Mary Landrieu Sponsors Senate Funding for ALS Research, Team Gleason

Team Gleason could be getting some help from the U.S. Senate. According to U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's office, the state's senior senator has inserted $7.5 million for ALS research into a defense spending bill as a result of her partnership with Saints hero Steve Gleason.


The funding measure, which was added to the bill that funds the U.S. Dept. of Defense for 2015, is designed to fund technological advances and medical research that would work toward finding a cure for the terminal illness, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.


The bill was passed by a committee on Thursday, and now goes before the full U.S. Senate.


“This funding will help raise awareness of the disease and get us one step closer to hopefully reaching a cure,” said Sen. Landrieu. “Steve Gleason has continued to serve as a strong advocate for the ALS community and serves as an inspiration to all those suffering with this tragic disease. 


Gleason, who famously blocked the Falcons' punt in the Black and Gold's first game back in the Superdome after the Federal Flood, has sought to draw attention to ALS research, and serve as an example perservance when battling a devastating disease.


Gleason met with Landrieu in March to discuss policy options for ALS research, the Senator's office said.


-Stephen Babcock

Film Review: Boyhood

Blessed Lord Almighty is Boyhood bad: nearly three hours of scene after scene going nowhere powered by tedious, superficial chit-chat. At the two-hour, twenty-six minute mark, Ethan Hawke gets asked "What's the point?" by-then-former-child-actor Ellar Coltrane (perhaps it was the other way around– I could barely focus on the film by this point). I can't give you a memorable quote in response to this all-too-valid question, and it's a dull, uninspired scene. 


When it comes to endless, awful films set in Texas, I've had 1956's Giant at the top of my list. However, Giant has memorable imagery centered on James Dean splattered with oil smoking a cigarette. Does Dean's three or four great scenes put Giant at 200 minutes below Boyhood's 166 minutes of irredeemably lackluster imagery, plot and dialogue?  


Yeah, he shot this over 12 years, but don't turn director Richard Linklater into Michael Apted. The UP Series, where Apted filmed the lives of actual British people since they were schoolchildren in the mid-60s, offers real emotion, surprising twists, and, of course, the basis for some limited evaluation of the nation in which the children live. For all of Linklater's indie cred, Boyhood represents nothing more than a 12-year vanity project consisting of Hollywood pablum where young Mason, Jr. grows up into a stereotypical sensitive artist with contra-mainstream ideals (and, eventually, killer looks, hair, and love interests). Every year that Linklater filmed, every year that the actors grew a little older, every year where the actors and Linklater drafted the script for those few scenes . . . saw at least three films covering similar teenage material.  


If you are going to make this kind of effort to create a project, shouldn't you have something original to say? Linklater and company offer only ABC's Afterschool Special-quality insights all through Boyhood. The drama centers on drinking, abusive step-fathers, biological fathers trying to connect during visitation, the angst of being white and lower-middle-class, the horrors of George W. Bush and his racist supporters, new schools with girls and bullies, and such. The whole real-life passage of time angle, celebrated by publicists looking to sell tickets to the gullible, echoed by critics beaten senseless by violent GCI scenes from Godzilla to Planet of the Apes, can't make up for the superficial script, the lack of editing (a.k.a Linklater's cinematic style), and performances that are merely okay. No one grabs the screen like Dean did by just twirling a rope in a beat-up cowboy hat.  


When the film opens, Mason, Jr. is about six, sharing his room with an older sister (Linklater's own child Lorelei)  Single Mom Patricia Arquette (two years away from her role in Medium when shooting started) struggles without much help from irresponsible, but still cool musician Dad (Ethan Hawke). Arquette meets promising men, who turn out to be damaged (or even dangerous to her family). Dad takes the kids on visitation weekend outings in his old GTO, lecturing them on liberal ideals in a fashion you only see only in Hollywood movies when scriptwriters can't think of anything meaningful to say. Pop talks Obama and condoms (how edgy). The children grow older, taller and prettier through struggles and experiences that make up The Facts of Life canon. Dad and son bond over The Beatles (a "black album" – the only time anything "black" appears in this movie). The son's hair grows longer, he paints his nails, takes photographs, and finds girls, booze, and drugs. Music and montage are the orders of the day: SOMEONE has yet to recover from Dazed and Confused.


Look Dudes: when you have, like, sharp, like, dialogue, and a point to your scenes, really, you know, when the story has an arc (or something), and characters, like, you find a phenomenon akin to interesting filmmaking. In other words, movie dialogue is to human speech what race car driving is to drunk driving. It takes a degree of mastery to make a turn at 120mph or bounce your lingo for your audience to enjoy. You can't drift all over the highway shooting inside a black GTO bantering about your week and think you've made good work.  


What is good dialogue? The Lion in Winter [1968], a classic, consists of nothing more than dialogue spoken by family members with complex relationships. Their evolving animosities create tension, leading to action and drama. Oh, The Lion in Winter has humor and transcendent actors including Peter O'Toole, Kate Hepburn, Tony Hopkins and Nigel Terry. Want a strong woman confronting her drunken, abusive husband?  Check out Kate as Eleanor of Acquitaine telling Peter as Henry II that she slept with his father the day before they married. Boyhood doesn't measure up as drama.


In fact, this film doesn't even measure up to material John Hughes created in the 1980s and early 1990s. Boyhood, for all its length, lacks action, humor, or character depth. I'm not sure the acting surpasses Pretty in Pink. Hughes put his characters through far more angst than Linklater does here. We may just make it to the Some Kind of Wonderful color wheel of teenage pain and alienation.  


Variety just gushed over the actors writing big chunks of the script. Trust me, Boyhood does look like it was written by a committee: it's predictable, bland, border-line cliche, with scenes extending for no reason but to give the actors a chance to blather. Notice that Mamet guy: he tends to write it all out himself. What is the point of seeing a child grow up to a college arts student? Linklater has no idea. Bill Cosby had more of an agenda sending Denise and Theo to university. Dead Poets Society had more to say about youth and art.  


In an America coming off fourteen years of active warfare, you can't tell me we lack material for "kitchen sink drama." Richard Linklater isn't John Osbourne or Sean O'Casey or Eugene O'Neil.    


Once, Americans made interesting work of families struggling to stay together during catastrophic duress.  Steinbeck sent the Joads westward through the Dust Bowl facing genuinely terrifying prospects. Heck, I beat up on The Last Picture Show, which also had sex, youth, angst, dysfunctional families, dialogue and annoying musical montages with Hank Williams. Suddenly, it doesn't look so bad. The Sopranos had more to say about growing up in white America, not to mention the Whites of Albuquerque. Hope and pain inside the family have been American literary staples since Hawthrone and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Carson McCullers, Tennessee William and James Baldwin also created material for great narrative drama centered on families. Instead Richard Linklater has just wasted twelve years to remind us just how artistically deaf he is.

Bicyclist Killed at St. Claude and Elysian Fields

Updated 5:47 p.m.

NOPD is on the scene of a fatal crash in the Marigny. A male bicyclist was killed in an accident near the corner of St. Claude Ave. and Elysian Fields Ave., officer Garry Flot said.


The 52-year-old bicyclist, who was not immediately identified, was hit by an 18-wheeler who was turning onto Elysian Fields Ave. from St. Claude Ave. He was then knocked off his bicycle by the truck. Then, an SUV drove by and also hit the man. Police at the scene were seen investigating both vehicles.


The 18-wheeler was being driven by a 51-year-old man from Violet, police said. He was not issued a citation.


As police worked the scene, the bicycle and tractor trailer remained in the middle of the road on the lakebound side of Elysian Fields Ave.


Further details on the accident were not immediately released. NoDef will provide updates as they come available.

Today in Tales: 7.17.14

Tales of the Cocktail returns for a second day with a deep dive into rum and scotch. The party scene is never quiet at Tales, and this evening provides a doubleheader involving The Dude, bowling and Bacardi.


3:30-5:30 p.m. – Rum! The Past, Present, and Future of Cocktails (Tasting) (Monteleone)

Whether mixed, sipped, or poured into a coconut, tike style, rum is making a comeback. This tasting will feature several brands both straight and mixed into cocktails with the hopes of providing a history of the product and a show of its versatility. On hand will be John P. Georges (who is not the local publisher and politician, but the head mixologist for Angostura) and Phillip Duff, rum expert exrtraordinaire.


5:30p.m. – 7:30p.m. Two Girls and a Monkey Walk Into a Bar (Cafe Adelaide)

Manhattan mixology legends Julie Reiner, Lu Brow, and Dean Callan take over the CBD venue to strut their stuff. Monkey Shoulder is the event sponsor and scotch will run freely.


5:30-7:00p.m. – Meet the Craft and Independent Distillers Happy Hour (Monteleone)

An indie alcie’s dream! Sample Averell Damson Gin Liqueur, Bayou Rum, CAMUS Cognac, Cathead Vodka, Crop Organic Vodka, Dulce Vida Organic Tequila, Farmer’s Botanical Gin, Glencadam Scotch Whisky, Golden Moon Distillery, High Wire Distilling Co., Koval Distillery, Leblon Cachaça, Loft & Bear Artisanal Vodka, Mezcales de Leyenda, Middle West Spirits, New Holland Artisan Spirits, Philadelphia Distilling, Plantation Rum, Rhum Clément, St. George Spirits, Trianon Tequila, Trinchero National Spirits, Tuthilltown Spirits, Ungava, William Wolf & Zuidam Distillers


8-11 p.m. The Dude Imbibes (Fulton Alley)

Cocktailers can head to CureCo’s outpost at the swank Warehouse District bowling alley for a screening of the Coen brothers’ classic, The Big Lebowski. In addition to ten-pin and the film, there will of course be White Russians to imbibe.


10p.m.-1a.m. – Bacardi Party (Generations Hall)

The rhyming name just about says it all. The spirits giant will be pulling out all the stops for their annual bash. Expect costumed servers, elaborate staging, and lots of mustaches. Featured brands will include Bacardi USA, Bacardi, Grey Goose Vodka, Bombay Sapphire, Dewar’s, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Cazadores, D’USSE, Oxley Gin, Corzo Tequila, Drambuie & Noilly Prat.


Carousel Bar a Focal Point of TOTC

The slew of parties, talks and rotating drink menus give Tales of the Cocktail goes the feeling of being on a four-day merry-go-round. So it's perhaps fitting that the mixology industry event's central point is an actual Carousel. 


It's not just the drinks working their magic, the Hotel Monteleon's Carousel Bar makes a full rotation every 15 minutes. It has attracted locals and visitors ever since it was installed in 1949 and remains New Orleans only revolving bar and the only Carousel you have to be 21 to ride. 


During Tales of the Cocktail, the bevy of constantly changing events seem to spin out from this central, rotating point. For the rest of the year, it's a frequent stop for tourists or, when it seems a little less crowded, locals looking to take a spin.


The bar itself is a circular 25 seat bar that rotates on 2,000 large steel rollers, powered by a one quarter horsepower motor. In its early days, the Carousel Bar occupied the famous Swan Room where celebrities such as Liberace and Louis Prima performed. Now, tradition continues as Louis Prima's daughter, Lena, can be found there playing a regular gig. 


“The Carousel Bar is a truly iconic New Orleans fixture," said Kent Wasmuth, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Hotel Monteleone. "It’s gone through several renovations and expansions over the years, but to this day it is still a go-to spot for locals and tourists alike. You can ask any New Orleanian – you never forget your first spin on the Carousel Bar."


A host of famous authors have also patronized the bar, including Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Tennesee Williams and Truman Capote. Capote was even known to have said he was born in the Monteleone (his mother lived there during her pregnancy but actually was able to make it to a hospital to deliver him.)


The founder of the hotel and bar was Antonio Montleone. He was an industrious Sicilian nobleman. He operated prosperous shoe factories in Sicily and moved to New Orleans around 1880, opening a cobbler shop on Royal Street. At the time, Royal Street was one busiest streets in New Orleans, which was one of the main port cities in the world. Suffice to say; the French Quarter and Monteleone’s business did well.


Originally called the Commercial Hotel, the Monteleone was bought by Antonio in 1886 and kept its name until 1908 when it became Hotel Monteleone. Soon after Antonio bought the hotel he began its expansion. It has been in the family for five generations and went from 64 rooms to over 500.



The bar too has transformed over the years and in 1992 the carousel top was added, and in 2011 the hotel began extensive renovations changing the colors of the walls, installing antique mirrors, new furniture and wooden floors. 


“From the iconic spinning carousel to Lena Prima singing at the same bar her father frequented, there is a sense of history from the moment you walk in the door that lasts well beyond your last sip,” Wasmuth said. 


Tales of the Cocktail poured a full glass on Wednesday (7-17), officially kicking off the 2014 edition of the mixology industry melange. From a 70s themed party on Royal Street to a look at the drinking culture a few blocks over on Bourbon, the day provided much to imbibe. NoDef Photographer William Copen was onhand to capture the scenes:



Professor Richard Campanella of Tulane University, author of the recently released Bourbon Street: A History, speaks about some of Bourbon Street's most famous and popular cocktails at a seminar entitled "Hurricanes, Hand Grenades, and Shark Attacks." (photo by William Copen)


After speaking at Wednesday's seminar "Hurricanes, Hand Grenades, and Shark Attacks," Wayne Curtis, drinks writer for The Atlantic magazine and columnist for Imbibe, hands out Hand Grenade samples to seminar attendees at The Tropical Isle on Bourbon Street. (photo by William Copen)



Cocktail savants mix in the lobby of the Hotel Monteleone, which is the central hive of activitiy at Tales of the Cocktail. (photo by William Copen)



Tales of the Cocktail held a 70's themed kickoff party outside the Hotel Monteleone on Royal St. There were plenty of bottles of Galliano to go around. (Photo by William Copen)


A woman feels the vibe at the kickoff party. (photo by William Copen)


The music of the party was briefly interrupted by sirens as an ambulance arrived to provide medical attention for a passerby. (photo by William Copen)


Theo Lieberman, head bartender at the iconic New York cocktail bar Milk and Honey, pours his modern variation on the Jungle Bird, a classic tiki drink dating from the 1970s. (photo by William Copen)


When night fell, cocktail seekers headed toward the lake for the William Grant party. The Lakefront Airport soiree was themed around Charles Baker's travels and came complete with camel, and more drinks in unusual vessels.




Suspects Sought in 2 CBD Car Burglaries (VIDEO)

NOPD is searching for suspects in separate car capers that happened over the last month in the Central Business District. In both incidents, detectives were able to obtain video of the auto burglaries.

About 12:30 a.m. on June 10, cameras caught a man and woman stealing from a vehicle in a parking garage located at 812 Gravier St.


The couple are seen walking into the garage, where they proceed to look in various car windows, and pull on door handles. The man then walks between two cars, and breaks the front passenger side window of one of the vehicles. The two are then seen fleeing the garage.


Police are still looking to identify the suspects. View the video:


At 11 a.m. on June 28, a man on a black bicycle was behind a vehicle burglary in the 800 block of Magazine St., police said.

Video surveillance shows the man breaking into the trunk of a car, and stealing a red bag. He then takes off toward Uptown on Magazine St.

Video of the suspect, via NOPD:

If anyone can identify the wanted subjects please contact Detective Ryan St. Martin@ rstmartin@nola.govor 504.658.6080.


-Stephen Babcock

Today in NOLA: 7.17.14

Libations continue to flow as Tales of the Cocktail continues today. Christopher Shinn’s Pulitzer-nominated play Dying City returns to the Shadowbox Theatre for its second weekend, and Tipitina’s hosts a grand tribute to the Rolling Stones sure to please fans of rock’n’roll old and new. The Stones played their first-ever gig 52 years ago this month, on July 12, 1962, at the Marquee Club in London. More details tonight:


Tales of the Cocktail (Various locations, all day)

New Orleans’ classiest drinking festival, Tales of the Cocktail, gears up for the weekend. Today, the Hotel Monteleone, the Royal Sonesta, and numerous local restaurants and bars play host to events like “Which Rum What Cocktail and Why?,” “Two Centuries of Cocktails and Fruit,” and “The Dude Imbibes.” Check out of NoDef’s preview of Tales right here.


Ogden After Hours (Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 6-8p.m.)

This week, the Ogden Museum’s evening music series features guitarist Seth Walker. Plus, an activity table to occupy kids and Miss Linda’s Soul Food to cater to your dinnertime cravings. Admission $10.


Dying City (Shadowbox Theatre, 8p.m.)

After losing her husband to the Iraq war, the young woman at the center of Dying City is startled to meet his twin brother for the first time. The Shadowbox Theatre presents a production of Christopher Shinn’s play, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. See it on Thursday night for just $15.


Stones Fest New Orleans (Tipitina’s, 9p.m.)

A star-studded lineup celebrates the legacy of the Rolling Stones tonight at a blowout event sponsored by throwback festival organizer The Best Fest. Special guests include Ann Wilson of Heart, actor Jason Sudeikis, musician and model Karen Elson, members of Dr. Dog, Deer Tick, Guster, and Wilco, locals like George Porter Jr. and Walter Wolfman Washington, and many more. Proceeds benefit Sweet Relief, the medical fund for musicians in need. Doors at 9, show at 10:30. Tickets $27, but you’ll have to find a hook-up—they’re sold out.