WWL shows naked guy in front of Lafitte’s bar on live TV

(Photo: @salobonavia | Twitter)
A naked man was filmed by WWL on live TV during a Saturday report on the Phase Two reopening of the French Quarter.

The man was completely naked, except for shoes and the surgical face mask, and briefly appeared during reporter Meghan Kee’s live Saturday late afternoon broadcast in front of Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar at the corner of Bourbon and St. Phillip streets (pictured above).

The man was a participant in the World Naked Bike Ride held in New Orleans on the same day the city entered Phase Two reopening from COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

CDC warns public against “aggressive” rats looking for food

(Photo: Matt Baume | CC)
An advisory issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month is warning the public about hungry and “aggressive” rats on the hunt for new sources of food.

COVID-19 lockdown restrictions closed restaurants and businesses in dense commercial districts, including the French Quarter, cutting off rats’ main source of food and leading to the “unusual” behavior of trying to survive, according to a May 21 CDC advisory.

Some jurisdictions reported increased rodent activity following the coronavirus restrictions, according to the CDC.

Days after the coronavirus restrictions took effect in New Orleans, a TV crew filming an empty Bourbon Street captured a congregation of rats, which share a symbiotic relationship with the French Quarter.

Additionally, the CDC warned against a decline, then a resurgence in rat populations due to events such as hurricanes and recommended control measures such as bait stations.

Efforts to eradicate rats in the French Quarter, however, have been unsuccessful in the neighborhood’s 300-year existence.

Read the CDC’s advisory here.

A Vieux From Toulouse

Coming soon: Pirates of the Vieux Carre
(Art by Eric Styles)

“Those Bourbon Street bar owners must make money hand over fist.” We as employees ring up thousands of dollars every night, take home wads of cash from our tip buckets and read about how we are part of a $9 billion-a-year industry. We roll our eyes when our employers bitch about us wasting cups or over pouring shots. All they have to do is just open the doors at 10 a.m. and the money just blows in the doors.  After Mardi Gras, they must be sitting on six figures easy, yet they whine.

Sit down and really listen to the bar owners. “We’re working for the landlords” is the common theme. Every year rents go up, often by thousands. About six years ago, I heard from a reliable source that one of the biggest businesses in the Quarter was forking out over $45,000 per month for their very large footprint. It’s well over $50,000 by now, probably. The vast majority of commercial properties are owned by a small number of families (er, I mean “Property Management Companies”).

They bought up the Quarter decades ago when it was seen as a gritty worn down section of town. Families and businesses were moving out to the vast expanse of the suburbs. The French Quarter was investment property purchased by revenue from other lucrative endeavors. All of the deeds have been paid off long before most of us were even born. Even those who own the property face enormous tax bills annually.

Look up property tax in the Quarter if you want to pick your jaw up off of the ground. Details of leases are dumbfounding.

Often, the renter is responsible for paying for repairs and up keep. Imagine as a residential renter, your water heater goes and it’s up to you to pay for its replacement. Now imagine holding a lease on a 250-year-old commercial property. Every year facing a leaking roof, a rotting dormer, deteriorating brickwork and all of the upkeep to a building that you don’t even own. Not to mention the appliances such as coolers, freezers, stoves and the like. Money goes out the door as fast as it comes in.

This shut down is draining bank accounts faster than a homeless guy drains a pint of Heavens Hill. Expect to see some of our favorites never to reopen.

All of those dollars made over Mardi Gras were earmarked to cover expenses this summer. So if they don’t reopen, who will fill those vacancies? I doubt if you will have many entrepreneurs thinking “I have a million to invest in a business, let me buy a Bourbon Street bar that just went under from a pandemic shut down that may happen again next year.”  

A few owners may just say “Fuck it. Let me cut my losses while I still have a little money to retire on.”

If you were a huge, multinational corporation with lots of capital for expansion and could weather long term storms, you might see this as an excellent opportunity. A chance to get a piece of that lucrative $9 billion dollar pie. That’s how they function and succeed. With the capital to take a loss over a few years they can drive out competition that can’t. The smoke clears and a handful are left holding it all.

How do I see the French Quarter in a couple of years? A gentrified, family-friendly atmosphere of corporate names that occupy every American strip mall. Starbucks and T.G.I. Fridays on Bourbon Street, Outback Steakhouse and Baskin Robbins on Decatur Street. Mr Binky’s sex shop replaced by a Disney outlet store, Big Daddy’s Love Acts becomes a Hooters and Johnny’s Poor Boys turns into a Panera Bread.

They go nicely with Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s vision: “This is the city’s time to re-imagine just how we live, how we move about, how we enjoy, and how we get to know and learn the fabric of our city.”  

A kinder, gentler French Quarter. Environmentally friendly hipsters on bikes cruise car free streets dotted with outdoor diners enjoying genuine New Orleans cuisine shipped in frozen from a factory in Michigan.

Licensed Disney costume characters posing for pictures with tourists instead of Uncle Louie. Unless he can come up with a $500 annual street performer permit, that will surely be part of the new and improved vision.

Do you think that all this sounds hyperbolic and unfathomable? Compare Times Square of today to that of a few decades ago. Disney cruise ships are just the landing craft for an invasion force.

NOPD investigates officers after questionable Bourbon Street body cam arrest surfaces

An internal investigation into five New Orleans Police officers was initiated last week after the release of a body cam video earlier this month allegedly showing some of them coordinating a story to justify the arrest of a Bourbon Street suspect in January 2019.

Last week, Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson suspended all tasks forces and launched a criminal investigation into several officers involved in the arrest of Radon Ray, who was allegedly arrested by Eighth District task force plainclothes police for gun and drug possession charges in the 400 block of Bourbon Street on Jan. 1, 2019.

In addition, reassignments of several department captains were announced at a May 22 press conference. Watch the press conference here.

The actions come after the preliminary findings of a multi-phase audit into the NOPD’s task forces by the Federal Consent Monitoring Team started in late 2019, Ferguson said, adding the findings suggested inadequate supervision among the task forces.

A body cam video of the arrest’s aftermath was obtained and published by The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate days before Ferguson’s announcement and allegedly shows Eighth District task force officers at the Royal Street station lining up their facts in Ray’s arrest.

The video was recently submitted on the record in the case of Ray, who is fighting to get his charges thrown out, the newspaper reported.

Ferguson said the “disturbing” video showing misconduct exacerbated the monitoring team’s findings and has since reassigned all four officers involved—Samuel Senter, Jordan Sherr, William Knowles and Jason Collins—have been to desk duty and are under criminal investigation.

In addition, retired Sgt. Mark Mumme, the officers’ task force supervisor, has been suspended from his reserve officer position and is also under investigation.

“I think the public should be just as troubled as I am,” Ferguson said. “I do not believe in no way shape or form there is a systematic problem with our department.”

Ferguson said it’s important that the NOPD be proactive and transparent regarding the video.

“Our department has come too far since the onset of the consent decree to do anything less,” Ferguson said.

The monitoring team’s report and findings will be released to the public in the coming weeks, Ferguson said.