Odd Words May 10, 2012Posted by Mark Folse in books, Fortin Street, literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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.) firstname.lastname@example.org 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.