NEW ORLEANS — Before Dominic the tarot reader will tell me the winner of Monday nights Kansas-Kentucky game, he must know me.
I shuffle the tarot cards. I cut them into three piles and tap one for Dominic to read.
The first three cards tell me the nature of the person who is being read, he said. I can tell you this, you have met your perfect match. Also, I will tell you that I see both of you together til either one of you dies, or you kill one another.
Now I know Dominic is not playing and my $20 is well spent.
Dominic, a psychic for 30 years, welcomes sports questions. He is a football fan and gets many requests for predictions when the NFLs New Orleans Saints play. Kansas fans are giving him some business during the Final Four. He gets none from Kentucky fans, who pass by his table and chairs as if the ghost of Adolph Rupp decreed him as unclean as the Louisville Cardinals.
Its really weird, this crowd, he said. In all my years of doing this I have never read somebody from Kentucky. I dont know what it is, but Kentucky fans will not sit down with a tarot card reader. Crazy, but its true.
I had my pick of psychics on Jackson Square in the French Quarter on a sunny Sunday morning. They lined the side of the square next to the St. Louis Cathedral as 11 a.m. mass let out, mixing churchgoers in Jayhawk and Wildcat gear with the musicians, painters, caricaturists and tattoo artists. Michael the Realistic Mystic wears a battered cowboy hat. Gypsy sisters Miss Cindy and Miss Rose sit next to each other under umbrellas. Roses sign promises, The past as it was, the present as it is and the future as it will be 99-percent accurate.
Next to them is a four-piece jazz band playing When the Saints Go Marching In. I choose Dominic and Kelleigh, warned by Mary Ellen at the Louisiana Office of Tourism that the state of Louisiana does not regulate, administrate or guarantee the psychic trade. She suggests I see the otter, who is also picking winners, at the nearby Audubon Aquarium.
Dominic quickly gets to basketball. He turns over the Chariot (opposition) and the Seven of Wands (accomplishment and overcoming). Kansas coach Bill Self doesnt know it, but he is about to get some good news.
Im going to tell you I think Kansas is going to take this one, he said. And its probably going to be 78-62.
At the other end of the square, Kelleigh is not directed to be so bold by her cards. She is handicapped by the fact I am not actually a Kansas basketball player, but does her best to divine the results of the game based on my knowledge of the Jayhawks and my concerns about the game.
She likes the outlook for KUs strategy in the game, but is concerned about their communication and teamwork, as told by the Three of Swords. The Eight of Swords warns her that playing amid distractions is not a strong suit for the Jayhawks. The Six of Wands convinces her Kansas will play with great passion. She sees a slow start for the Jayhawks on Monday night, which fits their tournament trend.
I think its going to be very close, she said. I think youre going to be proud of your team at the end.
Kelleigh predicts a big game for Kansas center Jeff Withey, whom the cards tell her is something of a romantic, comfortably forseeing six blocked shots by way of the Magus card. Dominic, however, predicts an ankle injury will strike Withey. In a better omen for Kansas, via the Chariot card, Dominic sees KU guard Tyshawn Taylor leading the game in scoring.
He wont miss too many, Dominic said.
That would make Kansas fans Rosie Lammoglia, of St. Joseph, Mo., and Mark Ritter, of Salina, happy. They are already in great spirits thanks to KUs somewhat unexpected success and their first trip to a Final Four. Theyre watching the action in Jackson Square, wearing their KU shirts and preparing to see more of New Orleans.
Were in shock, but super, super happy, Ritter said. I didnt expect we were going to play for the national championship.
Lammoglia picked Ohio State in her bracket.
We didnt know what were going to do the next couple days, she said.
Now they can enjoy the city while looking forward to tonights game.
When we were down 13 (against Ohio State), we thought we were beat, Ritter said. Weve been a second-half team all year long. This team has a will to win.
On the steps of the Cathedral, Kentucky fan Rob Whalen, wearing a blue UK golf shirt, is hyped about his team winning NCAA title No. 8. He is glad to see the title game match two of the sports top programs. Upstarts such as Butler and Virginia Commonwealth cut into his enjoyment when they intrude on the Final Four.
We want the powerhouse programs in the championship, he said. Absolutely.
Whalen declines my advice to visit a psychic and gain insight into the game.
No, he said. Its not our thing.
Too bad. Now hell never know what the cards foretell for John Calipari. For $20, its information no otter can produce.