We’re a century too late to have our family portraits painted by John Singer Sargent, but Lafayette artist Mary Morvant is giving the grand master a run for his money. She has the rare ability of catching not only likeness but inner light, the soul made visible. Her portraits pay homage to American Impressionism with its gorgeous atmospherics illuminating a figure in harmony with nature and at peace with herself. Morvant studied art and architecture at Louisiana Tech University before continuing her training a the Atlanta School of Art. She now resides in Lafayette. Portrait prices range from a head-and- shoulders rendition for $7,500 to full length paintings at $14,000. For more information call 278-8963. — Mary Tutwiler
The History Channel series Modern Marvels typically focuses on grand architectural and design achievements. That’s not the case with its most recently released DVD box set, Modern Marvels: Engineering Disasters. Unfortunately, south Louisiana features prominently, with segments on the 1980 maelstrom at Lake Peigneur on Jefferson Island and the 1996 Bright Field incident in New Orleans running alongside features on the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the collapse of the 7 World Trade Center building. Another 45-minute episode is devoted entirely to New Orleans’ infrastructure failures in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The episodes include animation, interviews with eye witnesses and scientists, as well as archival footage of the disasters themselves. The five-disc, 18-episode box set sells for $49.95 and is available through the history channel’s Web site at www.history.com/minisites/modernmarvels. — Nathan Stubbs
BENOIT’S BAYOU TRAIN
Louisiana musicians have contributed to numerous hurricane-related benefits and recorded Rita and Katrina-related songs, but Houma bluesman Tab Benoit was sounding the call before the 2005 storms. Benoit’s the president of Voices of the Wetlands, the nonprofit 501(c)3 and all-star music collective dedicated to drawing attention to coastal land loss. (Benoit was also one of the main subjects of Hurricane on the Bayou, the IMAX documentary that wrapped primary filming pre-Katrina.) Benoit’s new live album, Night Train to Nashville, finds the guitarslinger backed by Louisiana’s LeRoux and joined by special guests Waylon Thibodeaux on fiddler and washboard and Kim Wilson and Johnny Sansone on harp and vocals. From the stripped-down “Fever on the Bayou” to the greasy syncopation of “Moon Comin’ Over the Hill” and the stone blues of the closer “Stackolina,” Benoit keeps the spotlight on south Louisiana with some superb homegrown grooves. Night Train to Nashville retails for $17.98 and is available locally at Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and Circuit City. — Scott Jordan
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OCT 20 The Globe and Mail, a Canadian paper, has posted its story on Louisiana's coastal loss here. In it, author Omar El Akkad clarifies it neatly: it's "a battle between prosperity and the planet's well-being." Are jobs and money worth the trade we're making? As Jonathan Foret says in the story, Mother Nature may come and answer that question for us.
OCT 20 Remember those great posts from blogger Jason Brad Berry that featured emails and letters related to the BP claims process? Well, apparently Patrick Juneau (who was featured, but not in a positive way, in those documents) ordered a background check on Berry because of it, this story in Louisiana Record says. Huh?
OCT 20 The Washington Post and ABC ran a poll on several issues here, but of course the presidential fields are most interesting. Hillary Clinton has commanding numbers on the D side, and Mitt Romney is leading the R side, with 21 percent. He's followed by Jeb Bush, with 11 percent, and 12 other guys polling in single digits. Bobby Jindal brings up the rear with 2 percent, with only John Kasich and Scott Walker polling worse.
OCT 20 Blogger Tom Aswell quotes two former Commissioners of Administration in this post, both of whom are not impressed with the magical surplus that current COA Kristy Nichols and her boss, Bobby Jindal, have found. There's some pretty interesting detail here about the origin of these magic beans.
OCT 20 Blogger Robert Mann paints a pretty amusing (or alarming, depending on your point of view) picture of how DOA Kristy Nichols and Gov. Bobby Jindal came up with the "balanced" budget they revealed last week. An unbalanced budget would blow a hole in Jindal's "already dim presidential hopes," Mann says.
OCT 18 Columnist James Gill tells a sordid tale of a Port Allen judge facing sanctions -- shortly after he was re-elected without opposition. District Judge J. Robin Free accepted a free ride on the private jet of an attorney who had just one a big case in his court, and also failed to recuse himself from a class-action case in which his mom was a potential plaintiff, Gill says.
OCT 20 The blogger known as Crazy Crawfish is writing about Superintendent John White in this post, taking issue with White's claim that it is only pockets of isolated "troublemakers" who are opposed to Common Core in Louisiana. Gosh, Johnny, that's the best you can come up with? That's not even original.
OCT 17 Here's a weird one on WVUE from investigative reporter Lee Zurik. In it, he's quoting a guy who was in a car accident and filed suit against the other guy who (he says) caused it and is responsible for a lot of medical bills. What's weird is what he was told by his lawyer (whom he recorded -- Huh?)
OCT 17 Here's another document from the BP claims library that was delivered anonymously to blogger Jason Brad Berry. It is written on what appears to be BP stationery and is directed to Patrick Juneau. In it, the BP guy complains about a $14 million bill for an audit BP has never seen, as well as a conflict between Juneau's "public boasts of transparency" and the manner in which he has really operated.
OCT 17 Bobby Jindal's poll numbers still stink in Iowa, this post on the Bloomberg Politics blog says. A recent poll found him tied with Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 1 percent, trailing Cruz, Perry, Christie, Rubio, Bush, Walker and a partridge in a pear tree.
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