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!
You really don’t wanna be without this book when you come to New Orleans.
A friend of mine and I did our yearly birthday celebration at Dryades Street Market, a place newly opened in an old school building. They’ve done a real nice job with it, making it open and airy, full of light and really friendly folks who work behind the counters. Dryades Street is now called Oretha Castle Haley Blvd in Central City.
Drooling, Drizzling and Dreaming at New Orleans Dryades Street Market
Dryades Street Market – a new addition to Central City.
This is on a stretch of street that used to be a bustling center for shopping in the New Orleans of the 1930s – 1950s. A lot of the stores were run by Jewish people and you can still see some of the names attached to the old brick buildings and imbedded in tiles in the sidewalks.
For a long time this famous street had gone into years of decline when all of the once busy stores lost its customers to suburban shopping centers. This also happened to Canal Street which used to house famous department stores like D.H. Holmes and Maison Blanche. Dryades Street had seen better days and eventually displayed only shells of buildings with the entire street looking like something in a ghost town.
But all that changed when Cafe Reconcile was established and started to become popular. It let people know that yes you could open a business here and be successful. Even in the heart of Central City which has over the years garnered the unfortunate reputation for being crime ridden. But Dryades St, now Oretha Castle Haley, appeared to be a bright spot with lots of potential. And so it is.
The Southern Food and Beverage Museum has opened here just steps from Cafe Reconcile as have other restaurants and businesses like the Zeitgeist Theatre which shows first run artsy films.
So we’d heard about this new market that had just opened with not only groceries but an expanded food court. But what were after were the oysters. We’d had a bevy of beautiful bivalves as St. Roch Market the year before and had heard that the same oyster folk had opened a counter at Dryades Street Market. And since our yearly birthday meet-up has to do with going to some place new, we thought we’d try there.
Well, let me tell ya they did a fantastic job with this old school building. The outside looks fresh and new, like it was just built and they’ve used the interior space very creatively, making is a vast open space with an upstairs balcony for tables and such that look down on the market below. And dey got all kindsa deli and to-go food.
Slurping up some good gulf ersters at Dryades St Market
But heck we were dere to have da ersters. So we sat at the counter and ordered up some grilled of them. And really how can anybody go wrong with grilled ersters, I mean whoever invented them shoulda been given a Nobel Prize don’tchathink. Just say “grilled oysters” in New Orleans and folks’ eyes will glaze over and they’ll start to drooling.
I’m more of a fan of cooked oysters anyway, think the cooking brings out the flavor. But of course we had to get some of the raw oysters and they had a choice of the regular Gulf oysters or the farmed ones they get from Grande Isle.
Now the farmed ones are a little more expensive than the wild ones and to be honest I think the wild ones have a better flavor, but the advantage of the farmed ones is that you can git ’em all year round. Also, when I eat raw oysters I don’t put nuttin’ on ’em, cher, ‘cept for a little lemon juice drizzled all over, but that’s it.
All in all it was a nice easy Saturday afternoon sitting at the counter talking to the guy behind the bar who is a writer as well as oyster shucker coming to New Orleans to do some research on a historical book.
I’m looking forward to, no, dreaming about going back to the Dryades Street Market. I hope they do some good business, that area needs a good supermarket for the folks there. Go see it, and have some oysters and a drink.
New Orleans short terms rentals are all the rage right now meaning that, yes, it’s become popular for people to wanna come down and rent a whole home in the city. But many local residents are enraged by what could be a destructive practice. Destructive mainly because it alters the fabric of a neighborhood.
The Simpsons Voice Actor Harry Shearer Speaks Out On New Orleans Short Term Rentals
The Simpsons Harry Shearer in front of the New Orleans Planning Commission
Right now all across the land folks are using such services such as AirBnB to rent out apartments and entire homes, many owners doing it illegally by turning their homes into a commercial operations without permits to do so. In fact, if you are renting an entire home as a short term rental you are doing so illegally in New Orleans.
The problem with all this is that besides having a constant stream of people moving in and out of your neighborhood from week to week or even day to day, the proponents of this are the property owners who want to cash in with little regard for the residents. Also, as houses are bought up and turned into this purpose it raises the price of homes in the area because now the homes are seen as cash cows. And as such this can price local people out of the housing market.
A lot of folks don’t know that Venice, Italy has seen what these practices have wrought. Did you know that most people who work in Venice don’t live there any more because they can no longer afford it? That you can no longer ride a gondola a night because the gondoliers have to take the last taxi boat out of Venice to get home before it gets dark? That is how these short term rentals can alter the populace and destroy the unique character of a place.
Mayor Landrieu is all-in for this, because his eyes are on the prize of more revenue from taxes. And some politicians say, “well, we have to legalize it so we can monitor and police it.” Really? Sounds like Nancy Pelosi telling us we have to “pass Obamacare so we can see what’s in it.” The city can’t monitor and police all the problems it already has. How stupid do these people think we are?
Anyway, The Simpsons actor/comedian Harry Shearer who lives in Da Quartah has a few choice words to say at a recent event of the New Orleans Planning Commission.
Actor/comedian Harry Shearer speaking against New Orleans short term rentals
The planning commission voted against these whole house short term rentals. And now it goes to the city council which does not always heed the advice, and I should say, warnings that the planning commission recommends.
I’m all for neighborhoods trying to maintain their integrity and character. I don’t think short-term rentals in New Orleans are the way to go.
Well, we’ll see what happens. This is, as they say, a hot-button issue in the city right now.
How will Brexit affect New Orleans economy? When the results came in revealing the Leave campaign had won it shocked the world with the media and rummy politicians touting it as being as destructive as one million atomic bombs. Here in the Crescent City there were panicked people running up and down Bourbon Street screaming, crying at the news, the shocking news of the exit of the UK from the EU. Some opted to tear their eyes out when they heard, others to rend their clothing in old-fashioned Biblical style.
New Orleans Economy: Will The Big Easy Survive the Brexit Vote?
Bourbon St. crowd in panic after the Brexit vote.
Meetings were, and still are, being taken all over the city by politicians and city managers, with businessmen in searsucker suits drowning their sorrows in the latest iteration of New Orleans Rum. Yes, lives have been destroyed, billions if not trillions of dollaras have been lost, down the storm sewers out to Lake Pontchartrain and into the Gulf of Mexico to be eaten by the sharks and minnows.
I can’t stand it, I can’t stand it, the Brexit vote will destroy us all!!! What will Europe be without England in the EU? What will Britain be without the EU? Will New Orleans finally be washed out to sea?
These are the very important questions of the day yearning for an explicable answer and… yawn….
Really? So England decides that it wants to take back its freedom from faceless bureaucrats in Brussels who are not only stomping on the sovereingty of the English people by allowing the free flow of immigrants who, for the most part, refuse to assimilate into British society meanwhile taking advatage of all the free social safety nets Britain has to offer, but also puts restrictions on such things as how the Brits make their Stilton cheese, something they’ve have been doing really well for centuries, thank you.
I just can’t imagine why anyone in their right mind would want to get out from under such an overwhelming, soul-squashing type of government? Can you?
A Tale of Terrific Ham A few years ago while on one of my visits to Spain I got a taste of what it was like living under the thumb of these EU bureaucrats. For one thing it was a common topic of conversation about how much Spain was suffering economically from the conversion from the peseta to the Euro.
At that time Spanish unemployment was around, I don’t know, 20%. And let me tell you there ain’t nothing worse than a Spaniard with nothing to do. Everyday life seemed to click along OK but everyone’s money seemed to have a lot less spending power than it used to. And, yeah, the EU was instructing businesses on how they should run their business.
We took a tour of the place where they process jamon iberico, a beautiful spot in the mountains close to the coast in southern Spain. This jamon is gotten from black-footed pigs who forage on open pieces of land. No warehouse-locked porcine these, like our “normal” pigs packed together in filthy surroundings. They get to live their lives out on open fields feasting on filberts and roots and such.
Black footed pigs, that produce jamon iberico graze in an open Spanish field.
What they ate made for not only delicious ham but their fat was healthy, almost like olive oil. We were privileged enough to be given a tour at this Osbourne plant where they make this fantastic, and fantastically expensive, ham.
As they brought us into through front door into the oldest part of the facility – a big-spaced patio-like area open to the sky with a covered walkway on all four sides – our guide told us this was where they used to hang their ham, exposed to the unique air that came in over the mountains from the sea, which also provided cooler air at night.
Now, in Spain their jamon is not like ours. If you go into any bar you’ll see hanging from the rafters pigs’ legs, covered in mold with little cups underneath to catch the dripping fat. You see to make jamon serrano or iberico, they slaughter the pig, take the leg and cover it with a layer of salt. That’s it. Then they hang it for, well, a long time.
The jamon develops a mold all around it that helps to cure, ferment and preserve it at the same time. When they serve it they slice it really thin and just eat it maybe with a little piece of bread or something. Very simple eating and very delicious and tastes nothing like our ham in the States. A completely different experience.
Our guide told us that before the EU started their central planning the hanging of the ham in the open mountain and sea air would help to cure the jamon, and give it its unique flavor. And they’d been doing this with no problems from generations.
But the EU decided that well, no, they were doing it all wrong and now they had to build a “sanitary” facility where they had to hang the ham inside with perfectly controlled temperature and that to just tour the place you needed to put on little white paper suits, and a paper hat and wear little paper booties on your shoes. They did have windows at the top of the walls they could open to get some outside air in, but that had to be controlled too.
So that gave us a taste of how bureucrats in Brussels were telling jamon makers in southern Spain how to incorporate “best practices” into their business. Basically Osbourne had no choice but to comply otherwise they couldn’t sell their jamon.
So Brexit was a vote against central-planning elites in Brussels – who think they know better how everyone should live their lives and run their businesses – in favor of liberty and national sovereignty. I for one was pulling for Leave and was ecstatic when liberty had won out. And, of course, the news media was up in arms, Oh my God! Panic in the streets! What do we do now!! The markets will crash! … and all this ridiculous political theatre. Please.
The UK will not only survive but thrive. For now the panic on Bourbon Street has been reduced to the usual din of drunks and strippers, seersucker-suited men (and some women) have returned to their tables at Galatoire’s and the world pretty much has returned to near normal, but with a more free Britain who can now return to making their Stilton cheese the way they used to. Vive la revolucion! I think our New Orleans economy will survive Brexit.
Imagine being a side-kick to one of the more colorful characters of the New Orleans underworld and getting to see first hand all the crooked dealings and juicy tidbits of famous celebrities and Louisiana politicians. Well, that’s what it’s like to read Matthew Randazzo’s new book Mr. New Orleans: The Life of a Big Easy Underworld Legend.
Frenchy Brouillette and Torrid Tales of New Orleans Underworld – Book Review
This first person account of the alternate reality of the Crescent City unfolds like a quirky novel. Randazzo interviewed the colorful and well-liked gangster Frenchy Brouillete for several years even at times when Frenchy was on the lam from the law, which seemed to be most of the time.
The book is a real page turner that lays out the life of this Cajun boy from the little town of Marksville that produced not only Frenchy but Edwin Edwards, a distant cousin who became one of the most corrupt Louisiana governors in history.
In fact, as Frenchy tells it, Edwards did things so corrupt that Huey Long, another corrupt Louisiana governor, couldn’t have even imagined doing.
Not only is this an intimate and fascinating account of a legendary New Orleans mobster, it’s got to be one of the funniest books I’ve read in a while and found myself laughing out loud several times.
To read about the corruption that was rife in the French Quarter and the main characters involved all the way from the famous madame Norma Wallace, one of Frenchy’s best friends and mentors, to his friendship with possibly the most notorious Mafia figure in American history, yes, our own Carlos Marcello, to incredibly corrupt politicians, one being a famous New Orleans district attorney, and a well-known TV personality and newsman whose public persona was quite the opposite of his private one, is to get an inside glimpse, sometimes uncomfortable, of how the “other half” lives. Some of his revelations about local well-known characters are in fact shocking.
Frenchy was even friends with the world-famous, flamboyant pianist Liberace who would call him up whenever he came into town because he enjoyed his company and depended upon the gangster to show him a good time. Also, a good bit of the book is dedicated to the characters apparently involved in the Kennedy assassination and the Mafia’s and the CIA’s role in it. Frenchy knew these people, some of them very well.
Unfortunately for us, Frenchy was murdered in 2015 apparently by his roommate after they supposedly got into an argument. Knowing this as you read the book and characters he exposes involved in the New Orleans underworld, you wonder if someone didn’t have it out for him. He even mentions that he wouldn’t be telling his story if any of the people he talks about were still alive. You can read more about this from The Times Picayune.
The book is worth reading as not only a historical piece but as one that delves into the psychology of someone who is unapologetic of his chronically criminal past. As he puts it, his childhood in Marksville was boring and just could not see himself in his father’s business doing hard manual labor for the rest of his life in the produce business.
From a devout Catholic family he early on showed signs of just wanting to have adventures of all sorts, seeming to be addicted to excitement. When as a teenager he ran away to New Orleans he immediately gravitated to the underworld characters and their exciting life. He felt he was in heaven. This was the life for him.
For upstanding citizens who always want to try to do the right thing and follow the law, Mr. New Orleans is an interesting glimpse into a different and sometimes bizarre way of looking at life. It’s definitely eye-opening and has me look at our criminal and political class in a different light, as almost two sides of the same coin.
Get this book, read it. How the author Randazoo pulled this off is probably another story in itself. But the writing is first rate and he seems to really capture Frenchy’s personality in how he narrates his own life.
And strangely, you can’t help but like Frenchy. I lent this book to my brother and hope to get it back, because it’s one of those books that I want to read again. It really sticks with you and gives you a take on late 20th century New Orleans history from a completely different angle.
OK, full disclosure. Today is my birthday and a buddy of mine sent me these three videos of jazzy happy birthday renditions. The first two are Wynton Marsalis and the last is by pianist Nicole Pesce.
How Many Ways Can You Play Happy Birthday?
This is a video of Wynton Marsalis in a masterclass somewhere in France jammin’, jivin’ and improvising this simple melody. Gives you a real idea of how jazz is done.
And here we go with Wynton Marsalis in a sextet. The piano improv is wild, all over the place, brilliant. And he’s not even looking at the freaking keys! At the end it feels like we’re on the streets of New Orleans.
Ever wondered how Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin or Mozart would attack Happy Birthday. Well, here we got Nicole Pesce showing us how. The best is when she does a drunk Mozart playing the keyboard upside down. Wow!
“It is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than own the entire state of Ohio.” — Lafcadio Hearn…. New Orleans is one of the most magical cities in the world. There is something about this city that has a tendency to take hold of you and won’t let go. If you are born […]more →