Ophiuchus Rising Or The Best of Times

00:00 May 02, 2011
By: Phil LaMancusa

 We interrupt this Jazz Fest edition to bring you a special updated astrological bulletin report: Forget whatever you were told about your ‘sign’; forget it and throw it out the window. Listen up, there has been another, a thirteenth if you believe in that sort of thing, sign and this new sign, Ophiuchus, has kicked other reliable, traditional, tried and true signs to the curb! The new sign, which is named after a person (the only one that be that, fer gawd’s sake), reigns from November 29th to December 17th and has pushed all the other signs out of the way and the very nerve I say! Is my moon now in Cantaloupe? Is my rising sign still Halitosis? What next? Is this the dawning of the age of Asparagus? 

You sexy Scorpions are now vacillating Libra’s; you cuddly, earthy Capricorns are now flighty Aquarians; you bullish Taurans are now sensitive Geminis and me (?), I have it worst of all. The worstest. From being a gregarious and wise Sagittarius I am now a plaid wearing Ophiuchus (pronounced: OH- fewk - US) and, like a fella once said,  “ain’t that a kick in the head?” 

Well, onward: “Welcome my friends to the show that never ends, we’re so glad you can attend; come inside, come inside!” The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, better known as Jazz Fest, welcomes one and all that can pay the price of admission. 

I don’t know how y’all get there but I just walk out my front door, over a block and a half and I’m Flynn! Consider it one of the perks of living in the hood. Another perk is sitting on our buddy’s front porch with a cold one at the day’s closing and watching all you guys, dazed and confused, flushed with a glow that we call that FFL (Freshly Fested Look) look, as you try to get your bearings to make your way back to where you once belonged. Get back Loretta!
However, a supreme tribal experience comes when we stop off for bloody Marys pre-Fest or cool Abitas post-Fest at our local watering holes and eating establishments, mainly Liuzza’s By The Track.

In our little domestic microcosm (and you’re gonna be jealous) we have within two to three blocks in any direction sizable grocery stores (2); above average restaurants (5); coffee houses (2); a wine shop; a locally owned pharmacy; a Washateria and in a category of its own: Liuzza’s By The Track.

Now, you’ll probably only see Liuzza’s By The Track as a purveyor of adult beverages and light fare on Fest weekends with five deep at the bar and the outside set up for drinks delivered fast, efficiently and with strength and vigor.
Tom Fitzmorris has called it the “dumpiest restaurant in town” in the context of it being a no frills joint. He also adds that it is “worth crossing town for” and that it has “breathtaking and more than credible” food. He wonders why (!), but locals know; it is as much of more than what it is as what it is not, kind of a yes and no place.  It’s more than just a restaurant; simply because of the way that everything about the menu is cooked in house, (fresh by a talented kitchen crew that we all know by name); AND, they have the whole neighborhood bar/hangout thing going on as well.
In the kitchen, Ms Bee (the head of it all) Mark (second to none), Eric (the resident Art Trouvez) and even Mark Anthony (Junior to you) all get into the culinary act. The front of the house has a welcoming revolving cast of local talent. Ashley (with her daily updates on daughter Tristan’s antics); Delanie (of the FABULOUS Camel Toe Lady Steppers); Theresa (Artist Extrodinaire) Miss Anne (that has been so far keeping her talents hidden from us); Junior (again), Damian, Fudd and on special occasions the Special Ms Sara. And, of course Jimmy Lemarie, who reigns supreme.

Tommy the Fitz (don’t call him that), I think begrudgingly, gives the place above average marks for value, hipness and local color, with upmarks also for consistency and attitude; what does he know? Not all that much, except he is the most listened to food wise guy in town. People that like him listen to him, people that don’t like him listen to him; I don’t listen to him unless it’s something that he agrees with me about and in this case he is spot on. 

Further father: here’s your Jazz Fest reminders: bring cash, a hat, water and advanced tickets. Would you believe that someone would have the nerve to scalp you a discounted ticket that is not good for entrance to the greatest show on earth? Someone would and will if you’re fool enough to buy yours on the street. 

Leave your cellular device on the off position or someone might pour a Mango Freeze into it just because cell phone use and texting at the Fest is soooooo pre-K that it screams for comeuppance. 

Take sunscreen and an umbrella, your appetite and something to sit on. Don’t overload or you’ll be schlepping like Sherpa Sam. Scope out the ‘ter-lits’ (as we call them) early, check out food demos and get to your stages promptly if you want to be part of the crush. Use the misters to keep cool. Use your umbrella to keep off the sun, rain and use it as a prop to dance with, you may want to buy some shrimper boots; are you with me so far?

And NOW, to the Super Duper Supreme tribal experience! It is when, once again Frankie Beverly and Maze close out the Fest! 

“And when he belts out ‘Before I Let You Go’ and the entire crowd rises as one and the Electric Slide begins and all the people let their hair down and the joyous emotions weave like a thread of brotherhood, sisterhood, peace and love enough to make tears come to your eyes and a smile on your face, putting gut in your strut, filling that hole in your soul and putting glide into your stride… you know, you just know that we are all together in this whole ‘practical joke (in the worse possible taste)’ that we call life. Happy Fest Y’all!
P.S. Practice your ‘Slide’ and be there… or be L7!

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