Alonzo V. Wilson is the griot of garb. He's the costume designer for HBO's Treme, helping to transform words on a page to life on the screen. Until March 31, his work is on view at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans in an exhibition titled "Well Suited: The Costumes of Alonzo Wilson for HBO's Treme." Here, go behind the scenes as Wilson sets up the show and attends the opening reception.
You can hear music anywhere, but in New Orleans you can feel it and smell it in the thick and salty air. Now and then you can read about it—but rarely in stories as well-told as Unfinished Blues: Memories of a New Orleans Music Man by Harold Battiste Jr. with Karen Celestan (2010), and Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans by Ben Sandmel (2012). These are the first two books in a series published by the Historic New Orleans Collection.
This is how New Orleans during Mardi Gras works: You're at a friend's house decorating throws for a krewe, when a call comes in during your third glass of wine. A couple of texts and a bout of phone tag later-during which a place and a time and instructions to "bring gold face paint" are somehow conveyed-and you find yourself dressed as a Wild West gunslinger pushing the queen's float for a krewe that until a couple of years ago didn't exist. But that's just how we roll.
Victor Campbell carries a chunk of Tennessee Williams’s soul around New Orleans every day in a black leather briefcase. He keeps the rest of it in the back of his bedroom closet, in an olive-green Samsonite suitcase, the weight of half a man.
In New Orleans, Thanksgiving Day signals the start of horse racing season at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Once there, you can see couples strolling hand-in-hand and hat-to-hat, babies in blazers, men in suits, and women in skirts and dresses. If the style, horses, and noisy slot machines at the Fair Grounds are not enough for you, you can also find dinner and drinks. I’ve always wanted to take a date there for the holiday and wear hats together—maybe next year.
We disembark from our car onto the deserted intersection of Desire and Royal. The streetlights tint everything around us with an obscene glow and the night air barely stirs. It seems like we are in some sort of residential zone as there are houses around us with dim, amber lamps illuminating silent, furnished interiors; however, the overarching feeling of the place at this moment is more in line with some derelict territory lodged somewhere between a dream and a nightmare.
Style, jazz, and a cause converged at Snug Harbor last week. The Uptown Jazz Orchestra Goes Pink was created to shine a proverbial light on smaller breast cancer organizations that too often go unseen. We chose two organizations, Mothers Month and Poems and Pink Ribbons, to receive the funds raised.
Did the Assholes of Isaac page have a point? Is the choice between recovery and reclaiming a zero-sum choice, where either we’re rescuing and cleaning up and rebuilding housing and services, or we’re eating and drinking and passing a good time? Are the two really mutually exclusive, or was this more of the same line of challenge we faced after Katrina when New Orleans dared to host a Carnival season in 2006, hold its first post-storm Jazz Fest, or reopen the Superdome? To approach these questions, I traveled three hundred miles northeast from New Orleans, to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Some say the true test of a group is how well they can play to an underwhelming crowd. If that’s a fair method for appraisal, Galactic is certified excellent. For a while there Sunday night in Little Rock felt like a certain Tuesday in New Orleans. I’m primed for the Louisiana music issue. Are you?
Jabari Greer, a defensive back for the New Orleans Saints, hosted his third annual
Masquerade Ball benefiting his foundation, The Greer Campaign. The event was held
at Eiffel Society and featured several bands, New Orleans food, and a live auction
with sports memorabilia and art local and international artists.
The New Orleans Film Festival has a great recipe of films running now through Thursday, October 18. The festival is hosted by the New Orleans Film Society and is now in its twenty-third year (that's quite a long time in festival years); screenings will be held in various theaters around town. This year the festival is focused on highlighting the evolving landscape of New Orleans as a new frontier in filmmaking. With the number of productions rising in Louisiana every year, Hollywood isn’t the only film-production Mecca anymore.
The album is anchored by Nona Marie Invie’s richly timbered voice and powerful piano. She uses her voice much like a reed instrument, a clarinet or oboe. On tracks like “Meet in the Dark,” she runs it through beautiful and emotive lines, drawing out the syllables of her sparse and clear lyrics. A surprising number of the lyrics are outright statements—“When you want everything to stay the same / things change,” for example—repeated again and again, infused with different pressures and burdens by Invie’s bare voice.
Lolis Eric Elie, a story editor on the show and OA contributing writer, sent me an e-mail: “Your sartorial splendor has been noted. As a FYI, nobody dresses up around here. Or I should say, seldom does any one dress up around here.”
The group eschews the standard power-pop uniform of cute, skinny guys with crisp shirts and tight jeans and embrace looking like dangerous guys from the other side of the levee. They look like speed freaks in a Sonic parking lot—corpulent and wild, metabolism and good sense destroyed by drugs and leaden racket, metal-head T-shirts covered in blood and vomit and cocaine and chocolate milkshakes and cum and pipe burns. They are un-ironically cool, a death-knell to Williamsburg hipsterism.
Neville, Allman, and Zito—who share songwriting duties—succeed admirably in synthesizing their various influences into the imprint that defines the band: a classic groove that is heavy with rock sensibilities, yet allows room for the individuals to meander into their favorite genres.
There will be an interview with Billy Reid and his fancy guests, plus photos of Alabama Shakes, Wild Cubs, and The Weeks at Shindig No. 4 in Florence, Alabama. Here are a few teaser photos—stay tuned for more next week!
I work on and off as a fact-checker at the most accurate magazine in America. I think so, at least. The checker assigned to this piece may come up with a list of competitors for that title—and in that case I’ll say that, having either been fact-checked by or been a fact-checker at most of them, she can count this fact as my own original reporting. My editor will probably agree and, if she pushes it, tell her that anyway “most accurate” is a qualitative evaluation, like “best defensive shortstop,” or “hottest freshman.”
New Orleans had a black mayor named “Dutch”; the white suburb next door to the city had as its sheriff an obese Chinese cowboy; and the governor, a glib, silver-haired Cajun gambler and lothario, had won office after declaring the only way he could lose the election was to be caught in bed “with a dead girl or a live boy.”
I’ve always liked a good dare: a challenge of your mental and physical abilities, a test of how far you are willing to go. This mental boundary-pushing has extended to my writing (where I wonder how much truth I can tell), my dress, and even my athletic prowess. The Olympics are full of all three of these things: stories, styles, and skills.
A funny thing happened on the way to the pho room. Several months ago, a friend and I made plans to meet at “that new Vietnamese joint down Magazine Street, the one across from the burrito place.” We ended up at different restaurants, both recently opened, doors down from each other.
There is not enough writing by John Kennedy Toole in this world. Outside of the material available on Amazon.com we know of two other sources for his prose. One, a box discovered in the passenger seat of a car, beside the author’s dead body: Soon thereafter, it was destroyed in a flood which wiped out the building where police had stored it as evidence. Two, the Louisiana Research Collection at Tulane: These papers are still safe, however they are tied up in a legal morass that has prevented their reproduction and worldwide availability. They are merely on hand for in-person perusal.
My “Taco Tuesday on a Wednesday” was served with a side of beef last week, dished by Roland S. Martin. He took issue with the ending of my recent column, “Seersuckered in Three Acts,” in which I write about the time Martin called me out for wearing a seersucker suit during the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Las Vegas in 2007.
I never planned on being a cartoonist. I have a background in fine art and used to only paint and build sculptures. Then I started moving around a lot and wasn’t able to store large pieces of artwork. So drawing comics became my most practical art form for me.
The filmmakers attempt to remove themselves as much as possible, letting the content guide the way, but there are so many moments of contact—the burlesque dancer backstage donning her robe, the banter of homeless men—and so many loving panoramas of the city at night, unafraid to appear as vivid as oil paintings.
What is one to make then of the Southern Open? The Open is a regional juried exhibition featuring artists of all media (except performance) from the Gulf South that takes place yearly at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette, Louisiana.
On an evening in late April, Jamey and Chris met me on the broad concrete veranda in front of the construction zone that was quickly taking shape as Serendipity. Just next door to Serendipity is the Mid-City branch of the New Orleans Public Library: food and writing right next door to each other.
In 1900, twenty-five cents bought The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book, a kitchen compendium that vouched to be “the first that has ever been attempted, and probably the only one that can ever be made.” Experts have called it not only “the ultimate cook book on Creole cuisine,” but the “most notable among early-twentieth-century food writings.”
Much like the slow-food movement, designers are enjoying a growing allure to clothing made on a smaller, homegrown level. If stores like Forever 21 are the junk food of fashion, then a new crop of new designers are the artisan bakers and locavore charcutiers of the scene.
Out of one of the soggiest boxes it has ever been my privilege to behold or insufflate, came a sleeve so sad and pitiful it looked like the least salvageable item from a Hurricane Katrina whippin’ I have ever seen. Joe’s long-boxes are always packed tight so as prevent warpage and ruin during the weekday Alabama heat, and as he wrestled to pull out the album fully, three quarters of the sleeve of this hideously scarce record began to crumble in Joe’s clutches.
Elijah Bradshaw folds one last piece of clothing and exits the Magazine Street Buffalo Exchange clothingresellerwhere he works as a buyer. The sun bounces off his vintage glasses into the camera lens, and his handlebar mustache looks even better outside. “It’s about small details,” Bradshaw, a Savannah, Georgia, native, says of his approach to personal style. “That’s the way to stand out.”
Dundas watched as Hurricane Katrina smote the city, and as the city recovered, she saw the stylish side of New Orleans seep away: Even the local department stores stopped hosting large-scale fashion shows after Katrina. “We lost a sense of appreciation for the fun of dressing stylish or being over the top,” she says. So, she earned a degree in fashion design and merchandising from the University of Southwest Louisiana, and, with the intensity of a scholar, researched fashion events for two years in other cities, ultimately devising an event tailored for New Orleans.
George Dureau often takes photographs of naked men. He also draws and paints them. Naked dwarfs, naked amputees, naked African-American men. There is no middle ground with Dureau: His subjects are either physically deformed or perfectly constructed. Because the compositions are spare—if not stark—the viewer is forced to confront raw flesh, genitals, stumps. But Dureau’s views are empathetic, not voyeuristic.
In a field awash with academic treatises, jeremiads, and ideological harangues, Andre Perry has written an unusual book about New Orleans' school system: a fictionalized tale of broken schools, narrated by a young professor who moves to New Orleans to overhaul Lyndon Johnson High.
Last month, during an OA trip to New Orleans, we met up with Richard McCarthy at the downtown Crescent City Farmers Market. Amid the stalls offering local goodies—from Ponchatoula strawberries to Gulf shrimp to goat cheese—we chatted with McCarthy about his work as executive director of Market Umbrella, a nonprofit whose mission is to “cultivate the field of public markets for public good.”