Category Archives: local flavor

The Houzenga mobile: my art gallery on wheels

Brent HouzengaBrent Houzenga IMG_1480

 

I’ve owned three cars in my lifetime: a hand-me-down Delta 88 Oldsmobile (age 18-19), a Honda Civic (age 19-23) that made me feel like a bad ass after driving a land yacht, and my Honda CRV, which I bought when I was 23, paid off when I was 27 and, to paraphrase Jay Z, If you’re having car problems I feel bad for you son, I’ve got a ’99 Honda and that bitch still runs. 

My ol’ gal wasn’t looking so good last year. Under the hood she was still a beauty, but her cherry red paint job didn’t have much pep left. Now, thanks to Brent Houzenga, she turns heads wherever she goes.

Brent and I met about four years ago and reconnected when we ran into each other at UNO.  He had just enrolled in the Master’s of Fine Arts program and I was chugging away at bachelor degrees in English and film and theatre. I knew Brent painted cars with his signature bold, stenciled artwork, but when he put out a call for cars for his Fossil Fueled project last year I couldn’t sign up fast enough. Neither could my husband; we now have his and hers Houzenga mobiles. Our neighbors must think we are nuts.

Driving an art car is really fun. The best part is catching a glimpse of joy in an innocent bystanders face, the occasional thumbs up at a red light, or the high school kids taking selfies with my car. I like to think I’m spreading a little happiness everywhere I go. There are, however, a few downsides to driving such a splashy vehicle. Sometimes I’m not in the mood to chat with strangers about my art gallery on wheels. My vehicle is also not that professional. Whenever I put my reporter pants on (or skirt, in most cases) I opt to park a block or two away so my interviewee won’t see me getting in or out my car. That said, I live in New Orleans, so the few times an interviewee has seen my car they thought it was cool. That said, I’m glad I tricked out my ol’ gal; she’s easy to find in a parking lot and hell, why not?

 

 

The People I Know: Rebecca

Rebecca Diaz

The third installment of this series is Rebecca Diaz, a friend of mine I met in California but didn’t really get to know until we became coworkers in New Orleans.

HOW WE MET:

I met Rebecca through Monika, a mutual friend, back when I lived in Phoenix and she lived in L.A. (2007-2008ish). We both worked as managers at Buffalo Exchange, albeit in different states. We met when I visited Monika out in L.A.,  and we reconnected when Rebecca moved to New Orleans a few years later and started working at the Magazine Street location. We’ve kept in touch ever since. Apparently she also knew who I was because we frequented the same fashion communities on Live Journal back in the day. And before you try to find it, I deleted my account a long time ago.

WHAT SHE DOES:

Rebecca is a co-organizer for Less Than 100, a pop up shop on Oretha Castle Haley that charges women 66% and men 100% of the retail price. Why the difference in price? Women make just 66% of what men make in Louisiana, and the shop operates on a pay-what-you-earn model. The shop will be in its Central City location until the end of this month.

Rebecca also runs Six Impossible Things, a pop up shop that stocks everything vintage, sequined, and fantastic. Having worked in retail for several years, she has a knack for finding both literal and figurative gems. Catch her at Little Flea NOLA on the regular.

WHO SHE IS TO ME:

Rebecca is one of those people that you can’t help but like the second you meet her. She’s quirky, hilarious, witty, and looks stylish 24/7. She also has a vintage clothing collection that will make you swoon with delight. But even more important than all of that she’s just a decent person trying to do decent things to better not only herself but the community as well. She’s a rising star and definitely one to watch out for.

 

John Preble’s Self-Made World on The Toast

The Abita Mystery House is one of those places that just stayed with me after my initial visit. I’ve written about it here and again for the Driftwood back in the fall. Just when I thought I was done writing about the place, one of my professors suggested I interview John Preble, the owner, for a more in depth essay. So I did.
 “John Preble’s Self-Made World” is the result of two trips to the Abita Mystery House and several hours spent talking to Preble about how the Abita Mystery House came to be, his thoughts on folk art and museums, and the town of Abita Springs itself. I’m so proud to announce that my essay was selected by Roxane Gay for publication on The Butter, a subsidiary of The Toast. Read it by clicking here then go experience the Abita Mystery House for yourself. 

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Worth The Drive: Abita Mystery House


Unexpected free time this summer has afforded me the luxury of taking random day trips from New Orleans. My first stop? A trip across Lake Pontchartrain to Abita Mystery House. Tucked away in the charming town of Abita Springs, this quirky museum houses owner John Preble’s impressive collection of tchotckes, vintage arcade games, painstakingly detailed dioramas and taxidermy that looks straight out of Rob Zombies’ House of a Thousand Corpses. I mean that in the best way possible.

 I was downright giddy when I first drove up to the museum. My friend Rebecca described it as a “Pee Wee’s Southern Folksy Playhouse” and I couldn’t agree with her more. The collection is split up among a vintage gas station, a 100 year old Creole cottage and the House of Shards. Each building contains an amalgam of the ordinary, the odd and the downright delightful. Make sure to allow yourself a few hours to explore. While the Abita Mystery House is small, it’s chocked full of wonders. Photos are highly encouraged, so bring your camera and a roll of quarters if you want to fiddle around with the arcade games. 

The Abita Mystery House is definitely worth the hour drive from New Orleans and the three dollar admission fee. 



Abita Mystery House     
22275 Hwy 36 
Abita Springs
 Louisiana 70420 
985-892-2624


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French Quarter Fest

 
I’ve been in a festin’ mood thanks to the balmy, seventy degree weather (finally!) so I decided to head out to French Quarter Fest with a friend to indulge in alligator sausage, po-boys and a frozen daiquiri to wash it all down with. The main music stages and food booths can bring out the claustrophobia in most anyone, so if you’re not the crowd lovin’ type I’d suggest hanging out at the equally entertaining yet relatively more intimate stages away from Woldenberg Park and Jackson Square.  It was also the perfect day to play around with my camera (no iPhone snapshots here!) and get some practice in. We’ve had the most beautiful, picturesque skies that just beg to have their photo taken. How could I not comply?
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Mardi Gras: Look ma, no pants!

Oh, Mardi Gras. It was one of the coldest and rainiest Fat Tuesdays ever, but that didn’t stop the die hard crazies from heading out, including us. Since I never take the weather into consideration when planning a costume, wool socks under wool tights under green tights under fishnets was the only way to go. I felt like a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race underneath all that hosiery. Despite how nasty it was, we managed to laissez les bon temps rouler anyway. Needless to say, I didn’t bring my camera in fear of getting it wet, so these were the only non iPhone pics we took. 
This year, I decided to make our hats. With about 12 hours total of hand stitching ( I rarely glue anything, unless sewing isn’t an option) I gave myself a bit of a break and thrifted our tops, minus some embellishments that I added. It’s always fun to play dress up, but I’m allowing myself a sweatshirt and jeans day today after freezing my toes off. Hopefully we’ll have better weather next year but hey, a little rain never stopped me from having a good time anyway. 

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Instagram Slam- Mardi Gras Edition

Can you believe Mardi Gras was only a week ago? Even though I’m still scrubbing glitter off my floors (and by still I mean haven’t started), it feels like a distant memory already. Regardless, I’ve got a few more photos to share before I put it to rest. And I lie- some of these made to my Instagram feed, others didn’t. I hope y’all enjoy them either way.

Kaci always kills it with her costumes. She made that Grecian goddess costume from scratch!

Dick in a box never.gets.old.ever.
Ran into this guy last year and he posed the same way this year. Mardi Gras kismet at its best.
Why yes, that is a Trojan horse running amok through the Marigny.
I love this picture of my husband- clearly he keeps himself entertained.
Form meets function- art bikes are always crowd pleasers, plus you can store booze and snacks in there.
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What I Wore: Mardi Gras 2013

Mardi Gras always passes a little too quickly for my liking. This year was a good one, with not so impromptu dance parties in the street, run ins with friends, and a heck of a long bike ride home. Even though it was overcast, dreary skies couldn’t dampen spirits. And though I’ve already packed up the costume box, I already have my hat for Mardi Gras 2014 picked out. See y’all on the parade route next year.

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Winner of the NOLA Eats King Cake Tasting Tickets

By a purely random stroke of luck, the winner of two NOLA Eats king cake tasting tickets is Christina McKay! If you didn’t win, you can still receive $3 off your ticket price by using coupon code SSS. Click here to purchase your ticket.

Like the short video I made? I jumped on the Vine bandwagon- follow me at @ChristyLorio. If you haven’t heard about this new iPhone app, it’s like Instagram but with 6 second videos.

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Stealing Magnolias by Debra Shriver

 “New Orleanians have long memories and a high tolerance for eccentricity.” – Randy Fertel
If you’re a New Orleanian, you have an intimate relationship with the city. You lovingly talk about its nuances the same way you’d describe a lifelong friend, or a close relative. They might drive you nuts sometimes, but their faults only add to their charm. From decadent recipes to French influenced décor, Debra Shriver tells her tale of embracing the Big Easy lifestyle in Stealing Magnolias, a coffee table book that is not only comprised of her favorite haunts, but her adoration of the culture.

Alabama born and bred, this New Yorker fell in love with the city and found a quintessential French Quarter residence to call her own just weeks before Hurricane Katrina. While the photography alone is worth a glance, Shriver weaves an intimate tale, sharing her NOLA love notes with us as she discovers her neighborhood and decorates her home.  When we hear so much about spikes in crime, increasing property taxes, hurricanes, and crooked politicians (I’m looking at you C. Ray Nagin), it’s a necessity to take a moment to dwell on the positive details that make this city so special.

Stealing Magnolias would make a wonderful gift, or purchase a copy (via Octavia Books) for yourself and be prepared to reconnect with New Orleans. Already have a copy? Be sure to read Valorie Hart’s review of Shriver’s latest book, Spirit of New Orleans on Visual Vamp.
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