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These Bones October 31, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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These bones
is knit with
blood offerings,
throat slit pig
hung one long night
over the slow fire.

These bones
is bound by:
food for crows,
a buzzard’s buffet
& marrow
for the worms.

These bones
come some tomorrow
is all what’s left
unless     unless
I speak this poem
& you remember.

Rōnin Pen October 30, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
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Today I am a rōnin pen, unbound from service to Moloch’s hungry furnace of usury. It is a good day to be alive. It is a good day to die. Perseverance furthers.

Hexagram 26
Ta Ch’u – The Taming Power of the Great

THE JUDGEMENT

THE TAMING POWER OF THE GREAT.
Perseverance furthers.
Not eating at home brings good fortune.
It furthers one to cross the great water.

THE IMAGE

Heaven within the mountain:
The image of THE TAMING POWER OF THE GREAT.
Thus the superior man acquaints himself with many sayings of antiquity
And many deeds of the past,
In order to strengthen his character thereby.

The Richard Wilhelm translation of the original commentaries.

Louisiana Book Festival: Dispatches from the Back October 29, 2011

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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I cannot get a decent wireless signal anywhere in the Louisiana State Library (really?) So this will be of necessarily brief and badly spelled. I am not anxious to recreate my painful kalimba typing hilarities of the last Tennessee Williams Festival. In brief:

& Were vaudeville to rise again Roy Blount Jr. Would find no better straight man than the unflappably professorial Louisiana Book Award winner James Wilcox, famous for a series of immensely comic novels.

“This probably should go really badly,” Blount opened his conversation with Wilcox, ” because  Conversations in Jim’s books always go off the tracks. If this were a conversation in one of Jim’s books one of us would have far too little will power and the other far too much, we would both be talking past each other and we would each have a/completely erroneous notion of each other which we would be depending on  relentlessly, and it would just go off the tracks, get gloriously incommunicative. And yet somehow Jim or the Great Spirit or somebody would cause this communication, over the course of  the novel, come to this startling fruition.” 

In no regard did Blounts’s preescient introduction fail to come to startling fruition, but I am not about to try to recount  45 minutes of insightful literary hilarity via The Druid’s Chicklet keyboard.

&  Lori Waselman’s discussion of Grace Before Dyingm her photographic account of the prisoner run volunteer hospice at Angola State Prison, would reduce the hardest case on either side of the bars to tears or prayer or both.

Men who have not felt the touch of another human being in 20 years are lovingly cares for by volunteer prisoners in their dying days, by once hard men who support their program by making amazing quilts sold at the Angola Rodeo, the same quilts they make for each of their dying comrades, which is given after death to the deceased’s family.

The stories she recounted and accompanying photographs are perhaps the most moving story of compassion you will hear outside the Bible. Run don’t walk and go get her book.

That’s it for now. My thumbs hurt and I have other events to catch so look for more here later.

Louisiana Book Festival: The Author Party October 28, 2011

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, Louisiana, New Orleans, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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At the end of the night I am standing at the library reception counter, surveying the large swath of uncollected author’s name badges when I realized I was standing next to Roy Blount, Jr. Mr. Blount, I say introducing myself, its a shame so many of these badges are lying out here. Thank you for coming.

He eyes me with a slight, wry smile, wondering if I was someone he should remember, and returns my handshake with a quick “entirely my pleasure.” I told him I was looking forward to his interview with Louisiana Writer Award Winner James Wilcox and left it at that, trying to avoid a complete fan boy meltdown or the temptation to have my picture snapped with him. In retrospect, there was no damned good reason not to have my picture taken. This was after all a reception and fundraiser for the festival and a certain amount of ohh and ahh wouldn’t have been completely out of place, even among the cool sort who move in literary circles where everyone has at least a passing acquaintance with everyone else

Tomorrow I can corner Blount and Wilcox as they come off the stage from Blount’s interview with Wilcox and ask my questions then, mainly why Southern writers tend toward the Comic–Blount, Wilcox, Barry Hannah, Rick Bragg–and the Deadly Serious, William Faulkner and William Styron the first to come to mind of that lot. I was thinking of this divergence the other night, as I re-read Modern Baptists before the festival of Wilcox and Styron, two prominent Southern voices’ acclaimed first novels, weighing the lugubrious similarities of Bobby (not Carl) Pickens and Milton Loftis, sad cases both but in such completely different ways.

Tomorrow I will ask, digital recorder propped under my notebook, but tonight was more of a social occasion, entirely Nell Nolan at one level but behind all the fine catering, the mostly ignored jazz band in the lobby and the wandering photographer it was clearly more an opportunity for friends and acquaintances to visit a bit before tomorrow’s formalities, a plate of food nearby and a drink in hand, an entirely Southern moment when playing the reporter would have been a silly as Bobby Perkins at the opera in a checked leisure suit.

The right thing to do this evening was to go with the flow, to grab a beer and a plate of food and stop to say hello to the handful of people I knew (the poets laureate, poet and now novelist Melinda Palacio, here to promote her first novel Octillio Dreams), and see where it lead. It lead to Josh (I think that was his name; taking notes with an Abita in one hand and a cup of gumbo in the other makes shaking hands difficult enough, much less writing) who said he had been hired to write the True Blood Cookbook officially attributed to the authors of a fan web site of the HBO Series.

If you’ve met the ghost writer of a vampire-themed cookbook, you are off to a good start. Hell, you might just stop there and declare the evening a complete success, but there was no reason to stop there. The most interesting thing about the party was the complex web of acquaintances, how one person led to another as you navigated the room. Kelly Harris of Xavier University, whom I had just made an online acquaintance via the Peauxdunqe Writer Alliance and was pleased to meet in person turned out to be the wife of Times-Picayune editorial writer and columnist Jarvis DeBerry, and I mentioned my long ago association with his colleague Annette Cisco, who had picked up some Wet Bank Guide pieces for the T-P back in the days after the storm.

They were standing Freddi Williams Evans, author of Congo Sqaure: African Roots in New Orleans and another woman, an illustrator of children’s books whose name I sadly did not catch (that damned beer and food problem again. I have a terrible memory for names and should have planted my plate of seafood stuffed mushrooms and beer on the table and scritched out her name in my notebook. My apologies). I told Evans about my friend Ray Shea’s fascinating capsule theory of the Congo Square origins of hip-hop, promising to send her a link to his post on the Treme blog Back of Town.

Melinda seemed anxious to be my guide for the evening (have you met Luis Urrea? Do you know Tim Gautreaux?) and I let myself by turns be led through or simply drift through the evening, sometimes in tow of one person or another or excusing myself when they were deep in conversation with an old literary friend to get another beer and circle the room to see who else there was to see.

I saw painter George Rodrigue repeatedly but managed to miss finally meeting his charming wife Wendy in person (presuming she was there: I think she was). We first became acquainted when I posted a picture of the hilarious stencil of the car sqaushed Blue Dog that was all over town, along with a few harsh comments about the entire Blue Dog phenomena, which I simply don’t get. She was not entirely pleased by what I wrote but I pointed out to her my earlier stated fondness for her husbands earlier work and his modern dog-less paintings and we have been cordially connected online ever since. However, in my meanderings through the first floor of the state library we never managed to connect. It was that kind of party: unless I had made it my solitary goal to meet her, we were both doomed to wander from conversation to buffet to bar and back again, talking to people we knew and having fascinating conversations with people we just met but never quite getting to see everyone we wished to see.

Perhaps it was best that most of the name authors were just checking into the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center and getting some rest before tomorrow’s big event, or off having dinner elsewhere with friends. Meeting the vampire ghost writer, talking to Freddi Evans about the roots of hip-hop in Congo Square, running into Skip Horack whom I heard read at the Tennessee Williams Festival and telling him how much I loved his book The Eden Hunter, not realizing until I had left that the familiar sounding person Skip was attached to most of the night was the Tim O’Brien famous as escort to visiting literati in New Orleans, never quite getting introduced to Tim Gautreux who bore a frightening resemblance to Raeburn Miller, a college mentor in poetry: it was all in all a charming if dizzying evening for a first time visitor to the Louisiana Book Festival.

In the end all the author name tags that went unclaimed were no big deal; just an excuse for me at the end to say hello to Roy Blount, Jr. Someone with the festival may have been fretting over who showed and who didn’t but to the crowd inside, they weren’t missed. It was their own bad luck they missed a great party.

Louisiana Book Festival: The Seminar October 28, 2011

Posted by The Typist in literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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Six hours into my first Louisiana Book Festival and I’m already running late. How I am going to manage tomorrow’s insanely packed schedule I have no idea, but not by sitting around here typing. I am off to the Author’s Party on behalf of Odd Words and NoleVie.com, so I had best get moving.

My first stop when I arrived early at the Louisiana State Library was to look up A Howling in the Wires. I didn’t have time to visit it on the shelves on the fifth floor, but will make a moment to do so tomorrow.

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I don’t really have much time to write about my seminar with Sheryl St. Germain on Conjuring Place in creative non-fiction other than to say it was productive and delightful. I managed a piece in spite of mishearing 10 minutes break and 10 minutes to write and lingering too long over a cigarette but I mostly had it in my head by the time I got back before the expected break was over to find the rest of the attendees madly scribbling. Germain was kind and constructive with a room of varying writing experience, not an easy job.

Her handout had some interesting pointers, the most striking of which was: 4. Revise toward strangeness. This is clearly something regular readers know I will need to work on. She also included “7. Be Fearless,” so I think wearing my Write Like A Motherfucker shirt from Sugar on TheRumpus.net was probably a good wardrobe choice, even if it was meat locker chilly inside and out in Baton Rouge today.

Realizing I left without business cards, I found an Office Depot using Google on the State Library;s computers (and while looking at the Author’s Party page realized I was probably under packed.) So instead of a few hours to chill I was at the store cutting rough-and-ready business cards, then over to Wal-Mart to find a better looking and warmer shirt. Because if you think you’re going to be under dressed, the first place you think of is of course Wal-Mart.

Did I mention I forgot to check the weather? Wal-Mart was next to Office Depot, and I managed a decent looking Puritan button neck pullover, so either Puritan has gone down in the world (I used to be mine at D.H. Holmes) or some kind spirit from the Garden District was looking out for me. I would go with Polyhymnia who’s emblem is the veil but the poor girl got her self left off when they were naming the streets.

I am finally ensconced in the Crowne Plaza Executive Center, which has everything you want in a mid-priced business class hotel, including an iron that just left a faint stain on my only decent slacks and strange black marks all over the wall where the luggage stand goes, where a previous guest apparently had difficulty stuffing all those live monkeys into his overnight bag. A quick cigarette and I’m back to the author’s party, where I must not embarrass myself by making the dinner I didn’t get out of whatever sort of food they put out. And if I don’t stop typing and get dressed soon I’ll be eating olives out of the bar for dinner.

Red Stick Lit Fest Marathon October 28, 2011

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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Odd Words is off to Baton Rouge for the return of the Louisiana Book Festival, on tenuous credentials from NolaVie.com, for a full program of telegraphic dispatches by smart phone to the blog for cleaning up later before I feed them into the Mojo Wire for NolaVie and NOLA.com. I suggested in this week’s Odd Words there were too many great events to list and suggested your check the schedule, here’s just a taste of what’s out there taken from my own Mondrian-mad color coded Google calender of what I have to chose from:

& The Louisiana Poet Laureate Presents Poets from Across the State: Amy Fleury, Thomas Parrie, Jennifer Reeser and Mona Lisa Saloy with Julie Kane, House Committee Room 1, 9-9:45 am.

& Louisiana Writer Award Ceremony Honoring James Wilcox with Jay Dardenne and Rebecca Hamilton (Hmmm, bad flash backs to my days as a Capitol Hill press flackl just to make sure I don’t compulsively stalk up to Dardenne and insist he empty his pockets and for god’s sake pull his jacket down and straighten his tie skip this and try to corner Wilcox for five minutes at the Author’s Party and write up the Blount interview instead).

& Waterlines: Louisiana Poets on Katrina featuring Vincent Cellucci, Kelly Harris, Laura Mullen,
Alison Pellegrin and Brad Richard, Capital View Room/La. State Library, 10-11 am.

& A Writer’s Journey Home featuring Mark Richard with Cara Blue Adams and Jessica Faust, 11 – 11:45 am, House Chamber. If you know my own story of Wet Bank Guide and Carry Me Home, of course this is on the list.

& Fiction after the Deluge: Two Post-Katrina Novels featuring Rosalyn Story and Laura Ellen Scott, Capital View Room, 11:15 am-12:15 pm.

& Between Song and Story: A Conversation about New Forms of the Essay, House Committee Room 2, 11:45 am – 12:45 pm. I’m not entirely pleased to have to chose between this and the last two, and that’s just one example o the hard editorial choices to be made here.

& Commandeer a passing festival golf cart, madly waving my press credential like Hunter S. Thompson trying to flag a bartender, for a Mr.Toad’s wild ride from the Capital back to the Library in time for …

& James Wilcox’s interview by Roy Blount, Jr., House Committee Room 1, 12:15 – 1 pm. Somebody for bog’s sake save a seat for a member of the Working Press.

& Roy Blount, Jr. discussing Alphabetter Juice, Senate Chamber, 1:15-2:15 pm.

& From One Poet Laureate to Another featuring Darrell Bourque and Julie Kane,Capitol View Room, 2-2:30 pm. I probably have to skip this but I’ll see our charming laureate’s Friday night and at other events.

& Andre Dubus II: Honoring the Writer, Remembering the Man featuring his son and noted author in hiw own right Andre Dubus III and Kathryn Dubus with Katherine Krotzer Laborde, House Chamber, 2:15-3 pm.

& Maxine Cassin – A Tribute to the poet and publisher of note featuring Dan Cassin, Gina Ferrara, John P. Travis and Laurie A. Williams. A can’t miss for anyone interested in poetry. Must remember to give John some ink on his new book. Capitol View Room 3:30-4:30 pm

& Unfortunately scheduled at the same time, I’ll have to miss both Robert Olen Butler reading and discussing his latest, A Small Hotel, House Committee Room 1, 3:15-4 pm. and James Nolan’s A Romp through the Ruins: The Comic Noir Novel Higher Ground, Senate Chamber, same time. I don’t think I can miss the Cassin tribute, and I’ll have to skip these two stand out NOLA novelist events.

& Speaking of Books with S. L. Alexander, Fred Kasten, Susan Larson and Ted O’Brien. House Committee Room 5, 4-5 pm. Stop by after the Cassin tribute and corner Kasten to enlist his aid in the Everette Maddox Wikipedia Page Project. I’ll need to commander another golf cart to make this.

& Retire to the bar at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center to frantically transcribe portions of my notes from my custom cuneiform shorthand while I can still read them, and corner any other likely suspects for a quick quote or two. Try to finagle my way into watching the LSU game at Roy Blount’s table. Phone mumbled excuses home to New Orleans for why I won’t be where I promised I would be that night. 5 pm until…

And these are just the events I want to try and cover, only a small fraction of what’s offered Saturday. I may have to reconsider the kind offer of a press escort, if only to send some blushing flower of LSU’s Greek garden off with my digital recorder to try and cross cover a few of these, and to keep me supplied with coffee at all times to make it through a day like this.

I am tempted to stay in Red Stick to watch the Clash of the Titans, or whatever the sporting press is calling the LSU-‘Bama game, from the very belly of the beast but I don’t think I’d make it back to NOLA in one piece after a day like this followed by a night in a sports bar reliving the days of my misspent youth living in Stadium North.

P.s. I’ve decided rumpled is a good look for an aspiring minor poet and provincial diarist, so the hell with ironing my slacks for tonight. I’m off to finish my reread of Wilcox’s Modern Baptists before I hit the road. See you at the Festival, I hope.

Odd Words October 27, 2011

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, NOLA, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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This weekend’s big event isn’t in New Orleans but in Baton Rouge: The Louisiana Book Festival. Tomorrow there are workshops and an author’s reception honoring the participants, and Saturday is chock-a-block with panels, readings, discussions and more overlapping and wonderful events than a person can possibly deal with.

The featured authors list is too long to reproduce here, but includes this year’s Louisiana Writer’s Award winner James Wilcox along with a long list of New Orleans notables: Robert Olin Butler, James Nolan, Jason Berry, John Clark, Bill Loehfelm, Susan Larson, Barb Johnson, Julie Smith: hell, I’m getting dizzy scanning up and down the list.

Notable events will be an interview of James Wilcox by Roy Blount, Jr., a tribute to poet and publisher Maxine Cassin, a screening of Walker Percy: A Documentary Film, a remembrance of Louisiana native Andre Dubus II featuring his son and author Andre Dubus III and too much to even try to list. You can check the schedule here

If you can’t make it in person, look for writes ups of as many events as one human being can cover, here and on NolaVie.com.

& Until then, tonight’s 17 Poets! celebrates one of France’s most wildy nefarious, both loved and loathed, figures in 20th century poetry—BENJAMIN PERET. The Big Game/Le grand jeu (Premier Book Release Party/Black Widow Press 2011) by Peret is translated by MARILYN KALLET who will be on hand to commemorate the occasion. Also reading is visiting guest NYC poet LEWIS WARSH, co-publisher of UNITED ARTIST BOOKS, who will be reading from his latest works. Doors at 7 with a reception and reading at 8 pm

& Octavia Books tonight features a reading & signing with children’s author Ed Shankman & illustrator Dave O’Neill celebrating their new book, THE BOURBON STREET BAND IS BACK. at 4 p.m. Drummer Bobcat Bob leads a hot band of multi-cultural musicians, featuring a gator on bass, a finger-snapping frog, and a horn section made up of raccoons, a crayfish, and some loons. I used to love getting books like this for my kids when we were in exile.

& Maple Street Books flagship store uptown welcomes Luis Alberto Urrea at 6 P.M., to entrance us with his storytelling. He is one of the finest storytellers writing today. Although Luis’s newest book, Queen of America, will not be out until later this year (Queen of America is, by the way, a magnificent read!), Luis will share and discuss this sequel to The Hummingbird’s Daughter.

& if you misssed Mark Yakich, athor of A Meaning for Wife and Laura Ellen Scott, author of Death Wishing at Garden District Books last night you can catch them at 7 pm reading at Antenna Gallery. The first is the tale of a widowed father of a toddler confronting the past during a visit to his parents for a 20th high school reunion, and Death Wishing gives us a world in which dying wishes come true.

& Early Friday night at the Love Lost Lounge, the No Love Lost Poetry Reading hosted by Joseph Bienvenu kicks of at 5:30 p.m., just in time for the bar’s happy hour and opening time for the excellent Vietnamese kitchen in the back.

& Later Friday New Orleans premiere spoken word event Acoustic Fridays the Red Star Gallery, 2513 Bayou Road, hosted every week by Charlie V-Uptowns Illest MC. $7 cover, $5 with college ID

& V.M.K. Fewings’s A Vampire’s Dominion will be featured at Garden District Books Saturday at 1-3 p.m.

& And while you’re out on Saturday errands, if you missed Tuesday’s broadcast of Susan Larson’s the reading life you can catch the rebroadcast on Saturday at 12:30 pm

& Sunday at the Maple Leaf Bar is a double bill: poet Juliet reads from her work and poet Laura Mattingly read from her work.

& On Mondays at 9 p.m., Kate Smash hosts The Writer Block, an open reading on the amphitheater steps across from Jackson Square.

& On Tuesday, John Besh will be at Garden District Books with My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

& Tuesday’s at midnight (or does that make it Wednesday?) VASO Ultra Loung hosts a weekly spoken word event Poets Corner & Open Mic hosted by Smut the Poet, with The Letter 10 Band

& On Thursday, Nov. 3 James Nolan will be at Garden District to read and sign Higher Ground, a comic noir novel that begins five months after a hurricane has devastated New Orleans. This award-winning novel is a darkly satiric romp through a city fighting for its life.

Next weekend will be just as hectic, with Ladyfest, the NOLA Bookfair, Words & Music other events I’ll get to later in the week but frankly the coming month is a feast of words.

Odd Words : Abridged and Abbreviated October 27, 2011

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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This week’s Odd Words will be delayed until later today due to technical difficulties involving an alarm clock, Jameson’s, Patron and the hour I left my current co-workers–soon to be references–at the Old Absinthe House.

& Until then, tonight’s 17 Poets! celebrates one of France’s most wildy nefarious, both loved and loathed, figures in 20th century poetry—BENJAMIN PERET. The Big Game/Le grand jeu (Premier Book Release Party/Black Widow Press 2011) by Peret is translated by MARILYN KALLET who will be on hand to commemorate the occasion. Also reading is visiting guest NYC poet LEWIS WARSH, co-publisher of UNITED ARTIST BOOKS, who will be reading from his latest works. Doors at 7 with a reception and reading at 8 pm

& Octavia Books tonight features a reading & signing with children’s author Ed Shankman & illustrator Dave O’Neill celebrating their new book, THE BOURBON STREET BAND IS BACK. at 4 p.m. Drummer Bobcat Bob leads a hot band of multi-cultural musicians, featuring a gator on bass, a finger-snapping frog, and a horn section made up of raccoons, a crayfish, and some loons. I used to love getting books like this for my kids when we were in exile.

& Maple Street Books flagship store uptown welcomes Luis Alberto Urrea at 6 P.M., to entrance us with his storytelling. He is one of the finest storytellers writing today. Although Luis’s newest book, Queen of America, will not be out until later this year (Queen of America is, by the way, a magnificent read!), Luis will share and discuss this sequel to The Hummingbird’s Daughter.

& if you misssed Mark Yakich, athor of A Meaning for Wife and Laura Ellen Scott, author of Death Wishing at Garden District Books last night you can catch them at 7 pm reading at Antenna Gallery. The first is the tale of a widowed father of a toddler confronting the past during a visit to his parents for a 20th high school reunion, and Death Wishing gives us a world in which dying wishes come true.

Mor 2 kum as we once intentionally wrote to let the guys in layout know 1) there was more to come and 2) do not put that in the paper.

Har, vast ye wanderers October 27, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
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So of course its my last night together with my soon to be former coworkers unencumbered by early flights pr other inconveniences and drink has been taken and the jukebox of the Old Absinthe Bar tested to it limits but I must cab it home and reclaim my car as i have a box of stuff to haul home from my last day of work and must ferry these same coworkers to Jaques Imo’s tomorrow (tonight in fact) but first there is the damned radio set on WTUL-FM and I don’t know why but I think back to the early 1970s, when the station broadcast in single watts from an antennae all of four stories atop the student union and I was a radio geek who managed an antennae that could pull them in and it was about the time Larry found this albums in the garbage behind Lenny’s Music on Harrison Avenue and by some accident of fate I heard the same record played on WTUL and it was maybe 1971 and I would call in as the Lone Lakefront Listener and could command Micheal Perlitch of them and they would play it because it was 1971 and it was a low power campus radio station and some madman from a half-dozen miles away would call and introduce himself as the Lone Lakefront Listener and how could you resist such an obscure request from such an obscure listener and as my job winds down to done almost 40 years later I listen to ‘TUL on my way home and want to call and make the request but I can’t quite catch the number much less dial it while driving and I have to settle for the copy I put up on YouTu8be long ago and think as my job comes to its end that I am embarked on Perlitch’s Blue Sky Ocean.

“…to the far side of the deep blue sea is the island its waiting for me on my blue sky ocean…”

Unloose the topgallants and we’ll be there before morning…

Slipping into Character October 26, 2011

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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Reading through the library’s copy of Modern Baptists, the first-novel commedy of manners and errors by Louisiana Book Festival 2011 Louisiana Writer Award winner James Wilcox, and suddenly I stumble across these pursed lip, tsk-tsk-tsk marginal notes that read as if they were out of a copy from the parish library in Ozone, another upstanding citizen of Tula into whom Bobby Pickens and his merry band have blundered like a red ant mound in the tall grass, could perhaps be a part of the original text (but publishers rarely did things so clever back in rather than 1983.

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Wilcox has penned eight books since but this is the only one I read before and I thought I would go back to it and found this highly praised classic of Southern commedry was not on the shelf of a single local bookstore. In fact, not one of the Big Three indie bookstores carries a single Wilcox title on their shelves, according to their onlines, which is how I landed with the library copy.

See you in Baton Rouge this weekend, where I’ll be there as correspondent for NolaVie. Look for some telegraphic phone posts from the Druid, and a Big Write Up over the weekend. I’ll try to get something up after the author’s party Friday night, which between open bar and any good after parties may vary in slight but significant ways from what I’ll file with NolaVie. in either case it will be “a classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the national character.”

Days of Disobligation October 24, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, fuckmook, FYYFF, Moloch, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
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Now with spell checking (no IE Spell on the work PC) and less hungover proofing of other sorts at the same low price! –mf

It is the last Monday in my last week of service to Moloch, the financial institution where I have given good and faithful server for over five years. My reward is a pot-metal, gold-tone Five Year pin and the relocation of my job to Richmond.

I am not going to Richmond. We all pretended for a while that might happen but I don’t think anyone directly concerned believed for a moment I would.

I walk out to the car, dressed in chinos and socks and a collared shirt. The air is that state of damp just this side of drizzle and the air is rendolent of excrement and wet hay, the stable smell drifting across from the race track. Horse shit and fodder of docile, stabled animals are the perfect bas notes for a perfume bottled just for the event of my last week, my final trips into the office.

Over the next four days I will sit in what Moloch calls a huddle room, tastefully indicated by the skeletal outlines of tee-pees (I wonder if we are allowed to smoke here, if only ceremonially; I could use a cigarette in honor of the occasion). I will confer with two associates I am trying to train up to take over parts of my function, and spend too many hours on a Polycom, those conference telephones designed to fit into the decor of everyone who owns an English-Klingon dictionary, with those who will assume my other function.

There is a certain satisfaction that my job will be divided across multiple people, making up a substantial portion of the day of several. I like to think I will be missed, but better not to think of it as all.

At least I am starting the day out right, with a Revive vitamin water and now my third tall cup of coffee. Last night the Saints played the late game, a blow-out against the Baltimore Indianapolis Colts minus Peyton Manning, petulant scion of the Saint fan’s own hero of the early days Archie Manning. The game was so one-sided the only real pleasure was in the cutaways to Manning on the sidelines in a Colts ball cap, looking every bit the student of Newman and annointed future NFL star denied, through some cruelty of fate, the homecoming crown.

Saints fans are long-suffering and as such a people, we have long memories. Peyton’s insulting tantrum at the end of superbowl XLIV and the failure of Archie out of some misplaced consideration for his brat, to say one kind word about the triumph of the franchise he helped establish are not forgotten, and will likely never bed. Watching Peyton sulk was better than any touchdown or suggestive shot of a cheerleader.

When the game is a blowout, the world divides itself into two sorts of people: those who take their leave early and so to bed, and those who drift into the kitchen, game ignored on the radio, speaking of other things, in dangerous proximity to the beer the others left behind. I fall into the latter category, and so have a wondrous hangover to amaze the druidly Druids to carry me through the first of my final hours of Moloch.

It is a week of disobligation, a set of rituals of the sort favored by the Catholic Church. Not an excomunication exactly but in the end my boss (whom I dearly like, a great fellow) will arrive to collect my badge, laptop, Blackberry, sword, cassock, &c. and take us all out to dinner on the company’s dime somewhere I will suggest. He has never been to Jaques Imos, has long desired to go, and may never have an excuse to come to New Orleans again so that seems settled. After that, Frenchman I think, d.b.a. and that glass of Johnny Walker Blue we were discussing. (Neither of us scotch drinkers, preferring our Jameson’s but we are curious and hope to pass the expense off as another travel meal).

As we drfit deeper into what our children will call the Great Something (everyone agreeing that Depression is formally retired like the names of particularly terrible hurricanes), I should be more concerned. I am not. They are giving my a decent severance and a retraining bonus, enough without other emergencies to get me through a semester at the University of New Orleans, which will kindly accept every last credit hour off my thirty year old transcript and plug them into the current graduation requirements and in as little as six months: voila’, I will be promenading through the sterile mothership cavern of the U.N.O. Assembly Center, in Privateer blue with a bachelor’s white hood.

I rather like that the color of the Liberal Arts in general is baptismal white, as getting my long-defered degree will not be so much an ending as a beginning, the start of yet another reinvention of my life. I left the university both to take a job in journalism at a local newspaper, and to evidence my displeasure at the place denying me the editor-in-chief’s post. It was not so much personal pique but rather that in the late 1970s the U.N.O. Driftwood was a broadsheet that frequently ran to 24 or more pages a week, and sold enough advertising to turn a small but tidy profit, some of which we were allowed to spend to pay staff and throw a fabulously drunken end of year party that culminated in depositing the crawfish shell bags outside the private entrance of the Chancellor (one Homer Hitt, a very nice man who did not deserve it, but it was his Office we were honoring, not the man).

At some point we began to take ourselves seriously as a newspaper and took sides with the Faculty Senate against a particularly odious Vice Chancellor of Administration, and so when it was my turn to assume the top position the newspaper was reduced to a typically hollow college student tabloid, and my job was given to someone from a respectable fraternity who had never before crossed the threshold of the paper’s office.

From college I managed to make my way through journalism with an award or two along the way, a stint on Capitol Hill as press secretary and speechwriter, then a jump into the lower echelons of IT through a general knack with computers and a program of self-study, when I had determined DC was not for me and I needed to arrange some more portable skill than public relations. When I was first hired by another bank, I managed to quickly get myself plucked out of the ranks of bit plumbers and tool pushers and made a project manager, which is where I find myself today. Or rather, where I find myself at the end of in the last days of Moloch.

What happens after that I am not sure. I look forward to another stint in a corporate world that bears a frightening resemblance to the world of Dilbert with all the relish of a felon at-large contemplating his appointed noose. I am much in need of what the academic world calls a sabbatical. After that, we shall see.

In an hour or two the Richmond contingent will arrive and we will get down to work. Until then, I think another Vitamin water for my dry mouth to wash down some Ibuprofen and a cigarette or two are in order. We will get busy once they arrive, and we have only four days to transact all our business. I will be off on Friday to the Louisiana Book Festival both as workshop student and correspondent for NolaVie, the arts and culture adjunct of NOLA.com, and so escape the last bit of the ritual of this week of disobligation, the tossing of the apostate into the jaws of Moloch. I hope instead to carry away a few more unwanted pounds and a Biblical hangover to rival Noah’s from Thursday night’s parting dinner as my fitting punishment.

Fractal Saturday October 22, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, The Odd, Toulouse Street, Writing.
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A. A violent order is a disorder; and
B. A great disorder is an order. These
Two things are one. (Pages of illustrations.)

— Wallace Stevens, Connoisseur of Chaos

Saturday mornings are I think an indicator of what mornings in my immediate future shall look like. It’s not a holiday, although there was no alarm set for this morning. I rise up at a reasonable hour, make coffee and have a cigarette, then find myself on the computer, doing the daily chores of Odd Words, making sure I haven’t missed something, copying shortened versions of the blog listings to the Facebook page, then even more abbreviated ones over to the Twitter account. A productive and satisfying start to the day.

Then, with the computer in my lap, I start to read. I avoid scrolling down Facebook or Google+ or checking the local newspaper’s website, all the distractions and chatter. Instead I find myself doing a weekly check of the literary blogs (something I was doing daily the last time my job was coasting down toward its end and my workload started to fade away).

Somewhere along this timeline, about the second cup of coffee and cigarette, something starts to happen: notes or bookmarks are made or entire sections of items pasted into notes for saving, one link leading to another not quite at random but in the intent of Rimbaud’s systematized disorganization of all the senses, a connection of hyperlinks like the less well understood networks of the brain, and suddenly: the last blog post, the discovery of another window into a subject I care much about on a blog I used to check daily but have let lapse like many things these last few weeks, perhaps a reminder from the universe not to lose focus; the completely spontaneous decision to forward it to my daughter’s teacher of last year whom I blogged about before, a connection re-established with someone I would love to argue the point with; in that search an old flash-length story found and some minor revisions made, considering if it’s submissible or requires more work, a tightening of the transition from the first part to the second; story filed away for later I consider someone’s reaction to the poem I wrote night before last and read to an audience of two yesterday. “The last section saved it” he said, but I had no time to stay and discuss what he thought of it so I pull it up, re-reading but making no revisions (I think it done, he thinks it deficient, must get another opinion or just trust myself); finally, writing: putting this idea down before it is gone, partly a note to myself toward how to conduct a portion of my program of self-re-education commencing in just over a week, partly a piece of the narrative in still life, the set pieces of the blog accumulating toward some picture of who I am becoming, another vain and probably unnecessary peek into the workings of my mind (which I doubt you have followed this far down the rabbit hole but even if there are only a few of you not among my close friends then I am moving forward, on toward something as yet undefined and wonderful).

Someone suggested the Vicodin I was taking after my surgery was keeping me up nights because I am ADHD, and that my brain chemistry was working in reverse, the way amphetamines are given to calm the ADHD mind. I prefer not to think in terms of chemistry, but of alchemy. If we do not admit of the possibility of order in the apparently random then we do not discover the mathematical laws governing fractals, those glistening snail trials suggesting the possibility of something like God.

We performed an exercise in the writing seminar offered at NOCCA for parents by one of the creative writing teachers she called “automatic writing” which has nothing to do with Madame Blavatsky but is an established technique of writing teachers: just start writing and do not stop until the time is up, no pausing to rethink or revise but the instructor throws out writing prompts and toward the end, a warning that time is almost up. These Saturday morning exercises are a similar experience, just letting the coffee seep into the brain and the brain seep through the labyrinthine Internet, yesterday’s experiences, the half-dozen things you are in the middle of reading and letting it all flow one into the next, noting the connections like blazes on a trail, until the brain finally begins to settle into typing some one thing: first this, then either the story or the poem revision later).

Out of this experience: ideas and insights exploding like stars and seeding the cosmos with the dust of possibility, the building blocks of future stars, their planets, the first stirrings of life (more coffee please), a half billion years collapsed into half a pot and perhaps three cigarettes of time until the emergence of a mindful creature capable of purposeful words and then, dear Watson, the game is afoot.

Memory & Imagination October 22, 2011

Posted by The Typist in books, Memory, New Orleans, NOLA, novel, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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One of my favorite topics. This is entirely cribbed from the blog of Maud Newton [sigh] of Oct 8.

“For the young — and especially the young writer — memory and imagination are quite distinct, and of different categories. In a typical first novel, there will be moments of unmediated memory (typically, that unforgettable sexual embarrassment), moments where the imagination has worked to transfigure a memory (perhaps that chapter in which the protagonist learns some lesson about life, whereas in the original the novelist-to-be failed to learn anything), and moments when, to the writer’s astonishment, the imagination catches a sudden upcurrent and the weightless, wonderful soaring that is the basis for the fiction delightingly happens.

These different kinds of truthfulness will be fully apparent to the young writer, and their joining together a matter of anxiety. For the older writer, memory and the imagination begin to seem less and less distinguishable. This is not because the imagined world is really much closer to the writer’s world than he or she cares to admit (a common error among those who anatomize fiction) but for exactly the opposite reason: that memory itself comes to seem much closer to an act of imagination than ever before. My brother distrusts most memories. I do not mistrust them, rather I trust them as workings of the imagination, as containing imaginative as opposed to naturalistic truth.”

– Julian Barnes, Nothing to Be Frightened Of

Odd Words: Updates and Corrections October 21, 2011

Posted by The Typist in 504, books, literature, New Orleans, NOLA, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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I will go back and correct and add these items to Thursday’s column, but one to call out one two omissions not one date goof entirely my own fault.

& On Tuesday, Oct. 25 17 Poets! will host a special Tuesday edition reception and reading for poets en Hofer, Andy Young, and John Pluecker. The event will start with a reception at 7 p.m. with eats and drinks (including, as usual for such events, some Brocatto’s mini-canolli), with the reading at 8 p.m. Locals will know Andy Young as instructor in creative writing at NOCCA and editor of the bilingual English/Arabic literary journal Meena. Her work was recently featured on National Public Radio’s “The World” and published in Best New Poets 2009 (University of Virginia Press), Callaloo, Guernica, and Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond (W.W. Norton & Co).

Jen Hofer is a Los Angeles-based poet, translator, interpreter, teacher, knitter, book-maker, public letter-writer, and urban cyclist. Her most recent books are the homemade chapbook Lead & Tether (Dusie Kollektiv, 2011); Ivory Black, a translation of Negro marfil by Myriam Moscona (Les Figues Press, 2011); a series of anti-war-manifesto poems titled one (Palm Press, 2009); sexoPUROsexoVELOZ and Septiembre, a translation from Dolores Dorantes by Dolores Dorantes (Counterpath Press and Kenning Editions, 2008); The Route, a collaboration with Patrick Durgin (Atelos, 2008); and lip wolf, a translation of lobo de labio by Laura Solórzano (Action Books, 2007). Recent poems and translations have appeared in Aufgabe, Mandorla, Or, out of nothing, TRY and with+stand.

John Pluecker is a writer, interpreter, translator and teacher. His work is informed by experimental poetics, radical aesthetics and cross-border cultural production and has appeared in journals and magazines in the U.S. and Mexico, including the Rio Grande Review, Picnic, Third Text, Animal Shelter and Literal. He has published more than five books in translation from the Spanish, including essays by a leading Mexican feminist, short stories from Ciudad Juárez and a police detective novel. There are two chapbooks of his work, Routes into Texas (DIY, 2010) and Undone (Dusie Kollektiv, 2011).

& And then the correction: On Tuesday Oct. 26 Garden District Books offers a two-fer with authors Mark Yakich, and Laura Ellen Scott discussing and signing their respective books A Meaning For Wife, and Death Wishing. The first is the tale of a widowed father of a toddler confronting the past during a visit to his parents for a 20th high school reunion, and Death Wishing gives us a world in which dying wishes come true. Both will also be featured at Antenna Gallery on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. (And no Laura, I can’t promise to get Greg out in a leather kilt for either, but I’ll do my best.)

Odd Words October 20, 2011

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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Correction: If you’re back checking the listing a second time, there is a new correction and post-deadline addition both called out below. Please be sure to send your events to odd.words.nola@gmail.com by the Tuesday before to make sure I include them.

If you’ve clicked the Syllabus page tab at the top of the blog or seen a Facebook post about it, you realize that I’m trying to figure out how to most productively use my time when my job comes to an end this month. I have a fairly generous severance with health benefits so I’m not in a panic, even as we are deep into what the history books will someday call The Great Recession. My primary idea has been to use part of that time between jobs as a writing sabbatical, a sort of roll-you-own MFA or workshop of one, if you will. The plan is: read, analyze, think and write and re-write again. Suggestions on books and structure are welcome. Just post them in the comments of that page.

I can’t afford a real M.F.A. because I never got my B.A. (although I’ve discovered UNO will take me back, all forgiven and let me finish a degree with no minimum hours beyond what I left unfinished, which wasn’t much. More on that another time). And in fact, I wonder if I would want an M.F.A. or even an intensive retreat/workshop (I’ve looked for them, and I’m having a hard time finding something that fits and is affordable). And then I read Inside an MFA: Call and Response over at HTML Giant. Strangely this came just after the flashback of watching Season Five of the Wire, thinking back to my own newspaper days. My job wasn’t anywhere near as high pressure as that of the Baltimore Sun depicted in the series, but it is striking to consider the difference between working as a newspaper reporter and studying for an M.F.A. Perhaps I made the right choice years ago when I left school for the pleasure of being mocked by a slotman for a salary in the high four figures, which is probably about what you can make annually as a result of getting an M.F.A. (on adjustment for inflation used).

& so . . .

& This week New Orleans notables Peggy Scott Laborde and Tom Fitzmorris team up this week to launch their book collaboration LOST RESTAURANTS OF NEW ORLEANS. Featuring reminices about such legendary eateries as Acy’s Pool Hall, Glucks (where Tennessee Williams worked as a waiter), La Louisiane and Kolbs along with recipes from famous spots including Shrimp Toast from Dragon’s Garden, Stuffed Macaroni from Toney’s Pizza & Spaghetti House, Maylie’s Turtle Soup, and Christian’s Oyster Roland. I’m not normally crazy for cookbooks but this one looks like a treat. There’s no question these folks know this material backward, forward, drunk and blindfolded. And if we are talking about original recipes, I can’t imagine a kitchen or a coffee table in New Orleans without this book. Saturday Oct 22 at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books, and Monday, Oct. 25 at 5:30 p.m. at Garden District Books.

& Another signature event I putting in out of order is the Poems & Pink Ribbons: Breast Cancer Celebration Reading Sunday, Oct. 23 at The Healing Center on St. Claude.

& This Thursday, 17 Poets! welcomes back poet Dara Wier along with poets Jen Tynes and Jen Denrow, 7:30 pm, followed by an open mic hosted by the Gorgon of the Fairgrounds, Jimmy Ross. Thursday, Oct. 20, 7:30 pm at the Goldmine Saloon.

& Also on Thursday, poet and now novelist Melinda Palacio will read and sign her debut novel, Octotillo Dreams on Thursday, October 20, 2011, 6:00 P.M. at Maple Street Books Healing Center location. Ocotillo Dreams is an evocative and powerful statement about human life and the conditions of immigrants in the U.S.

& Early Friday night at the Love Lost Lounge, the No Love Lost Poetry Reading hosted by Joseph Bienvenu kicks of at 5:30 p.m., just in time for the bar’s happy hour and opening time for the excellent Vietnamese kitchen in the back.

& Poem Gian “G-Prospect” Smith (he featured in the Treme teaser this year) hosts Pass It On, a spoken work event at the McKenna Museum of African-American Art,2003 Carondolet St. Friday at 9 p.m.

& After Pass It On, it’s time to hop in your car and had to Acoustic Fridays, the weekly spoken word event at the Red Star Gallery, 2513 Bayou Road, hosted every week by Charlie V-Uptowns Illest MC. $7 cover, $5 with college ID. Call 504-982-0922 for more information or to perform, or check out their website.

& Saturday afternoon Maple Street Books uptown location will host S.L. Alexanderto sign Courtroom Carnival: Famous New Orleans Trials. We love our drama in NOLA, and Miss S.L. presents some of outrageous courtroom dramas in this book (out on October 15, 2011). Move over Law & Order; get ready for Awe & Disorder. Saturday, Oct. 22 at 1 p.m

& On Saturday even Maple Street Books (the one on Maple Street) hosts Tulane Political Science Professor Melissa Harris-Perry who will be signing her book, Sister Citizen, which examines the role of Black women in American politics. Saturday, Oct 22. at 6 p.m.

& On Saturday, Dillard scholar and poet Dr. Jerry Ward will read from “The Katrina papers” while artist Herbert Kearney paints out the last tears of the bloody storm from the High relief made of the pieces of his old studio ‘All Mothers are boats’ Hanging at Fatoush Cafe in The Healing Center, 2372 St. Claude. Also reading will be poets Megan Burns, Dave Brinks and Herbert kearney. Musical accompanyment by John Spuzzillo. Saturday, Oct. 22, 6 p.m.

& Late Addition Later Saturday, Oct 22 McKeown Books & Difficult Music features a Poetry Exposition hosted by Thaddeus Conti and featuring Adam O’Conner, Jenna Mae, Laura Mattingly, Joseph Bienvenu, Sandra Grace Johnson, Jonathan Mmilam Walters. Saturday, Tue. Oct 22 at 8 p.m.

& On Tuesday Octavia Books hosts a presentation and signing with award-winning photographer Lori Waselchuk featuring her powerful new book, GRACE BEFORE DYING. She will be accompanied by historian Lawrence Powell who penned the essay contained in the book. Grace Before Dying tells the emotional story of an extraordinary breakthrough that has helped to transform the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola from one of the most dangerous maximum security prisons in the United States into one of the least violent. By allowing volunteer inmates to comfort fellow inmates who are elderly or terminally ill, a new hospice program helps convicts assert and affirm their humanity in an environment designed to isolate and punish. Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m.

& – Late Addition On Tuesday, Oct. 25 17 Poets! will host a special Tuesday edition reception and reading for poets en Hofer, Andy Young, and John Pluecker. The event will start with a reception at 7 p.m. with eats and drinks (including, as usual for such events, some Brocatto’s mini-canolli), with the reading at 8 p.m. Locals will know Andy Young as instructor in creative writing at NOCCA and editor of the bilingual English/Arabic literary journal Meena. Her work was recently featured on National Public Radio’s “The World” and published in Best New Poets 2009 (University of Virginia Press), Callaloo, Guernica, and Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond (W.W. Norton & Co).

Jen Hofer is a Los Angeles-based poet, translator, interpreter, teacher, knitter, book-maker, public letter-writer, and urban cyclist. Her most recent books are the homemade chapbook Lead & Tether (Dusie Kollektiv, 2011); Ivory Black, a translation of Negro marfil by Myriam Moscona (Les Figues Press, 2011); a series of anti-war-manifesto poems titled one (Palm Press, 2009); sexoPUROsexoVELOZ and Septiembre, a translation from Dolores Dorantes by Dolores Dorantes (Counterpath Press and Kenning Editions, 2008); The Route, a collaboration with Patrick Durgin (Atelos, 2008); and lip wolf, a translation of lobo de labio by Laura Solórzano (Action Books, 2007). Recent poems and translations have appeared in Aufgabe, Mandorla, Or, out of nothing, TRY and with+stand.

John Pluecker is a writer, interpreter, translator and teacher. His work is informed by experimental poetics, radical aesthetics and cross-border cultural production and has appeared in journals and magazines in the U.S. and Mexico, including the Rio Grande Review, Picnic, Third Text, Animal Shelter and Literal. He has published more than five books in translation from the Spanish, including essays by a leading Mexican feminist, short stories from Ciudad Juárez and a police detective novel. There are two chapbooks of his work, Routes into Texas (DIY, 2010) and Undone (Dusie Kollektiv, 2011).

& On Wednesday, delve into the tangled world of the Middle East with James Farwell’s The Pakistan Cauldron: Conspiracy, Assassination & Instability, in which he takes apart the tangled political world of a nation that is a lynch-pin of a politically-charged South Asia. Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m..

& Also on Wednesday, the Tennessee Williams Festival continues its Coffee & Conversation series at the Jefferson Parish Library, featuring Keith Spera and Jeremy Davenport discussing GROOVE INTERRUPTED: Losss, Renewal and the Music of New Oreans, their account of the role of music, musicianss and other culture workers in the city’s post-Katrina recovery. Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m, Community Room of the Jefferson Parish East Bank Regional Library, 4747 West Napoleon Ave.

The Faulkner Society Words & Music Festival is just around the corner in November. Words & Music, 2011 will be of special interest to Latino/Hispanic audiences, as highlights of this year’s program include presentations by Latino Pulitzer Prize winners, novelist Junot Dîaz of Dominican heritage and Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz, the first Latino playwright to win the Pulitzer. Keynote speaker will be Cuban-American writer Armando Valladares, former U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations for Human Rights and international bestselling author of the memoir Against all Hope about his 22-year ordeal as a prisoner of conscience in Cuba. As usual, the is a full slate of discussions, master classes and special events such as Literature and Lunch daily, musical performance, &c. Visit the Words and Music site for more details.

There’ll be frost on the merlitons tonight October 19, 2011

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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Cold front is a relative term down here in the northernmost outpost of the Caribbean, mostly a matter of lashing down my bachelor-sized, old-fashioned plastic garbage can, the smallest I could find, as I do not have one of the heavy wheeled carts the city distributed a few years back. The wind blows fierce, a rain squall or two waters the dahlias, and you think perhaps a long sleeved shirt after dark.

Last night was the first truly cool night of the Fall, a real screecher with the wind singing in the wires and various plastic things dancing down the street. It is great sport to sit on my stoop (my resin chair laying beneath my bungee-secured garbage can), sipping some of the day’s leftover coffee and watch the neighbors chasing things down the street.

I favor hats and it’s a good thing I took up wearing a wool Basque beret some years ago, starting with the one I inherited from my father, as many of my other hats have unfortunate aerodynamic qualities in a forty-knot gust. If you have ever pursued a straw fedora that has got itself onto a wind-blown brim roll you know exactly what I mean. A beret is the perfect thing to keep a mostly rocky-top head warm when the temperature dips into the fifties.

It’s too soon to think about claiming the turkey smoker from the house on Toulouse, sas no one else in the family cares for them that way so I might as well take it, but it is time to begin to cull t-shirts from the shelf in the closet leaving a smaller Fall selection, and haul out the plastic bag the comforter came in that stores my small store of winter clothes.

It is time to try to find a butcher with a real chilli plate, as those I knew 20 years ago are long gone. My sister the foodie has well supplied me with chillies and found me a single-pound bag of masa (which since our influx of Hispanic neighbors now seems mostly to come in five pound sacks), and think of making up a big iron skillet batch of real Texas chilli–meat, massa and spices,–fixins as you please on the side. I have to remember the actual brand name of the beans I favor to add as you like, the brand that used to say “Man Pleasin” on the can but that slogan has gone the way of Aunt Jemima’s extended family).

I was once inured to the cold when I was well into my decade at the other end of the Mississippi, thinking nothing of quickly hauling the garbage can out while barefoot on nights when the concrete burned my feet like a bed of coals, but lately I’ve reconditioned myself to this climate, complained the least of anyone I know about our just past scorcher of a summer. I have finally remembered to walk slow in the shade, with every appearance of a man out for leisurely coffee and the paper and not five minutes lake for work, not to frog march myself across the parking lot in a race to the air conditioning the way most modern southerners do.

Still, I welcome the sound of the geese that a month and ten years ago filled the sky from horizon to horizon over my son’s pee-wee football Saturday in Minnesota as if they were the entire U.S. Army Air Corp off to bomb the beaches of Normandy. I wipe the drenching dew off the backyard chair and linger with a cigarette and coffee even as my toes curl up in my flip flops (note to self: get new slippers). Our seasons in New Orleans tend more to the ecclesiastical and the festival. Only a few misplaced maples and the cypress show any color, and the old North Dakota saying that sticks in my head–“there’ll be frost on the pumpkins tonight”–seems Odd when the truck gardener parked on Orleans still has a bed full of watermelons.

We will have days of watermelons yet before that the damned damp of sauna August days turns to the bitter chill of winter near the coast, the watery onslaught only a good wool pea coat can keep out, but for now its a pleasant relief, a reminder that the last festivals are behind us and the traditional Yankee holidays are coming up. They are already trialing new Christmas lights in City Park and just the other night I saw two men wrestling a pair of faux firs flocked pink as flamingos from a truck to the year-round, tourist Christmas store on Decatur. It is time to start to think of oyster dressing and mirliton stuffing, to dress the bed with at least a thin blanket against the inevitable chinks in houses built for heat not cold, to check and see if there is nutmeg and allspice in the cabinet before the holiday bakers clear the shelves, or how else am I to make hot buttered rum?

The Bloody Hanktons October 19, 2011

Posted by The Typist in Crime, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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The murder of the brother of a witness in the murder trail of Gert Town crime scourge Telly Hankton led to another rush to the pages on the blog where there names were mentioned. It all began when I listed his Uncle George in my annual collection of the names of the murdered. That crime begat a retaliatory killing that eventually led to Hankton’s conviction in the murder of Darrell Stewart, whom Telly and his uncle Andres suspected in the killing of Andre’s brother George. It was that first listing, a follow up note in the next year’s list and finally this post which included the notes from the NOLA.Com crime reports that Telly and Andre were wanted in connection with Stewart’s death, that have made the name Hankton one of the most popular search terms bringing people to Toulouse Street.

It’s not the spikes that occur around news events like yesterday’s on the witness killing that give me the shivers but the routine visits I get week in and week out, wondering if members of the Hankton gang sometimes surf the Internet looking for their notices like a gang of actors waiting in a cafe for the morning papers. It is one thing for someone in a comfortable suburb to watch David Simon’s The Wire and feel a safe and guilty satisfaction when Omar Little and Brother Mouzone gun down Stringer Bell, to understand the Bushido beauty of the moment when Bodie refuses to abandon his corner. It is another thing entirely to see the frequent Hankton searches when you live in a city overrun by men with guns who have had their own funerals carefully planned since they were fourteen.

Dark Nights of the Whole October 18, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
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Who knows what people think when I start posting up videos as I did last night. I used to do this a lot more frequently when this was my backup blog to Wet Bank Guide, the location one blog reviewer said I “let my freak flag fly.” We could argue the merit of song lyric versus “Poetry” (insert imaginary hands wiggling quote fingers). It’s not worth the bother. Either you think Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits are poets or you do not, and I’m probably not going to change your mind (although I would welcome the opportunity to try, provided you pick up at least every other round).

Last night on a lark I went to The Writer’s Block, an outdoor reading hosted by Kate Smash on the amphitheater steps across from Jackson Square. This was all well and good, and I had a great time and felt welcomed at the new guy to what appears to be a well-established small group of regulars, mostly in their twenties.

As usual, going to such events at night leaves me with my mind spinning on hyper-drive, no where near ready for bed, so I gladly accepted their suggestion that I join them for a drink after. A couple of grogs later at The John, an interesting joint on Frenchman where the table tops look like the covers of toilet seats, and the strong pours are served cheap in Mason jars, I finally headed home to get some sleep but the combination of poetry, conversation and rum left me just as energized as when we set off for the bar.

That’s when I’m most likely to fire up Radio Free Toulouse Street; the other circumstance being late night (sometime all night) technical work conference calls, the sort scheduled to make changes when it will not disrupt customers. (The longest one I suffered through lasted 17 hours, and pretty much ruined a Father’s Day. By the time I got off that call, I had my special breakfast for an early afternoon lunch and promptly fell asleep in front of my DVD present movie.

Now that I have something like a “brand” in Toulouse Street (having displaced the Doobie Brothers as the top return for a Google search of that phrase) and another in Odd Words, I wonder sometime if I’m doomed to start yet another blog where I can post these sort of things, or perhaps a Tumblr, a platform I have tried to stay away from. (I have, for the record, a pretty sizable stable of blogs already, although most are updated infrequently, and consist of posting poems and copyright law be damned, by writers I like.

I probably shouldn’t start another blog. I’m already stretched so thin the next step down from human crepe is grease in the bottom of the pan, a particularly unappetizing analogy. So if you’re here for the beer literature and pretzels occasional Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans posts, I guess you’ll just have to put up with my taste in music. You can always avail yourself of the scroll bar.

Then again you might be missing an important element in what is essentially a story, a narrative of transformation referenced in the quote at right by Samuel Beckett. Perhaps to make that point more clear, I will move that little box up above the book ads and remove the link to the mostly abandoned poetry blog (I post those elsewhere, in semi-private, as most dead tree publications treat posting to the Internet as “previously published” and disqualifying.) Spending the night in the company of a gaggle of twenty-somethings, that moment when I made some remark about being the “old fart” at the table that brought an Odd, snappish reaction from one of them. Fifty three, my job descending under the event horizon, as much as anyone at that table looking at a whole new life to build, with more experience to my credit but less breath.

Everything is story: we tell them to live. They are as necessary as air. The longer posts, the snippets of quote or poetry, the songs, the impromptu photo of the cemetery, all are part of the narrative of a man just past midlife, racing at once towards and away from death down a path into the unknown.

Like most children of the Transistor Age (and you’re still living in it, they’ve just gotten much smaller, millions on a chip) music has been an integral part of my life since I got my first AM pocket radio for a present in 1963, just in time for the British Invasion. Steve Jobs recognized the centrality of music, of an imagined sound track to your lives, in the invention of the i-Pod. Walt Disney and his cousins in faux towne center shopping malls were ahead of even Jobs, providing not just musak background music but often something that added to the particular ambiance of the setting.

People of my parents generation (the mid-Century “Greatest Generation”) had perhaps “Their Song”, the one they heard while courting and perhaps danced to at their wedding. Baby Boomers and the alphabet soup of following cohorts have entire soundtracks, songs associated with moments or entire periods of their life. People of my age used to think of themselves as either Beatle-men or Stones-men. (My perfectly Gemini answer is often yes: my inner Beatles-man, laid back and thoughtful, led me down to last night’s reading. My inner Stones-man led me to The John, and a second drink when I probably should have taken off for home. I think it was my inner Zappa/Beefheart man who took control of the turntable last night, but there is a sense to what I posted. There always is.)

Another correct answer to the Beatles or Stones question is: The WHO. (or sometimes, The Kinks. Double Gemini whammy). For now I will let my inner Zappa/Beefheart reject the famous Smothers Brothers’s appearance of The WHO, with the off-cue explosion that permanently damaged Pete Townsend’s hearing, in favor of Patti–I’m no longer ready to die before I get old; I think Patti’s sentiment better fits this point in my life–and send you off to think about how music plays in the narrative of you own life, the moments when Cue Music is the unwritten stage direction.

Time Stops For No One. October 18, 2011

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“And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I
don’t mind. Why should I be frightened of dying?
There’s no reason for it, you’ve gotta go sometime.”

Time No. 3 October 18, 2011

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“The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older. Shorter of breath, and one day closer to death…”

Time No. 2 October 18, 2011

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“We should be home by now….’

Time Take 1 October 18, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
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There are days only David Bryne being mounted by the loa consoles.

“Time isn’t holding us. Time isn’t after us.”

Odd Words–Daughters of Domestics Edition October 17, 2011

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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I omitted this from last Thursday’s column (my apologies) so I’m giving it a post of it’s own. Tonight (Monday, Oct. 17) Xavier University will host Daughters of Domestics: Poets and Academics Respond to The Help, the recent novel and film cataloging the experience of Black domestics in the 20th Century South. Featured poets will be Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes, Kysha Brown Robinson and Kelly Harris-DeBerry. The academic panelists include Professor Theresa M. Davis, Dr. Denese Shervington and Dr. Brenda Edgerton-Webster. The moderator will be Dr. Kimberly J. Chandler.

Looking at the first few of over 43,000 reviews of the novel that inspired the recent film it is clear the book and movie had stirred up a great deal of controversy. Sorting to the one-start reviews I am told the book is insipid, that the characters (particularly the African American women are cliche-leaking stereotypes. One reviewer suggests the book was written to make white people feel better about themselves and claims that explains its best seller status. I think this particular reader comment of her experience with the book sums up the dialect problem: “Law, I never see such God awfa talk in a book. The end came when I say she be def as a doe-nob.” (Whoever said don’t write in dialect, go look that person up and take there advice. Outside of Roddy Doyle’s Irish brogue I can’t much stand it myself.

The five star reviews don’t offer much expository explanation, mostly Oprah Book of the Month Club gushing. It’s notable how many of them listened to the audiobook instead. I don’t have time today to explore over 117,000 five star reviews to except to find the book wildly popular with people across genders and races. It has clearly struck a cord.

Many of the complaints of the bad reviews were about the gall of a young white woman, born in 1969 and too late to have any real experience of what she writes about, taking on the voices of the Black domestics. Frankly, there are probably very few writers who could do true justice to a mix of domestics and their housewife employers and truly get deep inside the heads of both well.

My own feeling: I am very tempted to attend this one. I grew up in New Orleans in the 1960s, and a fixture of my life was Sylvia (I don’t to this day remember her last name), who I am told particularly raised me–particularly as an infant and very small child–and whom I mostly remember ironing my father’s shirts before the soap operas, the shaker bottle of water one used back them to help get the wrinkles out. I remember she was invited to my sisters’ weddings, but not the receptions. I recall she lived in Iberville because I rode with my mother once or twice to give her a ride home, rather than ride the Lake Vista NOPSI bus line. I often road that bus home from school, and at that time of day it was an exchange of a cargo of Catholic school kids for the domestics who stood at every corner, many in the starched white uniform of the time.

I have a feeling pale male children raised by these women will not be much in attendance, and I am intensely curious to hear these reactions against the overwhelming positives of Goodreads, most of which smack of Oprah Book of the Month Club noise. I haven’t read the book, and I’m not going to put it on my pile just yet as it is already too tall. I think this will be done to pull out of the library at some point. I feel as a child of Sylvia’s other family (she also served my grandmother,–who to this day I can clearly hear in memory’s ear voicing “nigrah” as a polite, to her mind, reference–and an aunt on a rotating basis). I feel I owe a debt to the woman who helped to raise me to attend this.

Daughters of Domestics: Poets and Academics Respond to The Help, Monday, Oct. 17 (tonight) at Xavier University’s Qatar Pharmancy Pavilion, 1 Drexel Drive.

This time with attachment October 16, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, NOLA, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
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If you find you have sent one too many follow up emails of apology like this of late, perhaps it is the universe suggesting it is a time to reconsider attachment, most particularly to the circumstance in which this error occurs.

A thought on Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer at 50 October 16, 2011

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No I didn’t make the conference. My request for a press pass went unanswered and I did not fail to attend out of pique but because I had enough else to do that I had to make choices (the wonderful Midsummer Night’s Dream over the keynote, too many chores to ignore Saturday). If anyone who attended wants to submit a write up of say 1500 words, please do. I would be glad to have it.

I am posting this because Micheal Zell of Crescent City Books rises to champion John Kennedy Toole in the comments on the last Odd Words and now I a tempted to spoil my Sunday’s other plans by diving back into both books to make my point, a task that would keep me up well past midnight if I started now.

In short the question is: did Walker Percy champion Toole’s novel because he saw in it a brilliant parody of his own The Moviegoer and was flattered? It just came to my in a flash this morning but the parallels between Rielly and Binx are just to close and cute to dismiss. Hell, I wish this had come to me for some other reason six months ago, or I might have submitted a paper to the conference. If I do end up returning to U.N.O. to try to finish my degree, it would make an excellent thesis topic.

Don’t comment here. Wander back to the original post’s comments if you have some thoughts on the matter rather than post them here.

Also, in writing my response I stumbled across Bookslut’s excellent review and the original New York Times’ review. Whether your decompressing from the conference over coffee or missed it as I did, consider this some timely and apt Sunday morning reading.

Bookslut predictably takes up the issue of Percy’s depiction of race and the sexes in the mid-century South, which I wonder is a barrier to the young, modern reader (except perhaps a thesis exercise in deconstructing the work according to the latest quasi-Marxist pedagogy). At my age, I forgive him his trespasses and we tolerate elderly relatives, and recognize that the man was writing about his millieu, not defending it. Perhaps modern graduates in Me Studies have addressed this issue and dismissed it as Dead White Male sophistry but to do so is to misunderstand fundamentally how literature works.

So: go look at my potential new house to rent, clean up this place and do some laundry while watching the game or dive into the Moviegoer? I think you know my inclination.

Potter’s But Not Forgotten October 15, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, je me souviens, odd, Remember, the dead, Toulouse Street.
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Odd Words: An Indian Summer Night’s Dream Edition October 15, 2011

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The setting as well as the best of the players give us the dream when A Midsummer Night’s Dream unfolds in the Bestoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art. This is a belated review but better than none, as I don’t want anyone who reads this to miss the opportunity of this show. There are still two days left, and it’s not sold out so do not be Demetrius and wait until the last moment to discover your true love but try and get your tickets.

The entry plaza and steps make an excellent stage for the first act (and the small concrete platform in the lagoon another for the last, but don’t go left if the usher suggests it, go right even if its crowded) but the true magic is in the heart of the play and the garden, the woodland action set against a backdrop of trees and shrubbery in the middle of the space. To see the star-crossed lovers and the fairy band from a torch-lit meadow against this backdrop is truly magical.

I just had a conversation with a theater direction on another blog, where he lamented the technical ability of young actors and we discussed the ability to project to fill a space without lavaliers or other contrivances (actors or performers of their own poetry for that matter, who are just another set of player) to project themselves. Not everyone in the cast could carry that large open space, especially if you found yourself consigned to the back when the action and the audience move deeper into the park in Act II.

Francesca McKensie would have been a marvelous Puck beneath a proscenium. Her dark eyes seemed to sparkle in the night with her physical energy, but I often struggled to understand her. Perhaps its difficult to cast someone with the spritely look and manic energy who also has a set of lungs sufficient to the open air. Others players: stately Andrew Vaught as Theseus and Oberon; Emilie Whelan’s masterful Bottom (she might have taught the author’s own players a thing or two about casting across genders); the delightfully ditzy Veronica Hunsinger-Lee, who charmed her way into the audience’s affections as a slapstick, teen-aged, all arms-and-legs Helena; all had no trouble being heard by the cheap seat squirrels. The experienced Martin Covert (just seen in Tulane’s Twelfth Night as Antonio) carried himself well as Egeus the width and breadth of the meadow and over the distraction of the whistling park train. I wish the director had spent some time standing in the back of the space. As simple a thing as a slight adjustment of a mark or a slight turn of the head toward the audience might have made all the difference for the actors unused to such a space.

It is all in all a marvelous setting for the middle action of the play, with characters dashing in and out of the shrubbery as Titania’s bower descends from the park’s old oaks. If the listener cannot quite hear the songs of the fairie band except as beautiful distant voices perhaps it is not a failing but another perfect part of an magically inspired staging.

You still have two nights. I am disappointed this morning that I missed the offered sneak preview staging in early summer and did not quickly get tickets before the first run promptly sold out. I wish this were my second or third trip out to see it, the combination of the magical and comic story, strong players and a brilliant setting is just too perfect. I suggest you reconsider your plans for this weekend and hustle over to Eventbrite to see if you cannot still get a ticket.

Eprit d’escalier October 14, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, odd, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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Am I coming? Are you going? Where was it again? When? What’s the story, morning glory? What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

Are we here yet?

Excuse me, I was just leaving. I’ve got a quarter for Zoltar & I’m off to find the man who wasn’t there.

Odd Words October 13, 2011

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, NOLA, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, spoken word, Toulouse Street.
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I’m going to jump out of order and put up this week’s signature event above the fold. There is no other single author associated with this city you have to come to terms with, rather than read for pleasure, than Walker Percy. Deeply philosophical, with a clearly masculine voice and a moral to tell as deep if not as clear as that of any Greek tragedy, Percy is not as simple as the Rabelaisian pleasure of John Kennedy Toole or the cathartic, poetic and perfect voyeurism of Tennessee Williams. (I am now in a boat load of trouble. Bring it on. It is what the comments section is for.)

The Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing at Loyola University will host its inaugural conference Oct. 14-16, The Moviegoer at 50. Walker Percy’s debut novel, it beat out Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road for the 1962 National Book Award. Keynote speaker will be Jay Tolson, considered one of Percy’s most respected biographers and a lively commentator on contemporary culture, politics, society and religion. The conference also includes a screening of Win Riley’s movie: Walker Percy: A Documentary Film. There are too many panels to list here. For a complete list of panels and events and the costs for each, visit the Center’s web site.

Before we get to the listings, you can also checkout and book mark the Odd Words Google calendar. This public calendar contains the dates, times and other basic details of recurring events and special events. For more specifics about featured readers and authors, don’t forget to visit on Thursday for the weekly column.

&; After several years of hiatus, THE FREE SPEECH ORCHESTRA is returning to 17 Poets! this Thursday night. This edition of The Free Speech Orchestra will feature a Jazz Poetry Session celebrating the Living Memory of our co-founder and spiritual mentor, New Orleans flute player ELUARD A. BURT II (Feb. 15, 1937 – Aug. 5, 2007). The Free Speech Orchestra was co-founded by Eluard Burt and Dave Brinks in 1997. It’s primary mission is to provide an improvisatory, synergistic space for musicians and poets to collaborate and explore side-by-side the cultural spirit & essence of the New Orleans’ community through Jazz and Poetry. Every performance by The Free Speech Orchestra is unique since the founding vision is to represent a rotating group of musicians and poets at various venues throughout the city, thus providing an opportunity for all to participate and contribute their dear gifts, talents, and passions in celebration of the New Orleans community.

Flautist and Free Speech Orchestra Co-Founcer Eluard A. Burt II

A brief list of musicians and poets featured over the years includes: co-founder Eluard Burt, flute; Harry Sterling, guitar; Roger Poche, bass; Uganda, pecussion; Richard Theodore, bass clarinet; Hart McNee, bass flute; Earle Brown, tenor sax; Kevin O’Day,percussion; Michael Skinkus, percussion; Kufaro, percussion; and poets John Sinclair, Yolanda Harris, Felice Guimont,Valentine Pierce, Dennis Formento, Paul Chasse, Tom LeBlanc, and co-founder Dave Brinks.

This performance will feature musicians and poets: Mike Mito-reeds, John Spuzillo-percussion, Marcus Bronson-bass, Jonathan Warren-flute, Felice Guimont-poet. Lee Meitzen Grue-poet. Moose Jackson-poet, Dave Brinks-poet. Follow the performance open mic will as usual be hosted by the Goldmine’s own peripitatic hotei Jimmy Ross.

&Also this Thursday, a new literary event kicks off in New Orleans when the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance hosts “Yeah, You Write” at Tipitina’s. This coming out part for a self-described literary salon that drew out of the annual Faulkner Society Words & Music Festival will feature readings and performances by a host of talented writers, including Amanda Boyden, Bill Loehfelm, Gian Smith, Kelly Harris-DeBerry, Mat Johnson and Terri Stoor. They are running a series of interviews with their featured writes on their blog Peauxdunque Writers Alliance. This is a talented krewe:

Amanda Boyden is the author of two novels, most recently “Babylon Rolling.” She is also an aerialist and teaches at University of New Orleans. Bill Loehfelm has written three crime thrillers, including his most recent, “The Devil She Knows,” which is the first in a series. Gian Smith is a spoken word artist whose poem “O Beautiful Storm” was featured in the second-season trailer for “Treme.” Kelly Harris-DeBerry is a poet and literary activist who has launched the Literary Lab, a small business that encourages public discourse and promotes local writers. Mat Johnson is the author of several books, including “Pym,” for which he has recently won a Dos Passos Prize for Literature. Terri Stoor is a member of PWA whose story “Bellyful of Sparrow” was recently named the winner Words and Music’s Faulkner-Wisdom Awards short story category.

Doors are at seven, show at eight with a $5 cover, followed by a DJ dance party. This is a coming out party you won’t find Nell Nolan typing up on her cherished Remington with white gloves on, so maybe its best you go check it out.

& Also this Thursday New Orleans writer Melinda Palacio returns from the coast to celebrate the release of her debut novel, OCOTILLO DREAMS. Palacio is an accomplished poet and writer who grew up in South Central Los Angeles and now divides her time between Santa Barbara, CA and New Orleans. She holds an M.A. in comparative literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz. A 2007 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow and a 2009 poetry alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, she co-edits Ink Byte Magazine, writes a column for online journal La Bloga, and recently completed a full-length poetry manuscript. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, and her poetry chapbook, Folsom Lockdown, won the 2009 Kulupi Press Sense of Place award. Thursday Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books and again the following Thursday, Oct. 30, at the Maple Street Book Shops’ Healing Center location at 6 p.m.

& Early Friday night at the Love Lost Lounge, the No Love Lost Poetry Reading hosted by Joseph Bienvenu kicks of at 5:30 p.m., just in time for the bar’s happy hour and opening time for the excellent Vietnamese kitchen in the back.

& I was going to say this one’s for the night owls but at 11 on a Friday things are just getting going in this city, including New Orleans premiere spoken word event Acoustic Fridays the Red Star Gallery, 2513 Bayou Road, hosted every week by Charlie V-Uptowns Illest MC. $7 cover, $5 with college ID. Call 504-982-0922 for more information or to perform, or check out their website.

& On Saturday the Maple Street Book Shops at the Healing Center will present Paul Koudonaris, author of The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses, on Saturday, October 15, 2011, 5:30 to 7:00 P.M. Discussion of “crypts and skull-encrusted” should bring us all up to speed for the holiday.

& And while you’re out on Saturday errands, if you missed Tuesday’s broadcast of Susan Larson’s the reading life you can catch the rebroadcast on Saturday at 12:30 pm. This weeks guests were photographer Lori Waselchuk, whose new book is “Grace Before Dying,” images of the hospice at Angola, and Julie Klam, author of “Love at First Bark: How Saving a Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself.” WWNO, 89.9 FM. And don’t forget you can hear podcasts of past broadcasts here.

& Sunday the Maple Leaf Bar Poetry series features poet Ruben Quesada reading from and signing his new book, Next Extinct Mammal, with a grant from Poets & Writers, followed by an open mic. Starts around 3 pm in the back patio. Apologies for the listing mixup last week, especially to poet Murray Shugars who was there two weeks ago and to poets Joseph Makkos, Edwin Perry and Nick Demske who didn’t get mentioned last week, but who were fabulous. Perry is also the publisher of Plumberries Press in Milwaukee who brought some fabulous chapbooks along for sale and read from his authors.

& On Monday the New Orleans Haiku Society has their monthly meeting at the Milton Latter Memorial Library at 6 p.m. The group was running a haiku contest at last week’s Japan Fest at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Look for a winner announcement soon. I forget what the prize is. For me, the prize was taking a moment between the quiet of the Go room and the frantic Taiko drummers to pen a few lines.

& Also on Monday, the Writer’s Block is back at the amphitheater across from Jackson Square at 9 p.m. Hosted by Kate Smash there is no mic and no list and performers of all forms are welcome to participate. Come on out and give the wandering tourists a taste of New Orleans literary culture.

& On Tuesday Donald Goodman and Thomas Head discuss and sign their book, The Happy Table of Eugene Walter: Southern Spirits in Food and Drink; An Ardent Survey of Southern Beverages and a Grand Selection of Southern Dishes Employing Spiritous Flavoring (my god, that’s a mouthful). A southern Renaissance man, Eugene Walter (1921-98) was a pioneering food writer, a champion of southern foodways and culture, and a legendary personality among food lovers. The Happy Table introduces a new generation of readers to Walter’s culinary legacy, is a revelation to anyone interested in today’s booming scene in vintage and artisanal drinks–from bourbon and juleps to champagne and punch–and a southern twist on America’s culinary heritage.. The authors are Walter’s literary executor, Donald Goodman, and food writer Thomas Head. Garden District Books at 5:30 p.m.

& Tuesday’s at midnight (or does that make it Wednesday?) VASO Ultra Loung hosts a weekly spoken word event Poets Corner & Open Mic hosted by Smut the Poet, with The Letter 10 Band. Poets who perform with the band are given priority. (I’m not a spoken word guy, but I did this in DC recently with an open mic jazz combo who quickly grabbed my rhythm and fell right in. It was a blast). The hosts are trying to keep a “positive vibe” and their Facebook page states “you can keep all your songs that’s all bout killing and how many drugs you sell at home home at home.” To which OW says: Word.

& Get out your Beatle boots out on Wednesday and head over to Octavia books for a presentation and booksigning with New Orleans-based Beatles expert Bruce Spizer featuring his new book, Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records. Local singer/guitarist Joe Barbara will also join us to perform all of our favorite Beatles favorites. It all coincides with the 49th anniversary of the Beatles first record, “Love Me Do,” — released on Parlophone 4949. Beatles For Sale on Parlophone Records covers all of the singles, albums and extended play discs issued by the Beatles in the U.K. from 1962 through 1970. Each record is given a separate chapter, which tells the stories behind how the songs appearing on the disc were written and recorded. Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books

& On Thursday meet the man who single handidly saved my Thanksgiving turkey one year (man those elecric roaster cook fast), Alton Brown, who will be at Octavia Books. Three years ago Brown chose Octavia Books for the launch of FEASTING ON ASPHALT: The River Run, a River Road food Oddyssey that started in Plaquemines Parish on motorcycles and roared right past Baton Rouge’s Junior League and onto the book shelf of every foodie in America. Now, he is returning for a talk and booksigning to celebrate his new book, GOOD EATS 3: The Later Years. As Good Eats enjoys its 14th season on the Food Network, its popularity continues unabated. Fans can’t get enough of Alton Brown’s wildly inventive, science-geeky, food-loving spirit. It’s no wonder, then, that the first two volumes in STC’s Good Eats series were New York Times bestsellers. Wednesday, Oct. 19 at Octavia Books at 6 p.m. Note: Because of expected demand, you must purchase a ticket (available in advance) to guarantee a signed copy. Tickets are available in advance at Octavia Books. I can’t imagine this isn’t going to be one of the busiest events in a while.

I should have been in bed an hour ago but it’s a frenetically fantastic week so I’m going to put this to bed and put a quarter in the stupid jar for every typo I find tomorrow. At this rate, I can probably afford to pay a copy editor soon. And with so many events to choose from, ;ke the guy on the radio says, get out and here some live, local literature. And don’t forget to buy a book at one of these events or at your local bookstore.

Happy Birthday ‘Rette October 9, 2011

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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October 9 is Everette Maddox’s birthday. Happy Birthday, ‘Rette. There are no special observances scheduled for today. There is a featured reader at the Maple Leaf, followed by an open mic. I believe I will read a few poems, and pour a dram of well scotch in the man’s memory beneath the plaque in the patio that is his sole memorial.

I’m more in the mood of “The Picture” than the poem below, but the one selected is more fitting for the occasion. Still, the closing stanza of “The Picture” are to my mind a better epitaph than the one on the plaque at the Maple Leaf, which reads “He was a mess.”

Oh if this moment
should indeed prove
to be the corner
I’ve spent thirty-five years
painting myself into

think only this of me

That one more cheap camera
has shattered
against the world’s beauty.

The poem below and all of the 13 Original Poems are available online (including a picture of the cover) here. I have inserted what must be a missing article in brackets.

LINES ON HIS THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY

On a hill high above
the mild October day
I stand, heroic, hands
clasped behind my back,
as the last musket’s
crack fades
and the smoke drifts away
from the place where the famous
battle of my youth was fought.
Who won? Who lost?
Who knows? My speech,
which I seem to have misplaced,
tells. Oh well:
myself and loves and grey
uniform were not among
the casualties, quite; though
a gold button dangles.
Now we’ll bind the wounds,
free the slaves, and set up
(oh shrewdly!) a national shrine
in the decaying mansion
of my body: post cards,
stuffed possums, and (out back)
whiskey to be sold
[to] such emissaries
from the glacial future
as have coin to spend

Odd Words October 6, 2011

Posted by The Typist in books, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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“What is the nature of the search? you ask. Really it is very simple; at least for a fellow like me. So simple that it is easily overlooked. The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life.”
— Walker Percy in The Moviegoer

As a man who is trying to crawl out from hum-drum in search of the best book and literary events, let’s start with a group I haven’t encountered before, and get to Walker Percy later.

I’m going to jump ahead a week and call out an event at Tipitina’s on Oct. 13 sponsored by a group calling itself the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance. It’s the first I’ve heard of them in two years of collecting literary listings for New Orleans but they have a fairy impressive line up for their first public show, featuring feature performances by Amanda Boyden, Bill Loehfelm, Gian Smith, Kelly Harris-DeBerry, Mat Johnson and Terri Stoor. There is a $5 cover. Doors at 7, show at 8. The Peauxdunque website says the group was founded in 2007 and have a long mission statement that boils down to: Write or die.

& so to the listings…

& Tonight Octavia Books will host ex-pat Catharine Savage Brosman (currently resident in Houston; our condolences) professor emerita of French at Tulane University reading from and signing her eight collection of poems, UNDER THE PERGOLA. She is the author of numerous books of French literary history and criticism, two volumes of nonfiction prose, and seven collections of poetry, including most recently Range of Light and Breakwater. Thursday Oct. 6.at 6 p.m., Octavia Books.

& Also on tonight (Thursday) 17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series once again brings in the big names, presenting a reading and signing by ANNA RABINOWITZ. Rabinowitz has published four volumes of poetry: Present Tense, The Wanton Sublime: A Florilegium of Whethers and Wonders, Darkling: A Poem, and At the Site of Inside Out. She has written the librettos for The Wanton Sublime, a monodrama with original music by Tarik O’Regan, and Darkling, a multi-media opera with music by Stefan Weisman. Darkling excerpts have been performed in many venues, and a full-length production ran for three weeks Off-Broadway. A semi-staged concert version traveled to Europe. Darkling’s latest incarnations are a CD from Albany Records, and a bi-lingual German-English translation from Luxbooks, Weisbaden, Germany. She is editor and publisher emerita of the nationally distributed literary journal, American Letters & Commentary and is a vice-president of the Poetry Society of America and a director of American Opera Project

& On Friday Maple Street Book Shop (the one on Maple Street) asks: Those Chicken Soup books never really soothed the soul of the yats and dats, did it? Well, Yvonne Perret has the cure for what ails us. She’ll be reading and discussing Yat Wit: Chicken Gumbo for the New Orleans Soul on Thursday, October 6, 2011, 6:00 P.M. A Bunny Matthews cover of Vic and Nattly, match. (I’m waiting for Chicken Soup for the Vegan Soul).

&On Friday, NOMA begins its back-by-popular-demand presentation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Bestoff Sculpture Garden. It’s not even listed on the museum web site so I’m afraid it might be sold out in advance again. Sorry if you missed it.(Hey, Gercan, is it just Shakespeare or William Shakespeare? Templeton stole my style book again).

&You might have to console yourself with a visit to the NOMA exhibit Bookmarks: The Artist’s Response to Text, which runs through Nov. 28.

&On Saturday, the New Orleans Haiku Society joins a host of other presenters for the museum’s annual Japan Fest. Earthquake and Japan by Kojin Karatani, a hand-made, limited edition book published by the Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing, will also be available for $15. All proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.I don’t know what plans my son had for Saturday afternoon, but there’s no way I’m missing Kaminari Taiko (these guys make Karl Palmer look like a piker).

& OK, I usually skip the kiddie stuff but since Maple Street’s story time on Saturday will feature stories about llamas, I get to post a link to this. Miss Maureen reads from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm on Saturday, Oct. 8. Just don’t get me started on Llamas with Hats. Ah, the things you learn from little children. OK, from 16 years olds boys.

& I almost didn’t list this for the same reason I will never darken the doorway of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the decision of the restaurant chain to move their headquarters out of New Orleans after Katrina. I recommend you join me in boycotting them as well, and steering tourists to the other fine steak houses in town. Still here it is. Just remember that sizzling in butter started a few blocks further up Broad Street .

& On Sunday, Oct. 9 The Pirate Alley Faulkner Society and the he Louisiana State Museum will host a book launch for Randy Fertel’s THE GORILLA MAN AND THE EMPRESS OF STEAK: A New Orleans Family Memoir, at 4:00 p. m. The reception at the Cabildo will feature food, wine, and music in the style of Professor Longhair by jazz musician Armand St Martin. RSVPs can be made by e-mail to: faulkhouse@aol.com

& Also this Sunday Poet Murray Shugars reads from his work followed by an open mic at the Maple Leaf Bar, the longest running poetry series in the South, founded by Everette Maddox. Shugars gave an excellent reading last Saturday at the Milton Latter Memorial Library Poetry Buffett. If you miss him there, don’t miss him here. And I might mention that Sunday is Everette Maddox’s birthday, so if you don’t buy a shot of bar scotch to pour beneath his plaque and read something of his during open mike, well, I don’t want to start throwing around words like “curse” or “geis” lightly but when They stop bothering to send even reject slips and that special birthday poem makes your partner cry (not in a good way) and start packing, don’t say you weren’t warned.

&On Monday Crescent City Books will launch a new monthly literary salon beginning Oct 10, 7-9, featuring Nigerian poet Niyi Osundare & his new book: City Without People. If it’s like last weeks wonderful Lafcadio Hearn event, notice the sign on the locked door telling you to call the store so Micheal can let you in.

& On Tuesday, Oct. 11 Octavia Books will host also host Fertel and THE GORILLA MAN AND THE EMPRESS OF STEAK.

& A week from today Octavia will host a reading and booksigning with New Orleans writer Melinda Palacio celebrating the release of her debut novel, OCOTILO DREAMS. Palacio is an accomplished poet and writer who grew up in South Central Los Angeles and now lives in Santa Barbara and New Orleans, and is a regular visitor to the Maple Leaf poetry readings when she is in town. She holds an M.A. in comparative literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz. A 2007 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow and a 2009 poetry alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, she co-edits Ink Byte Magazine, writes a column for online journal La Bloga

& Just down the road a piece on Oct. 14-16, Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing at Loyola University will host its first conference, The Moviegoer at 50. Walker Percy’s debut novel, it beat out Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road for the 1962 National Book Award. Keynote speaker will be Jay Tolson, considered one of Percy’s most respected biographers and a lively commentator on contemporary culture, politics, society and religion. For a complete list of panels and events and the cost, visit the Center’s website.

Finally, several writing and manuscript contest and announcements.

& Trembling Pillow Press announces the Bob Kaufman Book Prize, with entries open from Sept 15-Nov 15. There is a 25.00 fee and manuscripts will be judged by Bernadette Mayer. The winning manuscript will be published in 2012 by the press. Online submissions are accepted at the press’ newly redesigned website at tremblingpillowpress.com

& 411 NOLA is sponsoring The Poetic Sould contest in concert with the spoken word event WRITE, NOLA! POETRY FESTIVAL. Judge will be Asia Rainey. The contest encourages young poets with the first guideline: The Poetic Soul Contest accepts entries form all writers aged 14 and up regardless of their location, their level of writing experience and whether or not they have published their work in the past. Poems previously published elsewhere are welcome. Poems must be written or performed in English. There is a $5 poem entry fee and winners will be published on 411 NOLA. There are also cash prizes for first and second place, and winners will also receive copy of Rainey’s book SOUL CHANT.

&Bayou Magazine, the biannual journal of the University of New Orleans creative writing program, announces the third annual James Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction and the new Kay Murphy Prize for Poetry. Both contests carry a $500 prize and publication in Bayou Magazine. Both have an entry reading fee that includes a years subscription to the journal. Submissions are open Oct. 1 – Dec. 31. Details are on the website.

Everybody was Kung Fu Writing October 4, 2011

Posted by The Typist in books, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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“[Bruce Lee’s] poetry tends to focus on the longing for the beloved and the incompletion of the self. In Eastern thought, this is actually not depressing subject matter, for it simply infers to the completion and dependent harmony of things: the material and the immaterial, the yin, the yang…”

Yes you read that right. That Bruce Lee.

“To the Western world, Kung-Fu means kicking the bejeezus out of stuff and smashing boards with your noggin and fighting dudes named after knives with knives and doing the splits while you whomp a dude in the gonads and generally just doing a lot of violent and destructive motions that make you a “man”. But “kung-fu” literally translates to “human achievement”. To practice Kung-Fu did not originally pertain to a martial art, it refers to the process of one’s training, to the strengthening of one’s skills, to the perfection and intersection of mind and body. A chef’s kung-fu is in his/her preparation of their ingredients, not in their Iron Chef impression. A poet’s kung-fu is in their practice, in their imitations, in their reading and their reviewing of poetry.”

I am starting Tai Chi again shortly, and from my first studies of that art I learned the proper way to bow to one’s master. In Kung Fu (to which Tai Chi is related), one makes a fist with one hand, and places a flat hand over the fist. This represents a book. These are are about the perfection of yourself, not the destruction of others, in spite of all of the horrible movies (and the handful of wonderful ones) that portray it otherwise.

“Since You Left”
by Bruce Lee

My boat glides down the tranquil river,
Beyond the orchard which borders the bank.

I leave you my poems.
Read them.

A Murder on Fortin Street. October 3, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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Somehow the return of the murder of crows to the tree in the next block behind my house lacks the Tin Pan Alley charm of the swallows of Capistrano. It is still a marker of the seasons; the crows come home to the Fairgrounds with the horses, flock to the track as the rake works the course, anxious for the coming time of scattered hot dogs along the grandstand rail. I have expected them since the short-course starting gate was hauled back from its summer home in the back parking lot along Gentilly Boulevard to just past the end of Mystery Street, the brightly colored slot numbers substituting for the change of leaves in this evergreen city. Fall is surely just around the corner.

Anglo culture have painted crows blackest black in their imaginations, carrion eaters of the battlefield from the most ancient of lays to the mythic hero. Then there were Odin’s servants Huginn and Muninn. The Christian assimilists of the Middle Ages could not have the servants of an unsavory character like Odin All Father given any stature. Not all cultures see Crow this way, and somewhere along the way I cam to understand the place of Raven and Crow in Native American culture, as tricksters, storytellers and message carriers between the world, and to me they entered into the mythological space of intermediaries reserved by most for the angels.

To hear them back reminds me to take my morning cigarette on the front stoop and not in back, to once again watch the thoroughbreds exercising in the morning across the street, to compare the breast-stroke flight of the crows with the loping of the horses, warming myself with coffee against the slight chill of October; to see in the animal kingdom, both the wild and the tame, the cycling of the year into a new season in a place where the only native tree to change its colors is the cypress. I lived for a time where the pumpkin and jam stands nestled beneath the turning trees but here the signs are more subtle. We are halfway between Equinox and Thanksgiving, waiting for the overture in that play of mortality against the fecundity of Autumn harvest observed long ago by picnics among the tombs.

In Spring we embrace the return of life. In Fall we slowly let it go, give up another of our years and live in the moment, in the feast my pagan friends have just celebrated at Mahbon and which my civil, Christian neighbors will wait until the end of November to observe. Have another glass of ale or wine and another helping of food before it’s gone. Be present in the moment among friends. Recount the old family stories. Ask not for whom the crows call. You will know that only when your chair sits empty on October mornings. For now welcome them back with a cigarette raised and cupped in prayerful hands like a censor as they fly past, and listen in their calls for hints of the stories they could tell you of their summer place.

The Land of Nod October 2, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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Batteries run down until all you can manage is the rumbling whump of a single revolution of the engine, the effort dimming the console lights. Drifting in and out like a cheap radio, this must be what the heroin nod is like but turned inside out, not the chemical relaxation but an anxious exhaustion in which keeping your head up and your mind focused seems like some Marvel comic feat, able to leap tall piles of laundry and books with a single bound; a devolution from the pinnacle of homo erectus, unable to manage the triumph of proper posture, completely mystified by the intricate tools for cleaning the apartment, subsisting on a diet of things easily plucked from the cabinet and fridge.

Tea and cigarettes. Books and blankets. I hear it’s a gorgeous day out, and the game is on. Let me know how it turns out.

Mark Folse at the Goldmine October 1, 2011

Posted by The Typist in books, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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An incredible sensation, to stand at the microphone at which some of the nation’s finest poets have appeared, in the exact same saloon where some of the earliest adherents of the Beat movement stood and read before they split for the coast. There is a hilarious scene in David Simon’s Treme in which Davis McAlary is interviewing local musical character Coco Robicheaux, who begins lighting votive spirit candles while talking about the radio station’s move from its old Congo Square location to the sterile design-by-Disney upper French Market and Robicheaux says “you don’t get the good ancestor vibe here”. There is a tremendous ancestor vibe at the Goldmine Saloon and it was an honor to perform there. (No chickens were harmed in the making of this podcast).

Mark Folse reading at 17 Poets! at the Goldmine Saloon

Mark Folse reading from PHONO GRAPH and other works at 17 Poets! at the Goldmine Saloon.

Mark Folse at 17 Poets!.mp3

The chapbook PHONO GRAPH is available online here.

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