Patrick Brower

Patrick Brower New Orleans Dirty Coast

Patrick Brower of Dirty Coast

“I feel weird when I leave the parish lines.  I don’t go to Metairie, I don’t go to ‘the Parish.’  There is an untouchable unspeakable thing about New Orleans.  You can’t really put your finger on it.  There’s just a feel of the people.  It’s the attitude.  The culture.  The smiles.  That’s what New Orleans is to me.  Everywhere else seems so back ass-wards.”

“My business partner had the idea of a t-shirt company right before Katrina.  Then Katrina destroyed my business.  We were just having a beer at a bar, I don’t know where, maybe Bridge Lounge or something.  I didn’t have anything to do because my business had been destroyed.  We were just shooting the shit.  He said, ‘I got this great idea for a local t-shirt company that’s not geared towards tourists like all the crap down in the French Quarter.’  So I was like, ‘Well, I’ll start the company.’  It started in my trunk really.  Right after Katrina, we started handing out ‘Be A New Orleanian’ stickers to everybody.  There was just an upwelling of support in the city.”

“I wish I had a head doctor after Katrina.  Katrina was a mind fuck, man.  Friends losing their shit.  Friends moving away.  Friends dying.  It was a tough time.  Curfew.  Your city is in shambles.  You don’t know if Mardi Gras is gonna happen.  If Jazz Fest is gonna happen.  There was a collective depression of the whole the city.  I wish I had a therapist. Everyone needs a therapist.”

“I don’t like to hypothesize.  The great unknown is the future.  Things are a lot better than they were before Katrina.  People’s attitudes are better.  They want to be here more than before Katrina.  There’s a big influx of young professionals coming into the city.  We have a fresh batch of people that want to make a difference in New Orleans rather the status quo, which was eating us alive.”

If you were to give a piece of advice to teenage / early 20′s people, what would it be?                “Oh man…. don’t drink too much!  Man, that question’s tough.  Fuck!  If I were that age, I would want someone to tell me to find something that you want to do, and don’t do something that you don’t want to do because it will bite you in the ass.  I’m an entrepreneur at heart.  I’ve always run my own business.  Get out there and do it.  Don’t sit on your ass.  And if it doesn’t work, learn from your own mistakes and do it again.  Because failure is a stepping stone to success.  You’re gonna fail.  You can’t be afraid of failing.  Failing is what makes you better in the long run.  I’ve failed many times.  I fail every day.”

“If I could go back in time, I would have bought some more houses about ten years ago.  I would be sitting pretty right now.  But that’s just me.”

“You’re gonna have bad days. You’re gonna have great days.  And you’re gonna have shitty days.  You just gotta keep rolling.”

Patrick Brower, Co-Owner of Dirty Coast

Dirty Coast on Magazine Street

Dirty Coast on Magazine Street

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Best New Orleans Quizz of All Time

Bywater New Orleans

Which is better, Crystal or Tabasco?  Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain?  Best of New Orleans has all the answers.

Can’t we all just get along?  The Orleans Parish School Board and the Recovery School District can, apparently.

Will there ever be a high speed rail between New Orleans and Baton Rouge?  Probably not, but it’s fun to think about!

Robert’s (pronounced with an affectation) grocery stores are probably the worst in the city.  But they are successful largely based on shrewd choice of locations in areas with little / no competition.  Keeping up with that tradition, they appear to be working towards a new Robert’s location at St. Claude and Elysian Fields.

 

City Park Has Wild Animals That Will Eat Your Pet

Coyotes Are Roaming WIld in New Orleans City Park

Coyotes Are Roaming WIld in New Orleans City Park

COYOTES IN CITY PARK

If you live in New Orleans, have a very small pet, and enjoy letting said pet roam free, do your dog, yourself, and everyone a favor and DO NOT TAKE YOUR TINY ANIMAL INTO CITY PARK.  Death, Taxes, Hurricane Season, and animal owners offering up their tiny pets as coyote dinner in City Park [WWL].  This most recent instance involved a Shih Tzu, which was frolicking under supervision of the owner’s relative near the site of the old JFK High School.  All was well, until the dog taken down by a pack of coyotes.  These coyotes in the park are real and not to be messed with.  I have also seen first hand an alligator in one of the ponds and heard multiple stories of wild boars.  So please don’t allow your undersized pets near city park’s wild side.

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PRIVATE STREETS ARE SCANDALOUS

Newcomb Boulevard’s illegal building of a fence and effectively creating a private street has been one of the more unique stories to hit New Orleans recently.  I find it hilarious that 1. the residents had the audacity to close off a public road and claim it as their own, and 2. that they got away with it for so many years.  After recently losing their court case, it looks like the residents of the street have decided to take matters into their own hands and try to buy the dang thing.

Somewhat related, it looks like Audubon Place, which is a legitimate privately owned street, has been getting a steal with property taxes.

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MISC

The Noise Ordinance That Will Not Die.  This tag could have also said, “Get off my lawn!”

Big Brother v. Security.  This is potentially our generations greatest dilemma.

I knew all those Poydras Street executives and attorneys were on something.

Lafitte Greenway is Coming! – New Orleans Linkage

Carondelet Canal New Orleans

Early 1900′s view of the Old Basin Canal literally steps from the French Quarter.

The Lafitte Greenway is coming! [via Mid-City Messenger] This is kickass for several reasons.  First, anything named after pirates is awesome.  Second, this strip of land is set over the historic route of the Old Basin Canal.  For history nerds (ahem, me), this was how the city connected oceangoing ships from Lake Pontchartrain to the river barges docking in front of the French Quarter.  Third, I truly expect that this will do wonders for Mid-City, considering the new hospital complex is opening up soon and the new Whole Foods is already bumpin’.  For everyone complaining about how Uptown real estate is too pricey (and yuppie), Mid-City is looking extremely attractive.

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The Bayou St. John renewal efforts continue.  Over the past year, the waterway has been reconnected to Lake Pontchartrain, and marshes are being re-established at the mouth of the bayou, allowing for “fresh” brackish water to flow into the bayou and providing habitat for fish.  It looks like the Bayou ball keeps on rolling:

City Park’s Big Bass Rodeo is capitalizing with a Bayou kayak division, with prizes for redfish and trout. [NOLA.com]

Greener Bayou St. John Coalition has plans to ramp up fish habitat efforts. [Mid-City Messenger]

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MISC

Celebrating an election victory LIKE A BOSS (appearances by Evander Holyfield, Rob Ryan, and Lil Boosie). [Best of New Orleans]

Rob Ryan doing more Rob Ryan-y things. [WWL]

Street Art” is what grumpy old people call “Graffiti.” Either way its gorgeous. [NOLA Vie]

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Where Did the Blog Go?

It’s still here, don’t worry.  In an ideal world, I could put something up everyday.  But the focus of this blog is on delving into the lives of the movers and shakers of modern New Orleans.

The biggest problem with that task is that movers and shakers tend to be busy people.  And it occasionally proves difficult to wrestle people down for an interview.  Also, I have that pesky little problem of running my tour company as well.

So I had assumed that the blog posts would arrive sporadically.  But then a lightbulb went off in my head, and I came up with a few ideas for how to keep the updates coming and fill the down time between posts.  More will be revealed next week!

Thanks!

Ashton

Lauren Leitner

Lauren Leitner

Lauren Leitner of Affirm Fitness

“That’s sort of a funny story.  I’m from Los Angeles, and anytime I went on vacation and flew back to LA it never felt like home.  It just felt like a smoggy place.  And when I had moved to New Orleans , then went away and came back here, I  thought ‘Oh! This is what home feels like.’  I felt it.  This feels right.”

“I was a high school math teacher in Los Angeles.  I just finished my credential, passed, and decided I would never do that again.”

“I met a man who asked me to come live in New Orleans with him.  I had never been to New Orleans, and it wasn’t even on my radar to visit here.  But as soon as he asked we started planning the move.  I came to New Orleans site unseen.  We pulled into our place on Tulane and Gayoso.  Our house was nice, but it was a rough area.  But I feel like I’m an explorer and I adapt.  I drove around and thought ‘Wow, this is a beautiful place.’  And I saw the bayou [Bayou St. John], I fell in love.  Everyday I drive all over and it never gets old to me.”

“Not knowing New Orleans or experiencing Mardi Gras, I was thrown into it by myself that first year.  But now I choreograph for Disco Amigos [a local dance troupe], and our first season parading was the most magical moment.  It was completely surreal.  Walking down with all of those people.  We were in Carrollton, Nyx, and Tucks.  It starts with a bunch of joy.  You see a bunch of happy faces.  There isn’t anyone out there who doesn’t want to be out there.  Just watching everybody come together in a world that maybe they wouldn’t on another day.”

“I think the one thing that will always remain, and this is what I appreciate most about New Orleans, is the sense of community.  Los Angeles is so big and spread out.  People aren’t outside their homes in Los Angeles like they are here.  When I walk my dog, my whole neighborhood knows my dog.  It’s not just people up in your business in a gossipy way.  It feels like family and community in a way that I had never experienced in my life.”

“There’s no excuses.  Even coming from nothing or coming from something.  Don’t ever let anything be an excuse.  Stay on top of your game.  Be diligent and committed because good things will happen.  No excuses.  I don’t dig that.”

Lauren Leitner - Owner, Affirm Fitness

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Crescent Park and the Piety Street Bridge

The new Crescent Park just opened last week along the Bywater / Marigny riverfront.  I swung by early this morning to snag some photos right as it opened up.  My first impression was entirely consumed by the Piety Street Bridge, whose purpose is to shuttle pedestrians over the railroad tracks and into the park.  The bridge is a sight to behold because it is at once simple and practical but also imposing and monolithic.

The bridge’s arched line shoots out of the ground and looks like something so immense that it must have been plopped in place by a giant.  Taking photos of the bridge was a pleasure; I actually mostly forgot about the rest of the park and spent most of my time on that bridge.

Piety Street Bridge at Crescent Park - view from the street

Piety Street Bridge at Crescent Park – view from the street

Piety Bridge Staircase in New Orleans Crescent Park

Piety Street Bridge Staircase in New Orleans Crescent Park

Piety Bridge New Orleans Crescent Park

Atop the Piety Street Bridge in New Orleans Crescent Park

The views from the Piety Wharf were pretty amazing as well.  This area of riverfront, like most of the old Mississippi River, was once completely enveloped with docks and warehouses.  The old Piety docks were condemned and are now mostly burned and rotten, but the Crescent Park salvaged a section to give you great view over Old Man River onto the city.  I hope that this view of the river and the city skyline from above the Piety Bridge becomes iconic over time.  I won’t be surprised to see it in establishing shots of the city (think the TV intro to a Saints game).

New Orleans Mississippi River

New Orleans Skyline from Crescent Park over the Mississippi River

New Orleans docks Mississippi River

Charred remains of the Piety Street Wharf in the Crescent Park New Orleans

Old Piety Street Wharf

Old photo of the Piety Street Wharf along the Mississippi River – photo via Time/Life

Crescent Park Rules and Regulations

Crescent Park Rules – “No Cooking” means this isn’t meant to be an alternative to The Fly

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Mark Berger

Mark Berger

Mark Berger all gussied up for Happy’s Running Club’s Gleaux Run Bash

“New Orleans is home.  It’s one of the greatest cities on the planet.  In the U.S., I look at New Orleans as one of the places that has it’s own unique culture.  In other cities, you may have a Little Italy or a Chinatown, whereas in New Orleans has this whole Creole/Cajun culture that you don’t find anywhere else in the United States.”

“New Orleans isn’t known as the fittest place in the planet, but fitness is a huge trend right now.  Running isn’t just for the skinny people.  Every size and shape are joining in races and doing marathons and doing these charity events.  They’re showing that everybody can do it.  The biggest challenge is getting with inner city people who need to learn how to eat better, exercise more, and take preventative measures for their health instead of having to work so hard after you’re already overweight and dying from some kind of disease.  That’s my biggest challenge, spreading fitness to not just people who have money but to every other demographic out there.”

“I wake up everyday, and I love what I do.”

“The city is booming in areas like the Bywater.  I tell my aunt in Lakeview that I’m going to the Bywater, and she says that she’s never even been there and she’s lived here for 50 years.  The city is opening up more than it did before Katrina.”

“I rode in Zulu yesterday.  You gotta be there at 3 o’clock in the morning getting your face painted.  Cool New Orleans tradition.  You don’t have these Mardi Gras experiences in other places.  Mardi Gras day was a little wet and cold, but there were still so many people out.  It’s just what New Orleans does.  Nothing will hold this city down, especially when it comes to being fun and festive.”

“I smoked for twelve years.  I was a bartender for three years of college.  You know, I was at one point probably 15-20 pounds overweight.  Have fun, but know that you need to take care of yourself.  Have a goal for yourself.  Don’t go through life just sitting down.  You should always have goals and visions.”

Mark Berger – [This is typically where I put the occupation.  Mark can probably explain it better himself.]

“I have Happy’s Running Club.  We’re the biggest running club in New Orleans.  Every Wednesday we run a 5k around the downtown, French Quarter, Marigny, Riverfront area.  We meet at 5:48 and run at 6:16.  It’s people of all skill levels.  It’s more of a social thing.  I’m a partner at Varsity Sports, it’s a running specialty store uptown on Magazine St., and I have a running group with them three times a week.  I am the Fitness Director at Metairie Country Club over in Old Metairie.  I do strength and conditioning for Loyola Women’s basketball team.  I am a running and triathlon coach.  I put on two races, the 504k Benefiting Youth Run NOLA which is an inner city youth sports program, and the Happy’s NOLA 5k and proceeds went to team Gleason.  Is that it?  I think I do something else….  I have my own personal studio where I train people….  And I have a charity called Run Life Foundation where I do endurance events to raise money for various causes.  It’s all under my hub, which I call NOLA MultiSport.”

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Talking With Tourists – Cheryl and Greg

New Orleans Craft Cocktail Tour

Cheryl and Greg

Cheryl and Greg had just arrived in New Orleans for the first time.  Natives of Fort Collins, CO, I was curious about their immediate impressions of the city.

Cheryl – “Our perception of New Orleans only came from what we had heard from other people.  Lots of partying, jazz bands, live music, and good food.”

Greg – “The history was more implicit in all of that, rather than as explicit as you’ve made it.   We’ve come down here and learned some of the stories.  I never thought about how the city came to be how it is. “

Cheryl – “I didn’t think about it until I got down here, but walking down Bourbon St., I thought wow, this is like Vegas  The people, the street entertainment….”  Greg – “People poking their head out of the various establishments trying to draw you in has a likeness to Vegas for sure.  But it’s more of a classical feel.”

Greg – “We landed five hours ago.  So far the perceptions have changed for me.  There is a lot more to New Orleans than Bourbon St.  We’re starting to get a feel for it, but there is a lot more ahead.  We’re off to see some plantations tomorrow and explore some of the history of Louisiana and not just the party aspect.”

- I met Cheryl and Greg on my Craft Cocktail Tour.

Kristin Brudy

Kristin-Brudy

Kristin Brudy

“New Orleans is my favorite city in the world.  When I first moved here, it was not my favorite city.  I’m very type-A and future driven.  New Orleans taught me how to live in the moment.  People here enjoy life as it is.  It’s one of those places that just sucks the marrow out you and replaces it with something else.  Once you live here, leaving is very hard.  I think about it all the time, and everything triggers memories of New Orleans.  And I didn’t even grow up here, so it’s not some hometown pride thing.”

“I miss the people the most.  People talk at the drop of a hat here, and you can make instant besties anywhere in the city.  That’s something you don’t see anywhere else.  In [Washington] D.C., you don’t have people who are quite so open and quite so friendly and quite so interesting.  You never meet people who are sitting in a suit, who used to be a carnie at a carnival, and before that they ran a motorcycle shop.  People often don’t come to New Orleans by a straightforward path.  People always talk about the food and the parties and that kind of stuff, but it’s really the people that make New Orleans hilarious.”

“Mardi Gras is such a shock to the system.  People have a preconceived notion of what Mardi Gras is, and I did too.  But when you come out, there’s families.  And there’s all this shiny stuff.  Everyone is drunk, but they’re mostly drunk off the excitement of being there.  It’s the first time I’ve been in an infectious crowd spirit like that.”

“I would move back in a second if I could.  They don’t have the career opportunities here that I want, and that’s the long and short of it.  It also came down to me not meeting the type of people I want to have a relationship with.  No offense, but you Southern men like your ladies to be seen and not heard, and I’m all about being heard.  I became a great drinking buddy for lots of people, but it would never be anything more than me being the loudest bitch at the bar.  It would never turn into anything past that.”

“When I first came down to visit [while choosing a law school], I stopped off at Deanie’s in the Quarter to have some crawfish, and I made a bunch of friends at the bar.  That was actually a deciding moment.  I thought, ‘I would really like it here.’”

“Stop worrying so much.  Have some eye to the future, but living in the future, you miss a lot of what’s happening in the moment.  You need to make good choices but you also need to have fun.”

- Kristin is a friend from Tulane Law who moved to Washington, DC after graduation.

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