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Monday, January 24, 2022
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Where to find aid, advocacy & entertainment during Phase 2

July is halfway over and we’re still dealing with the fallout of Covid-19. Here’s an update to the aid, advocacy, and entertainment available in the greater New Orleans area during Phase 2. We’ll keep updating this page as more info becomes available.

• Gov. John Bel Edwards has extended Louisiana’s current Phase Two order, which also includes a statewide mask mandate, limits indoor social gatherings to 50 people and prohibits on-premises consumption of alcohol at bars, until August 7th.

• The City of New Orleans COVID-19 Meal Assistance Program partners with local restaurants to provide meals to a wide range of vulnerable residents impacted by the virus. Eligible residents include “high-risk health adults, residents with special medical needs, homeless residents, homebound seniors, and families with children 18 and under who are not receiving other federally supported food assistance.” To apply call 3-1-1 or click here https://ready.nola.gov/incident/coronavirus/meal-assistance-program/.

• On any given Friday or Saturday, you can find a porch concert happening at Coliseum & Constantinople. A couple of weekends ago it was Stooges Brass Band playing to the mostly neighborhood crowd. Hamburgers for sale, $10. Bring a camp chair and enjoy one of the few nearly sure things happening in the live music scene right now.

• Garden Cookout with Big Freedia is happening every Thursday through August 27th. Freedia shows you how to cook a variety of New Orleans foods with her special brand of “bounce.” The Facebook event page is here. The livestream for the Garden Cookout is here. A playlist of her Sunday Gospel Brunch videos from earlier in the lockdown is here. You already know!

Help Jackson Square Artists get back on their feet!

Photo by Instagram user nolaposter.

When misfortune strikes, New Orleanians come together to help.

Last month the Jackson Square Artists cart yard was broken into and carts were stolen and thrown in the river. These carts contained valuable artworks, supplies, and setup materials for these artists who make their living selling art in Jackson Square. Artists help make up the vibrant social fabric of our city, so we were saddened to learn of this tragedy.

 

We’re happy to share the GoFundMe link for the fundraiser to help the Jackson Square Artists get back on their feet and get back to creating art! All the proceeds from this fundraiser will go directly to the artists whose work and supplies were stolen and destroyed. Please consider making a donation and sharing the fundraiser link with others.

Giving Back: The Free Lil Pantry of Algiers Point

The Algiers Point Free Lil Pantry is funded and stocked by neighbors to help neighbors. For the month of December, the moms of the neighborhood challenged their children to fill the pantry and then challenge their friends to do the same. The kids loved it and it’s been a huge success, with the pantry being filled and emptied up to 3 times a day! The neighborhood hopes to make it a new Christmas tradition.

The Algiers Point Free Lil Pantry is a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to easing food insecurity in the Algiers Point neighborhood of New Orleans. Started in 2017 by Becky Hicks and James Hunt, the pantry has provided countless meals to individuals and families in the Point who might not otherwise have the means to eat a nutritious meal that day. It is, we think, one of the best examples out there of New Orleanians helping New Orleanians.

Click here to find out more about how you can help the Algiers Point Free Lil Pantry. As you can see from the note below, it is making a difference in the lives of the people of Algiers Point!

Follow the Algiers Point Free Lil Pantry Online!

The Nutcracker: New Orleans Ballet Theatre’s Gift to the City

The city of New Orleans is famous for its traditions. When it comes to the winter holidays, we have the lighting of the Algiers Point bonfire, the Krewe of Jingle Parade, Celebration in the Oaks at City Park and countless other celebrations of the season. One modern tradition that is becoming just as essential to the season is the New Orleans Ballet Theatre performance of “The Nutcracker.”

The NOBT was founded in 2002 by Gregory Schramel and Marjorie Hardwick, dancers who performed professionally all over the world for more than 20 years. The pair sought to bring their lifetime love of ballet to the people of New Orleans.

The NOBT has an amazing facility on 920 Terpsichore Street in the Lower Garden District. With professional dancers as full-time staff, they are a consistent presence of ballet excellence in the Gulf South of the United States. The full-time dancers are leaders in the performances and education of aspiring dancers in the area.

Scenes from the Dress Rehearsal

Presenting Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” has become a highlight of the performance year and is a massive undertaking involving local professional dancers as well as 150 local children. This year will mark the 14th time they have presented the traditional holiday performance in the Crescent City. Being a positive force in the community is important to the NOBT, so they will giving 800 tickets to local schools. The hope is that children who may not have had the means to come enjoy the ballet will get a chance to be a part of the audience.

This two-act ballet will be performed at the The Orpheum Theater at 129 Roosevelt Way, New Orleans, LA 70112. The show will debut on Saturday, December 14th, with two performances, then again on the 15th, 21st, & 22nd.

* Inside Info: We hear there is snow in the forecast…

Previous Show Art

New Orleans Nightmare: Still Shocking

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New Orleans has a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in the world. We have a long and sordid history that includes serial killers, the slave trade, voodoo, massive natural disasters… well, you know all of this.

Having that dark and spooky vibe about our city means we have a high bar to hurdle when it comes to spotlighting the most sinister holiday of the year, Halloween. Finding just the right place to get into the proper spirit can be difficult with so many corporate attractions and watered down scare-fests. What if you don’t want to go to something for the whole family? If you want to be pushed out of your safe space and you aren’t dragging little Timmy or Tatiana along, New Orleans Nightmare is where you need to be.

Nestled under the Huey P. Long Bridge and back a dead end road you will find the haunted house. The line will be long but you can get relaxed while hanging out with your fellow thrill-seekers at the full bar. Once inside you will find escape rooms, and animatronics, as well as living and non-living characters of all kinds.

The New Orleans Nightmare begins with a Hotel, just stay out of the shower. Then they bring on the Clowns, guide you through the Cemetery gates and into the Mansion. From there you get a quaint visage of the French Quarter from the old days (which you might recognize from the House of Shock), a traditional Creole Crematorium, a relaxing spa area called the Acid Baths (this will really melt your heart).

Next you will find Torture complete with a tribute to the ground-breaking works of Dr. Satan. After he is done with you, into the Dragon’s lair, through the Laser Swamp and into the Catacombs. Having been brought into the depths of Hell you emerge through the dungeon and into the light, the black light.

By now you will need to pray for your mortal soul and The Nightmare has generously provided just the thing. This is the totally revamped (puns, I’ve got tons) finale of the New Orleans Nightmare. Attend a quiet service at the Nunnery where you can pray along side the kneeling nuns… as well as a ‘flying’ one. Meet the ladies and the larger than life church leader they serve.

You can find more information about The New Orleans Nightmare online at neworleansnightmare.com, on Facebook and Instagram (neworleansnightmare_).

International Cuisine Spices Up Magazine Street Dining

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Chicken Shawarma with Yellow Rice, Shahrazad Cafe

A few months back, I relocated from the CBD to the Garden District, just a few blocks off Magazine Street.  Soon after I settled down, I went for a drive down Magazine to familiarize myself with the area. That’s when I noticed several eateries that were not traditional New Orleans, Southern, or even American.

Magazine Street is as much a hot spot for International cuisine as it is a destination for casual Southern fare. This neighborhood’s array of dining options will intrigue almost every foodie.  The numerous bistros and cafes are conveniently located near popular taverns and wine bars. They’re also surrounded by art galleries, coffee shops and trendy fashion and home décor boutiques.  You can literally make a day of exploring Magazine Street.

The place that initially caught my eye was the Shahrazad Café, simply because I have a niece with a similar name.  But soon afterwards, I stumbled upon other Middle Eastern dives like Anatolia and Saba, as well as Ethiopian Café’ Abyssinia and French bakery and café La Boulangerie, to name a few.

On Magazine Street, you can enjoy Asian dining at bistros such as Nirvana Indian Cuisine, Haiku Sushi and Suhko Thai, and experience Latin American flavors at The Rum House Caribbean Taqueria and Tito’s Ceviche & Pisco.  There are also European selections such as the Parisian restaurant Lilette, and Avo for classic Italian, along with several pizza parlors.

If you’re visiting the city and you have an appetite for ethnic cuisine, a short ride in an Uber or a city bus can take you right to any of these establishments.  I personally recommend the full-flavored brisket taco with chimichurri at The Rum House, and the hummus with chicken shawarma and Lebanese tea at Shahrazad Café.  Here is a sample of the many International restaurants and cafes on you’ll find on Magazine Street.

Tal’s Hummus – Traditional Israeli food

Nirvana – Classic Indian Cuisine with lunch buffet

Haiku Sushi – – Japanese Cuisine

La Boulangerie – French Bakery and sandwich shop

Suhko Thai – Uptown spinoff of Marigny; classic Thai cuisine

Café Abyssinia – Ethiopian cuisine

Que Rico! – Cuban Café

Lilette – Upscale Parisian

Tito’s Ceviche & Pisco – Peruvian cuisine

Lilly’s Café – Classic Vietnamese Cuisine

Shahrazad’s Café – Classic Mediterranean and American Cuisine

The Rum House – Caribbean and Latin American bites with an extensive rum selection

Avo – Classic Italian/Sicilian

Shaya – Modern Lebanese Cuisine

Del Fuego – Mexican Street Food/Taqueria

Nomiya – Japanese Cuisine

Sherry Parfait

PR/Marketing Pro at Parfait Media and PRSA Member
📩: Sherry@ParfaitMedia.com

Getting Weird with Weird Al

I unexpectedly had the chance to go see “Weird Al” Yankovic last week and it was amazing. Now, I don’t sit around listening to Weird Al records but he has always been on my radar. He’s clever and satirical without being mean and can really belt out a tune, so I was pretty stoked to be there at the Saenger with my friends, despite not knowing what to expect.

For this tour, Weird Al recruits orchestras in the different cities he’s playing in. For this show, it was members of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. They kicked off the show with movie classics from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Mission: Impossible”, “Superman”, and of course, “Star Wars.”

After a short break, Weird Al emerged from backstage to raucous applause and began an energetic, non-stop set complete with drum solos, costume changes, backup singer shenanigans, high kicks, and an appearance by Darth Vader and some local Stormtroopers. “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota,” from his 1989(!) film UHF, was so super fun everyone was grinning from ear to ear. “Don’t Download This Song,” with its admonishments against Limewire and Napster, might not have gone over so great if this had been a younger crowd, but we all got it. “Tacky,” Weird Al’s take on the ubiquitously saccarine hit “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, was unkown to me and I giggled relentlessly at it (that “Happy” song had the opposite effect on me!). Weird Al utilized quick costume changes for full effect on “Smells Like Nirvana” (sporting a Kurt Cobain sweater and cheesy wig), “White & Nerdy” (blazing from backstage to skillfully spin around on a Segway), and “Amish Paradise” (wearing buttonless black and a fake beard).

Throughout the show, Weird Al’s many appearances on and mentions in tv shows and movies were projected on a screen behind the orchestra, and there were a whole lot of them, going back decades. I checked his wikipedia and he is 59 years old! He looks 20 years younger! And his stage antics are amazing! So not only is he a great performer, he also seems to have the key to some fountain of youth somewhere.

It was a great show and I’m so glad I got to go. I had no idea what to expect but I was not disappointed in any way. “Weird Al” Yankovic puts on a great show. I’ll definitely catch him again the next time he’s in town.

Nobody Loves Meeeeee, It’s True…

In 1994 I was wasting my time at a small-town college in North Louisiana when Portishead’s “Dummy” album inexplicably exploded into my consciousness. It was unlike anything I’d ever heard before and I wore it out, listening to it over and over again for the next couple of years (I’m obsessive like that). It sounded to me like the cool I wanted to be, and since I was a fat weirdo and couldn’t achieve that coolness, listening to it was the next best thing.

I never got to see Portishead live. While I don’t think the band has officially called it quits, the last time they played live together was in 2015(?), according to their website. But last Thursday night’s “Dummy” tribute show at the Hi-Ho Lounge was what I imagine it must be like to experience their brand of trip-hop magic in person. The show was masterminded by newly local musician/composer Tristan Gianola and included a full band, an 8-piece string section, a supremely cool guest trumpeter called Cyrus, and DJ Tony Skratchere, all fronted by Peak del Valle, very possibly the only woman besides Beth Gibbons herself who could have pulled this off.

The stage packed full of musicians, the show started with the first cut from “Dummy” and set the tone for the rest of the evening. del Valle was a striking figure in her teal dress, mink stole, and glasses as Gianola took turns between being guitar god and conductor. Each piece was true to the album, but with just enough personal innovation to set these local musicians apart and make this show truly a tribute and not just a collection of thoughtless cover songs. The string section was impeccable and made me think to myself more than once just how many talented musicians we are lucky to have in this town. It was also interesting to me to see a little bit more “behind the scenes” of how these songs were made. The Hi-Ho crowd was equally into it, as every song garnered a thunderous roar at its conclusion. This was clearly a crowd full of Portishead fans who were not disappointed at seeing a Dummy “cover” band.

If you missed the two shows they put on, you really missed out on something wonderful. I’ve been to hundreds of shows in my life and this was easily one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. My only complaint was not with the performers at all, but with the people in the crowd who would not stop talking during the show…but that’s another topic for another day.

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Welcome to POTIONS, mortal.

As you make your way up the ancient winding staircase–dark, mysterious and alluring–you are met first by a holographic dancing skeleton performance. If you are “chosen”, you are greeted by one or both of the feline sentries. Did I mention you may only gain access to this stairwell by special permission? But here you are, about to enter Potions Lounge, a magical NOLA Speakeasy secretly located in the recesses of the historic French Quarter.

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Turn the key and experience a place where spirits, vampires, and witches mingle. Plush velvet sofas and draperies await you as you relax in dimly lit rooms where games of mystery and imagination abound. Specialty cocktails, such as ‘The Black Cat’, the ‘Blood Drop Martini’, or absinthe imbibed concoctions will enhance your illusions, dreams and nocturnal curiosities.  As if all this wasn’t enough, make your way to the cushy and comfortable balcony that overlooks world-famous Bourbon Street and relax.

Though membership to Potions is available (www.PotionsLounge.com), you must FIRST make your way (if you dare) to the Boutique du Vampyre at 709 Saint Anne Street and speak to one of its lovely Mistresses of the Night to find this mystical hideaway.

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A Taste of Havana at Manolito

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An official “day of drinking” in the French Quarter is a thing of beauty, but you’ve got to start it off right. I did that this weekend at Manolito, an adorably tiny Cuban restaurant and bar near the corner of Decatur and Dumaine.

The place is very cute inside. The door opens onto a tiny dining and bar area with kitchen in the back, and upstairs is a loft area with a few more tables. Decor is very Cuban, naturally, but not overbearing. Our bartendress/server was SO ADORABLE and very attentive, and started us off with fantastic cocktails. I got the Bywater, a rum and green chartreuse-based concoction, and my friend got the Hotel Nacional, citrus-y house cocktail of the famous hotel in Havana by the same name. More friends arrived and we moved upstairs to the loft.

With everyone in tow we ordered another round of cocktails for the table (I’ll have the Bywater again, thanks), and then it was time for food. I had the black bean soup with crema and plantain chips, and a cheese arepa. Both were delightful and made for a meal that was just enough to sustain me through the next few hours of day drinking. The soup was hearty but not heavy, perfect for dipping the crispy plantains into. The cheese arepa was about the size of a crab cake, and though it was simple, it was superb. My friends got the olives and pickles, crispy chickpeas, and tortilla espanola, stuffed with potato, onion, and olive salad. I sampled them all and was not disappointed. To end the meal we all shared the sweetest flan ever. We left satisfied but not stuffed.

Manolito was a great place to start off our day of drinking. It’s charming and small, with great cocktails and delicious Cuban treats. It’s now officially been added to the list of regular dining/drinking spots for me and my pals. Definitely go check it out.