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Destination: Furthur June 30, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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If you can read this poster…

…you have been randomly selected for drug testing. Please report to HR immediately.

The Heart of Saturday Night June 28, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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Love the topper, man.

Well, there’s you’re “Do You Know…” and all, but I don’t understand why this song isn’t in everybody’s repertoire down here. Somebody sing this over me when I’m gone, please. Ask Joe Braun of the Jazz Vipers if he’ll do it.

Creole Beat June 27, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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I finally gave up on ever getting to see the library’s copy of Cranial Guitar, Selected Poems by Bob Kaughman. It has been “in cataloging” for so long I have decided that “in cataloging” is a euphamism like “passed on”. “Cranial Guitar, preceded in cataloging by…”. His earlier books, like all those of another famous New Orleans-linked poet Everette Maddox, arevlocked away safely in the library’s Louisiana Collection where I don’t think I am welcome to bring my lunch in while I read.

I couldn’t find a copy to buy in town, either, and was forced to go to Amazon. While Kaufman is associated with San Francisco and the Beats, he is still a New Orleans-born boy and you would think someone might carry a copy. (Same for Maddox, a man who is forever linked with New Orleans). The poetry shelf of Maple Leaf Bookstore, one of my favorite haunts long ago, sits half empty and neglected the last few times I went by. I think I need to go bookstore shopping.

While the New Orleans-born Kaufman is associated with San Francisco and the Beats, here is a poem about Louisiana from that collection.

Early Loves
By Bob Kaufman

Slippery driftwood, icebreaking mudpacks.
Garfish, mothers of cajun whores,
Laughing blood noises, at comic shrimps.
Gliding on leaves of sunken trees.

Dying love, hidden in misty Bayous
Red love, turning black, brown,
Dead in the belly, brittle womb
Of some laughing crab.

A father. Whose, mine?
Floating on seaweed rugs.
To that pearl tomb, shining
Beneath my bayou’s floor.

Dead, and dead,
And you dead too.

No more arm twisting,
Heart twisting laughter.
Dead moss, colors of sorrow.

Later in hot arms, hers,
Between sweaty lovemakings.
Crying will wet moss swamps,
Hidden beneath her arms.

Tears will wash her dirty murdered soul.
God will be called to atone for his sins.

Considered America’s foremost surrealist poet and considered America’s Rimbaud by the French (who have all of his papers in a library), much of what he writes takes more than a few readings, and some bits might take a lifetime to decode, so I best sign off and get started. I think I may have to post up Reel Three of Golden Sardine, an incredible bit of writing about “the Deathbed of the last Buffalo in Nebraska” and the bloody conquest of the West.

Stupid Is June 25, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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Can anyone explain to me why Gov. Bobby Jindal is ready to enthusiastically endorse an end run to allow the teaching of creationism in Louisiana public schools at the time the city of New Orleans and the Louisiana State University Medical School are pushing for creation of a bio-medical district in the downtown area?

How do I put this politely: If you believe in creationism, you are an idiot. You are so delusional that you are clearly not competent to govern your own affairs, much less mine. I don’t give a damn that the Pew Center finds some ridiculous percentage of Americans believe this. They are idiots, too. I’m embarrassed to have to share a country with them. If you are a politician and don’t believe in this nonsense but are pandering to these people, you are more dangerous than the idiots

I feel under no obligation to engage in civil discourse with people who cannot form coherent thoughts. It is a ridiculous expectation.

I’m just glad Bobby The Exorcist passed on medical school. The last thing I need while standing half-naked in an an examination room is some guy in a white coat stumbling in with a cross in one hand and a jar of leeches in the other hand spouting gibberish.

In a press release from the Louisiana Coalition for Science, Governor Bobby Jindal’s college genetics professor asks him not to “hold back the next generation of Louisiana’s doctors.” The press release introduces an open letter from the group calling for Jindal to veto SB 733, a bill which opens the door to creationism in the classroom,

Professor Arthur Landy, University Professor at Brown University who teaches in the medical school, taught the then-premed. Landy says “Without evolution, modern biology, including medicine and biotechnology, wouldn’t make sense. In order for today’s students in Louisiana to succeed in college and beyond, in order for them to take the fullest advantages of all that the 21st century will offer, they need a solid grounding in genetics and evolution. Governor Jindal was a good student in my class when he was thinking about becoming a doctor, and I hope he doesn’t do anything that would hold back the next generation of Louisiana’s doctors.”

Jindal passed up medical school for a Rhodes scholarship studying political science. Politics thus took him away from promising careers in medicine, law, or exorcism.

The full LCFS press release is…at http://lasciencecoalition.org.

May God save this Republic and our State from His believers.

Hat tip to Thoughts form Kansas

In The Sky June 24, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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Sometimes the Ipod that drowns out the chatter of the people around me in BeigeWorld drifts onto a certain song and something snaps. The the matrix of beige boxes disappears and I’m am sitting at a desk on an empty floor. The sealed windows fall away out of their frames and the cold machined air is refreshed by a breeze from high above the street stink, straight in off the lake. I toss all the papers on my desk out into the breeze and they drift lazily off toward the river. The laptop follows, riding gravity’s rainbow arc down toward Carondolet, tumbling in slow motion like the rocket at the end Koyaanistasi with the sun flashing off the screen. I follow them out the window, stepping gingerly onto the air. The feeling is like walking on the bottom of an inflatable boat: yielding and a bit unstable but buoyant. I totter out the window and slowly get my sea legs, setting off away from downtown and the Counting House toward the thin gray line of haze where the lake meets the land. As I walk I slowly descend like a character from the cartoons of my youth descending the bridge from Asgard, coming to earth somewhere in a familiar parkway beneath a particular oak tree, the one my oldest friends and I still call The Oak Tree. Cheerful California gopis bring me Belgian Ale and chilled oysters, then dance for an englamoured audience of squirrels and birds. I pull out a favorite book of poetry and the tips of the pages flutter in a cool breeze. A gopi takes the book gently from my hands and replaces it with a lit Cubano. She begins to read aloud.

And then the shrill beige telephone rings.

Soldier Boys June 22, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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You need to read this today. In fact, don’t read another world I’ve written until you read it.

This is not how I grew up in this same city, out on the Bunny Bread lakefront. A person needed to be ready to fight when cornered, but there was nothing like Cliff describes at all. Once when another gang of guys came to our neighborhood specifically looking for trouble, we all stood there in two tableau as artificial as a scene from West Side Story until our friends in the Levee Board Police showed up and everyone scrambled. What was funny about that day was we ended up helping the guys from the other hood through out thicket of shortcuts in Lake Vista, as secret and secure as as the Ho Chi Minn trail, so they could escape the police. At some level we were more alike than we thought ourselves to be.

I think I’ve understood the situation Cliff describes to be a large part of the problem we have in New Orleans, but this is the first time someone has summed it up so clearly. (You did go read his post, right?)

I don’t know how to change this anymore than I know how to take all the folks in Lakeview or Metairie (some my oldest friends) and shake the ingrained racism out of them. We were fed it with our mother’s milk, and I know there is a lot of reinforcement all through life if you choose to seek it out, to make that a part of one’s identify. I also know that it can be overcome if only like an alcoholic’s journey, one day at a time because we decide not to be that person we were somehow programmed to be.

We are all like dogs over bred to some task and liable to neurosis if deprived of sheep to herd or the right sort of a hunt. We can change ourselves, one at a time. How we change whole neighborhoods, whole wards, whole peoples: I don’t know any more than Cliff does. He can behave one way at home, but is forced to behave another to run the gauntlet of a grocery trip to Wal-Mart at River Place.

But we have to think of something. We have to start somewhere.

Which Lucky Child? Epco answers June 22, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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David from Epco left this long comment on my earlier post Which Lucky Child, and in fairness I’m giving him his own rebuttal post. It’s probably not fair to get to far into a back-and-forth in a rebuttal. I’m still angry at the concept. Every child deserves a house. However, there is a difference between a bad choice of phrase and bad intent, and I don’t think Epco’s intent is bad. I was struck by his remarks about dishonest contractors, a story we have all heard time and again. Thanks, David, for taking the time to reply.

I want to introduce myself. I am David one of the owners of Epco. In fact I am president of general construction. First I would like to say this is a project that is very near and dear to our hearts. We have completed over 400 projects and have more work then we know what to do with. The essay contest and helping families is our hobby. We have been blessed so from our point of view we are obligated to give back.

I believe all of the children deserve a home but we can’t do it all by ourselves. So we create a spark. We at Epco will find it very difficult to pick only one. In fact we will be using the letters to show what these kids think and feel by way of an essay. And I believe we can do more and recruit companies help with this endeavor.

I will share what we have noticed by way of the essays. Most of the letters “around 70%” describe a contractor running out on them and their families with large amounts of money and without a completed home. I could not believe that there were so many contractors hurting these families. When we announce the winner we also shed light on some bad contractors. And just maybe we can get the attention of some people and originations that might be willing to help.

I propose this question. Is it worst to have an essay contest to build not only a home but help restore the quality of life or even restore a little faith in humanity. Or by reading most of your comments you would prefer Epco not give back because the children can’t handle not winning a contest. You are hurting the kids with your closed minded thinking.

Let me clue you in on a few things about these children. These kids have been through so much and they don’t need anymore false hope. Epco can provide for one child and their family. This is the way we make a difference with no apologies. After reading the some of the letters I believe the children are stronger then we give them credit for. I would hope responsible adults would take the time to find out about company that has only good intensions and maybe get on board. Don’t promote the company promote the idea.

After the Gold Rush June 21, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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“I was lying in a flooded basement…”

I don’t know why this song kept coming to my head so often back in late ’05, with this slightly transformed lyric. Perhaps it is that so much of Neil Young’s work has got that Lonesome Wail thing down pat and it seemed the right song for the time. Maybe it was that I was hoping It was a lie.

Sugar Mountain June 21, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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For Karen after her last comment, we offer this gloss on Youth.

I think we’ll make this a weekend of Neil Young. I have things to say but have to find time to write them down, so for now we’ll just have some music.

Don’t Let It Bring You Down June 20, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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As the scenes in Iowa slowly turn the sullen depression of the last year into a warm and encouraging anger, we continue our program of leaning heavily upon ripping off the song titles of our youth to get our idea across.

Good Morning, America, How Are You June 19, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in 504, 8-29, Corps of Engineers, Federal Flood, Flood, flooding, home, levee, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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GULFPORT, Ill. – Juli Parks didn’t worry when water began creeping up the levee that shields this town of about 750 from the Mississippi River — not even when volunteers began piling on sandbags. ..
Then on Tuesday, the worst happened: The levee burst and Gulfport was submerged in 10 feet of water. Only 28 property owners were insured against the damage…
It is unclear what, if anything, the uninsured Parks would get in government disaster relief. “We’re hoping to rebuild, but it depends what FEMA says and how much we get,” said Parks, who is staying with her husband in a horse trailer…

The rest is here.

A horse trailer: that is where Juli Parks and her husband are staying.

What will it be like to live in a horse trailer for a year. Or two. Or three? Better perhaps than to live in a FEMA trailer and learn too late you have been poisoned, that your children will suffer the rest of their lives.

What our brothers and sisters in Iowa are discovering is the hard truth learned in New Orleans. The levees will not protect you. The government will not save you. What you have still to learn I will get to in a moment. For now, know this: you are on your own.

I blame George Bush.

Wait, stop, don’t hit that comment button yet. Bush didn’t dynamite the levees or destroy their homes. Still, he is the top man in the political establishment that spun the story of New Orleans into a myth with no basis in reality, the ugly story on cable news and AM radio that said what happened in New Orleans couldn’t happen to real Americans. It was “those people” and their corrupt ways that flooded New Orleans. It was the stupidity of people who would choose to live in the shadow of a levee and feel safe.

What happened in New Orleans had nothing to do with you, they were told. Move on. Listen, we have a war to win and we can’t get bin Laden unless you go shopping. Who knows how many more blond high school girls might disappear in suspicious circumstances if you don’t convert to digital cable and get that iPhone. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

It was all a lie.

And now the people who, almost three years after the Federal Flood, chose to live in the shadow of a Federal levee without flood insurance are learning the truth the hard way. You will lose everything, and the government will give you little or nothing. Maybe you will get your own Road Home program that offers half the replacement cost of a house. Perhaps the mortgage holder will lie to you and insist you have to sign that money over (you don’t really have to but they will lie to you as they lied to us, just as your insurance company lied to you when it said you were covered.) You will be left with a piece of land you can’t afford to build on.

When you try to rebuild you anyway will find the cost of construction materials has doubled and tripled since 8-29. Your insurance will increase five-fold. You will have to bear alone the full cost of rebuilding every thing around you. Your grocery bill will double to pay for the new store. Your utility company will gouge you to pay for what they lost in the flood. They will sell off the current power contracts while the power’s out and when it comes back on, the rates will have tripled. Your children’s schools will go without books for a year, if they have schools at all.

You will be told you will be better off if you move away from your home and leave it behind, to go somewhere else. Perhaps it won’t matter. The last place I lived people changed houses like they bought shoes. People cheerfully uprooted themselves to follow careers or just for a change. America has become a rootless people. Perhaps you won’t care.

Or are you more like us? Did you grandfather or great grandfather first break that earth? Did he found a town, its first bank or oldest church? Do you feel an irresistible compulsion to stay? My family has lived in Louisiana for almost 300 years. I am not going anywhere. If you follow in our footsteps, you need to forget everything you’ve heard about New Orleans, and look hard at us, at the real story of what happened here 8-29- and all the days since, because ours is the life ahead of you.

You will have to max out your credit cards, empty your savings accounts and 401ks, and still it will not be enough. You will have to cram your family into a tiny travel trailer and live there for years, even if it is slowly poisoning you. You will need to go to work all day, and come home and rebuild you house yourself all night. If you hire contractors, many will be the same predators who descended on us. They will take what money you have, and disappear. You will go back into your trailer, and you will weep in front of your children.

And still I think many of you will rebuild.

I think those of you who live in the houses or on the farms your parents or grandparents built, in the towns founded by your families generations ago, will insist on rebuilding just as we have. Somehow you will survive it all. I have a tremendous respect for the American people. They have come in the tens of thousands and still come to give of their time and effort to help us rebuild. Many of you who flooded are of that stock, are perhaps people who came to Chalmette or the Ninth Ward to guy homes or hammer up drywall.

If I sound discouraging I do not mean to. I just want you to open your eyes and see what the people of New Orleans have lived. I want everyone in American who sympathizes with you today to understand the truth. What happened in New Orleans can happen to you, and any suggestion that what happened here was unique or the fault of the victims is a lie. Not an exaggeration, or a distortion, or “spin”: a lie. It can happen to you. Perhaps because it has happened to the good people of Iowa and the other Mississippi River states people in America will wake up.

I hope that now they will realize that the country is full of levees that could fail at any moment, bridges like the one in Minnesota that could collapse. They need to know that the government the ruling political classes have worked at gutting and making ineffective for the last 30 years cannot help you, not in its current form or with its current leadership (not just one party or the other: Reaganomics and Clinton Bubblenomics have both gutted our ability to do anything as a nation). Everyone in this nation needs to know that tomorrow it could happen to them if something is not done, and what it will mean to them when it happens.

I have hope for New Orleans. For a long time, I had lost hope for America. I wrote these words many times in the last several years: the American experiment is over, and the results are in. It failed. Part of me does not want to believe that in spite of all of the hard evidence around me living in a city still half a ruin three years later. I want to find the fire that made me take a job that paid nothing as a journalist, the spirit that left me in awe when I walked the halls of Congress because I worked there. I want to remember what it was like to believe in a perfectible world, in something as big as a continent worth fighting for. I believe in New Orleans, and will fight for it, but I don’t know if it is enough.

I want to believe that the people of Iowa and Illinois will make common cause with the people of Louisiana and Mississippi, will insist that things change, will demand that the United States once again be about its people, will be a nation and not just an economy: of the people, by the people, for the people, never to perish from the earth.

People in the Midwest with flooded out lives have no time to think of this right now, but the eyes of the nation are upon them. Those of us who have walked that path must tell this story, must demand on their behalf and for all of us–even as we reach out to help our brothers and sisters in the baptism of the flood–that the levees must not fail again somewhere else, that the slow motion, disaster-without-end lived in New Orleans and the whole hurricane coast from Cameron to Gulfport should not be repeated there or anywhere.

Necropodiphilia June 19, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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When life in New Orleans just doesn’t seen Odd enough, we sometimes wander afield in search of, well, a half dozen severed feet washing up on beaches in Vancouver, CA. Don’t let anywone suggest that Canadians are a staid and cold people incapable of the Odd, eh? More ice wine?

Fish Head Music June 18, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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Ok, time to lighten up. It’s been a long day. While we’re on the subject of fish heads zig zagging through the dead zone, sort of, how about some Fish Head Music from New Orleans own Radiators.

Drowning in Plenty June 18, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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Among the many ways we are dying here at the edge of America is the slow poisoning of the Gulf of Mexico by the farmers and lawn jockeys to the North and the subsequent loss of the seafood crop. Scientists once again gather to discuss what might be done about the flood of runoff nutrients from farms and lawns, runoff that results in massive algae blooms that kill off all the marine life in The Dead Zone.

While the result sounds like a Stephen King novel, it is not a fantasy. This year we expect 10,000 square miles to be empty of oxygen. What fish do not flee will die. According to the coastal advocacy group America’s Wetlands, Louisiana produces one-third of the nation’s seafood by dollar value, and is ranked second behind Alaska in by weight of seafood landed. In 1981, the value of those commerical fisheries was about $680 million. Sport fishing and constitute over $10 billion a year in economic activity. All of this is being taken away from us without compensation.

The simple fact is the Invisible Hand (and the men manipulating it from Washington) are perfectly happy to see prices for commodities like corn, wheat and soybeans triple over the last year or two. Much of this growth is inflated by corn-based ethanol, a blatant hoax to boost farm prices with no net reduction in energy consumption. It takes a lot of energy to grow corn and more to make it into ethanol. The end product is more expensive than gasoline and contains fewer BTUs (you burn more to go fewer miles). Then there is the problem of market speculators, deprived of their real estate gains, looking for some other way to make free money.

The end result is farmers who are flush with cash planting more acres in crops, rather than converting land into buffer zones to reduce runoff. There are no legal or economic consequences to this action, so the grain states of the mid-west grow wealthy off of the crop price boom, and our seafood industry dies from the resulting algae bloom.

If Congress doesn’t take some action, I have a simple solution. I proposed it before to force the federal government to compensate New Orleans for the damage caused by the Federal Flood. The state has the well established right to set pilotage fees. Set the fee for crop exports so high that they are no longer economically feasible. If any one suggests they would just take their crops to other ports, ask them where they plan to get the extra railroad cars necessary to move the crops that currently travel down the Mississippi by barge? Something I learned in North Dakota is there is a significant shortage of railway stock. A significant percentage of every year’s crop spoils on the ground when the grain elevators fill up because there aren’t enough cars to move the grain out.

If you would like a more reasonable suggestion: identify 10,000 square miles of potential buffer land currently in crops, and force them to take it out of production and plant and/or build buffer zones. (They can actually get paid for this when they plant marginal land in native plants because of the wildlife benefit).

When they rein in the farmers and give us our full share off shore revenue (and full compensation for the losses from the federal flood), we will let them have full use of the river again.

Father’s Day 2008 June 15, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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I browsed onto You Tube to watch this video with one particular father who is not with his children today in mind. I kept it looping in the backround as, after battling with right wing golem Big Dog and his stupid Iowa versus New Orleans nonsense, I found myself this morning finally assembling a lot of Federal Flood pictures I had collected from September 2005 over the audio of Eliza Gilkyson’s Requiem, a small task I had long planned but never done. I will post it later. Going through those photographs is a painful experience. Remembering the dead is a geis I have placed on myself after the Flood, and shouldn’t needlessly impose on others. I was not going to share this video up today. But as I went through those photographs with this song playing in the background I decided I had to post it.

This is for all of the father’s who are among the 4,000 lost, who are not with their families today in New Orleans.

Oh, The Water June 15, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Corps of Engineers, Flood, flooding, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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After the last post, I just want to say that everyone in New Orleans is concerned for the people of Iowa, just as they were for the people of Myanmar and the people of Tabasco, Mexico. Just because idiots seize on every catastrophe to dust off the old political whore mongering over Katrina has nothing to do with our sympathy for you, or the gratitude we feel for every Iowan and other American volunteer who has come down her to rebuild.

We are all of us, the people of the river and of the coast, at some time baptized in the waters of the flood. That immersion is no relief from the travails of this life. Instead it is like a plague out of the old book. But it promises we will come out after different, better and stronger.

I come back to this song written by Eliza Gilkyson after the Christmas tsunami of 2005 again and again, since I first heard it in September of 2005. This is the only on-line version I know of.

As I read about Iowa, I was irresistably drawn to hear it again.

This time it is for you: Requiem, by Eliza Gilkyson.

Boy Scouts Save Iowa June 14, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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Is anyone surprised this sort of fuckmookery has crawled out from beneath the rocks where it lives?

Cedar Rapids is under water and 15 people have died as a result of the flooding. Of course this story has been in the news but I can’t help but wondering where all the network trailers are. I can’t help wondering where FEMA is and where are all the protesters demonstrating against perceived government inaction on this one?

Also, where are all the dead bodies floating around while hoodlums roam the streets shooting at people and looting stores?

What is it about this storm that is at least as bad, if not worse, than Katrina that has left us without stories of devastation caused by the government’s failure to swoop in and help people? Why don’t we have music stars on TV holding a telethon to raise money while they proclaim that George Bush hates white people?

Why is it that teen aged boys, members of the Boy Scouts, were able to respond immediately to render first aid to the injured and dig out those trapped in the rubble when adults in New Orleans seemed incapable of helping themselves?

Perhaps this goes back to the thoughts I had about dependence on government…

My initial response to this was to post a comment that 1) expressed surprise that 32,000 square miles of Iowa had been devastated and between 2 and 3 million people displaced from their homes. I had no idea. I’m so sorry. Oh, wait, what hundreds of people? Oh, never mind.

My next response was: fuckmook.

I grow weary but feel obligated to call these people out: what happened across the Hurricane Coast in 2005 was the largest disaster ever to strike the United States. Thousands died, and continue to die of Katrina and evacuation related causes. Eighty percent of New Orleans was flooded for weeks and in some cases months, and the coastal zones of Mississippi and Southwest Louisiana were wiped from the face of the earth. Hundreds of thousands of people remain displaced from their homes approaching three years later. So don’t be bringing me your piss ant little crick floods and ice storms and tell me, oh, people up here would never behave like those people in New Orleans after Katrina.

Let’s review the facts once again for the people who’ve been living exclusively on barbecue potato chips, Bud lite and Fox news for so long that they have suffered some sort of brain damage. The tens of thousands of “those people” trapped in New Orleans were primarily here because they had no car, no way to evacuate themselves. Some had cars but probably not enough ready cash to for the two or three tanks of gas it might have taken them to get out of state while crawling at 20 mph along the interstate in massive bumper-to-bumper traffic jams. Many of those cars were probably of the sort I drove when I first started out as a suburban newspaper journalist, earning a salary in the high four figures (pause for translation into an actual number). Many of the junk heaps people in that earning bracket drive would have broken down on the evacuation routes and caused further havoc.

When the Federal levees failed because of the well-demonstrated shoddy engineering practices of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (and may everyone involved in the design and construction of the levees be sent to Iraq to clear IEDs, with the people of New Orleans getting to vote on whether they get to have bomb squad armor or we get to have functional levees)–(sorry for the digression); when the Federal levees failed, most of the people who stayed had perhaps a day or two of food and water. They were not a few blocks from rescue by the local fire department or even, god forbid, Boy Scouts. They were miles from relief, surrounded by water that would stand for months.

There were not a few hundred of them. There were tens of thousands. I’m sure all of the Boy Scouts of Iowa could have taken care of this in a few hours, providing expert first aid as needed and then lashed together some lovely temporary housing for them and after they were done: s’mores for everyone. What actually happened is that Louisiana dispatched the guys (and gals) from the state’s Wildlife and Fisheries Department with their numerous flatboats for patrolling the marsh. And the indolent people of south Louisiana launched the Cajun Navy, thousands of guys with boats who just hitched up and came, unasked. The Coast Guard got a show in the Discovery Channel about Katrina. The WL&F folks and the Cajun Navy get forgotten by America. But not by us.

Meanwhile the United States and its armed forces sat on their hands and wondered what they should do. The Navy dispatched a hospital ship following directly in the hurricanes wake ready to help, and it sat idle off the coast waiting for orders form the C-I-C, who was busy elsewhere huddling with Karl Rove trying to figure out how to spin this instead of trying to figure out how to help. While George Bush (who I understand really does like Black people, just not overdone) sat with his thumb up his ass looking for plumbs, our otherwise ditzy former governor had managed to ask the National Guard of the other forty-nine states for help, and they promptly responded. Of course she later decided it was too dangerous for most of them to go in, based on the panicked statements of our mayor and former chief of police. Lots of government stupidity to go around at all levels, no doubt about that.

So while most of the out-of state rescuers sat parked outside of town people who could wade or swim made their way to the designated points, the Superdome and Convention center, and sat there. And sat there. And sat there until the food and the water ran out and the toilets stopped working. And then they sat there some more, and some of them died, while the national news crews who managed to get into the city watched them and their rescuers sat in Baton Rouge or the West Bank trying to decide what they should do. Those who showed the initiative to try to walk away from the Convention Center were met by helpful members of the Gretna, Louisiana Police Department, who pointed M-16s at their heads and told them to turn back. They would not be allowed into their dry city across the river.

Our fuckmook of the day finishes his comment with the usual talking point: what happened in New Orleans was the result of government dependence. Having apparently spent the 1990s surfing the internet for nude pictures of Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter, he seems to have missed this thing called welfare reform. Most of the people at the convention center were the people who hold minimum wage (or in the hospitality industry, sub-minimum wage) jobs keeping our beer-and-beads, tits-and-t-shirt economy turning. The rest were the elderly and the disabled, the only people in this country who still qualify for any sort of long-term welfare. Instead he dusts off the old lie to make sure everyone understands that it was all our own fault and none of theirs.

Funny they always turn to this idea. When an email started circulating about how the people of North Dakota surviving an ice storm without looting or government rescue, they said the same thing. Now I know a thing or two about North Dakota, having lived their for 10 years. It’s a lovely place that would be an empty dust bowl if it were not for massive government subsidies of agriculture, and two large Air Force installations that exist primarily to prop up the local economy. They even get subsidized electricity, courtesy of the government-built WAPA power system out west. I sure could use some of that down here, but instead I get immense utility bills because our local utility has structured itself so that we have to pay the full cost of restoring our city’s electric and gas infrastructure ourselves.

The fact is the last real government-tit-sucking welfare queens are the row crop and sugar farmers, and I am sure that Iowa has its share. I won’t retype the entire long post I wrote about the North Dakota ice storm that addresses this. You can read it here.

In the end I want to return to the test I first proposed in 2005. I want to plop this asshole on the roof of a house down here in August, with no food and maybe a couple of bottle of water. Across the street will be a fully stocked convenience store. We will leave him up there and see precisely how long it takes him to climb down and smash that window and start taking water. I give him a couple of days at most.

I don’t want anyone to think I am taking this out on the people of Iowa. I am not. I’m only concerned with armchair fuckmooks of Big Dogs sort. Unless of course there are people in Iowa who hear stuff like this and think: yeah, we’re not like them. For those people I have this question: what have you done that your god has punished you so?

Update 9-16: If there is any doubt in your mind how I or people in New Orleans feel about our friends in Iowa (as opposed to fuckmooks like Big Dog), then please read this, and this,

David Simon on Ashley Morris June 13, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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From the Chicago Tribune’s TV writer Maureen Ryan:

It’s not terribly unusual for television writers to form bonds with the people who watch their shows. What David Simon is doing for a “Wire” fan this weekend, however, may be a little unusual.

Simon, the creator of “The Wire,” will be in the Chicago area Sunday to receive an honorary degree and to deliver the commencement address for DePaul University. Simon’s appearance at the ceremony, which will take place at Rosemont’s Allstate Arena, sprang from his desire to pay tribute to Ashley Morris, a DePaul assistant professor and “Wire” fan. Morris recently passed away at the age of 44…

[Simon told the newspaper] “the last [e-mail] conversation I had with this gentlemen, he expressed great satisfaction and pride in having worked hard to get me invited to the DePaul commencement,” Simon wrote. “In fact, I was originally scheduled to be in London doing the final sound editing on Generation Kill this coming weekend and so I regretfully declined. He e-mailed me back saying he understand and was very disappointed, but understood the scheduling conflict. Next thing, I learn that Ashley has passed away suddenly.

“So the last thing this fella did was ask me to make a commencement appearance at the school where he taught and I said, sorry, no. And then he departs this vale. Naturally, for karmatic purposes, I had to call DePaul back and say if you still need me I’m there…

“I admired his sense of outrage; petulance and selfish rage are useless, but rightful and righteous anger has an essential place in our times. Ashley was angry on behalf of others, which in my mind makes all the difference. From what he wrote, I am convinced that Ashley loved his city and he loved the people of his city, and he was short and to the point with people who tried to [evade] the real questions using ad hominem and decorum and false civility. He spoke his mind.

“So I never got to know him. And that is my loss. And on some weird level, I owe him a trip to Chicago and a morning spent in a funny hat and gown.”

The rest here…

Daddy Would Be So Proud June 13, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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Here’s a taste of what you missed (with audio almost as bad as the New Orleans House of Blues’) of the current lineup of Zappa Plays Zappa featuring Dweezil Zappa. I wish I could find a better video of the current band but this gives you an idea at least of how fabulous they are. This video is from Minneapolis a week earlier. Suzy Creamche-, uh I mean Shelia the keyboard/saxophone player is, uh, I mean, her playing was hot. Yeah, whatever. Really, the show was an incredible display of musicianship as they toured the history of Frank Zappa from the early Mothers to the last years. Dweezil is an incredible guitarist, the band is virtuoso and the arrangements are just about perfect. As Loki went up to the stage after to tell Dweezil, poppa would be proud. They finished the New Orleans show with a wild Willy The Pimp so if you missed it (fool) this is as close as you’ll get. At least today you get you your minimum daily requirement of Vitamin Z but ask yourself, have you been getting any lately? No, Zappa, you moron. Never mind.

Solons of Red Stick June 13, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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From today’s NOLA.Com homepage, note the blog headline:

Definitions of solon on the Web:

* statesman: a man who is a respected leader in national or international affairs
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

* Solon (Greek: Σολων, ca. 638 BC-558 BC) was a famous Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and Lyric poet.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solon

* an authority; someone in the know; from the ancient Greek wise man, Solon; “Solons say the deal is likely to go down by the end of the week.”
http://www.variety.com/index.asp

I think that’s Solon on the right with his coat attacking him from the rear like he’s on the can, and Chilon of Sparta on the left squinting like a rat at Cylon orating. I believe they are debating whether designating a state lizard means we can’t eat it no more.

Battle of the Bands (or Dr. White Reconsidered) June 11, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in 504, Jazz, music, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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I wrote a long post about traditional jazz composer, player and advocate Dr. Micheal White after an article on him appeared in Gambit several weeks ago. I applauded his preservation of the traditional sound and his outreach to groups like the Hot 8 Brass Band.

This morning I found an article in the Journal of American History by Dr. White that contained this:

Much has changed over the years. The traditional style of jazz no longer dominates the contemporary brass band sound of the still-popular community parades and funerals. A fake, distorted image and sound of jazz and “New Orleans music” have become increasingly common in the fog of cultural ignorance, commercialism, and indifference.

As much as I respect Dr. White, I think he is missing an important point. There is no such thing as New Orleans Music, except as the broadest of geographical categories. Yes there is a style of jazz, precursor to all the rest and so much of popular music, that originated in New Orleans (sorry, Chicago and everywhere else, but it’s true). The style that came up out of ragtime and society/dance music of the turn of the last century is uniquely ours, and of incredible importance. It should not demean everything else that comes up out of New Orleans.

What bands like the Olympia, Rebirth and Hot 8 have done does not diminish New Orleans music. They have expanded it, brought younger audiences to hear a brass sound that I hope will lead them to discover all of the other branches of the jazz family. That was my own path. The music I thought of as Jazz was my parents music-Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, the commercialized players of the 1960s. I fell into Jazz through hearing groups like Blood, Sweat and Tears and Chicago, with their powerful horn arrangements, and strangely enough the Grateful Dead who lead me to understand the connection between their improvisational style and that of the great Jazz players of the 1950s and 1960s (as well as leading me to an appreciation of Bluegrass and through that Celtic music).

All those players far removed from the mainstream of Jazz laid a foundation so that first listening to Jazz on WTUL-FM (in the days before WWOZ) I was more easily drawn in, so that today on my I-Pod you will find the Preservation Hall and the Jazz Vipers and the Hot 8 and Pharoah Sanders and Miles Davis nestled up against the Rolling Stones and the Kinks, Frank Zappa and the Grateful Dead (the latter two which would not recognizably exist without the fertile cross-pollination with Jazz in the 60s).

This history of Jazz is one of experimentation and growth, new branches coming out of every generation. Miles Davis Bitches Brew, which once upset the world as much as Bob Dylan plugging in an electric guitar, does not diminish what Davis did before. It does not diminish those who came before, who’s playing Davis built on. I understood Dr. White’s words in Gambit and his work with the Hot 8 to be about educating young players, about broadening their exposure and experience so that they would be better players not about converting them to the One True Religion.

I hope it was the American Journal of History article I have misunderstood and not the Gambit piece. There is no one true New Orleans music any more than there is one true Jazz. There is room in New Orleans and in the world for Dr. White and for the Jazz Vipers, for the Andrew Hall Jazz Band and the Hot 8, just as there is room for the R&B and Funk sounds of this city. Dr. White should continue his work in the oldest style of New Orleans music, preserving through playing and growing through new compositions and the training of young musicians. He should not denigrate what he thinks of as the ” fake, distorted image and sound of jazz and ‘New Orleans music’.”

We should all remember that the music some would enshrine as “New Orleans Jazz” came up out of the streets and corner bars of New Orleans, was informed by and built upon what those first players had learned before the first recognizable strains of jazz came out the door of the Eagle Saloon and the other bars and brothels of the back of downtown, just as the music of today’s brass bands has come up from the street corner, is built on the foundations of the past. It is all New Orleans, and all worth not just “saving” in some Smithsonian or Disney sense, but worth playing and hearing.

We have to face the facts. Traditional or Dixieland Jazz is commercially a thing of the past, has an audience as keen and as small as that for string chamber music. That doesn’t diminish it’s value one bit. As I agreed in my last post, Dr. White’s work exposing young musicians to the tradition and training them in it is tremendously important. But just as important, no one should devalue the gateway music–whether it is the Hot 8 or the Grateful Dead–that might lead someone who came up on the pop music of their day to find themselves spending a cold night in exile reconnecting to their roots by listening to, of all things, See’s Candy Presents Riverwalk Jazz.

Looking for the Darkness on a Sunday Afternoon June 9, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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It was hard to peer closely into the darkness while surrounded by a happy mob searching for their Blue Dogs.

The other visitors moved through the George Rodrigue retrospective like an assembly line of amoebas, blobs of people expanding and contracting as they moved by fits and starts through the gallery, their progress governed by the little audio tour boxes clasped to their heads. It’s my own damn fault about the crowd, waiting until the afternoon of the last day. Rodrique’s Blue Dog work has far too large a status as local cultural icon to think there would not be a mob on Sunday. Me, I had not come for the Blue Dog. I had come to experience close up the painted twilight beneath his mythic oaks, and the darkness of those trees themselves.

It seemed everyone in line to enter clutched Blue Dog books, hoping to get a an artist’s autograph. I struggle to understand the attraction. The eyes of the blue dog are disturbing: fixed circles that seem soulless and infinitely deep, like the empty sockets of some stone idol. Those eyes betray Rodrique’s original inspiration of the Cajun boogie-man/swamp monster loup garou, but the packaging in a small terrier or whatever Blue Dog might be strikes me as pure kitsch, something of a cross between Hello, Kitty and the nasty bunny rabbit line popular with middle school girls, tarted up a bit with oils to make sure there was a high-end line of originals to go with the posters and coffee mugs.

I had not come for the dogs (or even the blue bears, which I had not seen before) and certainly not for wildly popular portrait of Drew Brees with Blue Dog or the fawning picture of Ronald Reagan. I am drawn to the earliest landscapes and portraits, like the reproduction that hangs in my house of the 1984 Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival painting–the subjects human like luminous ghosts or figures brightly lit on an night time exterior film shot. The strange luminosity that seems to come from within the figures results in large part from the contrast with the blackness of those trees that stand over and behind the figures, a landscape in the palette of camo. I had come to see what I could just detect in the mass produced prints, could only see in the art book with a magnifying glass–the complex blends of blacks and browns, greens and grays from which those trees were made, the brush knife work of applied paint mimicking the patterning of a Live Oak’s bark.

The images I had not seen before which struck me were late paintings of dark oaks with a luminous blue-green sky of a color not typically associated with planets with nitrogen-oxygen atmospheres. The color makes the seen ominous, which most of his dark landscapes are not. It is as if he had distilled the frightening eyes of that Blue Dog into something purely blue and unnatural, and cast it into the sky to light the scene

If this all sounds a bit Gothic perhaps it is, in a sense far older than the fashion trend of the late 20th Century. Rodrique’s work before Blue Dog or the portraits of famous Louisianians is a window into a world Gothic in a way that the Shelleys or Pre-Raphaelites would recognize. In a few of the paintings there are colors in a patch of sky that suggest celestial twilight, the set of warm colors sunset paints on the clouds, but in so many others there is no clear indication of the time of day. It is a timeless darkness that seems not an obscured light from above but something that radiates from the trees . These are not the scenes one will encounter just up the street beneath the widely scattered trees in City Park, as magnificent as they are. It is a window into the Forest Primeval, into Mythago Wood.

This is not the darkness of the grasping trees of a frightening Disney forest with boles for eyes. It is a cool and inviting dark like a room on the shady side of a house on a cool day, a mysterious attraction like the mouth of a cave. It is an invitation into another world which in the end is something all great art does. The only frightening thing in these mythic woods is the thought that at the end of the path there might be a pair of perfectly circular bright orange and soulless eyes, fixed and unblinking, waiting for you.

51 June 7, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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“Time isn’t after us. Time isn’t holding us…”
– David Byrne

Byrne’s words are not true, but they are of a class with all of the Great Lies: they give us the courage to face the lions, the compulsion to sail for Mecca, and comfort when the night is dark and the stars seem dim and distant.

I won’t say you’re only as old as you feel. I feel short of sleep and hungover. You are, however, only as old as you let yourself be. There is no video online I can find of the song “Sweet Thing” and it is too early in the morning for me to rip the song into something I could upload and share. Like all memorable tunes, if you know it the lyrics alone are enough to set it playing in your head. “And I will walk and talk/In gardens all wet with rain/And I will never, ever, ever,/Grow so old again…”

“Sweet Thing”
by Van Morrison

And I will stroll the merry way
And jump the hedges first
And I will drink the clear
Clean water for to quench my thirst
And I shall watch the ferry-boats
And they’ll get high
On a bluer ocean
Against tomorrow’s sky
And I will never grow so old again
And I will walk and talk
In gardens all wet with rain

Oh sweet thing, sweet thing
My, my, my, my, my sweet thing

And I shall drive my chariot
Down your streets and cry
hey, its me, I’m dynamite
And I don’t know why
And you shall take me strongly
In your arms again
And I will not remember
That I even felt the pain.
We shall walk and talk
In gardens all misty and wet with rain
And I will never, never, never
Grow so old again.

Oh sweet thing, sweet thing
My, my, my, my, my sweet thing

And I will raise my hand up
Into the night time sky
And count the stars
That’s shining in your eye
Just to dig it all and not to wonder
Thats just fine
And I’ll be satisfied
Not to read in between the lines
And I will walk and talk
In gardens all wet with rain
And I will never, ever, ever, ever
Grow so old again.
Oh sweet thing, sweet thing
Sugar-baby with your champagne eyes
And your saint-like smile…

Added later: The transcendent version by the Waterboys found on MySpace.

And if it floods, why do they need water? June 5, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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Courtesy of Scout Prime of the always excellent First Draft: FEMA: No More Ice during Hurricanes

Suspect Device:” Ice, Mr. Paulinson, is what we put the bodies on.”

Let us never forget this excellent suggestion regarding FEMA: We should armor the levees with their skulls.

Katrina Every Day June 4, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, NOLA, We Are Not OK.
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What Karen said.

Word.

The Real Storm Season Begins June 3, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Forget the National Hurricane Center and Dr. Grey and that transgendered tropical storm in the Bay of Campeche.

The real summer storm may already be upon us.

Violence erupts in Jefferson Parish

by Allen Powell, The Times-Picayune Monday June 02, 2008, 12:15 PM
Three people were murdered and six others shot in Jefferson Parish in an unusually violent weekend in Jefferson Parish, leaving investigators scrambling to pick up the pieces this morning.

In addition to the murders and shootings, two cuttings and several armed robberies were reported throughout the parish. The incidents were almost evenly divided between the West Bank and East Bank and began Friday night shortly before 11 p.m. and continued until Monday morning, according to alerts.

You know, for all our bad rep, sometime we are flat out pikers when it comes to killing each other.

Wake
Tell all my mourners
To mourn in red –
Cause there ain’t no sense
In my bein’ dead.
— Langston Hughes

Where Shall We Put The Pyramid? June 3, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in 504, Flood, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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“If there’s anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now”
- Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed President of the Galaxy, in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Could the financially strapped City of New Orleans really afford this? It looks like the work of an administration led by someone with plans for future office, or could it simply be that Mayor C. Ray Nagin’ ego is so monumental that we have to waste money on a slick brochure like this even as real recovery projects languish?

Perhaps it’s Dr. of Recoverology Edward “Bicycle Pants” Blakey, Executive Director — Office of Recovery and Development Administration who thought we needed this helpful reminder of how damn good they are at protecting us from collapsing cranes.

And it’s Our Recovery in Process, the cover helpfully explains to us, lest there be any confusion. Of course that could mean the Mayor and Blakey’s recovery, now couldn’t it. Perhaps we are all supposed to just bask in the sunny glow from the pate of our own Amenhotep. It certainly has nothing to do with me, those donations made in my children’s and nephew’s name to the mayor’s reelection or that contract for crane disaster recovery services. I swear.

Oh, wait, on the back it explains that we are ONE New Orleans. That must be what that Our Recovery stuff is about. Never mind. Under the ONE New Orleans logo (like that fluer de lis in the big O) is says “Rethink * Renew * Revive”. Very punchy. It is so inspiring that I”m going to add my own “re” word to it. Recycle. As in this particular waste of highly glossy paper. Come to think of it, it’s probably too glossy to recycle, so perhaps it will just have to be one more contribution to rebuilding the wetlands in Gentilly, one truck load of crap at a time.

Oh, and there’s a helpful map on the back should you find yourself feeling lost on the rocky road to recovery, oh! There’s no mention of the citizen-led recovery meetings that took up so much of 2006. It seems the only things that happened that year were Nagin’s establishment of the Office of Recovery Management and the upgrade of the city’s bond rating from junk. Not a very busy year for recovery, I guess. I think most of the activist-bloggers like Bart, Micheal and Karen spent most of that year basking in the sun of Jamaica smoking ganja. Or was that the mayor? I don’t know. Perhaps if I got on some medication I could recover my short-term memory and the will to give a fuck. In 2008 they were much busier. This past February the city established a pool of 50 approved architecture and engineering firms and released 61 projects from PDU (whatever or wherever that is). And now, months later in June 2008, they began Public Outreach on Recovery, producing this lovely brochure so we could actually identify these projects since you might not notice while driving buy them.

I still like mine better.

Our Newest Mid-Citizen June 2, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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A bird I believe is a dove has taken over one of my coconut husk hanging baskets. My friend Eric, with a good knowledge of the outdoors, thought the bird sick or injured that it would quietly sit not three feet from me seemingly unperturbed, but no: I’ve seen her fly off as her mate took a turn in the nest. They just seem to have decided that we’re no threat. I think its what I call the St. Francis Is A Sissy, Patron of the Homeless, the Mad and the Unattended Children effect I seem to have. I must seem the least threatening person in the world since all children left on their own at McDonalds or the playground seem to adopt me as resident adult, and people with no visible means of mental support frequently choose my bench or bus seat, and proceed to share their life’s tale.

Momma bird must have taken one look at me and decided this was a safe place to raise her baby. I think she first nested in a hanging basket at the far end of the porch, away from the door and around the corner from where I sit. I took it down not long ago and before discovering the mother bird and moved it. I later discovered an abandoned egg the size of a large oblong jawbreaker in that coconut basket. Instead she ended up choosing the one closet to my chair. I discovered her (or perhaps it was him) when I watered that basket after they had settled in. I wasn’t paying close attention to the basket which stands perhaps a foot higher than my head when standing when I put the watering wand up to it, and then the bird exploded out in startled flight.

We co-exist quite peacefully hnw and I don’t jump quite as much in my chair at shift change, as the one usually arrives with a loud call and a wild flutter of wings. Then the other takes off FLOP-flop-flop-flop-flop with its own piercing call. Look out world, here I come. Yesterday we spotted a single chick. It doesn’t cry or call any attention to itself, but seems to enjoy just being nestled up close and picking at the slowing dying wandering jew (as I have abandoned watering after our my startled discovery).

Here they are in less of a close up and much better focus. (Christ on a crutch but I need a decent camera).

Here is a shot that shows where I routinely sit, morning and night, day after day. My head reaches about to the top of the green plant beneath the nesting basket. My wife isn’t too fond of the outdoor life around our house, the anoles, the toads and the green frog as bright as a piece of flourescent poster paper, a sort I haven’t seen around before that has laid tadpoles in the backyard fountain. (I hope the stick around) She particularly is not fond of birds, and finds the sounds of them singing in the early morning annoying. She seems to have adapted to the dove quite nicely and sounded excited when she spotted the chick.

Sometimes A Great Notion June 1, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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Sometimes I lives in the country.
Sometimes I lives in town.
Sometimes I has a great notion
to jump in the river and drown.
Leadbelly

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