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Odd Words March 29, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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Paper Tuesday, exam today. This, and more later.

& Tonight at 17 Poets! New Orleans fiction writer, poet, artist and teacher Sunday Shae Parker. Her writing has appeared in Louisiana: In Words, New Orleans What Can’t Be Lost, a handful of poetry magazines and the margins of countless student essays. She has a book review forthcoming in the New Orleans Review. Thursday, March 29 at 7:30 pm.

& Garden District Books features John Klingman presenting his book New in New Orleans Architecture. From the New Orleans Arena to the Cotton Mill, this pictorialcompilation of contemporary architecture highlights eighty of thebest projects completed during the past fifteen years

Koyaanisqatsi, Con’t. March 27, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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Coffee. Smoke. Bath . Coffee. Smoke. Drive. Read. Eat. Work. Smoke. Coffee. Stare. Class. Coffee. Read. Stare. Smoke. Work. Read. Class. Eat. Stare. Study. Smoke. Eat. Work. Read. Smoke. Stare.

                                                                           [Dream? Love? Sleep? ]

Sex on a Hot Tin Roof March 25, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Theater, Toulouse Street.
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“I was thinking about what might entice the crowd in on a beautiful day in the Quarter and I thought: put sex in the title,” moderator Robert Bray explained, and the title William’s Sexual Politics is partly why I find myself at the Tennessee Williams Research Center.

How do you resist a title like that, suggesting Stella on the staircase, Maggie astraddle a conquered Brick?

I had started out in a room full of biographers talking about presidents, dutifully scribbling in my notebook until I came to the end of a line, stopped, and asked: what am I doing here? I scoured the program until I found the panel I had noticed earlier, the one with the come hither description.

This was the first time in several festivals attended I set foot in the Tennessee Williams Research Center, which is usually filled with academics and their acolytes, the people who own every word every written by or about Williams. In dog-eared hardback. They sit through days of panel discussions that start out with a session for the reading of abstracts. If two hours listening to academics reading abstracts isn’t enough to keep you away you should seriously step back from your life and reconsider.

The room at the Historic New Orleans Collection where the master classes are held is the porcelain blue tea room for the well dressed lady’s book club sort who, with their walkers, fill the place with just a scattering of writers hunched in the front and another set in the very back where they stumbled in late. The Research Center is just as formal a space but instead of the pearls and porcelain chatter of the Collection this room is hushed as a temple, the last panelists renewing their long-standing acquaintance with the next set. The walls are a barely discernible light olive, the lighting largely directed at the portraits of vague historic figures in the front (is that Governor Claiborne?) and modern canvases of New Orleans in the back: a second line, a shotgun street, a scene out of Katrina. I take a seat under one of the few spotlights in the ceiling to I can take notes.

Moderator Bray starts out with William’s cover article in Time magazine in 1961 which called him a “kind of peddler of sex…intent on shock” and went on to catalogue play-by-play his written sins: rape, homosexuality, nymphomania, alcoholism, drug addiction, castration, masturbation, cannibalism. It concluded, Bray said, but calling him the world’s greatest living playwright.

David Savran, co-editor of the Journal of American Drama and Theater and Distinguished Professor of Theater at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, offered a quick explanation: “In historical terms, the period from 1946 until the early sixties was the most conservative period in American history, a time when McCarthy linked Communism and homosexuality, and here homosexuality was central to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire.j Williams was making the theater going public confront issues they didn’t want to confront but where incredibly curious about.

Will Brantley of Middle Tennessee University quickly agreed. In plays like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Sweet Bird of Youth Williams built a play around the penis, took a word that couldn’t be said in his era and “made it the center of his drama [but] the controversial was presented as symbolic and metaphorical so it stays with us.” Savran also noted the intense homophobic reaction to Williams in criticism through the author’s career.

Actress and filmmaker Jodie Markell, the one woman on the panel disagreed, with categorizing Williams as sexually political. “I think of Tennessee Williams as a poet, not political but writing from the heart about what makes people want to connect, what makes them want to desire each other. He speaks to so many people about human vulnerability. It was so universal..how brave it was to explore these territories without being perverse and not judgmental of his characters.”

Bray asked about depictions of Blance as a nymphomaniac, and Savran again asserted this was w symptomatic of a time when “any woman of strong desires was called a nymphomaniac.” Markell says was drawn to Williams as an actress and now as a director of The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond because “I was interested in the women in Williams who were too sexual, too bright, too too too…women who project their desires onto idealized and flawed men.”

Ah, finally the audience were (OK, I was) being released from prurient curiosity and into the meat and bone of what the Research Center programs are about, the reason we were all here: peering deep into Williams and finding ourselves.

Bray paraphrased Night of the Iguana: “nothings disgusts me except intentional cruelty”. Savran chimed in immediately, “Williams’ theater is a theater without villains [but one] of connections, not villains but antagonists of desire. In so many of his plays there the meeting and the parting, ” which Savran said is found in Chekov as well. Markell said Williams was interested in sexual alienation. “He enjoyed the play of how opposites attract.”

Bray returned to sexual politics, suggesting that characters in Williams approach sex with a manipulative praticallity, citing Maggie and Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie stuffing her daughter’s bra. He suggested Williams women were sometimes sexual predators. Markell agreed with the practical sexuality of William’s women and said that is what her film is about, but disagreed with the idea of the women as sexual predators.

The panel also considered the differences in endings between Williams’ plays and the film versions. “He was up against the Production Code Administration, which not only censored but encouraged happy endings.” One panelist (my notes get blurry here) suggested . “Williams wanted people to supply their own ending, to leave the end ambiguous,” and Savran agreed. “Modern drama is about asking not answering questions. It doesn’t tell us how we should think or feel.”

Coffee. Drink. Repeat. March 25, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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How many times must you chew each bite of a Lucky Dog to consider it eating?. Three?

Hell, I was in a hurry. It was 1:55 and I had promised people I would be inside at two and I hadn’t eaten all day because I woke up at 4:15 to take a piss and never went back to sleep, microwaved my first cup of coffee at 4:30 a.m. and one after another never stopped and now I know the numbers of all the emergency rooms in town and the helpful website the sheriff’s office has to check who is in Central Lockup the kind man on the the end of the phone told me about.

I forgive my parents for everything.

I was going to have time to go to Camellia Grill between the festival events, I told myself over yet another cup of coffee, notebook in hand. I was certain of this. Why eat anything else when there was a chill cheese omelet in my future? And so I went from room to room in the hotel, dutifully scribbling the notes for the unpaid articles I over-comitted myself to, sat through panels with a cup of coffee nestled under my notebook, caught myself yawning uncontrollably and at some point, my eyes drifting shut lake a man too long in the car and hypnotized by the snaking highway.

Chili, onions and mustard, please

Any of the dozens of fortune tellers in Jackson Square where I stopped for my tube steak brunch could have told me I would be standing outside of Muriel’s in plain site of the hostesses wolfing down a Lucky Dog like a man just rescued from a lifeboat relieved to not eat ensign tartare. Call it a perverted optimism. And hat’s why I’m frying up hot sausage and slicing fresh french bread(just inches from the coffee pot) for a po-boy now that I’m home and drinking a 10% Blockhead instead of coffee. Alcohol, perhaps. I’m going to try to make up my food deficit before I work on the sleep deficit. I’m thinking of putting on some Sun Ra when I’m ready for my well-deserved nap. Never mind that trying to nap to Sun Ra is like trying to make love to a Spike Jones record.

It’s because I know I probably won’t nap.

I have had way to much coffee today, two new books I promised myself I wouldn’t buy and a steno full of notes to at least read over and consider typing up (tomorrow says some voice in my head) and so instead I fire up the TV after I find the dusty remote under a pile of papers and books. It is going to take me almost as long as the reign of Henry the VII to finish the Tudors. Watching television is a form of desperation but I surrender myself to an episode of the megalomaniac costume drama, if only to see the sumptuous costumes lying on the floor. For some reason I hate sleep, hate the waste of it even as it pulls me down onto the come hither pillow and under the borrowed comforter that still smells slightly of someone else’s shampoo, toss and turn through it as if pacing my cage, wake from it constantly from vivid dreams and I’m sure I spend the entire night in REM sleep because I check the clock at all hours of the night with the images still in my head.

I forgot to take my pills last night.

I wake up this morning like every other as if someone had thrown the arcing bar switch with my mind racing and even if I’d taken my pills somehow I will them not to work because I’m not sure I want it to stop, only the forgotten obligations suddenly remembered, the pointless scouring of tomorrows agenda which will unfold like the stripes on the road whether I want it to or not, stop only the claws sunk deep in my head which rip open the scars at the slightest provocation. I take the pills because I want that band around my chest to pop the one I’ve felt since I can remember, the one I dutifully strap on every morning of my own sick volition, the one the doctors tell me is merely anxiety but its not a disorder, it’s who I am and I’m afraid if it stops I will be someone else. I just want it to come out not as panic but as compulsive poetry, as stories someone will read again in adulthood and forgive their parents that book at Christmas, forgive them everything.

I got up at seven this morning and finished this by eight.

An Odd Sense of Color March 24, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, literature, Louisiana, New Orleans, Theater, Toulouse Street.
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OK, I just have to say it: it was Odd that three of the four panelists on the Tennessee Williams Festival panel New Orleans Free People of Color were white. The garrulous playwright John Guare tried to steal the show and not in a good way, and managed to annoy mystery writer Barbara Hambly when she disagreed with him but wouldn’t stop talking long enough to let her say her piece. Guare put his hand on the back of her chair at some point and it was funny to see Hambly leaning away from him to the point of tipping over.

Guare is the author of a successful Broadway play A Free Man of Color, Hanbly has penned a dozen mysteries featuring the Creole private detective Benjamin January, and the panel was rounded out by Daniel Sharfstein, author of The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America and Gregory Osborne, a child of the Creole diaspora to Los Angeles in the post-World War II period and an expert on the subject who manages the archives at the New Orleans public library.

Sharfstein and Osborne thankfully stole the show away from Guare. Sharfstein’s book drew out of a a stint of volunteer work in South Africa where he met a Black woman who had been registered as Colored (of mixed race) by a census taken who was a friend of the woman’s father. He recounted a fascinating tale of a couple prosecuted f under South Carolina’s miscegenation laws, a charge from which they were exonerated after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that it was impossible to determine if the woman’s grandfather had himself been pure Black, which would have made her an octaroon and invalidated the marriage.

Hanbly said she switched from writing science fiction to mysteries because “I wanted to write a mystern novel about a free man of color since I was in high school [and] a mystery is the best way to investigate a society because the character has a reason to be explaining” his milieu in the course of his work. Her central character is about viewing the state of antebellum Blacks and the through the lens of color. When she spoke of the history of the gens de colour it was clear she has done her research over decades of writing about her character.

Osborne, who worked closely with historian of New Orleans Creoles Gwendolyn Hall, shared the details of his own life growing up in a Creole family in which his grandmother still spoke Creole French with her cousins and a thumbnail history of the free people of color in Louisiana. Growing up “I knew I had deep roots here and my father would call himself Creole but I didn’t know what that meant,” he explained.

He is writing a book looking at several hundred interracial relationships, mostly in New Orleans and dating back as far as the uprising in San Domingue (Haiti). In the eighteen and early nineteenth century a white man could leave his inheritance to his Creole family if he had no friends or other family in Europe or New Orleans, but as the antebellum American authorities began to crack down and categorize all persons they declared legally Black extensive searches were made for relatives to deny these families their inheritance.

Guare began his play–a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize–after his friend the African-American director George Wolf asked him to write a play about race. “Why me, an old white guy?” he asked, but never explained Wolf’s answer. Wolf wanted a play about the history of race in Louisiana and do it as a Restoration comedy, sexually charged comedies of manners with their collision of subjects and elaborate costumes explains why the show was a Broadway hit with a long run. The only criticism he heard was of his historically accurate depiction of a Black man opening slaves. True to a restoration comedy, his protagonist has a hard time keeping him pants zipped in the present of both white and women of color, which explains why a serious subject would manage a long Broadway run.

The panel managed a good thumbnail sketch of the history of free people of color, mostly through the contributions from Osborne and Hambly, with Sharfstein filling in the details of race and miscegenation from the Revolutionary War through the start of Jim Crow. And it is hard not to want to see the mounting of Guare’s play at Louisiana State University in the fall, if only to see how such a serious subject plays as a comedy of manners.

It’s Like Gone With The Wind on Mescaline March 24, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, New Orleans, Theater, Toulouse Street.
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“Its like Gone with the Wind on mescaline.”
— Character John Kelso in the film adaptation of John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

I was going to write a short review of last night’s Literary Late Night: Lafcadio Hearn but frankly it was one of those events where you had to be there. That and I left my program on the bar at Cafe Istanbul. Fortunately there is an online copy of the poster and cover, which gives me the names of all the readers and actors to go with my beer-stained notes.

Things started a bit flat with Chris Lane’s initial reading. It’s hard to imagine an MC for Fleur de Tease being too low key but that was just the slow climb up the first hill of the roller coaster. C.W. Cannon and Andrew Vaugt (the latter of Cripple Creek Theater) brought their best game and had the audience in stitches with Hearn’s satirical pieces, especially Vaught’s rendition of the calls of street vendors chronicled by Hearn. Cannon’s delivery of the dryly hilarious “A Visit to New Orleans” by the devil was archly perfect and would have had Mark Twain standing to applaud. Once the players had the audience in their hands the show just got better and better.

I thought at first that spoken word artists Chuck Perkins and Kataalyst Alcindor were too understated in their reading, but in fairness I am used to them in a spoken word/slam environment which calls for a much difference sort of performance. I am still undecided if Kataalyst should have brought his angry to the piece The Indigent Dead, but that may just be my expectation of what he would do with his own work. Reading Hearn’s account of 310 murders in New Orleans with only five persons hung worked in an understated delivery, especially for a New Orleans audience, and as delivered was more in character of a 19th century author than a full on slam performance. And then Perkins brought on the Hip-ocracy belly dancers for his reading of “The Dawn of Carnival” our own private carnival was well underway

Ratty Scurvics was Ratty Scurvics and once again proved that an essential element of stage presence is an animal magnetism that crackles around him like a vast static charge. He was in good voice singing behind the curtain for Trixie Minx’ performance as a clown at a crab boil after Scruvics read “Why Crabs are Boiled Alive”, and Minx’ performance was a fantastic mix of slapstick and burlesque moves. When Madame Mystere of Fleur de Tease came out on her belly riding a dolly and dressed in an alligator mask and tail and not much else for a reading of Hearn’s “The Alligators” you knew you were at a literary event that could only happen in New Orleans.

Yes the festival is supposed to be all about Tennessee but the People Say Project put on a show at Cafe Istanbul with enough tragedy, comedy and sex I am certain Williams would approve.

Creative Non-Memoir March 23, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, literature, memoir, New Orleans, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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Today’s Tennessee Williams Festival panel SPEAK, MEMORY: WRITING THE MEMOIR was Odd. Only one of the four panelists was a true memoirist. Here at Toulouse Street, where Creative Non-Fiction is one of our cornerstones, this made is all the more interesting

Zachary Lazar wrote a book about the killing of his father decades ago by members of the Mafia. Jesmyn Ward wrote a book about the death of five young Black men in her small, Gulf Coast Mississippi town, and Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts has written a book about Harlem, base both on research and on her interactions with the people of Harlem when she moved there in 2002.

Only Claudia Sternbach, author of Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses wrote a true memoir, an account of how kisses mark important points in a person’s life, focusing on her own experience.

Rhodes-Pitt kicked things off by pronouncing “I don’t consider my book a memoir. I write essays and Creative Non-Fiction, the ugliest genre name in all of literature.” Lazar, with one novel under his belt, was up next and said he wanted his second book to be a novel but his publisher refused. “I thought writing it as a novel would be a better way to get readers engaged…I invented dialogue between people I never met and imaginistic descriptions of places I’ve never been. My model was (Truman Capote’s) In Cold Blood.”

Ward, the author of two novels who is working on a memoir, said her book The Men We Reaped is the story of five young men who died in her small hometown of DeLisle, Mississippi. “I knew these young men … and I wanted to try to get them to live again on the page.” By their author’s descriptions, all these books except Sternbach’s skirt the boundary between memoir, creative non-fiction and journalism.

Sternbach’s book, a compendium of kisses and how each played a prominent role in her life, an intimate personal history of kisses sounds like memoir gazing straight at the navel, she asserts that “I don’t think memoir is a style of writing that’s predictably about the author. I think it’s more universal. People come up to me all the time and say, ‘ah, that happened to me’.” The editorial board board chair of Memoir Journal and edit in chief of their publicaiton Memoir (and) has been a daily newspaper columnist and wrote her first memoir in 1999. Between the column and the memoir she said she had “lost a few friends but made some, too.”

Ward, winner of the National Book Award for fiction for her second novel Salvage the Bones, wrote Reaped to explore “why we would have an epidemic like that happen in a place where I live, a small down on the Mississippi Gulf Coast?” The deaths all took place in a short period of time, and her book could just have easily been a non-fiction title had she not chosen to make it a personal exploration of five young men she knew before their deaths. Asked by moderator Ted O’Brien to compare working on this book to working on a novel, she said it was much more difficult.

Rhodes-Pitts, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Harper’s, Vogue and Essence, said her book Harlem is Nowhere grew out of a move to Harlem in 2002, where she was working on a novel in progress. She would walk the streets of her new neighborhood. “I was constantly inundated with people’s stories and the conversation always turned to something that happened forty or fifty years ago.” Hearing the stories she set her novel aside and wrote instead about “this place that held such a large place in African-American culture.” She now plans to make this the first part of a trilogy, with books on the African-American experience in Haiti and the American South to follow.

Lazar is also a novelist, whose book Sway fictionalizes an actual meeting between the Rolling Stones and the Manson family. “I found myself in the head of Keith Richards,” he said to the laughter of the crowed, “and strange as it sounds he was the voice of reason” in the story. He wanted his father’s story to be a novel at first because “fiction is always a weird sort of autobiographical work. I’m interested in appropriating people and figure out what they’re like.” He said he didn’t mind writing about difficult things like his father’s death, because “all writing is that, or it’s hard to make it interesting to the reader.”

The panel may have wandered far from its announced topic, but we live in an age saturated with memoir and navel gazing blogs like, um, never mind. Face it, we are not all Joan Didion. I left the room inspired not to open a new Word doc and Kindle my way from an online audience of hundreds into several more hundreds but instead itching to spend far too much money adding to my monstrously unstable “to read” pile. Except perhaps Reading Lips, unless I can get a deeply discounted copy to send to the notoriously crabby memoir bashing Neil Genzlinger at the New York Times Review of Books.

Odd Words March 22, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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“How to write beautiful and 100% true nonfiction.”

First you take a magic wand. No, wait. First you probably read this review, then decide if you want to read the book. If you ever worked as a journalist in the days when working a microrecorder without a foot pedal (and no, the newspaper wasn’t going to spring for any such fancy thing) required a reliance on notes by people who never learned shorthand, notes that in my case were legible to me for about 72 hours after which they became cuniform gibberish.

Do you something approaching accuracy or something approaching truth? Do you want to be moved or run a ruler down a table of figures? What the hell is truth anyway? Swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth then try to explain under cross-examination why your truth differs from someone else’s truth.

The closet you will come to Truth here are these listings, and once I start inserting my own remarks and not just cutting and pasting from the bookstores web sites or email people send me we have started down the slippery, black-diamond slope. And who says the author is as wonderful as the website or the New York Times or Publisher’s Weekly claims?

I’m afraid if I add another book to that unread pile, it will come crashing down and take out several pedestrians and close the street for the rest of the day, but that doesn’t mean I won’t.

Rant over. Listings begin here.

& Yes, its Tennessee Williams Festival week and I put up the listings through Friday in a separate post. I think I’ll do the same for the weekend listings as well. In fact I may have already done so by the time you read this. (Forget truth. Forget accuracy. We’re fucking with the time-space continuum here and there’s no telling what will happen).

& 17 Poets hosts poet and songwriter Jessica Ruby Radcliffe is the child of an Irish Gypsy and a Spanish aristocrat. She was taught by nuns until the age of 13 , when she hit the road. Her writing has been published in several magazines which she cannot remember because there was no money involved. She has performed throughout the USA and in England, Ireland, Canada, Japan, France, Italy and Hong Kong.She created and presented the performance group BOA Poets for a few years in the 1990′s. Jessica does not read very often and is delighted to be coming to The Goldmine. Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m.

& Also on Thursday, at the Maple Street Books Bayou location Alex V. Cook will perk up your weekend with his book Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in Louisiana’s Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls. A map, a journal, a snapshot of what goes on in the little shacks off main roads, Louisiana Saturday Night provides an indispensable and entertaining companion for those in pursuit of Louisiana*s quirky and varied nightlife. Thursday, march 22 at 6 p.m. at 3141 Ponce de Leon.

& OK, this goes on the TWF list as well, but it’s so damned New Orleans and one of the few events I know I am absolutely not going to miss: on Friday the Festival presents Literary Late Night: Lafcadio Hearn, a choreographed evening of readings, music, and dance, the People Say Project, Cafe Instanbul at the Healing Center. $15. (Yes I posted “horeographed” in the TFW list. Stop snickering. You probably laugh when you see a Hotard bus in front of you. What is this, 6th grade?)

& Oh, and the Friday routines:spokenwordnola.com’s weekly event at the Red Star Gallery on Bayou Road at 9 pm and the No Love Lost Poetry Reading at the Love Lost Lounge at 5:30 pm. Take you pick, or take two for the same price, as NLLP doesn’t charge a cover.

& On Saturday, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation will host “Between Heaven and Earth: Soothing the Troubled Soul With the Arts of our Ancestors” Two of the world’s top experts on African and African-American culture will speak on art as a healing force in a Jazz & Heritage Foundation symposium on March 24 at the Joy Theater.“Between Heaven and Earth: Soothing the Troubled Soul With the Arts of our Ancestors” will explore the origin of art as a spiritual release from Earthly pain – and its continuing expression in modern culture. Starting at 10 a.m. at the Joy Theater. Lots more detail here.

& This is rich, as in if you go to this you will eat only celery the following day and no, Bloody Mary’s don’t count. Join us at the Royal Sonesta Hotel kickoff of the 4th Annual New Orleans Roadfood Festival for an unforgettable evening that includes food (of course), live music, libations, and books (naturally). Featured authors include:

* Lynne Rossetto Kasper and her producer Sally Swift signing The Splendid Table’s HOW TO EAT WEEKENDS: New Recipes, Stories & Opinions from Public Radio’s Award-Winning Food Show and HOW TO EAT SUPPER: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio’s Award-Winning Food Show;

* Jane Stern and Michael Stern signing ROADFOOD: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 800 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much More;

* Poppy Tooker signing THE CRESCENT CITY FARMERS MARKET COOKBOOK. Books will be available from Octavia Books onsite at the event.

To purchase event tickets ahead and for additonal details on the evening, see go here. Or you can support the station that brings you Susan Larson’s The Reading Life and make a generous pledge to WWNO local public radio here. In the Grand Ballroom of the Royal Sonesta, Friday March 23 at 6 pm

And yes I’m sensing a bit of a competition here between Octavia at the Sonesta and Garden District at the Monteleone.

Octavia will also host the participants over the weekend at Roadfood Street Festival in the French Market.

Saturday, March 24th
1:00 PM – Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift
3:00 PM – Jane and Michael Stern
3:00 PM – Poppy Tooker

Sunday, March 25th
3:00 PM – Jane and Michael Stern

& Sunday in the patio of the Maple Leaf Bar the Maple Leaf Poetry Series hosts at open mike, starting at 3ish or as soon as everyone gets their drink. Bar scotch available at reasonable rates.

& On Monday, Garden District hosts Cory MacLauchlin and Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces. The saga of John Kennedy Toole is one of the greatest stories of American literary history. After writing A Confederacy of Dunces, Toole corresponded with Robert Gottlieb of Simon & Schuster for two years. Exhausted from Gottlieb’s suggested revisions, Toole declared the publication of the manuscript hopeless and stored it in a box. Years later he suffered a mental breakdown, took a two-month journey across the United States, and finally committed suicide on an inconspicuous road outside of Biloxi.

Following the funeral, Toole’s mother discovered the manuscript. After many rejections, she cornered Walker Percy, who found it a brilliant novel and spearheaded its publication. In 1981, twelve years after the author’s death, A Confederacy of Dunces won the Pulitzer Prize. In Butterfly in the Typewriter, Cory MacLauchlin draws on scores of new interviews with friends, family, and colleagues as well as full access to the extensive Toole archive at Tulane University, capturing his upbringing in New Orleans, his years in New York City, his frenzy of writing in Puerto Rico, his return to his beloved city, and his descent into paranoia and depression. Monday, March 26 at 5:30 p.m.

& Mondays at 9 p.m. The Writers Block meets on the steps/amphitheater on Decatur across from Jackson Square. Readings and all other performers welcome.

Even if you’re not crazy about the TWF there is so much going on this weekend you have no excuse not to get out and buy a book at your favorite local, independent bookstore. Yes, I see that tiny little spot on your bookshelf where one book is leaning just ever so slightly. You better fill that spot before that one tipping book pushes that entire shelf onto the floor.

Odd Words: A Weekend with Tennessee Williams March 22, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Theater, Toulouse Street.
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Here are my weekend picks for the TW Fest. For the complete list, visit the Festival schedule online.

This is supposed to be the weekend listings for the Festival, but I’m going to start out with the last event of Friday Night because this just sounds too good to miss.

Friday

& Literary Late Night: Lafcadio Hearn Think you know New Orleans? Explore the city of yore through a variety show that brings to life the works of Lafcadio Hearn, who in the late 1800s gave New Orleans its provocative reputation for Voodoo mystery, exotic cuisine, and a fecund underbelly.

In this choreographed evening of readings, music, and dance, the People Say Project present artists from the burgeoning Bywater/Marigny theater and performance scene in the heart of the St. Claude arts district. Experience the city’s resilient literary culture while looking back at a figure who left an indelible mark on the world’s image of New Orleans.

& Also on Friday and omitted in the earlier listing (for shame): A Reading from the Poetry and Fiction Contests with Judges Amy Hempel and Julie Kane Why not kick-off the weekend with something new? As part of our organization’s mission to encourage and support new talent, the Festival turns an eye to the next voices in American letters with a reading from our 2012 Fiction and Poetry Contest winners. Hundreds of entries poured into our offices from around the world from writers who have yet to publish a book in their genre.

& Tennessee Williams, Gerontologist? Almost all of his life Williams expressed anxiety over growing old and the ravaging effects of time, and towards the end of his life he became virtually obsessed with aging. Come join us for a discussion to discover how the author depicts the superannuated years in both the comic and tragic veins. 10 a.m. at the Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St.

No doubt this will be a panel on Big Daddy, Violet and other elderly characters, but it puts me in mind of the annual panel I think of as I Knew Tennessee, and the dwindling pole of panelists. Seeing Edward Albee last year was fantastic, but I can’t help but think it will soon be reduced to children he once patted on the head walking down the street.

& The Right to Write: Blacklisting and Its Repercussions The way things are going in this country lately, you probably want to hear how the blacklist ruined dozens of careers during its heyday from the late 1940s until the early 1960s. Panelists will put blacklisting in a historic context, discuss the impact on its victims, and identify some of its lingering effects. Panelists: Michael Bernstein, Lou Dubose, and Victor Navasky Moderator: John Pope. Queen Anne Ballroom of the Monteleone Hotel.

& Intimate and Confidential: Detailing a Moment in History When dealing with history, sometimes it’s more interesting to think small. This can be especially true when dealing with the larger-than-life figures of American Presidents. In this panel, four writers discuss how they used telling details to examine the histories writ large on our political landscape. 11:30 a.m. in the Queen Anne Ballroom.

& Nick Spitzer: Music in the Cultural Conversation Tulane University professor Nick Spitzer is the creator and voice of the public radio gem of a music program, American Routes. Now in its 14th year, American Routes reaches over half a million listeners on 267 outlets, largely because of Spitzer’s unique insights into the way music plays an integral role in our communal life. Whether he’s talking about the bluesmen of Mississippi, the brass bands of New Orleans, a rollicking Tejano band or a worshipping gospel group, Spitzer brings his terrific knowledge to bear on the special ways music both reflects and creates community identity and spirit. Sit back and listen to a man who’s truly a master of the music. 2:30 p.m., La Nouvelle Room, Monteleone.

& Spark and Fire: Poetry Readings Award-winning Louisiana poets Ava Leavell Haymon (Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Prize), Benjamin Morris (Chancellor’s Medal for Poetry/University of Cambridge), and Alison Pelegrin (Akron Poetry Prize) join Louisiana Poet Laureate Julie Kane (Donald Justice Poetry Prize) in a reading and discussion about where the poem originates and how it gets made by frictions as diverse as memory, social criticism, climate change, archetype, natural-cultural-political disaster, and fabulism. Panelist/Readers : Ava Leavell Haymon, Julie Kane, Benjamin Morris, and Alison Pelegrin. Moderator: Darrell Bourque. 2:30 p.m. Muriel’s Jackson Square Restaurant.

& Broomstick by John Biguenet This staged reading is directed by George Judy, Artistic Director of Swine Palace, and features Cristine McMurdo-Wallis. In Broomstick, a witch confesses all: her first love affair, how she discovered her powers, how she has used them. But more than that, it is a funny and frightening return to our childhoods, where we first wrestled with evil and justice. For the witch is a completely unsentimental moralist who knows everything about the human heart — having been both its victim and avenger all her long life — and who metes out inexorable justice, immune to our pleas for mercy, cackling at our excuses. In Broomstick, whiners wind up in casseroles. 6:00 p.m. in the La Nouvelle Ballroom of the Monteleone.

Sunday

& The final day kicks off with Staged Reading of the 2012 Festival One-Act Play Contest Winner
Communication Arts presents a reading of the winning entry in the 2012 Festival’s national One-Act Play Contest. The Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of New Orleans administers and coordinates the competition judging. The winning playwright receives a $1,500 cash prize.10 a.m. in the La Nouvelle Ballroom at the Monteleone.

& A Unique Slant of Light: The Bicentennial History of Art in Louisiana Commissioned by the Bicentennial Commission, A Unique Slant of Light: The Bicentennial History of Art in Louisiana, is a beautiful new book featuring the work of approximately 275 artists and photographers. Editors Michael Sartisky, Ph.D., president of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanties (LEH); and J. Richard Gruber, Ph.D., director emeritus of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art appear with art collector and philanthropist Roger Ogden and artist George Rodrigue to discuss this important work. Panelists: J. Richard Gruber, Roger Ogden, and George Rodrigue. Moderator: Michael Sartisky 10 a.m. in the Royal Ballroom of the Monteleone.

& An Autobiography About My Brother by Justin Kuritzkes Andrew’s brother is about to be executed for killing 25 people. On the eve of his brother’s execution, Andrew looks back on his own life, his brother’s, and the places where they intersect. Also, Andrew lies a lot. The University of New Orleans Department of Film, Theatre, and Communication Arts presents the premiere production of the winning play in the Festival’s 2011 One-Act Play Contest. 11 a.m. in the La Nouvelle Ballroom of the Monteleone.

& Walker Percy: A Documentary Film Pulitzer Prize winner Walker Percy has said his concerns as a writer were with “a theory of man, man as more than organism, more than consumer — man the wayfarer, man the pilgrim, man in transit, on a journey.” And with time-honored classics such as The Moviegoer, the physician turned writer’s wry observations about the meaning of life have long-delighted readers. Festival-goers have the chance to gain a new perspective on one of the South’s greatest literary voices with this special screening of a new documentary about the author.

Through archival film, excerpts of Percy’s work, and interviews with family, friends and scholars, Walker Percy: A Documentary, examines Percy’s own journey. Followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, Win Riley, the film lets audiences become true “Moviegoers” as they learn from this formidable talent. 11:30 am at the Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St.

& Talking Tennessee with Piper Laurie, Bryan Batt, and Christian LeBlanc Join these talented actors as they recount their experiences with Tennessee Williams’ words and works. They’ll discuss our namesake’s imprint on American theater, as well as his inspiration to them as actors. A highlight of the discussion will be Ms. Laurie reminiscing about her time playing the role of Laura Wingfield in the acclaimed 1965 revival of The Glass Menagerie on Broadway opposite Maureen Stapleton’s Amanda, Pat Hingle’s Gentleman Caller, and George Grizzard’s Tom. Facilitated by Foster Hirsch. 1 p.m. in the Royal Ballroom at the Monteleone.

& Cityscapes: Writing the American City in Fact and Fiction Writing about the American city poses special problems and offers particular pleasures, whether you’re a novelist, memoirist, or historian. Of course, writers about New York have the pre- and post-9/11 dilemma, just as writers about New Orleans always write in the shadow of Katrina. Larry Powell discusses his brand new work of history about New Orleans, The Accidental City; Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts talks about writing Harlem is Nowhere; Laura Lippman describes the real city of Baltimore she depicts in her novels; and Susan Larson, who has been reading books about New Orleans for 25 years, moderates. Panelists: Laura Lippman, Larry Powell, and Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts. Moderator: Susan Larson. 1 p.m. in the Queen Anne Ballroom at the Monteleone. You can pretty much count on seeing me there. I’m the old fart in a young man’s hat down in front.

& Laugh and the World Reads with You — Favorite Comic Novels
We read books for many reasons — for enlightenment, for instruction, and for consolation. But we also read to be amused, to be diverted and taken out of ourselves. Every reader’s known the joy of laughing out loud at a funny sentence, then sharing it with an inquiring onlooker. National Book Critics Circle president Jane Ciabattari leads writers in a discussion of favorite comic novels. Bring your favorites too! Panelists: Joshua Clark, Amy Dickinson, Jewelle Gomez and Ted O’Brien. Moderator: Jane Ciabattari. Just taking a wild flyer here, but I think Confederacy of Dunces may come up. Let me know as I’ll be at Streetcar and miss this one. 2:30 p.m. in the Queen Anne Ballroom of the Monteleone.

& And of course, with Festival closes out with Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest Contestants vie to rival Stanley Kowalski’s shout for “STELLAAAAA!!!” in the unforgettable scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. Women contestants are welcome to try a little role reversal and yell for Stanley. Free and open to the public. Prizes will be awarded. 4:15 p.m. on the Pontalbla Building gallery on the Canal Street side.

Ghost Hotel March 20, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, NOLA, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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Today’s poem from Poetry Daily, Looking for The Gulf Motel, reminds me why I have avoided the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It is bad enough to go to Florida, to note the absence of the old aquamarine cinder block motels of my childhood, restaurants without a hint of Jimmy Buffet about them, to remember the vendors all down Highway 90 selling satellite kites. I could probably whistle if not sing every words to the jingle for the Friendship House restaurant, can still see the lobster chef sign outside greeting customers.

After I read the poem I remembered my grandfather taking us to the coast for the day to swim in the Edgewater Hotel pool. I sensed something was wrong as we dressed in the pool-side bathrooms but this was before the day of electronic key guarded gates. I stayed there once, the year my sister was getting married and between the cost and the time it was consuming my parents opted for a week at the Edgewater. In the late 1960s there was no in-room movies or DVD players. We ate a dinner of fish we had caught from the pier and delivered to the kitchen, the went to play bingo. I won, and my father insisted I treat everyone to ice cream.

A few years later, the hotel was imploded to make way for a Sears for the adjacent shopping center.

And so it goes.

At the risk of sounding all hurricane maudlin after all these years, the Mississippi coast is particularly painful. My cousins lived in Waveland until they were washed out for the second time in living memory. The oldest I hear is back, practicing law but he’s so much older than I am that I barely know him. No one is quite sure where Tucker, the one closest to my age, might be. He hated law and was dealing in the casinos last anyone heard. My father’s brother Phillip is long gone.

I have vague memories of Bay St. Louis after Camille, the stone bank building downtown gone and the safe–which must outweigh a brace of locomotives–shifted across the empty slab. My more recent memories are much more graphic: returning from Florida and deciding at the last minute to get off on the winding two lane to Pass Christian and emerging at the Mississippi Sound into nothing, the faux antebellum beach homes of the wealthy reduced to steps as certainly as the houses of the Ninth Ward. Then there was the visit to Waveland itself a year later, to the trailer a friend had purchased to replace a beach cottage. It stood in an unlighted field of slabs as far as the eye can see.

I have some friends I have promised to visit in Waveland. It would be nice to see Tucker, to reintroduce myself to the eldest of my aunt’s children. Letting go is as inevitable a part of the future as releasing your grip on the bars at the top of the high board and stepping off into the pool’s blue sky bottom.

When I go I will drive as far as I have to until I find a satellite kite, will drive in an endless circuit to Pascagoula and back to Pass Christian if I must until I have traveled so far and so fast that time will slip just enough for me to reach back and snatch the bright cardboard kite my father never let me stop to buy.

Odd Words Catches Up (Sort Of) March 20, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, New Orleans, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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There is a sequence in the original, Russian film version of Solaris in which a character represents the protagonists voyage to the distant space station by a high speed drive through the twisting expressways of a fictional, futuristic Moscow, a clear homage to the wormhole sequence of 2001, prefiguring the car sequences of Koyaanisqatsi, the driver hurtling through a highway labyrinth of overpasses and underpasses, the cryptic Cyrillic signs racing past so fast I’m not sure a Russian could read them, a tremendous sense of speed and urgency without reference to place or destination.

Such is my life lately, but I’m trying to keep up and get Odd Words out if only in bits and pieces.

& Octavia Books relocates to the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone as the Tennessee Williams Festival cranks up there to present MAD style! In honor of TV’s most anticipated season debut, the Monteleone is hosting a Mad Men Season 5 Premiere Party on Tuesday, March 20 from 6:00pm–8:00pm in the newly renovated Carousel Bar and Lounge. Authors Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin will be at the celebration with Octavia Books to sign copies of UNOFFICIAL MAD MEN COOKBOOK: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men. Special Guest, cast member BRYAN BATT will be present as the event’s celebrity judge; and he will also be with us to sign copies of his recent book, BIG EASY STYLE. Tuesday, March 20 at 6 p.m.

& Maple Street Book Shop at the Healing Center on St. Clause hosts Professor John Klingman, the Richard Koch chair at the Tulane School of Architecture, will be at our Healing Center location on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 6 p.m.., to discuss and sign his book, New in New Orleans Architecture.

& MonaLisa Savoy will be reading from Red Beans & Ricely Yours & new work at the Norman Meyer branch of the New Orleans public library, Tuesday, March 20th, part of the(re-) opening celebrations. Tuesday, March 20 at 6 p.m.

& Garden District Books is not hosting any events this week, but that’s because they’ll be too busy hosting the book store at the Tennessee William Festival at the Monteleone Hotel. If you’re going to the festival you know you’re going to spend too much money there, so just bring your checkbook and get over it.

& 17 Poets hosts poet and songwriter Jessica Ruby Radcliffe is the child of an Irish Gypsy and a Spanish aristocrat. She was taught by nuns until the age of 13 , when she hit the road. Her writing has been published in several magazines which she cannot remember because there was no money involved. She has performed throughout the USA and in England, Ireland, Canada, Japan, France, Italy and Hong Kong.She created and presented the performance group BOA Poets for a few years in the 1990’s. Jessica does not read very often and is delighted to be coming to The Goldmine. Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Odd Words (Doesn’t) Go to the Tennessee Williams Festival March 19, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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Yes, I posted only an abbreviated Odd Words last week, and I’ll fill out the rest of the week later today but I had best get out the details of the Tennessee Williams Festival which kicks off in earnest on Thursday. And no, between work and school I’m only going to have a chance to do weekend sessions, which stinks. Prices for events are noted. Everything is included in the All Access Pass unless noted otherwise. I’m skipping dinner features and A Streetcar Named Desire at Southern Rep, because if you don’t already have tickets, well, I’ll tell you all about it.

Thursday
11 a.m. Constance Adler & Randy Fertel present First Impressions — Making the Memoir’s First Mark at The Historic New Orleans Collection. Master Class Pass or $25.

1:30 p.m. Radclyffe & Julie Smith: Tips on How to Integrate E-books with Print Publishing — Formats, Timing, and Marketplaces. I don’t know what or who Radclyffe is but Julie gave an interesting presentation during the throwdown between paper publishing and e-books at last year’s Faulkner Festival. Master Class Pass or $25

6:30 p.m. This sounds rich: The Glass Mendacity (The Festival’s Opening Night Theater Celebration) Join literature’s most dysfunctional family, the DuBois clan, for some “Tennessee with a Twist.” Imagine Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire, and The Glass Menagerie, thrown into a blender to create a hilarious cocktail of Southern silliness. Featuring an all-star New Orleans cast with John “Spud” McConnell, Becky Allen, Maureen Brennan, Kris La Morte, Lara Grice, Jerry Lee Leighton, and Ann Mahoney. Cocktails, dessert, and a little southern decadence will sweeten the night at this don’t-miss event. Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom. $50.

8:00 pm Literary Late Night: Poetry Slam Plus Music hosted by Chuck Perkins at Cafe Instanbul in the Healing Center. $15

Friday

9:00 a.m. Agents: Arielle Eckstut & David Henry Sterry: Code Blue — Surviving and Thriving in the Publishing Market. Historic New Orleans Collection. Master Class Pass or $25.

9:45 a.m. offers Tennessee Williams Scholars Conference: Opening Remarks followed by presentation of abstracts at 10 a.m. If you’re in that deep you probably know the rest of the Scholar’s Conference Schedule. These events will be at the Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street.

10 a.m. A Reading from the Poetry and Fiction Contests with Judges Amy Hempel and Julie Kane, which is just toward the end of my first Thursday class. Damn. Hotel Monteleone Queen Anne Ballroom.

10:00 a.m. also kicks off the first Tennessee Williams Literary Walking Tour. Tour meets in the Hotel Monteleone Lobby. $25.

11:00 am offers Ace Atkins: Finding Your Character’s Voice. Historic New Orleans Collection. Master Class Pass or $25.

11:30 am features Speak, Memory: Writing the Memoir, with panelists Zachary Lazar, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Claudia Sternbach, and Jesmyn Ward and moderator Ted O’Brien. Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom. $10 or Panel Pass or Day Panel Pass. Not included with your Penal Pass.

1:00 p.m. Singular Women, Singular Worlds with panelists Ellen Baker, Lucy Ferriss, Laura Ellen Scott, and Jessica Maria Tuccelli and moderator Bev Marshall. Same location, same admission as the 11:30 a.m. panel.

1:30 p.m.A master class with Nigel Hamilton: On Biography. Historic New Orleans Collection. Master Class Pass or $25.

2:30 p.m. panel will be Got that Swing? with panelists Alex V. Cook, Alison Fensterstock, Keith Spera, and John Swenson and moderator Tom Sancton.

3:00 p.m. master class offers Leaning Into Language: A Short Story Master Class with Amy Hempel. Historic New Orleans Collection. Master Class Pass or $25

4:00 p.m. New Orleans Free People of Color, with panelists John Guare, Barbara Hambly, Gregory Osborn, and Daniel Sharfstein and moderator Pat Brady.Ho tel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom. $10 or Panel Pass or Day Panel Pass.

Also at 4:00 pm. Bon Operatit! on the Balcony: Songs from Andre Previn’s Opera, “A Streetcar Named Desire”, from the balcony at 520 Chartres. Free and open to the public.

8:00 p.m. features Literary Late Night: Lafcadio Hearn, a horeographed evening of readings, music, and dance, the People Say Project, Cafe Instanbul at the Healing Center. $15. Now this I can get to and probably won’t want to miss.

OK, that’s it. I have to go read System Requirements (don’t ask) or Chaucer. Or maybe I’ll translate System Requirements into Middle English for extra credit, and to see if they are any more comprehensible that way. I’ll post up the rest of the weekend in Thursday’s Odd Words.

Songs of Freedom March 17, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in 504ever, music, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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Now at the annual collision of our African, Celtic and Sicilian culture, in this town where the African’s ripped from their villages and put into bondage were too valuable a property to waste risk so the hungry Irish were set to work and die digging the New Basin Canal, the spoil banks littered with their bones, the Mardi Gras Indians will come out even as the Irish and Italians stage their parades and the green beer and red wine will flow, and the streets will be line with pork chop sandwiches and loose feathers, a celebration in the way only our entirely Creolized culture knows how to do best. Free from slavery, free from hunger and poverty, and in this one place God set aside like Nod for the rejects of Anglo culture and in which we have established (with a wink and a blind eye from God) all that the propaganda of the north promised in their lies, the true melting pot. It is time to to sing Redemption Songs.

It’s Gonna Be A Glorious Day March 16, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
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Survey the world from the top of the high board, 360 degrees of encompassing, concrete reality bending away and vanishing into the invisible. Feel the breeze with its barometric uncertainty, the subtle voice of possibility. Dip your toes over the edge. Test the spring. Belly-flop fearlessly into the mirror pool of the future.

It’s gonna be a glorious day.

Odd Words March 15, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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I’m on the road for work so this will be an abbreviated Odd Words for Thursday and Friday only which I’ll update and re-post when I get back Saturday morning:

& To kick-off the opening of four new branches of the public library,* please join nationally-acclaimed homegrown scholar Walter Isaacson for a book signing & discussion of STEVE JOBS: A Biography at the Main New Orleans Public Library, 219 Loyola Avenue. Octavia Books will provide books for purchase at the event. Thursday March 15 at 12:30 pm.

&Tonight at 17 Poets! New Orleans poet Dr. JERRY W. WARD and New York City poet BILL ZAVATSKY will read from their works, followed by an open mike hosted by Jimmy Ross.

& Constance will read from and sign MY BAYOU:nNew Orleans Through the Eyes of a Lover at the Maple Street Book Shop Healing Center location on St. Claude Avenue. Thursday, March 15 at 6 p.m.

&Oh, and the Friday routines. Friday’s routines:spokenwordnola.com’s weekly event at the Red Star Gallery on Bayou Road at 9 pm and the No Love Lost Poetry Reading at the Love Lost Lounge at 5:30 pm. Take you pick, or take two for the same price, as NLLP doesn’t charge a cover.

& The Dickens Fellowship of New Orleans will meet Saturday, March 17 to continue their discussion of Oliver Twist covering Book the Second, Chapters 23-36 at Metairie Park Country Day School Library. Saturday, March 17 from 2-4 p.m.

& The Maple Street Bar Poetry Series will feature Professor Artuto a.k.a. Arthur in the bar’s back patio. Last week’s listing for Pfister was a schedule mix-up between the series and the poet, but that means if you missed his earlier New Orleans appearances its not too late to catch him.

& Finally, a quick reminder that the Tennessee Williams Festival gets underway next week, running from March 21-25 with their headquarters at the Monteleone Hotel. I’m not going to try to list all of the authors and events until I update OW this weekend, but you can go to the website: tennesseewilliams.net for all the details and event tickets.

That’s it for now. More when I have a moment to catch up.

I am become a transparent eyeball March 13, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in A Fiction, cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, Reality, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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“Serious critics, serious librarians, serious associate professors of English will if they read this work dislike it intensely, at least I hope so. To others I can only say that if this [work] has virtues they cannot be disentangled from from the faults; that there is a way of being wrong which is also sometimes necessarily right.

It will be objected that this [work] deals too much with mere appearances, with the surface of things, and fails to engage and reveal the patters of unifying relationships which form the true underlying nature of existence. Here I must confess that I know nothing whatever about true underlying reality, having never met any. There are many people who say they have, I know, but they’ve been luckier than I.”
— Edward Abbey, DESERT SOLITAIRE

Onward through the slog March 13, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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“. . . a roar, a gigantic sound; and it seemed to soar into the dusk beyond and above them forever. . .toward Richmond, the North, the oncoming night.”
— William Styron, LAY DOWN IN DARKNESS

I got my hair cut and braided, so that at least above the nape I will share the communal haircut and be able to hide my queue under my collar. I will convert my shoulder bag back into backpack configuration so as to blend in to the crowd. I have not decided if I will bring a hat. I will lose myself in the crowd of people cradling laptops under their arms as they travel the circuit that links the buildings. I will stop at Starbucks before I walk into the first day of three in a crowded conference room. I will step out for a cigarette now than then, admire the forest at the edge of the campus and count the Benjamins in my head

A Beige Day March 10, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Moloch, New Orleans, NOLA, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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It’s impossible to talk on a cell phone in the lobby over the roar of the fountain but they try anyway, bellowing to invisible parties, wandering the floor hollering and looking for a quieter spot as if this were the lounge of a madhouse just before medication time. I pass the utilitarian dry cleaners and UPS store, both open for early business, and admire the display lamp radiance of the jewelry store, which is not open but serves as a gleaming reminder of forgotten birthdays and anniversaries. I’ve been here perhaps twenty seconds and already I want another cigarette but I head for the elevators instead, business casual among the intent lawyers discussing cases as if we were not all there to hear them, their attractive secretaries in modestly revealing dresses, heels and hose. Eighty-thirty is a good time to arrive, as the fourteenth floor express turns into a cross-town local at eight and again at nine, stopping at every other floor to collect riders from the garage. I am not in a particular hurry to return to work after four months off but I want coffee, waiting for me on eighteen.

I would stop on the fourteenth floor if I could if there were coffee and wireless (and O! ashtrays), sink into the moderately soft but utilitarian transit furniture and spend the day there on my computer. Noise is suitably intermittent, not much worse than the office, and there is a view. I once could watch the pigeons in the adjoining building (and not much else) until they moved my cube for the third time in six months, leaving me windowless at a busy corner near a shared conference room and the copier. I wonder at the cause of that past punishment but then the entire environment of a cubicle-filled office seems some waiting station, not exactly purgatory but an uncomfortable place for the expiation of bills.

On the fourteenth floor the terrazzo is cool and bound in soothing shades of cream and vermilion. If I select a chair instead of a couch I have my choices of views of the river. The best looks southeast toward the Algiers bend, the city stretching away into the distant frosting of humidity, the periodic excitement of a down-bound ship navigating the treacherous turn, engines furiously churning the water as the vesslrel bides into alignment with the river’s eastward course past Chalmette, recovering momentum just in time to miss the Esplanade Avenue wharf. On this side, however, you have the concierge, a vaguely attractive woman dressed in business sexual but her voice is a screech, and too many of the buildings other workers stop by to chat. If I stop I would choose the southwest view, although the prospect toward Gretna’s working waterfront, not wharves but a collection of tank farms and barge moorings is less attractive, and partially obscured by the adjacent building, but it is quiet.

I don’t stop.

I am being paid by the hour as a contractor and the sooner I get started the sooner the money tap will flow. I had enough cash to finish the semester as a full-time student, and relished the idea of a sabbatical from the corporate grind, but the offer was too generous, too tempting, the chance to stretch my severance out perhaps until next winter or beyond if they keep me, allowing me to stay in school at least part time. Doing both will be hard, but at least I’m not waitressing well into the night like the woman next to me in Writing American Nature. The downside is I must do more than remember orders but engage my brain three days a week in the service of Moloch Bank, N.A., puzzling out the arrangement of what is wanted and what is possible in the matter of software, not writing ambles through anywhere such as this but instead atomic nuggets of specific deliverables, in a clear prose both a code monkey and an approving executive can understand.

On the 18th floor the same painting still hangs in the elevator lobby, a vague landscape suggesting not so much an exterior as a waiting room redolent of antiseptic. Four tree-like smudges stand on a muddy red foreground against a sky of beige close to the color of the interior office carpet and cube wall fabric, as if they meant us to think that at our metal desks we were somewhere else, somewhere under the sky. I found my old cube the same disheveled, disinterested mess of an exit mentality I left it, down to the pencil. Someone had taken the adapter cord required for my monitor but I wasn’t surprised. The looting had started before I left, after the first big wave of relocations to Richmond. I had to remove my old wall postings to make room for the new. They still haven’t turned on the white noise they promised when we moved into Place Sans Charm. I go out onto the internet to find the sound file I had on my prior computer, my own pink noise loop (pink closer to the sound of an untuned AM radio and thought superior to the white), and I find that Moloch, N.A. has blocked the website where I once found it.

Welcome back to work.

Work March 9, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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In America everybody’s expected to work and even the poets cry about the hours spent on their craft, co-opting the language of capitalism to justify Guggenheim awards and NEA grants. In fact the key to poetry is found on park benches dissecting the clouds trying to come to terms with what has happened.
— Stephen Elliot

Odd Words March 8, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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Readings
Stolen in its entirety from HTML Giant because I really should be 1) writing a lede into these listings and 2) there is a stack of 3×5 cards on the adjacent table screaming my name, and I am spending way too much time nose down trying to remember how to match up Emerson’s Understanding and Reason to epistemology and ontology.

observation recent
Sean Lovelace

One writer is very earnest, a Poet, sprinkling tendrils, donning hats, trying to enunciate the fuck out of words, trying to pull a stick of butter out a badger’s ass, something, and in one way you think, young, trying, at least still believes while another hand says (hands talk now—this is poetry) relax Thing, calm your gossamer spirit down, flutterby, it’s only poetry and I need to ABS glue the couplings on the toilet drain on Monday—it’s going to smell like shit. One writer has recent stories in Paris Review and New Yorker and steps up to the mic and quickly contextualizes an excerpt and reads calmly, clearly, slowly for 7 minutes and thanks the organizers of the reading, the audience, sits down and shares a beer with me. One writer screams penis!/penis!/penis! into the microphone but only for a short while so it’s fine. (The word penis makes everyone think; I mean it has built careers [Freud or Hilton or your own, etc].)

One writer opens with, “This is the shortest story in my collection” and I feel a shiver through the room as three people turn to the bar to reload their urns with beer. It’s still not quite right to text, turn away, talk to someone, rumple yourself loud, walk through, at least not too often—the writer is looking right at you. The writer is a human being. One writer sort of sways and/or faints. I feel for them. One writer reads and you want to grab them right then and sleep with them—who can say words don’t work? One writer reads and you want to put a bracelet on their ankle, to monitor them, so you can stay reliably away. One writer wears a black shoe and a brown shoe, and it’s a fun bar conversation, this presentation of shoes. One writer is terrified; one writer might as well be in their own bathtub, luxuriating in the warm bubbles of audience eyes. “I don’t know what to do up there,” she said, when I asked her opinion. “Just don’t be that guy.” Well said, I suppose. But which guy was she asking us not to be?

& If you’ve missed it elsewhere, there is no better place to appreciate Constance Adler’s MY BAYOU, NEW ORLEANS THROUGH THE EYES OF A LOVER than at at Bayou St. John teams up with Swirl, which I sure hope means wine. It’s not clear which room it will be in but they’re next to each other so it won’t be hard to find. And I assume there will be wine, so the confluence of geography and alcohol is just irresistible. Thursday March 8, 2012, 6:00 P.M

& At Maple Street’s Uptown location Professor John Klingman, the Richard Koch chair at the Tulane School of Architecture, is stopping by to discuss and sign his book, New in New Orleans Architecture. Thursday, March 8 at 6 p.m.

& 17 Poets! will feature Professor ARTURO (aka Arthur Pfister), a poet and fiction writer from New Orleans, Spoken Word artist, educator, performer, editor, speechwriter one of the original Broadside poets of the 1960s together with poet and performance artist Valentine Pierce. In its review of the “From a Bend In the River” anthology, which included Pierce’s, “Rivers of My Soul,” the Times-Picayune called her one of the stalwarts of the New Orleans poetry scene. Thursday, March 8 at 7:30 pm.

& Bill Lavender will read from and sign his new book, MEMORY WING, A memoir in verse that explores the outer reaches of truth: of memory, language and art, at Octavia Books Thursday, March 8 at 6 p.m.

& McKeown’s Books and Difficult Music will host an evneing A Night of Words and Music hosted by Songwriter and Poet Jamie Bernstein and featuring poets Bill Lavender, Thaddeus Conti, Carolyn Hembree, and Megan Burns. Friday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m.

& Friday at Garden District Books, you have another chance to catch Constance Adler’s MY BAYOU, NEW ORLEANS THROUGH THE EYES OF A LOVER. Friday, March 9 at 5:30 p.m.

&Oh, and the Friday routines. Friday’s routines:spokenwordnola.com’s weekly event at the Red Star Gallery on Bayou Road at 9 pm and the No Love Lost Poetry Reading at the Love Lost Lounge at 5:30 pm. Take you pick, or take two for the same price, as NLLP doesn’t charge a cover.

& UPDATE: The Latter Library will feature a poetry reading with Arthur Phister, LaBertha McCormick and Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy Saturday March 10 at 2 p.m.

& Don’t miss Saturday’s rebroadcast of The Reading Life, historian Carolyn Morrow Long, author of “Madame Lalaurie: Mistress of the Haunted House,” and poet Bill Lavender, whose new memoir-in-verse is called “Memory Wing.” Listen Saturday at 12:30 on WWNO, 89.9 FM. Or you can catch it Tuesdays like you’re supposed to.

& Did you see praline bacon? Wait did I say that last week? Here’s another chance to catch Kit Whol’s pane to New Orleans Classic Brunches at Maple Street Bookshop on Maple Street, n Saturday, March 10 at 1:00 p.m.

& UPDATE Shame on me for forgetting Nancy and the Maple Leaf Bar Poetry Series, which will feature an appearance on Sunday by Professor AURTURO as part of his whirlwind visit to New Orleans. Sunday, March 11 at 3 p.m.

& The Black Widow Salon with Bill Zavatsky is Monday, March 12th. 7-9 p.m. (Starting promptly at 7:15 p.m.). Upstairs at Crescent City Books, 230 Chartres St.

&
On Wednesday Octavia will host Robert Kanigel, the highly praised author of The Man Who Knew Infinity and The One Best Way, who is coming to present and sign his new book, ON AN IRISH ISLAND, a love letter to a vanished way of life. In it, Kanigel gives us a sparkling history of the remarkable Great Blasket Island, an Irish outpost nearly untouched by time in the first half of the twentieth century. He tells the story of this wildly beautiful island, notable for the unadulterated Irish language spoken by its residents, and recalls the adventurous men and women who were inspired by it. Wenesday, March 15614 at 6 p.m.

&Next Thursday 17 Poets! will have to compete with The Poetry Society of New York brings the Oral Tradition to new heights (or lows), presenting The Poetry Brothel: New Orleans Launch! The Poetry Brothel is a unique and immersive poetry experience that takes poetry outside classrooms and lecture halls and places it in the lush interiors of a bordello. The Poetry Brothel presents poets as “whores” who impart their work in public readings, spontaneous eruptions of poetry, and most distinctly, as purveyors of private poetry readings on couches, chaise lounges and in private rooms. I am completely down with monitizing poetry but unless you like them hairy, gray and tubby I’m out. (I don’t really want to know if you do). Thursday, March 15 at 8 p.m. at the Allways Lounge. Admission: $5

& In fairness to Dave and Megan: Next Thursday’s 17 Poets! will present the slightly more staid Bill Zavatsky, poet, teacher, translator, jazz pianist, and former publisher, editor-in-chief of SUN press and SUN magazine, together with New Orleans’ own local poet and renowned scholar Dr. Jerry Ward, Thursday March 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Goldmine Saloon where there’s never a cover on Thursdays but don’t miss the books for sale or the donation bucket on your way out.

Hellbound Brain March 6, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
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Host to Chaucer: “And seyde thus, What man artow, quod he . . .”

Me to Chaucer: “one tyred sonne of a bytch, ye mooder swyver . . .”

Do I go read Emerson now? Really? Is there an energy drink with time release barbituates in it? Anyone know how to wire an alarm clock buzzer to my fillings to make sure I wake up? Does hearing Phillip Glass’s Glassworks in a distant train’s horn count as an auditory hallucination?’

When all this is over, I’m going to board a Hellbound Train and Pitch A Wang Dang Doodle (All Night Long).

Geomythograpy of Scholarship March 6, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in 504, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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I want to tell you about geomythography.

No, don’t look it up. It’s not in the dictionary. Geomythography is a term coined by one of my professor’s. Any use or rebroadcast of this term without the express permission of Professor Hazlitt will get you in a hole lot of trouble. Or not.

I think you get the general idea. Let’s start with the geomythograpy of my house. Actually, my house is probably more a subject for physical anthropology than textual analysis, but that will be apparent shortly.

When you walk into my house, you get the immediate impression that a well trained simian has been carefully stacking various pieces of paper into piles to show his native intelligence. Then again it may simply show that, having finished scratching his ass and picking off his lice, he is bored and has nothing better to do than to arrange scholarly articles into neat stacks according to the orientation of the Xerox(1) imnge, and the size of the book copied.

As I have done this and not said simian, it serves to demonstrate the diligent work of a scholar. Either that or I am busy trying not to read the articles, highlighter in hand, to actually do something with them.

I made a point this morning to wipe down the TV tables that serve as end and coffee tables with Clorox spray so that the articles would not stick to the surface the way the 3 x 5 cards did last night. As I learned last week (once again demonstrating my expansive reading) John Muir would not like me very much as he had a fascination with dirt and cleanliness that approached OCD. He certainly would take one look at the floor of my house and run screaming toward the nearest tree.

The floor of my bedroom around this computer looks much the same, except that the papers I don’t need immediately are scattered in a haphazard fashion on the floor, where I swept them off the bed last night to go to sleep. You can tell I slept in the bed last night because the quilt is on the floor where I left it this morning, and the sheets are arranged in the manner of rolling hills that would give Mr. Muir infinite delight if he could just get past his little problem and make it into the second room.

On a chair (I think there’s a chair under there) is a pile of clothes I may or may not wear again before I launder them, just across from the overflowing laundry hamper of items which have progressed beyond the magic of Wrinkle Release and generic Febreeze to render wearable. The sheets also need to be changed. I haven’t pulled my son’s sheets either and he’ll be back here Sunday, but that’s the next room. This clearly demonstrates that I am a Careless and Absent Minded Scholar, too busy to be bothered to wash them until absolutely necessary.

The general condition of my room again demonstrates my learning, as I can cite Chaucerian clerk’s (poor scholars that they are) as an excuse for the slovenly condition of my bedroom. Clerks clearly weren’t good for much except swyving (my new favorite word) Millers’ and Reeves’wives and daughters and going on in Latin about Boethius. Unlike medieval clerks, my entire knowledge of Boethius is derived from A Confederacy of Dunces, but that in no way undermines my argument that I am Scholar (Do you sense a theme developing here? Are you sure? Lets look at that passage again.)

My son’s room (excepting the sheets I need to wash before Sunday, the collection of orphan socks that have lain out on our shared dresser for about two weeks now, and a window unit air conditioner I have not yet installed show) that I am not completely a creature of sloth. The still-boxed A/C shows my disregard for personal comfort typical of a person of Above Average Intelligence and of Scholarly Interests, as testified to by the fact that I am perfectly happy to sit here and type (instead of working on that paper) with my feet perfectly comfortable in the pool of sweat down there.

The kitchen is the real find, ready to be carefully excavated with the use of delicate instruments (so as not to scratch the counters) and soft bristle tooth brushes lest something valuable be lost. The counter (in spite of my daily efforts to keep in clean) most closely resembles a wall of Roman graffiti unearthed at Pompeii. It says something like “what a slob” but I don’t read Latin. And I blame the cheap, leaky coffee pot for most of it although I’m pretty sure there is a piece or two of shredded cheese and a bit of Siracha sauce from the modern era (specifically the Lunch Period).

I have managed to do the dishes while my lunch warmed up, demonstrating that I am intelligent enough to avoid working on that pile of papers I must turn into one paper without so much as a single citation to a text on alchemy. Unfortunately, doing the dishes while warming up my lunch means I will head back to the library with dirty dishes in the sink. Again. That I choose the library over washing a single dish and fork clearly demonstrates that I am a Man of Learning who prefers the library to clean dishes, and grabbing just one more book before I start on that damned annotated bibliography.

The kitchen is gaily decorated in Post-It notes, reminding me to do things like pay the bills except those I forget to put up a Post-It note about. The careful organization of a month’s worth of mail (flyers included) provides the model for the organization of my scholarly research. My ability to maintain such a careful system of organization while forgetting to pay the Cox bill is typical of the Intellectual who has better things to do.

I don’t think we want to talk about the bathroom, except to say it will be the very model of porcelain sanitation before my son gets here,even though two men who leave the seat up almost all the time will soon reduce it to a condition usually associated with off-brand gas stations. At least I do a better job when he’s here of keeping up with it. Before he arrives I will carefully stack all of the papers back on the bed and on the couch so that I can vacuum up the crumbs and little scraps of paper. I will probably wipe down everything with some sort of nasty chemical aerosol, demonstrating I am diligent if a bit tardy. Again, I would argue all of this demonstrates that I am a Man of Ideas, who often has his head up his in some cloud of lofty thought and so only cleans when its absolutely necessary.

I guess it’s time to stop procrastinating and put my clothes back on. You may think that’s more than you wanted to know about my lifestyle but its hot in here. I have to get that damned A/C installed sometime before finals. That gives me until May. I think I can get it taken care of by then.

1) These are true Xerox copies, because I used a true Xerox copier. It said so on the little crawling display which also reminded me to insert some more coins. I’m not sure companies scan the Internet the way they used to do newspapers for misuses of their trademarks but I wish to be prudent. I don’t want to get one of those letters I received long ago at the newspaper informing me that the product Styrofoam has many wonderful uses, but the making of cups is not one of them.

Spreading The Word March 3, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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Odd Words has been selected as a distributor for World Book Night, a project to distribute free books on April 23rd with a goal to reach people who are not regular readers.

This is just too cool.

Odd Words’ title is Tim O’Brien’s THE THINGS THEY CARRIED. It was not my first choice, but there are few books I would be more proud to be associated with. I’ve written about TTTC before, because it is an interesting hybrid of novel and biography, what O’Brien calls in the subtitled A Fiction. I have mentioned in mostly in the context of The Narrative and The Typist, the skeleton in the closet behind the posts here that aren’t Odd Words columns or what my professor of Writing Americapn Nature calls geomythology, the ones that seem, in the words of Stephen Elliot’s The Daily Rumpus e-mail, “overly personal.” They are and they aren’t. At the risk of repeating myself, read the Beckett quote at right.

I love that word, geomythology. It’s not in the dictionary, so you don’t need to look. Its a portmanteau word that I think is self explanatory, especially if you have red this blog before or perhaps one of the few who followed me here from Wet Bank Guide. Toulouse Street (and Wet Bank Guide before it) are all about the geomythography of New Orleans.

I will post more information on Word Book Night later when I work out the details. This isn’t a free book for everyone I know. It is intended to reach out to people who aren’t regular readers of books and I have A Plan. If you have’t read TTTC before, I can’t recommend it too strongly. In fact, if you haven’t read it before why not join my readers and pick up a copy on April 23 and read it. You won’t be disappointed.

Odd Words March 2, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, literature, New Orleans, NOLA, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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Yes, it’s Friday and I’m sitting down to write Odd Words. I have to do something to get this back on a regular schedule but the collision of midterms, a return to work and the simple necessities of life (sleep is nice; so is food) is making a mess of every plan I come up with. Somehow this week’s listings is sandwiched between bringing my son to school, the UNO Library, a trip to the bookstore, and downtown to get a new security badge for work. No, not sandwiched, which implies two blocking parts, but rather sliced, diced and shredded into the salad of my days.

& First, Friday’s routines:spokenwordnola.com’s weekly event at the Red Star Gallery on Bayou Road at 9 pm and the No Love Lost Poetry Reading at the Love Lost Lounge at 5:30 pm. Take you pick, or take two for the same price, as NLLP doesn’t charge a cover.

& On Saturday, the Milton H. Latter Memorial Library on St. Charles Avenue hosts the monthly Poetry Buffet, featuring Joseph Bienvenue under the able direction of poet hostess Gina Ferrara. Saturday, March 3 at 2 p.m.

& Also on Saturday, Miss Maureen conducts her regular children’s Story Time at 10:00 A.M. in our Healing Center location and at 11:30 A.M. in the flagship store Uptown. This weekend features The Lorax. We all love us some Dr. Suess.

& Two words: praline bacon. Garden District Books will host Kit Wohl (who promises to bring food) to discuss her new book NEW ORLEANS CLASSIC BRUNCHES while we all brush the crumbs off of our shirts. Her book examines the New Orleans tradition of elaborate, mid-morning (and sometimes hungover and hungry) meals with this collection of fifty classic brunch recipes from legendary restaurants such as Brennan’s, Dooky Chase’s, and Antoine’s. Oh, and Elizabeth’s. (Did I mention praline bacon? Can I have some now?) From beignets with cafe au lait to grits and grillades, these recipes sparkle for any occasion. Tips, techniques, and inside secrets accompany each lusciously photographed. recipe. Tuesday, March 6 at 6 p.m.

& Have I mentioned that Maple Street Bookshop has a First Tuesday Book Club at the Uptown location? I haven’t? Sorry guys. Well, here is the next entry with a discussion date less than two weeks away so if it sounds interesting you had best get over to one of their three locations and get a copy before a week from this Tuesday. the next meeting is March 6 at 6:00 P.M.: Gather with the club to discuss Tea Obrecht*s book, THE TIGER’S WIFE. ‘Stunning . . . a richly textured and searing novel.’ Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times, and who am I to disagree. The book club meets at the Uptown location Tuesday, March 6 at 6 p.m., so you’ve still got enough time to get a copy and plow through it this weekend.

& If you’ve missed it elsewhere, there is no better place to appreciate Constance Adler’s MY BAYOU, NEW ORLEANS THROUGH THE EYES OF A LOVER than at at Bayou St. John teams up with Swirl, which I sure hope means wine. It’s not clear which room it will be in but they’re next to each other so it won’t be hard to find. And I assume there will be wine, so the confluence of geography and alcohol is just irresistible. Thursday March 8, 2012, 6:00 P.M

& At Maple Street’s Uptown location Professor John Klingman, the Richard Koch chair at the Tulane School of Architecture, is stopping by to discuss and sign his book, New in New Orleans Architecture. Thursday, March 8 at 6 p.m.

& This coming Thursday 17 Poets! will feature Professor ARTURO (aka Arthur Pfister), a poet and fiction writer from New Orleans, Spoken Word artist, educator, performer, editor, speechwriter one of the original Broadside poets of the 1960s together with poet and performance artist Valentine Pierce. In its review of the “From a Bend In the River” anthology, which included Pierce’s, “Rivers of My Soul,” the Times-Picayune called her one of the stalwarts of the New Orleans poetry scene. Thursday, March 8 at 7:30 pm.

far and wee March 1, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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Of course I look at the little bars in readership stats, going up and down like the little barometric bars on my cheap weather station. You can say you write just for yourself but you always know that’s not true or it wouldn’t be written here.

I love those bars because its like looking up at the stars. You’re reminded of your own insignificance, and still you keep looking, for something: a shooting star, the face of god, Orion sailing away into the west like the ancients taking winter with him.

You want to tell someone, to call someone but you can’t get into a long conversation. You’re outside because you’re avoiding working on Chaucer, doing the dishes, a long list of things. And you have to tell someone.

So you crush out your cigarette and go inside and write something like this (did someone mention Chaucer?) and what you write drifts off like a balloon and perhaps someone else sees that Icarus flash of mylar in the sky or they don’t, and the balloon doesn’t care. It has its own reasons.

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