The Advocate

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Advocate report: Legislators brawl in Baton Rouge bar fight

Posted By on Wed, May 16, 2018 at 12:34 PM

State Rep. Stuart Bishop (left), R-Lafayette, and state Sen. Norby Chabert threw hands last night in a Baton Rouge bar.
  • State Rep. Stuart Bishop (left), R-Lafayette, and state Sen. Norby Chabert threw hands last night in a Baton Rouge bar.

Call it bare-knuckle politics: State Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, and state Sen. Norby Chabert threw hands last night in a Baton Rouge bar over what was described as a disagreement over a piece of legislation, according to a report in The Advocate.

Neither the specific beef nor the bar has been disclosed, but police were called.

Bishop apologized to his fellow legislators this morning on the House floor.

Read the whole story here.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Advocate report: Neville Brothers saxophonist Charles Neville dead at 79

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 3:22 PM

Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers (second from right) died today at his home in Massachusetts.
  • Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers (second from right) died today at his home in Massachusetts.

Charles Neville, saxophonist for New Orleans' legendary Neville Brothers, died today at 79 at his home in Massachusetts, according to a report by Keith Spera in The New Orleans Advocate. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer:
Charles Neville was the second-oldest of the four brothers who, for three decades, formed the core of the Neville Brothers, one of the most important and influential bands to emerge from New Orleans. For many years, the Neville Brothers were the closing act on the final Sunday of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

In addition to his own considerable musical contributions, Neville was the father of popular singer Charmaine Neville, a familiar presence on local stages.

Born and raised in New Orleans, Charles grew up on Valence Street and in the Calliope housing development. In the 1950s, he toured with bands that backed such rhythm & blues stars as Johnny Ace, Jimmy Reed and B.B. King. He enlisted in the Navy in 1956 and was stationed in Memphis.
Read the whole story here.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Advocate report: Smoothie King HQ moving to Dallas

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2018 at 3:28 PM

Smoothie King Center.
  • Smoothie King Center.

Goodbye, Metairie; hello, Dallas. Smoothie King’s CEO Wan Kim told the Dallas Business Journal he's moving his company to Texas sometime this summer. From The Advocate:

Smoothie King will reportedly keep a Metairie office to house 20 percent of its corporate team. And Smoothie King Center will continue be the name of the arena that's home to the New Orleans Pelicans. Smoothie King bought the naming rights to the arena in February 2014. The contract runs for 10 years with an option for 10 more.

In 2012, Smoothie King was coaxed with up to $2.4 million in taxpayer funds to drop its plans to move to Dallas and stay in Louisiana for at least five years.

Smoothie King opened its first location in Kenner in 1973. The company sells its smoothies in the United States, South Korea, Singapore, the Middle East and the Cayman Islands.

Goodbye, Smoothie King. At least we'll still have the Blender.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Advocate report: The Simpsons return to New Orleans

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 11:58 AM


This Sunday's episode of The Simpsons will find the titular dysfunctional family traveling to New Orleans, according to a report by Judy Bergeron in The New Orleans Advocate:
"So the basic premise is that Lisa gets the yips, she can't play (the baritone saxophone). She's got this psychological block, and what better or worse place to not be able to play jazz than New Orleans? So she figures it out there," said Al Jean, "The Simpsons" executive producer, from Los Angeles.

The Simpson family ends up in the Crescent City when their flight to Gainesville, Florida, gets rerouted.

"They don't actually go to the Jazz Fest. They do just about everything else in New Orleans," Jean said. "It's a real love letter to the city."
Longtime Simpsons viewers will remember the 1992 episode "A Streetcar Named Marge," in which the Simpson matriarch was cast in a community theater production of a musical called Streetcar!, which featured a song that infuriated some locals (I found it hilarious):
Long before the Superdome!
Where the Saints of football play
Lived a city that the damned call home
Hear their hellish rondelay!

New Orleans!
Home of pirates, drunks and whores!
New Orleans!
Tacky, overpriced souvenir stores!
If you wanna go to hell, you should take that trip
To the Sodom and Gomorrah on the Mississip...
Read the whole Advocate story about Sunday's episode, which airs at 7 p.m. on WVUE-TV, here.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

A letter to our readers, from Margo and Clancy DuBos

Posted By and on Mon, Apr 9, 2018 at 2:50 PM


For the past 27-plus years, we have had the great honor of owning Gambit. Throughout that time, we have strived always to keep Gambit true to its original mission of speaking truth to power while highlighting New Orleans’ unique arts, entertainment, cultural and political scenes. It’s been great fun for us, but now it’s time to pass the baton to Gambit’s fourth owner — Capital City Press, LLC, publisher of The Advocate newspaper. We do so with many fond memories and an equal measure of optimism for Gambit’s future.

Gambit was founded in December 1980 by writer-editor Gary Esolen and former Vieux Carre Courier publisher Philip Carter. In those early years, Gambit burnished its reputation as a take-no-prisoners observer of local news and politics. Five years later, Virginia-based Landmark Communications Inc. bought Gambit. Landmark, a family-owned media giant that once owned The Weather Channel as well as daily and weekly newspapers, brought needed business structure and a deep reservoir of resources to the fledgling company.

When we bought Gambit with local investors in 1991, it marked a return to local ownership. In the ensuing decades, Gambit covered the rise and fall of David Duke and Edwin Edwards, the onset of casino gaming, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, too many political scandals to count, the BP oil disaster, New Orleans’ ongoing struggles to create a safe and sustainable city that offers economic promise equally to all its citizens — and every aspect of local arts, entertainment and culture. We created the Big Easy Entertainment Awards to recognize the best of local music, theater and classical arts; and we entered the world of digital publishing with our website.

These are exciting — and challenging — times for journalists, particularly those who work in local media. Although we will no longer own Gambit, we both will remain active in its operations. Clancy will continue writing the Politics column he has penned since 1981, and Margo will continue helping with sales and marketing strategies. As we move with Gambit into this next phase of local ownership and additional resources, we are reminded of Gambit’s Commentary announcing the paper’s acquisition by Landmark in 1985: “More than ever before, we can look at Gambit and know how secure it will be and how solid its future is in New Orleans.”

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Gambit gets sold, and social media has a thing or two to say

Posted By on Mon, Apr 9, 2018 at 2:09 PM


When the news broke this morning that John and Dathel Georges bought Gambit and, my email and texts blew up. Many of the questions people asked were answered in our joint news story, as well as Danny Monteverde's story on WWL-TV. But the one big question has been: Is this a good thing?

I think so. Years ago, I worked for a publication that was sold and went from a very good owner to a terrible one. This feels nothing like that.
Everyone on our editorial team is staying. Our story mix isn't changing. Gambit still will come out on Sunday, though it will be printed on the new presses owned by Georges Media Group. Our writers still will be given plenty of latitude to write about subjects they find important. We're not being sold off for pieces and parts, we're not going to start running a bunch of stupid slideshows and we're not being sold to an owner who doesn't know and really understand New Orleans.

Continue reading »

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The Advocate purchases Gambit and

Posted By on Mon, Apr 9, 2018 at 9:55 AM

Gambit, New Orleans’ signature weekly news and entertainment paper, has been purchased by the parent company of The New Orleans Advocate.

Advocate owners John and Dathel Georges purchased the weekly from Margo and Clancy DuBos, native New Orleanians who have owned Gambit since 1991. Terms were not disclosed.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

'Mr. Okra,' New Orleans iconic produce vendor, dies at 75

Posted By on Thu, Feb 15, 2018 at 11:19 PM

  • Mr. Okra.

"Mr. Okra," Arthur Robinson, the singing produce vendor who drove the streets of New Orleans for decades selling fruits and vegetables from his brightly painted truck, has died at 75. The news, which spread on social media tonight, was first confirmed by The New Orleans Advocate.

In 2009, when Mr. Okra's truck died, New Orleanians held fundraisers to buy him a new one. That year he was the subject of a documentary, Mr. Okra, by executive producer Andre Jones and director T.G. Herrington. He also was a fixture at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Robinson talked to Gambit in 2012 about his career and his legacy:
Oh, things change. I remember when children would see you coming, they'd call for their parents, saying, "Mama, mama, here comes the vegetable man!" Now, you pass by, some of these areas they got here, you ask the kids if their parents want something and they look at you like you're crazy.
A family member told The New Orleans Advocate Robinson died at home of natural causes. No funeral services or memorials have been announced.

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Friday, January 5, 2018

Editorial: Derrick Shepherd and 'second chances'

Posted By on Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 2:13 PM

Former state Sen. Derrick Shepherd, in an image from his "2nd Chance NOLA" commercial.
  • Former state Sen. Derrick Shepherd, in an image from his "2nd Chance NOLA" commercial.

Doesn’t every ex-offender deserve a second chance? That’s what former state Sen. Derrick Shepherd wants to know — especially as applied to himself. Shepherd was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison in 2010 for his role in a money-laundering scheme, and he recently launched “2nd Chance NOLA” with the stated goal of helping ex-offenders return to society. It’s a worthy goal, but Shepherd’s timing suggests it’s more about him getting a second chance in politics.

The backstory: The New Orleans Advocate reported that Shepherd attended a Dec. 18 meeting between New Orleans Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell and local legislators, most of whom were alarmed to see Shepherd there. At least one, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, walked out. The Cantrell campaign sent mixed messages until a spokesperson categorically denied Shepherd would have any role in her transition or administration. Gambit later reported that Shepherd also attended an Algiers luncheon where Cantrell was the featured speaker.
In his Gambit interview, Shepherd said he went to the Algiers meeting because he had ideas on how to improve the Sewerage & Water Board, and wanted to share them with Cantrell. Less than 48 hours later, however, a public records request by The Times-Picayune | found Shepherd had written a speech for Cantrell to deliver at the meeting — though both Shepherd and the Cantrell campaign say it was unsolicited.

Criticism of Cantrell’s apparent association with the disgraced former lawmaker led to Shepherd cutting what looked a lot like a campaign ad earlier this week. Standing in front of a giant American flag, he complained that “fake local news began to attack me.” He did not refute any of The Advocate or Gambit’s reporting, however. “Why can’t someone like me contribute to the growth of our city?” Shepherd asked.

A fair question, and we have an answer: Shepherd is absolutely free to contribute to society, but his violation of the public trust by committing a federal felony — and a crime of egregious dishonesty at that — should preclude him from appointed or elected public office.

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sewerage & Water Board head Cedric Grant announces retirement, walks back statement that all pumps were working during Aug. 5 flood

Posted By on Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 1:25 PM

A flooded street in Mid-City during the Aug. 5 rainstorm that inundated the city. - PHOTO BY KEVIN ALLMAN
  • A flooded street in Mid-City during the Aug. 5 rainstorm that inundated the city.

Cedric Grant, head of the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board (S&WB), issued a statement today walking back initial claims that "all pumps" were operational during the Aug. 5 rainstorm and flood that inundated parts of New Orleans. He added that he will be retiring in the next few months "rather than be a distraction to the hard work of fixing the system."

the information I have learned over the last 24 hours indicate that some parts of our system did not operate as they should have, which is disappointing because it contradicts information that I was given to provide to the public," Grant said in a statement announcing his retirement. "Our staff was not forthright, which is unacceptable."

Yesterday S&WB General Superintendent Joe Becker confirmed to WWL-TV that though all 24 pumping stations were operational, eight of 121 individual pumps were not operating during a storm that dumped more than 9 inches of rain in some parts of town within a few hours. One of those pumps served Mid-City, the hardest-hit neighborhood during the storm.

Continue reading »

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