In Memoriam

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Remembering Bill Broadhurst: The lion who never roared

Posted By on Thu, May 25, 2017 at 3:15 PM

Bill Broadhurst, the longtime Louisiana political strategist who died May 22 at 77.
  • Bill Broadhurst, the longtime Louisiana political strategist who died May 22 at 77.

The old political lions are leaving us, one by one. Each one’s passing leaves a void that cannot be filled — and reminds us that we won’t see their kind again. We lost another lion on May 22 when attorney, consultant, political strategist and lobbyist Bill Broadhurst died at his home in Crowley. He was 77.

In addition to the many hats Billy wore so well, he was also my friend. As a political insider, he taught me a great deal about Louisiana politics. As a trusted friend, he taught me just as much about life.

In the end, we both learned that the lessons of politics truly are the lessons of life, because the same things matter in both arenas: relationships; respect; trust; honor; loyalty.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Editorial: Remembering Deborah "Big Red" Cotton

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 2:22 PM

On the evening of Deborah Cotton's death, musicians, friends and neighbors gathered in Treme to remember her, stopping outside her old apartment for a tribute. - CLANCY DUBOS
  • On the evening of Deborah Cotton's death, musicians, friends and neighbors gathered in Treme to remember her, stopping outside her old apartment for a tribute.

“With each second line that rolled down Ursulines Avenue, New Orleans lured me from my dark brooding funk and tossed me into the fire of dancing Black folks and brass instruments bobbing down the street, burning, sweating, marching from one end of town to the other. This went on for months until one day, between the parades and sessions with my shrink and onset of Spring, I began to feel alive again. And the haunting images of dead floating bodies faded away.

“This is the beauty — and the problem — with living in New Orleans. At any moment, life and death change places with each other when you least expect it. And try as you may to control what you let enter your life, you never know what’s waiting around the corner that will either thrill you — or level you to the ground.”

Deborah “Big Red” Cotton wrote those words in 2007, in her book Notes From New Orleans — six years before the Mother’s Day second line tragedy in which she and 18 other people were shot by two men who fired into the crowd. She took only one of the many bullets that were fired, but no one was injured more severely than Deborah. In the years that followed, she underwent dozens of surgeries to repair internal organs. Last week — nearly four years to the day since the shooting — Deb succumbed to complications from those injuries four years ago. She was fearless, fierce, compassionate and taken far too soon at the age of 52. She still had work to do.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

New Orleans social media users remember Deborah "Big Red" Cotton

Posted By on Tue, May 2, 2017 at 6:33 PM


The passing of longtime New Orleans writer, activist, culture bearer and Gambit contributor Deborah "Big Red" Cotton was being roundly mourned today by a wide cross-section of New Orleanians, from former U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite to DJ Soul Sister and Mayor Mitch Landrieu. A sampling:

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Deborah Cotton, longtime Gambit second line correspondent, dies at 52

Posted By and on Tue, May 2, 2017 at 1:52 PM

Deborah Cotton.
  • Deborah Cotton.

"It is my belief that you don't choose New Orleans — New Orleans chooses you. Those who have fallen for her, live with her, are sprung, lost and turned out in love with her, know exactly what I mean. Ain't no amount of wind, water, gunfire, potholes, 'ignant' politics or doomsday predictions can pry your death grip from her. Come hell or high water, you stay — or return.

"She makes you high from laughing too much and too long. She breaks your heart till you're crying on the kitchen floor. She haunts you, melts you and is just a damn joy to live in.

"I think she's a cult."
— Deborah Cotton
Deborah "Big Red" Cotton, Gambit's longtime second-line correspondent, local writer, filmmaker and advocate for New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian, brass band and social aid and pleasure club cultures died May 2 at University Medical Center. She was 52.

She was among 19 people injured during a mass shooting at an Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club second-line parade she was filming on Mother's Day, May 12, 2013. She underwent dozens of surgeries to repair damage to several of her organs and a year of rehabilitation following the shooting. Friends of Cotton told The Advocate she had died from those injuries.

Cotton was raised in Texas and Oklahoma and lived in California before moving to New Orleans in 2005, just as Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee breaches damaged the city. ("Taking a cab from New Orleans to Houston is certainly an original, if not inexpensive way to escape Armageddon," she noted.) She returned after Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures with a mission to chronicle through blogs, photography and film what she considered the underreported aspects of New Orleans culture: Treme,  where she lived, brass bands, Mardi Gras Indians, social aid and pleasure clubs.

In 2007, Cotton published the book Notes From New Orleans: Spicy, Colorful Tales of Politics, People, Food, Drink, Men, Music and Life in Post-Breaches New Orleans, In it, she tackled such disparate subjects as the death of famed chef Austin Leslie; the eternal divide between native and non-native New Orleanians; the stories of the people of the 9th Ward; "The Welcome Arrival of Zoloft and the National Guard"; her search for the perfect "big black man named James" ("a tall black bear with a big belly who loves him a thick yella girl, the kind that would inspire Jill Scott to write a third album"); and her growing disillusionment with then-Mayor Ray Nagin.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Zydeco Hall of Fame in Cajun country burns down; owner now says he may rebuild

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 3:05 PM

Miller's Zydeco Hall of Fame in Lawtell, Louisiana burned down Tuesday night. It was one of the last extant zydeco roadhouses. - ROBIN MAY
  • Miller's Zydeco Hall of Fame in Lawtell, Louisiana burned down Tuesday night. It was one of the last extant zydeco roadhouses.

The world of zydeco music lost one of its seminal clubs to a mysterious fire on Tuesday night, in a small town just outside of Opelousas, the self-described zydeco capital of the world.

Current owner Dustin Miller called the club "Miller’s Zydeco Hall of Fame,” but acolytes knew the Lawtell dance hall as zydeco’s Grand Ol’ Opry. Opened in 1947, Richard’s occupied a must-stop address on the famed "chitlin circuit." Both B.B. King and John Lee Hooker played there, expanding the club's legacy beyond zydeco.

The destruction of the dance hall, which was known for most of the 20th century as Richard’s, could bury for good the go-to stage for zydeco luminaries like Boozoo Chavis, Clifton Chenier and Terrance Simien. Zydeco pioneer John Delafose, who graced the Richard’s stage countless times, died of a heart attack shortly after a performance there in 1994.

“The building was built with good, old sturdy wood,” says dance hall researcher John Sharp, who visited the site on Wednesday. “Once a little bit of it caught fire, that’s a lot of fuel. Now, it’s a gutted big black hole.”

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Report: New Orleans-born singer Linda Hopkins dead at 92

Posted By on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 3:44 PM

  • Linda Hopkins

Linda Hopkins, the New Orleans-born singer who was discovered by Mahalia Jackson and went on to star in Me and Bessie and Black and Blue on Broadway, has died at 92, according to Playbill.

Hopkins' career spanned 60 years of concerts, stage appearances, television and film. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.

Here's Hopkins at age 66 on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, singing "A Good Man is Hard to Find" — and absolutely killing it.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Agents of change: Remembering Lolis Edward Elie and state Rep. Ralph Miller

Posted By on Fri, Apr 7, 2017 at 1:57 PM

Civil rights attorney Lolis Edward Elie (left) and former State Rep. Ralph Miller, both of whom died recently, each was an agent of change in his own way. - ELIE: COURTESY THE LOLIS EDWARD ELIE FAMILY
  • Civil rights attorney Lolis Edward Elie (left) and former State Rep. Ralph Miller, both of whom died recently, each was an agent of change in his own way.

Change doesn’t come easily. It typically requires great risk by people willing to take on the status quo against daunting odds. Louisiana recently lost two agents of change with the passings of civil rights lawyer Lolis Edward Elie and former state Rep. Ralph Miller.

Elie fought in the trenches of the local civil rights movement, often representing clients that no other attorney would take. Though not large in stature, Elie had a lion’s heart. “He was fearless,” recalled longtime friend Don Hubbard, a businessman, veteran politico and a former leader in the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), one of Elie’s early clients.

Miller, also an attorney, worked the legislative halls pushing bills that opened local and state government to public view for the first time. They included strengthening Louisiana’s Sunshine Law (open meetings), Public Records Act and campaign finance disclosure laws. When Miller arrived in Baton Rouge in 1968 as a freshman lawmaker from his hometown of Norco (where he lived until his death), “open government” was a radical concept. Today, no investigative reporter could function without those laws.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

New Orleans celebrates Bowie's birthday

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 2:00 PM

New Orleans celebrated the life of David Bowie with a memorial parade through the French Quarter following his death last year, just two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his monumental final album Blackstar. On Jan. 16, 2016, members of Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Arcade Fire led a parade from the hall to the Mississippi River, attracting hundreds of people dressed as spiders from Mars, goblin kings and queens and dukes of all colors.

Bowie would have turned 70 on Jan. 8. Last year's parade ended with Win Butler helming a dance party at One Eyed Jacks, where New Orleans musicians will present Run for the Shadows on Sunday, Jan. 8, featuring more than a dozen musicians performing an hour and a half's worth of Bowie's music. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25.

Mimi's in the Marigny hosts a Bowie birthday party at 9 p.m. Sunday. Patrons dressed as their favorite Bowie could win a $50 bar tab. Glamarama and Vinsantos pay tribute to Bowie at Cafe Istanbul at 7 p.m.

And at Bar Redux, DJ SeXX ED and Skully'z Records host a Bowie-themed dance party beginning at 7 p.m. with screenings of Bowie concerts and films in the courtyard. There also are prizes for best-dressed Bowies.

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Carl Anthony Barbarin, trumpeter and band director, dies at 31

Posted By on Sat, Dec 31, 2016 at 12:32 AM

Carl Barbarin
  • Carl Chaisson
  • Carl Barbarin

Carl Anthony Barbarin

Sunrise: October 22, 1985 - Sunset: December 24, 2016

New Orleans has lost yet another great young musician and band director. Trumpet player Carl Barbarin, band director at William J. Fischer Middle School, passed away Dec. 24, 2016 at the young age of 31. The tight-knit music community is still reeling in shock after it was announced that he suffered a heart attack after complaining for several days of chest pains.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Krewe of Chewbacchus to honor Carrie Fisher with second line Dec. 30

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2016 at 5:18 PM

Leijorettes march in the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus parade.
  • Leijorettes march in the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus parade.

Following news of the death of Carrie Fisher, the actress who starred as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus announced it will hold a second-line parade in tribute to her. The event is planned for 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday starting at the krewe den at Castillo Blanco Art Studios. The krewe currently is seeking permits for the parade.

Fisher is best known for playing Princess Leia in several Star Wars installments, including The Force Awakens in 2015, but she also appeared in When Harry Met Sally and 30 Rock, and many other films and TV shows. She published novels and memoirs and spoke about coping with bipolar disorder. She died in Los Angeles after suffering heart problems on a flight returning from London. She was 60.

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