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Defender Picks


The Man Behind the Plaque

The Life of Lafcadio Hearn

When I was growing up in Japan, I heard the name “Lafcadio Hearn” a lot. My grandfather was a college professor specializing in languages and literature, so it didn’t strike me as odd that I heard so many references to Hearn and his Kwaidan, a collection of Japanese ghost stories (my family was big on stories, and the Japanese have always been big on ghosts), to Hearn and his examination of Asian folk tales in general, to Hearn and his writings about Japanese culture as interpreted for a Western audience.


A Cut Above: Seersucker Day

by Liz Davas

Happy National Seersucker Day, y’all! Today, we celebrate one of New Orleans’ greatest gifts to the fashion world, the seersucker suit. While we did not invent it, we damn well perfected it—we pretty much had to. New Orleans sits in a subtropical climate, and a dark-colored suit just doesn’t work in the 90-degrees-with-90-percent-humidity lifestyle. Without the seersucker suit, the CBD would have been scattered with businessmen knocked out from heat, instead of long, cocktail-fueled lunch meetings.

Pipe Dreams: La. Colonial Trade Explored in French Quarter

In the early years of our great city, tobacco cultivation was the order of the day. The French Company of the Indies had this hardcore belief that the humid bayou was the place to upstage Britain's tobacco concern in Virginia, thus eliminating the need for France to import the plant from its colonial rival. Scheming Scotsman John Law (no relation) engineered the plan, which failed horribly, but ended up increasing the Company's influence in the young colony. A new exhibition at the Historic New Orleans Collection, "Pipe Dreams," explains this story in rich detail. 

A Company Man

Newly Edited Memoir of 18th Century Clerk Offers Rare Peek Into Historic New Orleans

In 1730, Marc-Antoine Caillot arrived in New Orleans to record his observations about Louisiana, or 'New France,' as he knew it. In 'A Company Man,' modern Crescent City residents get a peek into their hometown in the 18th Century and see that much of the lure of 18th Century New Orleans persists into the 21st.

Cabildo Fire Revisited

On May 11, 1988, plumes of black smoke draped the French Quarter as the Cabildo - one of those historic buildings that flank St. Louis Cathedral - burst into flames. The blaze destroyed the cupola and the entire third floor, both of which would not be reopened to the public until 1994. The dramatic scene brought crowds to the Quarter, who were eventually banished behind the fence once the blaze was under control. It was, in fact, the second time the Cabildo caught fire. The original structure was destroyed in the Great New Orleans fire of 200 years earlier - 1788. To look back the Louisiana State Museum has some pictures here. 

Steamboat Saturday in Jackson Square

The year eighteen hundred twelve was not only the year of its namesake war, nor was it merely the year that Louisiane gained her place among these United States. In 1812, the first steamboat completed traveling the length of the Mighty Mississippi to make port in New Orleans. The journey, undertaken by the steamboat's architect and Teddy Roosevelt's great uncle Nicholas Roosevelt, took more than four months to completes.

Balls & Brawls

Ah yes, the life of a senior editor. Over at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates was, for whatever reason, looking into the history of our city''s masked balls today. Yet, in his perusing, Coates stumbles upon  a  description of a time when balls dominated the social scene, and the origin of bloodlines was reason to fight. He quotes from old articles about the balls that describe walking sticks getting raised at fiddlers, blows and pocket-pistols out in the open and a brawl that resulted in people being "more or less dangerously wounded." Perhaps things haven't changed that much, as the mayhem is described as going down "without any interruption from police."

Carrying the Torch

Flambeau Barers Shed Light on Early Mardi Gras Traditions

Between the colorful floats and raucous marching bands, a humbler – yet no less staid – Mardi Gras tradition slips between the cracks in the marching order. Keepers of the light are known to lead the way for those lost in the dark and that is a perfect way to describe a flambeau carrier.

The Crescent's Cattle Call

Before Brad Pitt and Drew Brees, the only Grade A meat we had passing through these parts was running in herds. Often known as a port town, New Orleans was also a destination for cowboys driving cattle toward the meatpacking mecca of Chicago. As Murphy Givens relates in today's Corpus Christi Caller, the journey over the Cajun Country swamps was treacherous for famed driver Shanghai Pierce, among others.

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


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Michael Weber, B.A.


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Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

Stephen Babcock

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