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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Who Runs the Streets of New Orleans? | NY TImes

On the morning of Sunday, March 29, Sidney Torres was sipping an espresso in the kitchen of his mansion on the edge of the French Quarter when a jarring notification lit up his iPad and two iPhones. Pimps fighting with drug dealers and johns. Man has gun. Hurry. The message came from a neighbor 10 blocks away, on St. Louis Street, and was sent through a venture Torres started four days earlier: a private police patrol that could be summoned via mobile app. Torres, who made a vast fortune as the founder of SDT Waste & Debris Services, a sanitation company that cleaned up much of New Orleans in the years following Hurricane Katrina, spent $380,000 to fund the enterprise after a crime wave put Quarter residents on edge for the better part of a year. Between November and January, there were more than 60 robberies in the neighborhood, and the crimes became increasingly brazen, including a vicious stabbing and a spate of random beatings. It became a personal issue for Torres on Dec. 17, when his 8,000-square-foot home was burglarized; three weeks later, the bar next door was held up by two masked gunmen. Torres’s crowdsourcing approach to crime, conceived throughout February and March, was the impulsive byproduct of his belief that the New Orleans Police Department, which has shrunk by around 500 officers since Hurricane Katrina, was no longer able to protect even the neighborhood less than a square mile in size that contained the city’s most valuable real estate.

Seated at his kitchen table, Torres began furiously refreshing his iPad. The screen displayed a digitized map of the Quarter, a grid of 78 city blocks that, as a national historic landmark and the center of the city’s $6.7 billion tourism industry, draw upward of nine million visitors each year. A red dot represented the incident in progress on St. Louis, while a green arrow indicated a member of Torres’s squad, the French Quarter Task Force, which at all hours had three armed officers zigzagging the neighborhood in matte black Polaris Rangers that resemble militarized golf carts. When Torres, who is 39, had deployed the same vehicles in his garbage business, the decimated city became cleaner than ever. ‘‘Basically, I’m handling crime the same way I did trash,’’ said Torres, whose brooding good looks and penchant for self-promotion earned him the nickname of Trashanova before he sold his sanitation company to a national conglomerate in 2011.

Read more via NYTimes


The Cultural Politics of Hurricane Katrina

After the Storm« traces the cultural and political responses to Hurricane Katrina. Immediately after Katrina, and during the past nine years, its devastating consequences for the Golf region, New Orleans, and the American Nation have been negotiated in a growing number of cultural productions - among them Spike Lee's documentary film »When the Levees Broke«, David Simon and Eric Overmyer's TV series »Treme«, or Natasha Trethewey's poetry collection »Beyond Katrina«. This book provides interdisciplinary perspectives on these and other negotiations of Hurricane Katrina and puts special emphasis on the intersections of the categories race and class

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10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina inspires multimedia novel

An "Elegy for the Lost City," written by a career musician about New Orleans, can't help but be jazzed up, jived, and funkified by the diverse assemblage of world-class players, homey hipsters, and denizens of the Deep South in this “down river Lake Woebegone,” so described in this pre-book release review by Pulitzer Prize-Nominated Playwright and Peabody Award Winner Willy Holtzman.
“Elegy” is cast in the accents and attitudes of New AW-lins, where elongated vowels can take on a life of their own and real life characters like Dr. John and Harry Connick Jr. pop up amid the fictitious inhabitants of this deeply-rooted, dialect-rich place.

A pop culture countdown to the apocalypse with Hurricane Katrina as an allegory for what awaits us all, Goldstein’s “Ficto-Reality” novel is filled with tragic untimely losses mirroring the Storm’s holocaust. Edited by Michael Lydon, founding editor of Rolling Stone and dean of American rock journalists, “Elegy” is set among the music and restaurant worlds of New Orleans and spans the centuries in time-tripping style with the Crescent City as its epicenter. Lydon was enthralled by Goldstein’s “free-flowing prose, peppered with stinging humor,” describing it as “A book to be savored like a spicy crawfish bisque – read it, but be warned of this risk: you may soon feel an overwhelming urge to experience ‘N’awlins,’ not just through Goldstein’s eyes and ears, but by spending a few weeks there yourself.”

“An Elegy for the Lost City” brings a post-modern interpretation to the calamitous events of Hurricane Katrina, where every neighborhood bears the scars of “dat’s not dere no more” and every corner turns on the memory at those who were taken, or still unable to return. Encompassing 300 years of history from D’Iberville to modern day DuFossats, “Elegy“ enters a diverse world of jazz, jambalaya and funk–Jesus, Jews and Buddhism. It’s hushpuppies, crawfish and kreplach, spirits in mystic visions, shape-shifting guides, imaginary friends, and past-life revelation; a spicy world where mystery abounds. In New Orleans’ first satellite outpost of St. Louis, the disparate families of “Elegy,” under the spell of cosmic confluence all share attendance at the most famous and unique event in baseball’s epic storied history, 1961’s “Miracle of the Foul Balls,” featuring Roberto Clemente’s World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates against the Cardinals.

Read more via prnewswire

Saturday, July 25, 2015

COOLinary New Orleans August 1-31, 2015 |

During the month of August, enjoy 2-3 course lunch menus for $20 or less and 3 course dinner menus at $39 or less  and 3 course brunch menus at $39 or less at over 50 award winning restaurants. Experience cuisine that delights your palate and is an integral part of the history, fabric and culture of New Orleans.

More and more restaurants are signing up every day so be sure to check back often. It’s going to be a delicious summer! Don’t forget to ask for the Chef’s COOLinary Menu.

Read more via CoolinaryNewOrleans

17 shocking stats that show how the 1 percent have ruined New Orleans | Salon

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, the nation saw tens of thousands of people left behind in New Orleans. Ten years later, it looks like the same people in New Orleans have been left behind again.

The population of New Orleans is noticeably smaller and noticeably whiter. While tens of billions poured into Louisiana, the impact on poor and working people in New Orleans has been minimal. Many of the elderly and the poor, especially poor families with children, never made it back to New Orleans. The poverty rate for children who did made it back remains at disturbingly high pre-Katrina levels, especially for black children. Rents are high and taking a higher percentage of people’s income. The pre-Katrina school system fired all its teachers and professionals and turned itself into the charter experiment capital of the US even while the number of children in public schools has dropped dramatically. Since Katrina, white incomes, which were over twice that of blacks, have risen three times as much as blacks. While not all the numbers below are bad, they do illustrate who has been left behind in the 10 years since Katrina...

Read more via Salon


Friday, July 24, 2015

How many new restaurants in New Orleans will survive? |

Photo by Todd A. Price, | The Times-Picayune

In 2015 at least 28 restaurants have opened in New Orleans. And we're only halfway through the year.  In 2014, 60 new restaurants opened and only five of them are closed:

That means that 92 percent of 2014's new restaurants have survived.

Academic studies have shown that 26 percent of new restaurants typically close in the first year. By the third year, 59 percent are gone.

Clearly, New Orleans restaurateurs are beating the odds.

Over the past decade, those of us who closely watch restaurants have been amazed by how many have opened and how few have closed.

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Boil water advisory issued for most of New Orleans | WVUE

A precautionary boil water advisory has been issued for most of New Orleans.

The advisory is in effect for the East Bank of New Orleans, according to the Sewerage and Water Board.

Residents in the affected area are advised not to drink, make ice, brush teeth, bathe, shower, prepare or rinse food with tap water unless it has been properly disinfected until further notice.

At 2:55 a.m. this morning, the S&WB Carrollton Water Plant experienced a number of Entergy power surges that resulted in interruptions to the Claiborne and Panola Pumping Stations.

Read more via WVUE

Three dead, nine injured in movie theater shooting | The Advertiser

Three people were killed and nine wounded when a lone gunman opened fire in a Lafayette movie house Thursday evening.

Lafayette police confirmed shortly before 8 p.m. law enforcement officers responded to a call about an active shooter at the Grand 16 Lafayette at 3141 Johnston St.

Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft confirmed at least three people were killed, including the gunman, who died from a self-inflicted wound.

Two victims were pronounced dead at the scene. Nine were transported to area hospitals, eight by ambulance and one by private party. One victim died at a hospital.

The suspect was described by several witnesses as a white, middle-aged male. State Police said the shooter, whose identity was not released late Thursday, was 58 years old.

Read more via The Advertiser

Monday, July 20, 2015

Greater Access to High Speed Internet Coming to New Orleans and Baton Rouge |

The President announced ConnectHome, a new initiative with communities, the private sector, and federal government to expand high speed broadband to more families across the country. The pilot program is launching in twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation and will initially reach over 275,000 low-income households – and nearly 200,000 children – with the support they need to access the Internet at home. Internet Service Providers, non-profits and the private sector will offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units.                                                    
ConnectHome is the next step in the President’s continued efforts to expand high speed broadband to all Americans and builds on his ConnectED initiative that is on track to connect 99 percent of K-12 students to high-speed Internet in their classrooms and libraries over the next five years.  ConnectHome will help ensure that these students still have access to high-speed Internet once they are home.
Since the President took office, the private and public sectors have invested over $260 billion into new broadband infrastructure, and three in four Americans now use broadband at home. Thanks to smart spectrum policies and world-leading technology, fast 4G wireless broadband is now available to over 98 percent of Americans — up from zero percent since 2009.
Despite this progress, a new analysis released today by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA)  illustrates that some Americans are still unable to benefit from high-speed broadband, especially America’s lower-income children.  In fact, while nearly two-thirds of households in the lowest-income quintile own a computer, less than half have a home internet subscription. While many middle-class U.S. students go home to Internet access, allowing them to do research, write papers, and communicate digitally with their teachers and other students, too many lower-income children go unplugged every afternoon when school ends. This “homework gap” runs the risk of widening the achievement gap, denying hardworking students the benefit of a technology-enriched education.  
President Obama is announcing ConnectHome to help close this gap and provide more Americans digital opportunity. 
Specifically, ConnectHome is:
Building regional partnerships:  The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is collaborating with EveryoneOn and US Ignite who worked with private- and public-sector leaders to build local partnerships and gather commitments that will increase access to the Internet for low-income Americans.  These partnerships will bring broadband, technical assistance, and digital literacy training to students living in public and assisted housing across America. Mayors from Boston to Durham, and from Washington, DC to Seattle, have committed to reallocate local funds, leverage local programming, and use regulatory tools to support this initiative and the expansion of broadband access in low-income communities.
  • Twenty-eight communities strong: The President and HUD Secretary Julián Castro announced today that HUD has selected the following twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation to participate in ConnectHome:
Albany, GA; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Boston, MA; Camden, NJ; Choctaw Nation, OK; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Durham, NC; Fresno, CA; Kansas City, MO; Little Rock, AR; Los Angeles, CA; Macon, GA; Memphis, TN; Meriden, CT; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Rockford, IL; San Antonio, TX; Seattle, WA; Springfield, MA; Tampa, FL; and Washington, DC.
HUD selected these communities through a competitive process that took into account local commitment to expanding broadband opportunities; presence of place-based programs; and other factors to ensure all are well-positioned to deliver on ConnectHome.
  • Helping deliver affordable connectivity: Eight nationwide Internet Service Providers have announced they are partnering with mayors, public housing authorities, non-profit groups, and for-profit entities to bridge the gap in digital access for students living in assisted housing units.  For example:
    • In Google Fiber markets (including the ConnectHome cities of Atlanta, Durham, Kansas City, and Nashville), Google Fiber will offer $0 monthly home Internet service to residents in select public housing authority properties and will partner with community organizations on computer labs and digital literacy programming to bridge the digital divide, especially for families with K-12 students.
    • In select communities of Choctaw Tribal Nation, Cherokee CommunicationsPine Telephone, Suddenlink Communications, and Vyve Broadband will work together to ensure that over 425 of Choctaw’s public housing residents have access to low-cost, high-speed internet.
    • In Seattle, and across its coverage footprint, CenturyLink will make broadband service available to HUD households, via its Internet Basics program, for $9.95 per month for the first year and $14.95 per month for the next four years. 
    • In Macon, Meriden, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans, Cox Communications will offer home Internet service for $9.95 per month to eligible K-12 families residing in public housing authorities.As part of its existing ConnectED commitment, Sprint will work with HUD and the ConnectHome program to make its free wireless broadband Internet access service program available to eligible K-12 students living in public housing. This builds upon the free mobile broadband service previously committed to low-income students by AT&T and Verizon, for ConnectED.
  • Making internet access more valuable: Skills training is essential to effectively taking advantage of all the Internet offers.  HUD is collaborating with non-profits and the private sector to offer new technical training and digital literacy programs for residents in assisted housing units. 
    • Best Buy will offer HUD residents in select ConnectHome demonstration project cities, including Choctaw Tribal Nation, the computer training and technical support needed to maximize the academic and economic impact of broadband access. Best Buy will also offer afterschool technical training, for free, to students participating in ConnectHome at Best Buy Teen Centers in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York City, San Antonio, and Washington, DC.
    • The James M. Cox Foundation, a Cox Communications-affiliated Foundation, will make 1,500 discounted tablets, pre-loaded with educational software, available for $30 to students and their families participating in ConnectHome, in Macon.
    • GitHub will provide $250,000 to support devices and digital literacy training to HUD residents in ConnectHome cities.
    • College Board, in partnership with Khan Academy, will offer students and families in HUD housing in all ConnectHome communities free, online SAT practice resources, and contribute $200,000 over three years to fund digital literacy and personalized college readiness and planning training in Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, San Antonio, Washington, DC and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
    • 80/20 Foundation will provide $100,000 to fund digital literacy training in San Antonio. 
    • Age of Learning, Inc. will make its online early learning curriculum available, for free, to families living in HUD housing in ConnectHome communities.
    • The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) will produce and distribute new educational, children’s, and digital literacy content via participating local PBS stations tailored for ConnectHome participants.
    • The American Library Association will lead a collaboration with local libraries in all the ConnectHome communities to deliver tailored, on-site digital literacy programming and resources to public housing residents. 
    • Boys & Girls Clubs of America will provide digital literacy training for HUD residents in ConnectHome communities that have a Boys & Girls Club, including in Durant, OK, part of Choctaw Tribal Nation. 
    • Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Durant Independent School District will provide digital literacy courses, for free, to HUD residents in Choctaw Tribal Nation.
  • Ensuring HUD assisted housing integrates broadband: The Department of Housing and Urban Development is also taking major steps to provide communities across the nation tools to improve digital opportunity for its residents. Today, Secretary Castro announced that HUD will: 
  • Begin rulemaking that requires HUD-funded new residential construction and substantial rehabilitation projects to support broadband internet connectivity.
  • Provide communities with the flexibility to spend portions of their Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grants on local broadband initiatives and associated connectivity enhancements, including approximately $150 million dedicated to the current competition.
    • Begin rulemaking to include broadband planning as a component of the Consolidated Planning process, which serves as a framework for a community-wide dialogue to identify housing and municipal development priorities.
    • Supply guidance and share best practices with HUD-funded grantees on how to more effectively utilize HUD funding to support broadband connectivity.
    • Integrate digital literacy programming and access to technology into related initiatives.
  • Supporting Promise Zones: ConnectHome is launching in Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and includes Camden, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Antonio – all of which were designated Promise Zones, where the Administration works in partnership with local leaders in high-poverty communities to achieve their educational and economic goals.  President Obama has also called on Congress to cut taxes on hiring and investment in Promise Zones to attract businesses and create jobs.
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Sunday, July 19, 2015

New Orleans household count close to pre-Katrina levels | WWL

As we approach the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, there is evidence that the population has rebounded to a point where the city is just a few thousand residents away from match the pre-Katrina levels.

A new report is out today.

According to Allison Plyer of the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, the city is just under 10 percent from a complete recovery.

''The city had about 200,000 households receiving mail (before Katrina), and we now have nearly 182,000... or about 90% percent," said Plyer.

Read more via WWL

Artist’s post-Katrina oil paintings depict the beauty, power of water | New Orleans Advocate

Having grown up in New Orleans, Adrian Deckbar was accustomed to water. She swam in the Florida Gulf on vacations and sat by the lake to watch sunsets in the summer. She ate food drawn from nearby fishing spots and enjoyed leisurely walks along the Mississippi River levee.

Water, to her, represented recreation and beauty and health. But then it became a threat.

Hurricane Katrina was the catalyst. The day before the storm hit, she and her husband left their Uptown house to travel to a cabin they owned in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. They later returned to find her painting studio damaged and the family home in Lakeview covered in what she can only describe as “black slime.” The house owned by her in-laws in Chalmette also was destroyed.

She remembers watching footage on CNN while living in exile. On the screen, day after day, water filled the streets of her city.

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Rickie Lee Jones' new New Orleans-shot music video |

In June, the singular songwriter Rickie Lee Jones released "The Other Side of Desire," her first album of new original material in many years. The title, in part, referenced her move to New Orleans, where she'd last lived in the early 1980s and returned to, with her elderly dog, in 2014. She recorded the new project at the Music Shed studio in the Lower Garden District, with producer John Porter and a host of local talent including the Lost Bayou Ramblers' Louis Michot; Michot appears on a Cajun-inflected waltz, one of several songs on "The Other Side of Desire" soaked in the influence of Louisiana.

Jones recently released the first video from the new album, for the dreamy, ethereal "Jimmy Choos." In the artful black-and-white mini-flick directed by David McClister, the singer appears as sort of witchy fairy godmother with foil stars on her face and a sweet old car to cruise around in, picking up elegantly bedraggled New Orleanians and passing familiar spots like the St. Vincent de Paul cemetery, the Industrial Canal levee and the streets of the Bywater.

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Remembering New Orleans' Overlooked Ties To Slavery | NPR

After the U.S. banned international slave trading in 1808, more than 1 million people were forcibly moved from the Upper South to the Lower South.

Often, the first stop was the slave markets of New Orleans, where families were divided for good.

And today, little evidence of what happened in these places, and to these people, remains.

Back when cotton was king, New Orleans was its queen city.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New Orleans restaurateur Tony Angello dies at 88 | WGNO

Tony Angello, owner of Tony Angello’s Ristorante died this week. He was 88 years old.

The popular New Orleans restaurateur opened his landmark Tony Angello’s Ristorante in Lakeview in 1972 and had operated it ever since.

Angello was also honored as Restaurateur of the Year by the Louisiana Restaurant Association in 2009.

Read more via WGNO

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