A series on famous New Orleans DJs past and present (Louisiana Weekly. Summer 2016).

I was honored to be assigned this Louisiana Weekly series on famous New Orleans DJs past and present, but mostly past. I wish I could continue writing this series; there are SO many important DJs I’d love to include. This is just the very, very tip of that iceberg..

Dr. Daddio and Larry McKinley: http://www.louisianaweekly.com/making-the-music-spin-in-new-orleans/

Papa Smurf and DJ Chicken: http://www.louisianaweekly.com/making-the-music-spin-in-new-orleans-2/

Slick Leo: http://www.louisianaweekly.com/making-the-music-spin-in-new-orleans-4/

Gina Brown: http://www.louisianaweekly.com/making-the-music-spin-with-a-feminine-flair-in-new-orleans/

Fresh Johnson and T-Pot: http://www.louisianaweekly.com/making-the-music-spin-with-a-feminine-flair-in-new-orleans-2/

Or watch this great interview with DJ Slick Leo about the origins of New Orleans’s Congo Square:

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Still Racist After All These Years: Why David Duke Won’t Go Away (Vice. October 2016).

“White people will be a minority in America soon. Every minority has a spokesgroup, except European Americans. We’re not allowed.”

That’s Michael Lawrence’s pitch for David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan big shot and perennial political candidate now running for the US Senate in Louisiana. Lawrence ran Duke’s campaign before quitting, he told me, to deal with flooding on some properties in Baton Rouge he owned. “For a long time now, David has been the sole spokesman for white people. And he has paid an incredible price for standing up,” lamented Lawrence, who still supports Duke, “in being labeled a racist.”

The news isn’t that Duke has crawled out of the marshes to run for the seat left by fellow embarrassment David Vitter. The news is that Duke recently somehow polled the requisite 5 percent needed to land him in an upcoming televised debate—the most legitimacy the notorious racist and anti-Semite has had in a long, long time. As an added irony, or insult, he will enjoy this honor at New Orleans’s historically black Dillard University.

Duke has haunted Louisiana’s conscience since the 70s, when he became a regular spouting his rhetoric on Louisiana State University’s “Free Speech Alley.” To fund his larger ambitions, in 1976, he wrote a pseudonymous sexual self-help book for women titled Finders Keepers. In 1979, he founded the National Association for the Advancement of White People. After failed Senate and presidential bids as a Democrat, Duke turned Republican and in 1989 was elected state senator in a special election. Following a short and uninspired term, Duke ran for governor and lost, though he garnered more votes than he ever would again in his many other failed political attempts.

After his partner Don Black (who married Duke’s ex-wife Chloe Hardin) left to start the white nationalist site Stormfront, Duke founded the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) in 2000. Following a short stint in jail for lying to his own supporters in order to fundraise from them and cheating on his taxes, Duke remained mostly in the shadows until this past September when he came to New Orleans to ostensibly stop protestors who were threatening to tear down the city’s famous statue of Andrew “Trail of Tears” Jackson. The mostly black crowd reportedly ran him out of Jackson Square with chants of “Racist, fascist, anti-gay! Right-wing bigot, go away!” CLICK HERE to read the rest of this piece at Vice…

Or you can watch the entire INSANE senate debate, wherein David Duke freaks out like a desperate-for-screentime castmember of MTV’s The Real World:

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Cage-farmed oysters in Grande Isla, LA (Louisiana Cultural Vistas. Fall 2016).

As the first day of summer approaches, farmers arrive at Louisiana State University’s Sea Grant oyster farm in Grand Isle to pick up their seed. The farmers express gratitude that Dr. John Supan has, with the help of his team, grown their oyster seeds a bit bigger than required.

“I don’t drink beer,” Supan announces to the farmers. “So you can pay me back with a bottle of wine. Or two.”

Dr. Supan benevolently lords over a slice of paradise on Caminada Bay, including a massive waterfront laboratory for breeding genetically perfect oysters, and a private floating farm in which to grow them, consisting of rows and rows of what look like miniature shark cages. Only Supan has official clearance to trout fish between the cages, which he does, alone, at 5:30 every single morning. “I only throw top water lures,” he tells me when I express jealousy. “You don’t catch as much but when you do they’re the biggest and best.”

The pinky-nail-sized larval oysters look like a pile of mushy sand until Supan’s crew rinse and separate them from each other. The tiny oysters yearn to attach to anything, but each of these will live its entire life autonomous and untethered from rocks and fellow oysters.

In the process of packing the seeds into small sacks of 50,000, three of the tiny larvae fall to the ground. This goes unnoticed by no one. The farmers purchase the two-millimeter larvae through the Louisiana Oyster Dealers and Growers Association for $300 per million, or $11 per thousand. Traditional oyster larvae face all manner of challenges, and most never make it to adulthood, but the cage farmers expect almost all of these seeds to grow.

Marcos Guerrero and his son Boris return their triploid oysters to Caminiada Bay to continue growing. Photo by Rick Olivier

LSU’s hatchery is designed to produce around a billion larvae each year. Seed is what Supan and company focus on, because seed is what’s been desperately needed. Jules Melancon, a third generation oyster fisherman, was the first Louisiana farmer to adopt this cage technology six years ago. “We still get a few hundred acres of wild oysters, but only about every three years, “says 58-year-old Melancon, who joined the family business at age 11. “So, we have to have a seed crop too every year to have the big money. And usually you’d lose a lot to predators, so you need a lot of seed. This way, LSU grows the seed, and the cages protect from predators.” CLICK HERE to read the rest of the piece at Louisiana Cultural Vistas… 

Or watch this demo about how to grow oysters in cages:

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Four different Cajun/Creole/Zydeco music profiles (Acadiana Profile. 2016)

Joe Hall and the Cane Cutters (band) http://www.myneworleans.com/Acadiana-Profile/December-January-2016/Joe-Hall-and-The-Cane-Cutters/

Zydeco Radio (band) http://www.myneworleans.com/Acadiana-Profile/February-March-2016/Meet-Zydeco-Radio/

The Jolly Inn (music venue) http://www.myneworleans.com/Acadiana-Profile/August-September-2016/Family-Band/

Blackpot Festival (fascinating!): http://www.myneworleans.com/Acadiana-Profile/October-November-2016/Musical-Gumbo/

Or watch this sweet lil vid of musicians jammin at Blackpot:

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The ‘Flesh-Eating Bacteria’ That Terrifies the Gulf Coast (Vice. July 2016).

“When I shuffled into the water, I felt my foot go into something’s mouth,” recalls Kelly Blomberg of her last fishing trip to Grand Isle, Louisiana. “There was blood everywhere. LSU’s biology department determined it was a baby blacktip shark. Thank god I didn’t lose my foot from that!

But the bite quickly became the least of Blomberg’s problems. That wound allowed vibrio vulnificus—a rare microorganism sometimes called “flesh-eating bacteria”—to enter Blomberg’s bloodstream.

Vulnificus doesn’t actually eat flesh, but instead excretes a toxin that causes white blood cells to destroy the flesh to banish the intrusion. “At first my foot got huge, then there was a red line running up my leg. I was freaking out,” says Blomberg, who after three months off work is only now beginning to heal. “The whole time that it was getting worse, nobody told me I had flesh-eating bacteria… there were tendons and muscle showing… They had to do a skin graft.”

Though it’s uncommon—the Centers for Disease Control confirm just 124 vibrio vulnificus cases reported in 2014—it can be a frightening and even deadly occurrence; many vulnificus victims lose a limb and around half of them die. “Vibrio has destroyed the lymphatic system on most of the left side of my body,” Jocko Angle, who contracted a vulnificus infection after incurring an open wound at a Mississippi beach three years ago, tells VICE. “My left leg looks it has a bad case of diabetes. I’ve gone to several surgeons, and I’ve asked them to remove it.” CLICK HERE to read the rest of the piece at Vice

Or watch this scary video about vibrio in Florida:

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Obit for NOLA musician Mike Joseph (OffBeat. July 2016).

New Orleans musician Michael James Joseph passed away Monday, July 11, at the age of 48. Joseph was known as the bass guitarist for legendary New Orleans rock ’n’ roll bands Black Problem, Lump and Norco Lapalco, and as a longtime horn player for Egg Yolk Jubilee.

“Mike could pick up any instrument from any country in the world and in 30 seconds he’d be making real music with it,” attests guitarist Lou Thevenot, who started Black Problem with Joseph in 1987. “He had a sense of humor and warmth, and very importantly a lack of ego and pretention, that made him easy to be in a band with. He was fun to make music with because of those things.” obit

Joseph worked at Southern Candymakers in the French Quarter and as a waiter and manager at Morning Call in Metairie. Joseph graduated from Archbishop Rummell High School, alma mater of most members of Egg Yolk Jubilee.

“I considered Mike and [Black Problem/Lump drummer] AP Gonzalez one of the best rhythm sections in rock, ever,” says Egg Yolk guitarist, Geoff Douville. “They were an authoritative machine, and played some of the best shows I have ever seen in my life, still to this day.” CLICK HERE to read the rest of the piece at OffBeat Magazine…

Or watch this live video of Joseph’s band Norco Lapalco:

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New Orleans’s Confederate Monument Controversy (Guardian UK. Jan 2016).

After David Mahler’s company won a New Orleans city contract to move four civil war monuments from their places of public honor, some of his clients reportedly threatened to discontinue business with him. Local groups filed a lawsuit to keep the monuments where they stood. Still, Mahler’s team went ahead and measured the memorial to Jefferson Davis – the “president of the Confederate States of America” – for what seemed its inevitable removal.

But death threats followed, until Mahler finally decided to take his team off the job. Then, a week after he backed out, his Lamborghini was found burned to cinder in the parking lot of his company.

Burned car
Photograph: Tannie Guidry/Facebook

The renewed fight over confederate monuments began last summer when Dylann Roof killed nine African Americans at a revered black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and cloaked his reasoning in the Confederate flag. When the state of South Carolina lowered its American flag to half-mast alongside its continuously flying Confederate flag at the Statehouse, activist Bree Newsome climbed up and took the “rebel flag” down herself. Governor Nikki Haley later signed the papers and made it official.

Following South Carolina’s lead, other cities began liquidating their confederate symbols. Baltimore commissioned the removal of monuments to Roger B Taney, Robert E Lee and Thomas J “Stonewall” Jackson. Memphis, Tennessee, is removing a bust of KKK founder Gen Nathan Bedford Forrest. North Carolina, Texas, Florida and Kentucky have publicly debated what to move where, and even Alabama, whose police uniforms feature the stars and bars, are ripping down rebel flags and statues.

New Orleans city government came to the battle this June, when mayor Mitch Landrieu assigned the city council to debate and vote on removing four specific confederate monuments.

There is the Battle of Liberty Place monument, which commemorates the 1874 insurrection wherein around 5,000 members of the Crescent City White League killed roughly 100 of the 3,500 black and white federal officers sent to New Orleans oversee the Reconstruction. In 1932 an inscription was added to it, celebrating the League’s role in preserving “white supremacy in the south”. In 1974, the city tacked on an odd plaque essentially walking back its support of the monument before, in 1989, it was moved to a more out-of-the-way local and its inscription drastically softened. In 1993, America’s favorite klansman David Duke held a re-dedication ceremony for the Liberty Place statue. CLICK HERE to read the rest of the article at The Guardian UK…

Or watch this footage of New Orleans’s City Council’s controversial vote to remove the statues:

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