Celebrate the birthday of the Baroness Pontalba

How funny- Maybe I should ask the Baroness a few questions since I am researching the commercial history of Jackson Square and of the Pontalbas. (And I wonder if the Grand Duchess will come back in town for this?)


At the Upper Pontalba Building, Jackson Square
THURSDAY, November 3th 5-7 p.m. 500 block of St. Peter Street
Meet the Baroness—Shop—Eat Cake—Enjoy Opera

A Celebration of the Life of Micaela Leonarda Antonia Almonester y Rojas, Baroness de Pontalba (Born: November 6, 1795, New Orleans, LA; Died: April 20, 1874, Paris, France). The Baroness Pontalba is the namesake of and responsible for the design, development, and construction of the Pontalba buildings on Jackson Square, the oldest continually rented apartment buildings in the United States. The Upper Pontalba Building is managed by the French Market Corporation and is part of the French Market District.

***Spend $25 in one of the participating Shops at the Upper Pontalba on Saint Peter Street and get a raffle ticket to win items from the Shops at the Upper Pontalba! You must be present to win. Raffles will be at 5:30 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. **

Event Schedule:

Enjoy extended shop hours, retail specials, live opera, historical characters in costume, and a chance to meet Dr. Christina Vella, the author of the definitive biography of the Baroness Pontalba, “INTIMATE ENEMIES”
Signed Paperback copies of the book will be for sale at Muse at 532 St. Peter Street throughout the evening
5:00-7:00 p.m. Louisiana History Alive presents The Baroness Pontalba in person!
5:30 p.m. Raffle #1. Spend $25 in one of the participating Shops at the Upper Pontalba on Saint Peter Street and get a raffle ticket to win items from the Shops at the Upper Pontalba! You must be present to win.
6:15 p.m. Raffle #2!
5:45-6:30 p.m. New Orleans Opera Association performs from a balcony above the Shops at the Upper Pontalba
6:00-7:00 p.m. Book signing by Christina Vella, author of Intimate Enemies: The Two Worlds of Baroness de Pontalba
6:30 p.m. Happy Birthday, Baroness! Join us in singing Happy Birthday and sharing cake
6:45 p.m. Raffle #3! Spend $25 in one of the participating Shops at the Upper Pontalba on Saint Peter Street and get a raffle ticket to win items from the Shops at the Upper Pontalba! You must be present to win.


 Dear Councilmembers,
I wanted to give you my input once last time on STRs and thank you for your interest in hearing from everyone.
• I am in favor of limited owner-occupied or one listing STRs by on-site renters (with written approval of the owner) capped at 4 per calendar year for owner-occupied listings and 2 per year for one listings for on-site renters.
• I believe that STRS can be linked to property tax records,  especially to homestead exemptions. I believe penalties for multiple listings should result in massive fines to discourage scofflaws.That money should be set aside for a off-site (not at CH!) STR center for managing inspections and regulation to be housed. Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative may be a good location for this; I have no relationship to them, but think they could manage this well. This should be a public office and have a system for managing complaints against STRS including using affidavit system similar to taxi complaints.
• I am not in favor of whole house STRs under any circumstance.
• I do not believe that any neighborhood- including the Quarter or the CBD- should have any version of different allowances for the number of STRs than any other. I live in the Quarter and have friends that live in the CBD and we all deserve protection. The population of my area has risen in the last 15 years and is a world-class example of “mixed-use” done right. Allowing any version of unlimited STRS is death to any neighborhood held dear. It ain’t all rich folks and second homes. Please do away with unlimited STRS in commercial “zones.”
•I believe that this city could influence STR sites like airbnb to pin abutting neighbor reviews to the main page of any  legal hosting listing to encourage good neighbor STRs.
• To paraphrase Abigail Adams, I’d like you to consider the small hotels. I live across from one of these in the Quarter and it is  a great neighbor. Not only do they maintain their property very well, they are generous to their neighbors and offer 24/7 “eyes on the street” They need to be encouraged to remain by limiting any STRS within some distance of their site. Their hotels should also be allowed to be listed on any NOLa-managed STR site without needing to be licensed as such. The skyscraper hotels are bad for neighborhoods and for crime levels, (and for jobs, having worked in a few!) Limit any more of those in favor of small hotels in neighborhoods on main streets.
• I believe that every neighborhood organization should map their area and find 1-2 areas for zoning of boarding houses for long-term visitors. These folks often become permanent residents.
• The city should incentivize these efforts with small business assistance, business prep and tax forgiveness.
•A new program to incentivize residential rental should begin to encourage long-term leases (3 years or more).
 • Areas long undervalued should be given tax incentives and construction loans to add more affordable residential units, directed to certain sectors like the upper floors on Canal street for service industry workers.
• The issue that has risen with STRs points to the issue with rentals and renter rights in all versions of contracts and needs to be undertaken by a regional task force designed and led by this Council.
Thank you for your efforts.

Another day of guns and road rage in New Orleans

This year, one of our most popular ex-Saints football players was shot and killed on the busy streets of the busy Lower Garden District in the hours after one of our most attended public festivals. The story was initially reported as being that the shooter, Hayes, had followed him and shot him in an unprovoked attack. Hayes was reportedly carrying a gun legally and has said that he had it to his side pointed down until provoked by the victim. He says Smith went back to his car, got a gun and threatened him, although that gun has not surfaced. Smith’s wife was shot in both legs which certainly hurts Hayes’ story of only defending himself against a gun.
Hayes’ criminal record was immediately displayed as evidence of his lawlessness, even though it really told us nothing. The odd fact that the couple shot had just had dinner with the police officer who had shot Hayes’ father years earlier was used as evidence as vendetta by the media but for locals, it was just another version of the one or two degrees of separation and randomness that was super normal pre-K and is still expected.

Really, the tragedy is the argument that led to this was likely over nothing and only shows the lack of maturity on both sides. The ending paragraph of the GQ story tells it all in a nutshell: Hayes had no idea who it was he shot and, having been a promising player once himself, was horrified to find out the man he shot had been one of his favorite football players.

Generations of men grow up here and other places with bright dreams that are slowly squashed by reality and then one day, another man brushes too close to his girl or taps his prized car without apology. That speeds up the damaged heart and the rage stored there is quickly pumped throughout the body, leading to the moment when a gun is pointed and the trigger pulled. Maybe the hope is mostly that the gun itself will serve as enough of a warning to stop any other action (a MAN standing his ground), but the truth is too often that is not the end of it, but the tragic beginning.

The misguided and escalating anger over slight damage to personal property along with the fear among high-strung men (esp. an ex football player once arrested for a domestic violence charge against his wife after an altercation in public) of being “played” in public seem to be the real story here. Neither should be the reason for a death or trial and likely punishment of another.  But here it is again.

Saint Will and the Man Who Shot Him | GQ

Tropical Peops

I’ve known Earl and Pam since around the time that they began at the World’s Fair. My mother and her husband (and later my brother) were daily attendees of the Deja Vu when they owned it and we all spent time at the Decatur Gator in the 1980s too. I still pop in to catch some local musicians at the little TI on Bourbon every once in a while, and the Grapevine is quite a good place to get a glass of wine and to experience (read smell and taste) the bacon happy hour.

I also know folks who live very close to the flagship bar at Orleans and Bourbon who told me that TI is a very good neighbor to have which is a huge compliment in the Quarter from any resident.

Pam and Earl are a classic example of one type of entrepreneur that the French Quarter attracts. It is not the millennial hipster we get here but the savvy seasoned business person who can handle the chaos and the demands of operating in the Quarter. (I wrote about that a little in a post I did comparing the Quarter to the Cincinnati neighborhood of Over-The-Rhine. )


As for their real claim to fame, I recently remarked to a friends that the Grenade has clearly outpaced the Hurricane as the favorite drink for tourists, based on the number of them that I see in the hands of sweaty, drunken visitors. Maybe it’s time for a craft artist to create a sculpture out of the glasses- maybe a life-sized gator to mark it’s prominence?

Pam is constantly roaming the Quarter and always up for a chat so keep an eye out for her and say hello.

Shopping 1825-1925

Our best French Quarter museum, The Historic New Orleans Collection, has another interesting exhibit that just opened and will run for 6 months over on Royal Street. Their exhibits are free and are conveniently located just off the gift shop. The exhibit is called Goods of Every Description: Shopping in New Orleans, 1825–1925.

So much of what we ate, wore and used in this colonial city was imported from other American cities and in the case of the furniture or finer household items, quite often from European makers. One of the luxuries of being a significant port city.


Mule-drawn streetcar model; between 1865 and 1870; silver, gold; by Zimmerman’s (New Orleans); The Historic New Orleans Collection, acquisition made possible by the Laussat Society, 2015.0464.20

Facebook event page


Second Line For Equal Justice by John Calhoun – GoFundMe

My name is John Calhoun, and I am working with over a dozen Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs and the Orleans Public Defenders Office to plan a Second Line For Equal Justice to raise awareness about the crisis our public defenders office is facing and to encourage our city and state governments to adequately fund indigent defense.

Source: GoFundMe