The deadline for this column falls on Jan. 8, also the anniversary of the “Battle of New Orleans.” As I write, another battle rages … this one against crime. Emails are flying. People of all races and creeds have marched on City Hall to protest the continuing, rampant violence. We need everybody, every organization—with and without an acronym—to get up, get proud, and get serious about shutting down the criminal activity that hurts our citizens, our reputation and our chances for a future.
That said … I move to lighter matters.

This year, January was a bridge month: A time to move from the Red and Green, to the Black and Gold, and onto the Purple, Green and Gold of Carnival. The gold bean of Twelfth Night has been pulled from the king cake, and … wait a minute! Before we get too far into the  Carnival royalty guessing game, let’s look at a few things that took place at the end of ‘06 and began ‘07. There are honors, kudos and general applause for people and organizations.

A few trends, signaling nothing or something, turned up:

1) Old Fashioneds suddenly replaced Cosmopolitans as the “it” drink at places as diverse as the Bridge Lounge, Galatoire’s and the NOCC. Don’t know why, just happened.

2) With the exception of white-tie presentations such as Debutante and Pickwick clubs, for deb parties there was less “black tie” than even last season. 

3) Frustrations shifted from slow-moving contractors to slow-moving recovery plans, the return of crime and lack of leadership.

Now onto the parties:
The two handy holiday presents would have been a shoehorn to squeeze into all the packed places in town, and a limo to avoid parking hassles.

A shoehorn was needed at Blair and Sybil Favrot’s beautiful home they so generously opened for the Preservation Resource Center’s “Holiday Home Tour” patron party on Dec. 8, which was oversold by several dozen. A reputation for being superb hosts will do that, but someone should have told some guests get out of  the kitchen while the staff was trying to twist and turn their way through the crowd with food bound for the dining room table. At one point, Blair took to an empty spot between a topiary and a door to avoid the crush and Sybil hid any concern behind her lovely smile. The following two days, more people plowed through houses on the tour, including Olivia and Archie Manning’s digs.

Shoehorns couldn’t help the Friday before Christmas at Galatoire’s. To get one of the much-sought-after tables in the downstairs dining room, you had to have raised your paddle as high bidder a few weeks earlier at an auction that raised more than $54,000 for Covenant House and Children’s Hospital. This auction followed the highly successful “Friday before Mardi Gras” table auction in 2006. This year’s auction is Feb. 5. Reserve your paddles now.

The bar of the Royal O (that’s the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel) was the point of convergence for post-lunch revelers from Galatoire’s, Arnaud’s, Brennan’s, Antoine’s, and the hotel’s Rib Room (the shortest commute) that same Friday. Bobby Kerrigan, William Treadway and Sherman Copeland were spotted at separate tables at the Rib Room, as was author Marda Burton, who joined the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s Sharon Litwin and Cary Alden for a first course and dessert—and in between she dashed downstairs to have her hair done. There were no shoehorns, but the gals received individual caviar spoons from Judy’s at the Rink as Kris Kringle presents.

Along The AvenueBilly Guste Jr. celebrates his brother John Guste’s engagement to Courtney Fabacher at Antoine’s.

Oh, before I forget—to paraphrase: News of Antoine’s demise seems a bit premature. The historic restaurant was totally booked for Christmas Eve lunch and dinner. By New Year’s Eve one couldn’t get a shoehorn between tables on both floors. (How the waiters did it I’ll never know.) Billy Guste Jr., his bride Allison, and Billy’s brother John Guste took over the Japanese Room for about 150. They were celebrating, among other things, the engagement of John to Courtney Fabacher. Gov. Kathleen Blanco turned up in the Twelfth Night Room, then moved across town to the Windsor Court Hotel penthouse for James Roy’s soirée with soon-to-be Washington Mardi Gras King Boysie Bollinger, his wife Joy Bollinger, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, Roger Ogden and others powerful and philanthropic. The “Gov” has a limo that gets her through blockades in the Quarter, the rest of us walk. As for Antoine’s, the Carnival krewes will be back for their luncheons this season and it feels like old times.

Along The AvenueKatherine Douglass wrapped herself in gold at the New Orleans Saints game on New Year’s Eve.

Women of the Storm is still on a mission. They were centerfield for a well-deserved half-time salute at the New Orleans Saints game on New Year’s Eve. W Hotel’s Stephanie Miller, with fleur-de-lis painted on her face, and Katherine Douglass, wrapped in a gold lamé, cheered on the team and “the women” by waving do-rags
provided by the Saints. Later, newly wed Katherine dined at Cochon while husband Justin LeBlanc did due diligence as chef de cuisine at Peristyle. Come Feb. 2, Starwood’s W and Sheraton Worldwide team up for Operation CPR: City Park Restoration. Their focus: Popp Fountain, plus the repair and painting of 2,700 feet of ornamental iron fences. Some 800 Starwood employees nationwide will join 150 locals in the effort worth about $90,000 in man-hours to help our beloved park. Want to help, too? Contact John Hopper at City Park, 504/483-9459, jhopper@nocp.org.

You do not have to refer to Tulane University Law School professor Vernon Palmer as “Chevalier,” but you should congratulate him! Palmer, who has directed Tulane Law School’s summer program in Paris for the past 18 years, has been named by French President Jacques Chirac as a “Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.” The Consul Général of France does honors in New Orleans Jan. 19. Created by Napoleon Bonaparte
in 1802, it is France’s highest civilian honor. Palmer joins Gen. George Patton, author Norman Mailer and former Secretary of State Colin Powell as American
recipients of the award. Of note: this is Palmer’s second accolade from the French. In 1994 he was awarded the prestigious “Palmes Academiques” for creating Tulane’s European Legal Practice program. He has twice held the Chair for Common Law at the Sorbonne in Paris where he lectured in French on comparative legal studies. A modest fellow, he certainly adds to the reputation of Tulane and its law school.

Along The AvenueTwo New Orleanians ring in the New Year.

Please congratulate the five orchestras—two on the Northshore and three on the southshore—which comprise the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra. The orchestra was honored at the White House Jan. 22 as one of 17 recipients of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities “Coming Up Taller Award,” in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. GNOYO Executive Director Marianna Roll and 15-year-old Laura Cain received the award for the group, while at home the entire orchestra prepares for a Celebration Concert March 10 at St. Martin’s Episcopal School.

As February rolls in, the annual “Who will be Rex this year?” gets trickier. For 10 years, we heard it was Tabasco’s Paul McIlhenny, but he was Rex last year! And if Rex is a mystery, try to imagine Comus … Let the games begin.  
And, please make this a safe, peaceful Mardi Gras season.


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