Uptown restaurant Atchafalaya got taken down last night.

The southern dining concern holds a dear place in our heart: They served the finest cornbread we’ve ever eaten in a restaurant.

And we’ve eaten the best stretching from Kentucky to Texas and back again.

Thursday September 24th 2015 the manager of the restaurant noticed two masked men heading toward the front door so he sprang into action rushing toward the brigands and locking the door.

Atchafalaya: The Best Cornbread I've Ever Eaten In A Restaurant

Atchafalaya: The Best Cornbread I’ve Ever Eaten In A Restaurant

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The drumbeat came across my channels last night: Bywater Man Carjacked While Unloading Groceries.

I was reading the story right after I’d put the groceries up that that I’d bought at Circle Foods and trundled into our ancient double.

We laugh whenever people talk about the gentrification of the Bywater. On our street there are abandoned vehicles rotting into the blacktop; hookers two blocks away on St. Claude; witch graffiti on our neighbor’s fences; lurkers who fade away when groups walk along the streets and of course all manners of crime ranging from home invasions to rapes.

This is the face of gentrification in New Orleans?

Where are all the guys on fixies wearing black frame glasses and listening to Pavement bootlegs?

I’ll take that over brigands who jack your car when you’re trying to carry in a grocery bag filled with pizza rolls, turkey necks and yellow onions.

And I’ve never seen the Times Pic promote a letter to the editor the way they did this.

While we were documenting the Young Men Olympian Junior Benevolent Association Second Line that languorously wended its way through Central City, the New Orleans police scanner was on fire.

These are four, back to back headlines on the Times Picayune’s website this morning:

New Orleans Crime

New Orleans Crime

Man shot in eastern New Orleans Sunday

Man and woman robbed early Sunday morning in Milan

Man stabbed in 7th Ward armed robbery Saturday

and

Man killed in Treme early Sunday

New Orleans is our favorite American city but it’s hard to reconcile our afternoon spent shaking it to hot brass and photographing the lovely people who made Sunday’s Second Line one of the finest of the short season with the carnage that roiled across town.

The theme for the Young Men Olympian Junior Benevolent Association’s Second Line was “Parading For Peace in 2015.”

It ain’t easy in the Big Easy.

While we were documenting the Young Men Olympian Junior Benevolent Association Second Line that languorously wended its way through Central City, the New Orleans police scanner was on fire.

These are four, back to back headlines on the Times Picayune’s website this morning:New Orleans Crime

Man shot in eastern New Orleans Sunday

Man and woman robbed early Sunday morning in Milan

Man stabbed in 7th Ward armed robbery Saturday

Man killed in Treme early Sunday

New Orleans is our favorite American city but it’s hard to reconcile our afternoon spent shaking it to hot brass and photographing the lovely people who made Sunday’s Second Line one of the finest of the short season with the carnage that roiled across town.

The theme for the Young Men Olympian Junior Benevolent Association’s Second Line was “Parading For Peace in 2015.”

It ain’t easy in the Big Easy.

A group of friends visited our Bywater home from out of state back in the Spring. They’re from a place where crime is not on New Orleans-level (Texas for the record, but Kinshasa, Belgrade and a number of other cities could be held in the same estimation)

They would blithely walk in the front door and go about their business without immediately pivoting to lock the door behind them. Yeah, a bunch of marks, hardened New Orleanians would say, but in their defense you may or may not stop, drop and roll to lock your door the moment you enter your home in Austin.

A man living in the 600 block of France Street learned a hard lesson Friday morning when he briefly let his guard down upon entering his home and didn’t do the lightning-fast 180 pivot and lock routine that’s crucial to Bywater living. Continue Reading

And then they came for the bourgeois.

Patois, the fine dining restaurant in Uptown New Orleans got taken down last night. A trio of bandits strolled into the dining room at 11pm, walking through the front door that the staff had propped open to enjoy a rare, pleasant August evening.

The attendant diners, 15-20 of them, were relaxing and perhaps enjoying chef Lisa Gustafson- Alessandro’ handmade “Snickers” ($11) over their French Press coffees.

Paying no heed to the guests digestifs, the robbers ordered everyone, including employees, to the floor and relieved them of their possessions.

The contents of the money till were also taken.

With the popularity of credit cards we doubt that the money drawer held a king’s ransom.

But diners at Patois tend to be well-heeled as the tariff for a supper for two is quite dear.

We can’t help but wonder how much more lucrative a take-down of a Chili’s or TGI Fridays would’ve been. Working class folks pay with cash at a higher rate than the upper crust.

At the time of the robbery there was a big cluster of police cars five miles east at Calliope and Annunciation. The dedicated team of officers had set up a roadblock to make sure people had the proper license plates and what have you.

New Orleans has shown time and again that prioritization of city resources is not the government’s specialty.

We expect the robbers’ success will lead to more such takedowns.

Meanwhile the mayor and council continue to dither over statues of old, dead Confederates and whether people should be allowed to rent out their spare bedrooms to tourists.

Priorities.

We saw this one coming a mile away.

When New Orleans city council decided to outlaw tobacco use in bars, we predicted that the resultant tide of smokers congregating outside drinkeries to partake in their habit, would result in a tidal wave of armed robberies.http://www.wwltv.com/story/news/local/orleans/2015/06/02/exclusive-video-marigny-bar-patrons-falling-victim-to-armed-robberies-police-investigate-possible-connection/28391077/

And now we’re seeing just that.

New Orleans criminals love low-hanging fruit.

Smokers are easy targets now that they’ve been turned into the streets.

Formerly, a nicotine user could relax indoors and enjoy a modicum of protection (doors that only open via buzzer, big beefy bouncers that could mitigate thuggish behavior, the general safety of not being on the streets)

Now that’s all gone.

And the brigands are rejoicing. Thousands of soft targets are now exposed for all to see.

As we make our way across New Orleans on a nightly basis we’ve recently remarked on how many bars there are that we never knew existed.

They’re easy to spot: Just look for a group of people all tugging on cigarettes and stumbling about drunkenly. When you walk into the nearby bar there will be no one inside, save the bartender minding the til. Occasionally someone will dash inside to refill their drink before they return to the great outdoors to reengage in their habit.

We used to love to go to Bud Rips, BJ’s Lounge, Markey’s Bar etc.

Not any more.

There’s nobody inside to hang out with. The social aspect of chatting with strangers has been completely stripped away.

The air is refreshingly clean, that’s a plus, but there’s nobody to enjoy it with. All the revelry takes place outside the bar, on the sidewalk, like a scene from some gritty 70s movie set in Philadelphia.

New Orleans bar culture is dead.

 

 

 

It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

New Orleans crime is hitting record levels, the police force numbers are at an all-time low and the city council continues busying themselves with trifles while our town slowly regresses into the Wild Wild West.

Friday night, May 1st 2015, a 19 year old man was approached near Bacchanal Wine bar at the corner of Poland and Chartres by a shotgun wielding thug who demanded the teenager’s properties.

In a sage move, the victim complied and handed over his wallet and car keys whereupon the brigand drove off in the victim’s automobile.

He was lucky to have escaped with his life.

We live 5 blocks from Bacchanal Wine and have been known to drunkenly traipse between our door and theirs from time to time.

Upper 9th Ward

Upper 9th Ward

Short of arming ourselves with Rugers and doing 180s every 10 feet as we stroll along there’s not a lot of options. Don’t carry a bunch of money, wear shoes that will allow you to shuck and buck when the gunplay comes, sit quietly on the sofa with teeth chattering and the doors barred?

We live life how we please, criminals be damned.

It ain’t easy in the Big Easy.