New Orleans Through Photos: Mardi Gras 2011

March 6, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

By Stuart Palley
spalley@smu.edu

Editor’s Note: Stuart Palley is the senior staff photographer for the Daily Mustang. Below is his commentary on Mardi Gras 2011.

New Orleans is known for its vibrant French Quarter and annual Mardi Gras Festivities each year. This weekend scores of SMU students and thousands of college undergrads from across the United States descended onto Bourbon Street for a weekend of raucous partying in traditional Big Easy style.

Elbow to elbow, throngs of imbibed tourists jostled down Bourbon Street, looking for their next drink or free beads from a balcony above. All ages and races were represented, but the primary demographic were young men from college age to their mid 30s. On half a dozen corners, neon signs spelt out advertisements for concoctions like Hand Grenades and Hurricanes. Think of a sugary flavored fruit juice with a healthy dose of high-proof liquor added.

Also, on almost every corner headed north on Bourbon Street were demonstrators from various Christian sects picketing against the “debauchery” they believed Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street to be. Handheld signs paid visitors of New Orleans compliments, proclaiming tourists to be “sinners, fornicators” and “hell bound.” In a place where open containers are allowed on public streets in plain sight of police, it is fitting that such free speech manifests itself.

Outside of the drinking frenzy of Bourbon Street, the rest of the French Quarter and New Orleans celebrate Mardi Gras with multiple parades populated by various Krewes. Krewes are the traditional name for the organizations that make up members in the various parades and range from hereditary and ultra-exclusive down to anybody who can pay dues. Late Saturday morning the Krewe of Iris and Krewe of Tucks participated in back to back parades down St. Charles Avenue and onto Canal Street in pouring rain. Thousands of spectators cheered on the colorful floats, whose riders threw beads and other trinkets to parade watchers.

Wherever one goes in New Orleans during the weekend before Fat Tuesday, they are bound to find a packed bar, restaurant or parade in progress. With literally dozens of Krewes in parades and innumerable watering holes, one would be hard pressed not to be taken in by the revelry and tradition of Mardi Gras. The only downside this year was the constant rain and thunderstorms that occurred frequently over the weekend, dumping inches of rain and a small tornado in Southern Louisiana. After a few Hand Grenades and beads though, most people enjoying Mardi Gras didn’t seem to care and the celebrations went on.

NOLA NOW: There’s No Place Like Home

September 3, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Video and editing by Kassi Schmitt

Residents of New Orleans explain why they stay true to their city even after something as destructive and damaging as Katrina hits.

NOLA Now: There’s No Place Like Home from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

NOLA NOW: Part II of Interview With Zeitoun

September 1, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

The NOLA Now team sat down with Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his wife Kathy for an interview at their home in New Orleans. Here’s part II of their interview.

NOLA Now: Zeitoun tells personal account from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

NOLA NOW: A Trip With Zeitoun

August 31, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Video and Editing By Josh Parr, Nicolette Schleisman and Kassi Schmitt

The NOLA Now team spent Sunday morning with Abdulrahman Zeitoun as he drove us around the city and explained his experiences from the book ‘Zeitoun.’ Specific places we visited were the house where he fed the dogs every day, the house on Claiborne where he was arrested, and Camp Greyhound where Zeitoun was taken and held for three days under miserable conditions. For more on Zeitoun’s experience read Josh Parr’s story in Wednesday’s Daily Campus.

NOLA Now: A Trip with Zeitoun from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Special Showing of “When the Levees Broke”

August 30, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Aida Ahmed
aahmed@smu.edu

If you’re a freshman or if you’ve been keeping up with our NOLA Now blog you may be familiar with this year’s freshman reading, “Zeitoun”. This week’s fifth year anniversary of Hurrican Katrina culminates in the SMU premiere and discussion of Spike Lee’s documentary of “When the Levees Broke” Tuesday August 31, at 5 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Theater.

Director of the SMU Human Rights Program, Dr. Rick Halperin, will be opening the showing with a few words about Katrina and the human rights issues violated in the disaster.

Students are invited to stay for pizza, cookies and drinks and discuss the film.

Daily Update: Monday, Aug. 30, 2010

August 30, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Daily Update: Aug 30, 2010 from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Watch today’s Daily Update to hear about Obama’s trip to New Orleans. Also learn about the partnership between Target and Radio Shack and the eruption of a 400 year old dormant volcano.

NOLA Now: Stay Tuned for Zeitoun

August 29, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Video and editing by Josh Parr, Nicolette Schleisman and Kassi Schmitt

Zeitoun takes us on a tour of the events in the first year common reading book: Zeitoun.

NOLA Now: Stay Tuned for Zeitoun from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

NOLA Now: Zeitoun Says ‘Everything Happened For A Purpose’

August 29, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Our NOLA Now travelers interviewed Abdulrahman Zeitoun, the main character of the first-year common reading, and his wife Kathy at the couple’s New Orleans home. In this video, Daily Campus online editor Josh Parr gives a preview of the full interview, which will be posted later Sunday.

“With Katrina, I think everything happens for a purpose; I stayed here for a reason, I go to jail for a reason, everything God desired of me perfectly,” Zeitoun said.

NOLA Now: Zeitoun from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Here’s reporter Kassi Schmitt’s take on the Zeitoun interview:

Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his wife, Kathy, stand in front of the couple's New Orleans home. Both were featured prominently in this year's SMU freshman common reading, 'Zeitoun'. (PHOTO BY KASSI SCHMITT / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Our time is quickly winding down here as day two comes to a close. After our adventures in the 9th ward this morning, we headed over to a different neighborhood in NOLA to interview Abdulrahman Zeitoun, the man whose Hurricane Katrina story was the subject of this year’s freshman reading novel. The common reading novel for the incoming freshman was entitled Zeitoun and told the compelling tale of how he stayed behind after the storm hit and used a canoe to travel around the neighborhood he could so easily walk around in before. He talked about his experience the days following the storm and the time he was approached by two men with guns and taken to prison without being able to contact his wife. Zeitoun and his wife went through so much in such a short period of time, yet remained optimistic and hopeful throughout their whole experience. We spoke to them for almost two hours and sat at the edge of our seats for every minute of the interview.

NOLA Now: Still Rebuilding

August 28, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted By Kassi Schmitt

One of the destroyed homes in the 9th Ward. It lies in ruin five years after the hurricane. (PHOTO BY KASSI SCHMITT / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

One of the homes in the 9th Ward that has been rebuilt in a creative and environmentally friendly way. (PHOTO BY KASSI SCHMITT / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

We’ve been in New Orleans for 24 hours at this point and have already seen and heard so much. Today we headed to the Ninth Ward, one of the areas that suffered the greatest damage after the storm five years ago. Driving down the streets of the neighborhood, we saw the vast amount of destruction that was caused. Five years later, homes still stand abandoned and destroyed: roofs are collapsed in, windows shattered, garbage piled high and doors are boarded shut. Many families have not returned, leaving desolate and abandoned homes to stand on the block.

We ran into some volunteers from Red Cross who were handing out emergency kits to the residents in the area and decided to tag along with them for awhile. They explained how they were trying to advise residents of what to do if this situation were ever to occur again. We also got the opportunity to speak to a few of the residents and see how their lives had changed since the storm.

One of the images that really stands out in my mind is the markings on the doors of the homes that have been abandoned. A red “X” is painted on the doors of the homes that the Coast Guard searched in the days after the storm, along with the date and the number of people or animals found in the home, dead or alive.

While many of the houses still stand in horrible condition, we did see the lighter end of the tunnel as well. As we drove around we came across a set of homes that had been rebuilt in a creative and environmentally friendly way. While walking down this street, we came across a mob of paparazzi standing outside one of the homes only to learn that Brad Pitt was inside conducting interviews. So we decided to stick it out in the rain for a bit hoping to snap a quick shot of him entering or leaving. But after nearly an hour, with soaking wet shirts and shoes, we decided to call it quits with no Brad Pitt sighting. (However, we did manage to see the New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees enter the house).

We’ve just come back to make a pit stop in the hotel to recharge cameras and eat a quick lunch before we head out once again! We have some very exciting interviews planned for this evening!

NOLA Now: No Brad in Sight from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

NOLA Now: Celebrity Sighting from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

NOLA Now: Photos of Recovery

August 28, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted By Sarah Bray

Sarah Bray talks with Getty Image Photographer Mario Tama about his work in the Lower 9th Ward over the past five years since Hurricane Katrina.

NOLA Now: 9th Ward Photo Exhibit from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

While walking around the Lower 9th Ward I stopped at a hand-painted sign advertising a free photo exhibit in a gutted church destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. I talked with Mario Tama, a Getty Image Photographer, about his work over the past 5 years since the storm.

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