How many acres of land does the New Orleans Fair Grounds cover?
Our beloved Fair Grounds covers 145 acres. And now that the Jazz Fest is over, we can look forward to Thanksgiving Day, when everyone who loves horses will have much to be thankful for. That's because the Fair Grounds is getting ready to open for live racing in an 81-day season that will last from Nov. 23 to March 25, 2007. Last April, the Fair Grounds got official approval for the season from the Louisiana State Racing Commission. Many folks will be grateful to see racing back where it belongs after Hurricane Katrina sent the horses, jockeys, trainers and everyone else involved to a short season at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City.
If all goes as planned, we'll hear the sweet sounds of the bugler play the "Call to the Post." And I can promise you that Old Blake will be right on the rail.
When I was at Tulane in the late 1950s, Pie DuFour wrote in a column that a ship full of Nova Scotians left there and traveled to the United States. The leader was a Gen. Kanassis. Along the way some got off in Boston, some in Savannah, Ga. The balance came down to Louisiana and went into Ascension Parish. These became Gen. Kanassis's group, the Kanassians, the coonasses. Any truth to this?
Pie DuFour must have been in one of his more creative moods when he told that story. The epithet coonass, whether you approve of its use or not, most likely originated in South Louisiana and was derived from the belief that Cajuns didn't mind dining on raccoons. It also may have had its origin in the negative racial term for blacks -- coon. The Cajuns were held in even lower regard.
For a long time, there was a story circulating that coonass dates from World War II. Cajun soldiers serving in France were frequently insulted with the term conasse, which means "idiot" or "dirty whore." The soldiers heard the expression and pronounced it coonass. Then they brought the term home with them where it caught on as an ethnic slur. This story, however, has been disproved, since there is evidence that the term was in use before the Cajun GIs went to France.
To some Cajuns, coonass is a badge of pride and they will happily refer to themselves this way. Indeed, our own four-time Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, a Cajun, frequently used the word in his campaign appearances. And if you keep an eye out while you're driving, you will note bumper stickers warning you that a coonass is on board or telling you that the driver of the car in front of you is a "Registered Coonass." Most of these bumper stickers are also adorned with the backside of a raccoon. The drivers themselves may be wearing a T-shirt or cap sporting the same message.
However, there are other Cajuns who violently object to the term and actively work to stamp out its use. Former Louisiana Congressman James Domengeaux persuaded the Louisiana lawmakers to pass a resolution condemning the use of the word coonass.
In which restaurant did Joe Gannascoli work in New Orleans?
He's Vito in the Sopranos.
During the early 1980s, Gannascoli worked at Commanders Palace. As a young man, he had planned to follow in his brother's footsteps and become a lawyer. So he enrolled in St. John's University in Queens. But school lost its appeal after two years, as the restaurant business beckoned. Gannascoli began waiting tables and learning the food business in Manhattan, where he apprenticed under some of the city's great chefs before coming to New Orleans to learn about cooking local cuisine.
It wasn't until 1986, when he was back waiting tables in Manhattan that he first auditioned for a play. He got the role and, as he says, was bitten by the acting bug.
In 1990 and 1992 he opened two restaurants of his own in New York. Those he eventually sold and moved to Los Angeles to further his acting career.