The Editor’s Room

Two Countries, Two Revolutions

  Several years ago, the then French Ambassador to the United States visited New Orleans. One morning, he hosted a breakfast (croissants and coffee) at the French consulate home on Prytania Street. After the ambassador spoke, telling about the commerce…

Can "Normal" Really Be "New?" Just Asking

  My pick of the buzz phrase for wicked 2020 is “New Normal.” It is used often to describe the way things are going to be different as we make our way through COVID-19. Offices spaces will change; so will…

Blaine Kern In Viareggio

  Float builder Blaine Kern’s death last week, at 93, brought to mind the story of a former Rex Captain, Darwin Fanner, who in 1956 hired the 29-year-old Kern to build the Rex parade. Kern had been building the ALLA…

Need Help From Voodoo? This Might Be The Week

  Maybe what we all need these days is a big dose of Voodoo. If so, this Tuesday, June 23, is St. John’s Eve. That’s a high holy day in the Voodoo world. New Orleans, as far as I know,…

Spring 2020: The Lost Season

  Let us pause for a moment and remember Spring 2020... A moment is all it should take. Or it could take a lifetime if you are obsessed with chronicling grief. Surely Spring 2020, which ends next Saturday, June 20,…

Should We Try Again To Neutralize Hurricanes?

  I know, we should be cautious of messing around with Mother Nature, but just for fun let us propose this argument: We have wondered about warts, colds, viruses and crabgrass and now each time a tropical system enters the…

Of Masks, Disasters and Governors

  Ninety-three years ago the Governor of Louisiana was Oramel H. Simpson, who had ascended to the post from being Lt. Governor. Among his accomplishments was to sign a bill outlawing public masking except on Mardi Gras and at masquerade…

Evangeline At A Time Of COVID

  We have all experienced our Evangeline Oak moments this year. In 1928 Huey Long, then a little known candidate for governor, stood beneath the St. Martinville oak and made a speech that is a classic in American politics. Referring…

Memorial Day on a Different Battlefield

  Next Monday is Memorial Day, a time for remembering our military. The day feels a little different this year because, in a sense, we are all in another world war, only the enemy is invisible. As in the two…

A COVID Lesson: No One Rules Absolutely

  This week is the 75th anniversary of VE day, a celebration of the date, May 8, on which the peace treaties were finalized and World War II ended in Europe. The battles in the Pacific still raged, but for…

Why Carnival Should Persevere

  During the immediate post-Katrina days of 2005 Mayor Ray Nagin went to the Northshore one Sunday evening to talk to a group of displaced New Orleanians. They wanted to know about the condition of the city and when they…

Bullying With A Purpose

  Usually when the word “bully” is used in the vicinity of City Hall the reference is to the reigning mayor and not to the mayor’s correspondents. To have been elected, all mayors must have some diplomatic skills; but to…

When Zooming Goes Viral

  During our 2005 Hurricane Katrina exile we were in a coffee shop in upstate Alexandra. At a nearby table were two coeds who, we had learned from a brief conversation, were from Sweden and were attending the University of…

Thinking About Italy This Easter Week

  A tour guide at the back of the boat was pointing to some of the sites as the craft raced toward Bellagio (the real village not the hotel in Vegas). Italy’s lake region is one of the most picturesque…

Three Times (At Least) Mardi Gras Helped Save New Orleans

  This Mardi Gras marked 163 year since Comus started what would be the continuing parading tradition. The current Carnival post-season is the first time that a virus has ever been an issue. To the discussion, I submit the following:   1872…

Joseph and Patrick: The Lost Feast Days

  Late in the afternoon last Thursday, March 19, I stood at the front door of Angelo Brocato’s. In the world of Italian confections Brocato’s is perhaps the best there is, including the old country. There is significance to the…

When Life Turns Everything Upside Down

  For most of our Katrina exile we stayed at a relative’s home in the central Louisiana town of Marksville. One Sunday evening I needed to get a fill-up at the nearest gas station, which was down the highway at…

Lindy At The Vatican

  This Friday, March 13, will be the birthday of the late Lindy Boggs (1916), who during her career served as a member of congress and then later was Ambassador to what is officially known as “The Holy See.” No…

Speaking Of Tandems

  Usually when people have travel stories, the tale seldom centers on the part when the airplane was taxiing on the runway. For August Perez III, a glimpse through the window would open the way to a major innovation in…

Lundi Gras - The Making of a New Old Tradition

There are some old traditions in Carnival. There are also some traditions thought to be ancient, but really are not. One of the latter is “Lundi Gras.” While, the practice of Rex arriving…

Making Of A Carnival King

It has happened before – the evolution of a head of state in America was rumored to be linked with a prominent Russian. Legend has it that the first parade of Rex King of Carnival, was created in 1872 as…

Mardi Gras: The Mobile Connection

  You hear it said every year during Carnival time. Someone will tease that Mardi Gras, the celebration for which New Orleans takes so much pride, originated in Mobile, Alabama. At its birth, the argument would imply, Carnival was nourished…

Carnival's Confusing Anniversaries

  Suppose you started a new job in February of a certain year. When then should you celebrate your first anniversary? A reasonable answer would be February a year later. That is, unless you use Carnival time. In that case…

King Cakes In The Post-Katrina Era

  There was a time when there was no debate about King Cake. There was, for the most part, only one brand, McKenzie's, and only one flavor, Mckenzie’s- style – which had a slight cinnamon coffeeroll taste. The purple green…

How Carnival Got Its Colors

  Ed. Note: This has become an annual obsession with me. Several years ago, I was involved in a project in which we discovered the true origins of Carnival’s colors; purple, green and gold. It was not justice, power and…

Thoughts for Recovering on the Day After

  So, today we experience a community funk because of what happened in the Superdome yesterday. Fate is good to us, however, because our big disappointment happens to be followed the next day by Twelfth Night and the beginning of…

Christmas '89

  I was at a Christmas week party when someone commented about the weather, which was cold, even for Christmas time and added that a heavy freeze was on the way. She wasn’t wrong. But the next morning an icy…

The Woman In The Song

For Lisa Layne, Sept. 27, 1989 would mean more than just her 27th birthday. She was standing at the microphone at Nashville’s Masterfonics recording studio. Nearby were some of the town’s finest studio musicians…

Daring To Say "Christmas"

While at a party several Christmases ago I was talking to a teacher from a local private school. During the conversation I asked her how they celebrate Christmas at the school. “We don’t,” she answered. “We have many cultures there…

The Great Cultural Mix: Mirlitons on the Table

Whenever we visited my mom her recollections quite often turned to family gatherings. As a holiday, such as Thanksgiving, approached her ongoing wish was to be able to fix “a big dinner.” In her generation, cooking for others was a…