“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV, Ep. 20: Peter Holsapple, Sideshow, and Sacred Music

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Saturday show covered a lot of cool things going on in New Orleans over the next few days, including one that started Friday night, two at Café Istanbul, and one that might make your Blue Monday a little less blue. That said, we welcomed:

Mistress Kali of Freaksheaux to Geaux and Tommy Breen of World of Wonders to discussed her third annual event, the Southern Sideshow Hootenanny, which kicked off last night at Café Istanbul and continues through Sunday.

We also welcomed Sean Johnson of Wild Lotus Yoga and co-founder of the 6th Annual New Orleans Sacred Music Festival, which takes over Café Istanbul and other parts of the New Orleans Healing Center on Saturday.

Also finally, legendary singer-songwriter Peter Holsapple discussed a career that includes incredible work in the db’s and New Orleans’ own Continental Drifters as well as collaborations with R.E.M. and Hootie & the Blowfish. Peter Holsapple plays his first solo show in New Orleans in over a decade when he performs Monday night (March 13) at Chickie Wah Wah.

SEGMENT ONE: Mistress Kali and Tommy Breen
Mistress Kali has spent several years in the nation’s sideshow scene, producing shows that feature fire-breathing, sword-swallowing, knife-throwing, human blockhead and other feats of human strength and general craziness. New Orleans has a history of sideshow performer, and the sub-culture has enjoyed an ebb-and-flow kind of existence over the decades but currently seems in ascendance.

Mistress Kali’s been at the forefront of this scene here in New Orleans, producing such regular events as Freaksheaux to Geaux and “Storyville Rising,” but especially her third annual Southern Sideshow Hootenanny, a three-day affair at Café Istanbul. Along with celebrating the great American art form of sideshow, the Hootenanny fosters growth in the community and among individual performers through workshops, panels, peer review, and one-on-one consultations with some of the top performers and producers. It also seeks to educate the general public about sideshow, its history, and traditions.

This year’s event will also serve as a tribute to legendary Ward Hall. Several of the performers will come from the popular “10 in 1” touring sideshow troupe World of Wonders, and so I met with Kali and World of Wonders partner and manager Tommy Breen down at Café Istanbul as they prepared for Friday’s opening.

SEGMENT NO. 2: 6th Annual Sacred Music Festival
So, I had this idea: to conduct a brief interview with Wild Lotus Yoga’s Sean Johnson about the 6th Annual New Orleans Sacred Music Festival, which runs today from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., at the New Orleans Healing Center. (Johnson co-founded the festival along with Sallie Ann Glassman.) And then Johnson would perform a tune from the Wild Lotus Band’s 2014 CD, “Unity.” But the full band wasn’t yet available, and so Johnson did the next best thing, and gathered a about 10 friends in a semi-circle to help lend their voices to a song that Johnson says is tailor-made for a call-and-response engagement with the audience on Saturday.

The New Orleans Sacred Music Festival spans the spectrum of the city’s spiritual communities, with nods towards Western Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Japanese drumming and much more. There also will be rituals, art and altars, crafts, food, prayers, and workshops, according to its Facebook event page. The producers noted that the festival is in its second year without charging an admission fee, thanks to underwriting support from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, Call and Response Foundation and Wild Lotus Yoga.

Sean Johnson’s passion for music ranges from a deep appreciation for the transcendental power of rock, Irish folk music, Indian and Sufi devotional music. He’s been leading kirtan for the last seventeen years. His voice is equally influenced by his roots in New Orleans, vocal exploration of his ancestral Irish heritage, as well as study in Indian vocal music and love of the path of bhakti yoga– the yoga of the heart.

Meeting me to discuss the festival was, along with Sean Johnson, Brandon Curran, Marketing Manager and Events Coordinator for The New Orleans Healing Center Brandon oversees all events, services, classes and workshops at The New Orleans Healing Center. He strives to use the community to lead the direction of the various services, events and offerings of the Healing Center.

Here’s our discussion, and their performance, at Wild Lotus Yoga.

SEGMENT THREE: Relevant Link
Last week’s Relevant Link was to a story about a controversy brewing from the appearance of Tales of the Cocktail founder Ann Tuennerman after she recorded, and commented on, a Facebook Live video of herself and her husband, Paul, costuming and riding in the Krewe of Zulu parade on Mardi Gras. In accordance with Zulu costume, this included wearing a form of blackface makeup that’s distinct for Zulu tradition. However, a comment by Paul, and repeated by Ann, drew a fierce backlash on social media, which included an exchange with a recently transplanted bartender from Chicago that led to a Facebook Live exchange all its own in which the two discussed the controversy itself as well as issues surrounding race, privilege and consciousness.

I watched the entire exchange on Facebook, after the fact, and I have to say, it’s a fascinating hour on so many levels. I’m not sure if there are any plans to post the video to an even more public site like YouTube, although anyone connected to the two participants on Facebook can download and upload it accordingly.

And then what caught my eye was a column in the news website, The Lens. The column, titled “Behind the Zulu blackface flap: liberal guilt, clueless outsiders,” contributing writer C.W. Cannon uses his participation in the Krewe du Vieux parade as a way to consider issues of cultural subversion, transgression and expropriation and argue that many people got what Tuennerman did, and said, wrong on many levels. That includes, I should point out, her husband Paul’s key comment, “Throw a little Black Face on you and you lose all your Media Skills” — which, when discussed out of context, is obviously a problematic comment. Cannon writes:

“To me, Paul Tuennerman’s comment is a critique of media, not a critique of blackness. It suggests his awareness that certain forms of expression are so explosive that they can’t be digested at all by national media, with its inability to process the ironies and inversions of carnival expression. It shows his well-founded fear that the frightened and dishonest world of America’s ‘conversation about race’ is likely to cry ‘racism’ whenever it sees an image that might be racist in some other, very different context.”

An objective observer might suggest that Cannon, who I believe is white, can offer this perspective from his own particular vantage point, while others might come to it from another place in which blacks historically have had their intellectual capabilities called into question as one of several forms of oppression and subjugation.

Regardless, Cannon’s column and Facebook Live video exchange between Ann Tuennerman and the bartender offer two fascinating and compelling elements of a dialogue about race, culture and history in New Orleans.

Read the article here.

Oh, and, apparently the Confederate monuments are coming down. What a week!

SEGMENT FOUR: Peter Holsapple flies solo Monday at Chickie Wah Wah
Our next guest could be called a legend you might not have heard of, but you’ve certain heard at least a little bit of his music. Singer-songwriter Peter Holsapple was a founding member of ‘80s indie-rock band the db’s, and later became a founding member of the roots rock band the Continental Drifters that, after setting up in New Orleans, featured Susan Cowsill as well as Vicki Peterson of the Bangles. Along the way, Holsapple served as a sideman with R.E.M., and more recently has performed with Hootie and the Blowfish, both as a keyboardist. The db’s and the Continental Drifters were critically praised bands who never seemed to get the commercial success they deserved, and now, at age 61, Holsapple — who left New Orleans for Durham, N.C., after Hurricane Katrina — is content to focus on his solo efforts. That leads us to his Monday night appearance at Chickie Wah Wah, in which he’ll offer a little overview of his work but also preview some of his most recent solo efforts, including the haunting single, “Don’t Mention the War.”

I spoke with Holsapple by phone while he was still at his home in Durham, where he juggles his projects with his life as a husband and father.

AND IN CLOSING …
Before closing Saturday’s show, I noted that, this is our 20th episode, which means we’ve been doing this for five months. Wow. So, in order to shake things up and maybe even snag a few more ears, we’re going to be moving to Friday afternoon at 12 p.m. That means our show will precede the freakishly popular “Eat, Pray, Fight” hosted by the illegally talented Chris Lane. I should also note our show will soon follow something else that’s pretty cool, so please stay tuned for more news on that front.

It’s been great doing the show on Saturdays, especially to help get folks excited about the show that follows, “La Chancla NOLA” with the very cool Mid-City Martha. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to pop back in and say hi from time to time over the weekend. So farewell, for now, from Saturday, and please tune in to “PopSmart NOLA” at its new time: Fridays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. starting this week!

So that was our show for this week. Stay tuned for info on next Friday’s episode; I’ll give details about later in the week.

I want to remind everyone that if you like what you hear on “PopSmart NOLA,” we’re here every Saturday from 3-4 p.m. on WHIV (102.3 FM). You can listen to the archived, podcast version of the show on my SoundCloud account, “dlsnola.” Also, you can visit the website at popsmartnola.com, and like our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Instagram at “@popsmartnola” and I’m yammering away as always on Twitter at @dlsnola504.

Also, if you like our show, we’d love your support in the form of underwriting; email me at dlsnola@gmail.com for more info.

Our theme music is “Summertime” by Robin Mitchell.

We closed the show with Peter Holsapple’s single, “Don’t Mention the War.”

Thanks again for joining us, y’all. For “PopSmart NOLA,” I’m David Lee Simmons, reminding everyone to keep the intelligent discussion going.

PODCAST: Sean Johnson performs “I Will Rise Again” as Wild Lotus Band gears up for 6th Annual New Orleans Sacred Music Festival

Wild Lotus Band

6TH ANNUAL NEW ORLEANS SACRED MUSIC FESTIVAL
WHAT: Nearly 20 artists performing a range of spiritual music, with additional activities
WHEN: Sat. (March 11), 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
WHERE: New Orleans Healing Center, 2372 St. Claude Ave.
ADMISSION: Free
MORE INFO: Visit Facebook event page

The idea was to conduct a brief interview with Wild Lotus Yoga’s Sean Johnson about the 6th Annual New Orleans Sacred Music Festival on Saturday (March 11) at the New Orleans Healing Center. (Johnson co-founded the festival along with Sallie Ann Glassman.) And then Johnson would perform a tune from the Wild Lotus Band’s 2014 CD, “Unity.” But then full band wasn’t yet available, and so Johnson did the next best thing, and gathered a bunch of about 10 friends in a semi-circle to help lend their voices to a song that Johnson says is tailor-made for a call-and-response engagement with the audience on Saturday.

The song, “I Will Rise Again,” which Johnson wrote in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, includes an invocation of the Hindu mantra, “Om Namah Shivaya,” which, Johnson noted, speaks to the power of transformation. Recording the rehearsed version of the song was so fun, the moment so peaceful, it felt more appropriate to focus the podcast interview planned for Saturday’s episode of “PopSmart NOLA” (3 p.m.-4 p.m., WHIV 102.3 FM) on the song alone and how it spoke to some of the “volunteer” singers in the semi-circle.

Johnson also spoke to the song’s potential, as well as that of the festival itself, with some additional insight from some of the volunteer singers and festival co-coordinator Brandon Curran.

“It’s intentionally participatory,” Johnson explained. “And whenever we play, the whole room is a choir. … There’s so much freedom for folks to just really connect to their own heart and sing from that place.”

The New Orleans Sacred Music Festival spans the spectrum of the city’s spiritual communities, with nods towards Western Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Japanese drumming and much more. Check out the lineup below. There also will be rituals, art and altars, crafts, food, prayers, and workshops, according to its Facebook event page. Curran noted that the festival is in its second year without charging an admission fee, thanks to underwriting support from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, Call and Response Foundation and Wild Lotus Yoga.

LINEUP
*Deacon John Moore Spirituals
*Mantra Rock with Sean Johnson And The Wild Lotus Band
*Rasta Reggae by Ben Hunter
*Vodou Ceremony with La Source Ancienne
*Tibetan Buddhist Chants and Dance by Tsering Phuntsok
*Japanese Taiko Drumming by Mayumi Shara & MaDeTo with James Singleton
*Big Chief Gerald Page and the Great Spirit Warriors Black Masking Indians
*Poetry with Chuck Perkins and Claudia Copeland
*Jewish Cantorial singing by Enzo Ashar
*African drumming with the Djakpa Ewe Ensemble
*Moroccan Gnawa music
*M’uu T’uu Pueblo Indian Hoop Dancers
*Tarantella Dance with Alessandra Belloni
*Storytelling with Kalpana
*Liturgical Dance with the Chosen Vessels Dance and Performing Arts, INC
*Hip Hop with Sonny D
*Muslim Call to Prayer
*Hindu Fire Sacrifice with Yogindra Vandana Dasa
And more!

Hosts include;
*Kelly Osbourne
*Morgan Molthrop
*Rockin’ Ron Phillips

Remembering Robert Osborne, host of Turner Classic Movies, dead at 84

robertosborne_678x230_article_page_treatment_030920111059One of my favorite assignments while A&E editor at Creative Loafing in Atlanta was taking the opportunity in 2008 to profile Turner Classic Movies’ host Robert Osborne at a time when the Turner property was undergoing a corporate sea change. It was the kind of corporate makeover that lots of people who follow the entertainment industry are all too familiar, but it was happening in Atlanta, far from the hubs of New York City and Los Angeles, and where for years TCM was allowed mostly to operate on its own and create a fun, unique, entertaining and yes, informative cable movie channel.

Robert Osborne was its public face, himself a walking library of Hollywood history. (I’ve got my copy of his “75 Years of Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards” coffee table book to prove it; the book is so thick it once served as my son’s booster seat at the dinner table.) Osborne is the kind of person you want to use the word “class” to describe but you know it sounds un-classy to use it. But he exuded a certain kind of sophistication that continually reminded you of his passion for culture, popular or otherwise. And he believed in the magic of movies and the importance of remembering its history.

As those who have noted Monday (March 6) on his passing, at age 84, that Robert Osborne was Turner Classic Movies. He was sophisticated, yes, but also humble about his rise in a fiercely competitive industry. He made his own curious niche and had become a survivor of sorts. As I noted in that profile:

Robert Osborne is the last of a dying breed, a once-aspiring actor who turned into a Hollywood insider and historian — an authority but a friend, a public face revered in private. He’s always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, and if luck is when preparation meets opportunity, Osborne has prepared with the charm and knowledge to move up in a business swimming with sharks. He talks about his career like he does movies, never making a cinematic reference without context. He mentions his Seattle stage work after graduating from the University of Washington with a journalism degree and recalls landing a role in a 1958 production: “The actor I was doing the play with was Jane Darwell, who’d won the Academy Award for playing Henry Fonda’s mother in ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ And she said, ‘You should come to California.’ I could stay at her family’s house, and I had some friends there.’”

Toward the end of the profile, which pondered how long an evolving network obsessed with demographics would keep such an elderly public face, Osborne was philosophical — this, nine years before his passing:

Even out of makeup, he could pass for 65, lines and all. He seems to pace himself in everything he does or says. ‘I would love to keep doing it as long as it’s still viable for Turner,’ Osborne says. ‘There obviously will come an age when you’re too old to be doing it, I guess, but I’d love to keep doing it. I feel good, and I love the people I work with. And I love this product.’”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go pop in a black-and-white movie.

 

“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV, Ep. 19: Nick Stillman (ACNO), James William Boyd (LPO) and Gene Meneray (The Ella Project) on federal funding for the arts

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For the March 4, 2017, episode of “PopSmart NOLA,” we decided to focus entirely on one subject: funding for the arts. It will hopefully be the first of several conversations about the subject, as it appears that, among many other things, funding cuts loom on the horizon thanks to early signals from the new Trump administration and the Republican-led Congress.

No sooner did Donald Trump get sworn in as the 45th president of the United States that a story published by The Hill suggested the administration with the help of Congress begin the downsizing or elimination of funding for the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Endowment of the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Soon after supporters of the Arts Council of New Orleans received an email noting this possible action, and calling for a push-back, and it included a series of steps in alliance with Americans for the Arts Action Fund. Here to discuss the situation, our guests:

Nick Stillman is president and CEO of the Arts Council New Orleans. He has served as the Visiting Critic of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of New Orleans. Prior to that, he was Managing Editor of BOMB magazine in New York. Between 2006-2007, Stillman curated eight exhibitions at PS1 Institute of Contemporary Art in New York, including the debut museum solo shows by Kalup Linzy, Amy Granat, and Joe Bradley as a member of the museum’s initial cohort of Curatorial Advisors. Stillman is also active as an art critic, regularly contributing to Artforum, Pelican Bomb, and several other publications. Arts Council New Orleans is a private, multidisciplinary, nonprofit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council’s mission is to support arts and culture and demonstrate how they transform communities.

James William Boyd. Chief Executive Officer with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) since July 2012, Boyd has enjoyed a varied career as an administrator, performer, and educator. Prior to his engagement with the LPO, Boyd was Director of Artistic Planning and Production with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Hallmarks from Boyd’s time in Tucson include a special program in celebration of the State of Arizona’s centennial, featuring a photo-choreographed version of the Grand Canyon Suite by James Westwater (a co-commission with the Phoenix Symphony) as well as the stabilization and expansion of the orchestra’s primary symphonic and chamber orchestra series.

And finally, Gene Meneray, co-founder of The Ella Project, a statewide arts business and legal pro bono program that serves artists, musicians, and grassroots nonprofits. He is also Director of the Louisiana Crafts Guild, and serves as Chair of Louisiana Citizens for the Arts, the state’s arts advocacy organization, and is Louisiana’s state captain with Americans for the Arts State Arts Action Network.

RELEVANT LINK
And also, each week I take an interesting read I found that’s worth sharing with listeners, and found one at the 1tth hour, so speak. While there’s a lot to unpack from this Carnival season, one of the most fascinating aspects flared up when word came Friday that the chief business officer for Tales of the Cocktail was resigning over a comment he apparently made during a Facebook Live video taken during the Zulu parade on Fat Tuesday.

Paul Tuennerman is the wife of Ann Tuennerman, executive director of Tales of the Cocktail, an annual trade convention about all things spirits. While “interviewing” his wife, who is white and who, adhering to Zulu tradition, was wearing blackface, made a comment about how wearing blackface apparently hindered her speaking skills. The combination of Ann Tuennerman wearing blackface and the comment by her husband set off a social media firestorm this past week, leading first to an apology by Ann and the resignation announcement by Paul.

You can read more about it in an article by New Orleans Advocate food writer Ian McNulty. Apparently no one has asked Zulu itself for a comment, though I did make that request via email last night and will check in by phone with their rep over this weekend.

Ann Tuennerman will apparently return to Facebook Live on Monday in a discussion with an African-American bartender who criticized her actions. I’ll have more on that on Sunday. Until then, I’d encourage discussion about all of this, but with the focus of the discussion being generated by the communities, cultures and organizations that created Zulu in the first place. It’s great that people are talking about this, but without the people of color at its center driving the conversation or being at the heart of it, it rings a little hollow.

I want to remind everyone that if you like what you hear on “PopSmart NOLA,” we’re here every Saturday from 3-4 p.m. on WHIV (102.3 FM). You can listen to the archived, podcast version of the show on my SoundCloud account, “dlsnola.” Also, you can visit the website at popsmartnola.com, and like our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Instagram at “@popsmartnola” and I’m yammering away on Twitter at @dlsnola504.

Also, if you like our show, we’d love your support in the form of underwriting; email me at dlsnola@gmail.com for more info.

Thanks again for joining us, y’all. For “PopSmart NOLA,” I’m David Lee Simmons, reminding everyone to keep the intelligent discussion going.

ADDITIONAL LINKS
David Boas on “Separation of Art and State” (Cato Institute)

Ian McNulty on Ann and Paul Teunnerman and Tales of the Cocktail (New Orleans Advocate)

Trump reportedly wants to cut cultural programs that make up 0.02 percent of federal spending (Washington Post)

Trump team prepares dramatic cuts (The Hill)

Arts Council of New Orleans helps national arts organization sound call to fight potential funding cuts under Trump Administration (PopSmart NOLA)

Krewe of Zulu parade: Before, during and after, all along the avenues (photos)

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Watching the Krewe of Zulu along Orleans Avenue is a study in New Orleans street culture, complete with huge crowds gathering on the streets, along the sidewalks, and up on porches while barbecue pits billow with smoke and speakers blast with music to help along the marching bands that are dotted along the parade.

I had the honor and privilege of helping to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Bunch Club, many of whom are in Zulu, and I also got to interview the Zulu king and queen — both for the New Orleans Advocate. Here are visual highlights the corner of Orleans Avenue and Miro Street, and trots along Esplanade and Claiborne avenues.

Krewe of Endymion parade sets off from Mid-City (photos)

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What started out as a typically crazy and out-sized Krewe of Endymion parade became a sad night of pain for many parade-goers when a driver plowed into the route at the corner of Carrollton and Orleans avenues in Mid-City on Saturday (Feb. 25).

The parade started out innocently enough, having partially loaded in on Friday to get a head start, and, while many respected the new rule about keeping the neutral ground clear at the outset, plenty others jumped the barricades and enjoyed the fun — not learning until later what had happened further down.

We will share information as we get it, and also add more photos later.

Krewe of Nyx owns Wednesday night, and Ancient Druids (photos)

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Krewe of Nyx is now considered a super-krewe, and the members pretty much proved the point with their “Dancing the Night Away” parade that rolled through Uptown and into the CBD on Wednesday night (Feb. 22), owning the night as well as its preceding, so-called rival, the Ancient Druids.

There’s really no need to rehash Druids, which, while not nearly as offensive as in previous years, still continued its clunky deliver of its version of satire — which included a rather transphobic appraisal of Caitlyn Jenner. (This appeared to pull a page from satire better suited for a 2016 parade, but Druids has rarely been known to keep up with the times.)

Regardless, Nyx rolled behind, saving the best for last. I wasn’t wowed by the parade theme or some of the float execution, but others on social media theorized that Nyx’s emergence has also surprised in quality its most commonly referred-to all-female peer, Muses. You be the judge on this one.

 

 

 

Guest Essay: David Johnson offers a Presidents Day history lesson

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EDITOR’S NOTE: For anyone who follows historian and journalist David Johnson on Facebook, his “Weird Presidential History” posts have been an ongoing treat since the November election. David knows whereof he speaks; the new editor of museum publications at the New Orleans Museum of Art also served as editor of award-winning Louisiana Cultural Vistas and KnowLA.org, the Digital Encyclopedia of Louisiana. He also serves as a board member of the (upcoming!) Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, and is an avid presidential history buff. “I have visited every presidential library in the National Archives system, from Franklin Roosevelt to George W. Bush, as proof!” he noted in presenting this guest essay. Fun stuff to ponder for Monday (Feb. 20), President’s Day. Enjoy.

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Author David Johnson

Presidents Day offers Americans a chance to reflect upon the 43 men who have represented the nation since 1789. Louisiana has long been host to a series of events that have shaped the presidency from its earliest days. Thomas Jefferson acquired the territory that ultimately became a state in 1812. Zachary Taylor, the only Louisianian to achieve the presidency, owned a plantation north of Baton Rouge in the 1840s. A young Abraham Lincoln sailed to New Orleans from his hardscrabble Indiana family farm to make money in the 1830s. Teddy Roosevelt found the “Sportsman’s Paradise” an irresistible destination for hunting and fishing expeditions. Alarmed by the threat to Gulf birdlife, he would establish one of the earliest national wildlife refuges at Breton Island in 1904.

Franklin and Eleanor frequented the state to witness New Deal projects following the death of nemesis Huey Long. Many of John F. Kennedy’s friends — and ultimately his assassin — emerged from Louisiana. George H.W. Bush would be nominated for the office at the Superdome in 1988. Seventeen years later, his son would be harangued for failing to provide timely assisted to thousands stranded there in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. What follows here are a few little-known aspects of how the state has played a role in influencing the worldview of the varied men who have called the White House home.

thomas-jefferson-origTHOMAS JEFFERSON
Not long after Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803, he received word that the surprised citizens of La Nouvelle Orléans were anxious about the prospect of American rule. Among those who raised concern was Mother Superior Therese de St. Xavier of the Ursuline Convent, a nunnery that dated back to the city’s earliest French colonial founding in 1718.

In a letter dated July 13, 1804, a mere seven months after the real-estate transfer, President Jefferson assured the sister that though the U.S. would expect an unfamiliar separation of church and state in the former French and Spanish colonial city, the convent and its school would be guaranteed freedom to practice its charitable works and educational goals with no interference from federal authorities:

“To the Soeur Therese de St. Xavier farjon Superior, and the Nuns of the order of St. Ursula at New Orleans

“I have received, holy sisters, the letter you have written me wherein you express anxiety for the property vested in your institution by the former governments of Louisiana. the principles of the constitution and government of the United states are a sure guarantee to you that it will be preserved to you sacred and inviolate, and that your institution will be permitted to govern itself according to it’s own voluntary rules, without interference from the civil authority. whatever diversity of shade may appear in the religious opinions of our fellow citizens, the charitable objects of your institution cannot be indifferent to any; and it’s furtherance of the wholesome purposes of society, by training up it’s younger members in the way they should go, cannot fail to ensure it the patronage of the government it is under. be assured it will meet all the protection which my office can give it.

“I salute you, holy sisters, with friendship & respect. Th: Jeffers”

lincolnriverboatABRAHAM LINCOLN
In April 1828, at age 19, a lanky Abraham Lincoln journeyed down the Ohio River and into the Lower Mississippi Valley aboard a flatboat loaded with the bounty of farm products from his Indiana homeland. For young men in the early 19th-century Midwest, a riverborne escapade floating down current to New Orleans was an adventurous rite of passage and a means of putting cash in bare pockets. Continue reading

Mystic Krewe of Barkus parade: No bone of contention on a fun day in the French Quarter (photos)

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Hundreds of dogs and their escorts promenaded through the French Quarter as tens of thousands cheered on in the annual Mystic Krewe of Barkus parade on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon (Feb. 19).

This year’s theme: “Pirates of the Crescent City: Barkus Tells Tales of Jean Lafleabag.” Several venders supporting everything from shelter to animal rights were on hand as well.

I was given the opportunity to follow along with the Disco Amigos, the popular dance group, that literally brought up the rear of the parade, which started and ended in Armstrong Park. I’ll have some videos up later.