The New Orleanian Abroad

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Andru Okun talks about his zine No Place For a Vacation

Posted By on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Andru Okun, creator of the zine No Place For a Vacation. - JULES BENTLEY
  • Andru Okun, creator of the zine No Place For a Vacation.

The upcoming New Orleans Comics and Zine Fest (NOCAZ) is further proof that zines, a catch-all term for self-published and often small-circulation print periodicals, are just too scrappy to die. They’ve been part of the New Orleans cultural scene since long before the term was coined, though the format hit its subcultural stride nationwide in the '90s through the mid-2000s. While most of the names from our city's zine golden age have moved on to other endeavors, Hope Amico (Keep Loving, Keep Fighting) continues to create beautiful and intricate zines, and the New Orleans underground metal/punk zine Paranoize, begun in 1989, just published their 35th issue. Chainbreaker, a DIY bike repair guidebook, sells briskly in major bookstores nationwide more than a decade since it first saw print as a New Orleans zine.

Our city’s most extraordinary zine-related institution is Robb Roemershauser's Aboveground Zine Library, a collection of more than 15,000 zines from all over the world that spans six decades. It remains in limbo since being gentrified out of the space at 511 Marigny, but Roemershauser has contributed to smaller collections of zines now stocked at some branches of the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL), and over the last few months NOPL has been hosting make-your-own-comics-and-zine workshops for kids.

The latter are part of the buildup to the inaugural NOCAZ, which takes place Nov. 15 at the NOPL's Main Branch (read Kate Watson's preview). NOCAZ describes itself as "a space for self-published artists and thinkers to put their work out... and be able to reach other people without the constraints and expense of the commercial publishing industry."

There are multiple events around NOCAZ, including a zine reading Thursday night featuring several local zine creators. One of those, Andru Okun, has just published an ambitious narrative zine called No Place for a Vacation. It recounts his experiences on a tumultuous 2012 Middle East trip that began with a free "Birthright" tour of Israel designed to make the oft-criticized state appealing to young American Jews. Okun broke off and traveled on his own through Jerusalem into Palestine, where he volunteered at a refugee camp and participated in a rally against the Israeli occupation that came under attack by the Israeli army. As if that weren't enough, Okun then took a surreal sojourn into areas of post-revolution Egypt that had previously been tourist hotspots.

It's a compelling read, elevated above travelogue not only by its events but by Okun's engaging mix of thoughtfulness and humor. No Place for a Vacation's use of a personal lens to explore larger issues make it a good example of zinedom's enduring possibilities. I spoke with Okun about his zine, his upcoming readings and NOCAZ itself.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Ray Nagin trial gets the Taiwanese animation treatment

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Ray Nagin, Taiwanese animation style. - SCREENSHOT/NEXT MEDIA ANIMATION
  • Ray Nagin, Taiwanese animation style.

It used to be that you weren't really news until you were parodied on Saturday Night Live — but the modern equivalent is that you're  not really news until a Taiwanese animation studio dramatizes your story

All hail WWNO-FM's Jason Saul, who found Next Media Animation's take on the rise and fall of Ray Nagin. Go to WWNO's website to read Jason's take on it and watch the video.

Spoiler: Nagin gets eaten by a shark.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cartoonist Walt Handelsman joins The Advocate

Posted By on Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 10:00 PM

Cartoonist Walt Handelsman. - WALTHANDELSMAN.COM
  • Cartoonist Walt Handelsman.
Walt Handelsman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist whose work appeared in The Times-Picayune from 1989 to 2001 before he decamped to New York Newsday, will return to New Orleans to become staff cartoonist at The New Orleans Advocate.

The decision sounds like a sudden one, according to a press release from The New Orleans Advocate tonight:

Handelsman agreed to join The Advocate over the weekend, after attending Sunday’s New Orleans Saints game with the newspaper’s owners, John and Dathel Georges, General Manager Dan Shea and Editor Peter Kovacs.

“A few years ago at a Tulane art fair, I purchased a brass skeleton key on a chain created by talented local artist and close family friend, Juliet Meeks*,” Handelsman said. “I’m not much of a jewelry-wearing guy, but I’ve worn that key under my shirt every single day as a personal reminder to someday unlock the door and get back home.”

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Brewsday Tuesday: Louisiana breweries represent at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver

Posted By on Tue, Oct 15, 2013 at 9:05 AM

At the 2013 Great American Beer Festival, Keith Pumila of Abita displays the brewery's silver medal in the bock beer category. - NORA MCGUNNIGLE
  • At the 2013 Great American Beer Festival, Keith Pumila of Abita displays the brewery's silver medal in the bock beer category.

The Great American Beer Festival (GABF), held in Denver each October, is the American beer industry’s most prestigious event. More than 49,000 ticketholders, media, judges, volunteers and brewery staff were in attendance over the course of the festival, which was held Oct. 10-12. This year, tickets sold out in only 20 minutes. Even the 624 breweries in attendance had to fight to be included — brewery slots were filled almost as fast as tickets were sold.

Abita and Bayou Teche Brewing were able to sign up for GABF right away, and NOLA Brewing joined them after a short stint on the waiting list. The Louisiana breweries took their responsibilities to represent the state seriously. As Derek Domingue, Bayou Teche’s sales and marketing representative, reported, “people were so intrigued to hear about how we involve our culture in everything we do from our beer, music, food, art and just simple good living.”

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ed Blakely is about to start rebuilding Sydney, Australia — one shopping mall at a time

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 10:48 AM


Dr. Ed Blakely watchers know that former Mayor Ray Nagin's "recovery czar" declared mission accomplished on the rebuilding of New Orleans in 2009 and took his metaphorical "cranes in the sky" to Australia, where he now works with the University of Sydney's United States Study Centre (bless their hearts).

But now Blakely has a new challenge. He's teaming up with "urban designer" Ethan Kent to revitalize a shopping mall in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Brewsday Tuesday: Geeking out at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Boston

Posted By on Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 8:45 AM

A dinner pairing at Harpoon Brewery in Boston. - NORA MCGUNNIGLE
  • A dinner pairing at Harpoon Brewery in Boston.

Even before I became a beer writer, I would always schedule my vacations around local beer and breweries. I find the craft beer scene of any given city or region makes me feel at home immediately, no matter how far away home might be. Through the mutual love of craft beer, I’ve made friends, acquired business contacts, and gotten great recommendations of non-beer things to do in the city I’m visiting. It’s also something I love to do for others visiting New Orleans.

Last week, I was at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Boston, with a pre-conference excursion in Portland, Me. and Portsmouth, N.H. While there, I was able to enjoy a lot of beer that I can’t buy here in Louisiana, but I also got a deeper understanding and appreciation of breweries that are available in Louisiana.

It’s worth noting that I was not the only Louisiana beer blogger to make the trek up north. Jay Ducote, the force behind Bite and Booze in Baton Rouge, was an attendee, as well as his brother Eric Ducote, who runs BR Beer Scene and his co-contributor Dustin Davis. Jay actually presented on the final day of the conference about his relationship with the official Louisiana Travel and Tourism website, with whom he collaborated on a section dedicated to craft beer and the Louisiana Brewery Trail

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Crawfish in the Lower East Side

Posted By on Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 6:10 PM

The regional differences throughout the U.S. include "crawdad" and "mudbug." The Associated Press handbook entry has it as "crawfish," then specifically says "not crayfish."

"Crayfish" is what you can get, by the pound, at $13 a pound, according to The New York Post, at The Boil, a Louisiana-style seafood joint in New York City. The restaurant's menu, however, correctly calls it crawfish. It even says "crawfish" on the front door.

Nevertheless, The Post took a look at the crayfish restaurant, which recreates for New York diners a picnic-table-style seafood boil with Abita beer on tap — and where diners order from iPhones or iPads while wearing blue gloves.

The gloves have, in fact, turned out to be one of the restaurant’s most popular features for urbanites who want to keep their manicures clean while they munch.

It's also cash only, so if they're going for authentic New Orleans they've nailed the bill portion of the meal.

The Boil's Yelp! reviews sound good — though one disgruntled rEaL nEw OrLeAnS person who has never been to the restaurant gave it one star because of what they read in The Post — the nation's saving grace of journalism, The New York Post — and called the diners a "bunch of pussies."

Next time I'm in New York, I will happily don the blue gloves and dive into a bucket of crayfish.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Orleans Bingo! Show profiled in The Washington Post

Posted By on Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 1:07 PM

The New Orleans Bingo! Show will be performing at the Kennedy Center Saturday night, and today's Washington Post has a nice preview of the event, which includes the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, GIVERS and Big Freedia:

Preservation Hall Jazz Band has a long history performing at the Kennedy Center, so in some ways it makes sense that “Bingo! Show” would find a stage there, even if the performances sound like something that might fit a more experimental theater’s bill.

“It has elements of cabaret, it has elements of burlesque, but also elements of Tom Waits and Fellini and Charlie Chaplin,” [Ben] Jaffe says. “And it has elements of playing bingo with your grandparents.”

[Clint] Maedgen adds: “The fact that we have Big Freedia and Preservation Hall on the same bill kind of says it all.”

Alex Woodward previewed the show last month, and there's more here — from a hometown perspective.

Lucky D.C. — there's even an after-party with Big Sam's Funky Nation. Great warning on the Kennedy Center website, too:

The show may contain strong language, partial nudity, and moderate sexual references. But nothing you haven't seen or heard if you've visited New Orleans. *wink*

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Science says: Yakamein really does cure hangovers

Posted By on Wed, Apr 10, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Yakamein from Ms. Lindas catering.
  • Yakamein from Ms. Linda's catering.
Science, the drunkard's friend:

Researchers presenting at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans said foods like Yak-a-mein, which contain salts, protein and other ingredients, really can help drinkers recover from the effects of alcohol consumption.

"Folklore has it that American soldiers from New Orleans stationed in Korea in the 1950s learned to appreciate Yak-a-mein on the morning after, and brought a taste for it back home," Alyson E. Mitchell, Ph.D., of the University of California at Davis said in a statement.

The Atlantic Cities has more, and points us to this blog, which introduces us to the Baltimore specialty "Yat Gaw Mein":

A Baltimore Fav pronounced Yak Gow Mane.

I find that different regions do this cheap Chinese dish differently.

West Baltimore makes a sweet version, East Baltimore salty, and Philly's version is covered in gravy and not ketchup.

Clearly the Crescent City and Charm City share more than a waterfront, John Waters and David Simon.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

VIDEO: Bustout Burlesque goes to Las Vegas

Posted By on Mon, Apr 8, 2013 at 5:34 PM

For this week's cover story, I accompanied New Orleans' Bustout Burlesque to Las Vegas, where the troupe had three performances at the 16th annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender. The article (with photos by Andreas Koch) only tells part of the story, though — the videos have to be seen in order to appreciate the talent and the artistry involved.

Here's Angi B. Lovely, who opened the show at The Orleans Hotel and Casino:

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