Art in Ruin; a K plus nine personal photo project

Art in Ruin is a new personal photography project by Laura Bergerol. It is timed to be ready by 8/29/14 (the ninth anniversary of Katrina making land in New Orleans.) My inspiration for this project began with a house that I noticed several weeks ago on Earhart Expressway, that was colorful and cheerful. When I went back to investigate, I realized that though the house was decaying, someone had painted wonderful things on it; and it looked as if it was ready to dance on Mardi Gras day. After I noticed the first house, I did more research and realized that there are many houses and buildings in New Orleans, that have also been “made beautiful” both by human hands, and by nature. When I went to photograph them, I realized that there was a “strong chance” that many of these houses will disappear into dust (some sooner than others) as their structures are less than stable, so the need to document them became more urgent. I suspect that this project may eventually expand to other cities, other than New Orleans, but for now, New Orleans gets my attention. I plan to offer a book of the photos, and all profits after cost will go to Animal Rescue New Orleans (www.animalrescueneworleans.org) who have been rescuing and finding homes for the dogs and cats of New Orleans since Katrina. Eventually, there will be a website (http://artinruin.org) but for now the photos live on my photography site; Art in Ruin and on the Art in Ruin Facebook page; Facebook page.

I have shared photos, but as this is a work in progress, be sure to check back. art in ruin art in ruin art in ruin art in ruin art in ruin art in ruin art in ruin art in ruin art in ruin art in ruin art in ruin art in ruin

Hot Reads 8/17/14

Another week has passed and another list of great reading to share with you. First up are three essays about New Orleans. Well, we can never get in enough reading about our city, now can we? One is about cocktails and culture, one has all the color and flair of the French Quarter and one of its legendary characters, and another features one woman’s unique way of coping after Katrina and how it changed her life. All three are wonderful in different ways.

Photo credit: Pableaux Johnson for The Bitter Southerner

Photo credit: Pableaux Johnson for The Bitter Southerner

First up, from The Bitter Southerner (an online journal I just love): “No.4″ in their Cocktail Series featuring SoBou bartender Abigail Gullo.
Favorite quote: “Steen’s Cane Syrup is such an integral part of my own life that I’ve often worried that eventually I’ll be drowned in a great wave of the sticky-sweet cane juice, preserved forever like a gluttonous bug in amber.”
Note: True dat! If you grew up in Louisiana or Mississippi and didn’t have Steen’s in the house, what was wrong with your family?

 

 

 

 

 

 

From The Oxford American: “The Chess King of Decatur Street”
Favorite Quote: “Acers pushed his plastic chair back, stood, and made a grand bow, sweeping his arm from high above his head to down around his ankles. “Dear sir,” he cried, “we shall not speak of things that cannot come to pass.””

Image Credit: Dadu Shin for The New York Times

Image Credit: Dadu Shin for The New York Times

From The New York Times: “What the Sparrows Told Me”
Favorite Quote: ” My father had been told that he had terminal cancer 40 days after Katrina. He didn’t know a Mugimaki flycatcher from a Hudsonian godwit. But during his last days he loved to watch the birds come to his feeders. If watching birds could help my father die, maybe it could help me live and teach.”
Note: I remember well the eerie quiet after the storm, the absence of birdsong. It was a sweet moment when I realized I was hearing the tweets of the first returned birds.

 

 

From Unclutterer blog: Modified Principals of Sanitary Design
Favorite quote: “This list may seem restrictive, but we have found when items do pass the test, they last longer, we use them more often, and we have very little mess to clean up afterwards.”
Note: Despite the dry, textbook title of this piece, it has some good ideas about what to take into consideration when you’re about to make a purchase. This was a timely article for me because lately I find myself thinking, “I wouldn’t have bought this if I’d realized what a chore it would be to keep clean”!

Photo Credit: Antoine Bruy

Photo Credit: Antoine Bruy

 

From HuffPo: “Photographer Documents The Men And Women Who Choose To Live Off The Grid”
Favorite quote: “These are, in some ways, spontaneous responses to the societies these men and women have left behind. This documentary project is an attempt to make a kind of contemporary tale and to give back a little bit of magic to our modern civilization.”

 

From Women Writers, Women’s Books: “5 Life Lessons From Women Writers”
Favorite Quote: “And finally, Maya Angelou, Pam Houston, and Amy Tan taught me that laughter, and in particular the ability to laugh at yourself and life’s absurdities, is key to moving from merely surviving to thriving.”

 

MILLENNIALS_COMBO-master495From The New York Times: “The Millennials Are Generation Nice”
Favorite Quote: “Taken together, these habits and tastes look less like narcissism than communalism. And its highest value isn’t self-promotion, but its opposite, empathy — an open-minded and -hearted connection to others.”
Note: This piece made me look at Millennials in a deeper way, as more than social media addicts and narcissists.

 

 

Our book list of the week comes from Bitch Media:  “Hot Off the Small Press”, “As summer is quickly coming to a close, take some time to bask in the sun and soak in a good book. Here are some short, sweet, stellar reads for the rest of August, all works are recent releases from independent publishers.”

And, finally, our poem of the week is “Long Gone and Never Coming Back” by Michael Gillian Maxwell on Literary Orphans.
Favorite Quote (rather,stanza):

“a soldier in fatigues, just back from deployment
tattoos on his knuckles, his face a mask
of sorrows and regrets”

Have a great reading week, y’all. Don’t forget to check in with our Hot Reads From NOLAFemmes.com Pinterest board.

The Hundred-Foot Journey: A Review

100footFood has the power to evoke memories and emotions. One bite or an elusive whiff can take you back to a certain place and time, to a feeling that resonates in your heart and gut. It can make you nostalgic. Biscuits do that for me. My MaMaw made the best biscuits I’ve ever tasted; big, perfectly round, a light golden brown with a texture so soft it melted on your tongue. They were perfection and I was mad about them. I’ve never had a biscuit that even came close to MaMaw’s. Now, they are only a memory but a powerful one that brings back Sunday dinner at her house with aunts and uncles and family friends eating around her bountiful table and visiting into the late afternoon. I miss it.

The Hundred-Foot Journey is all about food. The physical act of preparing and cooking it, the camaraderie and competition and the love that goes into it. It’s about family and tradition and the  mix of cultures, the teaching and learning and the sharing of those cultures. It’s about how food can grab a hold on your heart (as well as your belly!) and never let go.

Emilie and I attended a pre-release viewing of this film courtesy of The Commanders Family of Restaurants with Chef Tory at The Theatres at Canal Place. I already knew I wanted to see it so I was excited to be invited. It was everything I’d hoped it would be. The cinematography was fantastic from the vibrant colors and textures of India to the sweeping pastoral views of the French countryside to the tantalizing food itself. The food is so integral to this movie it almost eclipses the story of the people who cook it. My mouth watered at the Beef Bourguinon a la Hassan to the Tandoori Chicken (those recipes and more below!) and all the other delectable dishes in between. It made me crave Indian food. It made me want to go to India and France. I’m not a Foodie so I can’t speak to the technical aspects of the food preparation and presentation but as just someone who likes to eat, it was all five star to me! I especially enjoyed the vegetable chopping scene – it was fun to watch.

I felt all the characters were cast perfectly. Helen Mirren (one of my favorite actors) plays an impeccable French matron (to this American). Not only was her accent convincing, her persona exuded French, to me. Her manner of speaking, how she held her body, her fashion style and even her hair all convinced me she was French. The other actors, too, were so convincing I imagined they were exactly who they portrayed.

I’m not going into the particulars of the story since I’m sure most everyone has seen the trailer. (Here it is, if you haven’t.) What I will say is that it was so refreshing to watch a genuinely enjoyable movie with a sweet story that didn’t have a high speed car chase, things exploding, super-heroes or dysfunctional families. It was just a good, solid story that made you laugh, cry, and forget the outside world for a while. That’s something that’s getting more rare every day. The film opens today. Go see it!

Visit the official website for more about the storyline, the characters, and photos.

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Hot Reads

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Pinterest. I think there are a lot of people out there who think Pinterest is for housewives to post recipes and baby stuff but it’s so much more! The idea of a virtual bulletin board is so much fun and that’s what Pinterest is. There’s so much I run across on the internet that I want to keep. In the past I’ve used Delicious and Instapaper which are good sites in their own way but I rarely went back to look for anything I kept there. I don’t use them anymore because I’ve started using Pocket where I’ve been very diligent about proper and useful tagging so I can find something when I want it. So far, so good. But the thing I love about Pinterest is the dominant visual aspect of it which makes it so easy to find stuff. I’m a very visual person and Pinterest is perfect for cataloging the gorgeous photography and art that I love, for giving me the push to try that new recipe (yes!) that I saved that looks so damn good. (See previous post!) It’s great for so many things and now I’ve started a new board which is what this post is about.

On my personal Pinterest account I’ve started a “Hot Reads From NOLAFemmes.com” board. I’ve been keeping articles from the internet that grab me on Pocket since I opened the account but I really like, again, the visual aspect of Pinterest that helps to pique your attention. These are pieces I want to share with our readers so I hope you’ll follow and enjoy the board. I also plan to try to post my Hot Reads here every week (or so) with a link to the board.

So what were my Hot Reads last week? I thought you’d never ask!

hotreads11. From Mother Jones, “Lidia Yuknavitch Flicks Off Frued.
Tagline: An irreverent remake of a renowned case, the new novel “Dora: a Headcase” delivers a gritty take on girlhood.
My favorite quote: “I want to create new girl myths,” she says of Dora. “Instead of always talking about how women struggle in the face of certain models, what if we spent more energy highlighting all these great other possible girl-paths, and turned away from the dominant culture?”

2. The Wall Street Journal: “Maggie Gyllenhaal on The Honorable Woman.”hotreads2
Tagline: Just as war in Israel and Gaza fills the news, a drama on SundanceTV explores the region’s turmoil.
My favorite quote: “Behind my intention in making this is compassion and, maybe it’s naive, a belief in the possibility of reconciliation, which our show never takes off the table.”
Note: I watched the premiere of this series and it’s looking really promising.

3. From The New York Times, “Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminism.”
Tagline: The author speaks with Jessica Gross about her favorite definition of feminism, ‘‘Sweet Valley High’’ and the fetishization of bad writing.hotreads3
My favorite quote: “I think that narrative is a fetish among faculty, not a reality. They fetishize the idea of bad writing, and they are more interested in the lore of bitching about students’ writing than they are in actually evaluating students’ writing as it is.”
Note: Gay’s Bad Feminist comes out this week and I can’t wait to get my pre-ordered copy!

4. From HuffPo, 8 Great New Books By Women You Should Definitely Readhotreads4
Every Hot Reads list has to have a book list and this is the one that intrigues me the most.
Maddie Crum begins by saying, “2014 has been deemed the Year of Reading Women. I wholeheartedly support this movement; after all, only diminutive steps have been made towards gender parity in the literary world since the institution of VIDA’s annual book review count (with the notable exception of the New York Times book review, which bounded towards equal coverage in just one year).”
I say, Yep! Read women! And follow the Twitter feed.

hotreads55. From Brain Pickings, Vacation Sex: A Poem by Dorianne Laux
Every Hot Reads list MUST include a great poem and this is a great poem and a great way to end the list. The piece includes text and video and, damn, who doesn’t want to read about vacation sex?

Wednesday Wonders From Around the Web

Strange-beautiful-cool things I’ve found on the internet.

Photos of girls and women, known as Ama, harvesting seaweed, oysters and abalone in 1950’s coastal Japan. They dove for up to 4 minutes on a single deep breath three times a day, warming themselves at beach fires in between dives. This 2000 year old tradition ceased in the 1960’s. Photos were taken by Iwase Yoshiyki.  Read more here

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P6 Ama with SeaweedPortland photographer LANAKILA MACNAUGHTON is the creator of The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibition.  “The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibition documents the new wave of modern female motorcyclists. The goal is to reveal the brave, courageous and beautiful women that live to ride.” I chose a few of the photos that I particularly liked – the ones that looked like real women really riding instead of just posing – but you can see more here.

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motogrls2

We all know many magazine covers and ads photoshop the models. I mean, c’mon, no one is that perfect. I came across this video time lapse of a model’s photo being photoshopped. She starts out looking like a normal woman and ends up an adolescent boy’s someone’s  idea of a fantasy Barbie.  She looks like If she moved, she’d crack.

Happy #NOLA Friday!

Leah Chase & Charlotte at Dooky Chase ~ Photo by Anita Mital

Leah Chase & Charlotte at Dooky Chase ~ Photo by Anita Mital

Last Holy Thursday I met up with a great group of friends (and met some new ones! ) at Dooky Chase for some delicious fried chicken and the traditional Gumbo Z’Herbs. It was a great time and the powdered sugar on the beignet was meeting Ms Leah, something I’d always wanted to do. What a gracious lady she is and one of New Orleans irreplaceable treasures!

Flags Over New Orleans Welcome HH The Dalai Lama

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Twelve various and sundry flags have flown over our beautiful city for a variety of reasons including governmental and social. The last two weeks have added yet another, prayer flags welcoming His Holiness The Dalai Lama to New Orleans May 16-18.

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Public talks by His Holiness have long been sold out but you can still enjoy the Tibetan culture by visiting the Tibetan Bazaar at the Morial Convention Center through Friday. The bazaar will feature a closing procession of the sand mandala that is currently being assembled by the Drepung Loseling Monks.

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You may also listen to the Dalai Lama’s public talks listed below via live stream here.

  • Friday, May 17, 1:30pm – 4:00pm
    Strength Through Compassion
  • Saturday, May 18, 1:00pm – 4:00pm
    Strength Through Connection

Community viewing locations include the following:

Friday Talk Only:

The above photos courtesy of Christopher Lorenzen.
For more photos of local homes flying Prayer Flags, visit The New Orleans Healing Center’s FaceBook Page.

Her James

Nearly four years ago, a young boy by the name of Jeremy Galmon was shot and killed after a second line had passed by, a casualty of people using bullets to settle arguments.

The fundraising for Jeremy’s family was held only a few blocks from my home, sponsored by members of the community and by Young Men of Olympia Social & Pleasure Club, who had sponsored the parade on the day that the boy was caught in the crossfire. The city was in an uproar over this latest victim of gun violence here, and the finger-pointing at the parade as a cause of the violence was happening in too much earnest. Casting blame on the second-line was far too easy to do at the time, but the bands were out in force, and people were driving by the Goodwork Network to give funding to the Galmon family and to deliver the message that second-lining was not a cause, but strove to be a solution in a number of ways. It was there that I met Deborah Cotton for the first time, working right alongside the organizers, enjoying the Baby Boyz Brass Band, the Roots of Music in one of its earliest incarnations, and assisting with style and grace.

I knew the name from her book Notes From New Orleans, which was one of the first post-8/29/2005 chronicles I’d read – I feel to this day that it is still unjustly overlooked as a smart, occasionally sassy, and heartfelt window into that time. I then found that she was contributing to Nola.com under the name Big Red Cotton via a blog there entitled Notes On New Orleans (I wonder where that title came from?), where her amazing voice and perspective jumped off the web browser and stood out among all that hot mess. She’d made it a point to immerse herself in the second line culture and invited me out to do so sometime.

I’ll tell everyone a secret: for quite a while, I wanted to write like Deb. Her frankness about how many people were on some sort of antidepressant to deal with the aftermath of the levee breaches helped make me bolder about admitting that I was on them and will most likely be on them for the rest of my life. There’s one post of mine that’s directly inspired by her examples: a multimedia account of a visit to another fundraiser, the Dinerral Shavers Educational Fund, filled with brass bands, love, laughter, and even some “Halftime,” anticipating the Saints’ Super Bowl win later that same month. I was happy to see her posting at the Gambit’s Blog of New Orleans, and touted her extensive online archive of second line YouTubes when I could.

Life gets crazy, and 2010 flew by, then 2011, 2012. I saw Deb again at a Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities program, then at Rising Tide 6, but I wasn’t able to take advantage of that opportunity to dance with her as she took in another of the second lines she so loved. Once I heard she was among the 19 shot by someone lying in wait for the procession to come by this past Sunday, my heart was in my throat. She’d worked so hard for so many years to show that this was a welcoming part of New Orleans culture, and one kid with a gun had struck that down, taking her with it…

She and a few others are still recovering from their injuries. The suspect(s) in the shooting is(are) still at large. And, for whatever reason, I find myself thinking about James.

James is no one specific. In Notes From New Orleans, Deb wrote about wanting a James to come along, and referred to him in one of her most recent tweets. James isn’t someone who can come and take her away from it all completely, but he can certainly make it all bearable for quite a while. James will know just what makes Deb tick, and will respond to her in all the right ways when she’s low, bringing her out of whatever doldrums she’s in. James is a supportive, seductive dream of a black man who hasn’t arrived in her life…but I wonder…

New Orleans may not have been perfect, and it may have lashed out at her, but it has sustained her all these years. She’s believed in it for so long, worked so hard for it, that I couldn’t help but think that one of the greatest tributes to her toils was Ronal Serpas making the point that the second line was not to blame for the shootings – and most everyone agreeing with that assessment. Jeffrey the yaller blogger is correct in saying “no one has done more to cover and celebrate this generation of NOLA street culture.” Deb treated it so well that if it were a person, I’m sure it would be a James.

It’s now time for us all to do what a James would do – support Deb and those others hurt in the shootings.

The Gambit is working with the Tipitina’s Foundation on a fundraiser for them all. Go here and stay alert for further details.

Deb kick-started New Orleans Good Good shortly before Sunday’s parade. Sign up for updates on her condition and details on fundraising. It would also be great, if you are in a position to do so, to sponsor some advertising on the site and keep her work going.

A blood drive effort for shooting victims is being scheduled for May 22, from 2-7 PM. At least 25 donors are needed for the blood drive. Contact meglousteau@gmail.com for further details and to volunteer.

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Cross-posted at Humid City

Screw You, Times-Picayune Subscriber!

It comes to this for the “can’t get its act together digitally OR dead-tree-wise” New Orleans Times-Picayune. Something – perhaps a prodigious drop in subscriptions? – has compelled the management of the T-P to make this move:

After slashing its newspaper printing to three days a week in late 2012, the Times-Picayune is beefing up its printing, according to a post the paper’s website Nola.com.

Part of the new printing plan is a new publication, TPStreet, a three-day a week paper “focusing on breaking news, sports and entertainment,” which “will appear in a tab-size format, publishing on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said Jim Amoss, editor for the Times-Picayune, in the Nola.com article.

TPStreet will cost 75 cents and only be available for street sale in the metro area, as opposed to home delivery. The paper will continue to only offer home delivery on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Further details on this latest development say that the subscribers will get an e-edition of TPStreet rather than having the paper delivered to their door – which means Newhouse Publications/NOLA Media Group still only has to pay door-to-door delivery people for 3 days/week deliveries. From NOLA Media’s end, it’s giving the people what they want and only paper cutting themselves a little in the process. (Well, not everything T-P readers want. There’s still no Saturday edition…)

From the still-hanging-on-by-their-ink-stained-fingers subscribers, though? This is still a big “screw you.” The NOLA.com website is still no paragon of navigation. It remains to be seen how prominently the TPStreet e-edition will be featured on the NOLA.com page, or how easy it will be to find the news on it. And nothing has been done about the cesspools that are the NOLA.com comment sections.

If this is NOLA Media Group responding to the public and to pressure from the competition The Advocate has presented, I’d say they need to go back to the presses. This is not a move that inspires confidence in the robustness of their product – in fact, it smacks of desperation. And a huge middle finger pointed in the direction of the people who willingly give them funding for an inferior product.

It’s sad, and it’s no better than Scott Thompson of The Kids In The Hall in the above sketch declaring he wants the right to masturbate in public. Enough of this dicking us around, T-P.

Update, 9:59 PM: Seems that millionaire and wannabe Louisiana politician John Georges has finally bought The Advocate and has installed two former T-P editors as key staffers. Is it merely coincidental that NOLA Media Group announces TPStreet on the same day as this development is made public? All I know is that New Orleans’ newspaper wars are fast headed to 451°…