New Orleans Life

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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Monday, August 29, 2016

Y@ Speak: Invest-ed

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 at 5:40 PM

President Obama visits Louisiana following the August floods, Invest 99 Luftballoons pops its head into the Gulf, the Saints pick up some Duraflame logs to get started on this season's tire fire, and more from the final hours of The Worst Month.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

New Orleans 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb commemorates first responders Sept. 10

Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 5:20 PM


At the New Orleans 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, first responders — including firefighters, law enforcement officers, members of EMS and the military — will scale stairs equaling 110 floors at 400 Poydras Tower to commemorate fellow emergency personnel who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

The event, which is the first of its kind in New Orleans, honors fallen emergency professionals and also recognizes 137 Louisiana veterans who have been killed since the attacks. Each climber wears a deceased individual's name on his or her clothing, and the climb represents the height of the former World Trade Center towers.

All proceeds raised benefit Louisiana Heroes Project, a nonprofit which assists service members and veterans. 

The climb takes place the morning of Sept. 10. An after-party at Barcadia follows. Climbers and event volunteers may register online

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lady Buckjumpers host Back To School Picnic

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 3:11 PM

Lady Buckjumpers Back To School Picnic
  • Red Cotton
  • Lady Buckjumper's Back To School Picnic

This is year 20-something that the fabulous, charitable and party-loving Lady Buckjumpers have hosted their annual Back To School picnic. The event, which happened Sunday in City Park, has become a sought after and beloved tradition for adults in the community as well as the kids. DJs along with Rebirth Brass Band were on site, rocking the 200-plus crowd who enjoyed free food, drinks (cocktails as well as healthy juices), massages, barbers, manicures and pedicures, baton twirling lessons, hair braidings, group photos, kickball, dodge ball — an extravaganza of feel-good freebies designed to send the kids and their parents into the new school year feeling pampered, nurtured and loved.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

New Orleans City Planning Commission votes to ban whole home short-term rentals

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 10:15 PM

Whole home rentals in residential neighborhoods are off the table in the short-term rental debate — for now — following the New Orleans City Planning Commission's (CPC) vote unanimously agreeing they should remain illegal. Following months of debate and years of discussion, the CPC approved a framework for short-term rental listings like Airbnb on Aug. 9. The recommendations from the CPC's staff now head to the New Orleans City Council, which could change up the new rules before a final vote — those recommendations are just that.

Following five hours of public comment and an hour of discussion among commissioners, the CPC approved its staff recommendations for three types of short-term rentals and voted to ban the controversial practice of renting out entire homes in residential areas. The CPC rejected those types of rentals earlier this year, but they were put back in play by Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration.

Several New Orleans City Council members have been critical of whole home rentals — District A Councilmember Susan Guidry told Gambit last month they pose "the biggest threat to the quality of life of our long-term residents." Councilmembers Jared Brossett and Stacy Head also expressed concerns about homes used as short-term rentals year-round in residential neighborhoods.

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Pete Fountain: 1930-2016

Posted By on Sat, Aug 6, 2016 at 4:06 PM

Pete Fountain and his "Half-Fast Walking Club" on Fat Tuesday 2009. - CREATIVE COMMONS/CARNAVAL.COM STUDIOS
  • Pete Fountain and his "Half-Fast Walking Club" on Fat Tuesday 2009.

Pete Fountain, the clarinetist and one of New Orleans' premier 20th century ambassadors to the world, died this morning in hospice, according to the Associated Press. Fountain was 86.

A native New Orleanian, Fountain rose to fame in the 1950s on The Lawrence Welk Show before returning to New Orleans and opening an eponymous nightclub on Bourbon Street in the building that now houses the Oz dance club. In the coming years, he would appear many times on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, playing with the Doc Severinsen Orchestra and touring the country. In the 1970s, he closed his Bourbon Street club and established "Pete Fountain's Jazz Club" at the New Orleans Hilton Riverside, where he performed until 2003.

Fountain performed for Pope John Paul II at St. Louis Cathedral in 1987, and received the Big Easy Awards' Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998. He also was known for his "Half-Fast Walking Club," a Mardi Gras marching group that wended its way into the French Quarter on Fat Tuesday morning. The group was too "half-fast" for Baton Rouge; in 2010, in its first appearance in a Mardi Gras parade there, organizers kicked Fountain and his krewe out of the parade for marching too slowly.

In a statement, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, "He was an inspiring performer whose unmistakable sound defined our city's unique cultural heritage. We have lost one of the jazz greats, but his music will live on forever. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this very difficult time of grief.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards said, "Mr. Fountain and his clarinet filled our streets, homes and hearts with music and joy. Throughout his extensive career, Mr. Fountain was always a proud ambassador for the City of New Orleans."

Here's Fountain in one of his many performances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1979. Below the cut: some social media memories of Fountain:

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Jo 'Cool' Davis died

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 6:01 PM


Jo "Cool" Davis died, according to WWL TV. He was 63.

Davis was a gospel singer who recorded prolifically. He won numerous awards, including two Big Easy Music Awards. 

Davis was a familiar face in the Gospel Tent at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and he brought gospel music to many secular venues. To many New Orleanians, he was the face they met at the door of the club Tipitina's, where he worked and performed for many years. 

Davis is survived by his wife Evelyn, twin brother George and daughter Charlene.

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Y@ Speak: "the sky's the limit"

Posted By on Mon, Aug 1, 2016 at 7:34 PM

Lil Wayne endorses Hillary Clinton after she maybe referenced Da Drought (or, more likely, her own speech in 2008), the Louisiana delegation steals the show, and New Orleans in deep summer means exploding streets, snakes eating bicyclists, and tourists who should be fired into the sun.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tulane Avenue improvements coming in August

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 5:15 PM

click image Tulane Avenue in 2015. - PAUL SABLEMAN/FLICKR
  • Tulane Avenue in 2015.
When officials with the Regional Planning Commission first announced a $10 million beautification project to a stretch of Tulane Avenue in Mid-City, they described a plan that would “significantly improve visual quality” along the corridor, as well as enhance pedestrian and bicycle mobility and safety.

Five years and nearly $5 million later, officials still tout final plans for a safer, wider street reduced from six lanes to four, thanks to improvements that will extend from South Carrollton to South Claiborne avenues.

What didn’t make the cut, however, are features that could have helped “reinvent” Tulane Avenue, as neighbors had hoped.

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