Tom Piazza's new novel City of Refuge, released yesterday by Harper books, features an editor of a fictional New Orleans alt-weekly named Gumbo who evacuates to Chicago after Hurricane Katrina. As the Times-Picayune points out, that character "certainly bears a resemblance to Michael Tisserand, former Gambit editor." But Piazza explains that all the characters are fictional. "Even if a writer is writing a novel about his or her best friend, in the course of that writing, the friend turns into something else -- a character," he says. When asked about the resemblance, Tisserand tells Gambit that "the scaffolding [for the character] is in part me, but the building is all Tom's."

Continue ReadingAlt-Weekly Editor is Main Character in Katrina Novel

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Michael Tisserand began writing what would become the "Submerged" series, 11 stories about the aftermath written for AAN and run in many member papers. One of the pieces was about the school that the Tisserands and other refugee parents started in New Iberia, La., which the former editor of Gambit Weekly expanded into the recently published book Sugarcane Academy. He tells Tucson Weekly he felt that experience best illustrated what it meant to be a Katrina evacuee. "It was a story with a beginning, a middle and an end, and I think the title of the school -- that the kids and teacher came up with together -- encapsulated how we felt," Tisserand, who has since relocated to Evanston, Ill., says. "(The school) was a place we could feel not just safe, but a place where we again felt the power to make decisions, to move forward."

Continue ReadingFormer Editor Expands AAN-Commissioned Piece Into a Book

Former Gambit Weekly Editor Michael Tisserand won first place in the Individual Feature Writing Category of the 2005 Louisiana Press Association journalism competition, the LPA announced this weekend. Tisserand won for an entry from his "Submerged" series that also ran as a cover story for Lafayette's Independent Weekly, which competes in the Free Circulation/Special Interest Publication category against other weeklies in the state. Tisserand's ten-part series chronicling the Katrina-evacuee experience was commissioned by AAN and ran in dozens of AAN member papers and Web sites. The Independent, a three-year old publication applying for AAN membership this year, earned 50 awards in the competition, including 21 first-place honors. Gannett's competing weekly in Lafayette, the Times of Acadiana, picked up 27 awards.

Continue ReadingArticle from ‘Submerged’ Series Wins Press Association Contest

Gambit's bittersweet anniversary issue includes reflections from a number of notable former staffers on the history of the paper and of New Orleans. "There could not be a time when the mission we imagined 25 years ago could be more relevant, or more urgent," writes Gambit founder Gary Esolen. AAN and its members who helped out in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina are given thanks in an article by Eileen Loh Harrist on Gambit's role in the alt-weekly world. And Publisher Margo DuBos says that the Gambit's current small staff and tight temporary quarters remind her of the paper's early days in "a wonderful way": "Everyone here is doing the work of three people and doing it with such strong feelings and emotional ties to their jobs."

Continue ReadingGambit Weekly Celebrates 25 ‘Earthshaking’ Years

Michael Tisserand, who wrote the "Submerged" series about the evacuee experience in post-Katrina New Orleans, argues for a National Mardi Gras in the Jan. 24 issue of Gambit Weekly. "It's time to honor the dead and celebrate the living," Tisserand writes. The article is available to AAN member newspapers for reprint at no charge.

Continue ReadingTisserand’s Latest Essay Available for Free to AAN Members

According to the The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Tisserand is one of four plaintiffs suing in federal court to overturn Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco's decision to postpone the city's mayoral and City Council elections indefinitely. Tisserand plans to relocate to the Chicago suburbs. He chronicled his post-Katrina experiences and decision to leave New Orleans in "Submerged," a series of articles commissioned by AAN.

Continue ReadingFormer Gambit Editor Michael Tisserand Involved in Election Lawsuit

Even though Hurricane Katrina left its office (pictured) submerged under more than two feet of water, co-owners Margo and Clancy DuBos always knew the paper would make a comeback. "We're about to celebrate our 25th anniversary [at Gambit]," says Margo. "How could I work that hard and get the company where it is and walk away from that?" The paper will initially operate from a temporary office space in Metairie, La., but it will have to do so without editor Michael Tisserand, who has made the difficult decision to relocate with his family to the Chicago area.

Continue ReadingGambit Weekly to Return Nov. 1

In an entry in his MSNBC blog on Monday, network newsman Brian Williams called Part 4 of Michael Tisserand's AAN-commissioned series on the evacuee experience, "a fine piece of journalism" and a "sobering and instructive piece of writing." Speaking of the displaced Gambit Weekly editor, in addition to producing fine journalism, he and some of his former neighbors recently started a new school for their children in New Iberia, La. In case you missed it yesterday on CBS' The Early Show, you can read about the Sugar Cane Academy here.

Continue Reading“Submerged” Gets Props From NBC News Anchor