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.
“He must be Irish,” noted Emer Ferguson about New Yorker Dan Flavin, “because it says here he spent three hours drawing in the rain.”
My friend Emer and I, on the other hand, spent three hours last week in a New York museum, studying the drawings, notes, and ideas of the “Minimalist monk”* during our biannual visit to the Morgan Library, Pierpont Morgan’s monument to books, papers and great works of art.
Familiar with his fluorescent light bulb installations, I approached the exhibition, “Dan Flavin: Drawing,” the first of its kind, with a sense of curiosity. Flavin’s fame centers on rooms transformed by his decisions: the size, color, and placement of one or more of the most ordinary, industrial and, within our homes or workplaces, irritating utilitarian objects.
I expected large plans and proposals. Instead I found the tiniest possible renderings, many written on notepaper no larger than three inches in length. In addition, most of Flavin’s drawings include notes, such as alternate green and yellow five times on west wall, near impossible to study without a magnifying glass. In essence, when it came to drawing, the great Minimalist, when he wasn’t transforming former military bunkers in Marfa, Texas into expansive, curiously lit rooms-without-meaning (related story here), rejected Minimalism in favor of ‘mini.’
His memorable pieces for Gambit included chronicling the state of New Orleans Recreation Department facilities, interviewing Spike Lee and profiling the proprietors of a Gulf Coast tattoo shop affected by the BP oil disaster. At The Lens, he's been dogged in his reporting on Orleans Parish Prison, particularly Sheriff Marlin Gusman ... and somewhere in there, he found time to co-write a guidebook to New Orleans.
Not bad for less than two years in town. Good luck back in London, Matt.
According to a representative of the New Orleans Convention & Visitor's Bureau, New Orleans is packed this weekend (and we're not even counting the people sleeping outside on the Endymion route). Here are the hotel occupancy numbers as of this morning:
On a somewhat related note, I got a Mardi Gras-themed promotional email from Hotels.com this morning. Do you see what I see?
Yep, it's a sale on rooms at well-known Mardi Gras hot spots like New York and Las Vegas. Maybe given the occupancy rates here at Carnival central, they didn't have any rooms to sell in New Orleans.
While it seems most people have put last Saturday's Saints loss to the San Francisco 49ers behind them and are looking forward to the 2012 season, one aspect of the game hasn't gone away. Some who went to the game at Candlestick Park said the behavior of some 49ers fans went far beyond good-natured rivalry. (Exhibit A: Renee Peck's essay for NolaVie.)
This surprised me, because I've visited the Bay Area many times and always found it a friendly city. (And it has a lot in common with New Orleans, including great food, unique and beautiful architecture, lots of eccentrics and the charming delusion that it's the center of the universe.) So I don't think San Franciscans as a whole are like this. There may be some jackass Saints fans — but I've been in "mixed" crowds of football fans before, and I've never seen Saints fans (or their opponents) go beyond teasing. It's supposed to be a good time, and generally it is.
They're even discussing this in San Francisco. Check this blogpost by a member of the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle — a post titled "Should 49ers Fans Be Worried About Hooliganism?"
I’m posting a letter to the editor from a shocked Saints fan that ran in the Tuesday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle because it deserves a broader community discussion. The letter, written by Don Moses of Mill Valley, describes ugly and profane epithets hurled at him and his two teenage daughters when they went to Saturday’s 49ers game against the New Orleans Saints. Moses decries the combative fan culture. His was not the only letter The Chronicle received from horrified Saints fans.
I emailed Lois Kazakoff, deputy editorial page editor of the Chron, and asked her whom she'd heard from on this issue, whether there were any opposing viewpoints and how many letters she'd gotten. Kazakoff replied:
both people living here and people who flew in for the game
Some of the letters mentioned that San Franciscans were cordial in some stands, and in the hotels.
I don't know how many letters. I think I received 5, but I'm just one editor. The blog post has 280 plus comments on it.
That was three hours ago, and the blog post now has 466 (!) comments. A few of them are under the jump — and the comments are a lot more reflective than defensive ...
One year ago I began blogging for Gambit as ‘Dolores Pepper,’ a pseudonym detailed here. Like many things in life, however, the blog took a different turn, occasionally written from Dolores’s perspective, but more often from mine, as I experience not only the city of New Orleans, but also the world outside.
Gambit has a category called “The New Orleanian Abroad” which describes most of my posts —- from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Lecompte, Louisiana. “Abroad,” to my amusement, is, according to Gambit, any place outside of my Marigny/French Quarter home base.
“But what did you think about the art?” asked a friend recently, regarding a post on Minimalism in Marfa, Texas. “I’m not a critic,” I told her. I hope to pique interests in the arts without ever crushing an artistic spirit or expression. “Besides,” I continued, “if I don’t like it, I don’t write about it.”
YOUR FAVORITES (According to comments, stats, and those of you who stopped me on the street)
1. “For New Orleans”: I remember the first time I laughed after the storm: My friend Geri described the $200,000 worth of rodent damage to her house as "squirrels gone wild."
2. “Swamp Women”: If you look at the guys, you'd never know we almost died.
3. “Rejecting the Metaphor: Discovering Modern Art in West Texas”: The author visits the remote small town of Marfa, Texas and finds big-time contemporary art (and a surprising New Orleans connection).
4. “Breakfast at Lea’s Pies”: "Not too many of these places left," said George Rodrigue. But none of us believed him.
5. “Iry LeJeune, Cajun Accordion Player”: The tragically short life of a blind accordion player changed Cajun music forever.
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