Artist Spotlight: Ally Boyd of NOLA Breeze Art

Ally BoydSeven years ago, when Ally Boyd relocated to New Orleans from Austin, she considered herself crafty mom, but not an artist. While wandering around the city during homeschool excursions with her children, she found items left behind as litter: the arm of a doll, an old glass bottle, screws, bottle caps, and wood. She collected these items, seeing the beauty in ordinary things, and used them to decorate her home. The vibe of New Orleans influenced her greatly, making her want to build, create, express herself. The darker themes of work by local artists inspired Ally to push limits and redefine her own boundaries. Four years after making New Orleans her home, she was now making New Orleans her art. NOLA Breeze Art was born.

When she first started creating shadow boxes, she began using the items she had collected from around the city. She believed most of the item she found were art in and of themselves and loved bringing them to light in her own work. She reserved most of her pieces for friends and family, or for use in her own home. Last May, a friend encouraged her to try the Freret Market.

Since that first market last May, Ally and NOLA Breeze Art have participated in the Freret Market every month, selling her pieces 912847_10201075414276750_741309102_nto those both local and visiting. In 2012, one of her pieces was accepted into the 4th Annual Femme Fest.  Last month, The Green- Eyed Gator on Chartres St. began selling her art. This month a new gallery opening on Magazine St, Coq Rouge, will be featuring her art as well. NOLA Breeze Art has expanded from shadow boxes to steam punk statues, wall hangings, frames, and dolls.

Art has become a form of therapy for Ally. Recently, her estranged father took his own life. While she was hundreds of miles away from family, her art became her refuge, allowing her to process her feelings about what had happened in a way that she hadn’t been able to before. For her, art is the most constant of companions – the friend you share all of your pain with.

“The art that I created immediately after I found out about my dad is much different than the art I usually do. It helped, though, to get the storm inside of me out in something material that I could see.”

911930_10201075458717861_480247411_nAlly hopes that her art helps people to connect or reconnect and when they look at her art, it inspires them to feel – taking away something personal from something that was so personal for her to make.

It is also her goal that NOLA Breeze Art offer people a little piece of New Orleans, no matter where they call home. This is why she uses reclaimed wood and other recycled items she’s found throughout the city in her all of her pieces.cc

“The city of New Orleans is such a huge inspiration to me. I like being able to take something that I found in City Park or on the ground at the French Quarter festival and be able to incorporate it into something new. I want to give people a little bit of what New Orleans has given to me.”

You can visit Ally and NOLA Breeze Art this Saturday from 12 – 5 at the Freret Market or visit her on Facebook. 

Guest Blogger: Theo Eliezer of Momma Tried Magazine

MOMMA TRIED_LaBastilleFor the past year my partner Micah and I have been working on creating a new conceptual magazine called Momma Tried. Both long term New Orleanians (he was born in Opelousas LA, I moved here in 1998), our vision is to bring together a print-only publication that is equal parts literary journal, art magazine, and non-heteronormative nudie mag; a new platform to showcase the talents and perspective of our community.

From the very beginning of this project, we’ve been inspired by the idea that print is “dead,” and chose to fully embrace the romance of this allegedly lost medium as a part of our concept. By only making it available as a tangible publication printed in editions of 1000 and distributing it internationally, we’re hoping to create a magazine that is an archive of a moment in time and feels more permanent and precious than what can be achieved with pages displayed on the internet. We’re endeavoring to create something that is a nod to the publications that influenced us most when we were growing up, including the role of iconic and often misogynistic retro advertising. As an ad-free publication, Momma Tried gives us the opportunity to explore the tropes, manipulations, and possibilities of print advertisements, so through an aspect of the magazine that we call “disruptive content,” we’re partnering with artists to create original and appropriation based satirical adverts that deconstruct the nature of advertising, while simultaneously embodying the essential visual role of magazine ads.

Micah and I started the magazine while we were working on a large multi-disciplinary art installation in New Orleans last year, and from that experience of collaborating with many local and national artists, we realized that a cornerstone of our objective for Momma Tried was to create a new platform to share the talent of local artists and writers with the world. Since then, this dream has manifested into a collaborative work that is nearly complete. The first issue of Momma Tried will be approximately 150 pages long, full color, perfect bound, and contains the work of dozens of contributors from New Orleans, across the U.S, and abroad, as well as our core team of local collaborators which we have worked closely with to create our conceptual nude photo editorials.

The aspect of sexuality in Momma Tried is something we feel strongly about as an opportunity to create a new, more diverse and inclusive presentation of bodies and identity. We feel that art and sexuality go hand in hand as forms of expression and discovery, and that being interested in depictions of nudity or sexuality shouldn’t be an embarrassment, or kept away from other expressions of creativity and thought. We believe that sex and art are intrinsic to the human experience, and it is our hope that by pairing them in a way that is inclusive of people regardless of orientation or gender, we will be creating common ground for a diverse array of people to share, regardless of perceived differences. Idealistically, we’re attempting to create an artistic platform that allows artists, writers, and readers of the magazine to be embracing of their sexuality as well as intellect, which however small of a gesture it might be, is a step towards being more comfortable and honest with ourselves and each other.

After a year of working on this very rewarding and ambitious labor of love, we’re almost ready to send it to print! We’ve recently launched a Kickstarter campaign where people can pre-order the first issue and support us in our efforts to publish what we believe is a valuable addition to our local creative culture.

Please join us on facebook, tumblr, and twitter to learn more and keep up to date on our progress!

www.mommatriedmagazine.com

Nola Fashion Week A/W 2013

One of my favorite things in the word has to be fashion. I absolutely adore it! The creativity is what I love. It’s all about the art of you and your specific personality.  Imagine my excitement when Nola Fashion Week (NOLAFW) got started in 2011.  NOLAFW is the next best thing to getting to the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, but probably with a little more flavor.

Nola Fashion Week was the brainchild of the  Nola Fashion Council, whom work to connect designers with resources and exposure throughout the South and beyond. The Nola Fashion Council puts on NOLAFW biannually not only to showcase Southern talent, but to offer industry based education workshops as well as access to local designers and retailers.

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Southern born and /or based designers come together to show their greatness and to in my opinion put a smile on my face. From the efforts of Nola Fashion Week, we’ve come to know and see the rise of phenomenal designers such as Amanda deLeon, Andrea Loest, Matthew Arthur, Jolie & Elizabeth and more. It’s quite amazing to watch the talent right here at home doing innovative things.

Happening this week is Nola Fashion Week A/W 13’ showing. Showcasing this year is 17 designers which include Amanda deLeon, Andrea Loest, Anthony Ryan, Blackout, By Smith, Ella ose, Fair Fit, Hazel & Forange, Iacono, Izavel , Jolie  Elizabeth, Libellule , Loretta Jane, Matthew Arthur, Noel Martin, The Dope.Game and Tallulah’s Designs. These designers will not disappoint with great pieces you will daydream about for days as well as ready to wear pieces you will probably find at local stores this year! Also on the schedule are several cool workshops such as Sustainable Dyeing so you can get your learning on.

The great thing about NOLAFW is there is something for everyone! In whatever way you want to get involved from financial support to volunteering, to retail therapy and more; its something for you with NOLAFW. Not only are our brightest designers showcased, but also all the amazing individuals based right down in Louisiana making things happen behind the scene from makeup artist to stylist, to bloggers and more. This state produced a talented bunch and NOLAFW proves it just by the high value production put on since the beginning.

I don’t co-sign most events, but I look forward to NOLAFW each year and can’t get enough of the Nola and Southern Talent.

Morgus the Magnificent

Anyone who grew up here in New Orleans should remember watching our beloved Morgus the Magnificent. For over half a century, Morgus prefaced the weekend horror movies with his own New Orleans style horror vignettes. Morgus, along with his sidekick Chopsley would entertain us with his weekly scientific experiments gone wrong, dissecting and poking and prodding various New Orleans B-listers, with the week’s story line progressing during the commercial breaks of Godzilla or Mothra, or Godzilla-Mothra-King Kong end of the world movies. I swear, Morgus’ dry, morbid sense of humor has affected generations of New Orleanians, claiming his rightful place alongside the satire of Mardi Gras and the unique New Orleans musical soundtrack of our lives.

Well today, the ever elusive character has proverbially come out from hiding – behold the man behind our Morgus!

Allow me to present Sid Noel Rideau, a.k.a.  Momus Alexander Morgus. Sheila Stroup of the Times Picayune wrote a beautiful article profiling Mr. Rideau with his latest contribution to New Orleans culture, the New Orleans Public Library’s Internet Story Club of America. What an admirable endeavor, and it seals the deal that future generations will have the privilege of being entertained and enlightened by Morgus the Magnificent, now publically known as Mr. Rideau. Thank you sir for all you’ve done, and continue to do for our city.

Two ordinances affecting Jackson Square to be considered on Monday, 12/3/12

Sunset over Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral from an Upper Pontalba balcony on 10/15/10. (Photo by Kalen Wright, all rights reserved.)

Via the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MACCNO):

On 11/1/12, Councilmember Kristen Gisleson Palmer introduced two ordinances regarding activity in Jackson Square. These ordinances have been drafted with the support of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration.

In summary, the first ordinance would ban anyone from stopping, standing or loitering in Jackson Square between the hours of 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM. The punishment for loitering would be a “fine not exceeding $500 fine and/or imprisonment up to six months.”

The second ordinance states that only persons holding “A” permits or “B” permits may conduct business in Jackson Square. This is consistent with the current existing ordinance. “A” and “B” permits are for visual artists. Street musicians are not required to have permits and no such permits currently exist. However, what is different is the punishment for violating the terms of the permit. The existing ordinance states that the punishment for violating the terms of the permit is having the permit revoked. However, the new ordinance proposes a punishment of a “fine not exceeding $500 fine and/or imprisonment up to six months.”

The very nature of enforcing a punishment that is not limited to revoking a permit could mean that there are serious repercussions for anyone conducting business in Jackson Square that does not have a “A” and “B” permit. We are very concerned about the potential for the criminalization of street musicians, performers, and tarot card readers.

The highlighted sections are revisions to the existing ordinances: Proposed Jackson Square Ordinances

MACCNO is working to secure a meeting with Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer’s office ASAP to raise our concerns. We encourage you to contact her office to raise your concerns:

Mary Cunningham, Director, Constituent Services
mbcunningham@nola.gov
504-658-1030

If you do contact Councilwoman Palmer’s office, please remember to also thank the councilwoman for supporting Siberia in securing their permit for live music and ask her to continue supporting live music.

City Council’s Government Affairs Committee will be voting on the ordinances on Monday, 12/3/12.

Please spread the word about these proposed ordinances and attend our next meeting on Wednesday, November 28th at Noon, at Kermit’s Tremé Speakeasy, 1535 Basin St. At this meeting we will be having a teach-in and will be updating the group on the outcome of our meeting with Councilwoman Palmer’s office and presenting a proposed plan of action. Please be on the look out for further action plans!

Thank you!

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(For additional information, please see Jackson Square needs maintenance and patrolling, not superficial ordinances.)

Update 11/29/12 The Governmental Affairs Committee is presently tentatively scheduled to meet at 10:00 AM on Monday, December 3, 2012, at City Hall’s City Council Chambers, 1300 Perdido Street. It is believed at this time that the two ordinances regarding Jackson Square will be discussed and considered at this meeting. Voting regarding these ordinances could occur at any subsequent City Council Regular Meeting; the next is scheduled for Thursday, December 6, 2012. For additional information, please see the New Orleans City Council Calendar.

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Update 11/30/12Good News: Proposed ordinances re: Jackson Square’s pedestrian mall to be withdrawn

A tale of two tourist destinations

Could it be that the French Quarter of New Orleans might have its very own “sister city” — the walled city of Pingyao, in China’s Shanxi province?

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The ancient Chinese city of Pingyao. Photo by Debra Bruno as featured in The Atlantic.

Does this not look eerily similar to the intersection of Decatur Street (left) and N. Peters Street/the French Market (right) in the French Quarter (albeit with the streets and angles being depicted in reverse), looking in the direction of Canal St. (minus the Joan of Arc statue in the green space triangle)? It’s a virtual mirror image of that sliver of our own Vieux Carré.

Similarities between the French Quarter and Pingyao include:

• Tourism as the primary economic driver;

• infrastructure concerns resulting from “hoards of tourists”;

• projects involving the collection of “oral histories” from residents;

• Disneyland facsimiles (New Orleans Square at Disneyland vs. Pingyao being compared to the Temple of Heaven pavilion at Epcot);

• hole-in-the-wall shops offering “reflexology foot massages” (there are at least four in the French Quarter these days);

• music blaring from loudspeakers; and

• concerns of local businesses being overwhelmed by “souvenir shops selling mass-produced junk next to bars and restaurants.”

Consider this: two cities, half a world apart, offering alarmingly identical experiences to their respective visitors… isn’t that homogenization defined?

“‘The exodus of indigenous residents and the loss of confidence in local Pingyao cultural traditions may be the single biggest threat to Pingyao today,’ says UNESCO’s Dr. Du Xiaofan. ‘There are threats that the Pingyao could become nothing but a city full of souvenir shops, restaurants and hotels,’ adds Tongji University’s Shao Yong.”  Sound familiar?

The N.O. Tourism and Marketing Corporation, and the N.O. Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Morial Convention Center would still like to increase the number of tourists present daily in our city from the current estimated 24,000 visitors per day to an average of 37,500 per day (an estimated 95% of whom would likely visit the French Quarter). There are concerns that this many visitors would likely have a detrimental impact on the quality of life for the residential population of the French Quarter and surrounding neighborhoods, resulting in a further decline in the number of full-time residents.

Pingyao’s master plan, however, calls for the implementation of a deliberate reduction in the number of full-time residents to enhance its appeal. What might happen as a mere consequence in the French Quarter (not as a result of our city’s master plan) is an acknowledged and planned course of action in Pingyao, who’s annual tourist influx is a mere one million — not the 13.7 million figure desired for our city, as prescribed by the Boston Consulting Group’s report of 2009.

In MADAME VIEUX CARRÉ by Scott S. Ellis, he references the French Quarter’s early preservationists (Saxon, Irby, Fields, etc.) with the following words:

“What cannot be overstated is that this first band of preservationists left a legacy that ultimately became the economic engine of New Orleans. Their influence was slow and sometimes faltering, and there were reverses along the way. But it was at the smoky, absinthe-informed parties of the 1920s Quarter ‘bohemians’ that the foundations for New Orleans’ modern tourist industry were laid. Long after most primary industry has fled, tourism, in many ways great and small, keeps the city ever so slightly above utter destitution. Most of the oil industry has decamped to Houston, but the hotels stay busy. The high-tech sector may roll its eyes when thinking of Orleans Parish, but the souvenir shops of Decatur Street still turn the goods to each new generation of tourists. This first band scraped a few sparkling shards of ‘charm’ from the gutter and exposed the mother lode of unique character that is New Orleans’, and the Vieux Carré’s, livelihood.”

Ellis’ contention that preservationists birthed the modern tourism industry makes absolute sense, but given the recent Hospitality Zone battle and the ongoing skirmishes between the city’s administration and neighborhood groups, the truly warped part is that it may have been this very impulse to protect and preserve that has sown the seeds for the cultural commodification and destruction of our city’s most cherished traditions and customs.

Lately it could be said that the voracious triplets (the Tourism & Marketing Corporation, the Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Morial Convention Center) seem to want to cannibalize their parent.

In the French Quarter, cast iron ornamentation, fence posts, and columns occasionally feature ornamental pineapples as part of their decorative motif, a Victorian era symbol of prosperity adopted by our city’s earliest French settlers. Much like Pingyao’s tortoise symbol and its relevance to that city’s current struggles, the preservation of our history and local culture desperately needs an infusion of prosperity in the form of community interest. It bears repeating: we are a community — not a commodity.

Please read the Atlantic’s article about Pingyao and consider the corollaries between this city and our own city’s French Quarter — might Pingyao be the Chinese Vieux Carré?: Can an Ancient Chinese City Pursue Preservation Without Disney-fication?

New Orleanians: If you’re not disgusted by the proposed Hospitality District, then you’re not paying attention

Louis Armstrong Park re-opening ceremony 11-18-11.

I’m writing this today because I had to make the choice to sacrifice enjoying “Locals Thursday” at Jazz Fest this year in favor of leaving town on a bus or as part of a car caravan destined for Baton Rouge. That fact only fuels my irritation with the disturbing mess that is also known as the proposed “New Orleans Hospitality Zone District.” Color me cranky as a result of this change in plans and please take a few minutes to read and think about this in consolation.

The current version of proposed bill LA SB 608 “Creates the New Orleans Hospitality Zone District” would create a new board to govern a proposed downtown “hospitality zone” (essentially bounded by the Mississippi River, the Pontchartrain Expressway, and Claiborne and Elysian Fields Avenues). While this seems like a reasonable idea (protecting the goose that lays the golden egg), the details of its execution are distinctly sub-optimal.

This proposed legislatively-empowered entity would have the capability to levy new taxes within the district relative to hotel rooms, restaurant and nightclub sales, and parking (but is not strictly limited to such kinds of taxation — it is possible that additional tax streams could be proposed by this entity). If I understand correctly, the taxing power would affect all hotels in the city, as well as food and beverage sales and parking within the hospitality zone’s boundaries. These new taxes would be paid by all who enjoy the fun and amusement that our incredible city offers within the hospitality zone — no one is exempt.

It would also expressly permit the following:

To acquire by gift, grant, purchase, or otherwise all property, including rights of way; to hold and use any franchise or property, real, personal, or mixed, tangible or intangible, or any interest therein, necessary or desirable for carrying out the objects and purposes of the district.
(Digest, pg. 7, LA SB 608).

Why would such be required to promote tourism within the hospitality zone, enhance public safety and sanitation services, or provide signage and lighting? Ah… Perhaps it would facilitate this stated purpose: “…to expand the entertainment and leisure activities and facilities within the hospitality zone.” This is the part of the bill that I refer to as ill-defined, over-reaching, and just plain dangerous.

The district’s board would be comprised of 11 to 17 appointees (different sources are presently reporting different tallies) from the city’s primary public and private tourism associations, as well as several individuals who would serve at the Mayor’s pleasure, all without set term limits. The majority of these individuals would almost certainly be closely tied to the Mayor, including the tourism industry representatives through his former Lieutenant Governor stint.

I ask, is cronyism not only possible — but perhaps inevitable? What could possibly go wrong with appointing friends and associates to positions of authority, perhaps without due consideration of their ability to serve both the tourism industry and the residential population with equal concern? There is nothing that can guarantee these appointees will also be committed to addressing the day-to-day needs of the impacted neighborhoods appropriately and completely. And while Mayor Landrieu is reportedly attempting to distance himself from this legislative action, the overall impact and intimacy created should reasonably inspire caution.

If the idea of creating special legislative districts was devised as a strategy to thwart abuses of power and public money in the Post-Katrina era, is this the best legislation our elected representatives can craft? Aren’t we supposed to be frowning upon endorsing classic New Orleans power grabs these days?

If this piece of legislation (as currently written) gets pushed through, the district’s “superboard” would be granted the authority to make policy decisions, as well as the power to levy taxes and issue bonds. Residents of the neighborhoods (in part or in whole) within the hospitality zone do not have a participatory role relative to this proposed board. At this time, affected neighborhoods include the Vieux Carré, the Faubourg Marigny’s Triangle, part of the Faubourg Tremé, part of St. Roch, the Central Business District, and the Warehouse District (as well as the already-existing legislative Downtown Development and French Quarter Management Districts). At least when matters go before the New Orleans City Council, residents have an opportunity to participate, object, and/or advocate — that could become non-existent with regard to this “superboard” (anything meaningful or impacting could simply happen behind closed doors). Transparency is not enhanced nor guaranteed in this privatization scheme… Where are the checks and balances?

As currently written, the tax revenue would be allocated without requiring input from or oversight by the New Orleans City Council. Monies generated would go to funding tourism advertising in general, as well as infrastructure enhancements within the hospitality zone’s boundaries solely at the discretion of this board. The citizens of the New Orleans do not get to vote to approve the creation of this Hospitality District, nor would they get to vote for the composition of its board, but will have the opportunity to vote on taxes levied on behalf of the Hospitality District. From my perspective, the independence of this non-elected board’s functioning amounts to taxation without representation and is unconscionable.

This also sets a precarious precedent and suggests that any proposed taxes will automatically be contentious — will this board be successful in raising one thin dime as a result? What happens if nothing put to vote passes successfully — will necessary infrastructure repairs continue to exist unaddressed? Will there be any expedient and equitable avenue for recourse? I’m guessing that this might be why LA SB 608 surprisingly allows for the Hospitality District “to sue and be sued.”

Is the city handing over responsibility for all such repairs and maintenance within the hospital zone, or just “special repairs?” If the responsibility is divided, won’t  finger-pointing of the “You fix it!”/”No, you fix it!” sort be the probable result? And if all repairs are, in fact, going to be the responsibility of the district, then aren’t the people with the audacity to live inside of the hospitality zone still being taxed like every other citizen in this city but receiving less service or benefit for what they’re paying? (Taxes collected would be going to the city regardless of whether or not the city is providing the services that would be customary outside of the hospitality zone.) For the residents of the affected neighborhoods, this could become an absolute nightmare.

Coco Robicheaux’s Second Line 12-12-11.

The map of the hospitality zone displayed at the one and only public meeting to date did not note a single proposed project to enhance the portion of Tremé neighborhood included in the hospitality zone’s boundaries (keeping in mind the traditional Faubourg Tremé boundaries that are historically identified as being Esplanade Avenue, North Rampart St., St. Louis St., and North Broad).  Likewise, the Faubourg Marigny’s Triangle did not seem to merit significant attention (with the exception of one “proposed”–  but not guaranteed — street/sidewalk repair work notation on Frenchmen Street), and the Marigny Rectangle (the other half of this historic neighborhood) is not included within the hospitality zone’s boundaries (excluding it from receiving any direct benefit).

Bear in mind that pretty proposal maps do not come with warranties — it’s purely conceptual at this stage in the game. There are streets in both of these neighborhoods that would benefit tremendously from re-paving and the repair of buckling sidewalks — what leverage would the residents of these neighborhoods have to get any non-proposed needs addressed? Where is the accountability to all who would be bounded by this proposed district (including the residential population)?

In 2011, subsequent to the NFL football season kick-off debacle, it was recommended to City Council by the Jackson Square Task Force that a special events coordinator position be created to prevent event-related train wrecks at the city’s administrative level… needless to say, such a position still does not exist. If we hand over the care and maintenance of the Hospitality District to the tourism industry without a direct means of oversight by the city (aside from the somehow catching the Mayor’s ear), can we really trust that this board will do any better, or that the city’s Administration won’t simply abdicate responsibility for more than what’s intended through this legislation? I’m frankly expecting that, if the city no longer has a role, we’ll have absurd events geared toward reeling in tourist bucks… Every. Single. Weekend.

In a recent letter regarding this issue, VCPORA President Carol Allen and French Quarter Citizens President Tom Bissell asked, “The fundamental question remains: Do we want the French Quarter to become a ‘hospitality zone’ with special taxation and its own non-elected, independent governing structure, most likely with a majority of seats being held by tourism interests?”

As a resident of the French Quarter, this is the epitome of the “Disneyfication” that everyone decries: handing over the heart of our amazing city to the tourism and hospitality industries on a silver platter in exchange for an alarming loss of process and control. It could impact the desirability of living within the boundaries of the Hospitality District negatively by further placing tourism concerns as a priority over and above the needs of the year-round, tax-paying residents. Please do not forget that it is this residential population in particular that makes these neighborhoods some of the most unique and distinct in the world.

To quote from Michelle Krupa’s 4/29/12 article in the Times-Picayune, “‘The proposed hospitality legislation raises a number of questions and issues,’ said Janet Howard of the watchdog Bureau of Governmental Research. She cited the imposition of a new district on top of existing ones, the ‘appropriateness of the proposed boundaries and governance,’ and provisions that would allow the board to authorize tax-increment financing districts and other sub-districts.” Krupa also notes, “…some residents and business owners, particularly those in the French Quarter, have expressed concerns. They say the board as envisioned is too powerful, too beholden to the Mayor and simply unnecessary.”

Mardi Gras Indians’ Super Sunday 3-18-12.

Just because the Convention Center board voted during March 2012 to contribute up to $30 million for refurbishing the Vieux Carré and a larger hospitality zone in advance of next year’s Super Bowl event on February 3, 2013 does not mean that vague and over-reaching legislation should be rushed through as an on-demand commodity in response to a proffered enticement. Where is the integrity in this process?

The proposed legislation is being drafted (and re-drafted) in a manner that does not allow time for proper discussion and review with all concerned parties participating equally;  that’s unacceptable, irresponsible, and careless. Do we really need a hastily-drafted and ill-defined legislative act to permit the tourism industry to spend this promised money for its own ultimate benefit if that “contribution” is meant to nurture the very parts of our city that this same industry has exploits? If the projected volume of desired annual visitors by 2018 to our city’s most visited historic areas is 13.7 million, why is legislation required to pay the dues for the anticipated and inevitable wear and tear?

Do we really need to subsidize the tourism industry on top of the taxes and donations snapped up by the Mayor’s own Office of Cultural Economy (and where does that money go, anyway)? While I can certainly understand the industry’s reluctance to allow these funds to flow into the city’s coffers via the General Fund, is this act of legislation really the best alternative?

I strongly encourage our elected representatives to go back to the drawing board in an attempt to solve the actual problem (how best to consistently care for one of Louisiana’s most valuable assets) instead of graciously opening the door to welcome new ones.  Added bureaucracy, increased confusion, and decreased citizen involvement are never components of a desirable outcome.

Please contact these Legislators before Thursday, 5/3/12 and let them know that we do NOT need a “superboard” or an ill-conceived and poorly executed “New Orleans Hospitality Zone District.” Please copy and paste these addresses into an e-mail you can send to the bill sponsors and committee members for this week:

murraye@legis.state.la.us, morrelljp@legis.state.la.us, morenoh@legis.state.la.us, wleger3@legershaw.com, dorseyy@legis.la.gov, tarverg@legis.la.gov, lasen15@legis.la.gov, cortezp@legis.la.gov, millsf@legis.la.gov, perryj@legis.la.gov, petersonk@legis.la.gov, info@vcpora.org

If you prefer to phone your opinion in, the Baton Rouge switchboard number is (225) 342-2040. Or you can visit our representatives’ local district offices.

Stay tuned, as LA SB 608 and other relevant bills can be amended… And we’re early in the game.

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5/1/12 Update: I am currently reviewing:

LA SB 473 Creates the New Orleans Hotel Tourism District, a political subdivision of the State of Louisiana“;

LA SB 573 “Creates the New Orleans Entertainment and Hospitality District“;

LA SB 588 “Authorizes the City of New Orleans to levy a hotel/motel tax”; and

LA SB 598 “Authorizes the City of New Orleans to levy a tax on food and beverages.”

It is my understanding that, if SB 608 (which creates the “New Orleans Hospitality Zone District”) passes on Thursday 5/3/12, these will be the mechanisms specifying exactly how the Hospitality District will operate. Their consideration is apparently contingent upon the passage of SB 608 (they cannot stand separate from the creation of the district itself).

New Orleans City Park Annual Spring Garden Show

My latest “holy grail” has me looking for French mulberry shrubs, also known as beauty berry, specifically the Callicarpa americana var. lactea or French mulberry white cultivar. For some bizarre reason which I cannot explain, all of the shrubs in my landscape have white blooms – I didn’t intentionally start out that way, but that’s the direction its headed. Plus french mulberry attracts birds and is very easily propagated despite their relatively short lifespan (8-10 years). I’ve been calling nurseries and searching websites, but this shrub described by Dan Gill in his Louisiana Gardener’s Guide has proven elusive. So I thought perhaps I could get more information or even find a vendor selling this plant at the City Park Garden Show this morning, and brought my camera along for the ride. 

The parking lot across from the Botanical Garden has been paved!

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One of the beautiful entry gates, by Enrique Alférez

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More sculptures by Mr. Alférez

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At the entrance to the botanical garden was a table where volunteers were offering Friends of City Park memberships

To the right of the entrance were sections where vendors were selling flowers, garden supplies and garden decorations

Boudreaux’s Woodworking Shop was there – I own one of his comfy porch rockers

Bonsai!!!

A pretty shadow box of flowers

There were children’s activity tents, and a section where volunteers with the Botanical Gardens were selling plants

Bromeliads and orchids were available for sale

LSU Ag Center was holding gardening discussions – this mornings presentation was on bee keeping, and there was a table where attendees could ask gardening questions and obtain a soil sample mailing for $10.00.

I then strolled around the gardens to take in the beauty…

The Rose Garden

Century plant

The cactus greenhouse

Tropical rain forest greenhouse

The butterfly garden

Still no luck on finding the white Callicarpa, but now I have a few more leads…wish me luck on my quest!