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THE

Defender Picks

 

MERCREDI

August 23rd

Wine Down Wednesdays

New Orleans Jazz Museum, 6:30PM

Free yogalates at the Mint

 

The Heart of Herbalism

Rosalie Apothecary, 7PM

Syrups and immune health

 

Trapper Keeper

Side Bar, 8:30PM

Local improv music duo, feat. Dr. Jeff Albert

 

Trainspotting

Bar Redux, 9PM

Free screening of junkie masterpiece

 

Chris & Tami

The New Movement, 9:30PM

TNM's founders perform weekly free show

 

Vixens & Vinyl

One Eyed Jacks, 10:30PM

Burlesque dance party

JEUDI

August 24th

Summertime Blues

Shops at Canal Place, 5:30PM

Young professionals meet-up with blues, brews, and BBQ

 

Architecture & Design Film Festival Kick-Off

Contemporary Arts Center, 5:30PM

Opening night party and film

 

Yoga Social Club

Crescent Park, 5:45PM

Get sweaty and centered

 

Ogden After Hours

Ogden Museum, 6PM

Feat. Sweet Olive String Band

 

Ambush Reggae Band

Gasa Gasa, 9PM

Local roots reggae group

 

Royal Teeth

Tipitina's, 9PM

Feat. Merci Raines and No True Scotsman

VENDREDI

August 25th

Friday Nights at NOMA

NOMA, 5PM

Feat. The Pfister Sisters

 

Exotic Races

Fair Grounds, 5PM

Races feat. ostriches and camels

 

More Lovely and More Temperate

Valiant Theatre and Lounge, 6PM

Performance of all 154 Shakespearean sonnets

 

Lil' WeezyAna Fest

Champions Square, 7PM

Feat. Gucci Man, Rich the Kid, Kodie Shane, YoungBoy NBA, and Lil Wayne

 

Drive-In On the Patio

Bar Redux, 9PM

Campy and cool movies, The Wasp Woman, Attack of the Giant Leeches, and The Giant Gila Monster

 

Little Maker & Mr. Universe

One Eyed Jacks, 9PM

Feat. special tribute to The Band

 

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Prytania Theatre, 12AM

Feat. NOLA's foremost shadow cast The Well-Hung Speakers

SAMEDI

August 26th

It's About TIME

Studio Be, 6PM

Artist conversation about oppression via symbols like the monuments

 

New Pride Pageant

Cafe Istanbul, 6PM

Honoring Mr & Miss New Orleans Pride 2017

 

New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans

SuperDome, 7PM

The Saints and Texans go head to head

 

Rick & Morty Marathon

Bar Redux, 9PM

Outdoor binge session for Dan Harmon's animated series

 

Swamp Motel

Gasa Gasa, 9PM

Album release party for Louisiana rockers

 

Vox & The Hound

One Eyed Jacks, 10PM

Pop group, feat. psych band Midriff and Naughty Palace


Snakes in the Temple

5th Circuit Court Lamps at Center of Unfolding Courtroom Mystery



The twelve sit loosely coiled holding up large opaque globes of light in the West Courtroom. Noted by everyone who appears for court, or works in the building, no one has a clue how they got there. They are the brass snake lamps of the Fifth Circuit, the most enduring mystery of a New Orleans landmark.

 

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals building, named since 1994 after Judge John Minor Wisdom, turns 100 years old next year. The Court plans to celebrate the centenary with festivities coinciding with its annual judicial conference. Six hundred people - judges, spouses, and guests -- will be on hand.  Many will remember the landmark civil rights decisions issued by the Court, often written by Judge Wisdom. Others may roam the large marble hallways designed by James Gamble Rodgers in the style of Italian Renaissance Revival, marveling over the intricate interior.

 

For Jesse Cannon, Assistant Circuit Executive for Space and Facilities, the coming centenary offers a chance to show the wonders and mysteries unknown to people wandering nearby Lafayette Park or hurriedly passing the front doors at 600 Camp Street. Cannon, an architect, has been studying the Wisdom Building since he first arrived during a twelve-month pilot program back in 1987.  

 

"We've always had a desire to learn more about this building," Cannon says.

 

The rattlesnakes - yes, rattlesnakes - of the West Courtroom remain mystery number one.

 

Cannon knows that the 12 lamps - two in front, two in back, four on each side - came with the original decor of the building. He knows the U.S. Treasury supervised the two million dollar design and construction, completed in 1915.  But that's all he knows for certain, though he researches and deduces. 

 

"Wherever these fixtures were formed, the lighting fixtures in the other two courtrooms had to come from the same place," he says. "It would only make sense." 

 

Those lamps consist of traditional bald eagles, but each room has a different design. They decorate the East and En Banc courtrooms, where the Fifth Circuit always held court.

 

The West Courtroom, in contrast, housed the federal district court for the Eastern District of Louisiana until 1963. The snakes oversaw all manner of federal trials. The courts left in 1963 for renovation. Hurricane Betsy changed plans. The building spent years as a temporary school; children learning by the light of the snake lamps. 

 

When the Fifth Circuit returned to its home in 1973, court business and personnel had increased so much that the Appeals Court took over entirely.  Today, all three courtrooms - East, En Banc (where all the judges of the Fifth Circuit will hear a case) and West - are used regularly one week a month and as well during special sessions. 

 

But, why snakes? 

 

Sure, for a room that's filled with lawyers, what better symbol can there be than rattlesnakes?  But Cannon thinks the designers had more serious intentions.

 

"One of the interpretations is that the snakes represented good and evil, which here in the courtroom is a pretty ideal, convenient if you will, interpretation," he says. "Also snakes represented healing. Images of serpents were placed outside temples and other religious buildings several thousand years ago to protect those temples from evil."

 

Think of the Rod of Asclepius or the Caduces, the basis for the symbol still used today in medicine. Cannon, belonging to the prestigious Fellow American Institute of Architects, points out that the building was clearly designed to be a judicial temple by the architect. The decor in the great marble hallways is distinctly classical in its design. Other judicial buildings created during that era have the same Greek and Roman imagery. 

 

In the En Banc courtroom, he points to small, grotesquely gothic faces looking down from the hand-stained ceiling.  He sees intentionality in the creation of all these complex symbols. 

 

"The architects certainly wanted to evoke some sense of justice and the court system," he says. "They may have done the same research and came up with these symbols from past cultures."  The great hallways contain panoplies of classical imagery.

 

Like all mysteries, everyone's entitled to their opinion.  The Circuit Court library has a four-page history that says of the snakes, "Some say it is an homage to Texas.  Some say it is in recognition of a famous statues called Rattlesnake by Frederic Remington." 

 

Cannon today works with the General Services Administration on maintenance and restoration projects.  He's primarily concerned with keeping the historical integrity of the finishings and the fixtures that were part of the original construction, including those brass rattlesnakes.  He's located blueprints, photographs, and other drawings relating to the construction of the building.  He's recently gotten the original drawings from the National Archives that are now on display. 

 

"Over the last 27 years or so, we've been constantly looking for source material that will give us a better understanding and appreciation of the history of the building," he says. "So it's an ongoing process." 

 

Someday he and the rest of the staff of the Wisdom Building hope to solve the mystery of the brass rattlesnakes.

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Contributors

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

Photographers


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor

Alexis Manrodt

Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

B. E. Mintz

Editor Emeritus

Stephen Babcock

Published Daily