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The Old South May 10, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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“The Old South was simply intolerable: it required generations of neurotic artists, often alcoholic, to paste all of its myth’s together and then peer into its black heart. Its political and social realities are long gone, its eloquence and nuance vague to the point of disappearing.What remains are its literature.”
— Richard Kilbourne, “Poems Represent Bare Essentials of [Everette] Maddox’s Life, Art”

I stumbled across this particular carpetbagger while reading Umpteen Ways of Looking at a Possum Critical and Creative Responses to Everette Maddox, and was inclined to ask him:

From what ivy tower In the dour and snow white North did this particular clap trap issue from? The South’s political and social realities long gone? Just ask the chuckling seersuckers and blue blood blazers brunching in their cups at Galatoire’s some Sunday.

“How is it going? Straight down, I tell you–to the bank, that is–what with all of this nearly free real estate and oil over a hundred and billions in federal dollars floating around. We’re going to build the city the way is always was and should have remained, the Queen of the South. The new opera house will go up on the riverfront and the right sort of people will be able to walk down to it from luxurious condos with sweeping views of the Mississippi. We’ll build it with all these Mexicans, every one as hard working and subserviently afraid of the White Man’s Law as that surely busboy’s great grandfather. It might squeeze out some of the weirdos down in the Bywater but they always seem to land on their feet somewhere, and where would the show be for the tourists at Mardi Gras without them? They’ll all find a place to live in their charming artist’s squalor and not too far from a four dollar free trade cafe au lait grande, I’m sure.

“Our Blanches and Stellas are still with us, with their fine educations and their boyfriends with more tattoos then the sailors on old Decatur used to have. Of course they will have to find some new place to live, or finally figure it all out: either go back and finish that MBA or find some fellow with more head on his shoulders than hair and move back Uptown to respectability because, frankly, we’re running out of cottages to flip and the Bywater is next. Between the crack heads and Katrina there’s hardly anything left Uptown worth its weight in termites.

“Everette Maddox? Never head of him. Was he related to that cracker governor from Georgia? Poet? Well, I don’t go for that sort of thing much, but I do sit on the board at NOMA and the CAC and you have to admit that whole artist bunch are an important part of our charm, don’t you think? I love that Rodrigue fellow’s Blue Dogs, myself, much nicer than those old, dark Cajun things he used to do. My wife goes in for the literary sort of thing. She’s in a book club with her circle from Newcomb but I think they mostly read whatever Oprah tells ‘em to. I think they did Maya Angelou once. The artists and yes even our eccentrics are all part of our charm, of the brand that fills up the downtown hotels and by God we need them. Yes, we’re going to build a New South City here with all the old charm preserved, I tell you, once we get rid of all those troublemakers in the projects. We’re going to put Charleston and Savannah to shame. We haven’t lost our old ways. We’re just updating them for the 21st century.”

And I only am escaped alone to tell thee, what with all our neurotic artists having drunk themselves to death.

Ed’s Note: Forgot to tag it. Republished.

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Comments»

1. The Oppression of Blooming Magnolias « Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans - April 17, 2009

[...] is oddly in agreement with the sentiments of someone I took off after quite a while ago in another post. The author of the quote in that post sent me an email a while back taking issue with what I said, [...]

2. sam - February 12, 2010

Bravo. And thank you.


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