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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JUL 25 Elliott Stonecipher writes about his specialty in this post on Forward Now: numbers. He's running down Louisiana's poverty numbers, and they aren't good. There has been progress, he says, but can we build on it? And is poverty in Louisiana inevitable?
JUL 25 Jim Brown is blogging about the death penalty this week. In particular, he's discussing a really, really good reason to stop using it: too many people who aren't guilty are being convicted and sentenced to death.
JUL 25 Blogger Tom Aswell has crafted a fascinating analysis in this post. He's discussing Bobby Jindal and his cross-country, pre-presidential pandering, but he weaves in a historical perspective by reviewing FDR's New Deal and Huey Long's resistance to it - which also was because Huey planned to run for President.
JUL 25 Education Superintendent John White probably shouldn't sign a long lease on anything in Louisiana, Blogger Lamar Parmentel writes, because our reformer in chief is now in a situation "from which no amount of his own bs jargon or political hatchet work can extricate him." Lamar thinks that White is going to have to quit, and probably sooner rather than later.
JUL 25 Blogger Ian McGibboney gives his take on that study that found the happiest cities are right here in Louisiana, including Lafayette, Baton Rouge and Shreveport. (Really. I know, right?) As he says, it is all about perspective: One can be happy in a toxic dump and miserable at Disney World.
JUL 25 Blogger Rod Dreher writes about Christianity in this post, examining the concept of traditional or orthodox as it relates to his religion. Since Dreher is a conservative, orthodox Christian, it's not an objective discussion, but it's certainly an interesting read, if for no other reason than to seek understanding.
JUL 25 If you're not aware, there's a conflict among pro-choicers and pro-lifers going down in New Orleans. Anti-abortionists are protesting in the city this week, but those who support access to abortion have also been active in the city as a result. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow takes a look at what's going on in this clip, posted on Gambit.
JUL 25 This post on the Wall Street Journal examines the case of a Metairie physician who is making millions by filing whistle-blower lawsuits. His suits accuse corporations of defrauding federal agencies like Medicare, and when he wins he gets whistle-blower rewards - in the tens of millions of dollars. (You can view the story using your Facebook account, but if you don't want to do that, here's an abbreviated version in the Advocate.)
JUL 24 The Lens is hosting a panel discussion on the cost of coastal restoration, and who should pay for it, next month in NOLA. It is planned to be a discussion of the realities of the coastal restoration master plan and its current funding, as well as what the future holds.
JUL 24 This post on the Red Stick Blog reveals nine facts about Mike the Tiger, the LSU mascot who turns nine this week. That's interesting and all, but the best part of the post is the video of Mike playing around with a visitor, just like any other kitty. A massive, deadly, 400-pound, roaring kitty.
JUL 24 The recent articles about a study that found America's happiest cities are here in Louisiana have produced some raised eyebrows among those who have actually been to Shreveport and Baton Rouge. But the Today show did some research, and produced this article which talks about stuff that doesn't really represent those two cities. Are we still going with the drunk, fat and stupid brand?
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