Hurricane Katrina "recovery czar" Ed Blakely has been appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to a commission to "examine the state's emergency response capabilities" in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, according to an interview Blakely has done with an Australian radio station.
In recent years, Blakely has been living in Australia, where he is Honorary Professor of Urban Policy at the US Studies Centre of the University of Sydney.
"My role in this is to make sure they're ready for what's likely to be another one soon," Blakely told the Australian radio station, adding that "A number of people have asked me if I would be around to discuss these things as they're moving forward."
The original announcement of the commission made no mention of Blakely.
Blakely has already weighed in on what New York needs to do in the wake of Sandy. That's under the jump, along with a link to the Library Chronicles' classic Blakely timeline, "Come Crane With Me":
Here's a nice story for Thanksgiving, courtesy of New York's WCBS-TV:
AMITYVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Hurricane survivors from hundreds of miles away have arrived on Long Island with a massive care package to help the Sandy relief effort.
Two truckloads of supplies and food arrived at Amityville High School from New Orleans, thanks to a couple of Katrina survivors who wanted to help out.
The tractor-trailers are filled with diapers, clothes, food and any other supplies New Orleans residents thought could be useful in the clean up and relief effort.
“It was amazing to see how many people responded to our cry for help down there to send up here,” Louisiana resident Trey Ledbetter told WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall.
For years, advocates have pushed for selling liquor out of regular retail establishments. Last week, when the state’s House Business and Labor Committee held the latest hearing about the law, state Rep. Bill Kennemer, who is skeptical about changing the procedure, made the statement, “We just don’t want to get to be like Louisiana, where you have drive-up daiquiri shops.”
The concept of drive-through daiquiri shops was so foreign to the Oregonians that the group PolitiFact, which analyzes the veracity of politicos’ public statements, contacted Kennemer, who said he and his wife had seen them on a trip to New Orleans.
Neesa Peterson grew up in New Orleans and graduated from Ole Miss before moving to New York to pursue a career in fashion. Things were going great, but she soon felt a void. Some would liken that to a chill in her heart, but she felt the opposite — a burning. She knew the only thing that could extinguish the fire was a snoball, but where would she find one in New York? Enter: Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls.
What made you want to start Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls?
I started a snoball shop because I wanted to spread the happiness that one snoball offers! I wanted to combine my love of food, people and music and set an atmosphere I wanted to be in everyday. New York can be a hard city to live in, and many people work twice the amount of time here than in other places, so I wanted to offer a relief for people — a snoball community! One day while standing in line at Hansen's — my senses were stronger I suppose — and the idea came. All of my memories of being at Hansen's and Plum Street growing up resonated with me and I knew I HAD to bring snoballs to New York City, especially since no one knew about a New Orleans snoball here. I like the teaching aspect of food. Snoballs are something…people think they know what they are and they call them snow-cones, but as we New Orleanians know, they are not the same thing.
What were the reactions when you first opened? How is it when locals discover you?
I was lucky to be located on a corner with big windows in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan. The West Village is known for its charming tree-lit streets that are incomparable to the other streets of New York. The locals have such a strong bond in the neighborhood and really make you feel special and welcome. Other restaurants’ purveyors were bringing me food and giving me business along with all of the other people in the neighborhood. I will always remember the nice people that helped me my first season.
I've heard that you model your snoballs after Hansen's. Are there any other snoball stands that you emulate?
Well I would hope they are half as good as Hansen's. With Mary and Ernest who made/are making their own syrups and used/are using a one-of-a-kind machine, I don't know if I come close, but I hope I spread the cheer as much as they did. Mary used to always smile at me, and Ernest made the fluffiest ice. They were truly my biggest inspirations. Donna from Plum Street was a big help to me, as well. We met at Jazz Fest the spring before I opened the shop and with her guidance, I got the right flavors. Both are truly staples in New Orleans snoball history, and I am lucky to have eaten a lot of snoballs at both places!
What's the biggest challenge with having a snoball business in New York? Are any flavors or concepts strange to them?
The biggest challenge is probably weather. We only have a handful of 90 degree and above days and as we know, snoballs are soooo good when it's sweltering. I get a lot of people asking for ice cream because they aren't used to having a snoball shop to go to. I try to tell them that once they try the Nectar Cream, they won't want ice cream ever again, but sometimes people are set in their ways (laughs). If it rains, I just bring a good book. Flavors that are strange to them are Mardi Gras King Cake, Tiger’s Blood, Nectar Cream, and Birthday/Wedding Cake. No one can comprehend how snoballs can taste like cake! But they do...
Do you get any products from New Orleans?
Yes, I bought my machine from Sno-Wizard and flavors from Southern Snow.
(Peterson's favorite flavors and most embarrassing Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls moment below the jump!)
How did the 45-minute speech (before dinner!) go? Take it away, Reid Pillifant of Capital New York:
Some people liked it.
"Bobby Jindal is inspirational," said Carl Paladino, the party's last gubernatorial nominee, after the speech. "He's rocking."
Others seemed less inspired. As the speech wore on, Jindal's applause lines drew less and less of a response, and tables broke out into their own visible side conversations, while Jindal joked about how the vacuums used to clean up after the Deepwater Horizon spill were the same ones used to empty "port-o-potties after a football game on a Friday night."
Dinner waited in the wings until he finished, right around the 45-minute mark.
"I can assure you that I will speak shorter than our prior speakers, because the food is here," said State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos when he finally took to the podium, to laughs and cheers.
$5,000 may seem steep for dinner, but then again, it's dinner in New York. Heck, even in the East Village, two measly pounds of crawfish will put you back $30. But you don't get a copy of Leadership in Crisis with the mudbugs.EDITED TO ADD: Charles Maldonado points out this account of the evening from Newsday. After reading it, it sounds like Jindal went on too long, which is excusable, and that the hosts were breathtakingly rude, which is not:
And, after a dinner break and Jindal’s departure, the next two speakers made pointed references. “I’m going to speak a little shorter than the prior speaker,” Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said -- generating applause. “My father gave me some great advice, too,” Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua), said referring to a part of Jindal’s speech. “Be brief and be gone.” Jindal’s team placed copies of his book, “Leadership and Crisis,” on the chairs throughout the Sheraton ballroom. Afterward, some New York Republicans joked about trying to give their copy away.
Here in culturally rich New Orleans we easily forget about our artsy neighbors to the east. However, the short drive to Biloxi is a safe bet, whether one gambles or not, for an enlightening getaway celebrating the South and its creative heritage.
Last weekend I toured the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, discovering the wholly original, undulating and unpredictable, though recognizable, pots of George Ohr, collected and displayed within an equally unconventional building, an architectural phenomenon, certainly in the South, built by Frank Gehry. (See the building in a related Gambit story, “Remembering Old Biloxi.”)
Within seconds of entering, however, it wasn’t the Ohr pots or Gehry structure that caught my eye, but rather a vivid blue horse by Walter Inglis Anderson (1903-1965), the famed painter who also formed pots and shapes with clay as part of his family’s Shearwater Pottery.
I wandered through generations of Shearwater Pottery to the equally distinct Newcomb Art Pottery, so familiar to us in New Orleans, along with the crabs and fish of Singing River, all part of “Earth, Sea & Sky: Southern Ceramics from the Dod Stewart Collection” (through June 2, 2012).
Distracted by the quality and quantity in this temporary exhibition, I almost forgot the real prize, the George Ohr pots displayed beneath his enlarged photographs, as though the ‘Mad Potter’ himself smiles at this long-overdue recognition.
KING REX! Are there two more regally redundant words in the English and Latin languages? Of course not — and all we can say is: Move over, king cake vodka, because Carnival-themed cocktail luxurie is in da house.
The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America is holding its convention in Las Vegas, and New Orleans cocktail guru and rum-bum-about-town Wayne Curtis is there to report for his Slow Cocktails blog. It was Curtis, a veritable rum-soaked Ponce de Leon, who stumbled across King Rex Vodka, King Rex Bourbon and King Rex Rum, three new New Orleans-themed boozes fit for a king ... or a king rex.
Let's learn more. From the company's website:
The King REX brand has pushed the boundaries even further when it came to creating its bottles. The designs include unique crystal jewels, but also feature an interesting shape face showcasing an intricate colorful painted texture mask seen at Carnival. The exquisite bottle capsulation is as regal as any King's crown with each bottle neck painstaking design for the ultimate ease to speed pour. Each designers bottle identifies the category of spirits by their Carnival color of purple "Justice" King REX Ultra-Premium Vodka, green "Faith" King REX Ultra-Premium Silver Rum, and gold " Power" King REX Ultra-Premium Bourbon. Each bottle has a LED light that can be switched on from the base of the bottle for a more translucent glorious "come and celebrate with Rex" statement. These bottles could easily be mistaken for an avant-garde artwork. The bottle and packaging have been designed with the respect and traditional of its New Orleans and Venetian masquerade culture.
More under the cut, including a unique KING REX recipe that will satisfy your itch for a piece of dried jicama in your Sazerac ...
“Ya’ll’s have fun!” called the hotel desk manager as my sister and I moseyed through the lobby of the Rusty Parrot Lodge.
“Did he just say ‘ya’ll’s’?” asked Heather (and did I appropriately use apostrophes?).
Whatever the friendly reputation of the South, we’ve got stiff competition in the West, where in towns like Jackson, Wyoming, cowboys tip their hats on the street, motorists screech to a halt rather than hold up approaching pedestrians, and restaurant servers and shopkeepers confirm our plans for the evening.
“Will we see you gals for Bluegrass at the Wort tonight?” asked the soft-spoken gentleman building our fire, as Heather and I ate berry-filled oatmeal beneath our room’s goose down comforters.
It was on the quick plane ride from Salt Lake City to Jackson Hole that we first suspected a vortex of sorts, a descent into the land of friendly, hearty folk, such as the he-man in front of us, who leaned over his seat following the we’ve now reached our cruising altitude signal and asked the question we would hear at least another two hundred times this week:
“Do you Chatty Cathys ski?”
We learned from his camouflage-clad wife of their plans, a three-week wilderness camping adventure, including fly-fishing and river rafting throughout Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.
What about the animals? I asked, timidly.
“I’m not afraid of bears,” he laughed. “I’m a Marine!”
While Southern Rep's production of A Streetcar Named Desire has added a performance due to crowds and great reviews (read Will Coviello's take here), a reimagined staging begins previews tomorrow night at the Broadhurst Theater on Broadway. This version features a black cast led by Blair Underwood as Stanley ... but not Stanley Kowalski:
Underwood views his Stanley—in this show, the Polish last name Kowalski will be dropped—as a man-child, and the actor has clearly worked hard to reconcile his character's obvious failings with Underwood's natural sympathy for anyone he plays: "I do like Stanley very much. I don't like what he does. He's a flawed person, to say the least."
More from The Village Voice's Michael Musto:
As you know, Tennessee Williams' culture-clash classic A Streetcar Named Desire is coming to Broadway any moment now, featuring a cast of color. Well, at a Drama Desk panel discussion at Sardi's the other day, Blair Underwood—who's playing the old Brando role, the brutish Stanley Kowalski—said he's just Stanley now.
"Do I look Polish?" he cracked to host Elyssa Gardner from USA Today.
Underwood went on to reveal: "We got permission from the Tennessee Williams estate to take out the 'Kowalskis'."
What's more interesting (to me, at least) is that this new Streetcar features music by the great Terence Blanchard. It runs for 16 weeks only, so if you want to see it, plan your trip to New York now.
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