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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 $3.47.
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.

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Posted in New Orleans Books, New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Videos.

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Golden Goose Gumbo: How Some Louisiana Politicians Want to Mess with Hollywood South Tax Credits And Kill the Goose That Lays the Golden Egg

New Orleans and Louisiana is now known as Hollywood South. The reason this has happened is simple: several years ago some smart people in Baton Rouge decided to offer tax credits to film companies to come here and make movies. And television and movie companies have flocked here ever since.

Golden Goose Gumbo: How Some Louisiana Politicians Want to Mess with Hollywood South Tax Credits And Kill the Goose That Lays the Golden Egg

Brad Pitt in Killing Them Softly, filmed in New Orleans 2012

Brad Pitt in Killing Them Softly, filmed in New Orleans 2012

But there are some in our state government who think Louisiana is being too generous with these tax credits and want to scale it back. This is a bad idea. To explain let’s start with an analogy, shall we.

Golden Goose Gumbo: A recipe for starvation

Take one goose efficiently laying golden eggs and let people who don’t know much about geese discuss where the gold comes from.

Let them decide that as the goose lays the eggs the secret must be inside the goose and they must get the secret.

Kill the goose and chop it up fine, cook it down and give as many as possible a bowl to sample.

Engage in lots of talk about how nothing special was found inside the goose and with the goose gone there are no more golden eggs coming your way.

Too convoluted?

Well that is what some in the state of Louisiana want to do with the film industry. Louisiana is booming right now, filmmakers love to shoot here, actors and crew are re-locating here we truly are becoming what we have called ourselves for years, Hollywood South, the other LA.

But some politicians seem to think the state is being cheated, no other way to say it. Hmmmm… a multi million dollar business in Louisiana has a whiff of corruption about it, who heard of such a thing!

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that cheating on the tax credits is acceptable or should be accepted but with one state film commissioner already sent to the stripy hole for this very crime it is not exactly unexpected and it should certainly be dealt with.

That said some lawmakers are looking at the whole idea of tax credits for the movie industry, a system by which if a company spends more than $300,000 in the state they get about 1/3 of the tax the state collects on the goods and services they bought for the production back to the company.

This does not affect the tax the state collects from suppliers based in the state, nor workers based within the state nor any of the goods and services by those workers while in the state. So why in heaven would you want to cut this subsidy which WILL make film companies think twice before shooting here if it goes through?

Well, one reason is that some might think that the movie industry is now so established here that it has come to stay. Forget it. The fact that we now have studios and sound stages and great crew WILL NOT keep movie companies here if they think they can get a better deal elsewhere.

We are now eating someone else’s lunch because the state made it very attractive to come here and if politicians now try to claw this back it is more than likely that there will be a loud sucking sound as all those jobs and all that CASH disappears across the Georgia border.

Some people think it can’t happen. They are wrong. Just a couple of months before Christmas there was lots of buzz about the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie being shot here, remember?

I had friends in the business locally assuring me that it was a done deal and pooh poohing my words of caution that my friends in other parts of the country were not so sure. Well now we are sure Pirates 5 is going to Australia.

Why?

Because the production company was given a $25,000,000 subsidy to go there. Think about that for a moment – the people trying to attract this movie away from us thought it worthwhile giving the company twenty five million dollars to shoot in their neck of the woods. What does that say about how much they expect to make out of the movie shoot?

Is it really ‘costing the state money’ to give companies back 1/3 of the money they pay in taxes? Well, I was working in London in the 1980s when the British government thought it was. At the time quite apart from all the British movies (the James Bond series etc.) many of the blockbuster series were based out of London with studio work done in England.

All the original Superman movies, Star Wars, Indiana Jones were being shot in some of the biggest studios and utilizing the biggest costume houses in the world. And when the tax subsidies went it was like a light switch being turned off. Things got so bad that the famous Pinewood Studios was dark for a month, nothing shooting there for the first time in its history.

So be under no illusion, it CAN happen here.

Louisiana is an incredible place to film, we have been blessed with a state with more faces than Lon Chaney, but the people who make the decisions about where a film will be shot are not here, they are in Hollywood and they care about the bottom line – money – and who will give them the best deal.

If it is not us they will go with whoever that is.

When we have some of those people here, executives sitting in offices who can look at a script and say “Yes, we are making this” then we will have a permanent film industry.

But remember today these people are in Hollywood and they are not making their movies at home, they are sending them to Louisiana. This will continue as long as they get the best deal here and they don’t give a fig for anyone’s state budget deficit.

So please don’t anyone fool themselves into thinking Hollywood is going to pay more to come here just because they like working here. They can work in Georgia and come here on the weekends if that gets them a better deal.

And if the politicians in Baton Rouge mess with our tax credits then Hollywood South will be truly gone with the wind.

Tim Pickles is an English writer, producer, director and sometime actor based in New Orleans since 1988. He has also worked as a historical re-creation director on many productions, and has written several works including New Orleans 1815, Malta 1565, and several chapters in the recently published The Battle of New Orleans Reconsidered. He is president of the Louisiana Living History Foundation and produced the recent re-enactment of the New Orleans campaign for the bicentennial on the new Battlefield Park, which was constructed specifically for this purpose and is now available for annual re-enactments and as a film set.

Posted in New Orleans Life.


Astounding Video Shows the Flooding of New Orleans After Hurricane Katrina

In August will be the tenth year anniversary of the flooding of New Orleans caused by weak and improperly designed and built floodwalls after Hurricane Katrina. This video shows exactly how it happened.

Astounding Video Shows the Flooding of New Orleans After Katrina

This video is from Harry Shearer, the actor and voice of many of the Simpsons characters, who is a part time resident of New Orleans. Several years ago he made The Big Uneasy, a documentary about how the city was flooded.

One popular misconception is that the flooding of New Orleans was caused by Hurricane Katrina. It was not. It was caused by the incompetence of the federal government by way of the US Army Corps of Engineers who built our modern levee protection system. I’ve written about this repeatedly in this blog.

It is important that others around the country know what caused the flooding of our fair city: waste, incompetence, corruption and negligence from the mind and hands of the Corps of Engineers. Millions upon millions of dollars were spent to build these supposedly modern structures. And billions of dollars have been spent to supposedly rectify their mistakes.

You can ask most people who live here if they feel safer. I would bet that a majority of them would say no. We have the illusion of safety with these massive projects that they’ve built. But how can you really trust an organization that built some of the pre-Katrina flood walls out of sand. I mean really – sand?

If you live in another part of the country why is this important to you? Because the Corps has hundreds of projects all over the nation and you just may be supposedly “protected” by one of them.

It’s just an opportunity to be aware and stay vigilant. Does the federal government really have your best interests at heart?

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

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Dictator’s Dancin Darlins Bring North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un to New Orleans Mardi Gras 2015

What’s better than one North Korean dictator at New Orleans Mardi Gras? How about a whole dancing troupe of them! And here they are, the Dancin’ Darlins doing what they do best, tearing up the streets of carnival and giving their favorite fans a real show.

Krewe D’Etat Dictator’s Dancin Darlins Bring North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un to New Orleans Mardi Gras 2015

Here’s the famous dancing group doing their version of the wobble, showing to the world that despite the reputation of Mr. Jong-un being a murderer and a despot he can also do a mean dance. Yeah, you right, baby!

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Festivals, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Videos.

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14 Great Things to Know About New Orleans Mardi Gras

Maybe you think you know everything about Mardi Gras. Or… maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t know anything about it. But what exactly do you need to know about this magical holiday? Here ya go. I spell it out for you.

14 Great Things to Know About New Orleans Mardi Gras

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

Mardi Gras Day, New Orleans: Krewe of Kosmic Debris revelers on Frenchmen Street (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. It’s a way for folks to let off steam and let it all hang out and celebrate – we here in the NOLA are famous for that.

2. It’s a way to get exposed to the creativity and artistry of our parades.

3. It’s a great way for familes to come together to participate in something that is fun and wholesome. Well, mostly wholesome…

4. It gets visitors to the city who get to experience New Orleans, the real spirit of the city in a short period of time.

5. It’s a way for all social strata to contribute to and participate in the spirit and the life of the city.

6. It’s a great way for locals to celebrate all the great things about their home – the music, the dance, the food, the spirit, the culture and traditions that make up the heart and the true living spirit of New Orleans.

7. It’s a great way for organizations, specifially the many carnival “krewes” (private carnival organizations that actually pay for all the parades and celebrations) to give back to the city and showcase the many artistic, musical and culinary talents and wonders of our citizens.

8. It’s a great way to showcase all that is good about New Orleans, the culture, history and traditions to the whole world.

9. It’s a party that the people of New Orleans gives to itself and invites the whole world to participate.

10. The city of New Orleans is conscious about its past and its history, and is in love with itself and the idea of itself. So the festival celebrates the magic of the city, the cultural, the historical and it’s a way for all of the customs and traditions that have made this city great to continue to live on, a way for the older generation to pass down to the younger one all that is great about this city and what makes it tick and what makes it one of the bright spots in the world.

What would the US be without New Orleans? Just a bunch of stressed out, overworked white people dying of boredom.

11. It is a way to bring the magic of love, music, art, food and song to life. It stokes the fire of the life of the city to carry on and celebrate the wonder of life for another year until the next Mardi Gras comes along and we get to do it all again. Mardi Gras really keeps the city alive. That is why after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina not celebrating carnival was unthinkable. As long as there is Mardi Gras there will always be a New Orleans.

12. It’s a way for anyone to be really creative and don costumes and masks to step out of their normal day-to-day lives and celebrate their creations with others.

13. Despite the hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets, all the rowdiness and some inebriation it’s an amazingly safe and, for the most part, wholesome festival that parents have no problem taking even their youngest children along and making them part of the celebration.

14. It showcases the New Orleans Police Department as being the best in the world at crowd control. In fact, folks from other police departments around the world come to New Orleans to learn how we do it.

And for lagniappe:

15. From a masker on a passing float you can catch all kinds of beads, trinkets, doubloons, go cups, plush toys, balls and other kinds of, what many would consider, crap, and act like, just for a moment, that what you are trying to catch actually has some kind of value, when it really doesn’t, except that it was thrown to you and you caught it. And in actuality sometimes you can use some of the crap you caught! But most of it stays in a bag that you put in the back of your closet and forget about.

Anyway, that’s it in a nutshell. There are more things that are great about New Orleans Mardi Gras and I’m sure each New Orleanian has their own take on it. These are just a few that I was thinking of as we all gear up for the final day of carnival, the day before the 40 day preparation leading up to Easter.

And, yes, in case you were wondering Mardi Gras is actually a religious festival.

Posted in Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Festivals, New Orleans History, New Orleans Life.

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Brian Williams Lying About Chopper Incident Calls Into Question His Reporting in New Orleans During Hurricane Katrina Aftermath

Seems that famous and respected NBC news anchor Brain Williams probably created some ‘false truths” during his Hurricane Katrina reporting in New Orleans.

I mean, does anybody still really think the news media tells the real objective truth? If you have ever been involved in any kind of story whether you are one of the main characters or just on the periphery, you know the media likes to have its way with the truth.

Brian Williams Lying About Chopper Incident Calls Into Question His Reporting in New Orleans During Hurricane Katrina Aftermath

Even if the story is one of those positive human interest stories the media wants to tell it their way so they can sell it. They will either leave out facts or add facts or twist the facts around so it will make an interesting story.

I’ve been involved a few times on the periphery of stories covered by the media. I was either involved in a group that made the headlines or knew some of the characters in the main story, and knew the truth well enough to know that the media was manipulating the facts for their own agenda.

Having seen how the media operates I realized that you can’t always believe what’s printed in the paper or what’s on the radio or TV. In fact, my rule of thumb is to assume that what I read or hear in the news is maybe 50% correct. The rest has been purposely fabricated in some way.

And now we have Brian Williams, a respected newsman, coming forth to say that he lied, I mean bald-faced lied about an incident in which he claimed he was in a chopper that got shot down. And recounting the story with such power and emotion that no one would suspect that it was an out and out lie. I mean, how could somebody lie like that?

And what exactly is to be gained by lying straight-faced about that? I mean, there were other people with him. Did he not think they would come forward and tell the truth about what actually happened? Which, years afterward, is eventually what they did. Amazing.

Now with such a stupid and unnecessary lie (at least for some reason he thought it was necessary) he mars forever his credibility. If he could lie about something like this – this is not just a little fib, this is a huge lie – what else did he lie about? Also, if he thought he could get away with this kind of lie then what does it say about the culture of news that he plays a major role in as anchor? How many others of his kind feel it’s OK to lie too?

And now let’s turn to Hurricane Katrina. He pretty much made a name for himself down here with his reporting of the aftermath of the storm. How much of what he said about what was going on here is a lie as well?

One glaring example is when he said he looked out his window and saw a body floating in the French Quarter. Now I’m pretty sure he had been to the city before and knew where the confines of the Quarter were, so it would be hard to make a mistake like that and say he saw a body floating in the Quarter.

Well, here’s the deal, there was no flooding in the Quarter. Yep, nothing. Why? All of the older parts of the city, where it was originally built saw no flooding. Why? Because those parts are either at or above sea level. It was the places, the newer parts of the city, the parts that used to be swampland that got flooded.

Maybe he saw a body floating in the pool of his hotel or in a fountain or maybe it was in his bathtub. But, no, that’s not what he said.

How much of a disservice did the news media do the recovery of the city by lying or manipulating the truth so they could report a “good” story? If Brian Williams could lie about this what else did he say about the city in those days after Katrina that was not true? What else did other reporters say that were blown up way out of proportion.

How much of media lying hindered the efforts to get help to the people in the Convention Center and at the Superdome?

There were truckers that were driving into the area to bring water and supplies into the city but stopped at the outskirts. Why? Because, as reported, they were afraid to drive into the city due to news of sniper fire. Over and over again the news media reported stories of sniper fire.

These truckers would be damned if they were going to drive their trucks full of supplies into the city and risk getting shot. It took some good samaritans loading up there own little trucks with supplies and drive them to the Convention Center to help these poor suffering souls.

How much did Brian Williams and people like him contribute to these people not getting the help they needed because all they cared about was making up stories of a lawless city to make themselves look good?

Remember the video of the looting on Canal Street? This video was played over and over and over again for days. Which made you think that this was continuing to happen over and over again for days.

So what should happen to Mr. Williams? He probably should be fired from his position as national news anchor. Maybe he could write books, but not history books or memoirs or anything like that. He is more suited to writing fiction since he seems to be so good at making up stories.

Posted in Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans History, New Orleans Life, New Orleans News.

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Metalsmith Turned New Orleans Chef to Compete for $50,000 in a New Food Network Series

Thomas Mann, a metalsmith, jeweler, and now New Orleans chef, treats cooking like another one of his art forms. He always loved to cook, but food became even more important when he was creating meals for his wife while she was dying of cancer. Now, he creates elaborate dinners to stay close with friends and family.

Metalsmith Turned New Orleans Chef to Compete for $50,000 in a New Food Network Series

Now he’ll be competing with 10 other talented and successful home cooks from around the country for a grand prize of $50,000. They’ll be mentored by superstar chefs Bobby FlayAlex GuarnaschelliCurtis Stone and Michael Symon. That’s pretty neat, I’d say.

I don’t know of anyone in New Orleans that does not know how to cook. That’s who we are here. And some of the best cooking is not found in the great New Orleans restaurants but at home.

All-Star Academy, premieres Sunday, March 1st at 9pm ET/PT. Which for us New Orleanians is 8pm.

Best of luck to you, Thomas. Here’s hoping you go all the way and get the 50K. You’ll honor all of us home-cooking New Orleans chefs. Heck, just you being chosen to be on the program is honor enough.

Posted in New Orleans Life.


So Is New Orleans Really Sinking? The Tragically Hip Think So. What About You?

Is New Orleans really sinking? Well, there are those that think so. At least that’s what some people would like you to think, because that notion sells. You know the drama of it all.

So Is New Orleans Sinking? The Tragically Hip Think So. What Say You?

Anyway, I found this Canadian band called The Tragically Hip performing this song a little while after Hurricane Katrina. During that tragic time when the federally built floodwalls failed (take note Sacramento and any other place in the country that’s got protective structures built by the Corps of Engineers) the news media just loved to paint the picture that New Orleans was sinking and all of it was below sea level.

Of course, like what most of the news media likes to put forth as “truth,” most of it was untrue. Yes, we do have some places in the city that have neighborhoods built on drained swamp land which are in effect a few feet below sea level. These were the places inundated by water that burst through poorly built and maintained federal floodwalls. The older parts of the city remained high and dry because these are at or above sea level. And they are not sinking.

Anyway, I’d never heard this song before and I like it. Although, I can’t really understand the words. So I’ve included the lyrics here. Being a songwriter myself I can really appreciate the lyrics, and these are great!

New Orleans Is Sinking
Bourbon blues on the street, loose and complete
Under skies all smoky blue green
I can’t forsake a dixie dead shake
So we danced the sidewalk clean

My memory is muddy, what’s this river that I’m in?
New Orleans is sinking, man, and I don’t want to swim

Colonel Tom, what’s wrong? What’s going on?
You can’t tie yourself up for a deal
He said, Hey, north, you’re south, shut your big mouth
You gotta do what you feel is real

Ain’t got no picture postcards, ain’t got no souvenirs
My baby she don’t know me when I’m thinking bout those years

Pale as a light bulb hanging on a wire
Sucking up to someone just to stoke the fire
Picking out the highlights of the scenery
Saw a little cloud that looked a little like me

I had my hands in the river, my feet back up on the banks
Looked up to the lord above and said, Hey, man, thanks

Sometimes I feel so good I got to scream
She said, Gordie, baby, I know exactly what you mean
She said, she said, I swear to god she said

My memory is muddy, what’s this river that I’m in?
New Orleans is sinking, man, and I don’t want to swim

So there ya go. Is New Orleans sinking, really? Don’t think so.

 

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

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