Author Archives: Jan V. Ramsey

Everything Old Can Be New Again

One of the better things about getting to be, shall we say, “advanced in years,” is that when things go around they tend to come around again, usually in a different format: everything old can be new again.

It’s crazy that the pop stuff I was listening to in the late ‘70s and ‘80s whose sound was called rock back then is now called country: folks like Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles are now country acts. Weird.

I like the fact that new generations are discovering jazz and trad brass band music, old pop music, tweaking it, and making it into something new.

I do enjoy listening to the old stuff, but I also like discovering new music and it’s interesting how you discover it. YouTube is probably my favorite way of find new and interesting music. I found Scott Bradlee and the Postmodern Jukebox like that. He takes pop songs and imagines and arranges them in a totally unique way. Check out Lorde’s (overplayed and overhyped) song “Royals” performed by Puddles Pity Party, or Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine” featuring Miche Braden, or George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” with Dave Koz. Cool stuff.

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Have you seen Live From Daryl’s House? Have you seen or heard Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers (heading to Tipitina’s in October) cover Hall & Oates or Boz Scaggs or even Kenny Rogers in their “Van Sessions”?

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So many great songs…not that I have anything against original music, for sure. But it’s pretty interesting to see what a younger generation can do with an old tune and lyrics. I always wondered why no one was doing this more.

I’m lucky to be in a business that’s always getting to be exposed to new music, new bands, new ways of doing things.

Look around and listen. When you stop anticipating the excitement of the new…then you are genuinely getting to be old.

Go out and listen to some live local music, and see what you can discover.

 

Speaking of “new”…how do you feel about the new wave of “e-cigarettes”? Do you partake?

Take our poll here.

 

 

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Buffa’s Sued Because of Music

Here we go again: Buffa’s Bar on Esplanade has been sued by Sidney Torres IV about the intolerable music that emanates from Buffa’s back room.

Buffa’s has presented music at the bar for at least 30 years, testified the owners of the building.

Here’s the situation, as simply as I can put it (see this article and this one for more details).

Buffa’s has had music for a very long time. When the city decided to crack down on unpermitted music venues a couple of years ago (remember the issues at Mimi’s in the Marigny, which also had to defend itself against a lawsuit from neighbors?), the bar owner, Chuck Rogers, wanted to do everything right, and so applied for a license for live music, and he received it.

Torres owns the house next door at 1011 Esplanade (purchased in 1999) and is trying to sell it. Apparently, it’s been on the market for several months, and Torres has claimed that two potential buyers refused to buy after hearing loud music emanating from Buffa’s.

So basically, Mr. Torres is annoyed that he cannot sell a house that he purchased 15 years ago that was then and still is a bar that has music.

Huh?

I just do not understand the mind-set of people who knowingly buy or rent a property in close proximity to a bar or music club, and then complain when the bar does the business it’s set out to do. It’s always interesting to read that the people who end up suing always say that they “love music.” I wonder where they think the music comes from?  Yes, they love the music, but they just don’t want it played next door. Then why in the hell do you buy a property that’s immediately next to a bar? I don’t get it.

Okay, then: New Orleans is known for its music, its street music, its music clubs and bars. Where, pray tell, should our musicians play? They get arrested if they play on the street. They lose their gig if some neighbor decides the music is not to their liking. How is this spate of lawsuits against music conducive to keeping New Orleans’ reputation as a music city?

I could understand if there was never music at that location, but Buffa’s has had music for a long time (so had Mimi’s).

Remember, that the people who can afford to hire bigwig attorneys to quiet the music have money, which most small businesses—the majority of bars and music clubs—do not.

So who’s going to win here?

The big guys with the dough—who should have known better than to buy a house next to a freakin’ bar? Or the music clubs who foster, nurture and give our musicians the opportunity to play and entertain the real music “lovers”?

 

Do you think it would be a good idea to put an end to these lawsuits? Take our poll

 

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What is Independence Anyway?

Independence Day is this Friday, and we’ll all be off celebrating with family and friends with barbecues, maybe some fireworks (please be careful), and some road trips for the long weekend.

Most of my family and friends don’t call it “Independence Day” any more: we know it as the Fourth of July, just as people in other countries recognize a certain date for their independence or liberation from some oppressive force or nation.

After last week’s Mojo Mouth described a fatal shooting on Frenchmen—within view of my window, had I been in the office at 1 a.m.—another horrific shooting took place on Sunday. The incident has been all over the local and nation news. There were nine people on Bourbon Street who were injured and one person has died during a random shooting between two knuckleheads who figured they would settle up whatever issues they had with each other by pulling their guns, shooting at each other, and then randomly shooting into the Bourbon crowd. The perps haven’t yet been identified, but the NOPD say the search is “going well” (whatever that means) and they’ve identified a 20-year-old white man named Justin Odom as a “person of interest.”

Ten people. At least nine of them were innocent bystanders. Most of them were tourists. The most current victim was a 21-year-old girl from Hammond. What a tragedy.

Of course, the New Orleans tourism spokespeople and the city are downplaying the incident—especially after the news went viral, national and international (a quick perusal when googling “Bourbon Street shooting” brings up Alabama.com, USAToday.com, LATimes.com, CNN, Fox News, Huffington Post and on and on). As well they should, all the while saying they are bound and determined to catch the two shooters who did this. As well they should.

The NOPD Chief of Police, Ronal Serpas, says that the city is going to pump in $300,000 of overtime to pay extra police to “be visible” during the upcoming holiday weekend. This weekend is going to have a crowd of what’s estimated to be about a half million attendees at the city’s annual Essence Fest. Mayor Landrieu has asked for support from the state police to bump up the numbers of law enforcement professionals in the city this weekend, and has also asked the state for additional staffing during the summer (reportedly, Governor Jindal, who apparently cares little about the saftey in New Orleans, is relatively cool about helping the city that is Louisiana’s biggest economic engine on an ongoing basis).

Any time there’s shooting in the Quarter, it makes international news. We’ve created a destination that’s famous for its wanton alcohol consumption and anything-goes attitude, and yet we’re surprised when idiots bearing firearms in that destination decide pop someone when they are pissed off,  get some alcohol in them, and then they actually hurt, maim and even kill people. All because it’s their second amendment right to carry a gun when and wherever they want to, blah blah blah.)

I mentioned “Independence” at the beginning of this blog. Independent means free,  right? How free are we mentally when we have to fear being shot, walking down a street when we’re relaxing and trying to party—not to mention when we’re walking down the street minding our own business? My stepdaughter, who grew up in Europe, had the opportunity to live in New Orleans, but chose not to because she felt that a lot of the liberty she felt in Europe–freedom of worry from crime and guns, not having to constantly be on the lookout for situations that could be dangerous–was not available here. Says a lot about the freedoms that we prize in this country.

Of course we need more police; but frankly, police are not going to have a major impact on morons carrying a deadly weapon who don’t have a clue (or don’t care) about the impact of firing a gun. If someone has a gun–even someone who doesn’t intend to use it, or who has it for “protection”–there’s more of an opportunity for a criminal to take his gun to use for his own purposes than there is for the guy who owns the gun to use it.

There’s something not right and not sensible about the false sense of security that carrying a gun purports to provide—even a law-abiding citizen. The public good is certainly not served by allowing guns in the French Quarter, or on Frenchmen Street either. The public good should trump the “right” to carry a gun in these locations.

Personally, I  think we’d all be a lot better off prohibiting guns in either location. I’ve almost arrived at the conclusion that it would be better to erect checkpoints at both areas and run people through metal detectors. We have to do it at airports to protect the public to make sure we’re not attacked by terrorists. The people carrying guns in an entertainment district are potential terrorists. We need to stop them, too. Yes, it’s annoying. But in a gun cuture such as what’s developed in this country, we need to be prepared to do this. Soon we’ll need metal detectors in malls. We already use them in school. This is what the attitude regarding the ownership and use of guns in this country has come to. Combine this attitude with glorification of violence, lack of parental oversight, and you have a pot that’s going to boil over.

If we won’t take a stand on stopping the proliferation of guns and gun-nuts in this country, then we should not make a big deal out of a shooting on Bourbon or on Frenchmen Street. You can’t have it both ways. It’s gonna continue to happen and it’s going to get a lot worse, not just here, but everywhere.

I know I’m whistling in the wind here, but it seems to me that if the city ever really took a stand on keeping firearms out of entertainment districts (it’s way too much to ask to ban guns in the city), our tourism prospects would be much improved in the long run. I’ll choose sex over violence any old time: Show Your Tits: YEAH…but leave your guns at home—or you just can’t get in to join the party.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Studio Needs a Documentary

Last night I watched a wonderful documentary, Muscle Shoals, highly recommended for anyone who was/is a fan of Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, the Allman Brothers, the Stones and on and on. That studio created a lot of hits.

It’s the story of Rick Hall and his famous FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and the fantastic music and the unique sound that emanated from that studio. It’s a first-class, high-quality music documentary and features people like Pickett, Keith Richards, members of the Swampers (FAME’s famous back-up band, which was immortalized in the Lynyrd Skynyrd tune “Sweet Home Alabama”), Stevie Winwood, Aretha and many more.

Viewing it made me wish for someone to do a documentary on Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Studio—especially in Cos’s lifetime.

One thing that struck me is that the music that came out of Muscle Shoals is stuff that’s really dear to me; it’s the music I grew up with. It was mentioned several times throughout the documentary that these hits came out of the South, at a time when black and white musicians didn’t play together. It was interesting to hear some of the black musicians comment on the fact that they thought the FAME band were black cats, and they were surprised to find that they were white guys—they all call themselves “country boys.”

Hall and the band talked about how there were absolutely no racial issues. They were musicians, and their music made them totally equal and free (major problems did come about when Jerry Wexler recorded there, but they had more to do with alcohol, drugs and male egos—go figure).

Making music together isn’t about race. It’s about communication on a level that goes way beyond words. How great is that?

At the same time Alabama governor George Wallace was proclaiming “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever,” some of the greatest musical collaborations in history were taking place in Muscle Shoals with both black and white musicians, whose only language was that of the music they were making together.

It made me think about what a great equalizer music is: it makes no difference what color your skin is—if you’re in the groove, you’re in the groove. How many times have you been to a festival, parade or music club and seen people of all ages, sexes, races and “musical orientations” united in their love for a tune?

There are white rappers and soul singers, black opera singers and country artists, Asian funksters, Filipino pop singers. Music is one of the things that make us most human. And music certainly is the language of New Orleans.

Dumb and getting dumber

I awoke to a terrible text and email this morning: someone had been shot on Frenchmen Street last night by some idiots in a car in the 500 block of Frenchmen Street near Decatur.

The victim was Julius Dunn, 21-year-old man, who was shot about 1:20 a.m. Wednesday morning in a drive-by shooting.  He died later that morning from a gunshot wound to the chest. According to the New Orleans Advocate at press time, neither a motive or a suspect was identified by police, nor a description of the car involved in the drive-by.

What a tragedy. Another young man murdered in cold blood, probably over something really stupid and inconsequential. However, this young man was apparently involved with a bad group, so it’s no surprise that he ended up the way he did. This isn’t to say that his death was something we should ignore. Any death of a young person is tragic, and in this case was indicative of the much deeper issues we have in this community.

This is what the Frenchmen bars and music clubs had been fearing, and why there has to be a police presence on Frenchmen Street. I’m not even going to go into the fact that the murderers used readily-available guns to end whatever stupid score the shooting supposedly “settled.”

These killers are, in all probability, other young men who think that killing another human being in cold blood is something that their “right” to a gun will allow. These guys are murderers and they are despicable.

I think the police will solve this crime because almost every business along Frenchmen, including 421 Frenchmen Street at Decatur (which houses an advertising agency, the Louisiana Music Factory, and OffBeat) has cameras attached to their building that survey the street outside.

In fact, as I write this, the NOPD was looking for the tapes from last night’s cameras’ recording from our building, and I’m positive they’re surveying the other camera tapes as well. The rumor is that the car was parked on Decatur, just across from my line of sight during the day, turned the corner and shot poor Mr. Dunn. If that’s the case, there’s a good possibility that one of the cameras on our building, at Mona’s, or the Maison got a clear view of the car, and perhaps even of the murderers themselves.

Now this is scant consolation to the victim or his family. Cameras don’t prevent crime, but they certainly help solve it. Just the presence of cameras should help deter crimes like this; but they do not stop crimes from happening.

Only a better police presence, one that’s there nightly and is evident to any moron that might want to start trouble, is going to deter the commission of crimes like this.

Oh, and of course, if the guys in the car hadn’t had easy access to guns, this would never have happened. But that’s a much bigger issue.

The bottom line is that while cameras can identify criminals, they don’t stop them from committing heinous murders. Only a police presence will help. The NOPD needs to step up its game and allow us all more protection from crime. Maybe the money that’s not been paid to the police officers who have left the force (there are 98 officers in 8th District versus about 150  three years ago) can be used to hire state police or National Guard. Protevction in a city like New Orleans cannot be scrimped on. That money needs to be spent. So do it, already.

 

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New Orleans Music Finally Arrives at the Louis Armstrong Airport

New Orleans musicians will now have another steady gig to look forward to: the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (call letters “MSY”) will begin presenting consistent performances by local musicians and bands at the airport in four different locations.

In the past, live music was a sometime thing at the airport and was hired to meet a group arriving at the airport, or for a special event. But there’s never been a place for people at the airport to listen to live music in a regular basis.

Readers of “Mojo Mouth” over the years will recall that OffBeat advocated for this years ago, as live music is a big part of the airport’s ambience at airports like Austin’s Bergstrom, which has a permanent stage that showcases local talent regularly.

Music stage at the Austin Bergstrom Airport. (Photo: Sandy L. Stevens, courtesy of City of Austin Aviation)

Nancy Coplin, whose company, Public Space Music, worked with the Austin airport in developing their music program, was a moving force in creating the program at MSY. Terry Mahlum, Regional Vice President of Operations at Delaware North Companies—that manages the operations of concessions at MSY—said “What better place to put live music than in the airport in New Orleans, a city known for its live music?” Mahlum had also worked with Coplin in Austin, and told OffBeat that Delaware North has partnered with a local firm, Chase Catering and Concessions, headed by Edgar Chase IV, grandson of Dooky and Leah Chase, Sr. (of the famous Dooky Chase restaurant) to help support the program financially.

Delaware North and Chase are providing the capital to purchase backline, sound equipment and will also pay the bands who play at MSY.

“We’re going to have four locations that will have music,” said Mahlum, “and we hope to expose the traveling public and people who are dropping off passengers at the airport to local music regularly.” Locations of the music performances are currently set for Zatarains (Concourse B); the Atrium Bar and the pre-security area (Concourse C); and at Ye Olde College Inn (Concourse D).

The first regular music will kick off on Monday, June 30 with a performance by Big Joe Kennedy from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Zatarains location, and continue through the month of July from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Performers include percussionist Mayumi Shara and her band at the main stage (pre-security, Concourse C, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m); pianist Big Joe Kennedy (Zatarains, Concourse *, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.); vocalist Dana Abbott and her band at the Atrium Bar (12 p.m. to 2 p.m.); and singer/songwriter Ryan Gregory Floyd (Ye Olde College Inn, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.), with more performers to be announced.

Booking for the MSY series is being handled at this point by the Tipitina’s Foundation in a partnership with the airport. Nathan Wendte (Nathan@tipitinas.com) of Tip’s Foundation is the contact point for booking. “We’re just starting out,” said Edgar Chase IV, “and we’d welcome input and contact from any musicians or bands who are interested in playing at the airport. (Bands and musicians are encouraged to contact Wendte directly). We’re thrilled that we have been able to finally make this happen,” he said. “We’re beginning with about 10 performances every week, but hope to expand it as the program grows.” Sound equipment will be provided by the local Guitar Center.

 

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Connecting the musical dots

One of the hallmarks of a well-functioning operation is how the pieces of the operation function together, and  information must be disseminated in a way such that so that the “whole” of the organization can achieve the goal: connecting the dots, so to speak.

One of the things I’ve found frustrating in business and in the non-profits with whom I’ve worked is lack of communication. Sometimes an operation gets so large and so spread-out that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, which leads to a breakdown in achieving the overall goals of the organization. Coordination of efforts to achieve a goal becomes difficult, and a lot of the time, goes away almost entirely.

The moving parts consist of human beings, of course, and all humans have their own personal needs and agendas, and finding the means to connect those human dots is probably one of the most difficult things any manager has to do (I’m starting to sound like a business textbook here, but bear with me).

What’s been very frustrating for me personally over almost 30 years of advocating for music is that the right hand and left hand are still going in opposite directions; the dots are definitely not being connected. I suppose OffBeat has helped a bit in communications (at least I hope that it has; there’s a lot more information being put out there, thanks to social media and more interest from the “mainstream” media. But media just reports on what’s going on. It doesn’t coordinate the process.

Music is still considered as peripheral to the culture and economy of the city. I hate to say that, but it’s true.

I’d really like to see a strategic plan developed for the city vis a vis music. That, of course, would mean that the city (including the mayor and city council) and all of its quasi-agencies: the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, Tourism Marketing Corporation, economic development factions, the Chamber of Commerce would all buy into this.

If we can first decide the significance of music for us in terms of place in economic development and visitor attraction, determine what we want to happen over the next 10 years or so, then we can work to strategically develop towards that goal. That’s never, ever been done before in New Orleans.

This could include coordination of festivals and promotion of same, feasibility study and development of a working model for a music museum (I read the Convention Center’s plan to develop a huge parcel of land not into an expanded convention center, but into a hotel and “entertainment” district (what is that, pray tell?). It could also include the development of projects that would benefit New Orleans and Louisiana music, which would mean a non-profit that could actively pursue grants that would benefit the music community and promote our music as a whole.

The article that precipitated today’s blog was one that touted the development of a “Zydeco Crossroads” mega-project in—not southwestern Louisiana—but in, of all places, Philadelphia. Philly? Really? The 15-month-long project, which will include a website, concerts, special events, radio exposure on David Dye’s World Café, and a documentary by Robert Mugge to be premiered in 2015, is being funded by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, and is a project of WXPN.

I’m thrilled that zydeco is getting such great exposure to a wide audience. It’s just too damned bad that someone couldn’t “coordinate” a project like this here that would accrue to the actual place where the music was born—and lives on. But projects like this have to go where the money is—and that’s in Philly.

It also happens that longtime zydeco advocates Terrance and Cynthia Simien are also working with filmmaker Michael Murphy on another zydeco documentary. More on both projects as they progress.

The Louisiana Cajun and Zydeco Festival was hugely successful this year after its move to Armstrong Park. Where do you think is the best place for small music festivals in the city? Take OffBeat’s Weekly Poll.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where Is My Waiter, Dammit

I rarely write much about restaurants, as that isn’t considered my oeuvre, but I’m wondering if and how the 1,405 restaurants that are currently now operating in New Orleans (stats courtesy NOMenu.com) are going to survive.

Not to be a pessimist, but there are new restaurants opening on every corner these days. Not that I’m against more restaurants, far from it. I love trying new places, because you never know when you’re going to run across some undiscovered gem.

Me, I’ll eat just about anything (you can look at my bod and tell that!), but I’m able and willing to try just about anything. I wish my digestive system and pocketbook could tolerate all the restaurants I’d like to try.

Because of the plethora of restaurants opening here, there’s a real dearth of qualified personnel to staff the place. How many times have you heard great things about a restaurant, you’re rarin’ to go there, and once you’re seated, the wait staff and/or service is abominable. How many times has that scenario kept you from going back? If you’re paying to be served good food, then you should expect great service, right? That’s one of the major problems the city is facing right now. If you don’t have good staff, it’s ultimately going to close your restaurant down.

New Orleans has a couple of schools that produce trained management and culinary staff, one at Delgado (culinary-oriented) and the University of New Orleans’ Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism (HRT) that offers bachelors’ and masters’ degrees in hospitality management.

All graduates of these programs have to serve internships in local restaurants and hotels, or in hospitality industry businesses, but frankly, they are oriented towards producing managers, not wait staff, not the servers.

There’s also a New Orleans School of Bartending, and courses that can be taken serving alcohol that’s sponsored by the Louisiana Restaurant Association. But where’s the training school for hospitality people who don’t necessarily want to be managers? Or professional bartenders? Is there a demand for something like this that could benefit local restaurant owners?

It’s interesting to note that there are many people in New Orleans who have made their living for years and years at local restaurants, i.e. waiters at high-end places like Galatoire’s, Commanders, and Antoine’s. You are literally a journeyman for years and you work your way up the totem pole to become a full-fledged waiter. Of course, there’s a lot of money to be made at these types of places, and the staff generally is dedicated and works there for many years.

Most small restaurants don’t have the wherewithal or ability to do thorough training for wait staff, hostesses, line cooks, and bartenders. These kinds of jobs are the sort you “learn as you go,” for the most part, and many times are temporary gigs for people who really want to do something else with their lives.

Shouldn’t someone perhaps work with the restaurants or restaurant associations to come up with training courses and standards that can “certify” a job applicant? It might add another level of professionalism to our local restaurants. We obviously need qualified service personnel in the city.

But then…how many new restaurants can a city support—even if the food and service is stellar? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I am aware that the failure rate for new restaurants is extremely high. Something’s hot when it opens, but business generally falls off—a new “hottie” is just opening down the block. How can a restaurateur keep the business flowing and add new business?

Advertising and promotion are the traditional ways to do that. Sometimes a restaurant will add entertainment/music. Making sure your customers like your food, service and environment will keep them coming back…hopefully.

With the internet, mobile devices and social media having a major impact on how we look for good places to eat, how much do they influence our choices? How do you decide where to find information on restaurants?

Take our poll, and tell OffBeat how you make your choices on restaurants.

 

 

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More Cops, Less Guns Needed

As I expected, there was a big response to my anti-gun stance in last week’s blog. I know I am, as they say, “spitting into the wind,” but I am fully aware that there are many like myself who don’t see the necessity for guns in this society, particularly in the entertainment neighborhoods of New Orleans, where there are consistent crowds of people, drinking is rampant, and where there is (probably) at least some drug use. I’m speaking out because…I can, and I should; thus, the blogs we publish as “Mojo Mouth” are purely my opinion.

Imagine my surprise and the irony that the day after this edition of Mojo Mouth was published it was announced that Aaron Jordan  (who lives in Jefferson Parish, mostly) has decided to arm himself and other volunteers to patrol the French Quarter. There’s even a Facebook page for these vigilantes!

A few years ago, several people were shot on Bourbon Street. Business took a nose-dive, and it took a long time to come back. People are afraid. The same thing could happen again. It can happen on Frenchmen Street. As a business owner recently said to me: “We are just one crazy person away from ruining Frenchmen Street for everyone.”

The solution is not to arm everyone just “in case” there’s a shooting (what are you going to do, whip out your handgun and shoot back into a crowd?). The solution is to keep guns out of everyone’s hands. That’s my opinion, and I’m not influenced by the gun owners or the NRA’s ongoing brainwash of the public and political lobbying activities. I hate guns. We don’t need ‘em. They’ve caused way more heartache and sorrow than they have joy in our culture, and as the pro-gun rhetoric continues, the gun violence continues to escalate.

In this blog, I’ve also mentioned the noise issues on Frenchmen, specifically the brass band that plays on the corner of Chartres and Frenchmen, and over Jazz Fest, the music that upset the neighbors who live behind Bamboula’s. Finding a place for a brass band to continue to play is problematic without it upsetting neighbors and businesses. The New Orleans Police Department will not enforce any issues regarding the brass bands, as playing music is protected by the first amendment.

But there’s a much bigger problem than noise on Frenchmen, and indeed, in the city as a whole. There are just not enough active New Orleans police to stop criminals, much less to quell a noise problem. The few police that we have on the streets cannot handle the problems. I’ve heard similar stories many times: criminal activity is stopped by a private security guard, or even by the public. The NOPD is called, and they don’t show up. The NOPD is not ignoring your calls; they literally don’t have the staff to cover their beat. The criminal is let go.

Wow.

What the mainstream media should do more of is to cover and hold the city accountable for is its inability to recruit and maintain an adequate police force. The city needs to come up with a workable solution to this problem, because it’s just going to get worse. We can’t market ourselves as an entertainment destination and not have an adequate, trained police force. New Orleans is literally a party city, and we are oriented towards free-flowing alcohol. Mix drugs, alcohol, guns and testosterone (sorry guys, but most of the shootings involve males), and you have a potentially lethal combination. What the easiest thing we could remove from this equation? (Oops, slipped back into my anti-gun stance…).

I’m sure that removing guns from the formula is going to be a long, long time coming. In the meantime, we need to acquire and train a police force, and pay them a decent wage to keep the peace. And, of course, train them to solve problems without the use of firearms, if at all possible.

Take this week’s OffBeat’s Weekly Poll here.

 

 

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Handgun on hip, we walk through the French Quarter

Steve Maloney, OffBeat’s web editor, texted me a photo that his uncle took in the French Quarter on Tuesday. Note the handgun on this young man’s right hip. My jaw dropped.

Armed and ready to defend himself, he walks through the French Quarter. (Photo: David Scudari)

Did you know that the state of Louisiana recognizes “open carry,” which is apparently what this guy is practicing as he strolls down a street in the Quarter. “Concealed” guns require a special permit.

Scary.

In my personal opinion, New Orleans should be a gun-free zone, period. Politically, no one locally has the moxie to stand up for this concept. What you’ll hear is if we get rid of guns, “then only criminals will have guns.” Yeah, like this young man. Why does he need to carry a firearm with him in the French Quarter? Are we in the Wild, Wild West or something?

It make take a couple of decades, but there’s no reason why we need guns in our society for “protection.” In local newspapers, we just saw a case of an unarmed young man being shot in the head by a Marigny resident.

The teenager was a proven thief who had been caught in several other homes, up to no good. Tellingly, the teenager, Marshall Coulter, stole a gun from a home he had broken into a few weeks before, so theoretically, he could have been armed. The Marigny resident, Merritt Landry, fired at the intruder and shot him in the head. Landry ultimately had no charges filed against him.

Of course not. He was defending his home and his wife and children.

How different our country would all be if it just wasn’t so easy to buy, carry—or steal guns. How different life would be in the U.S. if the possession of firearms weren’t placed on a pedestal as an inalienable second amendment right, a sacred political cow created by an organization—the National rifle Association—whose main objective is to sell more firearms for weapons manufacturers. Not to protect your “rights.”

America—and New Orleans—is awash in violence. Anyone, and I mean anyone can get not only a handgun—which one would assume could be used for self-protection—but an automatic firearm that can cause major damage to the person it’s aimed towards. They’re available at discount stores, like Walmart; gun dealers, gun shows, and even online. It’s just so easy to arm yourself with a deadly weapon. Oh yeah, and if you have criminal intent, you really don’t need to buy one anyway, you can steal one from the homes and cars of people who are holding these weapons “for protection,” or have a friend buy one for you at the local gun show. It’s really easy. It’s much easier to buy a gun than to get a driver’s license.

I, for one, am fed up with  reading about shootings at schools throughout the country. There was one last weekend at a university in California by some poor lonely little 22-year-old with emotional problems who had legal guns–and who blew away several people, including himself. There’s been an epidemic of gun violence over the last 30 years. According to Mother Jones, there have been at least 70 mass shootings in this country since 1982, with 33 of these occurring since 2006. And, more than 75 percent of the guns possessed by the shooters in these mass killings were legal handguns, and included assault weapons and semi-automatic handguns.

Why are these types of weapons even allowed to be sold?

Listen, it’s just a matter of time before more innocent victims are claimed because the NRA and its brainwashed legions use our Second Amendment as justification for enriching weapons manufacturers and gun dealers. Then there are the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Oh, please. Let someone try to slaughter another human being from 50 feet away with a knife. Then there are the crazies who insist that banning guns in America would be tantamount to the takeover of Hitler in Nazi Germany.

Fear is what fuels these attitudes, irrational fear (the worst kind) created by organizations who want the American public to hold onto their guns no matter whose life is at stake so that they can make a buck. Are you really afraid the U.S. government is going to come and get you? Are the hobgoblins staking you out? I am appalled by the people who buy into this.

There is no need for handguns, automatic weapons of any kind, or assault weapons to be available to anyone in this country. I know I’m on the left side of this equation, but if the state can tell me how fast I can drive without putting myself and others in danger; if I have to take a test to have a driver’s license to protect the public safety, why are these ticking time bombs allowed to exist? Makes no sense to me.

I wish some politicians could just have the guts to stand up to the NRA, which I perceive as the power that’s turned America into a gun-crazy, and gun-crazed violent society.

Please, can we not have this guy walking around in the Quarter toting a freaking handgun? Put a few drinks in him, get him riled up, whip up a testosteronic frenzy—and someone’s gonna get hurt. Or even killed. I guarantee it.

I’d like to find out how you feel about keeping guns out of the French Quarter and Marigny (Frenchmen Street) areas. Click here to take OffBeat’s Weekly Poll.

 

 

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