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Little Miracles December 31, 2012

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Fortin Street, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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It is raining starling shit on the sidewalk in front of my house as I sit and smoke a cigarette.

At first I have no idea what these black berry-like things are raining from the sky. I pick one up. It is a little smaller than a coffee bean but about the same shape a color. I look up, and see birds ranged along the overhead wires. I step out into the street to be sure of the bird and the ones above me take flight to the right in a widershins spiral, and their brethren in the tree just up the street lift off to my left in a clockwise helix until they merge into two intersecting whorls of chattering birds. I watch them until the hypnotic black kaleidoscopic shrinks into a vanishing point.

I sit down to finish my cigarette.

I love my block.

This Is No Tight Ship December 31, 2012

Posted by The Typist in Everette Maddox, Faubourg St. John, Federal Flood, Fortin Street, Mid-City, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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An open letter to the members of the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association, our Mayor and other leaders, the people of New Orleans and of the world:

“…I sympathize
with Huck Finn’s taste for
the mixed-up. This is no
tight ship. I wouldn’t
want my moments run off on an
assembly line like toy ducks. That’s
not the point…”
— Everette Maddox, “Just Normal”

Once again I hear the cry raised against the indiscriminate use of fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Yes they are illegal and to some people and their animals terribly annoying. I am sorry for your inconvenience. What disturbs me about this protest is that it is part and parcel of a snowballing intolerance for the transgressive by some citizens and the current city leadership. Whether it is fireworks on New Year’s Eve (or the sadly lost Mid-City Bonfire), unlicensed artisans at Jazz Fest or guerrilla food vendors at second lines or music clubs permitted only by the tolerance of neighbors who have long lived next door, we are losing the tolerance for the transgressive that is fundamental to who we are, to what this city is. It is that tolerance that made New Orleans a haven for gays and a magnet for artists, that makes Carnival and the year-round debauchery of Bourbon Street possible, that puts a pie-man on a bicycle at just the right corner at the very moment when you find you are most in need of a piece of sweet potato. Without it the inherent spontaneity of the city will be lost.

I spent 20 years wandering in regular America with only one dream, to return to this La La Land. I returned after the storm to a city that was not precisely the same one I left in my rear view mirror in 1986, and certainly not the city of my childhood, but so many of us spent so much effort in the years after the flood working to make sure that whatever came out of the events of 2005 it would be recognizably New Orleans. If we allow this creeping intolerance to take over the city it will become a Disney cartoon shadow of itself. If that is allowed to happen everything we have done in the last seven years will have been for nothing. We will become post-Hugo historic Charleston, S.C., a dark ghetto of transient tourist condos for the wealthy. The corner bars and restaurants that birthed the food and music of the city will be permitted out of existence. The city will keep its pretty buildings and fine restaurants but will no longer be New Orleans. It will be a frozen diorama of what once was.

I would not want to live in a city where a bar across from a church was not at least a grandfathered if not an explicitly permitted use.

I’m just a renter across from the race track but I still own property in Mid-City. I understand the complex and abstract math of property values. The banning of the bonfire depreciated my property on Toulouse Street in my eyes. I found Endymion to be mostly a bother (but a great excuse for an open-house party) and would never suggest it be moved out of Mid-City. When I lived in Treme years ago, I walked out of my large and cheap apartment (now an expensive condo) to listen to the New Year’s service music through the open windows of St. Anna’s that opened onto my yard. Before I sat down I noticed a hole in my plastic webbed lawn chair and beneath it a slug smashed on the concrete patio. There are common sense limits to tolerance but trying to ban fireworks, which have been both illegal and ubiquitous since my childhood in the 60s, is probably not a good use of the police’s time on National Amateur Drunk Driver Night. We need to learn to tolerate the inconveniences (fireworks, Endymion, all of Carnival if you happen to live uptown) in exchange for the pleasures our tolerance of the transgressive provides.

If you seek the perfect, suburban peace of the grave New Orleans is probably not the city for you. I am sorry if this statement angers you. I am one of you, if only a renter of a run down half shotgun on Fortin but I searched for a year for a property I could afford in this neighborhood. I have called Lake Vista, Gentilly, Treme and Carrollton home, but once I landed here I knew I had found the best neighborhood of all. When I walked into DeBlancs for the first time in 20 years and the woman behind the counter looked down at my license and up at me and said, “you look just like your father” who had passed on 20 years earlier I knew I was home. I’m not looking to stir up trouble but I have to say all this: I cannot idly sit by and watch the old and rough-running engine of this city throttled by the growing climate of intolerance until it stalls and dies. If you enjoy Endymion I have borne that burden for you, gladly. All I ask is the same forbearance in return.

Barbarians at the Gates December 28, 2012

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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Having survived BIOS 1053 I can lay back and imagine the rhino virus flying antigens like pirate flags, a million bits of me flocking to antibody banners: the loyal Basophil as always in the vanguard, the trusty Leukocytes marshaling in the south for the counter attack. I believe they have deployed Archimedes’ mirrors. My sinuses are aflame.

Odd Words December 27, 2012

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, NOLA, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
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It’s hard to wrap my brain around cleaning and rearranging the house from stem to stern as I contemplate the couch and my holiday book look: So Recently Rent a World by Andrei Codrescu, The Collected Stories of Dylan Thomas and a copy of All The Thinks Men in hardback from the library book sale in Leavenworth, KS sent by my sister. The number of fantastic titles I have picked up from Alibris and Abe that are boldly stamped WITHDRAWN or DISCARD simply amazes me. I don’t understand why a library would want to get rid of books.

Its a quiet week, perfect for settling into the couch with your holiday book.

& There’s only one bookstore event this week. Maple Street Bookstore’s Healing Center location hosts a book reading and signing with Melinda Palacio and Lucrecia Guerrero. Palacio’s newest poetry collection, How Fire is a Story, Waiting creates images that are at once heartbreaking and humorous. She tackles elemental subjects of family and childhood with the same depth and grace as that of myth making and death. Divided into four sections, Fire, Air, Water, and Earth, Palacio tempers heartbreak, violence, and disappointment with the antidote of humor, beauty, and an appreciation for life. In Guererro’s book, Tree of Sighs, a young girl, Altagracia, faces an uncertain future with a bitter and secretive grandmother after the sudden death of her parents. After the two sink into poverty, Altagracia ends up with a woman who takes her to the United States, changes her name to Grace, and puts her to work as a full-time domestic servant. Tree of Sighs is the story of Grace’s journey to uncover her past as she straddles two cultures in the search for her own identity.

& Saturday night at 9 p.m. Cafe Istanbul hosts the Southern Friend Fundraiser to support New Orleans’ hosting the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in June, 2013. The cover will be $10 and free for the first 10 poets to make the the list. This show will be sponsored by the good poets at WordPlay N.O.

& Sundays at 3 p.m. the south’s oldest continuous reading series at The Maple Leaf Bar meets in the back patio with featured readers followed by an open mike. On Dec. 30 poet Melinda Palacio reads from and signs her new book, How Fire Is A Story Waiting. This event was funded in part by Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant it has received from Poets & Writers, Inc. New Orleans.

& On Sunday evening at 7 p.m. Spoken Word New Orleans presents Speak Easy Sundays Poetry at the Club Caribbean 2441 Bayou Road. Cover. Visit their website for updates on other spoken word events and visiting artists all around town. Saturday, Dec. 29 at 3 p.m.

& Usually Every Monday at 9 p.m. on the amphitheater steps on Decatur Street across from Jackson Square it’s the outdoor open mic Writer’s Block. No rule, no mic, no rules, just right. Bringing cookies is an excellent introduction, and stay for the weekly finale, a rousing sing-a-long of Mercedes-Benz led by organizer Kate Smash.

& Susan Larson, the former book editor of the former Times-Picayune newspaper and member of the National Book Critics Circle hosts The Reading Life on WWNO (89.9 FM) on Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest.

Matthew 25:40 December 25, 2012

Posted by The Typist in books, cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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Our text today is Matthew 25:40 “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

The Dream Eater December 22, 2012

Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, Fortin Street, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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The city swallows dreams as it does the cars of the morning commute. Approaching from the east barricaded exits to nowhere stand as monuments to the vanity of speculators imagining hydrologically impossible towns, an endless extension of the city’s fringes farther into the dissolving marsh. The closer you approach, the towers of downtown bathed in a damp haze, the city appears like Atlantis ascending to reveal itself to a new age but this is just another soluble delusion. The exits to nowhere, the road collapsing into the soft earth which rolls the car like a small boat or drums a rattling tattoo, are reminders that the waters are gradually reclaiming the black muck bottom of forgotten dinosaur oceans, washed down by continental rivers, returning itself to the sea.

Every boarded corner barroom with its murals for Regal Beer is a dream. Canal Street with its tourist streetcars and its empty sailor’s stores is a dream. The mansions of forgotten cotton along St. Charles Avenue are a dream. The Lakefront shuttered at dusk against the predation of old fishermen and young lovers is a dream. The swallowed dreams confront us everywhere like empty bowls with the crazed scrapings of forgotten suppers, rattle in our ears like a bottle tree. They suck at our ankles like quicksand but the natives know the trick of crossing. We quicken our steps toward the corner spilling music and beer into the street, moving toward gumbo and corner smokers and everywhere the brass alleluia and the African drum. We move beneath the notice of the Manhattan-fashioned condos of the New Americans. Their dreams of bringing us the Anglo-Saxon gospel is another morsel for the hungry city.

Only those who willingly surrender their dreams to the city will see the windows of heaven opened and poured down upon them a blessing of dreams until there is no need. Sure its the old Malachi racket of every UHF messiah but just ask any oilman banished to Houston perdition contemplating the ex-wife bedrooms of his empty mansion as he puts the revolver to his lips. Look in the sunken, shadowed eyes of the skeleton woman backing her pearlescent Escalade into the shopping mall parking space. What use is an immortal soul without a guitar? What good is prosperity without a bar-tab entry to balance the books? What is the reason for a dream if you will not place it on the table and spin the wheel? Only the broken angels of St. Claude understand the bargain and make it freely and wear their dreams like ink in the skin. A terrible light pours out of their eyes like tears and bathes the city in dreams.

Æ

Cryptic Envelopment December 21, 2012

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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The faster we go, the rounder we get.

Happy New Year.

It’s After the End of the World December 21, 2012

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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“It’s after the end of the world. Don’t you know that yet?”
— Sun Ra

I did not see the end of the world up close and personal, but I lived it with a vicarious survivor’s guilt seven years ago that was–for me–world shattering.
Shall we rehearse those memories, if only to put to rest the nonsense of millennial crazies? It is an exercise more appropriate to Good Friday than Christmas so let it pass. I will not mar your holiday with that old crown of thorns.

And yet it is fitting to remember as the great Mayan wheel turns from Macha to the Pacha that the elders of that race promise a transformation not of the universe but of the hearts of men. In New Orleans we live with peril the way the rest of America lives with Starbucks, ubiquitous and just around the corner. Men have gashed canals into the earth and sucked the black blood of the ancestors, collapsing geological into historical time and dooming the lands and cultures of the Creoles and Acadians to eradication. It is not possible to forget that the great cities of the Maya lasted centuries longer than New Orleans can survive. One can only hope that instead of the false apocalypse people remember the words of the Mayan elders, who tell us that the the new cycle, the Pacha, will be the end of man’s dominion, the lifting of Yahweh’s curse, and the beginning of a time of humanity’s cohabitation with the earth and with each other. A thousand years from now, let the broken towers of downtown rise up from the water to remind everyone of the foolishness of the past.

Here on Fortin Street, a dozen miles as the crow counts from The End of the World Marina, it is Solstice not Apocalypse. Here it is already after the end of the world. Tonight I will kindle a fire in the cold clear night and roast meat and drink strong ale as my German ancestors would have done. If tonight there are parties in New Orleans we do not mock anyone’s gods. We thank our own, the tangled saints of Africa and Spain and the gods of our ancestors, for another day and a year to come on this fragile land.

Odd Words December 20, 2012

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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Hogswatchnight is almost upon us, and if you are one of those people who finished shopping in October, well, we hate you. For the rest, I think you know there this is going. Anyone on your list who would not enjoy a book probably doesn’t belong on your list unless they are a relative, in which case I recommend a festive holiday tie or pair of socks. Better yet, get them a festive holiday tale that will confirm their opinion that you are the “Odd one” in the family: Hogfather

& Sunday, Dec. 23 17 Poets! and the Maple Leaf Bar Reading Series unite for a benefit for The Kitchen, a New York City non-profit, interdisciplinary organization whose facilities were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Dave Brinks and Megan Burns at The Goldmine, 701 Dauphine St., will be opening the doors from 6 pm to 10 pm for a showing of the film POETRY IN MOTION, featuring Burroughs, Ginsberg, Bukowski, Snyder, Algarin, Snyder, Carroll, McClure, DiPrima, and many many more, followed by an open mic. No admission, but donations will be solicited to send to THE KITCHEN. At 3 p.m. Nancy Harris and the Maple Leaf Reading Series will host an open mic for donations to THE KITCHEN.

Yat Dictionary & If you’re looking for the perfect New Orleans holiday book don’t check the counters at Barnes & Noble. Get yourself out to your favorite local indie bookstore and buy a copy of The YAT Dictionary, by the insanely hilarious Chris Champagne. You can get yours personalized by Chris today at Octavia Books 3:30 to 5 PM, Maple Street by Bayou St John at 6pm, Friday, Dec. 21 at Finn McCool’s Christmas Market or Saturday, Dec. 22 at Crescent City Books on Chartres at 6 p.m.

& Another great gift book for Orleanians would be Rene Brunet’s and Jack Stewart’s chronicle of neighborhood movie theaters There’s One In Your Neighborhood. The authors will sign their book at Octavia Books Saturday, Dec. 22 at Octavia Books at 2 p.m. For more than a century the Brunet family has dedicated their lives to the movie theater industry. The co-author’s father opened his first theater in 1905 on Canal Street. When his father died in 1946, Rene Jr. at age 25, became the owner and operating manager of the Imperial Theater, which his father had built in 1921, was involved in preserving the oy Theater and Loew’s State Theater and, at the age of 75, saved the last single screen neighborhood movie theater in New Orleans, the Prytania Theater. He still owns and manages the Prytania and appears there every night, taking tickets at the door.

& Saturday at Maple Street Books it’s a holiday story time with Miss Maureen at 11:30 a.m. featuring Gaspard and Lisa’s Christmas Surprise by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben

& On Sunday evening at 7 p.m. Spoken Word New Orleans presents Speak Easy Sundays Poetry at the Club Caribbean 2441 Bayou Road. Cover. Visit their website for updates on other spoken word events and visiting artists all around town.

& Usually Every Monday at 9 p.m. on the amphitheater steps on Decatur Street across from Jackson Square it’s the outdoor open mic Writer’s Block. No rule, no mic, no rules, just right. Bringing cookies is an excellent introduction, and stay for the weekly finale, a rousing sing-a-long of Mercedes-Benz led by organizer Kate Smash.

& Susan Larson, the former book editor of the former Times-Picayune newspaper and member of the National Book Critics Circle hosts The Reading Life on WWNO (89.9 FM) on Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest.

The Haiku Lesson December 18, 2012

Posted by The Typist in Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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Haiku Lesson No. 1: Daffodils

Cloud-lonely journey.
A sudden daffodil host
banishes all gloom.

Haiku Lesson No. 2: The Waste Land

Tomb-builders erect
concrete monuments. We are
all hollow with death.

Haiku Lesson No. 3: Anecdote of the Jar

In Tennessee I
placed a jar upon a hill,
subduing mountains.

Bad Apples December 16, 2012

Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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The Apple Barrel is a trip hazard with a liquor license, 500 square feet maybe counting the superfluous jukebox I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard. In front Kenny Claiborne in once-white Western boots sings Indian Red like a Seventh Ward Kaddish over a mournful dobro. Momma Cat passes the tips spittoon while keeping time with a tambourine stick she says she got at church. Marco and Monica who painted the mural behind the band are in from Sarasota and as we talk Claiborne calls “Coldplay. Because we can” and the dobro hollers its own metal voice into the song. Piano Dave says the tattoos at Electric Ladyland are overpriced but I still contemplate Bukowski and Maddox on my forearms and think anyone I have to explain them to is probably not worth working for. The tourists sit mostly in the back, as expressionless and obvious as tinsel Christmas trees in a bail bondsman’s office, nursing incongruous Stella Artois until they give up or get a table at Adolfo’s upstairs. Photos of Coco Robicheaux watch over us with a Bodhisattva’s Cheshire serenity and I write and have to scratch out Kenny Holladay instead of Claiborne when I start to jot these notes but as long as there’s a band I am half right: Coco and Kenny and a host of others whose boots will never pass through these door again are as palpable as the smoke from the musicians’ cigarettes. I contemplate my bottle and think that if I have another Jockamo there’s no telling what’s going to happen but we are prepared to exercise the uncertainly principle until we raise Schrodinger’s cat from the grave. We order Reposado shook over ice and tell J.D. to make one for himself, then pour the first taste onto the floor. Somewhere outside the door is the heart of Saturday night and Apple Maps will never get you there. You have to follow the woman dressed in wrong-holiday rabbit ears through this door and never be afraid to drink what’s in front of you.

Odd Words December 13, 2012

Posted by The Typist in books, Fortin Street, literature, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
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Odd Words is on the road this week so this will be brief. I do hope to slip away from Moloch’s clutches long enough to visit the jazz jam session at HR-57 in D.C., where last time poets were welcome to come up along with musicians. But for now, its Breakfast with the Executives and something called a “deep dive” in which we all sit around a table intently hiding last night’s hangovers while “drilling down” into the topic at hand.

& Tonight is the final installment of the fall series at 17 Poets! featuring Laura Semilian and Julian Semilian. All the details are on the 17 Poets! web site and all I can add is that I’m damned sad I’m going to miss their annual visit.

& Tonight Octavia Books hosts a reading and booksigning with New Orleans writer and poet Malinda Palacio celebrating her just released book of poetry, HOW FIRE IS A STORY, WAITING. Palacio’s newest poetry collection creates images that are at once heartbreaking and humorous. She tackles elemental subjects of family and childhood with the same depth and grace as that of myth making and deathThursday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m.

& New Orleans author Moira Crone will present a reading of her new novel, The Not Yet, which takes place in the near future, in a post-apocalyptic Mississippi Delta in which resources are slim, society is radically stratified, the elites are hellbent on living forever, and one young hero is left to piece together a life in a world that likely resembles our own future. AT PRESS STREET, 3718 ST. CLAUDE Avenue, ‎7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13. There is an interview with Crone on the Room 220 web site.

& Also this evening, Emily Ford presents The Jews of New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta at Garden District Books. The early days of Louisiana settlement brought with them a clandestine group of Jewish pioneers. Isaac Monsanto and other traders spited the rarely enforced Code Noir banning their occupancy, but it wasn’t until the Louisiana Purchase that larger numbers colonized the area. Immigrants like the Sartorius brothers and Samuel Zemurray made their way from Central and Eastern Europe to settle the bayou country along the Mississippi. They made their homes in and around New Orleans and the Mississippi River delta, establishing congregations like that of Tememe Derech and B’Nai Israel, with the mighty river serving as a mode of transportation and communication, connecting the communities on both sides of the riverbank. Dec. 13 at 5:30 p.m.

&Friday at the Martin Luther King Branch of the New Orleans Public Library there will be a poetry workshop for adults funded in part by Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant it received from Poets & Writers, Inc. New Orleans. For more information call the Martin Luther King Branch 596-2695. From 3-5 p.m. Dec. 14.

& Friday Maple Street Books Bayou St. John continues its The Diane Tapes reading series, featuring: Christopher Lirette, from Chauvin, Louisiana, lives in Atlanta, Georgia. His work appears in The Southern Review, Hayden’s Ferry, PANK, and other places; Mel Coyle is from Chicago and other places where the corn grows. She co-edits the poetry journal TENDE RLOIN; and, Metta Sama, author of Nocturne Trio and South of Here. Dec 14 at 6 p.m.

& Saturday is Story Time with Miss Maureen, this week featuring Shall I Knit You a Hat: A Christmas Yarn by Kate Klise, Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise. Kids will make paper snowflakes and eat carrot cake, like rabbits do when it’s winter. Dec. 15 at 11 a.m.

& Saturday New Orleans artist Phil Sandusky comes to Octavia Books to sign NEW ORLEANS IMPRESSIONIST CITYSCAPES: The Alure of the Image. More than 130 plein air paintings created between late 2006 and early 2012 portray the many angles of New Orleans, from intimate scenes to magnificent vistas. Dec. 15. at 2 p.m.

& On Sunday evening at 7 p.m. Spoken Word New Orleans presents Speak Easy Sundays Poetry at the Club Caribbean 2441 Bayou Road. Cover. Visit their website for updates on other spoken word events and visiting artists all around town.

& The New Orleans Haiku Society’s monthly meeting is Monday at 6 p.m. at the Milton Latter Memorial Library. 5-7-5ers welcome.

& Every Monday at 9 p.m. on the amphitheater steps on Decatur Street across from Jackson Square it’s the outdoor open mic Writer’s Block. No rule, no mic, no rules, just right. Bringing cookies is an excellent introduction, and stay for the weekly finale, a rousing sing-a-long of Mercedes-Benz led by organizer Kate Smash.

& Susan Larson, the former book editor of the former Times-Picayune newspaper and member of the National Book Critics Circle hosts The Reading Life on WWNO (89.9 FM) on Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest.

& Wednesday poets Allan Peterson and Ben Kopel will appear at Maple Street’s Uptown location at 6 p.m. Peterson’s fourth book, Fragile Acts, is the second title in the McSweeney’s Poetry Series. His prior books are: As Much As (Salmon Press, 2011); All the Lavish in Common (2005 Juniper Prize, Univ. of Massachusetts), Anonymous Or (Defined Providence Prize 2001) and six chapbooks, notably Omnivore, winner of the 2009 Boom Prize from Bateau Press. Local poet Kopel, author of poetry collection, Victory, will be joining Peterson.

I’m in such a hurry I’m afraid I must have missed something, but I’ll get it updated this afternoon.

To the Moon, Alice December 11, 2012

Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, Federal Flood, hurricane, je me souviens, Toulouse Street.
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The TWA terminal of gracefully contorted concrete stands ready to load orbital shuttles that will never come. I imagine  Stanley Kubric in transit from L.A. to London stepping out of that building to stretch his legs and standing agog as I do, strains of the Vienna Waltz spinning through the air.

My weather app on the phone tells me I am in Far Rockaway.

There is something equally fantastic in the Jet Blue terminal, an ominous normality while somewhere beneath the view of arriving and departing passengers survivors huddle in tents. My phones’ weather feature says I am in Far Rockaway. 8142818841_a5b7757e8d_b

This does not look like Far Rockaway in the wake of Sandy. It looks like Starbucks and Cinnabon and I ♥ NY t-shirts. There is no Sandy memorial newspaper or magazine. There is no sign that just across the way people are huddled in tents in the freezing cold. They lack the dramatic quality of the huddled Black masses at the convention center, the suggestion of the alien that makes it all OK. God forbid we should see real Americans shivering in the freezing cold like Syrian refugees.

There is no mention of Sandy’s aftermath on the Jet Blue in flight video. Nothing to see here. Move along.

It can’t happen here.

Geography is Wrong December 9, 2012

Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Geography is wrong. The world has its edges. You first discover this in school, especially if you are a quiet or odd child. Forget Pythagoras. Whatever your teacher said about a circular world you begin to find its corners, in retreat or in escape. Definite rectangles. Less tangible than the globe in the corner but clearly there.

Later, older and out in the world, you discover its edges.

This one is beautiful, indefinite, a faint, prismatic progression from sky to sea blue. You wonder if it has a sound, water falling over the edge like the surf on the rocks below you but steadier, a sound like sunlight on the skin, bound to the edge like the sun to its circuit. I can no more hear it from here than I can sunbathe at midnight, but I can imagine it and for now, that is enough. This is a quiet corner like those you remember from childhood, perfectly suited to lapses into imagination. I have had enough of edges—the crumbling soft rock and plummeting air, the hard mathematical choices, knives like laughter—and prefer this one keeps its distance for now: remote, beautiful and available.

There are two ways down from this rolling hill. One leads through the scrub to a road that leads to a highway that leads to an airport where planes roar backward and tail first in time toward places I have been and will not visit again. The other wanders lazily down until it is it cloven into two forks: left toward town, right toward the beach. Not a complicated choice and one completely out of your hands. You either need to go into town for something, groceries and bit of human company as you sip a beer, or you need nothing and want nothing and so go down to the beach, lay in the warm sand with your head pillowed on a spare towel, and look toward that striated edge-sky in the distance.

I arrived here, passport expired, with just enough money in a distant bank to make myself welcome. There is no need to renew my papers. Dollars are introduction enough and I am in no hurry to go. As long as the money lasts I am greeted at the market, poured my regular beer without asking, and mostly left alone. I ignore my fellow countrymen whenever I can, who arrive here only by accident or worse, driven by a sense of adventure I recognize and avoid. I wear the loose-fitting local clothes and a straw hat and let the sun be my disguise. Cornered, I smile and shrug and hold up my hands to say, not much, then direct them towards the magnificent cliffs further up the road, the explosions of surf, the rugged, sculptured stone, the cliff divers. I recommend a hotel there I have never visited and walk back up the sloping path toward the cottage.

I stop at the fork, select a comfortable rock and watch a liquid sun slowly pour over the horizon, spreading a molten orange line that momentarily illuminates the edge. I wait for the green flash, a signal to proceed, but it does not come. A shadowless twilight illuminates the path. The further I go from the shore the more the surf takes on the steady roar as of water over a cataract. Someday the green flash will come, and I will know it is time to go. Until then the sound of distant water lulls me to sleep.

Odd Words December 6, 2012

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
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This week’s standout event is Next Wednesday: The Hard Times Blues Tour 2012 comes at Fairgrinds (next to Maple Street Book Shop’s Bayou St. John location) with Elwin Cotman, Ben Passmore, & Luka Miro presenting their comics, fiction, poetry, and music, and to hear debut readings from their newest works. Poet Ben Kopel will also be reading. Cotman is the author of the acclaimed short story collection The Jack Daniels Sessions EP (Six Gallery Press, 2010) (the updated third edition of which will be on hand), and of the upcoming collection Hard Times Blues. The Jack Daniels Sessions EP is a collection of fabulist stories, many based out of American folklore. Cotman is the author of the acclaimed short story collection The Jack Daniels Sessions EP (Six Gallery Press, 2010) (the updated third edition of which will be on hand), and of the upcoming collection Hard Times Blues. The Jack Daniels Sessions EP is a collection of fabulist stories, many based out of American folklore Miro will be sharing poetry from their most recent collection, Cane Break. Kopel, poet, is the author of Victory (H_NGM_N press). He currently lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he teaches creative writing and English literature to high school students. He also curates the Diane Tapes Reading Series at Maple Street Book Shop in the Bayou St. John neighborhood. Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 8 p.m.

& Tonight don’t miss a reading and signing by the United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey at the New Orleans Main Library at 7 p.m. A Gulf Coast Native, Trethewey is a Pulitizer Prize winner, and the 19th Poet Laureate. She is the author of Thrall, Native Guard, Bellcqc’s Ophelia, Domestic Work and Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.

& This evening Octavia Books presents Photographer David G. Spielman’s WHEN NOT PERFORMING: New Orleans Musicians, revealing portraits of New Orleans’ performers which provides a provocative and intimate glimpse into the musical pulse of the city. Spielman followed these talented artists through neighborhoods, backstreets, and bars, using little more than a Leica camera. Printed as duotones, the emotional images speak without shouting. These revealing portraits of New Orleans’ performers provide a provocative and intimate glimpse into the musical pulse of the city.Thursday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m.

& Also on Thursday Maple Street Book Shop hosts Tom Varisco, Will Crocker, Jackson Hill, and John Biguenet will be signing Jackson Squared, at their Uptown location. Tom’s book documents the French Quarter’s Jackson Square, the heart of the quarter, with funny, surprising and sometimes shocking pictures by Tom and photographers Will Crocker and Jackson Hill and essays by John Biguenet, John Carr, Nicole Biguenet Pedersen and Susan Sarver. Even the statue of Old Hickory weighs in with some colorful art criticism and an ode to the Who Dat nation. The book is an irreverent celebration of one of America’s most famous destinations. Thursday, December 6th at 6PM.

& This Thursday 17 Poets! present Michael Allen Zell and Jenn Marie Nunes. Zell will be reading and signing his new book Errata from
Lavender Ink. He was a finalist for the 2011 Calvino Prize, finalist for the 2010 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition, and was nominated for the 2012 Best American Short Stories. Nunes is a poet and writer living whose echapbook, STRIP, is available online through [PANK] Magazine, July 2011. She is co-founding editor of TENDE RLOIN, an online gallery for poetry. Thursday, Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. Sign up for open mic to follow beings at 7:30 p.m.

& On Friday Octavia Books features a presentation and signing of Mary Mann Hamilton’s TRIALS OF THE EARTH featuring Kerry Hamilton and Sheilah Hamilton Pantin, heirs of Mary Mann Hamilton, who have made her celebrated autobiography available in a 20th anniversary edition with a new introduction by Morgan Freeman after being out of print for many years. From a manuscript that surfaced intact more than 50 years after it was composed, we gain illuminating insight into a pioneering world previously unknown. Mary Hamilton writes of searing hardships, wild joys and the unthinkable work it took to survive in her day in the wilderness of the primitive Mississippi Delta. Friday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.

& This Saturday’s Story Time with Miss Maureen at Maple Street Book Shop Uptown features Light the Lights! by Margaret Moorman. Kids will make paper snowflakes and drink hot chocolate. Saturday, Dec. 8 at 11:30 a.m.

& After Story Time, Maple Street features Cornell Landry signing his latest children’s book, The Amazing Adventure of Mardi Gras Bead Dog, at our Uptown location Saturday, December 8th, 1 p.m.

& Saturday Octavia Books hosts award-winning children’s picture book author and musician Johnette Downing presents and signs her wonderful new book, WHY THE POSSUM HAS A LARGE GRIN. An adaptation of a traditional Choctaw tale told in the rhythmic verse reminiscent of the classic Br’er Rabbit tales. Saturday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m.

& The December meeting of the The Dickens Fellowship of New Orleans will feature a group read-a-loud of A Christmas Carol at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8. at Metairie Park Country Day School’s Bright Library.

& There will be no reading at the Maple Leaf Poetry Series due to the late Saint’s game, as there will be no place to read in case of inclement weather.

& On Sunday evening at 7 p.m. Spoken Word New Orleans presents Speak Easy Sundays Poetry at the Club Caribbean 2441 Bayou Road. Cover. Visit their website for updates on other spoken word events and visiting artists all around town.

& Every Monday at 9 p.m. on the amphitheater steps on Decatur Street across from Jackson Square it’s the outdoor open mic Writer’s Block. No rule, no mic, no rules, just right. Bringing cookies is an excellent introduction, and stay for the weekly finale, a rousing sing-a-long of Mercedes-Benz led by organizer Kate Smash.

& Susan Larson, the former book editor of the former Times-Picayune newspaper and member of the National Book Critics Circle hosts The Reading Life on WWNO (89.9 FM) on Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest.

& Tuesday Octavia Books hosts Ken Foster, author of THE DOGS WHO FOUND ME, returns to Octavia Books to give a reading and sign his new book, I’M A GOOD DOG: : Pit Bulls, America’s Most Beautiful (and Misunderstood) Pet. Filled with inspiring stories and photographs, this heartfelt tribute to the pit bull celebrates one of America’s most popular yet misunderstood dogs. Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m.

& On Wednesday The Hard Times Blues Tour 2012 comes to Fairgrinds (next to Maple Street Book Shop’s Bayou St. John location) for Elwin Cotman, Ben Passmore, & Luka Miro presenting their comics, fiction, poetry, and music, and to hear debut readings from their newest works. Poet Ben Kopel will also be reading. Cotman is the author of the acclaimed short story collection The Jack Daniels Sessions EP (Six Gallery Press, 2010) (the updated third edition of which will be on hand), and of the upcoming collection Hard Times Blues. The Jack Daniels Sessions EP is a collection of fabulist stories, many based out of American folklore. Cotman is the author of the acclaimed short story collection The Jack Daniels Sessions EP (Six Gallery Press, 2010) (the updated third edition of which will be on hand), and of the upcoming collection Hard Times Blues. The Jack Daniels Sessions EP is a collection of fabulist stories, many based out of American folklore Miro will be sharing poetry from their most recent collection, Cane Break. Kopel, poet, is the author of Victory (H_NGM_N press). He currently lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he teaches creative writing and English literature to high school students. He also curates the Diane Tapes Reading Series at Maple Street Book Shop in the Bayou St. John neighborhood. Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 8 p.m.

Death Will Tremble to Take Us December 5, 2012

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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1 comment so far

Death Will Tremble to Take Us

O-o-o-oh, Romeo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o… December 3, 2012

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, Odd Words, Theater, Toulouse Street.
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4 comments

If you were thinking of going to see the well acted and thoughtfully staged The NOLA Project production of Romeo and Juliet and NOMA: don’t. The acoustics and sight lines are horrible in the foyer of NOMA and render a great part of the dialogue, including the balcony scene, unintelligible to the audience on stage right. Only a handful of the actors–A.J. Allegro as Mercutio, Natalie Boyd as the Nurse, James Yeargain as Friar John and experienced Shakespeareans Martin Covert and Jim Wright as Montague and Capulet, managed to modulate their voices to minimize the echoes and so be intelligible and demonstrate their talent. Even the best of the actors sometimes were placed in the space so that one despairs of understanding them. Good use was made of the four entrances and stairway to generate an energetic tension in the scenes of conflict between the young men of the two families, but the scenes of Juliet on the staircase and balcony, while dramatically staged, placed her dead in the center of the echo chamber. Kristin Witterschein was a fresh and charming Juliet What can be seen from an obstructed view and what could be understood was well done, but I’m judging much of her performance from tone of voice and a few brief glimpses, as if I were watching a foreign film behind a tall man in a tall hat. I would love to see this company perform this in another place.

If you already have your tickets, be sure to arrive by 6:00 for the 7:30 curtain and run don’t walk to a seat in front stage left, where I think you would at least be able to understand the balcony scene and have unobstructed sight lines. Or else be sure to read the play before you come so you can at least play it in part in your own head. If you insist on going, buy an obstructed sight line ticket and save some money because there was no effort made to actually segregate the seating, and our full price tickets placed us squarely between two pillars and we arrived at 6:30.

Cranes December 1, 2012

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Fortin Street, Toulouse Street.
1 comment so far

Cranes

The rain erodes rock,
crevices for the trees but
cranes are eternal.

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