If June is “sweet”—weddings, graduations, and such—May is feverishly festive, starting May Day, rolling thru Jazz Fest, “Sippin’ in Seersucker,” the New Orleans Food and Wine Experience, and moving toward “Juleps in June.”

Great guy Dalton Milton now has his own official day thanks to the New Orleans City Council, plus an official drink, the “Daltini”! A fixture for 40 years at the Royal Orleans—before its Omni days—he’s poured many a St. Charles Avenue type a drink at Touché and greeted them at the Rib Room. His retirement send-off  at the Rib Room was packed with swells, wells, and French Quarter characters including Chris Owens, architect Arthur Q. Davis, and Kevin Mackey, whose street smarts at Smith Barney worked well at Churchill Downs when he was paid $100 on a $2 bet on Kentucky Derby day. (He’s from Louisville so he knows horseflesh and juleps.)

Along the AvenueOlé! Down Buenos Aires way for Chris Fransen’s 40th birthday were Remy Fransen, Angie Bowlin, Boodie Fransen, Kelp Littlefield and Jimmy Dukes (first row) with Kent Ozborn, Chris Fransen, Ann Wall and William Sonner

Global Celebrations
Birthdays are great, especially “big” ones….. Buenos Aires was the destination birthday for Chris Fransen who had Remy and Boodie Fransen (his parents), Angie Bowlin, Ann Wall, William Sonner, Kent Ozborn, Kelp Littlefield and Jimmy Dukes to help celebrate tango-style. The party started with cocktails at the trendy Home Hotel in the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood and moved on to Casa Cruz for urbane Argentinean cuisine. At Pacha they danced ‘til dawn, which isn’t so wild when you consider no one eats in BA before 10 p.m. and clubs open at 2 a.m. (My kind of place!) After a week, they were off to Iguzau Falls on the Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay borders for a look at nature, more wine, and some healthy exercise.

Debra Shriver and husband Jerry, who live in NYC and have a home here, hosted “Le Fête Fifty” over a holiday weekend bringing in lots of folks from out of town.  It began with volunteering in City Park and moved to jazz, jambalaya and juleps in the Quarter; a private tour of the “Femme, Femme, Femme” exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art and a bal masque at Restaurant August. By Sunday, a few had strength to stir the roux over gumbo lessons at the N.O. School of Cooking before going separate ways. Debra jets down anytime her big job at Hearst Corporation allows her to—and the company has just purchased five houses to rebuild and restore in the city.

Anyone who knows Margarita Bergen knows she loves a great party. Her birthday celebration was billed as “It’s Margarita Time” with lots of Sauza and salsa, as well as the music of Tim Davis, had everyone up and moving around at Tomatillo’s, on the corner of Frenchmen Street and Esplanade Avenue.

Further Uptown, Sue Sustendal and son, Michael (yes, my mother and brother) celebrated shared birthdays in an elegant, sedate style. Elegant not stuffy. How can you be stuffy at Pascal’s Manale—even in a private room filled with flowers, family and a cake for each celebrant?

Jazz Fest was great! Folks from Uptown, Downtown, Back of Town, and Out of Town were all moving and milling over music and crawfish beignets. The hardcore moved on to Liuzza’s and the Shell station, or to the ever-so-elegant to the Windsor Court Hotel for a concert by Irvin Mayfield, where one could find Sally and Brother Richards, Crystina Wysocki, Scott O’Connor, Kirk Stirton and others. The first weekend of Jazz Fest, the hotel’s Polo Club Lounge swelled with a post-Opera Ball crowd. Tipitina’s rocked with benefits including “Instruments A Comin’,” then Renew Orleans Art Auction during the second weekend. Also on that weekend’s Saturday night was “Jammin’ on Julia”—now in its 11th year—which had galleries such as Steve Martin, Arthur Rogers, Soren Christensen and others throwing open their artful doors.

In Your Honor
A lot of great people have recently been given great honors for great works at a series of events including: L’Alliance Francaise recognizing their own “Femme, Femme, Femmes” Sharon Litwin, Phyllis Taylor and Barbara Trevigne at Napoleon House—trés chic. Isidore Newman School honored three of its many very swell alums: wife and husband Walda Barnett Besthoff, class of ‘54, and Sydney Besthoff, class of ‘45, of art and drugstore fame; and, Mark J. Plotkin, class of ‘73, a world renowned ethnobotanist who has spent much of his career protecting the cultures and resources of the Amazon rain forests. The Arts Council of New Orleans’s Community Arts Awards lauded Dr. Stella Jones, Wardell Quezergue, Barbara Motley (who is bringing chanteuse Andrea Marcovicci to Le Chat Noir to sing Astaire songs in June), and the organizations of KIDsmART (which teamed with the Junior League of New Orleans to create the Plate Project, seen recently at the RHINO gallery), OffBeat Magazine, and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp. A special Chairman’s Award was presented to the Consulate General France, for all of his efforts across the area.

Along the AvenueBobby Kerrigan and Vernon Milton celebrate Dalton Milton’s send-off at the Rib Room.

Though some like big benefits, the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra keeps it small and select—24 people, and 24 only—gathered at the home of Liz and Terry Creel. After a concert in the garden, guests took seats in both the formal dining room and in the kitchen where they viewed Emeril’s chef David McCelvey and three assistants working. It was a great send-off for Margaret Shields, who retires as the Youth Orchestra’s president this month.


Along the AvenueMargaret Shields and Liz Creel at the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra fête.

Heavens, I am greatly exhausted. I popped my head into the newly opened sweet shop Sucré on Magazine Street, just steps from Sip. I also stopped by Shoefty, which just launched Harrys of London, a line of shoes created by the former co-owner of Jimmy Choo. Men, these shoes are stylish and comfortable—architect Lee Ledbetter was trying on a few pairs during the party the store held to mark the shoe line’s debut. I also took a look at the women’s shoes because I need new dancing shoes—I wore out three pairs last month. But like all of us, it’s a wonder after all this—and I didn’t even mention them all—we are all still standing.

Heard something interesting for
“Along the Avenue”?
If so, please send it to:
St. Charles Avenue,
110 Veterans Blvd., Ste. 123
Metairie, La. 70005,
Attn: Diane Sustendal. Or email
Diane at: diane@sustendal.net