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THE

Defender Picks

 

VENDREDI

September 19th

Music Under the Oaks
Audubon Park Newman Bandstand, 4:30-6p.m.

This week ft. Loyola Jazz Alumni Jam

 

Friday Nights at NOMA
NOMA, 5-10p.m.

Music by Cindy Scott and an outdoor screening of Sunset Boulevard

 

Makers: Women in Comedy
Ashé Cultural Arts Center, 6p.m.
Part of a PBS series on women in historically male-dominated industries (free)

 

Concerts in the Courtyard
Historic N.O. Collection, 6-8p.m.
This week ft. Debbie Davis and the Mesmerizers ($10)

 

2014: A Strauss Odyssey
Mahalia Jackson Theatre, 7:30p.m.
LPO’s 2014-2015 season kicks off ft. soprano Susanna Phillips ($20-$99)

 

A Lie of the Mind
Midcity Theatre, 7:30p.m.
Sam Shepard’s award-winning play looks deep into families’ anguish ($20)

 

Tim and Eric
The Civic, 8p.m.
Adult Swim goofs bring their absurd comedy tour to NOLA ($40)

 

Thin Walls
Shadowbox Theater, 8p.m.
A dark comedy by Michael Allen Zell

 

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Le Petit Theatre, 8p.m.
Christopher Durang’s Tony-winning comedy takes Chekhovian figures to Pennsylvania ($35+)

 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
NOCCA Nims Black Box Theatre, 8p.m.
The NOLA Project presents a stage adapation of Ken Kesey’s classic ($30)

 

Dax Riggs
One Eyed Jacks, 9p.m.
Local metal legend

 

Katey Red, Chilldren, Magnolia Rhome
Siberia, 9p.m.
Bounce night also ft. BJ So Cole, Da Danger Boyz, DJ Lil Man


Soul Sister’s 8th Annual Birthday Jam
Tipitina’s, 10p.m.
Ft. DJ Soul Sister and DJ Maseo of De La Soul

 

Debauche, Smoke n Bones
Maison, 10:30p.m.
Russian folk-punk and NOLA funk at Maison tonight

SAMEDI

September 20th

Pratik Patel of the African Wildlife Trust
Audubon Zoo, 6p.m.
Tanzanian wildlife official speaks on conservation

 

A Lie of the Mind
Midcity Theatre, 7:30p.m.
Sam Shepard’s award-winning play looks deep into families’ anguish ($20)

 

Thin Walls
Shadowbox Theater, 8p.m.
A dark comedy by Michael Allen Zell

 

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Le Petit Theatre, 8p.m.
Christopher Durang’s Tony-winning comedy takes Chekhovian figures to Pennsylvania ($35+)

 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
NOCCA Nims Black Box Theatre, 8p.m.
The NOLA Project presents a stage adaption of Ken Kesey’s classic ($30)

 

Dr. John & The Nite Trippers
Joy Theater, 9p.m.
A New Orleans legend returns home from tour

 

Afghan Whigs
Civic, 9p.m.
Cincinnati alt rockers return with their first new album in a decade ($30)

 

Lost Bayou Ramblers, The Other Planets
One Eyed Jacks, 9p.m.
Get lost with this Grammy-nominated Cajun band

 

Black & Gold Kick Off Party
Tipitina’s, 10p.m.
Celebrate Saints season with Dumpstaphunk, Good Enough For Good Times, & Gypsyphonic Disko ($17)

 

Merchandise
Siberia, 10p.m.
Tampa post-punk; playing with Direct Attack, Heat Dust, TV-MA ($8)

 

Siren Sea
Circle Bar, 10p.m.
Independent pop duo from Dallas ($5)

 

Big Sam's Funky Nation
Blue Nile, 10p.m.
Trombonist "Big Sam" Williams leads this municipality of Who Dat Nation

 

Hot 8 Brass Band
d.b.a., 11p.m.

Experience the brass band that locals love ($10)

 

Debauche
Carrollton Station, 11p.m.
NOLA’s only Russian Mafia band play a late-night show Uptown

DIMANCHE

September 21st

Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings
Superdome, 12p.m.

First home game of the regular season. Geaux Saints!!

 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
NOCCA Nims Black Box Theatre, 2p.m.
The NOLA Project presents a stage adapation of Ken Kesey’s classic ($30)

 

Thin Walls
Shadowbox Theater, 4p.m.
A dark comedy by Michael Allen Zell

 

Louisiana History Alive!
Shadowbox Theatre, 8p.m
.
This month ft. Baroness Pontalba and "Mother of Orphans" Margaret Haughery

 

Gal Holiday & the Honky-Tonk Revue
Chickie Wah Wah, 8p.m.

Authentic N.O. honky-tonk rock

 

Hot 8 Brass Band
Howlin Wolf Den, 10p.m.
Experience the brass band locals love

 

Elaine Greer
Circle Bar, 10p.m.
Singer-songwriter based in Austin, TX ($5)


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:

Dead Huey Long, Emma Boyce, Elizabeth Davas, Ian Hoch, Lindsay Mack, Anna Gaca, Jason Raymond, Lee Matalone, Phil Yiannopoulos, Joe Shriner, Chris Staudinger, Chef Anthony Scanio, Tierney Monaghan, Stacy Coco, Rob Ingraham,

Staff Writers

Cheryl Castjohn, Sam Nelson

Listings Editor

Anna Gaca

Art Listings

Cheryl Castjohn

Photographers

Brandon Roberts, Rachel June, Daniel Paschall

Film Critic

Jason Raymond

Puzzler

Paolo Roy

Art Director:

Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor:

B. E. Mintz

Published Daily by

Minced Media, Inc.

Editor Emeritus



Stephen Babcock