Franco, who is shooting a movie here and staying on "Charters" Street, has taken to the cluttered HuffPo salt mine to write about his recent French Quarter ghost tour with "Nana (my trusty hair woman, raised in Japan) and Iris (my production consultant, raised in Mexico)." First, though, he has a note about economic development:
Our driver told us that there are more restaurants in New Orleans now than before Katrina. I don't know what that means exactly, but I guess some business is coming back.
When the tour gets to the Lalaurie Mansion, there is, of course, Nicolas Cage content:
We also visited a strange mansion that at one point was owned by Nicolas Cage. It was the site of horrific medical/carnival experiments on slaves in the vein of Human Centipede. About 200 years ago, the mansion belonged to a rich socialite with red hair. A fire broke out during one of her parties, and the fireman who answered the call discovered a chamber that smelled so bad it brought them to their knees, retching. Inside were living and dead victims of a variety of mutilations: amputations, limbs exchanged between people, sexes switched (meaning dicks were sewn onto women), skin flayed in designs to turn the victims into "human caterpillars" and other grotesque monstrosities. The house is still occupied, but it has not had a single owner for more than a five-year period.
Nana was a little disappointed by the tour; she wanted more of a haunted house experience.
Confidential to Nana: There's always this, just a couple blocks away. Far, far more terrifying.
Every media outlet has its own niche when it comes to the BP oil disaster. The Wall Street Journal, not surprisingly, is concentrating on the ups and downs (mostly downs) of BP stock prices. Mother Jones is muckraking (literally) from an environmentalist perspective. Even The Huffington Post is doing its own thing, which involves one of Arianna's celebrity friends penning a new-age, pop-psych essay called Drawing Blessings From the Gulf Oil Spill. ("To best serve the Gulf of Mexico, ourselves and our world, I encourage focusing and having faith in the power of divine love. By focusing on bringing greater good into manifestation, there can be a returning to the natural order that thrives and creates bounty.")
With everyone getting into the act, it's no surprise that the National Enquirer is muscling in on the action with a story headlined OILY BP BOSS BUSTS UP NUPS!:
BP boss CARL HENRIC-SVANBERG isn't just being blamed for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, he's the accused villain behind the breakup of a Massachusetts couple's 18-year marriage! ...
What's more, just days after BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20 - leaving 11 dead and millions of gallons of oil spewing into the gulf - the lovebirds vacationed in Phuket, Thailand on his luxury yacht!
Wow. Can't wait to see how the Weekly World News is going to cover this ... but I bet it'll involve space aliens and Bat Boy.
Layoffs may be on the way for staffers at The Times-Picayune after the first of the year, reports Editor & Publisher:
Advance Publications' Newhouse Newspapers, believed to be the only major newspaper chain to avoid layoffs throughout the recent upheavals suffered by its industry, is planning to remove its long-standing "no-layoffs" pledge.
Publishers at the chain's 20 daily newspapers, which include The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.; The Oregonian in Portland, the Staten Island (N.Y.) Advance and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, broke the news to staffers Wednesday.
"We wanted to communicate to employees that this is coming," said Steve Newhouse, chairman of AdvanceNet, the chain's online division, and a member of the Newhouse family, the company's longtime owners. "We have had a pledge not to layoff employees for economic conditions or advances in technology."
But Newhouse said recent industry problems have forced the company to rescind the pledge. He said staffers are being told today that the pledge will remain for six more months, and then layoffs could occur.
"It was not a pledge that applied to the kind of transitional moment in the newspaper industry that is basically struggling to survive," he said, noting it only applied to the company's daily newspapers.
This is following the departure of some of the T-P's most experienced and recognizable names, including Angus Lind, Susan Finch and David Cuthbert in the paper's latest series of buyouts. It's also a rough blow to a paper where morale already isn't tip-top and yet the staff is working hard to put out quality work, because that's just what they do.
The pledge was a lovely thing in theory, but it was hardly legally binding; the life of a newspaper employee isn't a civil-service sinecure, with all its perqs and guarantees. The days of big-city dailies as fat-and-lazy "velvet coffins" where people remain for decades are gone forever. It's possible to foresee a day when big-city dailies are gone forever, too. According to the blog Paper Cuts, which tracks the
death decline of U.S. newspapers, the industry has lost 12,964 jobs in 2009 alone -- almost as many as it did in the entire year of 2008, which was horrendous on its own. With this news, it's hard to imagine 2010 will be any better for anyone except perhaps Satan's Botoxed Handmaiden, who will likely be offering unemployed journos the chance to work "for exposure." But exposure don't pay the rent or feed the cat.
To our friends and colleagues over at the T-P (even the ones who can't stand us): we're feeling for you today. Truly.
And to double the bummer: It's been one of the worst-kept secrets in town that the T-P's excellent food critic, Brett Anderson, was on the very short list of people to replace The New York Times' food critic Frank Bruni. Today it was announced that the job went to Times culture editor Sam Sifton. We're disappointed for Anderson, but the silver lining is that we'll be able to look forward to his byline in Lagniappe.
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