Monday, February 23, 2009

Taking It to the Street Food

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2009 at 3:46 PM

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High tide at Mardi Gras is a notoriously poor time to eat in New Orleans. Parades roll at dinnertime, and unless you're stationed at a well-provisioned house party or plan ahead and build yourself a picnic the food options along the route have largely been junk.

But lately I've noticed the street food improving in quality, thanks to some enterprising locals. A recent case in point is a barbecue operation (above) set up on the Uptown, riverside corner of Chestnut Street and Napoleon Avenue.

They keep a full-scale, towed barbecue smoker huffing and puffing to put out ribs, chicken and sausage. For $5 a plate it hits the spot, and the meats have a smokiness that puts the product from most local barbecue restaurants to shame. They're also selling "little beer" (Coors Light) and "big beer" (24-oz. cans of Evil Eye malt liquor).

Just a few blocks up Napoleon, the front yard at the corner of Perrier Street has also been transformed into a concession stand, with the homeowners selling jambalaya, red beans and drinks over their iron fence.

There have to be many, many more examples along the route of either stationary or itinerant homespun food vendors. If you've found a favorite, please share below for the benefit of those heading to tonight's parades.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Best. Correction. Ever.

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 10:54 PM

Portfolio magazine calls this "the best correction of the week. Okay, the month. Aw, hell, I'll say it: Best. Correction. Ever." From the Huffington Post:

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Oscar Stimulus Package

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 9:49 PM

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Political consultant and commentator Donna Brazile weighs in on New Orleans' recovery, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and puts in a plug for local seafood.


Her Story, Part II

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 9:14 PM


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For the current 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.


When I started out, taking it back, we had 18 Baby Dolls. Our colors were solid colors, and we had satin material. We would make the Baby Doll dresses. We used to come out in crepe paper. I was over at the Jazz Fest and I showed them how to make the paper dresses.


If you wanted to be a Baby Doll with the original Baby Dolls, you had to dress like the Baby Dolls, in the years that I had it, you know. We would parade in the street and stop at different houses. And everybody would be out there: “Oh, the Baby Dolls is coming, the Baby Dolls is coming.” Well, I love to sing, too. And I’m an old Creole, OK, so when we sing what we don’t know the words to something, we go “La la la la la la.” [Laughs] So the house that we would stop by, they would have cold drinks for you, and red beans and rice, you know. And you could have something to eat, and then we’d just go along, you know. 


We Baby Dolls would come out about 6 o’clock in the morning. We had the Devil and the Dirty Dozen. You know who originated the Dirty Dozen? The Batiste family. That’s right. The Dirty Dozen consists of men (who) want to dress in ladies’ clothes. On Mardi Gras day, most people called it “Fool’s Day.” You know, you dress like you want. My uncle and them would come out in red union drawers. My brothers and my uncle and them would play the guitar. My daddy was the guitar player. And my mother was a singer. Alma Batiste. Her name was Alma Trepagnier. You know I had seven brothers. We all masked in Baby Dolls. We would have practice. When I said, “Oh, I’m going to mask in the Baby Dolls. I’m going to take up what Momma used to do,” everybody just clinged to Miriam. I’m Aunt Miriam to all of them.


My father, he made a devil’s suit when they were coming out. This man that wore the devil’s suit was called Frank-o, Frank Johnson. He had his suit on and he lived around the corner of St. Claude — my mother and them, we lived on St. Philip. And he said, “Oh, I forgot my wallet. I’m going to go back home and get it.” Momma and all of them, they would dress. And we had a lot of practice for the Baby Dolls, you know, singing old songs and things. He left and went out the house and went around the corner to get his wallet. So Momma and all of them, they were waiting, dressed and ready to come out the house. And they said, “Oh, where’s Frank? Where’s Frank?” And Frank was in jail. They didn’t see Frank till the next morning. Because when he went around the corner, they had the little white kids — some of them used to live around there. When the little girl turned around, she said, “Oh, Momma, the devil, the devil!” The mother got hold of Mr. Frank and held him down and called the policemen. When they came, they take him to jail. We didn’t know where was Frank at until the next morning.

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Computer Expert Can Find Mayor's Missing Missives

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 9:09 PM

A local expert in computer forensics thinks she could retrieve Mayor Nagin’s deleted emails.


“Based on the information I have right now, I think there’s a good chance they are retrievable,” says Johnette Hassell, owner of Electronic Evidence Retrieval, an area company specializing in computer forensics and electronic discovery, which refers to how electronic information is sought, located, secured and searched with the intent of using it as evidence in civil or criminal cases.


Hassell says she bases her opinion from reading the news reports regarding WWL-TV’s ongoing court battle with the Nagin Administration over the mayor’s emails and his 2008 appointment calendar that television reporter, Lee Zurik, requested from City Hall. She hypothesizes the emails were deleted all at once, instead of as ongoing process.


“But I don’t know whether that’s true, or not, “Hassells adds. “They really need a forensics person in there.”


Hassell says there a number of different options she could us, depending on the how buried the emails are, to find the missing data. First, Hassell would make a copy of the City Hall hard drive and take it back to her computer lab and begin running tests to find the missing information. Sometimes documents appear deleted to most computer users, but in reality, the computer is still storing them, and a forensic expert can easily unearth them.

Continue reading »

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d'Etat Stacks the Deck

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 9:05 PM

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Krewe d'Etat's Banana Republicans hit the streets tonight (6 p.m. Uptown) with enough swag to land a senate seat from Rod Blagojevich. Krewe playing cards are new this year, and come with only four Aces. See more favors after the jump.

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New Orleans Sports Scuttlebutt 2-20-09

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 8:18 PM

What was Chris Paul's and the New Orleans Hornets' reaction to the un-trading of Tyson Chandler? Well first they, on the shoulders of 37 points from David West,  beat Oklahoma City with a late CP3 lay-up -despite 47 Points from Kevin Durant . Then they "reacted" against Orlando by rolling past the Magic behind Paul's 36 points.

But after all was said and done the thunder rescinded the Chandler trade and the Hornets and Chandler were back to square one. Chandler rejoined the team after he failed his physical in Oklahoma. Though there's a lot of confusion and  mystery surrounding Chandler's return to the Hornets one reason the  trade was voided probably was Chandler's turf toe problems that have been ongoing since the 2006-07 season.

Chandler was welcomed back by his coach and teammates-most of which were vocal in their dissatisfaction behind the trade. But his return might be on hold because of soreness in his left ankle. After the Thunder called off the Chandler trade the Hornets stood pat as the trade deadline passed most likely because they realized that the one that didn't get away might have been the  best pickup for New Orleans.

In other news the start of Tulane's 2009  baseball season has finally arrived. The Green Wave will open their season at home tonight against the Le Moyne Dolphins (Syracuse, New York).  This season the experienced Green Wave will be leaning on the leadership of its ten seniors and seven juniors but they will also be counting on the team's new pitcher Conrad Flynn. Flynn joins the team from Garyson County College (Texas) where he was All-Conference and brought home the Outstanding pitcher award en route to winning the 2008 Junior College World Series. Flynn is being billed as the teams new ace and a vital part of the Green Wave's 09' push for a championship.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Last Hurrah for Hookah Café

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 10:19 PM

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Mardi Gras day will be the end of the line for Hookah Café. The Frenchmen Street restaurant and nightclub plans to close next week after five years in business. Management blamed "recently passed anti-smoking laws."

A state law that has been in force for about 14 months prohibits smoking in most workplaces, including restaurants. Exceptions to the law were carved out for casinos and bars, giving new importance to the distinction between bars that serve food and restaurants that have bars. Hookah Café seemed to occupy a hazy area between the two.

As the name implies, hookahs, the aromatic Middle Eastern water pipes, were a centerpiece of the operation, which also developed an ambitious contemporary menu, hosted DJs and dance parties and presented live music on the weekends. After 9 p.m. only people age 21 or older were allowed inside.

A renovation completed last year around this time was aimed at making the place more of a dining destination, with low-slung lounge chairs and coffee tables replaced by more conventional dining room accommodations.

Hookah Café is in a unique location fronting two sides of a bend in Frenchmen Street near Esplanade Avenue. It had previously been a highly hyped but short-lived restaurant called Belle Fourche.

There will be a final "blow out" party on Feb. 24, Mardi Gras day, with DJ Beverly Skillz.

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Morning 40 no more

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 10:15 PM

The rumors are true - downtown's beloved band of drunkards the Morning 40 Federation will play their last show this Friday night at One Eyed Jacks. That means fans will have to find another goal to look towards to keep themselves awake on Mardi Gras afternoon; the 40's sort of annual (enjoyed by all, remembered clearly by few) Mardi Gras night performance at Checkpoint Charlie is off the calendar.

Formed by a group of Bywater drinking buddies who thought, as guitarist Bailey Smith explained to me once, that there should be an official organization requiring people to drink a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor before breakfast, the '40s for the most part gradually learned to play their instruments over the course of being in a gigging band.

According to guitarist Ryan Scully, the band, though still all close friends, had not written any new material in some time and were "just going in different directions."

Their raucous combination of brassy bombast and vaudevillian sleaze celebrated the gleefully irresponsible, boozy culture of downtown New Orleans, earning them sold-out gigs locally and a loyal national following. After signing to the M80 label three years ago, they put out a self-titled compilation of early self-released tracks and a new studio album, Ticonderoga, in 2007. In 2008, they backed notorious soul satyr Andre Williams on the Bloodshot Records-released Can You Deal With It?

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My Baby, She Roped Me a Ladder

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 9:36 PM


Photo by Flickr user CoreyAnn. Rights reserved under this Creative Commons license.

Two days until Endymion -- and just one more day to vote in Gambit's completely and totally scientific reader poll about the use of ladders on Mardi Gras parade routes. Just click:

Ladders: Love 'em? Regulate 'em? Ban 'em?

And feel free to leave your thoughts on ladders here.

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