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Odd Words May 31, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, Fortin Street, literature, New Orleans, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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How did I managed to go from frantically busy, to unemployed and back again without cracking McSweeney’s 38, which is now leaning in the bookcase next to 39 and the still unwrapped 40. Why bother to unwrap it when I haven’t read 38. And ithe the subscriptions is not cheap, and it just auto renewed itself when I really can’t afford it. I need to go one line and cancel it. So many books and so little time, and the last my own fault. Once reading for me was a compulsion; yes the milk carton and the cereal box graduating to the agate type package inserts on prescriptions and the fine print of severance contracts. I just need to shutdown as much of the unnecessary world as possible, and start making a real dent in some of those unread things, the McSweeny’s holding up one row of the book shelves and the Believers stacking up s high on the milk crate on one side of the bed that I somethings sweep them off in my uneasy sleep. We live in a digitized version of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times and believe we are too busy to do anything about it. And we complain about it on Twitter and Facebook but it ends there. If you don’t see my on Facebook much, hopefully its because I have my nose in a book.

& On Thursday, May 31, 8:00pm @ Gold Mine Saloon, two visiting writers, H. R. HEGNAUER and TOM ANDES, will present their works @ 17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series, hosted by Dave Brinks and Megan Burns. Both features will be followed by Open Mic (sign-up begins 7:30pm) hosted by Jimmy Ross. H. R. Hegnauer is the author of Sir (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2011), from which she enjoys performing monologues. She is a freelance book designer and website designer specializing in working with independent publishers as well as individual artists and writers. She maintains a portfolio of her work at hrhegnauer.com. HR has also acted in two movies directed by Ed Bowes: The Value of Small Skeletons (2011) and Essay on Ash (forthcoming). She is a member of the feminist publishing collaborative Belladonna* and the poets’ theater group GASP: Girls Assembling Something Perpetual. Tom Andes’ poetry, fiction, and criticism have appeared or will be forthcoming in News from the Republic of Letters, Santa Clara Review, Spork, Harp and Altar, Mantis, Bateau, 3:AM Magazine, elimae, Pif, Everyday Genius, and the Rumpus, among other publications. A hand-sewn chapbook, Life Before the Storm and Other Stories, appeared in a limited run from Cannibal Books in 2010. His story “The Hit,” which first appeared in Xavier Review, will appear in Best American Mystery Stories 2012. He lives in Oakland, California.

& Also on Thursday Garden District Book Shops hosts James W. Miller and his book Where the Water Kept Rising: A College Athletic Director’s Fight To Save a New Orleans Sports Institution, the story of how a former NFL official became athletic director of “mid-major” college program in New Orleans, what he thought was a welcomed opportunity to slow the pace and make a difference in the lives of young student-athletes. Little did he know he was about to enter the most frustrating, exhausting and challenging time of his life.

& Members of the Melanated Writers Collective will read from recent work at the New Orleans Museum of Art’s “Where Y’Art” series. On June 1st at 7 p.m., Where Y’Art will feature A MelaNated Summer, hosted by Kalamu Ya Salaam and including readings by several Melanated Collective members, The Melanated Summer Reading Series will continue with readings at Cafe Treme on July 14 and JuJu Bag on August 2. The Where Y’Art reading is Friday, June 1 at 7 pm. Where Y’Art starts at 5 pm. The As You Like It run is extended through Friday so come early. You might want to check out the parking lots across from the Botanical Gardens and enjoy a short stroll through the park.t

& No big events at Maple Street Shop but here’s a reminder to take those out of school kids to join Miss Maureen, Saturdays in June at 11:30 A.M., Uptown, for Story Time.

& First Saturday is usually the date for The Poetry Buffet hosted by Gina Ferrara but she hasn’t sent out a program yet. Maybe they’re on summer hiatus. Check back here or the Milton Memorial Library page for details.

& On Tuesday Octavia presents The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King. If you don’t read Rich Cohen’s brilliant historical profile of Samuel Zemurray, the man who battled and conquered the United Fruit Company and made the banana the mainstay of the waterfront of New Orleans you are not just missing an important piece of American history, but also the story of a man who moved from hustling on the docks of New Orleans to overthrowing Central American governments, from feuding with Huey Long to working with the Dulles brothers, Zemurray emerges as an unforgettable figure, connected to the birth of modern American diplomacy, public relations, business, and war—a monumental life that reads like a parable of the American dream.

&Bloomsday is creeping up really fast (June 16) and kudo’s for Micheal Zell of Crescent City Books for picking up the ball and running with it. He’s lined up a room at the new Irish House. It’s time to take out that dogeared copy of Ulysses and start thinking of a favorite passage to read. Or just stop by for a pint and some good food and give a listen. This is a big tradition in other cities and its time New Orleans got on board.

Damn, that’s a short list. Looks like its time to start catching up on that backlog of books. If you don’t have a backlog of books well just choose one of the independent books stores listed above, or visit the wonderful selections of Blue Cypress or Crescent City Books and start your own pile. That is what hammocks and beach chairs are for.

My Warehouse Eyes May 26, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in A Fiction, odd, poem, Poetry, quotes, Toulouse Street.
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image

Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums
Should I leave them by your gate
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?

Odd Words May 25, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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A day late and a dollar short. Sometimes cliches are the best way to say what you want to say. Or something like that. It was in a song, and meant to be ironic. I hope. Let’s just say yesterday was so much fun I began to think it was Wednesday, probably in hope that I would get to do Thursday over. No such luck.

& This is where the 17 Poets! listing would have gone if yesterday had not left me pining for the days I was prepping for an exam on The Canterbury Tales. I guess if the Times Picayune can go to a three times a week newspaper, I can miss one edition by a day. Sorry y’all.

& Chuck Perkins and Voices of the Big Easy will be at Cafe Istanbul featuring Chuck Perkins, Spyboy Honey, Michaela Harrison, Roland Guerin, Red Morgan, Mario Abney, Gene Harding and the rest of the voices crew. There will be room for other singers and performers to sit in with the band. Dancers are welcomed as well. Feel free to let your performing friends know they will be able to sit in. Friday May 25 at 9 p.m.

& Maple Street Book Shop’s Bayou St. John location will move over to the upstairs of Fair Grinds Coffee House to host Lawrence Powell will be discussing and signing his latest book, The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans. This is the story of a city that shouldn’t exist. In the seventeenth century, what is now America’s most beguiling metropolis was nothing more than a swamp: prone to flooding, infested with snakes, battered by hurricanes. But through the intense imperial rivalries of Spain, France, and England, and the ambitious, entrepreneurial merchants and settlers from four continents who risked their lives to succeed in colonial America, this unpromising site Sunday, May 27, at 4 pm.

& The Maple Leaf Bar Poetry Reading Series will host a Memorial Day Open Mic on Sunday, May 27 at 3 p.m.

& Garden District Books will feature Kerri McCaffetu’s New Orleans New Elegance. Award-winning photographer Kerri McCaffety looks at the city’s most innovative and iconic interiors in a quest to define the essence of the unique New Orleans style. Sumptuous fabrics, elegant architectural details, intricate collections, bold abstract art, and fresh, contemporary lines are all captured in her stunning photographs. Saturday, May 26 at 1 p.m.

& Octavia books will host Rich Cohen who will present and sign his new book, THE FISH THAT ATE THE WHALE: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King. The banana king is Samuel Zemurray, a little know antihero, the son of a Jewish Russian farmer. He started with nothing but a pile of rotten bananas, overthrew two governments in Central America, created the basic CIA template, bested and took over United Fruit, and went to war with Huey Long. As Rich puts it, if Zemurray had owned a football team, they would’ve won all the time. Zemurray’s rise began at the docks of New Orleans. Monday, June 4 at 6 p.m.

Today’s Horrorscope May 22, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Fortin Street, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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You watch Synecdoche, N.Y. three times before you realize it is a dark comedy. Your therapist says you have a melancholic personality. Your eyes search his office for a jar of leeches. You smoke too much but then you drink river water from the tap and breathe the downwind air of satanic, chemical flares. So what. Light another cigarette.

You start the work computer before the coffee finishes. You tell yourself you do this to check your VPN. This is one of the fundamental lies of survival. Email is a disease. To avoid contamination wash you hands carefully after returning to work. They worship money. Be a hireling, not an acolyte.

The newspaper rattles. Comics, acrostics and horoscopes. Yesterday sucked. Today will suck. Tomorrow is not looking much better. This is not the stars’ fault. Pull the shaving mirror closer. Look. Write the name of someone you love in shaving cream.

Gemini is in both the Sun and Moon. Both of you are confused. You are 54. Saturn returns. Close the lids of both computers. Go out the door. Turn left. Walk until you reach the park. Find a tree. Sit down. There are squirrels and birds. Do not be a squirrel. Be a bird.

Laugh.

Just Another Moloch Monday May 21, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Fortin Street, Moloch, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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I wish it was Sunday…

Moloch / whose soul is electricity and banks!
Howl

Splash May 20, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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`Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING–absolute nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats…
– Rat in The Wind in the Willows

So I’m walking on the downtown footpath between Moss and the Bayou and this guy says, “can you help me launch my boat?” Its one of those cheap, plastic kayaks so I say sure. Its not like I’m going to through my back out. We plop it in the water but I notice it has bow and aft lines and he has grabbed neither. The fore line is tangled. I squat down and grab it. (First mistake. Do not squat where boats are involved unless you have a hand on the rigging. This rule apparently applies to the dry as well. I say take this and hand him the bow line and explain he should hold onto his lines while launching the boat. The stern is drifting off into the bayou but th aft line is floating right there. I squat again (see above).

If I remember nothing else from my childhood judo lessons, it is how to fall well. There is a lot of being tossed to the floor in judo. In the space of less than a second I realize I’m losing my galance, my momentum can’t be stopped and I’m going in. I somehow manage to roll and push myself two feet into the adjacent canoe. Hurrah, except I’ve set the thing rocking violently . Rather than lay in the bottom and let it settle I pop up. Bad move. Damn adrenaline. It’s not like I’m being chased by a sabre-tooth tiger for Chrisssakes. The canoe promptly tips me into the Bayou. OK, the canoe is an inanimate object. My own stupidity tips me into the Bayou.

Damn.

I swallowed a good mouthful of Bayou water and I’m sure the inside of my stomach would have looked interesting at microscopic scale last night, sort of like the watching the view screen in Ender’s Game during one of the battles, little microorganisms battling over control of the binary star system Clumsia, with its two orbiting suns Vomitus and Diarrheaiad.

If you stop me today and ask me to help you with your boat, I probably will. I’ve owned a boat too long to not help another boater. Its just what done. I will not, however, let you pick up your end without the lines in hand as well. If you drop your line in with the boat you’re on your one.

If I think you’ll need me I’ve sent you my Skype digits. Or you can look me up. If you are at the Boogalo, I’m the old fart in a young man’s hat. And I’m not going to miss Irene Sage’s Tribute to Coco Robicheaux. After that, check the food tents.

England May 19, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in A Fiction, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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I read a single word today that briefly but profoundly disrupted one small but important part of my life.

I found it tucked behind a sheet of plastic in a small faux-leather folding wallet containing two pieces of paper, one on each side.

The word, typed onto a bit of cardboard in 1946, was so faded as to be illegible. I tried scanning the wallet for fear trying to remove the bits of cardboard would destroy them, but the result was useless. And so with forensic delicacy I extracted the two pieces and placed them carefully on the scanner, and set the resolution to 1200 dots per inch. The result was still only partially legible but better.

The word was so faded that even at 100 percent zoom it still could not be read. I clipped a copy out and put it in a document until that one small black of type filed the screen and I still could not read it. I stared at it until it rendered itself, like one of those optical illusions you must focus on until it reveals itself.

The word was England.

That word, typed into a box titled Battles and Campaigns, called into question a battle narrative I have carried with me since I was a young boy. For a moment that word caused me to question not just the story but every word I have written here about the margin between fact and fiction, truth and fiction, the gray space of memory. And I didn’t know what to do with this new knowledge. I decided I will tell one person I think should know because she will read this and corner me and demand I tell her. I will tell the one person in my life to whom I can tell anything. And I think I will tell no one else. Some stories are best told to the dead.

It could be a government error of haste when there were rail yards and harbors filled with men for whom this tiny piece of paper, an honorable discharge, must by typed, row upon row of clattering with quotas to fill. Likely the typist sat in a room filled with men who cared only that it be honorable, and that they could not go home. The discharge lists the EAMETO medal which does not necessarily indicate combat but service in the European/African theater. In front of that is another citation that can’t be read. It ends in O and I can’t find it on any list. His listed assignment at the time of discharge was Administrative NCO with the rank of Sergeant.

It is impossible to know for certain the relationship between the story and this small piece of paper.

No, it is not impossible to know, but the one person I can ask I will not. Perhaps my mother believed this narrative, because she knew the teller so well she knew it must be true, could read every facial tick more accurately than any lie detector’s needle. Perhaps she wanted to believe that narrative, Odysseus returned from the dead, “and I only alone am escaped to tell the.” Either way why question their memories, my mothers and my fathers. I remember as I write I was told others who were there, comrades, told this story. The parents of one of the dead, who not doubt received a painful letter from an office, traveled from the West Coast to New Orleans to hear the story from my father’s own lips.

What is ultimately called into question is not the story but that one word. Words are incredibly powerful, even a simple government document. Perhaps clerk was his last assignment and that was all that mattered to this clerk. He said he got a terrible case of trench foot from laying in that flooded furrow, but given the horrific nature of the event–your comrades of years crying out and dying all around you–I have wondered since if his malady was not instead Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or what was called them combat fatigue, a condition considered less honorable than his discharge, nothing like the sympathetic view of PTSD of today, a desk in England a useful task for a man traumitized by combat. Perhaps that single, lazy error did not bother my father who just wanted to board a train home. We are all terribly concerned with our permanent records: our credit score, our grades, our evaluations at work. My father was more concerned with returning to his young wife and new child. Only fools like myself are as obsessed with words, and this moment of doubt clearly revealed to me how much every word must count or must go, whether we are discussing Carver or Faulkner

What I learned from this moment of profound doubt was that the truth lives in memory, not in the alleged facts of a small piece of paper in a dusty cabinet in Washington. Perhaps the story I was told as a child was not the whole truth and nothing but the truth but the version colored by the crash of artillery and the chatter of machine guns, a story of a day and night spent in a damp furrow, digging little mud shelves and lining them with paper to field strip a Browning Automatic Rifle, a story not of heroism but of simple survival, better forgotten and not worth correcting a harried clerk when all you wanted was to go home, the story told later because your son insisted on hearing about the war, as story told as best it could be remembered of a moment from which we expect a flash of brilliant clarity but instead a moment of remote terror. History records what is written whether it is correct or not, that tiny piece of cardboard, and not what is remembered and passed down by the tale (I have told my son the story). The real history is lost unless it is written down. Was the siege of Troy half as heroic as Homer made it? Most likely it was not but the blood still ran red and the people of Troy fled in terror through their burning streets. If not for the maker of the song none of that would be remembered. Achilles and Agamemnon would be forgotten.

I prefer the version in which they are not forgotten.

His Dream. His Toy. His Rest. May 18, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Fortin Street, poem, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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mumble grumble mumble work mumble tired grumble mumble drink, Yes? mumble YES mumble hmmmmm… thwssk!shhhh . . .

. . . There ought to be a law against Henry.
—Mr. Bones: there is.

Odd Words May 17, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, New Orleans, NOLA, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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Holy Moly, is it Thursday again already.

& Tonight at 17 Poets! Dave Brinks announces “CLARK COOLIDGE, Poet Uberist of Golden Realms, has secretly arrived in NOLA to give a poetry reading for The Ages!In fact this will be Clark Coolidge’s first sojourn to Our Lady of Swamplandia!” Thursday, May 17 at 7:30 pm

& Tayari Jones will be at Maple Street’s Healing Center location presenting her new book Silver Sparrows, “a breathtaking story about a man*s deception, a family*s complicity, and two teenage girls caught in the middle” Thursday May 17, 6:00 pm

& Martin Behrman Charter School will celebrate its second “Poetry on the Avenue”, an evening of art, spoken word poetry, and live music.. The event will feature performances by student performers from Behrman Charter School, several local poets and musical artists, and nationally renowned feature poets Sunni Patterson, an HBO Def Poet and Team SNO, New Orleans’ first national slam poetry championship winning team. The event will be hosted by New Orleans’s own Gian Smith of Treme and Alphonse “Bobby” Smith and will take place on the school’s front lawn from 3pm to 6pm. The school is located at 715 Opelousas Avenue, New Orleans, LA, located in New Orleans’s historic Algiers Point. Saturday, May 19 from 3 pm to 6 pm.

& On May 19th The New Orleans Secular Humanist Society is hosting an event with Lawrence Powell in the Dominion Learning Center at Audubon Zoo. It its open to the public. Dr. Powell will be discussing and signing his new book, Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans. Saturday May 19, at 4:30 pm

& Octavia Books hosts a booksigning with photographer West Freeman featuring his recently published work, THE GARDEN DISTRICT OF NEW ORLEANS. The Garden District of New Orleans has enthralled residents and visitors alike since it arose in the 1830′s with its stately white-columned Greek Revival mansions and double-galleried Italianate houses decorated with lacy cast iron. Photographer West Freeman evokes the romance of this elegant neighborhood with lovely images of private homes, dazzling gardens, and public structures. Saturday, May 19 at 2 p.m.

& Sunday the Maple Leaf Bar reading series will feature a SOLAR ECLIPSE/VERNAL EQUINOX OPEN MIC! These powerful forces and drawing you to come. Do not resist.

& Ron Tanner will be at Maple Street’s Uptown location on to sign and discuss his book, From Animal House to Our House. A story for inspiration-seekers, old house lovers, DIYers, and American dreamers, From Animal House to Our House: A Love Story shows how Ron and Jill learned the hard way — about love and life and saving precious things from ruin. Monday, May 21 at 6 pm.

& Octavia Books will host Carolyn Turgeon featuring her new middle-grades novel, THE NEXT FULL MOON, a “horoughly compelling, gorgeously told tale.” Tuesday, May 22 at 6 pm.

I’m sure I’ve missed something but I’ve been up since 3:45 a.m. for a work conference call and no amount of coffee is going to make that right, it seems. I think I need a six pack of Mexican Coke to get my blood sugar up. If you know where I live, I will pay you handsomely to drop some buy. And a bag of donuts.

Odd Words May 10, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in books, Fortin Street, literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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Class, this week’s reading assignment is “Lonesome Was the Blacktop.” The Rumpus is an Odd place. They review a lot of fiction (and a lot of poetry). It hovers, however, in the curling cigarette haze of the twilight zone between fiction and reality, in that space named Creative Non-Fiction by people who’s ideas on literary criticism are greatly influenced by those little boxes from which they pick up their departmental mail. Does it matter if this story is fiction or memoir or something entirely different, something that never crossed a fact checker’s desk, something outside of all the rules I learned in the English Department of 30 years ago where I rarely appeared because I had a goddamn newspaper to run, a newspaper where I learned an entirely different set of rules?

Rules. Neither the department chair nor the managing editor would approve of that last sentence. If you think I care, you clearly have me confused with someone else. Rules. If adjectives are bad how are you going to describe those atrocious hot pants you wore in the Seventies? You know, the ones that were (mumblety) pink. I lived long enough in the land where the chain restaurant ruled to know three things: Outback has a pretty decent lamb, an awesome blooming onion and the second best food slogan I’ve ever heard: No Rules, Just Right.

That story is Just Right. The rest doesn’t matter.

The best restaurant slogan ever belonged to Corn Dog 7. You remember it, right across from the ice rink at the Plaza Shopping Center. “Better Than Good.” I mean, for a corn dog, that’s pretty high praise. And entirely less creepy than the old 7-Up slogan, “You Like It. It Likes You.” Really. In like a friendly way or is that woman in the tank suit and cap swimming up through the bubbles painted into the engraving on the Sixties-era bottle just waiting for you to run laughing with her behind the sand dunes? Questions like this are important when you are 11. They don’t make bottles like that any more so I guess I’ll never know.

This is your brain. This is your brain on two pots of coffee. This too shall pass, but not before I convert a significant amount of tooth enamel into credit hours. And now the listings. I hope you’ve made it this far. Or just skipped to the bold faced ampersands. That’s what they’re there for.

& The World Affairs Council of New Orleans and Octavia Books invite you to a discussion and booksigning with Imran Ahmad featuring his memoir, THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN: A Muslim Boy Meets the West. ““… irresistible – a charming, laugh-out-loud-funny memoir, according to John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. 6 p.m. Thursday, May. 10 at Octavia Books. This sounds fascinating but I still have to finish Andrew Lam’s East Eats West first, which I loved until it fell back onto the unread book pile under the bed.

& This Thursday at 17 Poets you can catch May 10th Poets Laura Mattingly and rob mclennan and fiction writer Stephen Brockwell. Laura Mattingly is the author of The Book of Incorporation (Language Foundry, 2012), and How to Become Black Water. rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa. The author of more than twenty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, his most recent titles are the poetry collections A (short) history of l. (BuschekBooks, 2011), grief notes: (BlazeVOX [books], 2011), Glengarry (Talonbooks, 2011), kate street (Moira, 2011) and 52 flowers (or, a perth edge) (Obvious Epiphanies, 2010), and a second novel, missing persons (2009). Stephen Brockwell is the author of The Wire in Fences (Balmuir, 1988), Cometology (ECW Press, 2001), which Harold Bloom described as having “rare and authentic promise,” Fruitfly Geographic (ECW, 2004), winner of the 2004 Archibald Lampman Award, and The Real Made Up (ECW, 2007) Thurday, May 10 at 7:something p.m.

& Dr. Dale Archer, author of Better Than Normal, will be at Maple Street Book’s Healing Center location on Thursday. His book is “a groundbreaking new view of human psychology that shows how eight key traits of human behavior, long perceived as liabilities, can be important hidden strengths. What if the inattentiveness that makes school or work a challenge holds the secret to your future as an entrepreneur? What if the shyness in groups that you hate is the source of deep compassion for others? What if the anxiety and nervousness you often feel can actually help energize you? What if the mood swings you sometimes experience can be the source of tremendous creativity? What if all that coffee makes you afraid to take the garbage out because you’ll get bats in your hair? OK, I just made that last one up. Actually if you managed to get through the babble at the top of this page you just might find this one as interesting as it sounds to me. Thursday, May 10 at 6:30 p.m.

& On Saturday, Octavia Books hosts Anne Butler, former editor of Country Roads magazine, and her new book MAIN STREET OF LOUISIANA, a tour of thirty-two lovely little Main Street Communities scattered across the state — from Bastrop to New Orleans. Because I am in a perverse mood, I think I’m going to order a copy for every motorcycle club in Louisiana with skulls in their colors. Just kidding. I was thinking this looks like an awesome Mother’s Day gift. Really. 2 p.m. Saturday, May. 12

& The Black Widow Salon on Monday, May 14th welcomes guest David Rutledge. Rutledge, editor of the two strong Chin Music Press New Orleans anthologies, will be discussing creative non-fiction and his own recent book on layers in the work of Vladimir Nabokov. Upstairs at Crescent City Books. 7-9 p.m. (starts promptly at 7:15 p.m.) books@crescentcitybooks.com for more information and to reserve your seat. It’s a small room. And if you follow Micheal and I down to the Chart Room, you can help plan Bloomsday.

& On Tuesday Octavia Books presents a special launch event and booksigning with award-winning photographer Kerri McCaffety (OBITUARY COCKTAIL) who now turns her lens toward New Orleans’s most innovative and iconic interiors in a quest to define the essence of the unique New Orleans style. This is certainly less likely to get you arrested than peering through the leaded glass windows of some Uptown manse or Lakefront UberHaus.

& On Saturday Garden District books features Lesley Crawford Costner;s Goodnight Acadiana
This tribute to the bountiful ecosystem and fond traditions of Creoles and Cajuns is beautifully illustrated and presents a foundation for appreciating the singular heritage of this region. Tragically it will someday only exist in books like this one. So you should get a copy and read it on your imminent road trip to Lafayette via Houma. Saturday, May 12 at 11 a.m.

& The second half of Garden District’s Saturday double header is Peter J. Murray’s Mokee Joe is Coming. “When Hudson receives the weird message that Mokee Joe is coming, his life turns into a nightmare. Who is Mokee Joe? And what has Hudson done to make him so mad? There’s only one course of action—Hudson must destroy this monster before it destroys him!” I think Murray’s been into my Morning Thunder, but I’m curious about a Cambridge-trained metallurgists turned author is writing some pretty twisted children’s books or has been working with mercury too long.

& OK, as the titles get weirder I’m getting more obnoxious. Or Cambridge-clever. Probably obnoxious. So we’re going to be nice and include the entire blurb for Ken Budd”s The Voluntourist: A Six-country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate, and Singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehem: “he Voluntourist is a remarkable memoir about losing your father, accepting your fate, and finding your destiny by volunteering around the world for numerous worthy causes: Hurricane Katrina disaster relief in New Orleans, helping special needs children in China, studying climate change in Ecuador, lending a hand–and a heart–at a Palestinian refugee camp in the Middle East, to name but a few. Ken’s emotional journey is as inspiring and affecting as those chronicled in Little Princes and Three Cups of Tea. At once a true story of powerful family bonds, of sacrifice, of self-discovery, The Voluntourist is an all-too-human, real-life hero whom you will not soon forget.” OK, after reading that I’m a little embarrassed but too tired to go back and change the lead in. He sounds like a nice guy. So go buy his book why don’t you? At Garden District Book Shop Wednesday, May 16th5:30 p.m.

& On Wednesday New Orleans’s own John Barry will be at the Maple Street Book Shop Healing Center location from , to sign and discuss his latest book, Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul, a revelatory look at how Roger Williams shaped the nature of religion, political power, and individual rights in America. “This is a story of power, set against Puritan America and the English Civil War. Williams*s interactions with King James, Francis Bacon, Oliver Cromwell, and his mentor Edward Coke set his course, but his fundamental ideas came to fruition in America, as Williams, though a Puritan, collided with John Winthrop’s vision of his ‘City upon a Hill.” Heady stuff. 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 16.

& Here’s an early plug for an event Saturday May 19th so you can plan your weekend around it: Martin Behrman Charter School will celebrate its second “Poetry on the Avenue”, an evening of art, spoken word poetry, and live music on Saturday, May 19, 2011. The event will feature performances by student performers from Behrman Charter School, several local poets and musical artists, and nationally renowned feature poets Sunni Patterson, an HBO Def Poet and Team SNO, New Orleans’ first national slam poetry championship winning team. The event will be hosted by New Orleans’s own Gian Smith of Treme and Alphonse “Bobby” Smith and will take place on the school’s front lawn from 3pm to 6pm. The school is located at 715 Opelousas Avenue, New Orleans, LA, located in New Orleans’s historic Algiers Point.

P.S. Please direct questions about typos or any other errors to the Community Coffee Co. and the University of New Orleans Department of English.

Green is the Colour May 8, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in A Fiction, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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“Close my eyes so I can see you.”
– Pink Floyd, Green is the Colour

Studying has its own Odd diversions that have nothing to do with picking up the Hansel and Gretel fire hazard of papers strewn through the house, the one plate and cup you keep rinsing off for the next meal and putting in the dish drainer. You fill the coffee pot in the bathroom.

You realize you are supposed to read something you have entirely forgotten,a few chapters of a wonderful nature book written by Aldo Leopold back in the 1940s (1949, you are supposed to remember the year of publication by 10 a.m. tomorrow, fool) and you realize how much Edward Abbey cribbed from it but that’s not important. There is a section entitled Clandeboye about a marshy area in Manitoba.

You once live not too far from Manitoba. Winnipeg was about the same distance from Fargo as St. Paul but you never made it there in spite of the lure of legal Cubans. As It Happens on the CBC was about as close as you got. Clandeboye doesn’t ring a bell but Leopold’s description is intriguing.

One thing most of us have gone blind to is the quality of marshes. I am reminded of this when, as a special favor, I take a visitor to Clandeboye, only to find that, to him, it is merely lonelier to look upon, and stickier to navigate, than other boggy places. This is strange, for any pelican, duckhawk, godwit, or western grebe is aware that Clandeboye is a marsh apart. Why else do they seek it out in preference to other marshes? else do they resent my intrusion within its precincts not as mere trespass, but as some kind of cosmic impropriety?

I think the secret is this: Clandeboye is a marsh apart, not only in space, but in time. Only the uncritical consumers of hand-me-down history suppose that 1941 arrived simultaneously in all marshes. The birds know better. Let a squadron of southbound pelicans but feel a lift of prairie breeze over Clandeboye, and they sense at once that here is a landing in the geological past, a refuge from that most relentless of aggressors, the future. With queer antediluvian grunts they set wing, descending in majestic spirals to the welcoming wastes of a bygone age.

It is not 1941 but just over sixty years later. You launch Google maps and chose Clandeboye, MB over Clandeboye, New Zealand and Google in all helpfulness drills down on a tiny village of a dozen streets. If you zoomed close enough you could probably read the water tower, find the cafe and gas pumps, the silos on a siding that make it a place. You zoom out looking for this place of wonder and notice as you click the zoom bar in just a certain place the pixelation of the area, as if you had zoomed in 1000% in Gimp. This is Odd, so you zoom part way back in and notice the grid of fields, the Mondrian regularity of the various crops, the very thing Leopold railed against so eloquently in his book. Off to the side somewhere is a Canadian national park, a road snaking toward it. It is not named Clandeboye.

You cannot go back to reading Leopold. You take the pile of books and notes on the couch next to you and place it on the floor among all the others. You close the Kindle window and email and Google maps and open this page. The image of the pixalated fields won’t go away, like the green spots you thought were forever when you stared too long at the rising sun that last morning on the East Coast, saying farewell to the ocean before you moved to the interior, to Fargo, to a place a few hundred miles from Clandeboye.

Give up on studying. Everything you need to know from all those books from Thoreau on fills that one screen. Open a beer, close this page, go to bed. Try to make the pixelations go away. Remember the skies filled with geese one Saturday during your son’s peewee football game, a carrier pigeon armada honking south to Louisiana. You wanted to go with them.

Try to get some sleep. The world we have made for ourselves, sparrows on the blacktop, the starling whorl over Decatur, will still be there tomorrow. For a while at least.

Going Down at the Chart Room May 7, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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To understand why Bukowski slowly drank himself to death, sit with the quiet drunks mid-bar during Happy Hour at the Chart Room on a day when ambivalence is the next step up the ladder you’re working toward like a drunk’s token. On one side is the stout and matronly woman who seems to be fortifying herself for a bus ride home to Metairie, perhaps a retired mother of strippers unable to kick the Quarter; on the other a bantam working man with his ball cap visor rigidly fixed on the napkin-and-match holder, his thin, leathery neck stretched turtle-taut out of his worn denim shirt, two hands around a glass the only thing that moves. We share two ashtrays between the three of us but no one makes eye contact. All around you the alcohol content of the jostling and gesticulating room is measured in decibels.

Sit here at the edge of headache wishing you were in some country roadhouse where the BC Powder was up next to the pig lips, contemplating the prospect of employment in a sterile Kenner office in the lofty upper echelons of the copier business, your upcoming interview with some guy named Roy from Houston, his buzz cut and golf tan palpable in his howdy, glad-to-sell-you voice. All you really want is to take your long anticipated severance vacation and vanish for a month into the pile of unread books beside your bed, to get up every morning and write, but you are a perfect fit for what they need: a perfect fit, like a razor tailored suit and doesn’t he look as good as life?

If I’m doomed to sign the book for the next corporate ship freighted and ready maybe I should skip a second domestic and order up a full bottle of rum, steadily drink myself into it until it’s time to pull the strings and raise the impossible doll-house rigging, slowly sink into the nautical ambiance, the sea-bird screech of Chart Room happy hour.

If it is possible to go home and overdose on all the unread books piled around my bed, consider this the suicide note.

I Stole Your Mojo Hand May 4, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Fortin Street, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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Fuck your DMCA, and fuck your lawyer man, cause all this shits protected by the Mojo Hand.
You put this on my windshield. I am the pixel man. It took me just an hour to steal your Mojo Hand.
I wish I knew the artist. I’d love to shake their hand, and feel the magic digits that drew this Mojo Hand.
There’s one creative commons that comes from heaven’s hand. And all of its protected by the Mojo Hand.

Odd Words May 3, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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Coffee. Papers. Coffee. Study guides. Coffee. Try to sleep. Read and study. No more coffee.

& On Thursday 17 Poets presents a Birthday Celebration for Dave Brinks (May 3), and also Benjamin Morris (May 7) featuring Poet DAVE BRINKS w/ THE POET OF NEW ORLEANS BRASS BAND. The evening starts with a casual reception at 7 p.m. featuring complimentary wine and beer and red beans by Megan Burns. The Poet Brass Band starts at 8:05, Benjamin Morris reads at 8:40 and Dave Brinks at 9:05 p.m. This being poets, I expect those times to be rigorously obscured observed.

& Co-author of New Orleans: The Underground Guide, Michael Patrick Welch, will be hosted by the Maple Street Healing Center outside Cafe Istanbul on Saturday, May 5, 2012, 11:00 A.M.

& On Tuesday Garden District Bookshop will feature Robert Olmstead’s riveting new novel, ” a passionate story of love and war, it is a timeless story of soldiers coming home to a country with little regard for, and even less knowledge of, what they’ve confronted.” May 9 and 5:30 pm.

& New Orleans’s own Ben Sandmel will be at the Healing Center location Wednesday, May 9, from 6:30-8:00 to sign and discuss his new book, Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans

& Here’s the second weekend of Jazz Fest Book Tent guests:

May 3rd – Thursday

1 – 2:00PM — Ann Benoit, Broussard’s Restaurant & Courtyard Cookbook
2 – 3:00PM — Moira Crone, The Not Yet
3 – 4:00PM — Alison Fensterstock, Definition of Bounce: Between Ups and Downs in New Orleans

May 4th– Friday

12 – 1:00PM — Tom Fitzmorris, Lost Restaurants of New Orleans
1 – 2:00PM — Laura Rowland, Ronin’s Mistress
2 – 3:00PM — Jeremie Gersin, New Orleans Sojourn
3 – 4:00PM — Sherry Alexander — Courtroom Carnival
4 – 5:00PM — Jim Nolan, Higher Ground
5 – 6:00PM — West Freeman, Garden District of New Orleans

May 5th – Saturday
12-1:00PM — Robert Jeanfreau, Story Behind the Stone
1 – 2:00PM — Constance Adler, My Bayou
2 – 3:00PM — Alex Cook, Louisiana Saturday Night
3 – 4:00PM — Tom Piazza, Devils Sent The Rain
4 – 5:00PM — Keith Spera, Groove Interrrupted

May 6th – Sunday

12 – 1:00PM — Cornell Landry, Happy Mardi Gras, Happy Jazz Fest, Goodnight NOLA, One Dat Two Dat
2 – 3:00PM — Mary Richardson, Open Your Heart and Let Love In
3 – 4:00PM — Ben Sandmel, Ernie K-Doe
5 – 6:00PM — Members of the Treme cast will be signing the Season 2 DVD. Included will be: David Simon, Eric Overmyer, Lucia Micarelli, Steve Zahn and 2 other unconfirmed staff members.

Are We Here Yet? May 1, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in Fortin Street, New Orleans, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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” “Landscape is destiny.”
Ron Rash

“I’ve been to a lot of festivals but this one is so dirty.” “Chicken wings and cigarette butts like wildflowers in the grass. Neutral grounds of oleander and clover. A man picking aluminum like fallen apples. Groceries precariously balanced on a bicycle. Knowing someone who went to school with a fresh acquaintance.. The voluntary segregation of downtown bus stops. “Can I buy a cigarette?” “Better pick them okras while they small.” Tourists in their summer beads. The flowers of winter. Deconstruction by cat’s claw. The doric column The afternoon cocktail. The midnight cigarette. The whir of street cars. The summer of cicadas. Summer thunderstorms regular as church bells. Cars stalled fording Willow. School bands practicing in the street. A trumpet and a bucket. Robin egg fedora, suit and shoes on Sunday. Red beans on Monday. Walking slowly in the shade. Sitting on the stoop and visiting. Landscape without heroic mountains. Still life with beer can. Tomorrow ever comes. It can wait.

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