Thursday, July 21, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book release parties next weekend

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 12:33 PM

Maple Street Book Shop owner Gladin Scott (right) talks about books with a customer. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Maple Street Book Shop owner Gladin Scott (right) talks about books with a customer.

Muggles, rejoice: a new chapter in the Harry Potter saga arrives in bookstores at midnight July 30. While not technically a novel, the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child script book (from a production opening on London's West End) revives the popular tale about the young wizard and his wand-brandishing buddies. 

Climb on those broomsticks or apparate to the following parties and events celebrating the book release.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Review: Krewe of Vaporwave's virtual Mardi Gras parade

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 1:47 PM

A snapshot of "A Tribute to War Not Being the Answer," one of the vkv floats.
  • A snapshot of "A Tribute to War Not Being the Answer," one of the vkv floats.
Last night the first annual Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave rolled. Theirs was a virtual parade, viewed via popular streaming service Twitch. To be clear, the parade, a series of video/music collaborations by pseudonymous artists, was entirely online.

It would be easy to dismiss this as a symptom of alienation, but watching it was the opposite of alienating. So many of us do already consume so much of life through screens, whether we're streaming ParadeCam, a small bright rectangle of noise and spectacle in the corner of our workstation at some geographically remote office, or scrolling numbly through Carnival-soaked social media, the documentation of other people's good times. The Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave positioned itself as a joke about this tendency — “This is something to be experienced alone on your computer in the dark,” the Krewe's founder, Merely Synecdoche, told Michael Patrick Welch — but functioned as both a critical commentary on it and, by bringing viewers together at a set time to watch it, even a partial remedy.

Whereas some react to the malign influences of digital technology on our daily lives by mindlessly celebrating technology, fetishizing it, or hailing it as a magical force that can rescue us from our problems, Synecdoche says Vaporwave is about "the loneliness and pointlessness of the Internet."

Vaporwave as a genre is internationally influenced, built of broken pieces of the past, born of a sense of loss, and according to Synecdoche, "on the Internet it’s already been declared dead many times over,” making it a good genre fit for 2016 New Orleans. This first year's theme was "Vaporwave is Dead: Long Live Vaporwave." So: elegiac, fatalistic and unshakably fixated on itself... any of these characteristics sound familiar?

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

WWNO-FM traces the origin of the Pelicans' King Cake Baby

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 5:14 PM

On the set of the WWL-TV Eyewitness Morning News, Eric Paulsen and Sally-Ann Roberts prepare to — OH, GOD! LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU!
  • On the set of the WWL-TV Eyewitness Morning News, Eric Paulsen and Sally-Ann Roberts prepare to — OH, GOD! LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU!

He's become a local legend, like Pennywise or Freddy Krueger. He's the New Orleans Pelicans' demi-mascot, King Cake Baby, and he's even scarier than Old Pierre. Even has taken note:
Mardi Gras is right around the corner and that means it is time for the New Orleans Pelicans to bring back the most terrifying mascot in all of sports, The King Cake Baby. If you are in New Orleans and love being terrified you can follow the team's Twitter account to check for the latest opportunities to stare into the giant baby's unflinching eyes in person.
 But where did it come from? One man knows.

That man is WWNO-FM producer Jason Saul, who has produced a very in-depth look at the man behind King Cake Baby:

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Meet the man who is digitizing thousands of old New Orleans newspapers

Posted By on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 12:22 PM

One of many pages scanned and posted at by Joseph Makkos, this depicts what the paper imagined fashion would look like in the 21st century. - NOLADNA.COM
  • One of many pages scanned and posted at by Joseph Makkos, this depicts what the paper imagined fashion would look like in the 21st century.

Anyone who's ever tried going through The Times-Picayune's newspaper archive knows that it can be frustrating and often tedious. The archived papers look like they were scanned with technology from the 1970s, and the archive's search feature is often inconsistent and can lead you down a rabbit hole of inaccurate results. For those who are doing research or are just fans of history, it can be an ordeal.

Thankfully, there is Joseph Makkos.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

7th Ward hucklebuck ladies: Do they still exist?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Hucklebuck: A frozen treat made of flavored syrup and water. Also known as a huckabuck, frozen cup, iceberg, cool cup or cold cup.

“Are there hucklebuck ladies around here anymore?” I ask a woman sitting on her Hope Street porch in the 7th Ward, my childhood stomping grounds. “I’m sure all the ones I knew growing up are dead.”

“No, not anymore,” she responds, a hint of longing in her voice. As I hang my head a little, feeling embarrassed for even asking the question, she shouts, “Well, there might be a lady by the park, but I don’t know.”

I thank her and skip toward my car, hearing a dog bark and thinking about how I called Hope Street "Dog Street" when I was a girl, since there were so many vicious-looking dogs there.

I quickly realize a tan pit bull is chasing me. The nice things I’ve read about pit bulls from their advocates leave my mind and are replaced with 6-year-old Megan’s memory of Uncle Bobby Sardie’s German Shepard leaping up and biting his hand, getting blood everywhere on Easter morning.

“Get it away from me!” I shout repeatedly, wishing I would have just walked to my car instead of skipping there. Thankfully, the dog’s owner calls it back to herself and away from me.

Safely in my car, I begin to wonder if my search will be fruitless. I see a man around my age and ask him the status of hucklebuck ladies in the 7th Ward. He confirms their absence. I turn down New Orleans Street, thinking of the hucklebuck ladies around Hardin Park I knew growing up, like Miss Thibodeaux who always had double- and triple-color ones. Perhaps hucklebuck ladies are casualties of Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods or maybe of 9/11.

Lester and Carolyn Vallet have been selling hucklebucks on North Broad near St. Bernard for years.
  • Lester and Carolyn Vallet have been selling hucklebucks on North Broad near St. Bernard for years.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

VIDEO: Bustout Burlesque goes to Las Vegas

Posted By on Mon, Apr 8, 2013 at 5:34 PM

For this week's cover story, I accompanied New Orleans' Bustout Burlesque to Las Vegas, where the troupe had three performances at the 16th annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender. The article (with photos by Andreas Koch) only tells part of the story, though — the videos have to be seen in order to appreciate the talent and the artistry involved.

Here's Angi B. Lovely, who opened the show at The Orleans Hotel and Casino:

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

King cake in The New York Times

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Dwight Henry of Buttermilk Drop Bakery
  • Dwight Henry of Buttermilk Drop Bakery
Julia Moskin of The New York Times took New Orleans' king cake tradition to the world this morning. Some lovely quotes in there, including a few from Buttermilk Drop Bakery king (and Beasts of the Southern Wild star) Dwight Henry:

Most important, each king cake conceals a bite-size figurine, usually of a baby that traditionally represents Jesus. (The year after Katrina, Haydel’s Bakery made them in the shape of a FEMA trailer.) Whoever finds the baby in his slice has to hold the next party and buy the next cake — thus, the continuity of king cake season is preserved. “My mama would get so mad at us if we got the baby,” Mr. Henry said, smiling as he remembered his childhood in the Lower Ninth Ward. “King cake was expensive back then.”

It's a really nice story with some fine observations, but it's not a New Orleans story unless there's one tiny quibble, and it comes over the description of Charles Mary and Charlotte McGehee, who run Debbie Does Doberge:

The pair are just the kind of young, endearingly single-minded food entrepreneurs commonly spotted in Brooklyn and Portland, Ore., who carry a torch for tradition but yearn to express their creative urges.

New Orleans has always had those people, long before the first Bushwick beard was grown or the first wacky vegan doughnut was fried. They may not be glamorous, self-promoting, young, attractive or white; they may have gone unnoticed by the national media until just recently; but, yeah, they've always been here.

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from Gambit

Posted By on Mon, Dec 24, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Thanks to all our readers for being there for another year.

Enjoy the story of Mr. Bingle.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Public Transit Tuesdays: St. Claude

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 11:59 PM

Ever have a day where your mind is clouded with memories, one triggering another? That's the kind of day I was having when I was on my St. Claude bus adventure for the final Public Transit Tuesday, before I take my new position as a general assignment reporter for The Times-Picayune.

The only way I could transcribe the memories in my mind that day would be to use stream of consciousness, which would end up looking about as messy as the legal pad I took on my adventure, where I jotted down notes including "The Mack, Charles, PTSD about Mom," "New Kids on the Box lunchbox from Eckerd's" and "Te-Te's cocaine and Cuban sandwiches?"

Since the St. Claude bus was pretty full, as is usually the case, I was able to keep from reminiscing so much by paying closer attention to the people on the bus with me.

When I made it to the end of the line in Arabi, I was tempted to catch my favorite bus, the St. Bernard Parish bus, but was too busy trying to listen to the boys freestyling and beatboxing in the back — not that they were good.

My hearing isn't the best so here are what I think are some excerpts from their verses:

"I met her on crack, f*ck the n*gga head up
Driver off the bus, went and had a heart attack."

"Make a n*gga feel the way my Uncle Terry feel."

"Dat boy said, dat boy said, dat boy said, 'MAMACITA!'"

"I think Wayne garbage though — and THAT'S that sh*t I don't like."

"Dat boy said, 'I'ont want no HIV, yes Lawd!"

"She sent me nekkid pictures — I LIKEDED DAT!"

It was a pretty day so I decided to walk down St. Claude, but not before stopping at a restaurant that's — get this — actually run by native New Orleanians...

Glad my bus only caught the bridge and not the train, too!
  • Glad my bus only caught the bridge and not the train, too!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Public Transit Tuesdays: Elysian Fields

Posted By on Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 7:31 AM

I met a woman today who was (rightfully) suspicious when she saw me in the 7th Ward, digging under a house, snapping pictures and writing in my legal pad. After chatting for a while, she asked, "What are you going to write about? This article, what is it?" I said, "Well. I don't know. A little bit of everything, really. I can delete the pictures of you if you want." She looked at me for a little while, trying to see if I was legit, before saying, "Alright, sista, Imma let you have this one...But if you see what's going on and don't write about it, you're a part of the problem."

I agree. I've mentioned the issues that we were venting about (gentrification, euphemistic neighborhood names and discrimination) and others that would have come up in the conversation eventually (hate groups, homelessness, accessibility, the stigma in the black community associated with seeking mental health care, blight and the lack of love for New Orleans East), but I'll admit that I haven't really gone into detail as much as I can and should. She correctly guessed that I try to keep my power-fighting to a minimum because I don't want to ruffle feathers.

When I started this column, I was used to writing for CUE, our monthly fashion, home and beauty magazine. I love writing for CUE because I love glossy magazines; like CUE intern Angela Hernandez, I have stacks of glossy mags all over the house. (I know a girl who slipped on a magazine and broke her arm, though, so be careful and keep those stacks off of the floor.)

But writing for glossy fashion magazines is different, because there are advertisers that you don't want to upset and relationships with retailers that you want to build. Minus basic journalistic principles, the writing is so different that someone even called me out on it on the debut of Public Transit Tuesdays. And I was pissed. And hurt. Via Twitter, the guy accused us (me, really) of trying to disguise advertising as content. He wasn't mean, though, so I responded to him and he basically said he'd give it another shot.

I'm not linking the actual Twitter conversation because I know this person doesn't like to mix Twitter with his actual blog. I know that because I ended up getting really angry about his accusation later that night. Not because of him, but because I was venting to someone about the accusation who said that someone else said that my writing "sounded too much like ad copy" and that set me off. (The person who told me this was trying to be helpful, not gossipy.)

I didn't think the person who originally said my writing sounded like ad copy liked me anyway (well, I thought the person did at first but then I thought the person didn't), so I tried to brush it off, but I kept hearing it play in my mind: Ad copy. Ad copy?! I wondered to myself if the person had ever read a magazine; my CUE writing and glossy magazine writing are pretty damn parallel, which is a good thing.

I searched all over the Internet and found out who was behind the cartoon avatar on Twitter and was pretty happy to see that I wasn't the only journalist — not even the only Gambit writer — that he openly critiqued.

(Update: He liked the next installment, we follow each other on Twitter and he likes my Facebook journalist page and all of that good stuff. And I'm pretty cool with the person who didn't like me back then. We're not best buddies or anything, but we like and respect each other.)

Still, I wanted to cover hard news in addition to my CUE writing. That's a big part of why I created Public Transit Tuesdays in the first place — I could cover anything I wanted.

Riding the bus today with Apptitude founder Chris Boyd, we discussed the importance of doing things for your community, even when they are often literally more trouble than they're worth. He said, "It's a good motivation when you remember that you're doing something for New Orleans."

Steps in the 7th Ward, on N. Robertson.
  • Steps in the 7th Ward, on N. Robertson.

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