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Frenchy Brouillette and Torrid Tales of New Orleans Underworld – Book Review

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

mr new orleans and new orleans underworld

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.

You can get Mr. New Orleans, this unique glimpse into the New Orleans underworld from Amazon.com

Posted in New Orleans Books, New Orleans History, New Orleans Life.

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How Many Ways Can You Play Happy Birthday?

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!

So Happy Birthday to everyone!

Posted in New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Videos.

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New Orleans Musician Gina Forsyth – The Sweetest Sound: One of the Best Songs Ever Written? – Watch

New Orleans musician Gina Forsyth is a regular at the Neutral Ground Coffee House and can be seen backing such artists as Cajun musician Bruce Daigrepont, singer/songwriter Tom Paxton, and recently Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. Just as talented on guitar as she is on fiddle she also has a unique and distinctive voice.

New Orleans Musician Gina Forsyth’s The Sweetest Sound: One of the Best Songs Ever Written?

Cover are from New Orleans musician Gina Forsyth latest CD Promised Land. Photo Phillip Gould

Cover are from Gina’s latest CD Promised Land. Photo Phillip Gould

Besides being such an excellent musician she is also a great songwriter. In the video below she performs what in my view is one of the best songs ever written. Have a listen. You can also find on iTunes the studio version which has a very mysterious, haunting quality that gives me goose bumps no matter how many times I’ve heard it.

Gina also performs with her all woman trio The Malvinas. I heard them play at the Neutral Ground and let me tell ya that each voice is not only unique but excellent and the blending of voices is exquisite. You can tell they are having fun performing which makes it fun for the audience as well. Gina will also be performing with the Diagrepont band at the 2016 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on the Fais Do Do stage.

New Orleans musician Gina Forsyth is a powerful musical force to be reckoned with. Indeed. Just another of our excellent musicians that makes New Orleans music so special

Posted in Cajun Music, Louisiana, New Orleans Festivals, New Orleans Jazz Festival, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Videos.

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Rich Collins of New Orleans Band Imagination Movers Releases Solo Album Golden Pick – Watch

Rich Collins of the New Orleans band Imagination Movers has just released his second solo album. The Imagination Movers are one of the most popular bands for kids in the world owing to the Disney show they had going for three seasons that was translated in many different languages. That show was shot on a soundstage in Harahan not far from my house.

Rich Collins of New Orleans Band Imagination Movers Releases Solo Album Golden Pick – Watch

rich collins imagination movers new orleans band

Rich Collins and his Golden Pick playing music in the park.

I watched that show several times and was amazed at the music, the fun and the creativity. It was very entertaining. The four Movers were all naturals on camera and is probably one of the reasons they are so popular in their live shows.

The group was started by four best friends in New Orleans who had an idea for a band that would create and perform pop music for kids but still could be appreciated by adults, too.

Well, they’ve done a good job of it because they’ve been going strong for many years now playing gigs in New Orleans as well as traveling the United States doing festivals and major events in New York and Washington D.C. So I guess you could say that they’ve become a big deal.

This song Golden Pick is the title track to the new CD. It’s fun, upbeat and just has this infections rhythm that makes ya wanna dance. And it’s shot right there on the banks of the Mississippi River and what looks to be City Park.

The New Orleans Band Imagination Movers is a great project and can’t wait to see what other great music and art projects happen in this city that go global.

 

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

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New Orleans Pizza: Are We Famous for That Too? The Janoskians’ Luke Shows Us How to Eat It – Watch

I would have thought that New Orleans pizza was probably just as good as anywhere else. But this guy Luke from the Melbourne, Australia band The Janoskians shows us the fine art of chowing down on some really yummy looking pizza.

New Orleans Pizza: Are We Famous for That Too? The Janoskians’ Luke Shows Us How to Eat It

new orleans pizza

This is where you can get some of the best New Orleans pizza.

I’ve never been to this place Vieux Carre Pizza, in fact I’ve never heard of it. But that is not unusual for an uptown person. There are all kinds of things happening in the French Quarter that I don’t know about.

But man this pizza looks really good. Really thick with all kinds of stuff on it. Me, I can eat a whole regular pizza by myself and not feel full. But these thick slices this kid eats well I might have trouble eating an entire pie.

If you can watch this video without getting hungry, well then maybe you might wanna get your taste buds checked. I wanna drive down to the Quarter right now and order me one. It’s at 733 St. Louis St. if you are interested. If you go down there could you pick up a pizza for me?

Mm, mm, mm, dere ain’t nothin’ like good New Orleans pizza. Yeah you right!

Posted in New Orleans Food, New Orleans Life.

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