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Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour Remains Bestseller on Amazon! – Video

Well, I never thought it’d happen to lil’ ole me but my new book, Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour, has been on Amazon for almost a year now and it’s still a bestseller, in the top 5 in its category!

Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour Remains Bestseller on Amazon!

So here’s an interview I did with monster Internet maven Dion GeBorde about alla dat.

 

Click the Buy Now button below to get your copy of my bestselling travel guide

Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour

It used to be $0.99. Now you can get it for only $2.99.
But hurry, I may be raising the price in the near future. So now is the time to get it.

orange_buynow copy

Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. You can get a free Kindle reader for your computer.
Download the Kindle app. for your Mac HERE.
Download the Kindle app. for your PC HERE.

Leave a COMMENT. Tell us what you think.

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Bluegrass Pickers Mash It Up in New Orleans French Quarter – Video

All kinds of musicians play of the streets of New Orleans French Quarter, all different types of music. You might not think bluegrass would fit, but heck, this is old time sounded music and ain’t no better place to hear that than in ‘da Quartah.’

Bluegrass Pickers Mash It Up in New Orleans French Quarter – Video

The singer/guitar player is doing the bass beat on a suitcase with his foot.

These guys have so much energy that you could plug ‘em in and run a city. Wow!! Have a look.

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Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Neighborhoods, New Orleans Videos.

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PA Musician Pines About Going Back to New Orleans – Video

Hurricane Katrina has strewn our native sons far and wide. Here’s a song from Ted Silar, a fella who lives in Pennsylvania, who has never been to the Crescent City, but writes a tune like he knows what it means to miss New Orleans. It’s blues, it’s raw and ragged like the best New Orleans songs are. The last line is the best and echoes the sentiments of so many who live here. Enjoy!

PA Musician Pines About Going Back to New Orleans – Video

GOING BACK TO NEW ORLEANS

I don’t care if I have to borrow,
steal, or beg,
but if I have to walk,
I’m going on my own two legs.
Wrap up all my business here
and give me whatever’s left.
I gotta get back on that road
before I hurt myself.

CHORUS:
I’m going back to New Orleans.
Honey, you just got to let me go.
I’m going back to New Orleans.
Lay my bed out on the floor.

I’m not saying I don’t like Houston.
I like Houston pretty well.
And if I was born in Houston,
I’d say Houston’s swell.
But New Orleans is where I’m from,
where I was born and bred.
If I don’t see her soon,
I’m gonna go out of my head.

Don’t say I don’t know what I’m in for.
It ain’t gonna be falling off a log.
I’m gonna have to sing for my supper.
I’m gonna be living like a dog.
But I’d rather sing for my supper there,
than sing anywhere else.
I’d rather be a dog in New Orleans,
than a king anywhere else.

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Posted in Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans History, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Videos.

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Traveling Pianist Unofficially Opens Elton John Concert in New Orleans

What this guy is doing is pretty ingenuous. Davide Martello is traveling the world hauling is grand piano around towed only under pedal power.

Traveling Pianist Unofficially Opens Elton John Concert in New Orleans

I recently saw him on the streets of New Orleans being towed while he was playing, his keyboard is lit up with hidden speakers to project the sound. His music seems improvisational and new-agey, which is not really new-agey any more since it’s so familiar and played by so many piano players now.

You gotta admire the guy for having such a great idea and going ahead and executing it. His goal is to play in every major city and capital throughout the world.

The German musician is a hero of sorts. Last year Davide hauled his piano to Taksim Square in Istanbul during the riots and political unrest there and quelled the tensions, if only temporarily. Shows you the profound affect beautiful music can have on the human soul.

We are fortunate to have him grace New Orleans, the musical capital of America, with his beautiful playing.

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New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward: The Pitt Houses Revisited – Can Brad Really Make it Right

Recently I read an article by Byron York that addressed the Make It Right houses in the lower 9th ward of New Orleans and it echoed the feelings I expressed when I saw these houses a few years ago and gave my own view in a post on this blog.

New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward: The Pitt Houses Revisited – Can Brad Really Make it Right

A Brad Pitt eco-home in New Orleans lower ninth ward.

A Brad Pitt eco-home in New Orleans lower ninth ward.

Mr. York talked about how they don’t fit into the architectural style of New Orleans but that anywhere else in the country people would love to have them. The houses are in my view unattractive and from an aesthetic standpoint I can’t imagine anyone wanting to live in them anywhere in the country, even the one designed by famous architect Frank Gehry. By no stretch of the imagination could you call these houses beautiful.

The writer observed that the neighborhood looks like a field of pastel-colored UFOs. I would add to that, they look like a field of crashed UFOs each one from a different planet since none of the homes seem to fit into any congruent style, they are just a hodge-podge of weird structures with strange angles supposedly to make optimal use of the sun and environment. But not are these homes unattractive their strange unconventional shapes make them difficult to build.

I have to commend Brad Pitt for starting this project and committing to finishing them. Apparently it was slated that 150 of these houses be built and already they’ve finished 100 of them. But here is the problem, the people that these houses are intended for don’t really want to live in them and as such is causing a drag on the economy in the lower 9th ward.

Now it’s being discovered that some of the materials that were used to construct the homes are deteriorating more quickly than they should, especially some new type of glass infused wood used for steps and decking that was supposed to last for 40 years or so. Hm… glass infused wood. I guess that sounds like a good idea but obviously is not since that wood after only a few years is already rotting.

Here’s an idea to really “make it right” Mr. Pitt: why not build the next 50 homes in the traditional New Orleans style? A lot of the homes in the 9th ward were built in such a manner and these types of homes are all over New Orleans by the thousands in neighborhood after neighborhood. People love buying them, fixing them up and living in them for their beauty, style, durability and simplicity.

And guess what, back a hundred years ago when these were built they were done so using the latest building materials and techniques. They are energy efficient with high ceilings, and windows and doors that open front to back to allow for a perfect circulation of air. And you can build these homes nowadays from scratch with the latest green technology and building materials.

My question is why does green or environmentally friendly have to mean ugly? I don’t get it. Would it not have been better to build a traditional New Orleans home that would be green and energy efficient to show people that green does not have to mean ugly, that you can build one that looks like an attractive conventional home that fits into a neighborhood and not some outlandish thing like looks like a crashed UFO to fulfill some environmental agenda?

So, I really want to encourage the folks at Make It Right to really do the right thing and give the people in the 9th ward what they really want that they can be proud of and really want to live in: a good, sturdy home that looks and feels like New Orleans. And keep the already built Make It Right homes as an example of what you don’t do when rebuilding a neighborhood.

 

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Posted in Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Neighborhoods.

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The Coldest, Wettest Mardi Gras? Carnival 2014 Comes to Frigid End

Note: Although Mardi Gras was a month ago, people talk around here how cold it was. I wrote this a couple days after into Lent. I’m just posting this now…

OK well, we had a great weekend before Mardi Gras, weather was pretty nice. Then what the heck happened? That danged ole polar vortex had got us in its spell. And I opened the front door Mardi Gras morning and got hit with a blast of arctic air. And a wet arctic air at that.

The Coldest, Wettest Mardi Gras? Carnival 2014 Comes to Frigid End

New Orleans Mardi Gras 2007: Zulu Parade on St...

I saw raindrops hitting the street and everything just looked so wet and I said to myself, I ain’t gonna go out in that, I ain’t gonna go stand on the street and watch some floats go by and try to catch some beads. Nah uh. The house is just too danged warm for that. So we turned on the TV and settled in to do our Mardi Gras on the couch and watch all the fun and festivities of Fat Tuesday from a warm spot in front of the tube.

Then I got to thinking. Heck, if I were in one of the parades, I’d have to be out there. If I were a cop, I’d have to be out there, if I were some TV reporter I’d have to be out there. Then they showed some shots along Jackson Avenue of all the folks lined up to watch the Zulu parade. Hm. They looked like they were having fun.

Some more shots in front of the reviewing stand by Gallier Hall and saw some great costumes and people out there with umbrellas all looking like they were passing a good time. I opened the front door again just to check to see if I’d made the right decision by staying home. And the the cold wet air hit me and just could not imagine myself going out there and standing on the street in that weather. I saw now more drops hitting little puddles in the street.

Now I started getting antsy. I was feeling that maybe I should at least see some Mardi Gras live and on the street. Maybe I was being, ok, just a little wimpy. After all, I’ve gone camping in freezing wet weather and then I was totally outside for a couple days. Surely, I could be just a little adventurous and go do a couple hours on the street.

So suddenly my whole mentation just shifted and I was in gear to put on the costume on top of some long-johns, get some food together and go join my brother and his friends where they have a spot on St. Charles Avenue. I figured if I moved fast enough I could at least see some of the Rex parade.

So within a few minutes I was ready to go, and after dressing warmly hopped in the car and tooled it on down Prytania Street passed Napoleon and down a little ways. Had no problem finding a spot to park since the crowds were not very big, and got on over to my brother’s spot on St. Charles. It was about 11 o’clock and I managed to get there in time to see Rex float number 7 go by. There my family and friends were, in a protected shelter making omelets, sitting in folding chairs and drinking beers and other libations. It was cold but, heck, they all looked like they were having a good time.

I popped open a cold beer. I know, it was freezing and I was drinking a freezing cold beer. And yeah, it was cold standing in the street holding an icy can of beer in one hand and waving the other hand trying to get some beads and doubloons, and I got a little damp from the constant drizzling rain.

But the people out there were all having fun. Lots of smiles all around and lots of kids seemingly unperturbed and impervious to the inclement weather. As I moved and danced around in my fat suit (I was costumed as Rob Ryan, defensive coach for the New Orleans Saints) for the float riders in order to make a scene so they would throw me more stuff, I actually started feeling sort of warm. Well, let’s say not quite as cold as I originally felt.

And with less people on the street, and the riders being able to easily pick me out of the crowd I actually caught a lot of stuff. Yeah, it was messy. The streets were wet, muddy in parts but, heck, it’s Mardi Gras. And, yep, I had fun.

When Rex was done and the truck parades started the crowd really thinned out even more. Dancing in the street to the music of the truck floats I got pelted with lots of throws and filled up a big bag with beads and plush toys. I’ll give ‘em to the kids.

So after being there for a couple hours and having my fill of omelette, chile and beer and helping by brother, his wife and friends clean and pack up, I got my stuff together and headed back in the rain to the car. I did my civic duty and saw another Carnival season come to a close. And I really had a nice time. Felt like I had accomplished something important.

Despite the frigid wet conditions, Mardi Gras went on. And there we were out in it, we die hards who love this city and our annual celebration and can’t imagine missing it even for once.

 

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A Mardi Gras Revelation – Poem

Here’s a poem I wrote a few weeks ago after Mardi Gras had passed and the beginning of Lent took our fancy here in New Orleans. I tried to convey something of the magic and mystery of what the Carnival season here means to the people of the Crescent City.

Mardi Gras revelry on Frenchmen Street, New Or...

Mardi Gras revelry on Frenchmen Street, New Orleans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Mardi Gras Revelation – Poem

The turning-turning of the windwhipped featherman
Dancing through the streets his hopes dreams
Carried on the wind through the old alleyways and porches
Up and down the bright houses and old oaks.
The mystery of a culture driven
to expose, explore, expand, explicate and dominate.
The wind over the river, the turning of the mighty wheels,
the floats carrying the memories
of lost souls, saints and sinners.

The revelry in the streets, the laughing and crying,
the passing and dying, the new births each day
into the spirit of the place,
the sounds of the place where horns
mix with drums and rhythms and rhymes.

The signs all point to the crowning glory.
The end of a season to begin a new one of repentance and redemption.
But before it all ends we pull out the last stops,
invite the world to see us crown our faux kings and queens,
and parade them through the street
and yes, treat them like royalty
if only for a day and a few nights.

The kings have cakes,
the cakes have babies
and the mighty circle goes round.
We toast the beginning of life
and dance at its inevitable end.
But does it really end, because the play goes on,
a new parade rolls
appearing like a ghost through the mists of the night,
lit by wild flambeau dancing, grabbing what it can,
spilling its liquid, illuminating the crazies, the wild ones.

The fans, the costumes, the debauchery and revelry,
kids grabbing for beads, the elders handing them off
to pretty ladies and little children.
And the kid in all of us holler out
“throw me something, anything and please and thank you.”

And one day we play a weird role
and flinging our fate to the winds,
and eat too much and drink too much
and party too much and celebrate the world too much
and maybe catch too many beads and doubloons and such
and shout to the world yes, here we are,
we made it and another year slips by,
as we fade into Lent, deprive ourselves
for the good of ourselves
and of the world and for our families.

We let it all hang out so we can pull it back in.
We don’t know what we miss till we do without it for a time.
And then, the floats and all the hoopla
go back into hiding, stripped bare
and made into a new canvas,
the rolling art works if only for a day
to be made anew for the new time
and new Carnival
and the Mardi Gras for next year
is just a dream in our heads.

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New Orleans Cops Bust Some Moves During Mardi Gras

I know what it’s like dancing on the streets of New Orleans. I did so for five miles over the 2014 Mardi Gras weekend in a night parade. Yeah, babe, I put me some moves down on dat Crescent City blacktop!

New Orleans Cops Bust Some Moves During Mardi Gras

But now I got me some competition with a couple of New Orleans cops, New Orleans Police Detective Winston Harbin and his partner DeCynda Barnes who put on a performance during a couple Mardi Gras parades.

What a lot of folks don’t realize is that during Carnival New Orleans police department puts everybody on the force out on the streets. That includes detectives and people who usually spend time behind a desk. Even the superintendent Ronal Serpas is out on the streets.

Our police force is down by about 400 officers over the last few years. Some have been fired and others have quit because of new rules the feds put in place concerning off-duty security work, which has cut in an officer’s ability to earn extra cash.

So these guys are on there no matter what the weather doing 12-15 hour shifts! That’s why whenever I see an officer out on the parade route I make it a practice to go up and thank them for their service. Just that little bit to let them know they are appreciated makes all the difference.

And you’ll see them join in the festivities, catching beads and doubloons keeping some for themselves and handing some to the little kids as well. And every once in a while you’ll see them dancing on the street. So these above videos are not unusual.

As we danced on our 5 mile trek there were some officers that busted a couple moves right along with us as we passed. Nice to see.

And… only in New Orleans.

 

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Chill Out! CoolBrew New Orleans Coffee Marks 25 Years

Do you like coffee? Well, I like coffee, heck I love coffee, and I especially love New Orleans coffee. And I especially love good New Orleans coffee. In fact, I love coffee so much I give it up for Lent. Yep, that’s me 40 days without one drop of that black gold liquid. And that, let me tell ya, is a real sacrifice.

Chill Out! CoolBrew New Orleans Coffee Marks 25 Years

New Orleans Coffee Company CoolBrew celebrates 25 years with chocolate almond flavor.

New Orleans Coffee Company CoolBrew celebrates 25 years with chocolate almond flavor.

Now the kind of coffee I like is really rich, and strong and yes, I sometimes like it a little bitter. And I especially like that coffee and chicory thing, in the hot milk all steamy and good. You betcha.

One thing I have not really cared for though are flavored coffees. I see myself as pretty much a coffee purist, you know. Maybe that sounds snobby and perhaps it is.

But the good folks at Cool Brew have just re-released one of their favorite and very popular brews in celebration for their 25th anniversary and just in time for the Mardi Gras season: the Chocolate Almond flavor.

They wanted me to try it so I asked them to send me over some samples of their coffees. I got this big box loaded with different flavors of CoolBrew coffees.

What makes this coffee different is that they brew the ground beans in cold water so you get all the coffee flavor without the bitterness.

Now cool brewing has been happening in New Orleans for about 150 years and it took this local pharmacist, Phillip McCrory, to come up with a way to make it on a large scale. He started it back in 1989 and sold it driving around to local stores keeping the bottles in a cooler in the back of his car. The now-iconic bottle it comes in is able to divvy out with one squeeze just enough for a single shot of this smooth brew. Mix it with hot or cold water and you are good to go.

So first thing I did when I got the samples was pull out the chocolate almond bottle, boil some water, squeeze out the perfect shot of coffee into a cup, pour the hot water in it, with a nice amount of cream. It smelled nice, but would it taste nice – hm – I wondered. Well, let me tell you this: it tastes great.

So flavored coffees? Well, CoolBrew has made me a convert, at least with their flavored coffees. It tastes smooth, rich without any bitterness and gives me a nice coffee buzz. I love this stuff.

And you know, this is perfect for Mardi Gras and all the parades ya go to. You can carry it in a little ice chest with a thermos of hot water and make yourself some hot coffee. Or you can just have a cold water bottle and pour some of the CoolBrew in it and make yourself some nice iced coffee too.

It’s become a treasured Louisiana brand along with the likes of Tabasco and Camelia red beans and it’s still made here in Mid City, and still family owned. So when you drink this coffee you are getting a real taste of New Orleans.

And if you like Tin Roof Brewing Co.’s Parade Ground Coffee Porter, it’s made with a special blend of CoolBrew mocha and French roast coffee. So there ya go, you can get coffee and beer out of the same bottle. Who’d a thunk it? Well, only in New Orleans…

Anyway, if you like coffee you gotta try some of this. If you are from out of town and want some just go their website and they’ll ship it out to ya, tout de suite.

Stock up on this stuff. And have a Happy Mardi Gras!!

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Generosity: One of the Seven Cardinal Virtues of New Orleans

Although I was born and raised in New Orleans, I have lived in different places in my life: Mobile, Los Angeles, Seville Spain and Seattle and the Portland, Oregon area. I’ve always found generous people. I consider myself pretty generous and, well, I tend to attract those kinds of people to me. It really it comes down to these are the kind of people I want to deal with. I mean life’s too short to want to deal with stingy people, n’est pas?

Generosity: One of the Seven Cardinal Virtues of New Orleans

A captain of a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade generously greets onlookers.

A captain of a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade generously greets onlookers.

I think the thing about generosity in New Orleans does not have to do with how much money someone gives to a charity or donations to people begging on the street. It has to do with something deeper. And that is New Orleanians want to draw people in; they want to include people. To put it really simply: New Orleanians like people.

Think about it. Mardi Gras and the entire Carnival season has to do with not only folks having a good time but with generosity, with people wanting to share with each other. Not only do they want to share with their friends and neighbors, but they spend oodles of money to put on a great festival for the whole world. That’s why Mardi Gras is considered to be the greatest free show on earth.

It’s a funny thing when foreigners come to town — and I’m including in that term foreigners as anyone who is not from New Orleans and that can mean someone from another state or even another city. It takes a while for them to adjust to our strange ways of being.  One “way” in particular is this: we like to greet each other when we pass someone on the street and we also like to wave to people while driving a car.

I live in an uptown neighborhood close to the universities so we have a lot of students that walk up and down the street. I say hello or good morning to every one of them. Sometimes they respond with a hello, and they seemed genuinely surprised that someone they don’t know from Adam would greet them so openly.

Sometimes they might grunt back a hello and you’re lucky if you can get them to actually make eye contact. It must be kind of sad where they come from, with people passing each other on the street not acknowledging the other’s existence. Kind of makes for a suspicious lot.

We like to share our culture, our history and our heritage and that can shown in the many festivals that we have here, and we seem to have more and more each year. Not a month goes by without a festival or two somewhere in the city.

Do we have rude people here? Of course we do but those people are in the minority. When you think about it you can’t have a city well known for being easy going with people who are tight-lipped and stingy. Great service, friendliness and first-rate hospitality are our number one qualities, I think; wanting to serve others and be good citizens and contribute to the world is our hallmark.

So when someone says hello to you on the street, they are just trying to be friendly and it takes no effort to say hello back. And it’s OK to smile at the waiter and the shop keeper and engage in a conversation with them. It will make you feel better. And it’s really a lot of fun too.

Being generous to me has to do with a generous spirit and a willingness to live in gratitude for what you have in life. I mean, c’mon, we live in New Orleans and most of us are grateful everyday for being part of this amazing, exciting, artfull, graceful and sometimes wild way of life.

 

Generosity is the second cardinal virtue of New Orleans. Read the first installment in this series about Community.

The Seven Cardinal Virtues of New Orleans was developed by Ray Cannata, the Man Who Ate New Orleans.

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Battle of New Orleans 2015 — Attacking the Old Myths – Video

From contributor Timothy Pickles

It has often been said in the past that New Orleans gets left behind when it comes to national celebrations, and particularly the War of 1812. The impression gained by most of the official festivities is that the British defeated the American army at Bladensburg, captured Washington DC, burned the White House and then turned their attention to Baltimore where everything turned around.

Battle of New Orleans 2015 — Attacking the Old Myths – Video

Major General Robert Ross, the British commander was killed at North Point, the British army foiled in its land attack, and the Royal Navy likewise its naval bombardment while Francis Scot Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner. Then the British sailed away and the war ended. Oh, of course there was the battle at New Orleans where the British, who had yet to learn ‘modern’ warfare and the use of the rifle, were soundly thrashed and sent packing for good in a single battle.

Except of course that last sentence is complete rubbish!

The war wasn’t over until February when the US Congress finally ratified the treaty, and even then the Louisiana Purchase was illegal so it wasn’t covered by the treaty. The British had the most up to date army in the world and the ONLY regular rifle regiment at the battle (as opposed to volunteers) was British.

These are just a very few of the myths that wait to be exploded next January 2015 when the Louisiana Living History Foundation presents it’s grand re-creation of the five major land battles of the month long New Orleans Campaign.

We will be presenting the view from both sides so that spectators will at last get an idea of the thinking of both the US and British troops. And the battles will be presented as lavish live action re-creations by some of the best living historians from the US, Canada and the UK.

  • Friday the 9th of January will see the night battle fought December 23rd, 1814 just after the British had landed and were attacked by Jackson who had declared “they shall not sleep on our soil!”
  • Saturday the 10th will see the Reconnaissance in Force, where Pakenham first tested the mettle of the Americans, the Artillery Dual where each side tried to knock out the others guns. And finally the British victory on the West bank where Colonel Thornton sweaped all before him and drove the Americas 2 miles upriver before realizing that the main battle on the other bank had been lost.
  • Sunday the 11th we will present the battle everyone knows of, the devastating defeat of the British by Andrew Jackson, though, unlike the movie versions, there will be no singing pirates or Jean Lafitte!

The films we present here are recruiting tools sent out to living historians across the globe to encourage them to come either as US or British supporters. And as a very small example of things to come, we present a brief overview of the events at this year’s 199th anniversary celebrations, including a very scaled down version of the night battle presented on our new Battlefield Park.


This video is for the recruitment of US re-enactors.


This video is for the recruitment of British re-enactors.

If you care to participate in these re-eanctments please go to this page New Orleans 1815 and click on the Battle page which will bring you to the contact emails for the coordinators.

Timothy Pickles is an author, film and TV producer for the History Channel, historical advisor on numerous Hollywood films, and coordinator for historical events.  Originally from Yorkshire, England, he now lives and works in New Orleans.

 

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How to Survive New Orleans Mardi Gras

Actually the title to this is a little misleading because there is nothing about New Orleans Mardi Gras that’s needs survival. It’s like saying how to survive Christmas or Easter or your birthday. It implies that there is something negative about it that you have to be careful about.

But I guess that would depend on where you are and how you go about celebrating. I could have said how to have a fabulous time at Mardi Gras but I think just the term Mardi Gras implies fabulous time, I mean that is really why people celebrate it, no?

How to Survive New Orleans Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras Day, New Orleans: Krewe of Kosmic D...

Mardi Gras Day, New Orleans: Krewe of Kosmic Debris Revelers on Frenchman Street.

Thinking that it’s something to survive could mean that just by stepping out your door and throwing yourself into the Carnival crowds signifies that you are taking your life in your hands. Which couldn’t be any more further from the truth than New Orleans is from the Danube.

Anyway, on with it. Much of what the world knows of Mardi Gras is a production of the news media which loves to show conflict, danger, debauchery, and other things that could illicit shock out of the masses.

You know when they show images of Mardi Gras, usually down in the Quarter, it’s of people dressed in weird costumes yelling something stupid and falling over each other drunk and such.

What they don’t show are the crowds uptown populated mostly by parents with their kids wobbling on rickety wooden ladders their hands outstretched and screaming for a necklace of beads or a plush toy thrown from a passing float. Have you ever seen that? Well, maybe on local media but NEVER from the AP or NBC or any other global network. No, that would not make a story of horror, judgment or shame, the daily fodder on which feed the big news conglomerates.

The idea of New Orleans Carnival is so distorted by the national media that when I ask an out-of-town friend or family member to come down for Mardi Gras, I very often get a look of disdain, a deep drawing in of the breath with eyes widening and usually a statement akin to, well, thanks, but I’m just not ready for that at this point in my life.

It’s as if I’ve asked them to come down to attend a dinner party at Caligula’s court. Then I have to explain that Mardi Gras is for everyone, all ages. What they know of it are the scenes on Mardi Gras night down in the Quarter where even I would not go, and frankly I don’t think I ever have. I say “I don’t think” because I don’t really remember everything I did in my college days.

So here are some pointers:

- To avoid the crush of crowds during the Fat Tuesday parades go uptown on St. Charles avenue, this is where mostly families hang out. However, if you are into seeing really great costumes head downtown on Canal Street and the French Quarter in the morning. Otherwise, pick a spot on St. Charles.

- One of the problems in the past is the lack of bathroom facilities. But the city, adverse to having revelers pee on citizens front lawns, has wisely started putting up honey pots. Because if you are outside for hours at a time drinking beer, water or anything else you will have to go, so make sure you know where one of these heads is.

- Some folks bring food and sandwiches with them. But there are enough places along the route, popup vans that serve food that if you want to roam free unencumbered by a cooler or knapsack you can easily do that.

- In New Orleans you can carry alcohol and drink it completely out in the open, but I would avoid using bottles. Cans and plastic containers are the best.

- I would advise women not to carry a purse with them, but if you are carrying a knapsack the purse can go in it. I’ve never had my pocket picked or been harassed by anyone ever, and I’ve been in the Quarter and uptown on Mardi Gras with no problem. However, this does not mean it will never happen so it’s wise to be careful.

- Avoid Jackson Avenue at St. Charles if you can. At the same time I’ve been there when the Zulu parade comes by and have never had a problem. But it is thick, thick, thick with people, so if you don’t like crowds you will not like this.

- If you see the parades downtown they put up barriers so you can’t get close to the floats. Why they do this I don’t know because no where uptown do they put up barriers.

- Don’t drink too much. That’s all I’m gonna say. Why make your day miserable when you don’t have to.

- On Mardi Gras day it is easy to park on the St. Charles to the river side of town because the parades come from the lake side of Napoleon. So whether you are coming from downtown or uptown you can get on Tchoupitoulas, Magazine or Prytania Streets and find a place to park close as you can to St. Charles.

- Some folks park uptown near the parade route which starts on Napoleon, goes down St. Charles and then onto Canal Street. They might watch the Rex parade at some point along St. Charles and then walk all the way to downtown. Yes, it’s a long way, but people do things on Mardi Gras that they would never do otherwise.

- Be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

- And my last bit of advice is, if you like Bloody Marys the Pirates Alley Pub and Absinthe House in the Quarter along the St. Louis Cathedral serves a killer one.

Happy, happy Mardi Gras!!!

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Honoring Pete Seeger at New Orleans’ Own Neutral Ground Coffee House

On the 10 of February Neutral Ground Coffeehouse gave a musical retrospective of the famous American musician and one of the fathers of the folk music movement of the 50s and 60s, Pete Seeger. I walked in with my banjo and guitar and was stunned to find it standing room only with folks of all ages.

Honoring Pete Seeger at New Orleans’ Own Neutral Ground Coffee House

Pete Seeger concert photo b&w

Owner Philip Melancon and his cronies did a great job of advertising and packing the place. He tapped me to sing a couple of songs Seeger made famous, Gauntanamera and Where Have All the Flowers Gone, and seeing the swelling crowd I was eager to get up there and perform.

There were so many there who had grown up with this Pete singing songs about America. And here it was American music full blown and ripe, all being celebrated, our musical heritage come now back into the limelight. My Italian friend Daniele was there with his wife and friends from San Diego, so good to see him part of the shenanigans. And I was surprised that he knew who Pete Seeger was.

Now, I grew up listening to the Kingston Trio, and the New Christy Minstrels, Marty Robbins’ cowboy songs, and Johnnie Horton the master of fun American history tunes..

I did not really know who Pete Seeger was until later and mainly I heard him on TV when he would appear on talk shows. I only really only scratched the surface of who he was an what kind of musician he was.

Here was someone though, who was world class, who was compelled to bring his music and the music of others, the music of the folk, the music that said something, and that meant something and that had people feel something whether that was patriotic pride, views of social justice, or just plan old humor and an honoring of the past and a celebration of the little man, those who really had no voice.

Although at one time he was a communist sympathizer, I still believe he was a great American. As he embodied really all that’s great about this country. OK, so I might not completely agree with his politics but I bet there would be a lot that we could agree on, and probably a lot of it would be about music, or just about justice in the world and equality and all of those other things that are really near and dear to most good Americans’ hearts: Freedom and justice, personal responsibility, pursuit of excellence and generosity.

He must have been doing something right, must have lived a good life for he lived to 95 and was still performing up until the end. Which is how me as a musician would like to have it. Performing and singing and playing on the last day. My final breath in this body would be in appreciation, lifted in song in celebration of a life well lived. That is how I would have it. And I think that is how Pete went out. Singing all the way.

And now we were able to celebrate it at that little old coffeehouse in uptown New Orleans, a little escape from the cares of the world where folks young and old like to hang out over good home-roasted coffee and homemade cakes, cookies and other goodies.

And we were all there, packed to the gills to here some great American music from some great New Orleans musicians, most of whom whom live in obscurity, known only by a few in the city, but who are excellent and remain committed to their art because, well, they love it and love sharing it.

And although old Pete was world famous himself I believe that who he was deep down was someone who just loved sharing his art and his work and his soul with the world. It just so happened that he was in the right place at the right time and became famous doing it.

Here’s to you Pete, may you be part of that heavenly folk band. You will most likely be its leader. Maybe you’ll let me play and sing with you when I get there.

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New Orleans Travel Guide Continues To Be Bestseller on Amazon

Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour travel guide continues to be a best seller on Amazon Kindle. Sometimes I see it slipped back to number 10 or 12 in the rankings but it seems it continues to manage to be in the top 10 in our category. This pleases me no end. And I have you my readers to thank for it.

New Orleans Travel Guide Continues To Be Bestseller on Amazon

Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour travel guide stays bestseller

Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour travel guide continues as bestseller on Amazon.

The publishing of this book is my first attempt entering the publishing world and it feels good that it has been so well received. I mean wow. I did put a lot of effort into it, a lot of thought and many revisions.

Currently, I am in the process of putting it into actual book form, which entails another learning curve to getting a book out. When I got the proof for the book I found so many mistakes in the formatting and a few typos here and there. And some of the grammar and sentences felt really awkward.

But what really struck me is that in reading it as an actual book the sentences and the language just seems different than on a computer screen. I think with a computer we have a tendency to skim the page and thus not get really deep into the language of how its written. But for me reading it in book form has really opened my eyes to how I can make the book better.

So when the printed version comes out, it should be ready by the end of the month, there will be some changes in the way that it’s written. It will be clearer, sharper and just a lot better. So I’m having to update and correct the Kindle version as well. What hasn’t changed is the recommendations and the way the book is laid out. That stays the same. So you won’t be missing anything in the new version, it will just read and flow a lot better than before.

To have my first attempt at publishing to make it into the bestseller ranks and continue to be so has been way beyond my expectations. I think the key is to provide information that people want to read and is helpful, that has a big audience and is written with care and heart and with the appreciation of the reader in mind.

If that is the formula for success in the publishing world, at least I’ve achieved it in my first foray. I plan on writing more books and already have two more out on the Kindle platform. If they do half as well as this NOLA book has then I’ll be very pleased indeed.

To all my readers who’ve bought it, thanks so much for helping to make it a bestseller!

If you haven’t got it yet, you can pick up your copy here –>> Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour

 

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The 2014 Ice Storm That Almost Ate New Orleans – Will We Survive?

New Orleans: The 2014 ice storm. Did we make it? Did we survive? Here’s the latest report from contributor MM Butterworth:

The 2014 Ice Storm That Almost Ate New Orleans – Will We Survive?

A memento of Polar Vortex II , the Apocalyptic Freeze Event that almost destroyed New Orleans. Hey, Proud Survivor!

A memento of Polar Vortex II , the Apocalyptic Freeze Event that almost destroyed New Orleans. Hey, Proud Survivor!

Please – a Moment of Silence for those who suffered and perished in New Orleans in the horrific ice storm these last 48 hours ….oh….it was just a paid day off?….no death or suffering….no reason for the incessant 24 hour news weather updates??

Wait – this just in!

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has issued a Press Release in advance of his TV News Conference in one hour:

QUOTE

“Citizens of New Orleans!

First I would like to take credit for preventing Polar Vortex II – the largest, most dangerous storm system ever to approach New Orleans – from having any impact at all.

That is because in these last frenzied days before the election, the amount of political hot air I personally have generated created a counter-Vortex which snuffed the Ice Storm of The Century before it could make it half way across the Lake. My staff and campaign committee also deserve a lot of credit for the prodigious amounts of steaming warm Southern horse-poop they have been heaping all over the levees and this election cycle – attracting the International Attention which I richly deserve!

I hope everyone hearing my voice, the voice of Liberty and Criminal Justice, the voice of New Streets and New Schools, of all that is Pure and Good, recognizes who it was who declared the State of Emergency just in time to give everyone two paid days off – just before the Election!! Vote Landrieu, Vote Often, Vote for New Orleans!”

UNQUOTE

Can you believe these politicians?

What? There is a rebuttal from Candidate Bagneris?

This just in:

QUOTE

“Brothers and Sisters,

Mayor Landrieu is not God, and he only shows up in your neighborhood at election time.

His campaign is all hot air, on that we agree.

Now is the time for change! Please go to the polls and vote for the best candidate, not the most bombastic candidate. Please Vote Bagneris for Mayor”

UNQUOTE

 

NotesonNewOrleans.net will keep you posted on the latest developments relating to the 2014 Ice Storm that almost ate New Orleans.

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Frigid Air in New Orleans – A Major Weather Event?

I got a friend in Albuquerque who’s shocked each time I mention that it’s cold in New Orleans. He says, “Whaaaat!” I know it gets cold there too but I guess it surprises him that here in the deep South it gets to be freezing. Over the last few years we’ve had a respite from any real cold weather. In fact, here on the south shore of Lake Pontchratrain we’ve had no freezing weather for at least 3 or 4 years or so. So I have not had to worry about any of my plants.

Frigid Air in New Orleans – A Major Weather Event?

Frozen Fontain in Mid City New Orleans

Frozen Fontain in Mid City New Orleans

Last week though we had some really cold weather when this side of the country got that arctic blast and dumped so much snow and ice up thar where the danged Yankees live.

I left some plants out that I thought might be vulnerable but I wanted to see what would happen to them overnight when the cold snap came through.

It was somewhere in the upper 20s, cold enough to have some of the plants melt. You know, the begonias and the aloe, don’t seem to like that cold.

On the steps the next morning I found the potted begonias had all drooped into a mush with this bloody looking stuff all around it.

Yes, it looked as if someone had stabbed them and they’d bled to death. Pretty gruesome, no. So now I’m sure, begonias don’t like the cold.

So now they are expecting this horrendous weather is going to come through New Orleans and coat everything with ice which may weigh down some branches and fall across power lines and snuff out our electricity for hours or maybe even days.

Yikes!!

At least during hurricane season when the power goes out you can bear the heat. But the cold? The only way we have heat if we lose power is to hold up in the kitchen with the gas oven on.

We got our generator ready so we can hook up the fridge and have lights. Entergy is telling us that they have thousands of crew people ready to swoop down on the area if there are power outages and that possibily some people may be without power for three to five days.

I think of my mom who just turned 100 and how to help her survive through all of this. Ha. Well, if it ain’t one thing it’s another.

This morning I prayed that we would not lose power and that the winds would not be so bad and we’d be spared from too much ice. The powers that be say we are in for a “significant weather event,” with icy roads, frozen bridges and downed trees. While I was walking the dog this morning a neighbor, who used to live up thar in Yankee-land, told me not to worry, it will be a non-event. I hope so. Although I would not mind a little snow. That’s always nice when it happens here every five years or so.

Yeah, we do get freezing cold weather in New Orleans. Let’s hope it doesn’t last too long, hurt anybody and melt too many plants.

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