After Katrina, neoliberals replaced New Orleans' schools with charters, which are now failing

After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was shock doctrined through a massive, neoliberal transformation, the centerpiece of which was a replacement of the public school system with a system entirely made up of charter schools. Read the rest

Eating your way through NOLA Homer Simpsons' style

This is a lot of fun. Katrin and Janine, a couple of Swiss gals, recreated the sequences where Homer Simpson eats his way through New Orleans.

It even impressed the animators of The Simpsons.

Eric Koenig:

"Hey! Just wanted you to know, we here at The Simpsons Animation Studio saw your video and were blow away! And also hope you don't have heartburn from all that eatin'!"

(tmn, Nag on the Lake) Read the rest

New Orleans music legend Art Neville has died.

New Orleans music and cultural legend Art Neville, who co-founded the Meters and Neville Brothers, has died. He was 81 years old. Read the rest

Mysterious New Orleans "anti-crime" camera emblazoned with NOPD logos outside surveillance contractor's house is disavowed by NOPD

New Orleans is festooned with police cameras, the legacy of a secret partnership with the surveillance contractor Palantir, which used New Orleans as a covert laboratory for predictive policing products. Read the rest

Dr. John, the New Orleans music icon born Malcolm John Rebennack, dies at 77

A legend of American music has departed.

His name was Malcolm John Rebennack, or Mac Rebennack, but we knew him as Dr. John. Read the rest

New Orleans reduced homelessness by 90% (and saved a fortune) by giving homeless people homes

Homelessness in New Orleans spiked after Hurricane Katrina, reaching 11,600 by 2007; today that number has been reduced by 90%, thanks to a "housing first" (previously) approach that starts by giving homeless people stable, permanent housing, and then addressing confounding factors like mental illness and substance addiction (on the grounds that these conditions are easier to treat when people have stable housing). Read the rest

Video: New Orleans second line honoring the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, in Treme

WATCH: The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, honored by the people of New Orleans as only New Orleans can -- with a second line, near Treme. Read the rest

Pianist Henry Butler dead at 69

If you love New Orleans-style piano or simply subscribe to joy, the music of Henry Butler would be welcome in your home. Gospel, old school rhythm and blues, Caribbean-tinged jazz and, of course, that signature syncopated New Orleans sound made renowned by musical luminaries like Jellyroll Morton and Professor Longhair--Butler could play it all.

And he did.

His playing challenges the ears, turning well-known standards up on their ends to show listeners what's inside of them. Sadly, we're all given our time to go. There'll be no more Henry Butler for us to enjoy, save what has already been recorded. Butler died in a hospice facility this week, in Brooklyn. He was 69 years old.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Butler commanded the syncopated power and splashy filigree of boogie-woogie and gospel and the rolling polyrhythms of Afro-Caribbean music. He could also summon the elegant delicacy of classical piano or hurtle toward the dissonances and atonal clusters of modern jazz. He could play in convincing vintage styles and sustain multileveled counterpoint, then demolish it all in a whirlwind of genre-smashing virtuosity.

As The New York Times' obituary of Butler points out, Dr. John once called Butler “the pride of New Orleans and a visionistical down-home cat and a hellified piano plunker to boot.”

Knowing that his playing will inspire generations of musicians in the decades to come feels like cold comfort in the wake of the loss of such a talent.

The older I get, the stranger it feels to watch as the musicians who inspire me fall to the ravages of time. Read the rest

Someone paid actors to support an energy company at public hearings in New Orleans

Every time a conservative jackass accuses a high school kid of being "a crisis actor" remember this: someone hired actors to support an energy company's proposal. The actors were required to sign non-disclosure agreements. Some of the actors talked anyhow.

Via The Lens NOLA:

At least four of the people in orange shirts were professional actors. One actor said he recognized 10 to 15 others who work in the local film industry.

They were paid $60 each time they wore the orange shirts to meetings in October and February. Some got $200 for a “speaking role,” which required them to deliver a prewritten speech, according to interviews with the actors and screenshots of Facebook messages provided to The Lens.

“They paid us to sit through the meeting and clap every time someone said something against wind and solar power,” said Keith Keough, who heard about the opportunity through a friend.

He said he thought he was going to shoot a commercial. “I’m not political,” he said. “I needed the money for a hotel room at that point.”

They were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements and were instructed not to speak to the media or tell anyone they were being paid.

But three of them agreed to talk about their experience and provided evidence that they were paid to endorse the power plant. Two spoke on the condition that they not be identified, saying they didn’t want to jeopardize other work or get in trouble for violating the non-disclosure agreement.

Another attendee, an actor and musician who played a small role on HBO’s “Treme,” told WWL-TV he was paid to wear one of the orange shirts at a meeting of the council’s utility committee.

Read the rest

New Orleans Police used predictive policing without telling the city's elected officials

Palantir Technologies is a data-mining firm that loves it some predictive policing: computer-aided sorcery that uses data models to try and predict where crimes may occur and who's got a reasonable chance of committing them.

For predictive policing to work well, the predictive model being built needs to be well fed with data on criminals, their first, second and third-person acquaintances, their social media accounts, and crime statistics for the area where the model is meant to be seeing crimes before they may possibly happen. It sounds like shit right out of Minority Report, because it kinda is – just without spooky kids in a swimming pool and a hell of a lot less accuracy.

Accurate or not, the notion of predictive policing raises a number of civil rights and privacy concerns. The ACLU isn't down with it, as the methodology of stopping someone without reasonable suspicion is against the Fourth Amendment. In their eyes, computer-aided guesses don't cut it when it comes to justifying a stop-and-frisk. China's been using it to snoop on their citizens and has been sending suspected radicals and political dissidents for re-education, just in case they decided to protest their nation's ruling party's status quo. It's creepy shit.

Anyway, back to Palantir.

Did I mention that it was started up by Peter Thiel with money seeded by the CIA? No? How about the fact that they've been running an off-the-books program with the New Orleans Police so secretive that the city's own government didn't have a clue that it was going on? Read the rest

New Orleans pulls 46 tons of Mardi Gras beads from storm drains

In temperate and tropical locales, storm drains are a vital bit of urban infrastructure. As a channel for rain water to drain from city streets, they play an important role in keeping the places most of us live habitable and our roads passable during wet weather. When storm drains get clogged with debris, the water they're meant to carry can't flow and things go sideways, fast. As such, most cities throw a lot of money at cleaning them – and the catch basins that feed into them – out, several times per year.

New Orleans? They've got storm drains. Given the city's history of catastrophic flooding, to say that keeping their waste water flowing would be an understatement. It's a tough job, made more difficult by the annual influx of drunken, horny tourists.

On January 28th, the Times-Picayune reported that in addition to the mud, leaves and garbage that New Orleans public works employees have to suck out of storm drains this year, they discovered something else: 46 tons of Marti Gras beads. For the sober uninitiated, the tradition of passing out strands and necklaces of Mardi Gras beads to boozy revelers started back in the 1800s when people parading as part of the annual celebration handed out the inexpensive mementos to onlookers. As anyone who's been to the five-day festival recently will tell you, just as many strands of the beads wind up on the ground as they do around necks. While the city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up after the days-long party, the beads still end up getting into places that you don't want them to – kind of like macro-sized glitter. Read the rest

One quarter of New Orleans' catch-basins were clogged to uselessness with 93,000 lbs of plastic Mardi Gras beads

London has fatbergs: glistening, multiton agglomerations of fat, sanitary napkins, "flushable" wipes, human waste, dirty diapers, used condoms, and delicious strawberry jam; New Orleans has 93,000 pounds of plastic Mardi Gras beads. Read the rest

A walk through the French Quarter's 'Museum of Bad Taste'

I know a kindred spirit when I see one and New Orleans-based bon vivant Sam Malvaney is definitely "one of us," a true kitsch lovin' collector. Take a walk with Sam --who's dressed in a leopard-print tuxedo jacket, no less-- as he gives a virtual tour of his enviable French Quarter home, aka the "Museum of Bad Taste."

(David M. Jones via Skip Baker) Read the rest

Dave Rosser, Afghan Whigs guitarist, RIP

Dave Rosser, an incredibly talented musician, exemplary human being, and pillar of the New Orleans music community, died last night surrounded by love in New Orleans. Read the rest

Afghan Whigs benefit concerts for their guitarist Dave Rosser who has cancer

My friend Dave Rosser, the NOLA-based guitarist for the Afghan Whigs (and the Gutter Twins, and Mark Lanegan, etc.), was just diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer. Dave is a brilliant musician, a true gentleman, and a total laugh riot. Now he has a long, hard road ahead of him and the medical expenses he faces are absolutely overwhelming. There's a GoFundMe campaign to help Dave with those bills and the Afghan Whigs have just announced two very special benefit performances to support their much-loved bandmate. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Afghan Whigs's dark soul-rock masterpiece Black Love, they will play the album in its entirety in New Orleans on December 10 and Los Angeles on December 14. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Friday 11/3).

“Dave Rosser has been my close friend and bandmate for over a decade now,” Afghan Whigs singer Greg Dulli commented. “By doing these shows for him we hope to ease any financial stress he may face as he pursues treatment to combat his illness. 100% of the proceeds from these shows will go to his medical care. I’m hopeful that folks will come out and show their support for Dave who will be performing with us.”

The New Orleans show will take place at The Civic Theatre on Saturday December 10th and feature performances from: The Afghan Whigs, Mark Lanegan, Ani DiFranco, Morning 40 Federation, King James & The Special Men, and C.C. Adcock & The Lafayette Marquis along with special guests.

The Los Angeles show will take place on December 14th at The Teragram Ballroom featuring sets from: The Afghan Whigs, Mark Lanegan, Moby and Carina Round.

Read the rest

Go To The Mardi Gras (1959)

A classic from 1959 by Professor Longhair.

You will see the Zulu King

Down on St. Claude and Dumaine

(via Greg Dulli)

Read the rest

RIP, Paul Prudhomme: TV chef popularized Cajun and Creole cuisine, invented turducken

If it weren't for Chef Paul Prudhomme, we wouldn't have turducken, and Cajun/Creole cuisine would not have become the global sensation it is today. When the charismatic television chef popularized blackened redfish, it became such an obsession the species nearly went extinct.

Prudhomme died today, at 75. His restaurant, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, confirmed the news to CNN, and said he died after a “brief illness,” the nature of which was not further specified.

If you read only one obituary, make it his hometown paper: The New Orleans Times-Picayune. If you're not old enough to remember when he was a fixture on public television, here's a primer on why Chef Paul was so awesome.

At its peak in the 1980s, Prudhomme's profile cast a shadow even over such culinary legends as Julia Child and James Beard, and there was no restaurant-world precedent for the celebrity he enjoyed. The portly chef starred in several cooking shows and home videos, was a regular on local and national TV, appeared on magazine covers and became a best-selling cookbook author a decade before chefs such as Emeril Lagasse, his heir at Commander's Palace, ushered in the age of the celebrity chef. His first of eight books, 1984's "Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, " is still widely considered a classic.

“I think that Paul Prudhomme has had the greatest influence on American cooking, in cultivating the public interest in American food, of anybody I know,” said New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne in a 1988 interview. Read the rest

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