Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: After Earth

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2013 at 5:42 PM

There’s no form of mass entertainment as seasonal as the Hollywood movie. And there’s no season so clearly delineated by Hollywood as summer. Sure, the movies are bigger and noisier, and too often they’re driven by special effects instead of story. But there’s also a shift in audience expectations, a general willingness to cut movies a certain amount of slack as long as they deliver on the unspoken promise of worthwhile distraction while we soak up theater air conditioning. It’s a simple transaction, a sort of social contract in which all parties deserve to come out ahead. So why does it so consistently go wrong?

Sci-fi thriller After Earth is mildly entertaining in a non-taxing, summer movie kind of way. It doesn’t really insult your intelligence or adhere openly to strict action-movie formula. But once you get an idea of this too-simple tale’s origins, it gets a little harder to live with. Producer and star Will Smith also gets a “story by” credit here, as he came up with the premise of a son rescuing his father and developed it with a particular person in mind. Smith happened to have a 13-year-old movie star, his son Jaden Smith, living under his roof. A futuristic setting and a steady stream of attack creatures were added to the mix. This was enough to set the giant gears of high-budget moviemaking into motion. Co-writer and director M. Night Shyamalan needed a safe gig after the drubbing he took for The Last Airbender a few years ago, so all the pieces fell into place.


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Listen: Gambit's free music Friday

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Sports & Leisure releases its debut EP Fitness 10 p.m. tonight at The Parish at House of Blues. The album, backed by a successful Kickstarter campaign and a six-piece band, features raw, confessional anthems and grand, multi-instrumental compositions — check the highlight "The Thief," featuring Alexis Marceaux. You can stream the five-song EP, recorded at Marigny Recording Studio, here.

Here's "Dusty Roads" (not to be confused with the wrestler of the same name) from local rapper Nesby Phips featuring Curren$y. The track's solid sweeping orchestra sample propels Phips' signature smooth flow, while Curren$y preaches his JETS philosophy. The track appears on Phips' excellent 2012 release 0017th, which is available for download here.

More after the jump.

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Second lines are rolling Saturday AND Sunday this weekend

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Original Big Seven Social Aid & Pleasure Club
Saturday June 1, 1-5 p.m.


Single Ladies and Single Men Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs
Sunday June 2, 1-5 p.m.

(NOTE: Gambit's regular second line correspondent, Deborah "Big Red" Cotton was one of the 19 shooting victim's during the Mother's Day second line so I will be taking over her duties until she recovers. A fund has been set up to help with Deb's medical expenses. The video above was taken from the "Big Red Cotton" YouTube channel. Our continued thoughts and prayers are with the victims.)

By virtue of rain and a tragic incident of violence, there will be not one but two second lines marching through New Orleans this weekend. On Saturday, the Original Big 7 Social Aid & Pleasure Club will be staging a "re-do" of their ill-fated Mother's Day second line that was interrupted by a mass shooting. That parade will be followed on Sunday by the Single Ladies & Single Men Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs parade which was rescheduled due to rain.

It's been less than a month since the Mother's Day shooting and while that senseless act of violence is still fresh in people's minds, the New Orleans cultural community has responded resoundingly with massive crowds at the last two parades (ushered along by a visibly increased police presence).

Original Big 7 CEO Ed Buckner said in a phone interview that the rescheduling of his club's parade was supported by not only the second line community, but the city government, mayor's office and the New Orleans Police Department. Buckner urged New Orleans residents to support stand together in supporting not only New Orleans culture, but the city's anti-violence efforts.

"We have to stay unified," Buckner said. "The City Council, the Mayor, the police department, everybody's supporting us and it's a change in New Orleans that's coming about. But we have to stay on a path to make the other changes we need and stop the violence and help our leaders stay on track."

Buckner spoke candidly about how the shooting has affected him and his fellow club members, saying that they are still in the process of counseling each other in the wake of the shooting. Buckner also took a moment to speak Gambit correspondent Deborah Cotton, whom Buckner knew only by reputation but admired nonetheless.

"I know she's going to come back stronger than ever," he said. "Hopefully we can bring people some joy and she can feel us and know that we're parading for her."

Buckner said that this Saturday's parade will follow the alternate route used on Mother's Day and will be pausing on the corner of Frenchmen St. and N. Villere St. to honor the victims of the shooting. Flowers will be placed at the scene of the shooting and Buckner said he encourages citizens from all oever New Orleans to attend.

"We need everybody to come out and show solidarity and show we've had enough of these murders and crimes," he said.

Turn by turn route info and links to maps of the parade routes after the jump. Note that routes are subject to change. As always, please come to have fun. No weapons, fights or violence.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Gambit TV: 3-Day Weekend A&E picks — now with Derek Kevra!

Posted By on Thu, May 30, 2013 at 4:42 PM

Hey, its Derek Kevra with Eric Paulsen and Noah Bonaparte Pais. The WWL-TV meteorologist will be giving Gambits 3-Day Weekend newsletter subscribers his early weekend forecast each week.
  • Hey, it's Derek Kevra with Eric Paulsen and Noah Bonaparte Pais. The WWL-TV meteorologist will be giving Gambit's 3-Day Weekend newsletter subscribers his early weekend forecast each week.

Once again, all your dilemmas about what to do this weekend have been solved by Noah Bonaparte Pais in his Thursday appearance on the WWL Eyewitness Morning News. His picks: The Men at Circle Bar, Mobb Deep at Maison, The Iceman (which is getting great reviews), Anthony Jeselnik at Harrah's New Orleans, the New Orleans Oyster Festival and more.

And if you prefer weekend planning in print/words/Web format, subscribe to Gambit's 3-Day Weekend email newsletter (sent out each Thursday) — now with a weekend forecast by WWL-TV weatherdude Derek Kevra.

Subscribe here and get Alex Woodward's music picks and Derek's take on the weekend. Here's this weekend's Gambit forecast:

With the Oyster Festival in Woldenberg Park and Back to the Beach at Laketown, things seem very water related this weekend... unfortunately with the weather too. Scattered afternoon showers and storms are expected both Sat and Sun with warm highs in the upper 80s. I wouldn't cancel my plans... just bring an umbrella. Hey, at least a shower will help cool it off! #optimism.

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NOPD consent decree on hold

Posted By on Thu, May 30, 2013 at 4:30 PM

The federal consent decree to monitor the New Orleans Police Department, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice, is postponed, again. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency stay this afternoon. A selection committee meeting previously scheduled for tomorrow to select a monitoring firm has been canceled.

U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan signed the decree in January. Extensions on the monitor selection process and pushback from the city already have delayed the decree. Today's appeals court ruling now "puts it in limbo."

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Borracho: A chef’s late-night hot dog parlor and more in store on St. Claude Ave.

Posted By on Thu, May 30, 2013 at 8:34 AM

kajuns pub

Sometimes, a regular seat at your neighborhood bar can open new doors. That’s what happened to Chris Smedley. He was chef at Rambla until that CBD Spanish restaurant closed last year, but he wasn’t idle for long. He soon discovered that the owners of Kajun’s Pub, his usual after-shift watering hole in the Marigny, had a large and fully-equipped kitchen in a building attached to the bar and happened to be looking for a chef to make a go of it.

This tucked-away kitchen has proven fertile ground for a pair of eatery concepts Smedley says he’s long hoped to develop. One is now open — a late-night, chef driven hot dog and sausage parlor called Borracho. The second, and yet-to-be-named, will be a more conventional restaurant serving small plates in a modern Southern style. Smedley expects this second eatery to open in the fall adjacent to Kajun’s Pub, in a long-vacant building that was formerly a tax prep office.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review: Redesigning Women

Posted By on Wed, May 29, 2013 at 5:06 PM


When they chose to parody the 1980s sitcom Designing Women, Varla Jean Merman (aka Jeffery Roberson), Ricky Graham, Brian Peterson and Jack Long knew there would be an audience for their version. During opening night at Mid-City Theatre, when Graham delivered Julia Sugarbaker’s YouTube-immortalized tirade defending her sister Suzanne’s beauty pageant achievements, most of the audience joined in — not just mouthing the words, but following the steadily rising volume and intensity to the dramatically staggered final pronouncement about “The night the lights went out in Georgia.”

Redesigning Women features three reworked and barely stitched together episodes of the sitcom. In the first, the four coworkers in an Atlanta interior design firm travel to New Orleans for a convention and each delves into their own indulgence. The segment intertwines the show’s take on women appropriating power — in running a business and addressing social issues — and local humor about clueless tourists who explore the city and plunge into hedonistic excess while far away from home. The middle segment is the beauty pageant episode, and the final third features a talent contest, in which the four performers morphed into new guises for a show-ending musical bit, which is more obviously the end than a show-stopping number.

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Wanda Sykes guest bartends at Girls First fundraiser

Posted By on Wed, May 29, 2013 at 4:51 PM

Comedian and actress Wanda Sykes will tend bar at the annual Girls Night Out fundraiser for Girls First, a nonprofit that supports sports and recreational opportunities for girls in underserved communities. The event is from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Thursday, June 6 at Cafe Adelaide's Swizzle Stick Bar. Swizzle Stick's resident craft cocktail expert Lu Brow will also mix drinks at the event. Tickets are $20 and up.

Sykes is a fan of New Orleans, as she discussed in this interview with Gambit.

Girls First focuses on improving the lives of girls through participation in sports. Its mission sites numerous studies linking participation in sports to higher self-esteem, improved health, lower risk for some cancers and other diseases, increased likelihood to graduate high school and lower rates of unwanted pregnancy. Local programming includes sports camps at Tulane University and other meetings throughout the year.

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Hubig's Pies gets OK to rebuild bakery

Posted By on Wed, May 29, 2013 at 12:25 PM

After last year's fire that took down the mighty pie factory, New Orleans City Planning Commission approved Hubig's plans to rebuild on Press Street.

The plan would move its operations from the former Marigny site at 2417 Dauphine St. — which opened in 1921 — to what's now a vacant lot owned by the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. As Bruce Eggler reports, the tentative plans must be approved by NOCCA, and the city still has to give final approval on a request for a conditional use permit to build the factory.

In a 2009 Gambit cover story on the beloved local company, Katie Van Syckle reports on Hubig's dedication to tradition and New Orleans.

At Hubig's, "sustainable" is not a corporate buzzword, and the pies are not branded so the all-natural set can feel better about eating them. But unlike most items available at grocery and convenience stores, Hubig's Pies have traveled less than an hour to reach the consumer. The company makes pie filling with strawberries, sweet potatoes and other fruit from local farmers, depending on when fresh produce is available. Whenever possible, the company buys flour and shortening from local vendors. The recipes haven't changed in decades; only four ingredients are preservatives, two of which are considered natural. This has nothing to do with ecological footprints; it's the way Hubig's has always operated.

Meanwhile, there's still eBay.

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Review: Beyond Beasts: The Art of Court 13

Posted By on Wed, May 29, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Eliza Zeitlins found-object assemblage at the CAC.
  • Eliza Zeitlin's found-object assemblage at the CAC.

Beyond Beasts at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) is really two shows in one. For the many fans of Benh Zeitlin’s acclaimed film Beasts of the Southern Wild, it is an inside look at the homespun locally-shot movie that received four Oscar nominations. A floor-to-ceiling spectacle, it includes videos showing how Beasts was made by Zeitlin’s Court 13 collective, some earlier short films and various props. But there also is a significant visual art story here because the “look” of Beasts is mostly the work of Zeitlin’s sister, Eliza, whose art will be familiar to anyone who saw New Orleans Airlift’s 2011-2012 Music Box installation of musical shanties, for which she built the first and biggest musical structure. Both projects featured some of the same artists and an organic localized aesthetic that is not only a St. Claude arts district undercurrent but also coincidentally echoes elements of Elizabeth Shannon’s and Robert Tannen’s early CAC exhibitions years ago.

Eliza Zeitlin’s influence also might have inspired other aspects of the film. Some moviegoers professed shock at the way the characters in Beasts lived in shanties cobbled from found materials, yet when Benh was asked if he really knew “anyone who lives like that,” he said, “Yes, my sister.” Like Hushpuppy in Beasts, Eliza prefers living in primitive spaces she shares with her menagerie of critters. That love of animals also explains her large and enigmatic stand-alone sculpture in the corner window gallery — actually a metal found-object assemblage cobbled from auto parts and inspired by her beloved cat who was killed by a speeding motorist. Eloquently crafted into a fearsome feline protector deity, it looks ready to pounce on the cars whizzing by outside. In the Zeitlin siblings’ worldview, all things appear animated by an intelligent inner spirit that we may not always understand but which their efforts bring to life in any number of unexpected yet brilliantly executed ways.

Through June 16
Beyond Beasts: The Art of Court 13
Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., (504) 528-3805

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