New Orleans Life

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Concerts for Indigent Defense to put spotlight on Louisiana's public defense crisis

Posted By on Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 7:16 PM

New Orleans' Chief District Defender Derwyn Bunton. - CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER
  • New Orleans' Chief District Defender Derwyn Bunton.
March 18 is the 54th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, a landmark ruling guaranteeing the right to counsel for defendants who can't afford an attorney. But public defense for the indigent in Louisiana — which relies on fines and fees to fund its public defenders — has been at the center of a "constitutional crisis" in which caseloads overwhelm under-funded and under-staffed offices, halting many cases altogether while the state struggles with a perpetual budget mess. A recent lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center takes aim at the state's public defense services.

"Without adequate representation, there is no justice," New Orleans Chief Defender Derwyn Bunton said in a statement. "Our entire system fails and poor people are the ones hurt the most.”

New Orleans, appropriately, will host the first event in a planned series of national concerts to raise awareness of the right to counsel and the crises faced by public defenders offices nationwide. The New Orleans installment of Concerts for Indigent Defense features the Original Pinettes Brass Band, Zena Moses and Rue Fiya, Junko Beat (also featuring Orleans Public Defender Will Snowden), Caren Green, Mystic Beez, Casme, Britney Chaunte, Dedrick West, K.Levy, Justin Parker and others. In conjunction with the anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the concert begins 5 p.m. Saturday, March 18 at WonderLand Production Studios (3233 St. Bernard Ave.). The concert also will be streamed on its website.

"The Supreme Court says you have a fundamental constitutional right to have a lawyer, and yet state after state, if you're poor and accused of a crime, you often don't have access to a decent lawyer at all," says event founder Stephen Saloom. "If you do, it’s not in a timely fashion. When they represent you they are often overwhelmed by a caseload that nobody thinks is appropriate."

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Y@ Speak: #RexComus 2017

Posted By on Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 6:55 PM


Only 305 days until Carnival 2018 begins. You will probably start making your costume in 343 days. We're now in that rare pre-festival season no man's land. Enjoy it while it lasts. Here are some #RexComus highlights (and a drinking game), plus a few other things people managed to write online after Tuesday.

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Friday, March 3, 2017

Town hall on transgender violence follows recent murders in Louisiana

Posted By on Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 6:00 PM

A memorial during 2016's Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience in Armstrong Park.
  • A memorial during 2016's Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience in Armstrong Park.

Following the deaths of Ciara McElveen and Chyna Gibson in New Orleans and Jaquarrius Holland in Monroe, advocacy group Transitions Louisiana will host a town hall on transgender violence next week. The meeting is 3 p.m.-5 p.m. Friday, March 10 at First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans (2903 Jefferson Ave.). NOPD's LGBT liaison Sgt.​ Frank Robertson and At-Large City Councilmember Jason Williams also will be present. The violence in 2017 follows two of the deadliest years for transgender people in the U.S., including several deaths in Louisiana.

"This is a crucial moment in New Orleans and ​in ​the country itself," Transitions Louisiana Executive Director J. Mercedes Cardona told Gambit.

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Local artisans Mark and Ann-Marie Derby get national spotlight on Handcrafted America

Posted By on Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Mark Derby of Derby Pottery & Tile demonstrates how he casts his handmade tiles in front of the Handcrafted America film crew. - COURTESY OF SIMONE MCDOWELL OF INSP
  • Courtesy of Simone McDowell of INSP
  • Mark Derby of Derby Pottery & Tile demonstrates how he casts his handmade tiles in front of the Handcrafted America film crew.

Handcrafted America is a cable TV show dedicated to showcasing artisans around the country that still make things the old-fashioned way, by hand. Each episode features three artisans that are arguably the best in their trade, interviewed by host Jill Wagner in their own workspaces. Wagner takes an immense pride in introducing viewers to the makers of crafts mundane (brooms) and elaborate (chess sets hand carved from Hawaiian Koa wood).

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sidney Torres does The Deed tonight on CNBC

Posted By on Wed, Mar 1, 2017 at 1:16 PM

Sidney Torres, seen here in thoughtful repose, stars in The Deed, which premieres tonight on CNBC. - CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER
  • Sidney Torres, seen here in thoughtful repose, stars in The Deed, which premieres tonight on CNBC.

Developer/trash magnate/local celebrity Sidney Torres' new TV show, The Deed, premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on CNBC. According to the network, it's an "unflinching look at how fortunes are really made in the unpredictable and cutthroat world of real estate flipping and development." (It's also only four episodes, so no big commitment.)

Two things to do while you're waiting: read Gambit's cover story on Torres from June 2016 ("Is this your next mayor?") and let Sid teach you how to renovate a bathroom (below). Here's how he does it (from our cover story):
Dodging plastic sheets descending from the ceiling and piles of wood, tools and extension cords on the floor, Torres arrives in the master bathroom, which is encased in marble sourced from a quarry on the Tuscan coast of Italy near Forte dei Marmi, where a waiting list including Saudi princes queues for slivers of its ancient white stone. It's a painstaking process that begins with carving the rock, injecting a block of marble with epoxy and letting it sit for three days before it's cut into slabs revealing butterfly-like patterns. Then it's covered in another epoxy, placed on an oven rack for eight hours, polished and repolished to a pristine finish.

  Torres had it cut into a bathtub.

  "You can sit like Tony Montana and look at the TV," he says. "Remember that? Scarface?"


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Monday, February 27, 2017

Y@ Speak: peak Chad

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 6:22 PM

See that fading star in the night sky? Twinkling its last twinkle before sunrise? That's Chad. Every year it crashes down to earth, occupies too much public space and gets indignant when you enter it, passes out on your porch and listens to Journey before it ascends to the skies, only to return again the next year, and the next. So long, Chad. We fare thee well.

Happy Mardi Gras. Here's some stuff that happened online.

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Krewes of Iris and Tucks parade in Uptown

Posted By on Sat, Feb 25, 2017 at 5:49 PM

Krewe of Tucks' "Crop Duster" float.
  • Krewe of Tucks' "Crop Duster" float.

A joyful celebration of Krewe of Iris' centennial hit a snag Saturday when a float broke down at the turn from Napoleon Avenue to St. Charles Avenue with just a few floats remaining in the parade. Word-of-mouth on the route reported that the problem may have been a broken axle, but whatever the delay, it dragged on for almost an hour, hobbling the end of the parade and delaying Krewe of Tucks, which follows Iris.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

New Orleans bike share program extended through March

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 4:46 PM

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After launching a "preview" of a citywide bike share program at several kiosks in downtown New Orleans and in the Lower Garden District, the city is extending the program through March 31. It was set to end Feb. 23, after the NBA All-Star weekend and first week of Mardi Gras parades.

Riders need to download an app (search for "Social Bicycles"),  register their information and select a payment plan. Riders can pay $15 for the whole period from now through March, allowing for up to an hour of riding per day. The hourly rate is $8 an hour, prorated by use.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Y@ Speak: Hey now, you're an all star. Guy Fieri? Pa-rades.

Posted By on Mon, Feb 20, 2017 at 4:32 PM

As the corporate-branded fog over the French Quarter begins to clear, we find a graveyard of Popeyes boxes, broken beads and daiquiri-clutching partiers waking from the peaceful slumber that follows a week of near-belligerence to news that Boogie is coming to New Orleans. Also this week: The Hoy Boys reunite... with Guy Fieri, and Master P transcends incredible levels of petty over the Falcons' loss in the Super Bowl.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Nix Library branch to reopen March 6; library announces Mardi Gras hours

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 3:43 PM

The Nix branch on S. Carrollton Ave. will reopen March 6. - CREATIVE COMMONS/INFROGMATION OF NEW ORLEANS
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/INFROGMATION OF NEW ORLEANS
  • The Nix branch on S. Carrollton Ave. will reopen March 6.
The Nix branch of the New Orleans Public Library will reopen March 6, according to the NOPL's Facebook page.

It closed its doors in late October for improvements, which include a new floor plan, paint, additional public computers and general infrastructure. Nix also will have new landscaping and lighting when it reopens.

Hours will remain the same: opening at 10 a.m. Monday-Saturday, with closure at 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 5 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

Some NOPL branches will be keeping irregular hours during Carnival season; here's a chart of which libraries are open when.

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