Thursday, February 26, 2009

Landrieu Calls For FEMA Director's Resignation

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 7:52 PM

Following yesterday’s CBS News story reporting there have been numerous complaints against Doug Whitmer, chief of staff of FEMA’s Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office in New Orleans, Sen. Mary Landrieu is calling for Whitmer’s resignation. According to CBS, there is an ongoing investigation surrounding 80 employment-related complaints that have been filed by the New Orleans FEMA office staff since January 1, and 30 of those charges, including sexual harassment, involve Whitmer.


In a press release, Landrieu expressed her frustration.


“We have seen examples of extraordinary waste, fraud and abuse in contractors hired by the government. In this case, it is actually the management of our FEMA office in New Orleans. The clean-up process should begin with the resignation of Doug Whitmer.”    

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Mardi Gras Caucus

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 7:10 PM

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Mardi Gras is picking up strange political relevance - from Heckuva Job Bobby's weird "Happy Mardi Gras" salutation (which got Stephen Colbert's shirt off) to this news from that Val Kilmer is considering a run for governor of New Mexico. He's been Batman, Moses (in the musical version of The Ten Commandments), Jim Morrison (and is rumored to be cast as David Lee Roth in The Dirt, the biography of Motley Crue), Willem DeKooning (in Pollack) and Bacchus, so governor is the next illogical step. He has no prior experience in politics, so perhaps Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sarah Palin have made it look easy (though of the three, only Arnold has done any heavy lifting). Maybe it's actors who can do anything. And there's no telling who's already exploring a bid for Bacchus XLII.

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Busy Busy Bobby: Jindal's a '60 Minutes' man

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 6:32 PM

60 Minutes

Fresh off his Sunday appearance on Meet the Press, his much-discussed Tuesday night prime-time debut, and a family trip to Disney World, Gov. Bobby Jindal will also be on this Sunday's edition of 60 Minutes in a profile by Morley Safer. Can a sit-down with the ladies of The View be far off?

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Funeral arrangements set for Antoinette K-Doe

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 4:29 PM

Visitation will take place from 2-7 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, February 27, at Ernie K-Doe's Mother-in-Law Lounge at 1500 N. Claiborne Ave, and also from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, February 28, at the St. James Methodist Church at 1925 Ursulines Ave.

Following an 11 a.m. funeral service, Mrs. K-Doe will be taken in a procession from the church to St. Louis Cemetery #2, where Ernie K-Doe was buried in 2001. A repast will follow at Mid-City Lanes Rock n'Bowl, 4133 S. Carrollton Ave., from 2:30-6:30 p.m.

Donations to Mrs. K-Doe's memorial fund will be accepted at Metairie Bank, 2341 Metairie Road, Metairie, LA 70001. Checks can be made payable to Antoinette K-Doe Memorial Fund.

"Teenage Antoinette - you can't break her yet."

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Voodoo Music Experience moves to Halloween weekend

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 6:37 AM

The 11th annual Voodoo Music Experience, now an established part of the October calendar in New Orleans, has announced its 2009 dates -- Oct. 30-Nov. 1, or Halloween weekend. No word on bookings yet, but you can subscribe to the festival's Twitter feed to find out the info as soon as they know it.

Last year's Voodoo Fest got raves for its varied lineup and some boos for its treatment of VIP ticketholders. One can only imagine what organizers will do with Halloween thrown into the mix.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A breakfast for civic engagement

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 10:40 PM

This Saturday, the New Orleans Citizen Participation Project (NOLACPP), a group that "aims to develop a model for a comprehensive, citywide civic engagement system," will be holding a breakfast conference at the Ashé Cultural Center to present their findings and gather feedback. It's the first event in what the group intends to be a three-month public comment period before the final draft of the model is set down in May.

In a statement, Kent Twitchell, president of the Committee for a Better New Orleans, which oversees the NOLACPP, said, "It's high time for the people of New Orleans to have a real voice in city government on the issues that impact them directly every day."

The breakfast starts at 8:30 a.m., and the meeting continues from 9 a.m.-noon. The Ashé Cultural Center is at 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. To r.s.v.p. or get more information, call Breonne DeDecker at 267-4665.

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R.I.P. Antoinette K-Doe

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 8:24 PM

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Two weeks ago, I was writing Antoinette K-Doe's Baby Doll revival story. Today I find myself writing her remembrance. In place of the final installment of Miriam Batiste Reed's transcript, I'm posting my entire conversation with Antoinette, likely the last interview she gave. Some are calling her death on Mardi Gras morning poetic, but for now, at least, it just seems especially sad.  


The Baby Dolls had disappeared, and I brought the Baby Dolls back. I named them the Ernie K-Doe Baby Dolls. The reason I did that was to show the new Baby Dolls are career ladies. We all working ladies. The history of Baby Dolls, from years ago when I was a little girl, I thought they were baby dolls that I could play with. My grandmother told me, “No, it’s ladies.” It developed into getting history on the Baby Dolls, because I was always fascinated by our culture. And I understood that the Baby Dolls was whores. I knew they had the Red Light District, the Baby Dolls here. So when I brought the Baby Dolls back, I didn’t want them to have the reputation they had before. I said, “You know what? Let’s clean up the act.” So we made it career ladies.

Continue reading »

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Ash Wednesday

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 6:35 AM

Mardi Gras 2009

Mardi Gras 2009 will be remembered for several things: the best possible weather possible for a Fat Tuesday, the largest crowds since Katrina, and the passing of Antoinette K-Doe in the early morning hours. When I heard, I didn't want to believe it, but I turned on WWOZ and heard them playing "I'll Be Seeing You" instead of the usual Carnival music, and I knew it was true. It was doubly bizarre, because Antoinette had taken a heart attack on the morning of Mardi Gras 2008.

Alison Fensterstock will have much more about the legacy of Antoinette and her Mother-in-Law Lounge, but for now I'm rereading Noah Bonaparte Pais' cover story from last week, "Rally of the Dolls," which may be Antoinette's last interview. The future of the Mother-in-Law Lounge may be in doubt, but her accomplishments -- from reviving the career of Ernie K-Doe to reviving the tradition of the Baby Dolls -- are not. It's another hard blow in a year that's had enough of them (and when will they stop?), but her legacy lives on.

R.I.P., Antoinette.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Empress of the Universe Antoinette K-Doe called home

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2009 at 3:25 PM


In the early hours of Mardi Gras Day, Antoinette K-Doe, widow of the legendary Ernie and proprietor of the Mother-in-Law Lounge, passed away. Last Mardi Gras Day, Mrs. K-Doe had entered the hospital for heart failure, but recovered and was quickly back behind the bar.

Mrs. K-Doe was a local legend and as proprietor of the Lounge and steward of K-Doe's memory, an international icon.

EDIT: Yesterday, along with dozens of other friends of Ernie and Antoinette, I spent Mardi Gras Day helping to serve beer at the Lounge. The Northside Skull and Bones showed up early to pay tribute to Miss Antoinette. Later, her friend Guitar Lightnin' Lee played in the garden, and the Black Eagles Mardi Gras Indians sang "Indian Red" to her memory.

Antoinette was a friend of mine and a very dear friend of my boyfriend, Lefty Parker. She considered herself his adoptive mother, and she was taking a fairly strong hand in planning our April wedding, which was to be held at the Mother-in-Law. One of the last things she ever told me was that our dog would need a special outfit for the ceremony, and that to offset the wedding's cost, we should get sponsors. Antoinette used to baby-sit the dog when Lefty was out of town and he adored her, probably because she would feed him whole hamburgers, one after another.

Continue reading »

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Her Story, Part III

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2009 at 6:45 PM


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For the Gambit cover story, “Rally of the Dolls,” I had the pleasure of speaking at length with Mrs. Miriam Batiste Reed, sister to “Uncle” Lionel Batiste of the Treme Brass Band, and the self-proclaimed original Mardi Gras Baby Doll. The transcript of our conversation, which I will post here in segments throughout the week, amounts to nothing less than an oral history of the revived Baby Doll tradition and other latter-day Claiborne Avenue rituals — as well as a vivid reanimation of one woman’s most vital memories.


You know I comes on television? Every Carnival. Did you see me? I was on television with my two brothers, Norman and Lionel. He got that name Uncle Lionel and it just stuck with him. You know where he wears his watch? On his hand. They said, “Uncle Lionel, why you have your watch on your hand?” And he said, “Why? You don’t know why?” He said, “I got more time on my hands.” He is something else. When I get out there, I let them know that I’m coming. But with the family just scattered all around, you know, I don’t want to go live in no hotel. When I get in town, I go see my people. They all, “Oh, Auntie, Auntie, Auntie.” I got people call me “Auntie” and I’m not their aunt. But this the way my Batiste family was raised up. We love everybody, we do what we can for everybody, you know. And we would get there and have practice at my house. I lived down in the Ninth Ward. If you ever get a chance to, you pass going all the way back of Caffin Avenue, the 2400 block. And my house is still standing, but everything inside is gutted out. I’m planning on what I have to do to get it back.


So, Uncle Lionel. Oh, I have so many nieces. I got German nieces, Japan, England. Don’t he look like the peanut man? Yes indeed. My other brother Norman, he’s sort of quiet. Uncle Norman plays drums. He is an original shoe pimp. You know he can pimp your shoe for you? That’s what he was doing: pimping shoes.


I keep in touch with my brother Norman. We always was famous for the King Day. You get a King Cake and you have your party at your house. And food, and you singing and dancing and we kidding and joking. And when it’s time to cut the King Cake, you take the knife and cut you a slice of cake, and you get to eating it. And if you chew on the little baby doll, you have to have the next party.


People used to dress in women’s clothes, you know, because Mardi Gras was “All Fool’s Day.” Then after they took that away from Claiborne, the kids start with jeans and plaid shirts. And nobody wanted to take up the old, old faction of Mardi Gras. We say Mardi Gras. But the other people, they say, “Oh, Carnival.” Hell with Carnival.


It’s like everything just went ka-boom, you know? Because on Claiborne, people used to come out early in the morning and get a spot. They’d have their barbecue grill and their music and things, you know. And they’d be under there waiting for the Zulu parade to come by. Because the Zulu used to come and stop by Dooky Chase on Orleans. Each stop where the Zulu would be at a different barroom. I know you heard about the Caledonia — the old Caledonia that was down on St. Philip and St. Claude. And they would leave there and they would go down St. Claude to Sidney Brown’s lounge, on St. Claude and St. Bernard. And then it was other spots, you know, all around London Avenue and all that. The floats was made out of the papier-mache. But then they dropped all that and they came out with the old fancy floats and everything. Because they have a club that parades, and we were in that parade. It’s the first parade that wanted the Baby Dolls with them. 

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