’s.

“So you see?” she says. “It wasn’t like every child would have to save his own 10 tops, because maybe you wouldn’t have 10 tops. But I had them here because we were selling Pepsi. So we’d get all the tops and we’d go to the Carver.”

It isn’t hard to get people to talk about their memories of the Carver Theater. The historically black auditorium and movie theater on Orleans Avenue was a cultural epicenter of Treme in the mid-20th century, and its reopening April 30 has inspired reminiscing. The theater opened in 1950 as one of the few theaters in New Orleans exclusively for black audiences during segregation. It’s the venue where Irma Thomas was discovered after winning second place in a talent contest, and it’s where Dr. John’s dad used to drop him off when he couldn’t get into the bigger theaters downtown.

“The community is really excited about it,” says Dino Marshall, managing director at the theater. “There’s not a day that goes by that somebody doesn’t come by and tell me a story of their Carver experience.” Marshall says one man told him his wife was about to give birth, but he found out a Bruce Lee movie was playing at the Carver. He was two hours late to visit his newborn.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Eve Abrams' Along Saint Claude audio documentary airs 7 p.m. Tuesday on WWNO

Posted By on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 6:21 PM

Eve Abrams' Along Saint Claude audio documentary airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18 on WWNO. Abrams' seven-part documentary explores centuries of changes in the area near Saint Claude Avenue between Poland and Saint Bernard avenues. She interviewed more than four dozen people to get their opinions on white flight, gentrification, their fond memories of the area and the area's actual history. Here, Abrams details the documentary's parts and elaborates on its creation.

What was your motivation in creating Along Saint Claude?

I live in Bywater and I was just hearing, as you probably do, so many people talking about the gentrification and newcomers – a lot of anger, a lot of resentment. I just started wondering whose place is this. Who has a right to it? Who owns it? Hasn't it always been changing, like most places? Hasn't it always been in flux? Especially New Orleans, being a port town with people constantly coming in. So I just wanted to investigate that. I wanted to look beyond the anger and the easy-to-blame scapegoating and kind of figure out what was going on. I also really wanted to take a long look at things. I had heard a lot of people talking about gentrification and I wasn't even sure that was quite what was going on. And if it was, according to how that word is defined, from when?

It's definitely more white than it was 20 years ago. There's definitely way more money here than 20 years ago. But another 40 years before that, it was very different too. It went from being one kind of a neighborhood to another kind to another kind. It just made me think a lot about how change is really relative to where you're looking from and at, and how long a time period you're looking it.

The only real rule I set up for myself is to only talk to people who lived in the neighborhood [off of] Saint Claude Avenue currently or formerly. I tried to talk to as many different people as I could. At least four dozen. Not only did I do interviews where I talked to somebody for one hour or two hours, I also had a couple days where I would interview people waiting for the train to go across Press Street. I assembled a team of reporters and we wore T-shirts that said "Wanna Talk?" and I had little signs in the neutral ground that said "While You Wait, Let's Talk." We talked to a ton of people that way. I talked to as many different folks as I could: different age, different in terms of how long they've lived in New Orleans, different races. It was really surprising and a lot of the stereotypes that people say there are kinda got blown out of the water.

I had a lot of information, so I took a long, hard look at it and wondered what the stories are in here that I hear people tell. I really wanted it to be grounded in some history so, lucky for me, Rich Campanella lives in Bywater. So Bienville's Dillema was like my bible for that nine months. Between my interview with him and his book, I really came to form an idea about how this place came to be a neighborhood, and how it was in relationship to other neighborhoods from the very beginning. Who settled here because of that? I go back to before Europeans or Africans were in New Orleans. I spend much, much, much more time on the 20th century and the 21st century, but I do go back that far.

Did any responses surprise you?

I was really surprised that on the two days we were on Saint Claude Avenue randomly talking to people, almost every single African-American man that I spoke to was all for these newcomers coming in – ALL FOR IT. It was really surprising. One guy, when I asked a really broad question about changes, he said, "Well there are more white people here and it used to be that there weren't any white people in this area." I asked him how he felt about it and he said, "I love it. White people are the easiest people to live around," and then he said, more importantly, "White people mean more police, which means less foolishness." So I thought that revealed so much about how power structures work and who they're serving and who benefits. There were a couple young men who said they really enjoyed having all these people from different parts of the country living here because they felt like it was broadening their horizons. I don't want to say that all African-American men I talked to felt this way. There were two that I interviewed in depth that have much more complicated feelings – a lot of alienation and resentment and probably sadness more than anything else.

There was one man who talked about how a lot of people just didn't want to come back, how his sister settled in Jessup, Ga. and was able to buy a house there, something she might not have ever been able to do here. She just doesn't want to come back. He said, "Somebody has to live in those houses."

This wonderful woman, I asked her about all these complaints that [newcomers] don't say hello, they're not friendly, and she said, "We're training 'em." For a while, I was adamantly saying hello and good morning to everybody. It's a change to the culture and I think when you don't grow up doing that, you don't know that that's an expectation. I think the sheer number of newcomers here, that's why people are so agitated. It's so easy to get offended and upset by that. It's hard to remember. It's hard because when you say good morning and no one says it back, it's like "Ow!"

(A detailed episode breakdown follows below the jump.)
Dan Eaglin, a subject of Eve Abrams' Along Saint Claude audio documentary. - JONATHAN TRAVIESA
  • Dan Eaglin, a subject of Eve Abrams' Along Saint Claude audio documentary.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

C. Ray disappear: Nagin's website vanishes when domain expires

Posted By on Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Now you see him, now you don't: Former Mayor Ray Nagin's website, which touted his services as an author and "recevery expert," vanished from the Web this week when its domain name expired.
  • Now you see him, now you don't: Former Mayor Ray Nagin's website, which touted his services as an author and "recevery expert," vanished from the Web this week when its domain name expired.

Looking to hire former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin as a “recovery expert”? You’ll have to track him down in person. Nagin’s website,, which was established in 2009 to tout the former mayor as “author, public speaker, recovery expert and green advocate,” went offline this week when the domain expired and was not renewed.

The website, which was registered to by the Jacksonville, Fla.-based “Domain Discreet Privacy Service,” was first established in 2009. When the first volume of Nagin’s memoirs, Katrina's Secrets, was self-published in 2011, the website served as a portal for book purchases and publicity.

As of Nov. 13, all that remained on was a placeholder with a stock photograph links to various book-club searches and a link to “bid on this domain name now.”

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Friday, October 25, 2013

The final chapter

Posted By and on Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 12:17 AM

Ray Nagin
  • Cheryl Gerber


Former Mayor Ray Nagin’s federal trial on 21 public corruption charges was postponed again last week — for the third time. The former mayor is now set to stand trial on Jan. 27, 2014. If and when Nagin does go to trial — or if he pleads to a reduced charge — it will be the final chapter of Hurricane Katrina’s political arc.

Guilty or innocent, Nagin’s fate will bring closure to a city that arguably suffered as much after the storm as during it, thanks in large measure to the former mayor’s failure to implement a recovery program with any traction.

Nagin faces six counts of bribery, one count of conspiracy, one count of money laundering, nine counts of wire fraud and four counts of filing false tax returns. All of those are major felonies, which means Nagin faces a lot of jail time, even if he’s convicted on just one or two counts.

Federal prosecutors often pile on charges, sometimes adding one or two “minor” counts. In addition to having evidence of multiple crimes, prosecutors use the threat of lengthy jail time to leverage guilty pleas to lesser crimes with reduced sentences. At the end of the day, a win is a win.

Earlier this week, for example, former St. Tammany Parish Coroner Peter Galvan pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to steal money from the coroner’s office, which carries a maximum sentence of five years. That’s serious jail time, but it’s a lot less than Galvan might have drawn had he gone to trial facing multiple counts of public corruption.

In Nagin’s case, a conviction on all 21 counts would send him to jail for a very long time, possibly longer than the 17-plus years given to Mark St. Pierre, the former City Hall tech vendor who rolled the dice and went to trial on 53 bribery counts rather than accept a plea deal. St. Pierre was convicted on all 53 counts. Now he’s anxious to testify against Nagin, hoping it will get him a reduction in sentence.

If convicted of even one count, all of the other counts against Nagin would still factor into his sentence as “relevant conduct” under the federal sentencing guidelines. The former mayor thus faces a lengthy prison term for any conviction — and the fact that he was a public official at the time of his alleged crimes enhances his potential jail time.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Saenger Theater opens with speeches, unveiling of $52 million renovation

Posted By on Fri, Sep 27, 2013 at 1:54 PM

The Saengers curtains parted to reveal the lit letters of the Canal Street theater
  • The Saenger's curtains parted to reveal the lit letters of the Canal Street theater

The Saenger Theatre opened its doors today for the first time since Hurricane Katrina closed the Canal Street landmark in 2005. Under new twinkling fiber optic ceiling stars — part of a $52 million renovation — Mayor Mitch Landrieu proclaimed the project a symbol “of resurrection, redemption, resilience, of building the city not back the way she was but the way she should have always been.”

The Saenger was built in 1927 and the team of public-private entities responsible for its renovation, including the Canal Street Development Corporation, Ace Theatrical Group and the City of New Orleans, restored the building to reflect the original, with modern accoutrements like an expanded stage. The inside is complete with the dashing red carpet reminiscent of the original, and everything from the chandeliers to the paint scheme was researched for historical accuracy and constructed to reflect the building’s original interior. “All of the work that you see here is a reincarnation of the original designs and the original paintings,” Landrieu said.

The Saenger will host a slew of Broadway shows, musical, comedic and stage acts, including a grand opening performance by Kristin Chenoweth and the Louisiana Philharmonic Oct. 5. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld performs three shows during this weekend’s soft opening. New Orleans is the third largest producer of Hollywood films, behind New York and Los Angeles, thanks to film credits offered by the state and will have an originating tax credit for Broadway productions as well, Landrieu said, “because, in order for this thing to work, these seats have to be full, and the productions have to be great.”

Broadway Across America President Lauren Reid said “New Orleans will now be a destination for Broadway’s best and brightest.”

Though the opening is one of the most anticipated post-Katrina rebuilding efforts and a linchpin of the Canal Street corridor rehabilitation, Landrieu said “there’s other stuff going on. This is not the only thing that’s happening as you think about what is occurring just in this general space, in these two square miles. You have the VA and UMC hospitals, $2 million coming out of the ground as we speak.”

New Orleans City Council President Jackie Clarkson was in the Saenger for her fifth birthday, before World War II. “Thanks for the memories,” she said. “Many a tale has been woven in this edifice.”

After dozens of stakeholders squeezed behind a gold ribbon for a photo-op, the curtains of the Saenger opened to display its historic SAENGER letters, lighted and floating on the newly revealed stage. “You have this before you today,” Landrieu said. “It’s a gift to the people of the city of New Orleans.”

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ed Blakely is about to start rebuilding Sydney, Australia — one shopping mall at a time

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 10:48 AM


Dr. Ed Blakely watchers know that former Mayor Ray Nagin's "recovery czar" declared mission accomplished on the rebuilding of New Orleans in 2009 and took his metaphorical "cranes in the sky" to Australia, where he now works with the University of Sydney's United States Study Centre (bless their hearts).

But now Blakely has a new challenge. He's teaming up with "urban designer" Ethan Kent to revitalize a shopping mall in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Gambit interview: Steve Gleason

Posted By and on Wed, Sep 4, 2013 at 1:56 PM

Steve Gleason in July 2013. - WWL-TV
  • WWL-TV
  • Steve Gleason in July 2013.

It was seven years ago this month that Steve Gleason achieved immortality among New Orleans Saints fans when he blocked a punt in the team’s first game in the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina. But it was two years ago this month that Gleason inspired people far beyond the gridiron when he revealed he is living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

On the eve of Gleason Gras, his annual event to raise awareness of ALS and support the Gleason Family Trust, Gleason agreed to an email interview. He answered Gambit’s questions with the use of assistive technology that allows him to type using his eyes.

Questions by Gambit staff writers Kevin Allman and Alex Woodward

GAMBIT: You've been traveling a lot in the last few months. Where have you been, and what have your experiences been like?

STEVE GLEASON: We try to go back to the Northwest in the summers. It gets me out of this heat, and helps us see our Northwest friends and family. We were in Sandpoint, Idaho, which is about 90 minutes from Spokane, Wash., where I grew up. As a kid I spent summers and winters in North Idaho, snowboarding and water skiing.

We took an ALS patient to Hell’s Canyon, where we caught an eight-foot sturgeon and slept under a full moon for two nights. One of our highlights was going to Wrigley Field to watch Pearl Jam. It was a memorable night. A massive thunderstorm came through so it was a two-hour “rain delay,” but not one person left and PJ played til 2 a.m.! A few New Orleans friends met us at Wrigley because they won sidestage passes for the show at last year’s Gleason Gras ...

It gets harder and harder for me to travel but we keep figuring out ways to keep rolling!

G: In June, you held the first Team Gleason Summit for the Cure. Tell us what that was, what it accomplished and what you hope it will accomplish in years to come.

SG: During the Super Bowl here in New Orleans, we launched our new campaign, "Putting our heads together to find a cure for ALS.” Our hope in doing so was to bring all ALS stakeholders together, look at the roadblocks with new eyes and formulate a plan or strategy to end ALS. The recent Team Gleason Summit was the first step.

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