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Jeanne’s Take | April 9, 2020

Beaux, Australian Shepherd Bunny, wishes all a Happy Easter, Passover, Spring.

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Image inspired by Jeanne Nathan, executed by Matthew Foreman.

JeannebioDear Crosstowners,
    Any trauma or disaster provides insights to aspects of life we may have known about on some level but did not focus on, So these events bring the shock of the event and its immediate life changing impact, but also a focus on longer term issues that are tantamount to revelations, however personal or global.
     Here are a few that have caught my attention so far:
*  The disparity in healthcare that contributed to the higher dearth rate among African Americans from Covid-19;
*   The lack of preparation on all levels of public, civic and business life for the random brutality of a devastating pathogen;
*   The reluctance at all levels of government to tell the truth about the extent of the threat of pandemic, the readiness of the healthcare system, the true expectations for the advance of disease and the availability, transport, and readiness for use of needed protective and treatment, staffing and equipment
* The extent of the role partisan preferences control the delivery of life saving equipment and treatments;
* The fathomless bounds of disinformation and the willingness of people to believe it;
* The level of pathology and disfunction of many in public office, and their willingness to slavishly obey partisan gods over the needs of those who elected them.
* How many in public office can be truly constructive, effective and willing to step over the partisan boundaries, (Gov. Edwards and state republicans, our Mayor who acts before, not after!)
*  The inventiveness and civic commitment of business leaders such as William Goldring who turned a distillery into a massive operation to provide desperately needed sanitizer
* Just how brave and disregarding of their own safety our health providers are.
      BUT MAYBE YOU KNEW ALL THAT!
      Then, on the personal level, here are some revelations I have experienced, on both sides of the scales of good and bad:
* How many friends and associates cared about my husband and me, and would go out of their way to help us with deliveries that would allow us to stay safely at home. We are up to over twenty people who have genuinely offered help, some delivering more than once;
* How much I had to learn about using technology to communicate. I can now get in and out of zoom, but am still struggling with Wetransfer to get what I record to where it needs to go;
*  How much normal bureaucracy has been tamped down by the pandemic’s call to action. Except at hospitals where information flow is still bottlenecked by arcane, obstructive rules about who can talk to who. Really? In 2020, when a simple check on a T-shirt online generates massively redundant ads about T shirts on your smart device?
* How pervasive at once fearful and utopian hopes for “everything to change” are in all quarters;
*  How devastating the dire condition of a friend or associate can be, never mind a family member;
* How many people have refused to get tested, even when noticeably ill, especially now when we have safe drive in testing, often with results in minutes;
* The failure to recognize the importance to others, not just the individual
* How deeply we will miss people whose impact on our lives went beyond our personal time with them, and that brings me to the tribute part of our show this week.
     Delfaeyo Marsalis visited with me about how the role his recently deceased father Ellis Marsalis, had in New Orleans musical and educational history, and in the lives of family members, including  the larger family of his his students, as well as his musical sons.
     Matthew Van Meter has written an extensive history of Richard Sobol, a civil rights leader who, with Lolis Eric Elie and other activists won the right to a jury trial for black citizens who had historically been denied that right. Sobol just passed after a long illness. The book, Deep Delta Justice will be out in May.
     We will also hear from Dr. Amy Lesen, a biologist and researcher on faculty at Xavier who has focused her attention on the disparities of health care. She will help us better understand this revelation of the Covid-19 pandemic.
     All three interviews were prerecorded on zoom, a revelation for me in and of itself. Let me know what you think. We will also be posting the videos soon. Don’t ask me how….that is what editor Juli Shipley and our computer whiz Madeleine Kenny are figuring out. Stay tuned, and teched.
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Jeanne Nathan
     Host and Executive Producer

 

Crosstown Scenes

FRIDAY’S GUESTS


Delfeayo Marsalis

Delfeayo Marsalis
Musician and Activist

Born and raised in New Orleans, LA, trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis has dedicated his life to music, theatre and education. At the age of 17, he began his career as a producer and has to date produced over 120 recordings garnering one Grammy award and several nominations.
He has composed over 90 songs that help introduce kids to jazz through musical theatre and has reached over 5,000 students nationally with his Swinging with the Cool School soft introduction to jazz workshops.


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Amy Lesen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Biology Department
Researcher, Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center

Lesen is am associate professor and researcher in the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center at Dillard University. Her work centers on how environmental change affects coastal and urban communities.


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Matthew Van Meter
Author Deep Delta Justice
 Matthew, raised a Quaker, is a graduate of the M.F.A. nonfiction program at Columbia University, and he’s written about criminal justice for the Atlantic, Longreads, and The Awl.
Prior to his M.F.A., he wrote about the former Soviet Union for Forbes and Russia, and he was a columnist for Russia Profile. He lives with his wife, a public defender, in Detroit, Michigan.

 


INDEPTH

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Ellis Marsalis, Jazz Pianist and Music Family Patriarch, Dies at 85

The father of Delfeayo, Wynton and Branford Marsalis and a prominent performer and educator, he succumbed to complications of the coronavirus.
     Mr. Marsalis spent decades as a working musician and teacher in New Orleans before his eldest sons, Wynton and Branford, gained national fame in the early 1980s embodying a fresh-faced revival of traditional jazz.
     Mr. Marsalis’s star rose along with theirs, and he, too, became a household name.
     “Ellis Marsalis was a legend,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans wrote on Twitter on Wednesday night. “He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz.”
     That was not always so. Mr. Marsalis’s devotion to midcentury bebop and its offshoots had long made him something of an outsider in a city with an abiding loyalty to its early-jazz roots. Still, he secured the respect of fellow musicians thanks to his unshakable talents as a pianist and composer, and his supportive but rigorous manner as an educator.
     Once they reached the national stage, the Marsalises’ advocacy of straight-ahead jazz made them renegades of a different sort. Wynton, a trumpeter, boldly espoused his father’s devotion to heroes like Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, and he issued public broadsides against the slicker jazz-rock fusion that had largely displaced acoustic jazz during the late 1960s and ’70s.
     Photogenic, erudite and fabulously talented, Mr. Marsalis’s children and many other young jazz musicians he had taught – including Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison Jr., Harry Connick Jr. and Nicholas Payton – became the leaders in a burgeoning traditionalist movement, loosely referred to as the Young Lions.
     “My dad was a giant of a musician and teacher, but an even greater father,” Branford Marsalis said in a statement. “He poured everything he had into making us the best of what we could be.”
In an acknowledgment of the patriarch’s influence as well as his own talents, the National Endowment for the Arts in 2011 named Mr. Marsalis and his musician sons Jazz Masters. It is considered the highest honor for an American jazz musician, and until then it had been awarded only on an individual basis.
     By that point, the Marsalises were widely understood to be jazz’s royal family. Wynton had become the founding artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, the world’s pre-eminent nonprofit organization devoted to jazz, and he won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1997. Branford was a world-renowned saxophonist and bandleader with three Grammys to his name. Mr. Marsalis’s two other musician sons, Delfeayo, a trombonist, and Jason, a drummer and vibraphonist, were well established as bandleaders.
     In addition to those sons, Mr. Marsalis is survived by two nonmusician sons, Mboya and Ellis III; a sister, Yvette; and 15 grandchildren. Dolores Marsalis, his wife of 58 years, died in 2017.
In an  interview with The New York Times Magazine in 2004, Wynton Marsalis said that his father had always led by example – expecting, rather than demanding, a high level of seriousness from his students.
     “My father never put pressure on me.” he said. “He’s too cool for that kind of stuff.” Asked to define his father’s brand of cool, he explained:  “The house could fall down and everyone would be running around, and he would still be sitting in his same chair.”
     Ellis Louis Marsalis Jr. was born in New Orleans on Nov. 14, 1934. His mother, Florence (Robertson) Marsalis, was a homemaker.  His father owned the Marsalis Motel in suburban New Orleans and was involved in the civil rights movement. The motel’s guests included the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Representative Adam Clayton Powell Jr. of New York, the future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall and Ray Charles.
     Mr. Marsalis started out as a saxophonist before switching to the piano in high school. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from Dillard University in New Orleans in 1955 and taught at Xavier University Preparatory School until enlisting in the Marine Corps in the late 1950s. There he became a member of the Corps Four, a quartet of Marines that performed jazz on television and radio to aid in recruitment.
     After leaving the Marines he taught briefly in Breaux Bridge, La., then returned to New Orleans with Dolores and their four children to work at his father’s motel while playing shows at night.
Mr. Marsalis performed and recorded throughout the 1960s and ’70s with a variety of modern and progressive jazz musicians, including the drummer Ed Blackwell and the eminent horn-playing brothers Cannonball and Nat Adderley.
     He later earned a master’s degree in music education from Loyola University in New Orleans and led the jazz studies program at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts for high school students. It was there that he mentored such future stars as Mr. Blanchard and Mr. Connick as well as his own children.
     He later taught at Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of New Orleans, where he served for 12 years as the founding director of its jazz studies department.

More on the legend from the New York Times

 


UMC Covid
Guest column: Coronavirus will exacerbate existing health inequities
By Dr. Amy Lesen for the Advocate Baton Rouge

 

     The other morning, I chatted with my neighbor (from six feet away!) while he was walking his dog past my house. He is an ICU nurse here in New Orleans and mentioned that the very sick COVID-19-positive people in his ICU aren’t necessarily elderly, but are people with diabetes, high blood pressure and higher BMI.
     The Centers for Disease Control agrees with my neighbor. Their COVID-19 website cites “higher risk for severe disease … for people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes).” My neighbor and I discussed the fact that these diseases are all very common here in New Orleans. He pointed out that high levels of poverty here and a lack of access to health services lead to higher rates of these exact diseases in the poor and African American communities.
     The Louisiana Department of Health also agrees with my neighbor. According to statistics available on their website, in 2018 the number of diabetes deaths in Louisiana for African Americans was twice as high as for whites (and these statistics are both higher in Louisiana than they are for the U.S. as a whole).
     Heart disease deaths and numbers of people with asthma were also higher for African Americans in Louisiana than for whites. In 2017, people in Louisiana in the lowest income brackets (under $15,0000 per year in most cases) had higher percentages diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, heart disease and asthma, and typically the lower your income, the higher your chances of having those diseases.
     According to County Health Rankings, Orleans Parish has a lower average household income than Louisiana and the United States as a whole. These disparities exist within areas of Orleans Parish, with very different life expectancy across neighborhoods.
     The serious implications of this deplorable state of affairs are obvious: We are very likely to see disproportionate numbers of poor people and people of color get sick and die from COVID-19 in New Orleans and Louisiana – and across our nation. Indeed, in a  recent piece in Forbes, Katya Fels Smyth raises deep concerns about health disparities in the United States and COVID-19. As she reminds us, rates of diseases like asthma, diabetes, and hypertension are not higher in the black population because blacks are somehow physiologically different from other people. It’s because African Americans and the poor have less access to preventive medicine, and research has also revealed startling, widespread racial bias in health care even for middle-class and affluent people of color.
     As we face the COVID-19 pandemic, we must be clear-eyed about health inequities in Louisiana and across the country, the institutionalized practices and policies that have caused them, and the very real ways they are playing out in who gets the sickest and who dies. Community members and researchers in Louisiana have always been leaders in health justice. And yet Louisiana consistently has among the worst health outcomes and most pronounced health inequalities in the nation. Programs and organizations in our state and all over the U.S. that focus on health equity are underfunded and under-resourced.

     Those chickens are coming home to roost now. We are quite literally in a fight for lives. We must pay attention to issues of income inequality and race as the pandemic unfolds over the next weeks and months. Will this crisis finally spur us to direct the necessary resources toward addressing health disparities in our state and our nation? Isn’t it time to right the historic inequalities present in our health care system? We have the power to face those questions with courage, with real action, and with the knowledge that every person has the right to health.


Deep Delta Justice

Deep Delta Justice

A Black Teen, His Lawyer, and Their Groundbreaking Battle for Civil Rights in the South
     In 1966 in a small town in Louisiana, a 19-year-old black man named Gary Duncan pulled his car off the road to stop a fight between a group of four white kids and two of Gary’s own cousins. After putting his hand on the arm of one of the white children, Duncan was arrested for assault. A member of the local branch of the NAACP, Duncan used his contacts to reach Richard Sobol, a 29-year-old born and bred New Yorker working that summer in a black firm (“the most radical law firm”) in New Orleans, to represent him.

     In this powerful work of character-driven history that benefits from the author’s deep understanding of the law, Van Meter brings alive how one court case changed the course of justice in the South, and eventually the entire country. The events that Gary Duncan set in motion brought to an end a form of injustice – denial of trial by jury- that led to the incarceration of thousands of poor and mostly black Americans. Duncan vs. Louisiana  changed America, but before it did it changed the lives of the people who litigated it.

Listen to our interview with the author on Friday at Noon.

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How Gig Workers Are Weathering the Virus Shutdown

Meet a few of the millions of people in New York – a day laborer, production assistant and catering business owner – who have seen their freelance and events-based work dry up.

Notes from New York Times, here. 


IN OTHER NEWS

merlin_169526145_d021fa94-de1f-49ae-b37c-3b9ba33f0078-jumboDon’t Blame New Orleans, and Don’t Forget It

The rest of the country is giving us a hard time about having Mardi Gras. But Louisiana didn’t have a single confirmed Covid-19 case then.
By Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of 
“We Cast a Shadow”, for the New York Times
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How to Make (and Use) a Disinfectant Against Coronavirus
Here’s a guide to working with sprays, wipes and a bleach-based solution to clean surfaces of the pathogen.
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In Stressful Times, Make Stress Work for You

Research shows we can actually use stress to improve our health and well-being.

Gimme Creative Shelter

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This new column will focus on ways that you can stay engaged in the arts, both as a consumer and creator, as we wade through the depths of Coronavirus together.

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What to Watch, Read and Listen To During Your Coronavirus Self-Quarantine

You’re staying home and you need a distraction. We’re updating this recommendation list every weekday.

 

From the critics writing for the

 

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Crazy alligator warning signs are a break from coronavirus claustrophobia

Here’s a coronavirus-era activity that seems to fall within social-distancing guidelines and should be safe … except maybe for the lurking alligators.

By Doug Maccash for NOLA.com.

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This Daily Show supercut ‘Heroes of the Pandumbic’ dissects Fox News’ coronavirus coverage

Today, we salute the Heroes of the Pandumbic.
Hannity. Rush. Dobbs. Ingraham. Pirro. Nunes. Tammy. Geraldo. Doocy. Hegseth. Schlapp. Siegel. Watters. Dr. Drew. Henry. Ainsley. Gaetz. Inhofe. Pence. Kudlow. Conway. Trump.

Click here to view.

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Getty Museum Asks People To Recreate Paintings With Stuff They Can Find at Home

Even though most of us are stuck at home during
Coronavirus quarantine and can’t go out and enjoy art in museums, that doesn’t mean that life has to be boring or uncultured.  The Getty Museum
 in Los Angeles challenged art fans to post photos of themselves recreating their favorite works of art from the safety of their homes.

 

Click here to see the hilarious results.
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New Orleans Film Festival is releasing shorts from their 2019 festival daily on their 

COVID-19

Community Resources

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Artist Relief will distribute $5,000 grants to artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19; serve as an ongoing informational resource; and co-launch the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, designed by Americans for the Arts, to better identify and address the needs of artists.

Click here for more information.
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NEW ORLEANS MAYOR’S OFFICE OF 
CULTURAL ECONOMY
Covid-19 Response
During this time of crisis, we want to provide you with the most up-to-date resources for the cultural community and the wider community as well. Come to our website to link you to COVID-19 updates, grant and relief resources, and the latest news in the cultural world as things change during this time.  We hope you use these resources to preserve your businesses, gigs, and traditions, and want to let you know that we are here to support you any way we can.
Visit  the website for more information.
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Are you an artist out of work?

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, Platforms Fund has suspended its normal granting program in order to provide $2,000 individual emergency relief grants to local creators. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has allowed all  Regional Re-granting Program sites, of which Platforms Fund is one of sixteen, to re-allocate their annual $100,000 grants to establish and administer COVID-19 emergency relief funds in their communities. This initial support seeded the Creative Response Relief Fund, which in addition to  Antenna and  Ashé Cultural Arts Center, now includes the efforts of  Junebug Productions and the  Weavers Fellowship
, pooling resources to distribute a total of $190,000 in support within the greater New Orleans region.
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Coronavirus Small Businesses Stimulus F.A.Q.: Loans, Grants, Freelancers
Many small companies and nonprofits are eligible for federal grants and low-interest loans. But red tape abounds.Get answers from  New York Times.

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Tulane School of Social Work provides self-care resources during COVID-19 crisis
From creating art and watching movies to taking online yoga classes and meditating, mental health professionals at Tulane University stress the importance of self-care during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tulane School of Social Work (TSSW) has created a website with an array of self-care information along with mental health support hotlines for those who are having an especially difficult time coping with the crisis.
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Crosstown Scenes

Some people are going to dramatic lengths to protect themselves from the coronavirus in public

What’s the unique you’ve seen?

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A Goldstein Family Passover Dinner in London
Video by Darcy Pulitzer Goldstein

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum changed their snowglobes to red liquid last month, an antiquated method of signaling precaution. 
Photos by Libby Bollino for NO Secret Tours

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Esplanade Palm Sunday
Photographs by Jeanne Nathan

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Da Bronx 
That’s me front row left with my best friend Toni Butler behind me.

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Election Day
NOVEMBER 3, 2020
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From the Myrtle Banks Building in Central City, to the 9th Ward and
Crevasse 22 | River House downriver in Poydras, Louisiana, CANO’s  Creative Spaces  support the work of artists in New Orleans’ underserved communities.

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CREVASSE 22 | RIVER HOUSE SCULPTURE GARDEN 
AND ART CENTER

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Ceramicist Kevin O’Keefe
Visit his  website.
EARTH-WORKS 
Call 504-218-4807 for more information.
8122 Saro Lane
Poydras, LA

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CANO is now Booking Unique Insider Cultural Tours of New Orleans’ Artist Spaces, Private Collections, and Art Venues

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Call 504.218.4807 
for more information

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(504) 271-8421 

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4139 Canal Street 
(504 )482-6266
Open and offering no contact pick up and delivery.

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Billie Beads
 
Handmade, bejeweled accessories & art made in Brooklyn.

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A work of art by Bob Nielson

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To encourage us to send letters to the amazing healthcare professionals and essential workers who are putting in endless hours on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alexa Pulitzer has created  12 beautiful Thank You Note templates to download (for free) here.

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N.E.W.S. From Crosstown Conversations
Executive Editor: Jeanne Nathan
Editor: Juli Shipley
If you have a comment,  or would like to advertise  in the newsletter,  click here.
Copyright © 2020, Crosstown Conversations. All Rights Reserved.

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