N/SBC: "Pave paradise, put up a parking lot......."

New Orleans Blues Project bluesprjct@yahoo.com
Fri Sep 3 14:21:47 EDT 2004

"Pave paradise, put up a parking lot......."

Interesting that this happened within 2 weeks of a jazz town hall forum, the
satchmo fest, and the invitation only jazz music summit........(see more @
Talk of developing the city's music and culture by business and civic leaders
is apparently just that - all talk and no action - no will all wuss.....it's
really sad, & too bad.......
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Relics of days of early jazz razed
To a small circle of preservationists and jazz historians, the row of
ramshackle old commercial buildings circling the downtown river corner of South
Rampart and Common streets were historical artifacts, important symbols of
several strands of New Orleans' rich cultural tapestry.



Saddest kind of jazz funeral

Friday, September 03, 2004
Lolis Eric Elie

Oliver Thomas. Cynthia Willard-Lewis. Eddie Sapir. Jim Singleton. Troy Carter.
Scott Shea. Marlin Gusman. Ellen Hazeur. Suzanne Terrell. Kenneth Johnston.

You may well see the names of these present and former New Orleans City Council
members emblazoned on signs at various public works projects.
That's more a matter of ego than merit. They pay no more in taxes to make such
work possible than you or I. However, the names also should be displayed at the
sites where the demolition of our city's architectural heritage plays itself

They should reside there in infamy, to be remembered just as we remember the
names of other malefactors responsible for the ruination of our city.

Shattered legacy

These council members voted for the demolition of historic buildings in the 100
block of South Rampart when the matter came before the council at various times
dating back to 1999. My contempt for their work was sparked anew this week as I
witnessed the destruction they have wrought.

The buildings will be replaced with a parking garage adorned unconvincingly
with the facades of the demolished buildings.

The most important aspect of the shattered legacy is that Morris Karnofsky, a
boyhood friend of Louis Armstrong, owned a music store in one of the buildings.
Armstrong, virtually an adopted son of the Karnofskys, visited whenever he was
in town. For many years the buildings also housed the studio of Florestine
Perrault Collins, believed to be the city's first female African-American
professional photographer.

I was not alone in my disgust with the demolition. Jimmy Fiegler, a local
carpenter, had the same reaction.

He remembers visiting Karnofsky's store and hearing the owner tell tales of

"The tourists come here to find Louis Armstrong. They come here to find where
he lived," Fiegler said.

"They tore down most of where he grew up, and now they are tearing down the
rest of it," he said. "It's 2004, and they are still tearing it down. That
stupid ignorance is still here. Even though (Mayor Ray) Nagin is a good
businessman and he's doing some things, he's turned his back on this, just like
the Morials and Barthelemy and Schiro," all former mayors, Fiegler said.

'Gods must be crazy'

It would be pretty easy to think the present and former council members would
be embarrassed to see their names associated with the ignorance that underlies
this destruction of the city's cultural heritage.

But they are beneath embarrassment. Nagin took office after the council had
decided to permit the destruction, but he has yet to raise his voice in
opposition to it.

Perhaps he can see the irony.

At the same time he is claiming to have some interest in strengthening the
city's jazz heritage, he is presiding over its destruction. The gods must be
crazy. Ignorance reigns unchecked.

. . . . . . .
Lolis Eric Elie can be reached at lelie@timespicayune.comÊor (504) 826-3330.

Sally Stevens, Founder/Director
 The NEW ORLEANS BLUES PROJECT       www.bluesproject.com
                  (504) 864-8377; Sally@bluesproject.com
 Music * Culture * Economic Development * Education * Advocacy
                  The BLUES HIGHWAY Millennium Trail
               "Community Development Through Music"

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