Friday, August 28, 2009

Citizen Panel: NORD Needs Change

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 9:41 PM

The New Orleans Recreation Citizens Advisory Committee today presented its plans to a City Council committee for revamping the New Orleans Recreation Department. The panel suggested a number of changes to improve NORD, including how the department is organized and doubling its funding. Both of these two proposals would require amending the city’s charter through a public vote.

Council members greeted the report with enthusiasm, and Councilmember –At-Large Arnie Fielkow said he’d like to see action on the proposal in the near future.

“My hope is that this Council will have the courage to put this issue up during this council term,” Fielkow said. “If not by the fall, then at least early next year.”

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Second Line Season Is Back!

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 6:30 PM

YES!! It’s finally here! Dun dun dun dun!

After a three month hiatus (two and a half actually but it felt like five - you do the math), second line season is upon us. Excitement! All that dancing, singing, laughing, sweating, eating, drinking, gossiping, swearing, flirting… CANNOTWAIT!

The video above is to get you hyped. Below is a list of this weekend’s second lines and a brass band blowout lagniappe:

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Japanese Imports

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 11:15 PM

Americans love plenty of Japanese imports, from cars and TVs to sushi and karaoke. Many are also fascinated by some of the oddities, including sumo wrestling, Japanese animation and manga comics, Hello Kitty, Godzilla movies (and Japanglish). Some of the everyday Japanese things we probably won't be enjoying anytime soon include public beer vending machines, hostess bars and shrunk wrapped squid jerky.

While the film The Departures racked up Japanese awards and won the 2009 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, it also offers a look at daily life in small town Japan. Daigo Kobayashi decides that he is not going to make it as a professional cellist, so he moves to his hometown with his wife. He misunderstands a job advertisement and ends up as an apprentice undertaker. But in Japan, there is a very strong stigma about touching the dead, so Daigo hides his job from his wife, neighbors and old friends. But he can't hide his profession from the town forever. It's an understated but touching and often humorous film about finding fulfillment.

The film screens at Zeitgeist at 7 p.m. Friday through Thursday.

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Walk for Peace

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 7:55 PM

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Tonight beginning at 6 p.m., the Valley of the Silent Men Social Aid and Pleasure Club will lead SilenceIsViolence and the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force in a “Walk for Peace” through the Central City neighborhood.

The walk will begin and end at 2220 Jackson Avenue, close to Van McMurray Park, which is where 2-year-old Ja’Shawn Powell was killed in January. Powell’s father, Danny Platt, later confessed to murdering his son because of a dispute Platt was having with Powell’s mother over child support payments.

Earlier this year while I was researching the story, “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” which profiled Reverend John Raphael and his organization, Yes We Care, a group concerned with curbing violent crime in the city, I met Tameyka Powell, Ja’Shawn Powell’s aunt. Tameyka Powell is a 26-year-old mother of five, who explained to me the burden of Ja’Shawn’s murder on her family. Daniella Powell, Ja’Shawn’s mother, had been in and out of the hospital, attempted suicide several times, and, eventually, left New Orleans to get a fresh start, relocating to Arlington, Texas. Tameyka said her 4-year-old son, who had been Ja’Shawn’s best friend and cousin, continued to have behavioral problems at school.

Tameyka admitted she too had tried suicide, despondent over her nephew’s death and the circumstances surrounding it, but was now starting to recover because of her relationship with Reverend Raphael. She said Raphael, who had not previously known the Powells, contacted and counseled her family following the murder when they had no one else to turn to.

“Ain’t no minister, no preacher that since this tragedy happened, that came into our lives, but Reverend Raphael,” Tameyka told me.

After Raphael began working with the Powells, Tameyka joined his church, and Raphael says she has been continuously bringing in new members. I spoke to Raphael today and he said he would be attending tonight’s walk. I’m sure at some point, he will stop and offer up a prayer for Ja’Shawn Powell and his family.

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The New York Times on Memorial Medical Center during Katrina

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 6:17 PM

The Columbia Journalism Review has the backstory:

When New York Times Magazine editor Gerald Marzorati, in the course of pondering the future of long-form journalism in a Q&A with readers, mentioned this week that the magazine was about to publish a 13,000-word story that cost an estimated $400,000 to produce, it was impossible not to wonder what the article would be about.

Readers more attuned to the calendar probably could have guessed: on the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the piece, written by Sheri Fink and co-published by ProPublica, explores the “deadly choices” made in the storm’s wake at New Orleans’s Memorial Medical Center.

You can read it here. I've only flipped through the story, but it's obvious you've got to be feeling strong to get through it.

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Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 4:32 PM

  • Louisiana may have more deep freezers than any other state, thanks to the beauty of Sportsman's Paradise's quantity of fish and game (and the need to store them). That means there are probably many sitting around, not being put to work. If you can stand using a horizontal fridge, converting a deep freezer to refrigerator could save you more than 90 percent on your home energy consumption — more efficient than EnergyStar appliances.
  • X-TREME Localwashing: Kroeger displays a "farmers market" showcase in its produce section.
  • Kermit the Frog often spoke from his muppet-y Pedestal of Truth, arms flailing uncontrollably, that it certainly is not easy being green. Now a militia of singing and dancing human-sized muppets will aim to reverse the Cause. The next Sesame Street Live show set for New Orleans is "Elmo's Green Thumb," in which the ticklish muppet plants a sunflower and gets the help of his Street friends to find a suitable spot for it once it has outgrown its pot. Then, the plot thickens:

Rather than let Sunny follow nature’s course, Abby Cadabby, Sesame Street’s fairy-in-training, casts a spell to make Sunny grow. The spell does just the opposite and, instead of growing, Elmo and all of his friends shrink! While Abby searches for just the right words to reverse the spell, Elmo, Zoe, Telly and friends explore Big Bird’s garden from a smaller perspective and learn some big lessons about patience, overcoming their fears and appreciating the role that each creature plays in our ecosystem.

The show stops at the New Orleans Arena Oct. 22-25. Opening night tickets start are $10. All other performances are $13-$26. Visit for more information.

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Meet the Candidate

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 4:19 PM


With a profile that’s been more private than public lately, Congressman Charlie Melancon is campaigning to be your next U.S. senator


Charlie Melancon may be the first major political candidate from Louisiana to announce a bid for office from his own dining room table. That all of his supporters, the state’s media and other political onlookers were able to fit into his charming Napoleonville home was even more remarkable. But that, as they say, is the magic of the Internet.

Last week, Melancon told the world he would challenge U.S. Sen. David Vitter by email. The message, though, also provided a link to a YouTube video posted on his campaign’s site.

Click. (Cue piano) “Hello. My name is Charlie Melancon. I'm a businessman, who's been an ambassador for our state's sugar industry and I've owned and run several successful businesses. I'm a proud family man, the father of two great children, and Peachy and I celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary just last week.”

Peachy didn’t enter the frame with a tray of fried catfish or Natchitoches meat pies, but it would have been a nice touch. The video, however, does play into the image of detached U.S. congressman who’s ducking town hall meetings, a portrayal that’s been floated by Melancon’s conservative opposition and anyone else generally paying attention.

In comparison, Sen. David Vitter, the Republican from Metairie that Melancon will face on the fall 2010 ballot, is in the trenches and holding town hall meetings – and, more importantly, answering, although most times indirectly, questions about his connection to a Beltway-based prostitution ring that was run by a madam who killed herself last year....

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Charlie Melancon announces his challenge to David Vitter

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 3:29 PM

Rep. Charlie Melancon announces his challenge to Sen. David Vitter in the 2010 election.

Expect to hear the "proud family man" meme repeated a lot over the next year.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Wiz Kid

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 7:54 PM

Sequined glove, high-water slacks, and penny loafers, oh my! In the 1980s, Michael Jackson crafted his signature look. Throughout his career, the King of Pop has donned many character looks — from a zombie to a gangster to an ancient Egyptian magi — but there’s one character that not all fans may remember: the friendly, loveable scarecrow without a brain.

In the 1978 film adaptation of The Wiz from the Broadway musical of the same name, Diana Ross played Dorothy, a young school teacher anxious to get back home to Harlem, Richard Pryor played The Wiz, the magician who could grant her wish to do so, and Mabel King played Evillene, the wicked witch who stood in her way. Jackson played the scarecrow in a film that has quietly joined the list of cult classics.

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Southern 'Fork

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 7:31 PM

The hated, debated and celebrated online music 'zine Pitchfork unveiled its top 500 tracks of the decade (now brought to you by Haagen-Dasz!) last week.

The list is a goofy, mainstream pop- and hip-hop- friendly mess, but it's not a horrible assessment. It left quite a few scratching their heads (LCD Soundsystem in the top 20 — twice? Kelly Clarkson breaching the top 25?), but New Orleans talent appears on the list at least five times — with one certain frog-like hip-hop prince in the top 100. Lil Wayne's "A Milli" took the No. 80 spot, which, according to P-Fork, "sounds like a random four-minute excerpt from a freestyle that could've gone for hours, Wayne chasing tangents until they become catchphrases. What's a goon to a goblin? Nobody even knows what that means..." Exactly.

Wayne also appears in the 344 spot with "Hustler Musik," and at 433 with DJ Khaled, T.I., Akon, Rick Ross, Fat Joe and Wayne's sort of other half, Birdman, for the track "We Takin' Over."

Mystikal, the 12th Ward rapper who plead guilty to sexual battery and extortion in 2003, makes an appearance at 303 with "Shake Ya Ass" — more popularly known at high school dances and basketball games as "Shake It Fast." Baby, aka Birdman, also appears on the list, clocking in at 264 for "What Happened to That Boy?"

You can listen to the tracks for free by signing up for a no-questions-asked Lala account.

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