“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV, Ep. 22: NOLA Disability Pride Festival, art magazine The Iron Lattice, and movies in Venice

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For Ep. 22 of “PopSmart NOLA” as we continue to settle into our new day and time (Friday from noon to 1 p.m.) on WHIV (102.3 FM), we welcomed an awesome array of guests:

Jane Rhea Vernier, founder and chairperson of the inaugural NOLA Disability Pride Festival, which debuted Saturday (March 25) at the Advocacy Center of Louisiana and featured lots of cool entertainment and information about disability issues.

Stephanie Pearl Travers, editor-in-chief of the recently launched Iron Lattice art magazine, which will celebrate the release of its third issue on Saturday at Barrister’s Gallery.

Laszlo Fulop, associate professor of Documentary and Video Writing at the University of New Orleans and curator of a film series that began Friday (March 24) with “The Wings of the Dove” as part of both Friday Nights at NOMA and as a companion to NOMA’s “A Life of Seduction: Venice in the 1700s.”

We also featured this week’s Relevant Link, and, a had quick check in on some “Best Bets” for tonight and the rest of the weekend.

SEGMENT ONE: Jane Rae Vernier, NOLA Disability Pride Festival
Jane Rhea Vernier, founder and chairperson of the NOLA Disability Pride Festival, as well as the Founder and Head Honcho of the Quirky Citizens Alliance. The QCA’s mission is to foster equality without sameness for people with Disability and Neurodiversity and cultivate a strong, cross-disability culture in the city of New Orleans. She is an autism self-advocate and affirmative activist with nearly ten years personal and professional experience working with adults and children with Disabilities. Jane Rhea is committed to Disability awareness and building a stronger culture. (Check out this feature on the festival by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.) NOTE: While we did not get a chance to cover it during our segment, Vernier pointed out the National Center on Disability and Journalism, a very helpful website for journalists covering disability issues. I hope to use this for future reference when covering the subject.

SEGMENT NO. 2: Stephanie Pearl Travers, The Iron Lattice
Stephanie Pearl Travers is editor-in-chief for the New Orleans-based art quarterly, The Iron Lattice. This relatively new publication enjoyed its Volume 3 Release Party on Saturday at Barrister’s Gallery on St. Claude Avenue. This issue features the works of Douglas Bourgeios, Frank Relle and Malik Rahim. When she’s not working on the latest issue, you can find Stephanie Pearl Travers teaching a yoga class at Wild Lotus Yoga or pouring a customer a glass of wine at the neighborhood wine shop. Before the Iron Lattice, she was a freelance writer and editor who helped create marketing strategies for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

I spoke with Stephanie at her home in the Musicians Village, and the tapping sound you might hear comes not from her typewriter, but her very friendly and vigilant dogs moving around as we chatted.

SEGMENT THREE: Relevant Links
For our Relevant Links this week, I’d like to point your attention to a story by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune this past week about a record-breaking year for New Orleans tourism in which the city welcomed a whopping 10.45 million visitors in 2016. Hey, that’s great.

“These achievements are the result of a strategy that attracts a combination of carefully targeted convention business and leisure travelers through tactics which leverage paid media, earned public relations exposure and special events to market New Orleans to the world,” said New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Stephen Perry.

It also is another indication of the prevalence of short-term rentals (STRs) that helped host these visitors, raising the ire of the many residents — as well as the rent — in those neighborhoods. It remains to be seen how the newly passed STR regulations by the City Council will affect residents and neighborhoods moving forward.

But then there’s another relevant link, in which the New Orleans Advocate noted that for the first time since Hurricane Katrina, more people are leaving New Orleans than coming into the city. Jeff Adelson writes:

For New Orleans, the main source of growth in recent years was what is known as “domestic migration”: people moving into the city from other areas of the United States. In 2011, for example, the city gained about 9,700 more people that way than it lost to other parishes and states, amounting to about three-quarters of the growth the city saw that year.

At that time, some former residents were still returning home and many new residents were being lured in by the city’s culture or to work on the recovery with nonprofits and other agencies.

But with affordable housing in scarce supply and nearly half of the city’s job growth coming in low-wage sectors such as hospitality and retail, the city may no longer have the allure it once did. About 760 more people left the parish for other areas of the country last year than moved in, according to the estimates.

While the tourism industry is a vital economic engine for the city, you have to wonder at one point how much is too much — a question that, frankly, should be asked about a lot of the culture of post-Katrina New Orleans. If the city is so flush with tourism (and tourism dollars, yet we’re seeing a first-time post-Katrina reversal of the net gain of residents — with them, a potentially dwindling tax base — what kind of city will we wind up having? Given the rise in housing costs and the decrease of well-paying jobs, we have good reason to wonder whose New Orleans this really is. Something to ponder moving forward.

Here’s the link to the NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune article.

SEGMENT FOUR: Laszlo Fulop, UNO; curator, Venice film series at NOMA
Laszlo Fulop, Associate Professor of Documentary and Video Writing at the University of New Orleans, curated a series of three movies that prominently feature the Venice, starting with tonight’s screening of the adaptation of the Henry James novel, “The Wings of the Dove,” which was part of the Friday Nights at NOMA activities. It’s tied to NOMA’s “A Life of Seduction: Venice in the 1700s.” Here Fulop walks us through the creative process of curating this series, why Venice is so special, and what about these films together and separately resonated with him most.

CLOSING
I want to remind everyone that if you like what you hear on “PopSmart NOLA,” we’re here every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. — yes, our new day and time! — right here 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.

Up next: Chris Lane with “Eat, Pray, Fight!” I’m preparing to do all of the three, just not here.

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

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Mardi Gras Indians, street dancing, hot grilling and tight community on Super Sunday in Central City (photos)

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Thousands flocked to Central City for Super Sunday, the annual gathering of the Mardi Gras Indians sporting the new suits they debuted on Mardi Gras last month, this time on Sunday (March 19) as a part of St. Joseph’s Day at the epicenter intersection of Washington Avenue and LaSalle Street. Photographers amateur and pro jammed streets, sidewalks and stoops jockeying for position for a snap at a festival that turned into an almost informal parade up LaSalle Street.

It was a delight to watch Chief Howard Miller and Queen Rukiya Brown of the Creole Wild West make their entrance, taking time for residents and especially children to get some quality for a few photos and, in one instance, explain the tradition and culture.

There were some pretty wild sights aside from the Indians, including rows of food trucks cranking out soul food and drinks, residents forming impromptu dance parties, NOPD officers and residents  riding on horseback — and one bizarre instance, an entire group of people riding in what appeared to be a makeshift party bus in the form of an open-air U-Haul van.

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

The year in culture: New Orleans 2016 in review (a curated roundup of news)

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(NOTE: This round-up will be updated as comments are added, and any notable news is reported, after the end of the year.)

As New Orleans continued to shift into what could be called a “post-post-Katrina” period — that is, moving past the 10-year commemoration of the devastation, or recovery mode — evidence of a new New Orleans culture continued to reverberate all over. Sometimes we see that reflected in trends identified in other cities, like a more diverse (and ever-shifting) restaurant scene, or (more dramatically) the legalization and hopeful regulation of short-term rentals. Then there was, for a variety of reasons, a shrinking of the Hollywood South imprint and its seeming rejection of a film industry in the state. Yet there continued the boundless proliferation of festivals as New Orleans continued to almost manically celebrate itself.

To be sure, the changing face of the city’s culture remained ever changing.

There are those who believe that, with so many of these changes, New Orleans’ unique and often quirky culture might be threatened — that the reasons that make the city so special and so inviting to the rest of the world are shrinking like the Louisiana coastline.

But 2016 also represented a year of amazing and exciting moments that reconfirmed a city’s passion for its cultural life — even when commemorating the lives of famous cultural figures not from New Orleans. Here’s an overview of many of these moments, a (hopefully) carefully curated round-up of stories pulled from several local media outlets (including PopSmart NOLA), as well as national outlets where appropriate.

The year is broken down into categories, with a subjectively chosen lead story followed by links to lots of others. I hope to continue the discussion on “PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV (102.3 FM) on Saturday (3 p.m.-4 p.m.).

What was the biggest cultural moment in New Orleans in 2016 for you? Please add any of your important moments in the comments section.

MUSIC
Irvin Mayfield resigns from the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (WWL-TV)
“Calling the last months ‘trying and difficult,’ Irvin Mayfield responded for the first time to the 14-month scandal surrounding his use of public library donations by resigning as artistic director and board member at the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, a nonprofit he founded in 2002.”

ALSO: Beyonce’s “Formation” video, with New Orleans references, is released (Curbed) … New Orleans Airlift’s Music Box finds a permanent home in Bywater (My Spilt Milk) … Trombone Shorty performs at the White House for 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts (WGNO) … Bayou Country Superfest to relocate to New Orleans in 2017 (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Skywriting turns heads at Jazz Fest (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Bayou Boogaloo policy has neighbors feeling fenced in (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Musicians rally for Lil Queenie (My Spilt Milk) … Michael Cerveris releases “Piety” (PopSmart NOLA) … Lil Wayne makes news (not all of it good) … Fats Domino documentary airs on PBS (New Orleans Advocate) … Boyfriend breaks out (My Spilt Milk) … French Quarter Festivals, Inc.’s Marci Schramm steps down (New Orleans Advocate) … David Kunian takes over as director of New Orleans Jazz Museum (New Orleans Advocate) … Local acts warm up for national acts at Jazz Fest (My Spilt Milk) … Delish Da Goddess breaks out with video (Gambit) … Solange’s “A Seat at the Table” album debuts at No. 1; album’s videos have “stunning power”; Solange pens letter after Orpheum incident; and Solange plays New Orleans tour guide for Vogue … Big Freedia crowned queen of Krewe du Vieux (PopSmart NOLA) … Big Feedia experiences legal trouble (New Orleans Advocate) … and Big Freedia saves the holiday with “A Very Big Freedia Christmass” (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Tank and the Bangas break out (My Spilt Milk)

FOOD
Shaya wins James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

“Shaya opened in Uptown New Orleans in February 2015. The restaurant, which is co-owned by John Besh, has been a sensation from the get-go. The food pays tribute to chef Shaya’s native Israel. Reservations to taste that food have been unusually hard to come by. Several national food outlets named Shaya among the country’s best new restaurant openings of the year. I gasped over the restaurant in a four-bean review in July. ‘Who woulda thought hummus in New Orleans?’ Shaya said when he accepted his medal. ‘What was everyone thinking?’”

ALSO: Nellie Murray Feast honors Leah Chase, remembers culinary legend (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Fried Chicken Fest debuts, to move to bigger venue (New Orleans Advocate) … Isaac Toups expands to SoFAB with Toups South (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Dryades Public Market opens in Central City (Biz New Orleans) … Restaurant Closings: Booty’s (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Dinner Lab (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Kyoto (New Orleans Advocate) … O’Henry’s Food & Spirits (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Tony Angello’s (New Orleans Advocate) … Horinoya (New Orleans Advocate) … and Restaurant Openings: Caribbean Room (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Dook’s Place (PopSmart NOLA) … Rosedale (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Wolf ’n’ Swallow (Gambit) … Dunbar’s Creole Cooking (New Orleans Advocate) … Brett Anderson’s top five new restaurants (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune).

BOOKS
Author Michael Tisserand releases “Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White” to universal praise (PopSmart NOLA)
“The subtitle is more than a clever pun, for Tisserand reveals the racial subtext of Herriman’s life, which often seeped into his comic-strip hero of the same name; Herriman, an African American, “passed” as a white man. The praise for Tisserand’s book — years in the making — already is overwhelmingly positive on this, its release date (Dec. 6). … “Seamlessly integrating the story of Herriman’s life, he executes an impressive history of early-20th-century race relations, the rise of Hearst and the newspaper boom, and the burgeoning cross-continental society life of New York and Los Angeles,” writes Kirkus Reviews.”

ALSO: Michael Allen Zell releases “Law & Desire” (New Orleans Advocate) … Illustrated edition of Danny Barker memoir “A Life in Jazz” is released, with forward by Gwen Thompkins (NPR) … New Orleans Poetry Festival debuts (WWNO) … Mary Badham appears at Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival (Deep South magazine) … Tulane hosts traveling “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare” exhibit; holds second line (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … New Orleans Public Library adds new hours (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … New Orleans Public Library’s new Mid-City location opens on Canal Street (New Orleans Advocate) … Michael Murphy releases “Hear Dat New Orleans: A Guide to the Rich Musical Heritage and Lively Current Scene” (WWNO).

BARS/NIGHTLIFE
Louisiana stripper age-limit law challenged (New Orleans Advocate)
“Three dancers from New Orleans and Baton Rouge filed the suit claiming the state law robs them of their right to express themselves, a violation of the state and federal constitutions. They also said the ban is too broad and discriminates against dancers based on gender and age. Further, the dancers said there’s no evidence the new restrictions will have any impact on human trafficking, even though the state lawmaker who introduced it, Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles, said it was ‘strictly an anti-human trafficking bill.’ All three dancers said the ban would hurt them financially. Two dancers said their income already had been sliced by at least half.”
ALSO: Polly Watts takes Avenue Pub staff to Belgium (PopSmart NOLA) … Bar Openings: Three Keys, Ace Hotel (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Bar Closings: Bellocq (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Fox & Hound (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune).

THEATER/PERFORMANCE
Tyler Perry presents nationally televised “The Passion” live in New Orleans (Deadline)

“Equal parts sermon and Super Bowl halftime show, Fox’s ‘The Passion’ live event from New Orleans tonight was an Easter basket overstuffed with sincerity, good intentions and hammy musical performances, all melting into a big batch of goo faster than a chocolate bunny in the sun.”

ALSO: Faux/Real Fest drastically reduces footprint (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … New Orleans Opera presents “Dead Man Walking” (Louisiana Life) … Richard Mayer closes Old Marquer Theatre (NOLA.com| The Times-Picayune); opens Valiant Theater & Lounge in Arabi (New Orleans Advocate) … InFringe Fest debuts, sort of (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Theater gets wet: “Waterworld: The Musical” (NOLA.co | The Times-Picayune) and “Exterior. Pool – Night” … Trixie Minx presents “Cupid’s Cabaret” at the Orpheum (PopSmart NOLA) … Transgender artists reclaim their identity (PopSmart NOLA) … Bella Blue voted No. 8 burlesque performer in 21st Century Burlesque poll (PopSmart NOLA) … Le Petit Théâtre celebrates 100 years (Biz New Orleans) … Snake Oil Festival draws huge crowds for burlesque, circus and sideshow performances (PopSmart NOLA).

MOVIES
Hollywood South turns South with tax-credit limitations (New Orleans Advocate)
“Louisiana’s film and television industry — popularly known as Hollywood South because of the large number of movies and shows filmed here over the past decade — has suffered a sharp downturn since mid-2015. Industry officials are blaming a law passed a year ago by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal — a law that aimed to control ballooning costs for a generous incentive program that independent analysts say has not provided much bang for the buck.”

ALSO: New Orleans Film Society’s Jolene Pinder steps down (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Deepwater Horizon movie debuts (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune); so does memorial “ELEVEN” (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Broad Theater opens in Mid-City (Gambit) … New Orleans’ own Bianca Del Rio stars in “Hurricane Bianca” (PopSmart NOLA) … Architecture and Design Film Festival debuts, sponsored by the Louisiana Architectural Foundation, at Carver and Broad theaters (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie sell French Quarter house as marriage ends (ET).

ART
Artist Brandan Odums opens StudioBE with new exhibit in Bywater (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
“The powerful installation features mural-scale graffiti-style portraits of Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, and Muhammad Ali, plus paintings of victims of police violence, New Orleans’ past political activists, and world peace advocates. The theme of the exhibit bridges the mid-20th-century Civil Rights era and the recent Black Lives Matter movement. The title, Odums said, is meant to imply both change and continuity.”

ALSO: Bob Dylan exhibition opens at New Orleans Museum of Art (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … “La Femme” at New Orleans Arts Center captures diversity of women (New Orleans Advocate) … “Avian Aviators” sculptures dominate Poydras Street (New Orleans Advocate).

CULTURE
City Council approves short-term rental rules (New Orleans Advocate)
“Council members who supported the rules — along with officials from the Landrieu administration and Airbnb — cast the package of regulations as a model for regulating the roughly 5,000 properties in New Orleans now listed on short-term rental sites, despite a longstanding citywide ban on the practice. And, pointing to data the city would require from Airbnb and similar platforms, they argued the new rules would provide a foundation that can be made more or less restrictive if problems develop.”

ALSO: Confederate memorials spur “Take ’Em Down” movement (Curbed) … National World War II Museum commemorates 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor  (WDSU) … Ellen DeGeneres earns Presidential Medal of Freedom (PopSmart NOLA) … National Museum of African American History and Culture, with New Orleans references, opens in Washington, D.C. (NPR) … Musee Conti wax museum closes (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … One kiss goes viral at Southern Decadence (PopSmart NOLA) … Sinkhole de Mayo becomes a thing (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

SPORTS
NBA moves 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte to New Orleans over HB2 controversy (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
“The NBA … gets a chance to make a powerful political statement by placing its midseason classic in one of America’s most socially progressive cities. New Orleans ranked fourth among American cities with the highest rates of LGBT population, according to a 2015 New York Times study. It ranked as 12th most ‘LGBT-friendly’ city in the U.S, in a study by nerdwallet.com, which based its rankings on statistics from the FBI, Gallup and Human Rights Campaign.”

ALSO: New Orleans Zephyrs renamed as Baby Cakes (Washington Post).

IN MEMORIAM
Musician Pete Fountain remembered (New Orleans Advocate); second line (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Keith Spera: “In their glory years, he and partner-in-crime Al Hirt lived large, laughed loud and drank a whole lot. But when it came time to toot — at his club, during a Super Bowl halftime show, at the White House, wherever — Fountain inevitably delivered. He could make a clarinet sing with a deep, rich, bluesy tone all his own. Styles may change — in a publicity photo from the 1970s, he rocks a toupee, collars the size of eagle wings, and a scarf — but his sound was timeless.”

ALSO: Musician and restaurateur Edgar “Dooky” Chase Jr. remembered (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Herb Hardesty, longtime Fats Domino saxophonist (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Buckwheat Zydeco, music pioneer and Jazz Fest favorite (OffBeat) … Sharon Litwin, arts journalist, promoter, activist (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) … Prince remembered through the years, at Jazz Fest, at Essence Fest, and with second line … David Bowie remembered with tributes, second line (Alison Fensterstock/NPR) … Mercedes “Miss Mercy” Stevenson, Big Queen, Wild Tchoupitoulas Mardi Gras Indians, remembered (WWOZ) … Helen Koenig, Carnival costume supplier (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune).

UPDATE: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune weighed in with a list of 10 highlights, which included noting that Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest happened again.

What were some of your most memorable cultural moments in 2016? Tell us what is missing in the comments section, and we will add them at the beginning of the year.

Japan Fest at NOMA creates its own drum beat (photos)

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Had a nice time with friends and kids at the very kid-friendly 22nd annual Japan Fest at the New Orleans Museum of Art on Saturday (Oct. 8). The event included activities and food both inside and outside of NOMA, including a separate area of food and craft activities inside the The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden.

The festival included regular performances by Houston’s  Kaminari Taiko Drummers at the beginning, middle and end of the day. Elsewhere guests had access to traditional dance groups, tours of our Japanese art collection, martial arts demonstrations, a fashion show (featuring lots of anime/cosplay action), and Japanese food.

The event provided a big dress-up opportunity, and while I missed the fashion show, there were lots of folks traditional kimonos, Pokemon costumes, and other anime figures.

The festival was organized by NOMA in collaboration with the Consulate General of Japan in Nashville and the Japan Club in New Orleans, featuring 30 community groups and presenters.

Michael DeMocker of NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune has great shots of the main performances here.

Also, check out the NOMA photo gallery from the 2015 fest.

The woman behind the coolest kiss at Southern Decadence

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Photo by @carrotellis

At first it seemed like a lark of a moment, an image I saw on Instagram and happened to “repost” using an app, of two women sharing a kiss in front of a bunch of religious protestors during the festivities of the 45th annual Southern Decadence celebration in the French Quarter. (This also was the same day of the grand marshal’s walking parade.)

Little did Jordan, the woman pictured at right, know that a playful moment with her roommate would have a little viral moment, garnering more than 200 “likes” on Instagram as well as several shares (including by me). Jordan (she preferred to use only her first name) is a master’s student at a Philadelphia school, hoping to become a physician’s assistant, and currently is doing a women’s health rotation in Mississippi. So this really was a bit of a happy coincidence. Here Jordan responds to a few emailed questions about the moment.

What brought you down to Southern Decadence on Saturday?
I’m currently on my women’s health rotation in Mississippi; I’ll be here in the South for five weeks total. This was our only long weekend, so my roommate and I planned a trip to (New Orleans) without even thinking about it, and my boyfriend flew down from Baltimore and met us. So it was totally serendipitous that we happened upon this goldmine of a festival.

How did that photo come about?
After a glorious brunch and a few mimosas, we followed the trail of glitter and assless chaps making our way to the parade. Before the parade even started, we saw a crowd of people, heard some yelling, and realized what was going on. After watching the protesters for a little while we were about to leave because we didn’t want to feed into the negativity and give them what they wanted. But then we thought maybe we’d just be bold and remind them why they wasted their time on “the Lord’s day” to bully strangers. We walked right up in the cleared street, right next to the police officers trying to maintain the peace, and kissed like we hadn’t seen each other in years.

I am in the photo, kissing my roommate, a dear friend of mine. We are just two like-minded women who believe in sexual fluidity, and refuse to fight anger with more anger. We didn’t want to yell at them, we just wanted to show them that their presence was meaningless, that their attempts at intimidation were not going to work. One of the more ironic parts of the story is that the shot was taken by my loving, male partner of two and a half years.

What was the reaction of the protesters? Onlookers?
The protesters seemed confused, and just tried yelling about how disgusting we were. They repeatedly condemned us, saying that we’re “gonna burn in hell” and my friend calmly responded,“Well, at least I’ll be with her.” And aside from a few giggles, those were the only words either of us said. The onlookers cheered and drowned out the negativity, someone with a bullhorn was taunting them asking why they liked watching it if it was such a sin, and a woman came up and “beaded” us before we walked off hand in hand. Continue reading

45th annual Southern Decadence grand marshal walking parade in photos

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Had a blast attending and shooting the grand marshal walking parade for the 45th annual Southern Decadence festival that originated at the Golden Lantern and wound up at the intersection of Bourbon and St. Ann streets.

I previewed the weekend for the New Orleans Advocate, and there are still some parties left to consider as the festivities conclude Sunday night and Monday morning (as noted here).

You can find some other quick snaps from the festival I shot on my phone, over on my Instagram account.

More cool Southern Decadence events that didn’t make the Advocate story

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While the New Orleans Advocate ran my perfectly adequate round-up of familiar and offbeat events for the 45th annual Southern Decadence weekend, there’s sooo much more that could’ve gotten in there.

That said, here’s that more part, including some really offbeat stuff:

Decadence ExtravaGAYnza featuring Violet Chachki
Fri. (Sept. 2)
Masquerade, Harrah’s New Orleans Casino
No cover
That Advocate roundup includes Atlanta drag queen Violet Chachki’s appearance at Bella Blue’s New Orleans School of Burlesque, but there are key omissions, including her appearance on Saturday at Bella’s “Dirty Dime Peepshow” Saturday night (Sept. 3) as well as this fun Decadence-themed show. So the Season 7 winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has a chance to own the evening on this one. More acts will perform as well.

Glitter Tits Is a Drag: Southern Decadence Addition
Sat. (Sept. 3), 10 p.m.
Sidney’s Saloon
$5 cover “(with drag/androg/glitter/costume/weird)”
$10 cover (“basic”)
You should go to this party that’s moved over from the Voodoo Lounge if for no other reason the creators make the weirdest-ass videos in the New Orleans social-media world (and that’s saying something). But yes, as one can glean from the dress-code possibilities, this party is about as genre- and gender-bending as Decadence gets (although “CREAM” is in the ballpark, too). Music will be provided by DJ Rusty Lazer and DJ Nice Rack. (Pro tip: Bring and/or wear glitter, because you are probably going to be wearing it by the end of the evening anyway, one way or another.)

Horse Meat Disco
Sat. (Sept. 3), 10 p.m.
Ace Hotel
$20
The folks at Club A present the New Orleans debut of popular British disco party DJs with a mix of “underground disco, Italo and rarities that have been rocking crowds from their base in Vauxhall, London, to dance floors worldwide since 2009.”

Am I missing something? (Or at least something that’s at a club not already listed in the Advocate story — for fairness?) Holler at me at dlsnola@gmail.com and I’ll add to the roundup.

BONUS CONTENT FOR BONUS CONTENT — Check out the trailer for the pilot of “Atlanta’s a Drag,” starring Violet Chachki.

LUNA Fete: What to expect the second time around (Nov. 29-Dec. 5)

As I noted in my New Orleans Advocate piece that appears in Sunday’s edition, LUNE Fete has ambitions that go beyond giving people a visual thrill when it sets up around the city Nov. 29-Dec. 5. In this, the event’s second go-round, organizers from the Arts Council of New Orleans hope to repeat some of that downtown dazzle but also hopes to expand beyond Lafayette Square.

Jen Lewin’s “The Pool” will move the eye candy from the facade of Gallier Hall to the grounds of Lafayette Square, where visitors can get all interactive with the series of glowing, colorful circles sensitive to the touch.

And then there’s Los Angeles-based artist Miwa Matreyek‘s presentation of two of her projected animation performances, “Myth and Infrastructure” and “This World Made Itself,” at the CAC. (Check out her TED Talk here.) As she told me in the Advocate piece:

Magic and transformation are what I’d like audiences to experience. Because what I do falls between two distinct mediums, I often perform at film and theater festivals, and at science museums and planetariums. So to perform for a wider audience that’s not specific to a film festival or dance event or a science event will be pretty exciting for me. It’s not that different from a magic-lantern or shadow-puppet show.”

But then there’s the really ambitious effort over at the recently opened Ashé Power House Theater, whose facade will place hose to another projection that’s a project completely by international Portuguese arts collective OCUBO and New Orleans’ own Terrance Osborne along with private school St. Martin’s and Ashé’s Kuumba Institute.

Outgoing ACNO head Kim Cook sees projection mapping as a way to also connect the dots when it comes to lighting and public safety and hopes LUNA Fete can start a dialogue about making the city a safer place to navigate on foot at night.

I’m not sure how that all will play out, but I do know that last year’s LUNA Fete did a masterful job of tapping into a familiar vibe by bringing crowds to an area (Lafayette Square) revered as a favored Mardi Gras parade viewing spot, at a time in between Thanksgiving and Christmas when the shopping season is just kicking into high gear. Cook also hopes this event will not only bringing together older New Orleanians with one of its hippest recent migrants (the tech sector) while building this into something huge by the time the New Orleans centennial rolls around in 2018. Again, not sure how that will happen, but it sure is fun to watch New Orleanians come together to be dazzled.

Let’s just hope no one brings their own brand of fireworks to the show. We’ve had enough of that already.