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Chris Champagne reveals Secret New Orleans 

Book details Gram Parson’s grave, Cosimo Matassa’s studio and many local relics and oddities

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There are many guidebooks and tours focusing on New Orleans history. Poet and comedian Chris Champagne recently released his guide to the city's lesser-known landmarks, Secret New Orleans (Jonglez Publishing), and it focuses on the city's historical relics and oddities. Some are not so obscure, such as Cosimo Matassa's J&M Studios, where countless R&B and rock 'n' roll hits were recorded, Piazza d'Italia, the architectural pocket park hidden in the Warehouse District, or one-time Mexican revolutionary Enrique Alferez's sculptures spread around New Orleans City Park. But the book is full of seldom-mentioned sites and names not immediately associated with the city, including the Algiers Point home where writer William S. Burroughs lived from 1948 to 1949 and rock star Gram Parsons' grave in a cemetery on Airline Drive. There also are brushes with infamy, such as a plaque that marks the place Lee Harvey Oswald once lived in Uptown. The book details treasures lurking in familiar places, such as a beret worn by Groucho Marx on display at Antoine's Restaurant and a bust of boxer Jim Sullivan's arm at the New Orleans Athletic Club. While most entries are concentrated in New Orleans, there are sites on the Northshore, such as Mandeville's Dew Drop Social and Benevolent Jazz Hall, Los Islenos Heritage and Cultural Society Museum in St. Bernard and more. Each subject has a photo and brief history, and there's a fun eclecticism to the flow from notable to bizarre sites. The book is 240 pages, and maps group some clustered sites. Champagne signs the book at Swirl Wine Bar & Market Friday, and from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 14 at F&M Patio Bar.


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