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Fair Grounds, all day
Final day of weekend one
Bayou Beer Garden, 9AM
The most important meal of the year
Prytania Theatre, 10AM
1933 sci-fi horror classic
Saenger Theatre, 3PM
YouTube superstar comes to town
Marigny Opera House, 5PM
Feat. guitarist and composer David Sigler
Eiffel Society, 7PM
Lord of the Rings burlesque
Maple Leaf Bar, 7PM
Feat. Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Russell Batiste, plus a crawfish boil
Bar Redux, 9PM
NOLA-based Balkan band
Zeitgeist Arts Center, 9PM
Helen Gillet presents Belgian avant garde films
Louis Armstrong Park, 1PM
A protest for freedom, jobs, justice, and sanctuary for all
Peoples Health Jazz Market, 6:30PM
CNN presents event, with post-screening conversation with anchor Brooke Baldwin
House of Blues, 7PM
Carver Club, 8PM
Treme club shifts its weekly show to the historic Carver Theatre
Cafe Istanbul, 9:15PM
Evening of poetry with Chuck Perkins, plus live music
Blue Nile, 11PM
Famed brass all-stars play Frenchmen
Ernest N. Morial Cenvention Center
Kick off day of tech conference
Marigny Recording Studio, 3PM
First annual showcase of the label's artists
Greater New Orleans Foundation, 4:30PM
Music from Irma Thomas, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Rebirth Brass Band
343 Baronne St., 6:30PM
Chardonnay vs. Pinot Noir
House of Blues, 7PM
Grammy-nominated French heavy metal
Little Gem Saloon, 7:30PM
Stick around for Honey Island Swamp Band at 11PM
Smoothie King Center, 8PM
50th anniversary tour
Feat. Rory Danger and the Danger Dangers
Octavia Books, 4:30PM
From "How to Be A Supervillain"
Hosted by Pistil & Stamen Flower Farm and Studio
Music at the Mint, 7PM
Feat. Tim Laughlin
The Sanctuary, 8PM
CD release show
Snug Harbor, 8PM
Feat. Marcia Ball, Joe Krown, and Tom McDermott
In support of newest album 'Whiteout Conditions'
Saenger Theatre, 8:30PM
Blue Nile, 9PM
Feat. Ivan Neville
Gasa Gasa, 9PM
Feat. Chrome Pony and Post Animal in support
Blue Nile, 11:55PM
Next generation NOLA brass
Pres Hall, 12AM
With Jon Cleary, Benny Bloom, & Friends
Fair Grounds, all day
Weekend two kicks off
Tubby & Coo's, 4PM
Star Wars party
Jazz in the Park
Russell Batiste and friends
Crescent Park, 5:45PM
Get sweaty and centered
Ashé Cac, 6PM
Live music, DJs, and dance
The Music Box Village, 6:30PM
Punk rock percussion
Rosalie Apothecary, 7PM
Class for women's health
House of Blues, 7:30PM
Benefit concert for his namesake foundation
The Historic Carver Theater, 8PM
Feat. Ian Neville, Nikki Glaspie, SSHH feat. Zak Starkey of The Who
The Howlin Wolf, 9PM
Republic NOLA, 9PM
Feat. George Porter Jr., Zigaboo Modeliste
Music at the Mint, 9PM
Live music to benefit the Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp
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.
Renard Boissiere, Linzi Falk, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Dead Huey, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via
Michael Weber, B.A.
B. E. Mintz