Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Lover Come Back

21:30 April 18, 2015
By: Debbie Lindsey

There's this look. It's a dreamy-eyed, headsover-heels-in-love look, mixed with a tinge of sadness because they know it will end or at best, become a long-distance relationship. I have come to recognize it and take its meaning personally. Their affection is for New Orleans.

Boyfriend and I have a small shop in the heart of the Quarter, right in the thick of things. So of course we are constantly meeting tourists, visitors and ex-pats. And every day, we are faced with the person who speaks of their emotions for this place we call home. I'm talkin' the L-word. They are beyond happy camper or satisfi ed tourist. And certainly nothing like the "dude" who got wasted on Bourbon Street. No, the person who expresses grief over leaving is not just on vacation; they may have thought they were, but now it's different, and they are looking at our classifi eds rather than travel brochures to Vegas next year.

I always see an upswing of infatuation during Jazz Fest. You take one of the best festivals this city can offer and place that event in a neighborhood that shows off our natural beauty, architecture, funk and fancy (we just do suburbia differently than most cities). If appearance and attitude aren't enough, then the fragrance will surely grab your attention. Sweet olive blooms profusely this time of year, and it will woo the unsuspecting with an intoxicating fragrance (I've know folks allergic to its pollen who insist upon this tree in their yard). To counterbalance the sweetness, there's the scent of food, not only from the Fair Grounds, but from backyard crawfi sh boils. It seems that aromatherapy is practiced throughout this region, offering the savory scents of roasted coffee, sweets, pork, bread or whatever the nearby restaurant or small business is cookin' up.

This city seduces not only by taste and the tease of her good looks, but with her voice. She speaks through music and is quite the chatterbox. I'm not sure if New Orleans is our muse or if we are hers. Inspired or inspiring? What matters is that music is as important to the foundation of this city as bricks and mortar. Music is the infrastructure that carries us: creating an economy, comfort and exultation. It is a constant, even having the last word to mark our passing.

The written word, the painted canvas, music composed and released by trumpet, dough rising, meats cooked tender, and talents still yet to be tapped. These things and more weaken their resolve to board the plane home, because a part of them now feels this could be home. And so they stand before me looking all moonstruck. I understand the feeling, it is visceral, they want more. So I offer them the drugs they will need once they leave to temper their jonesing for New Orleans.

First, I suggest music. This is the easiest bit of New Orleans to tap into, and yet the most sustaining. WWOZ. Our shop's radio is glued to this listener-supported, commercial-free jazz and heritage station. Every form of jazz is played, along with programs dedicated to the blues, funk and Caribbean music. This is all free. Go to WWOZ.org on your computer and bingo: you can have New Orleans streaming through your body and soul 24/7. Amazing that my car radio will lose the signal thirty minutes from town, but my Australian friends are funkin' it up to their computer speakers.

Already hip to OZ? Then make sure you visit a local music shop and stock up on some tunes; my personal favorite is Louisiana Music Factory (210 Decatur Street). Once home, visit them online, they ship.

Next, I ask my visitor if this is their first time here or if it's been a while. Either way, I assume they may wish to learn more. I suggest two engaging reads that inform and entertain: Sara Roahen's Gumbo Tales and Dan Baum's Nine Lives. To further get up to speed, starting with season one, view: Treme, the HBO series charting our city's course since Katrina. It is a music, food, culture and lifestyle-driven storyline that follows fi ctional characters as well as many locals who play themselves (politicians, chefs, and musicians). The stories run parallel with true events (Katrina recovery, police corruption, and economic and political shenanigans). The creators of Treme get us--down to the most mundane and minute detail. This show celebrates and informs the viewer of our culture, from Mardi Gras Indians to Hubig's Pies.

I looked into who ships what, and the good news is you could spend hours at your computer shopping, but don't. Spend that time concentrating on when you might return: whether for vacation, next year's Jazz Fest, or forever. As the great philosopher once said (after several beers), "Just Do It!" To simplify and help you with your New Orleans goody basket, let's review what we have discussed and make note of a couple of other essentials: WWOZ.org for local radio. Louisianamusicfactory.com for tunes. HBO's Treme and any documentaries from PBS to Spike Lee concerning this region. Go to Crystalhotsauce.com for its shipping link. Fresh seafood, boudin and more: www. vieuxcarreseafood.com. And to learn how to celebrate and cook our cuisine in your own kitchen, visit Kitchen Witch Cookbook Shop (631 Toulouse, or kwcookbooks.com). And of course, visit the Where Y'at gang at www.whereyat.com or on Facebook/Twitter: WhereYatNOLA.

To all of you visiting our city and Jazz Fest, may you fall in love with this weirder-than-dirt place we proudly claim as home, and come back soon.

Sign Up!

FOR THE INSIDE SCOOP ON DINING, MUSIC, ENTERTAINMENT, THE ARTS & MORE!