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New Orleans is One Scary City Where Most Believe in Ghosts

New Orleans is one scary city where 90 percent of the people believe in ghosts according to a recent article on the WWL radio website. I don’t know where they get the 90% number from but not only are ghost stories part of our heritage I would bet most people here have a ghost story or two of their own.

New Orleans is One Scary City Where Most Believe in Ghosts

Spooky house on St. Charles Ave - New Orleans is one scary city

Spooky goings on outside a house on St. Charles Ave. in uptown New Orleans for Halloween.

Growing up, my parents, especially my dad, would promote the idea that we had a family ghost whose name was Gus that lived in the attic. Gus, of course, was a friendly ghost. And we still tell our young nieces and nephews about him, and some are afraid to sleep here in our house because of the stories about Gus. When they ask if Gus is for real, we just kind of hem and haw without admitting it one way or the other.

Now, I don’t really know if Gus is for real. I just know there have been some strange things happen in this old house, you know, like noises and sounds. I’ve had dreams of someone or something hovering over me which could just be a creation of my own mind from some morsel of food, something more of gravy than grave, as Dickens’ Scrooge would describe it.

My nephew tells of a time he was visiting when he was awakened by something in the middle of the night. Upon sitting up in bed saw the bedroom door slowly close a few feet. I think I’ve heard footsteps and sounds like someone coming up the stairs in the dead of night. It’s these experiences that make me hesitate when a wary child asks if Gus is real. Frankly, I just don’t know and if it is real its name is probably not Gus… or maybe it is.

Cosmopolitan magazine lists New Orleans as being the second most haunted city in the United States with Salem, Massachusetts, the site of the infamous witch trails, as number one. Estes Park, CO is on that list too. Go figure.

Perhaps the reason most people believe in ghosts in New Orleans is because we live in old houses which tend to be the structures most frequented by ghosts. And also, despite what you might get from the news media about all the supposed debauchery that goes on here, New Orleans is probably the most religious city in the country. So, spirituality is an integral part of our lifestyle and customs – even if you have no religious affiliation or you’re an atheist!

The article asserts that there is something about being near large bodies of water where ghostly sitings prevail:

“It seems to have something to do with the age of the city and the fact that it’s by so much water,” says the article’s author, Kelly McClure.

She’s not sure what water has to do with it, but that’s what her research shows.

“I’m coming to find that haunted locations are usually by large bodies of water.”

“New Orleans, being as old as it is…so many souls have come and gone…and the fact that it’s by water, seems to make it a hotbed for all of this activity.”

And New Orleans is between two huge bodies of water – the Mississippi River to the south and Lake Pontchartrain to the North. So there ya go.

Lafayette Cemetery-New Orleans is one scary city

Lafayette Cemetery is in the heart of New Orleans Garden District.

Another thing. Whereas most cities put their cemeteries on the outskirts of the city away from populated areas, New Orleans is dotted with numerous old cemeteries right in the middle of neighborhoods. One of the most famous is the Lafayette Cemetery right in the heart of the Garden District across the street from the iconic restaurant Commander’s Palace. So the cities of the dead live right among the city of the living.

And I’ve always said, and most would agree, local and visitor alike, that there is a mysterious something about New Orleans, that is difficult to put into words, a spiritual something to the place that grabs you and won’t let go. Could it have something to do with those who have come and gone before us and the lasting impression they’ve left on the city?

So New Orleans is one scary city. Hm. Perhaps “scary” is not the right word. Maybe “spooky” is better. And most likely it’s occupied by a lot of ghosts – I would say most of them friendly. It’s possible one of them named Gus “lives” in our house. Who knows?

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Neighborhoods, New Orleans News.

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First New Orleans Saints Superdome Game After Katrina Anniversary

The New Orleans Saints and the Superdome celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the re-opening of the dome after the destruction and havoc wrought by Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005. Here is some oral history from several celebrities. I’ve just selected a few here. You can read more at the New Orleans Saints website.

First New Orleans Saints Superdome Game After Katrina Anniversary

The roof of the Superdome after Hurrican Katrina

The roof of the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina

Drew Brees:  I would have been in San Diego, California. I was playing for the San Diego Chargers. We would have been getting ready for our first game of the season.

Sean Payton: I was coaching in Dallas and we would have been in our preseason training camp.

Edge: I was in my house in France. We were between two legs of a tour and we were recuperating after a long and hard first leg and first caught the news that there was this hurricane on its way to New Orleans. Then turned on the news channels and just watched as this horror unfolded.

Steve Gleason: The team had just evacuated a day or two before that. So we were in the San Francisco Bay area ahead of the preseason game against the Raiders.

Quint Davis: I was in a fetal position in a hotel room in New York City.


Later Payton would recruit Brees as quarterback, who had had his shoulder severely damaged in a 2005 game, to be quarterback for the Saints. They took a trip to New Orleans.

Sean Payton: I’m driving the car, Drew in the front seat, Brittany in the back seat. I’m driving like I’ve been a resident for 10 years and I’ve only been here for a couple of months. So we went over to the North Shore to look at some housing. We came back and somewhere off the Causeway I ended up, spun around. And I was heading toward Baton Rouge. Now just over and back from the North Shore would take an hour and a half. So there’s that point I look in the rear-view mirror and I see Brittany kind of nodding off and I’m thinking, “I might as well drive them to the airport and put them on the Miami Dolphins plane.”

Drew Brees: “I remember looking to my left and seeing a house that was really just a concrete slab and no house. And then seeing another house that was halfway off the foundation with a truck upside-down in the living room. Then we had to stop because there was a tug boat sitting in the middle of the road upside-down and it was that moment where I looked at Brittany and I remember our eyes met and we knew that this was so much bigger than football. I think we both felt the calling there to New Orleans. That this was just not the resurgence of a football team or an organization, but that it was about the rebirth of a city.”

New Orleans Superdome reopens for Septemeber 25, 2006 the Saints home game

New Orleans Superdome reopens for Septemeber 25, 2006 the Saints home game

I’m not much of a football fan, but have always liked the Saints. I remember the night of the reopening watching it on TV. The energy and excitement were palpable. I got goose bumps, my eyes glued to the screen. Of course, the Saints would win that game, it was a given.

Those of us who lived through it, those days and months of wondering what was going to happen to our city, I for one never doubted we’d make it through and rebuild and go on with our lives. Most of it was wondering how we were going to go about doing it. But I also had no doubt that people would move back. What surprised me was that more people from around the country came to help and to make their home here as well.

In many ways the city is better than it was before the hurricane. Sometimes it takes tragedy to ultimately triumph. That September 25, 2006 New Orleans game in the Superdome a year after Katrina told the world “We are back and we will be better than ever.”

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

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Drooling, Drizzling and Dreaming at New Orleans Dryades Street Market

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

Drayades St Market New Orleans

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.

Dryades Street Market oyster bar

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.

Posted in New Orleans Business, New Orleans Food, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Neighborhoods, New Orleans Restaurants.

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The Simpsons Voice Actor Harry Shearer Speaks Out On New Orleans Short Term Rentals

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

harry shearer new orleans planning commission 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.

Posted in New Orleans Business, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Neighborhoods, New Orleans News.

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New Orleans Economy: Will The Big Easy Survive the Brexit Vote?

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.

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 jamon iberico

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.

Posted in New Orleans Business, New Orleans Life.

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