Internet & Technology

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

CNBC's American Greed season premiere to feature former Mayor Ray Nagin

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 12:03 PM

The CNBC documentary series American Greed has its season premiere March 31 with an installment titled "Ray Nagin: New Orleans Shakedown."

The hourlong report, which begins at 9 p.m., will focus on Nagin's business dealings, including those with now-disgraced and jailed former tech whiz Greg Meffert. Also in the story: Stone Age Granite & Marble, the granite company Nagin ran with his sons. Nagin, who was convicted on federal corruption charges in February 2014, is serving a 10-year prison term in Texarkana, Texas.

Watch a preview:

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Review: Krewe of Vaporwave's virtual Mardi Gras parade

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 1:47 PM

A snapshot of "A Tribute to War Not Being the Answer," one of the vkv floats.
  • A snapshot of "A Tribute to War Not Being the Answer," one of the vkv floats.
Last night the first annual Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave rolled. Theirs was a virtual parade, viewed via popular streaming service Twitch. To be clear, the parade, a series of video/music collaborations by pseudonymous artists, was entirely online.

It would be easy to dismiss this as a symptom of alienation, but watching it was the opposite of alienating. So many of us do already consume so much of life through screens, whether we're streaming ParadeCam, a small bright rectangle of noise and spectacle in the corner of our workstation at some geographically remote office, or scrolling numbly through Carnival-soaked social media, the documentation of other people's good times. The Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave positioned itself as a joke about this tendency — “This is something to be experienced alone on your computer in the dark,” the Krewe's founder, Merely Synecdoche, told Michael Patrick Welch — but functioned as both a critical commentary on it and, by bringing viewers together at a set time to watch it, even a partial remedy.

Whereas some react to the malign influences of digital technology on our daily lives by mindlessly celebrating technology, fetishizing it, or hailing it as a magical force that can rescue us from our problems, Synecdoche says Vaporwave is about "the loneliness and pointlessness of the Internet."

Vaporwave as a genre is internationally influenced, built of broken pieces of the past, born of a sense of loss, and according to Synecdoche, "on the Internet it’s already been declared dead many times over,” making it a good genre fit for 2016 New Orleans. This first year's theme was "Vaporwave is Dead: Long Live Vaporwave." So: elegiac, fatalistic and unshakably fixated on itself... any of these characteristics sound familiar?

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave launches online 'parade'

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 10:31 AM

Krewe of Vaporwave's music videos incorporate Carnivalesque graphics.
  • Krewe of Vaporwave's music videos incorporate Carnivalesque graphics.

Anyone who can't wait for the final week of Mardi Gras parades to start can try to get some virtual satisfaction Tuesday evening with the launch of the Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave's first "parade." The online experience screens on The krewe of anonymous DJs, electronic musicians and visual artists created 15 vaporwave videos, incorporating Carnival imagery, and they screen in succession, conceptually like a 15-float parade, says the krewe founder, who goes by the pseudonym Merely Synecdoche.

"We're a digital art collaborative," he says. "The goal is to be a Mardi Gras krewe that posts digital art every year."

The inaugural parade theme is "Vaporwave is Dead: Long Live Vaporware."

Parade viewers can visit and find the link to, on which the parade will screen at 7 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. The stream mimics conventions of parades. The four screenings are dubbed as locations: Magazine Street at Napoleon Avenue, St. Charles Avenue at Louisiana Avenue, St. Charles Avenue at I-10 and St. Charles Avenue at Canal Street. Images of those locations will be incorporated into the video stream at the matching time. There also are links for "throws."

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Remembering C.B. Forgotston, a Louisiana original

Posted By on Thu, Jan 7, 2016 at 6:22 PM

C.B. Forgotston, the attorney, blogger, talk show guest and frequent irritant to those in power, died Jan. 3 at 70.
  • C.B. Forgotston, the attorney, blogger, talk show guest and frequent irritant to those in power, died Jan. 3 at 70.

John Adams once wrote, “The love of power is insatiable and uncontrollable. … There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.” Those words, penned in the 18th century, infused the more recent writings by Louisiana political watchdog C.B. Forgotston.

For more than 20 years, Forgotston, a Hammond attorney, blogger, talk show guest and frequent irritant to those in power, fearlessly skewered our state’s public officials with Adams-like precision. He died on Jan. 3 at age 70, but his work lives on in the memories of his many readers and admirers.

On his website and his Twitter feed, he took regular aim (and no prisoners) at politicians of all stripes, especially Gov. Bobby Jindal, whom he derided as a charlatan. He often posted copies of Jindal’s campaign promises, juxtaposing them with the governor’s actions, and his website recently featured a countdown clock, ticking off the minutes and seconds ’til Jindal was out of office. Had he lived to see it, Forgotston would have held new Gov. John Bel Edwards accountable from Day One.

Jindal was hardly Forgotston’s only target. He limned former Gov. Mike Foster as “Big Daddy” and a big spender, and he proudly posted the “Louisiana Misery Index” — a list of lists on which Louisiana consistently fared poorly. To those who called him “cynical,” he replied with an entry from his oft-quoted “Glossary” of Louisiana political terms — “Cynicism: The power of accurate observation as commonly called by those who have not got it.”

Forgotston may have been cranky, but he was no crank. An LSU law graduate, he worked for several years as chief counsel to the House Appropriations Committee and later as a lobbyist for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI). He opposed both the state lottery and the land-based casino in New Orleans, two battles he lost. If he struck some as cynical, it was because he had served time in the belly of the beast. He saw up close how power corrupted people.

In C.B.’s Glossary, “mullets” were average Louisianans, perpetually suffering under the contemptible rule of self-serving politicians. Among his other definitions:

America: A country that Louisiana would like to one day join.

Ethics: The concept of right and wrong. A concept so unknown to politicians in Louisiana that the leges had to pass a statute to remind themselves of it.

Intaxication: The temporary euphoria one feels when they hear they will receive a tax decrease only to realize that it was their money to begin with.

Statute: A mere guideline for politicians. It is a mandatory law for Mullets.

Statesman: A term used by leges to describe themselves when they turn their backs on the people who elected them.

Like him or not, agree with him or not, Forgotston was exactly the kind of watchdog Louisiana needs. Of the politicians he battled, he told Gambit in 2006, “I don’t know if they respect us as much as fear us, but I consider that a badge of honor.” Rest in peace, C.B. Louisiana misses you already.

A funeral for C.B. Forgotston will be held at 11 a.m. Fri. Jan. 8 at Holy Ghost Catholic Church (600 N. Oak St., Hammond). Visitation from 9-11 a.m.

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Monday, January 4, 2016

"Total War Puppets" demilitarize the Mudlark Theater

Posted By on Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 4:18 PM

Sandy the Slut, one of the Total War Puppets
  • Sandy the Slut, one of the Total War Puppets
In the years I've been acquainted with the woman known as Nyx, she has been not only a very solid poet, artist and anarchist-feminist theorist but an outspoken and unstinting critic of what she perceives as weak or regressive creative endeavors here in New Orleans.

After a sojourn abroad, she and her new collaborator Ben Bornstein are returning to town Jan. 9, 10, 12 and 13 with their project Total War Puppets, in a production at the Mudlark Theatre titled "Fire with Fire."

I spoke to Nyx and Ben about their puppet show, its ideological underpinnings, and what Nyx finds lacking in the New Orleans DIY art scene. One of the most principled and least cowardly New Orleans artists I know is back with a vengeance, and I couldn't be happier about it.

What's the origin of "Total War Puppets?"

I left New Orleans to go to Bread & Puppet in Brattleboro, Vermont for an apprenticeship. I met Ben there and we had more political affinity than I had with most of those people. I'd had the idea for a show about militarism and its connection to my family. A few months later I was working on little scenes, and I had enough to make a show. Ben joined me and we spent a month doing nothing except building the puppet show. We both wrote different scenes and then heavily co-edited them.

BEN: The name of our troupe addresses how a militaristic culture isn't relegated to statist violence like the police. Total War is the current doctrine of war, including citizen non-combatants — Total War throws you into the context of war simply by being alive.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Maple Street Book Shop to close at end of 2015

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 1:56 PM

Gladin Scott is a longtime customer and owner of Maple Street Book Shop. - COURTESY MAPLE STREET BOOK SHOP
  • Gladin Scott is a longtime customer and owner of Maple Street Book Shop.

Maple Street Book Shop owner Gladin Scott announced the store will close at the end of 2015.

"With dwindling sales, it's tough to keep open a bookshop that isn't self-sustaining," he said.

Scott said changing technology contributed to the difficulties of keeping the shop open.

"I think technology has changed the way people read and buy books," he said.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Jazz funeral for Sudan’s Kenneth James Dykes Sr.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 12:52 PM

Sudan member Kenneth Dykes Sr.
  • Sudan member Kenneth Dykes Sr.

Kenneth Dykes Sr.

Sunset: Saturday, September 12, 2015

Last Saturday, the social aid and pleasure club community laid to rest one of its beloved members to rest. Kenneth James Dykes Sr., age 54 and founding member of ‘Sudan’ Social Aid & Pleasure Club, succumbed to cancer Sat., Sept. 12, 2015. His club honored Dykes with a traditional jazz funeral homegoing ceremony.

(videos and more below the jump!)

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Paddlewheeling podcast ends its Mississippi River journey in New Orleans

Posted By on Fri, Sep 11, 2015 at 2:30 PM

Reid Lustig, Galen Huckins and Brian Benson aboard the paddlewheel boat home to the trio's storytelling podcast The River Signal. - VANCE WALSTRA
  • Reid Lustig, Galen Huckins and Brian Benson aboard the paddlewheel boat home to the trio's storytelling podcast The River Signal.

The Channel Princess is just a few riverbends away from docking in New Orleans, where the 35-foot paddlewheel boat reaches its port of call after a summer-long journey on the Mississippi River.

The Princess — home to Galen Huckins, Brian Benson and Reid Lustig — also is a workshop and recording studio for The River Signal, a traveling storytelling podcast inspired by the trio's adventures and the characters and artists they've met.

The boat was rescued and refurbished after it sunk into Oregon's Willamette River during a snowstorm in 2012. The group hauled it on a trailer 2,000 miles across country and set off from Minnesota in June. The four-month journey comes to an end next week. The trio had several ideas for the trip but ultimately created a magical realism-inspired serialized radio drama using music and the Mississippi.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Deborah "Big Red" Cotton honored at Rising Tide conference

Posted By on Sat, Aug 29, 2015 at 6:36 PM

Deborah Cotton, aka Big Red Cotton, accepting the Ashley Morris Award at the annual Rising Tide conference, which was held today at Xavier University.
  • Deborah Cotton, aka Big Red Cotton, accepting the Ashley Morris Award at the annual Rising Tide conference, which was held today at Xavier University.
Writer, filmmaker and Gambit second line correspondent Deborah "Big Red" Cotton was honored today at Rising Tide X, the 10th annual conference put on by a group of New Orleans bloggers. She received the group's Ashley Morris Award for her work as a "connector" in the New Orleans community in the years after Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods.

Cotton has been tireless in chronicling the city's second line, brass band and social aid and pleasure club cultures and recently co-created The Community Voices Project, a series of videos interviewing longtime and native New Orleanians about changes in the city.

Cotton was among 19 people who were shot during a second line parade on Mother's Day 2013, a crime which shocked a city that had become inured to violence. She continues to recover. 

"I was one of the worst injured in the shooting incident," she told the crowd at Rising Tide. "It took me more than a year to get my feet back on the ground." Nevertheless, she said it never occurred to her to leave New Orleans. "Next stop, Charbonnet," she said, making a joking reference to the Charbonnet Funeral Home.

The trial for her shooters is scheduled to be held in October, Cotton said, and she is nervous about testifying. "I hold them responsible," she said. "But I hold us responsible too." Of the city's continuing violent crime problem, she said, "We do not convert outrage into holding leaders accountable."

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Watch: Gov. Bobby Jindal's would-be viral video featuring him doing pushups

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2015 at 2:29 PM


Twenty-three years ago, the sight of presidential candidate Bill Clinton playing his saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show was controversial. At the time, David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun wrote:

Clinton's saxophone-playing appearance on "The Arsenio Hall Show" in June, though, was widely mocked at the time by many members of the we-know-everything gang covering national politics.

It wasn't dignified. It demeaned presidential politics. It "coarsened" the discourse of democracy, to use the language that syndicated columnist George Will seems to use to describe anything that isn't white, male and borrowed from ancient Rome or Greece. Clinton was dubbed the "Elvis candidate," in part because he was playing (or rather gamely trying to play) Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel."

That was ancient history. By 2008, then- (and now-) presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was slamming boilermakers for the camera because that's just the kind of thing Serious Candidates had to do to prove they were real people.

Since then, of course, the rise of the staged-viral video has resulted in sights like Lindsey Graham destroying his cellphone like a macho man, and Ted Cruz cooking bacon on the barrel of what was described as a machine gun (and is actually an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle). 

Now Gov. Bobby Jindal is in the mix, cooperating with Buzzfeed for a video in which he has a pushup contest against "the issues" (don't ask us):

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