After the flap that arose over potential gubernatorial candidate Caroline Fayard's comments at a Democratic gathering in Washington Parish ("I hate Republicans ... They are cruel and destructive. They eat their own"), it was clear the state GOP thought Christmas had come early.
Louisiana Republican Party chairman Roger Villere Jr. issued a challenge to his Democratic counterpart, Buddy Leach, to denounce the statement (Leach didn't), and now the state GOP has kept the furor furor-ing for another news cycle by issuing a "CAROLINE FAYARD HATES ME" bumpersticker:
Confidential to the GOP: You're not helping the popular perception of Louisiana literacy there...
WWL and Fox 8 reported that search-and-rescue team EquuSearch has located the body of Jim Dugan, the 42-year-old who went missing March 22 (more info here). The search team says Dugan's body is in the Mississippi River under pieces from the crumbled pier and other debris, and crews are still seeing if they will be able to recover the body.
Friends and family of Dugan are constantly updating the Help Find Jim Dugan! Facebook page with new information.
New Orleans is at the No. 9 spot among 10 of the most expensive cities in the U.S. to visit, based on the average cost of a hotel room. Forbes says New Orleans saw a 12 percent increase in hotel prices following a post-Katrina slump, putting the average hotel at $132.27 a night in 2010 (a jump from 2009's $118). That data comes from Hotels.com and excludes discounted rates and your couch, paid for by a visiting friend in beer and a fancy dinner.
But Expedia.com has them now at $150 — which, with Forbes' current data, would make it the fourth most expensive tourist destination in the U.S., just behind Boston, Honolulu and New York City.
So, while the rest of the city enjoys a (comparatively) inexpensive lifestyle, tourists in 2010 paid for the ninth most expensive trip in the U.S. Add overpriced jambalaya and "Cajun fare", cabs or parking, and French Quarter tourist shops, and that's a hefty end-of-trip bill.
Now New Orleans collectively braces for waves of emails and phone calls from friends and relatives seeking couches on which to crash.
Tonight, the Big Easy Foundation handed out its awards for best performances in New Orleans theater in 2010 at a gala event at Harrah's New Orleans Hotel & Casino. This year, there were 27 categories of nominees, along with six special awards, including the new "Standing Ovation" for exemplary contributions behind the scenes.
Actor Bryan Batt served as master of ceremonies for the show, which featured performances by many of the nominees.
The nominees and the winners (marked with an asterisk):
By Marguerite Lucas
Dubbed “a garden party under the stars,” last week’s Edible Evening, a fundraiser to benefit the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans (ESY NOLA), proved to be just that that.
The cloudless evening sky blanketed the guests milling behind Samuel J. Green Charter as jazz tones, provided by the Positive Vibrations Foundation, sifted through the air. Stalls from 30 local restaurants dotted the garden paths — from barbecue shrimp from Emeril’s and turtle soup from Upperline to grilled crawfish and Creole cream cheese gnocchi from Commander’s Palace. There also were mushroom and feta pies from the Edible Garden, stuffed with mushrooms grown and harvested by the students. Presqu’ile, one of ESY NOLA’s sponsors, provided the wine.
The event's main focus was to observe the organic garden, which involves students in all aspects of the gardening process. Its goal is to change the way students eat, learn and live, and guests could see the hard-work and care students put into maintaining the organic garden, from the neat rows of vegetables and the hand-painted signs pointing to strawberries and broccoli.
Asked why Presqu’ile winery supports ESY NOLA, president Matt Murphy points to the earth.
“We wanted to make a lasting impact beyond wine in the community,” Murphy said. “We see eye to eye on the way we treat our land and the way they treat their land. It’s a perfect fit for us in every way.”
Visit www.esynola.org for more information.
“I hate Republicans. I hate Republicans. They are cruel and destructive. They eat their young. They don’t think. They don’t allow people to think. They are bullies.”
“I don’t hate conservatives,” she added. “I am very conservative. I go to church on Sunday. I’m Catholic. I’m pro life.”
Fayard, who is widely considered to be the Democratic frontrunner should she choose to run for governor this fall against Bobby Jindal, immediately drew predictable fire from the GOP. The website The Hayride referred to it as “Caroline Fayard’s Two-Minute Hate,” while state Republican Party chairman Roger Villere Jr. issued a challenge to his Democratic counterpart, Buddy Leach, to denounce the statement. (Democratic Party spokesman Kevin Franck, never a shrinking violet, scoffed at the idea.)
“I don’t have my notes from the speech,” Fayard told Gambit this afternoon, saying she addressed the group “off the cuff.” Asked if she was trying to draw a distinction between popular perceptions of herself as a liberal, or was exaggerating what she perceived as her public persona as a Democrat, she said “I spoke off the cuff, and I don’t remember the exact context. I think it was a contextual issue. Chalk it up to my naivete in politics.”
The Revolution is one of my favorite parading clubs for the simple fact that on the buckjump front, every last one of these brothers WORKS. IT. OUT. They even managed somehow to find the one White boy in New Orleans with footwork galore. Do not sleep on ‘Jon B‘ cause does the damn thing. Plus the club always parades in the most interesting if not gorgeous suits and shoes and hats and canes and fans. I’m feeling the whole Scarface black with silver pinstripe suits ala AK 47-swinging Ray Nagin - but without the asshole-ishness that made you wanna put your foot up his ass.
Other famous faces coming out the door include Joe Blakk, club founder and famous tax man about town, Ms. Barbara Lacen Keller, founder of The Lady Buckjumpers Social Aid and Pleasure Club and assistant to Councilwoman Head of District B, and Indi CNN Doll from the Divine Ladies SA&PC with the glam eyes and runway poses.
Friends of Dugan say the last person who saw him was his friend Kelly Welberg. According to Sarah Ravits, one of the friends, Welberg says she and Dugan were sitting on the pier when it collapsed. Welberg was able to make it out of the water safely, but she told Ravits she was too intoxicated to remember if Dugan was also able to get out. He didn't show up for his shift Tuesday at the Le Meritage restaurant at the Maison Dupuy hotel, where he was working as a waiter at the time.
The NOPD released a missing persons statement March 24. WDSU reported yesterday that the NOPD asked the Houston, Texas-based volunteer search-and-rescue team EquuSearch to help find Dugan. WDSU says EquuSearch started working this morning.
There has been some confusion over whether the 5th District police or the Coast Guard has purview over the area, and because of that friends and family say they have had a hard time getting answers from the police. Many of them have taken the search into their own hands, hanging up flyers around town, searching the area around the pier and frequently updating the Help Find Jim Dugan! Facebook group with developments.
Dugan is a 42-year-old white male who is 6-feet-tall with a slender build. He has tattoos and on both arms, and one saying "We the People" on his stomach. Ravits says he had a scruffy beard at the time of his disappearance and several noticeable facial scratches from a bike fall he took a few weeks ago. A former attorney, Dugan also has a young daughter.
"He was just one of those guys who knew everyone," Ravits says.
Anyone with any information about Dugan's whereabouts should call the New Orleans Police Department’s non emergency line at 821-2222.
By Marguerite Lucas
The Rebirth Brass Band, Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs, and the Irvin Mayfield Quartet headline the Old Algiers RiverFest Saturday and Sunday (April 2-3). In its seventh year, the festival is moving to a new home at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World.
“The move [to Mardi Gras World] has created some challenges, but we’re going to have a lot more space at the West bank Mardi Gras site,” says festival director Valerie Robinson.
The line-up of features six bands each day from noon to 5:15 p.m. and it mixes traditional jazz and contemporary brass bands, and there also is some gospel music on the schedule.
“The festival focuses on the original jazz that came out of New Orleans and its connection to the river,” Robinson says.
For festival-goers riding the ferry to the event, there’s live music on the ferry. Free shuttles run from the ferry landing to the festival site, but pedestrians can walk to the event on the “Jazz Walk of Fame” on the levee. There’s even a narrated recording of jazz history available by calling 613-4062.
There’s an art market and dood vendors will offer local fare such as gumbo as well as more exotic dishes such as Brazilian barbecue. Bike racks are available for those wishing to pedal to the festival.
“It’s turning into a really great festival,” Robinson says, “It’s a lot of work for the volunteers, but it’s a lot of fun.”
A lot of folks in north Louisiana probably thought they weren’t affected that much by Hurricane Katrina — until now. In what may be the last blast of Katrina’s ill winds, state lawmakers are wrestling with the difficult, messy issues of redistricting in a special session that already has exposed a lot of raw nerves.
There are some interesting — and scary — parallels between the chaos that marked the immediate aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans and the pitched battles unfolding now in Baton Rouge.
In just the first three days of the session, before the first redistricting plan was voted on, tempers flared. To those who saw years of festering wounds exposed by Katrina, it was a familiar sight. It’s likely to get worse by the time the session ends on April 13.
Just as Katrina pushed some people over the edge, the pressure of drawing new districts for themselves and others in the wake of massive population shifts (most of which were caused or exacerbated by the storm) has triggered an apocalyptic, every-man-for-himself drama in the halls of power. It’s an ugly tale of confusion, fear, anger and opportunism. No one is safe. Familiar protocols no longer function, and old allegiances are crumbling as lawmakers grab hold of anything that looks like self-preservation.
In some ways, it’s a perfect political storm.
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