ANTOINE’S REVEILLON ANTOINE’S, 713 Rue Saint Louis 70130, 581-4422, Antoines.com In December Antoine’s is offering prix fixe réveillon menu offered for lunch and dinner for groups of 15 or less, with some dates excluded. Special holiday drinks and desserts will also be offered. Established in 1840, Antoine’s Restaurant is the country’s oldest family-run restaurant and […]
A holiday checklist: Snow, jingle bells, sleighs, Yule log, sleds and chestnuts roasting by an open fire. Those are items we’re almost guaranteed will not be part of our seasonal celebrations. Having snow is a remote possibility, but certainly not the norm (remember 2004 and ’08). But New Orleans has December traditions and holiday icons: […]
Shane Pritchett recently opened Fat Hen Grocery and Deli at 7457 St. Charles Ave. Like the original Fat Hen Grill, Fat Hen Grocery is principally a diner-style restaurant, but in keeping with the “grocery” in its name there’s a small, eclectic mix of items on sale in the rear of the restaurant. The most interesting […]
It is no secret that New Orleans is a nocturnal city and, more often than not, if you see a sunrise here, you’re at the wrong end of a long night. (But at least you’re still seeing straight.) Even though our nightlife is the stuff of legends, the Big Easy’s diurnal residents can still get […]
I don’t think anyone who knows me would be surprised to find out that I’m an extremely superstitious person. I compulsively knock on wood. I throw salt over my left shoulder on a daily basis because I’m never quite sure of exactly what qualifies as “spilling” it, so I just err on the side of […]
My mother-in-law Ms. Larda’s cooking is to die for. People probably already have, with smiles on their faces and blockages in their arteries. But it was worth it. Still, her own daughter, my sister-in-law Gloriosa, cooks only healthy food. Healthy – but revolting. Now, Gloriosa, whose mission in life is to be better than anybody […]
CD What does a British actor who plays a New Jersey physician know about New Orleans music? Maybe nothing, but of his detractors, Hugh Laurie would just say, Let Them Talk. Laurie rasps through more than a dozen classic Big Easy ballads with contributions from Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint and Dr. John. He performs without […]
Each year around this time, New Orleanians by the thousands pour into City Park for Celebration in the Oaks, a rite of the holiday season now marking its 25th anniversary. But as the park itself presses ahead with its Hurricane Katrina recovery and capital improvement plan, its leaders are adding more features and attractions that […]
Louisiana doesn’t share a border with our Latin American neighbors to the south, but it looks like New Orleans is increasingly becoming a “gateway” for Latino immigrants. From 2000 to ’10 the Latino population in the New Orleans metro area surged by 57 percent, according to an analysis of Census findings by the Greater New […]
Dr. Vivien Chen at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans was recently awarded a grant by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop a system to collect and report pediatric cancer cases. In an LSU-generated press release, Chen said it will be a “valuable tool for local, state and national researchers […]
Louisiana is one of the biggest energy-producing states in the nation, thanks primarily to the massive volumes of oil and natural gas brought in from the Gulf along what some have dubbed “America’s Energy Coast.” But according to a recent study, the state ranks near the bottom for how efficiently it uses energy overall. The […]
New Orleans is a city of animal lovers. but like any other area of the world – be it urban or rural – pet overpopulation and animal cruelty are a definite reality. We would like to think that people are advocates for animals, their pets; yet there are many who are not. Ana Zorrilla’s enthusiasm […]
If failure was strictly measured by the number of dismal headlines that an entity generates, than 2011 was truly a dreary year for the New Orleans Police Department. Fortunately there were a few that were less sensational than encouraging. If weighted fairly, they give us a reason to be reassured. Those stories that were bad […]
Your guide to the dining, entertainment, lifestyle, culture and people of New Orleans from the trusted editors of New Orleans Magazine, New Orleans Home, New Orleans Bride, and St. Charles Avenue.
We strive in this season, as in Decembers past, to give readers a cutting-edge insight on gifts worth giving.
First place on the 2011 gift advisory goes to What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong (Pantheon) by Ricky Riccardi, a well-wrought biography and flowing read. Journalist and jazz pianist Riccardi charts Armstrong – from 1945 until his death in ’71 – as he became a global celebrity via concert tours, recordings, film and television appearances. His instrumental style had softened from the sharp attack and sumptuous riffs of the ’20s Hot 5 records. “Critics who routinely lashed out at Armstrong during his later years may have had the loudest voices, but in no way were they the majority ... With a bruised lip and an almost inhuman, punishing schedule, Armstrong worked harder than ever.”
He scored huge hits with “Hello Dolly” and “Mack the Knife,” and issued such superb albums as Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy and Satch Plays Fats. “What A Wonderful World,” released 17 years after his death, is an enduring hit. Yet some critics slammed him as an Uncle Tom for stage antics out of vaudeville.
Riccardi defends him with admirable dispassion. He also adds a nuanced view of Joe Glaser, the manager who oversaw his finances. “Armstrong was always happy as long as he had enough money to do whatever he needed, and Glaser saw to that. But critics of Glaser couldn’t help feeling that he spent the better part of those decades ripping off his client.” When Glaser died, Armstrong received all his shares in a music-publishing venture and trust funds, such that he told Buddy Hackett that he had $2 million – a lot back then.
Angola to Zydeco: Louisiana Lives (University Press of Mississippi) by E. Reese Fuller covers more than musicians in this carousel of profiles.
Fuller, now a high school teacher, wrote these pieces as a staffer for The Independent in Lafayette. The profiles of novelist James Lee Burke and painter Elemore Morgan Jr. are timeless. So is Fuller at the home of Stanley Dural Jr. aka Buckwheat Zydeco, on his acres near Carencro:
You sit outside with him, and he sits on the tailgate of his beloved pickup. He plays the accordion, but he doesn’t sing. He doesn’t even play. He doesn’t even play entire songs. He just moves effortlessly from one melody into another. The dogs are howling, and you can hear the geese squawking on the other side of the stable. ... And you might as well be invisible because he doesn’t see you. He’s far too busy paying attention to his soul and what it tells his fingers to do.
James Nolan’s new novel, Higher Ground (ULL Press), follows a quirky, brave woman named Nicole Naquin, caught in the pits of loss after Hurricane Katrina. Nolan melds rhythms of the city in a plotline on the hard slog of people grittily rebuilding homes and lives against the odds. He writes about French Quarter bohemia as if he had invented it. Nicole is indomitable. Here she is in the eyes of her old flame, Kelly:
During the next 20 minutes, it was 1975 and they were both teenagers again. There he was on the dance floor in his shiny wide-collared shirt cranking his elbows to Linda Ronstadt’s “Heat Wave,” Nicole with her hair pouffed up into a perfumed nimbus, shaky as a newborn colt in strappy platform shoes. ... How, in the meantime, had he managed to get so old?
Kelly, we all wonder that. Nolan performs an elaborate makeover of Nicole as a post-Katrina “everywoman.”
The polling data we rely upon in making CD recommendations has a plus or minus ratio of 3.5 percent. No one supported Lil’ Wayne this year, possibly because of his jail stint. But at the top in a statistical dead heat we find City of a Million Dreams (BCD-527) by Tommy Sancton, Lars Edegran and the New Orleans Legacy Band, and A New Orleans Tribute to Mahalia Jackson: Cynthia Girtley with guest artist Dr. Michael White (CG 0357).
City of a Million Dreams is a waterfront coverage of New Orleans Style. The title cut, a composition by swinging reedman of yesteryear Raymond Burke, gives Sancton room to roam. Other standards include “High Society,” “Make Me A Pallet on the Floor” and a certain rarity these days in the Gershwin Brothers’ “Strike Up the Band.” All to the good. However, the standout song on this CD is a sweet little neo-tango, “Un Hombre Fiel,” composed by Julian Sancton, son of the clarinetist (and an editor at Bloomberg Business Week), and a sidekick, J.C. Agudelo. This is a song on which to build an album.
On the Mahalia Jackson album, Dr. Michael White has found a diamond talent in Cynthia Girtley, who recently returned to New Orleans after many years in Washington, D.C. where she served as musical director for several churches and the Virginia Metropolitan Opera, and sang in National Cathedral and at the Kennedy Center. Girtley is a majestic singer, as adept in gospel and spirituals as she is rolling out the blues by Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. Her renditions of the Mahalia songbook cover “I’ll Fly Away” and “What A Friend We Have in Jesus,” among others, have an operatic quality, serene and soaring. At an October concert at Xavier University celebrating Jackson, she performed with White and his band and all but stole the show.
A New Orleans Tribute to Mahalia Jackson is one to play throughout this season and beyond, thus to uplift Nicole Naquin from James Nolan’s novel, and the rest of us, with optimism challenged by the madness of life in these latitudes.