Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival 2012 As a boy, having two older sisters was the equivalent of having three mothers; but, one thing about them shaped my life and the person that I have become: they taught me to read and in doing so made reading one of my lifelong obsessions and passions. When I was too young to go to school and they weren’t, my sisters would come home and play ‘school’ on me. This was when the most electronically advanced units in our house were a Motorola radio and a Westinghouse toaster. They would come home from school, busybodies the two of them and they would sit me down and teach me what they had been taught that day. By the time I got to go to school I was already ahead of the class in reading and was easily bored with the lessons. I was labeled “daydreamer” and a kid that could do better “if only he would apply himself”. Growing up I learned that in the world of literature, music and art there are no boundaries and something new and wondrous is forever able to happen and with any luck at all, does. I also learned that in those areas there are craftspersons that will forever be of time as well as timeless; I have learned to cherish those people. Take Tennessee Williams. I came upon Mr. Williams later in life and have never since ceased to be amazed at the originality and sheer power of his works; as a platform dedicated to his craft and influence we have The Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival (TWNOLF) March 21-25 As per tradition, the twenty-sixth TWNOLF will be chock full of panel discussions, master classes, theatrical performances (including the not to be missed Streetcar Named Desire), music and food events and the infamous Tennessee Williams walking tour. The days start early, end late and there is hardly time to catch a breath before the ending of one event propels you into a new event’s beginning. On the website there’s twenty-eight pages of programs and all aspects scream “DON”T MISS ME!!!” like the ‘Talking Tennessee’ conversation with Amanda Plummer and Piper Laurie; The Breakfast Book Club; Home is where The Heart Is (with Chef John Besh) or the fabulous annual “STELLA!!!” (and STANLEY!!!!”) shouting contests. You’ll travel from the Hotel Monteleone to Muriel’s on Jackson Square, The Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection, Palm Court and Southern Rep Theater. You may want to pack a lunch or at least get real with a server at one of our fine local eating establishments letting them know that you’re on a mission to the next presentation and need your food and check without hesitation (tip well to give TWNOLF a good name) Here’s our writers pick, a must see in our opinion worth the trip out of the Quarter: FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 8 FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 8 P.M. LITERARY LATE NIGHT: LAFCADIO HEARN CafĂ© Istanbul, New Orleans Healing Center, 2372 St. Claude Avenue, $15. Think you know New Orleans? Explore the city of yore through a variety show that brings to life the works of Lafcadio Hearn, who in the late 1800s gave New Orleans its provocative reputation for Voodoo mystery, exotic cuisine, and a fecund underbelly. In this choreographed evening of readings, music, and dance, the People Say Project present artists from the burgeoning Bywater/Marigny theater and performance scene in the heart of the St. Claude arts district. Experience the city's resilient literary culture while looking back at a figure who left an indelible mark on the world's image of New Orleans. I’m taking time off from work to be there and I’ll see you, huh?

April in Paradise

Po Boy Views By Phil LaMancusa Dancing In The Street Or Do It In The Road Dear Abby: It’s April in New Orleans and I just don’t know what to do with myself; any suggestions? Signed: Without a Clue in the Crescent City. Dear Clueless: pick up a copy of Where Y’at, seek counseling, buy a vowel, file your taxes and go get a life. Well, Cats and Hats, you’ve gotten the first part (a copy of Where Y’at) and I’m here to give you the second part. At the end of this discourse I’ll sell you a vowel; I promise. First of all, if you pick up this entertainment magazine in a timely manner (and I hope that you do) you will have already participated in a singular amazing event; to wit: The Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival (TWNOLF) March 21-25, you would have read last month’s article and said: “Hey!…. put yer cheaters on Ethel, we goin’ t’get some culcha”. If you didn’t, well, it ain’t my fault. Then, coming on the heels of that fantabulous event, you now pick up this issue; and, surprise, surprise: mucho many much more monkeyshines (!): “Ethel! Are you awake?” So, now it’s half past The Easter Passover Parade, your bonnet, chocolate bunnies and them damn colored egg salad leftovers and all; and so you want to know what’s next? Well, I’ll tell you: French Quarter Festival. Then comes the Angola Rodeo, hot sauce, strawberry, and crawfish festivals and then FLEET (“hello, Sailor”) WEEK!!! Then, cruise on into The Jazz And Heritage Festival; you’re off and running. But, one Fest at a time. Let’s take French Quarter Festival… please. April 12-14. Remember last year you said it was so much fun that this year you were going to rent a hotel room and spend the whole weekend in the Quarter? Do it now. And, welcome back to the quarter, you’ll find some of your favorite shops still here, some have moved and some have bit the dust; good, honest, hardworking people all. The economic turndown has hit in the form of the evaporation of our visitors disposable income, and, the shops that are left are running on shoestrings with smiling faces and tightened belts; it’s been a tough year. Some advice to you-- unless you want to come back next year to a Disney like FQ – spread some bread in some locally owned shops. I know, food and drink takes a chomp from your wallet but, hey, put some aside for the natives; I’m not talking shoeshine punks and tap dancers, and, get a bag, a bag from the shop that serviced you. Nothing is more disheartening for a shop owner than to look out into a sea of strolling citizens and see not one shopping bag. The rule of thumb here is; no bags, no shoppers-- CIMB--- (cry in my beer):>( French Quarter Festival. There’ll be music and fine weather and strolling characters; runaway princesses; puppets; pirates; paupers; poets and pickpockets. Pawns and Kings and you will be the guests of honor to the greatest, still free of charge, celebration on the face of the planet. Explore other parts of the Quarter; the side streets of Ursuline, St. Philip and Dumaine. Eat all the street food that your stomachs can handle and then take a break and have more great food in one (or more) of our local restaurants. I expect you to tip like you mean it. Watch for the intimidation of street hustlers, loose women and stay away from alcoholic drinks that come in colors not found in nature. Try to be aware of traffic flow and permit pedestrians free passage. Be suspect of strangers blocking the sidewalk wanting to engage in casual conversation or “bet I can tell you where you got your shoes.” Unaccompanied minors have a curfew here, the indigents have no call to be obnoxious and the parking is no longer free, cheap or easy. The parking Nazis will do their best to ticket you and it’s now okay for them to boot your vehicle for minor infractions. Also, the local cop station has a phone number 504-821-2222; go by the tenet as we do here: ‘if you see something, say something’. Now for the bad news; there is no bad news. April and May are glorious times in Louisiana for festivals and unless you’re chained to a wall, in a dungeon, you should catch as many as you can. Work is highly over-rated and life is fleeting. As the bard will tell you; “If not you…who? If not now…when?” One more favor to the local merchants: buy your toy soldiers at the Toy Soldier Shop; your bread at a bakery; jewelry at a jewelry shop; art at galleries; books at bookshops; souvenirs, antiques, wine, posters, pints and po-boys….same thing. The Quarter is still ate up with charming places to visit, folks to talk to, things to see and people to do. The shop owners and workers here are the friendliest, personable and most accommodating as you’ll find anywhere. If you see something that you want and don’t wish to schlep it about; the majority of shops will hold, ship and in some cases deliver purchases to your hotel (you did make that reservation, didn’t you?). We know that we have a lot of locals that come here for this festival and many visitors as well; we’re proud that you’ve come here to celebrate with us and you can count on us to do you right on many levels. Now about that vowel: one dollar (make you holler). A? (means that you can’t hear me); Eee!! (means you’ve probably seen one of our smaller local mammals); I, I (suggests that you are a seafarer); O? (you’re surprised?) U (you know who U R); which one would you like?