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Odd Words January 31, 2013

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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Ploughshares has published its Literary Burroughs #49, covering the literary scene in New Orleans. You can check it out here. Kudos to auuthor Micheal Zell of Crescent City Books for a great job. Also, check out the review of Zell’s Eratta on the marquee alt-lit site HTML Giant.

The 5×20 Black Widow Salon at Crescent City Books originally scheduled for Feb. 4 has been moved to Monday, February 18th to push it past Carnival season.

It’s a quiet week, what with the Super Bowl in town. I’m not sure a new edition of the Bible personally signed by God could sell enough copies to cover the cost of a night’s room in a hotel this week. Come out and check out a new performance event, or support a local author. Maple Street Bookstore is even offering a night of quiet, acoustic music if the Super Gras is just too much for you. Tuesday, Feb. 5 at the Uptown location at 7 p.m. A $5 donation for the bands is requested. Featured are real live tigers
(sparse country splinters from Fayetteville, AR), pyeya (vocal trio singing balkan siren songs and never ever(acoustic folk embraces). I’m not sure what Balkan siren songs are but I’m intrigued.

Given all the insanity downtown, I think this might be a good week to start Infinite Jest.

& Tonight, Jan. 30 Octavia Books hosts a presentation and book signing by Ed Branley celebrating his new book, LEGENDARY LOCALS OF NEW ORLEANS, covering the full spectrum of the city’s historical personalities from John Lafitte to Drew Brees. Branley, a former history teacher, is now a computer consultant and independent scholar who teaches, writes, and continually discovers (and shares) the wonders of his hometown, New Orleans. This is his fourth book for Arcadia Publishing.

Friday Night Faubourg Marigny Art & Books hosts a “Superbowl Signing” 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. featuring FRED LYON’s AND DAVID G. SPIELMAN’s “WHEN NOT PERFORMING”. I did a French Quarter Fest signing here once and surprisingly, Otis sold almost exactly the number of books the next day to match the people who said they didn’t want to cart one around that night but promised to come back later for one.

& The new Sunday show from Spoken Word New Orleans is Poetry and Paint Brushes. Poets perform as our resident artists paints the crowd and performers. Also at Special Tea, 4337 Banks Street. No longer at the Bayou Road location.

& Monday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. Carolyn Hembree will read from her debut collection, Skinny, and her unpublished manuscript, Rigging a Chevy into a Time Machine & Other Ways to Escape a Plague, this Monday at Tulane’s Cudd Hall. A brief Q&A, reception and booksigning will follow the reading. This event will complete the New Orleans leg of her book tour.

& I’m not sure about the usual Monday, 9 p.m. Writer’s Block, usually held on the amphitheater steps on Decatur Street across from Jackson Square. Check the Facebook page for details.

& On Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. The 1718 Society, a student-run literary organization of Tulane, Loyola, and UNO students, hosts reader Josip Novakovich. “Hailed as one of the best short story writers of the 1990s, Josip Novakovich was praised by the New York Times for writing fiction that has ‘the crackle of authenticity, like the bite of breaking glass.’ In his new collection, he explores a war-torn Balkan world in which a schoolchild’s innocence evaporates in a puff of cannon smoke, lust replaces love, and the joy of survival overrides all other pleasures.”

& 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 nights from 7-10 Lyrics and Laughs bridges comedy and poetry featurig performers from both genres at Special Tea, 4337 Banks St.

That’s it. No parades, riots in the streets downtown and you know you always meant to get around to Anna Karenina.

Ghostly January 24, 2013

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Fortin Street, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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It’s 8:45. With the blackout curtains drawn you are not sure if it is anti- or post-meridian and you are not too sure you brain is clear on the matter after it shocked you awake with a dream meant for that purpose. You dream you are urinating and it has happened before, you were taking some medication that left you so dopey you were doing just that. You ask your doctor if you should see the urologist but you have just been discussing the problem with the medication another doctor has given you and she–who is younger than you–confesses to doing exactly the same thing when taking a similar medication, too knocked-out to answer the call of nature)

You are dead knocked out when the dream empties into your full body like an electric shock, bolting upright and every muscle at attention. You begin to wonder if your unconscious is just as confused as the waking brain after a 14 hour day starting at 3:a.m., up at 1 a.m. to have time for cigarettes, coffee and food in that rigorous, monastic order of addiction. Lunch at 3:30 in the afternoon with beers you hope will take off the coffee adrenaline edge of the day and lead to you what you plan as a nap which you now realize clearly is going all night with this interruption. You turn on the light, decide to ice your sprained wrist and read but realize you can’t smoke, elevate and read at the same time.

You look at the hotel window with the blackout curtains drawn for some hint of light and notice what looks like a pale leak of daylight above the curtain top but then the valence is hung from something clearly attached to the ceiling that would block any such light, and the glow is only on one end and ghostly blue. It is the reflection of the screen of your laptop. Ghostly is such a diaphanous adjective, weak tea any decent teacher of writing would strike right out but until you have studied that light, its faint gray-blue, the way it appears to hover just below the ceiling like a cloud of smoke and faintly pulse with the cycling of a screen saver you don’t know ghostly

The witching hour is only by the clock if you blow out a candle before you go to bed. Jump a time zone then get up with five hours sleep for a long day of coffee and tension in a meeting room with a handful of dreadfully intent people, two phones going and the walls covered with lists and charts, other people coming and going with urgent rumors or looking for news, then a late lunch with beer until you finally pass out at 5 p.m. and it might as well be the stroke of twelve in a cemetery. You have your own ghosts, the texts from your ex-wife asking if you’re free to talk and no you are not, not in the middle of all this, are just the incantation to call them up.

Exhaustion and Belgian ale put you to sleep but don’t unwind the spring work has wrapped around your chest. The dream is just a warning from your lizard brain which doesn’t know if it is time to eat or shit, run or hide in the dark. By the time you have padded to the bathroom and back, found your water bottle and the ice pack for your wrist you are groggy again. You lie on your back examining that light in the corner and you begin to understand what a little moonlight could do to someone awake at the wrong time with the burdens of the world like a lead stole filled with the world’s sins, at an hour when one’s own haunts creep just beneath the skin and suddenly you are sure that light is floating just under the ceiling.

Ghostly is a fine word, just the one you are looking for. It is the reason you got up to write this. You decide to keep it, it’s perfectly rational cause a talisman against the others that rattle their chains in your skull at the most inconvenient times.

Odd Words January 23, 2013

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
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Here are the literary listings for New Olreans for Jan. 24-30, brought to you weekly on Thursdays by Odd Words on ToulouseStreet.net.

& Thursday, Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. Octavia Books features a presentation and booksigning with New Orleans-based journalist Keith O’Brien featuring his new book, OUTSIDE SHOT: Big Dreams, Hard Times, and One County’s Quest for Basketball Greatness. ““If you have ever wanted a look into the broken but still beating heart of high school sports, into a world where a young man’s future—and a town’s slipping pride–can hang on an in-bounds pass or one more foul, then Keith O’Brien has a book for you.” —Rick Bragg, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of All Over But the Shoutin’.”

& Also on Thursday Garden District Book Shop features Prytania Movie Theater owner, Rene Brunet, and Historian Jack Stewart at ther Uptown location for a discussion and signing of their book There’s One in Your Neighborhood: The Lost Movie Theaters of New Orleans, Thursday, January 24th, at 6 pm. There’s One In Your Neighborhood is an encyclopedic, photo-filled coffee-table book chronicling the history of the city’s neighborhood theaters. Organized by neighborhood — with another section devoted to drive-ins — it includes histories and photographs of more than 100 local theaters collected over the years by Brunet, as well as contributions from local movie experts including Rose Kern, Michael Hurley and A.J. Roquevert. In the process, it offers a fascinatingly detailed snapshot of a bygone era.

& On Saturday, Jan. 26 Octavia Books hosts a children’s book event featuring Favorite local children’t picture book author Cornell Landry (GOODNIGHT NOLA) is returning to Octavia Books just in time to put you in that Mardi Gras spirit with a story time reading and signing of his shinny new book, THE AMAZING ADVENTURE OF MARDI GRAS BEAD DOG, the irresistible tale of a boy, his bead dog, and what ensues.

& Also on Saturday, Storytime with Miss Maureen at Maple Street Books Uptown location features The Other Side of Town by Jon Agee at 11:30 a.m.

¿ I wonder where bead dogs come from? We didn’t make them when I was a kid, and it was one of the first skills my son picked up after moving to New Orleans.

Saturday, Jan. 26 also marks the day 21 years ago I learned you do not tell the cab company your wife is in labor if you expect them to show up. Happy Birthday Ms. Killian Folse (and yes, sweetie, I did scads of research to establish that the patronym Killian is frequently given as a girl’s name in the U.S., if not in Ireland. And patronyms as given names are a well established tradition in the South). Sometimes I still miss reading Good Night, Moon.

& The new Sunday show from Spoken Word New Orleans is  Poetry and Paint Brushes. Poets perform as our resident artists paints the crowd and performers. Also at Special Tea, 4337 Banks Street. No longer at the Bayou Road location.

& 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.

¿ On Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. Garden District Book Shop will host Jen Lancaster and her second novel Here I Go Again. The second novel from the “New York Times”-bestselling author of “If You Were Here” takes readers back to the hair metal 80’s. Bring some ‘tude, an awesome concert t-shirt you can never part with and your BIC lighter.

& On Tuesday, Jan. 29 the Lunch ‘n’ Lit group will be meeting at the Keller Library Community Center Loft at 12 pm (every fourth Tuesday. Participants should bring their lunch. For their January meeting, they’ll be reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Cornel West, which details the parallel discrimination patterns of Jim Crow Laws and those levied against convicted criminals today. And don’t forget, whatever book club you’re in, book club books are always 10% off at Maple Street Book Shop.

& Wednesday nights from 7-10 Lyrics and Laughs bridges comedy and poetry featurig performers from both genres at Special Tea, 4337 Banks St.

& A week from today on Thursday, Jan 31. Octavia Books hosts a presentation and book signing by Ed Branley celebrating his new book, LEGENDARY LOCALS OF NEW ORLEANS.

Everybody’s Having Fun January 19, 2013

Posted by The Typist in Carnival, Krewe du Vieux, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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Hot gluing feather boas to a tulle bustle is not what most men in America are doing on a Friday night. Most men in America could not, turned loose in a fabric store with five minutes and a $10,000 prize, find a bolt of tulle. When my daughter’s last North Dakota recital came and her mother was in New Orleans, I felt uniquely equipped by my Carnival training to carefully trim her tutu to the desired length.

Of course this means its Carnival Time And Everybody’s Having Fun assembling some sort of costume. When I lived in North Dakota people would say, “Oh, Mardi Gras. Always wanted to do that” but I’m not sure they really meant it. There is something in the Lutheran soul not properly equipped for a religious holiday involving men wearing bustles of tulle and boas in a general atmosphere of public drunkeness and lewdity. And I cannot imagine any of them dressed as a cross between Foghorn Leghorn, Super Chicken and Priapus.

Yes, there will be pictures tagged in Facebook I am sure and no I do not care what employment counselors think of that. I want everyone at my employing bank, Moloch. N.A., to know just how much fun they are not having Saturday night, how much fun we’ll be having on Tuesday in a few weeks while they slave over laptops and Policoms. I worked with a fellow for a while who managed an invite to a selective sub-krewe and who’s wife had landed a plum job at the Contemporary Arts Center any number of art majors I know would kill to have. He was British and I loved to kid him about “going native.” I was sure they would never return to the world headquarters of Moloch but they did.

I will never understand that decision.

Odd Words January 17, 2013

Posted by The Typist in books, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
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& The creative writing programs of New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and Lusher Charter School are honored to present distinguished essayist, novelist, and acclaimed film critic Phillip Lopate as part of the 2013 New Orleans New Writers Literary Festival Thursday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Reily Recital Hall at NOCCA, 2800 Chartres Street. Reception to follow. Free and open to the public. Lopate has served as visiting writer for both programs. He considered one of the foremost American essayists and a central figure in the recent revival of interest in memoir writing and is best known for his supple and surprising essays. Lopate is the author of three essay collections, Bachelorhood (Little, Brown & Co., 1981); Against Joie de Vivre(Simon & Schuster, 1989); and Portrait of My Body (Doubleday-Anchor, 1996). A new collection, Portrait Inside My Head, is forthcoming in 2013 (Simon & Schuster). He has also published two novellas in the book entitled Two Marriages (Other Press, 2008); two novels, Confessions of Summer(Doubleday, 1979) and The Rug Merchant (Viking, 1987); three poetry collections, At the End of the Day: Selected Poems (Marsh Hawk Press, 2009), The Eyes Don’t Always Want to Stay Open (Sun Press, 1972), and The Daily Round (Sun Press, 1976); and a memoir of his teaching experiences,Being With Children (Doubleday, 1975). An instructive book, To Show and Tell: the Craft of Literary Nonfiction will be published in 2013 (Simon & Schuster).

& The UNO Creative Writing Workshop and the UNO Fine Arts Department will host a poetry reading on Thursday, January 24, at 7 p.m. at the UNO Fine Arts Campus Gallery. Poet Megan Burns, whose most recent collection is out from Dancing Girl Press, will read from her “Dollbaby poems” and the “Poetic of Nicki Minaj.” Poet Kristin Sanders, whose poetry chapbook Orthorexia is also out from Dancing Girl Press, will read and sing her newest series, “I Learned To Be A Woman From A Nineties Country Song.” A wine and cheese reception and book signing will follow the reading.

& Also tonight Octavia Books hosts a presentation and booksigning with “New Orleans Food Goddess” Lorin Gaudin and photographer Romney Caruso celebrating the launch of their new book, NEW ORLEANS CHEF’S TABLE: Extraordinary Recipes from the French Quarter to the Garden District, with recipes for the home cook from over 50 of the city’s most celebrated restaurants and showcasing 100 beautiful full-color photos.

& Saturday’s Story Time with Miss Maureen at Garden District Book Shop Uptown at 11:30 a.m. features Epossumondas Saves the Day by Coleen Salley.

& Saturday at 5 p.m. Garden District Book Shop’s Bayou St. John location hosts a reading and signing of with author Lauren Belski. Whatever Used to Grow Around Here is a collection of nine short stories that consider the experiences that resonate in the lives of American youth who strive to live meaningfully during times threatening to negate and dissolve.

& Friday evening Brett Evans, Christopher Shipman, Chris Brunt, & Michael Yusko read at the Art Salon on Magazine Friday evening at 6:45.

& Faubourg Marigny Art & Books will be hosting Krewe du Vieux signings Saturday from 1 p.m to 11 p.m. featuring John Swenson’s New Atlantis , Michael Patrick Welch’s Y’all’s Problem and New Orleans: Underground Guide.

& On Sunday, Jan. 17 You are invited to An Afternoon Tea at 1 p.m. at Garden District Books with Romance Authors: Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway discussing and signing their book The Lady Most Willing: A Novel in Three Parts co-authored by the trio.

& Maple Street’s Bayou St. John location will be host a discussion and signing with Juliet Linderman, editor of Refugee Hotel, Sunday, Jan. 13 at 5 p.m. Refugee Hotel is a groundbreaking collection of photography and oral histories that documents the experiences of refugees in the United States. Linderman is the River Parishes reporter for The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com. Formerly the editor of a small community newspaper in Brooklyn, she has written for many publications including The New York Times and Village Voice.

& The new Sunday show from Spoken Word New Orleans is  Poetry and Paint Brushes. Poets perform as our resident artists paints the crowd and performers. Also at Special Tea, 4337 Banks Street. No longer at the Bayou Road location.

& Sunday at 5 p.m. at Cafe Istanbul in the Healing Center Michael Tod Edgerton returns to New Orleans to read from his just-released book of poetry, VITREOUS HIDE (Lavender Ink 2013), and from his current, participatory writing and art project, WHAT MOST VIVIDLY, which will be accompanied by a dance performance from special guest Claudia Copeland. As it’s Tod’s birthday, it’ll be a bit of a birthday bash as well, so come celebrate with us at Cafe Istanbul (http://cafeistanbulnola.com/) in the Healing Center!

& This Monday, Jan. 14 is the monthly meeting of the New Orleans Haiku Society at the Milton Latter Memorial Library at 6 p.m.

& 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.

& On Tuesday, Jan. 22 Kim Marie Vaz presents and signs her new book, THE “BABY DOLLS”: Breaking the Race and Gender Barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition at Octavia Books at 6 p.m. One of the first women’s organizations to mask and perform during Mardi Gras, the Million Dollar Baby Dolls redefined the New Orleans carnival tradition.

&Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Garden District Book Shop NOLA Food Goddess Lorin Gaudin with photographer, Romney Caruso discuss and sign their book, New Orleans Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the French Quarter to the Garden District. Join Lorin and Romney with a number of local chefs who prepare and serve their tasty treats.

& Wednesday nights from 7-10 Lyrics and Laughs bridges comedy and poetry featurig performers from both genres at Special Tea, 4337 Banks St.

The Small Rain January 16, 2013

Posted by The Typist in Fortin Street, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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One step out the door and I know I’m not going out, no way am I dragging my lingering smoker’s bronchitis out to the 7:10 Esplanade and downtown.Thank god and DARPA and whoever else is responsible for VPN. I linger a minute, immersed in the shocking north-blown damp, my hand out to capture to bit of icy rain. Spring they used to call this in North Dakota; I mean, the ice is off the lakes and the crocus are poking up through the last black bits of snow. That ice-cold rain even in the middle of June. The temperature has crept into the 70s but the rain comes down like some terrible accident at the ice house, stinging reminders of why the early pilots wore fleece-lined leather jackets, that 46.8 N is just over halfway to the pole.

It’s a small rain, as if the just visible mist were a distant cloud of tundra mosquitoes resolved into a swarm at the first scent of warm blood. I’ve just had my transom window repaired against the driving rains of New Orleans, the fat drops flung like missiles against the flimsy low-rent plastic and caulk that once passed for a window until there would be a fair-sized puddle just inside the door. I love the drenching New Orleans rain as long as I can sit just out of reach and contemplate its impenetrable jungle splendor and warmth, enjoy the cooling downdrafts. This winter rain is an entirely different animal, an arctic pseudo pod reaching out from the north to swallow its surprised victims.

Waiter, this is not the Wednesday I ordered. Take this unseasonable gazpacho back and bring me something warm.

3:40 AM January 16, 2013

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Diurnal dysrythmia is today’s neologism, the inability to remain flaccid when desired; premature exclamation, the brain suddenly engaged when one ought to role over and go back to sleep. Associated symptoms include waking on weekends to feed dogs long departed and children who are not around, aural hallucinations of the Barney theme song over 0-dark:thirty Cheerios. Facebook at 4 a.m., the informal fraternity of the insomniac, is a bad idea. Do not encourage the squirrel that has leaped onto its wheel at this ungodly hour. Do not feed the squeak. Make coffee, yes, but only to turn on the program mode for a few hours from now when it will be badly needed. Turn off the architect lamp (upgrade to laptop with illuminated keyboard). Go back to bed while it is still warm between the sheets. Do not light another cigarette.

Isn’t it time you had a conversation with your doctor about these conversations you are having with your reflection?

Mark Notes January 14, 2013

Posted by The Typist in books, New Orleans, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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After a quick read of the Spark Notes to refresh my memory (noting, kiddies, the editorial errors I think they leave in these on purpose) and an hours-long, wide-ranging conversations on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to help my son hammer out his paper for AP English, I have arrived at the following summary.

Section I: What is this shit?

Section II: This shit is fucked. This Kurtz guy is crazy.

Section III: This shit is fucked beyond the ability of your bourgeois, home office-minds to comprehend. All you people are crazy.

Odd Words Update January 13, 2013

Posted by The Typist in 504, art, literature, Mid-City, New Orleans, NOLA, Odd Words, publishing.
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A correction & an addition: Special Tea at 4337 Banks Street is now the home of Spoken Word New Orleans’ Sunday event. They also host another event on Wednesdays:

& Wednesday nights from 7-10 Lyrics and Laughs bridges comedy and poetry featurig performers from both genres at Special Tea, 4337 Banks St.

& The new Sunday show from Spoken Word New Orleans is  Poetry and Paint Brushes. Poets perform as our resident artists paints the crowd and performers. Also at Special Tea, 4337 Banks Street. No longer at the Bayou Road location.

If you host events be sure to keep odd.words.nola@gmail.com in he loop.

Some Where on the Far Side of Eisenhower January 12, 2013

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Fortin Street, Jazz, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Eric and I are the oldest people in the room I think, the only ones who might have heard these ancient swing tunes coming from the cloth grill of a hardwood hi-fi set or or on some long-reprogrammed station from a Solid State AM Radio in the Chevrolet dashboard of 1960. We stand up at the front of the bar because every seat along the bar and wall is taken by a crowd born in a time when the guitar was the undisputed king, when trumpet and strings meant Peter and the Wolf. Linnzi Zaorski stands willow-sapling straight at the microphone, the swing mostly in her sweet-tea voice with just with just a bobble-doll accompaniment from her head and shoulders, her hips and one hand keeping time as softly as brushes on a snare. Her publicity photos like those of the other jazz standard singers in town suggest sultry but under the spot tonight she is all wholesome blond and smile, ready for the pageant judges.

The band of trumpet, violin, hollow-bodied electric and upright bass doesn’t need a drummer to swing. Close your eyes when they start “Lady in Red” and you would swear there were two trumpets instead of Charlie Fardella’s one and a violin. Matt Rhodi’s fiddle reminds me that somewhere between Carnegie Hall and Church Point there is a whole other sound, that nothing swings quite like a violin. The bassist is late and through the first set Matt Johnson’s hollow body drives the band, comping Kansas City swing warm and bright as the glow of antique amplifier filaments, taking delicate solos that complement Zaorski’s voice. Once Robert Snow sets the dance floor thrumming its just a matter of time before the dancers peel off the wall and start to take the floor. I don’t have a notebook and I’m too beer-tipsy fascinated by it all to keep a set list in my head. The sound is almost too clear. You expect the wandering modulation of a distant short wave station broadcasting from somewhere on the far side of Eisenhower like the RKO tower. These songs were growing old before most of the band was born but here tonight they are fresh again. The seated players lean into the songs, intent as surgeons, while the base player’s eyes close and off he goes where ever the hell it is bass players go when they are mounted by the melody. The dance floor fills by fits and starts, one couple at a time at first as if by prearrangement, the jitterbug and Lindy Hop couples each taking their turns, inviting the crowd to marvel at their steps like the first Lindy Hoppers at the Savoy in Harlem most of a century ago.

“Can you believe this? That we’re here listening to this?” Eric asks. We are like two old vaudevillians between shows grabbing a glass of beer and of course I answer as I always do. “Yeah, this sucks. Cleveland. That’s where we should be tonight. I bet it’s happening in Cleveland.” We both laugh and the people around us give us the slantwise eyeball and edge away a just-visible inch. Cleveland. Right. Somewhere in Cleveland in a Holiday Inn there may be a quick-silver blond with Betty Grable legs crooning with a pianist who misses his ashtray more than his youth, but I don’t think you would find a house full of kids and wish-they-were’s leaning in toward the singer just as the band does, swept into Zaorski’s updo and baby-doll vocals. The whole room–band, dancers, audience– is titled slightly toward the singer and you can almost see the energy flicker by spark jump from the crowd up to her and come back in a brilliant million candle-power flood of Forties poise and song.

I first heard Zaokrski sitting in with the Jazz Vipers at the Spotted Cat, before the big split in the band, before HBO’s Treme packed that place like the last dry room on the Titanic and they moved the stage and took away the old wicker chairs and couch where non-dancers like me could wait for a chance to collapse and just get lost in the sound. I’m not about to Google a lady’s age but Zaorski started a dozen years before that in a barroom called Southport on Bourbon Street. Between songs she talks about singing over the football game, of the bartender vacuuming around the bands’ feet during the last set. Swing has come a long way since bands like the Jazz Vipers took swing out of the dance-class and wedding ballroom and brought it back to the smoke and mirrors of the barroom where it was born. Half a dozen bands work the trade now to fill all the dance cards of the jitterbug-crazy retro fedora and nylons crowd. Its impossible for a stand-and-drink man like myself not to watch the footwork of the dancers but when singers like the sparkling Zaorski and pin-up sulty Ingrid Lucia and the fiery Meschiya Lake with her updo and tattoos take the stage the real magic is straight up center over the microphone. The magic of all the swing cats–men and women, singers and players–is the magic of jazz, the ability to bend space and time like notes, to take you out of yourself and toward another time and place, in this case to a scene out of some Ronald Reagan Rest Home dream, where the syncopation of music and feet among the sharp hats and shapely gams made old cats like us first twinkle in someone’s eye.

The Point of the Pivot January 11, 2013

Posted by The Typist in film, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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I sat up late watching the movie Magnolia, fighting sleep but desperately attentive to the complicated plot, the interweaving of so many stories. It was so easy to miss something, something small and terribly significant.

Tom Cruise plays the role of the promoter of Seduce and Destroy, a misogynist self-improvement program for the trivialization and seduction of women. His stage presence is as mesmerizing as it repulsive, the serpent behind the snake oil, grabbing an imaginary ass from behind and working it as he speaks. The men in the audience hoot in delight. At the lunch break, he goes to a hotel room for a television interview, peels off his shirt to reveal a perfectly sculpted body. He drops his pants all the way down to his ankles as an assistant hands him a towel but he merely dabs at himself, stands their in his bulging briefs. The reporter is a woman and she calmly stares at him as he turns somersaults and rattles off about his success with women, his irresistible ability to seduce.

When he finally settles into the chair, she tells him he has missed a button putting on his shirt, and at that small and razor-edged maternal correction he slumps back in his chair, crosses his fingers on this chest. Two adversaries face each other. Not long into the interview comes the question, tearing apart his marketing mythos, his falsified biography, the carefully constructed and confident illusion of the master huckster. She shreds the nonexistent degree in psychology, pulls down the images of his imaginary family, holds up before him the small boy who cared for his dying mother after his father abandoned them.

Cruise freezes, refuses to speak, staring at her with burning intensity. Seconds drag by like hours in the long shot. It is then I notice the blemish , the bump on his cheek carefully blended by makeup into his skin, the smallest flaw in his curly-locked Herculean projection of perfection, the tiniest detail of theatrical composition of both the character and auteur Paul Thomas Anderson in over two hours of film. Following this moment the carefully constructed lives of all the characters begin to fall apart, their own masks striped away and their flaws revealed, and they begin to align themselves into a new coherence.

Perhaps it was not intentional but simply a blemish but in these days of digital production and over a hundred years perfecting film makeup I don’t think so.

The tiniest thing in the film’s complex web of interlocking plots, the point of the pivot, the detail of a master storyteller, something you can’t help but notice but miss the significance of until two days later staring at oneself in the mirror, a moment that the writer for the printed page would have to handle even more carefully than the director orchestrated his shot. This tiny, quickly forgotten bit of craft about which the entire story resolves is the signature of the master obscuring his hand among the actions of his puppets.

Thorsday January 10, 2013

Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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Thursday. Thor’s Day. The hammer wielding guy wasn’t so bad. To steal baldy from Wikipedia: “In Norse mythology, Thor (from Old Norse Þórr) is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing, and fertility. The cognate deity in wider Germanic mythology and paganism was known in Old English as Þunor and in Old High German as Donar (runic þonar ), stemming from a Common Germanic *Þunraz (meaning “thunder”).”

Here is a symbol typical of his hammer Mjolnir with interesting Celtic aspects to the scroll work that appear on almost every example I looked at.

mjolnir

Storms and oak trees, hallowing and fertility: I think if he was looking for a winter getaway he’d feel right at home in New Orleans.

Odd Words January 10, 2013

Posted by The Typist in books, New Orleans, NOLA, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
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A quick, belated congratulations to the Times-Picayune/NOLA.COM Top 10 books for 2012 list for fans of New Orleans- and Louisiana-set tales.

& Saturday, Jan. 12 at 1 p.m. Garden District books hosts Nancy Sharon Collins’ The Complete Engraver: Monograms, Crests, Ciphers, Seals, and the Etiquette of Social Stationery. “n this age of emails, texts, and instant messages, receiving a letter has become a rare treat. Engraved stationery can make a piece of correspondence, whether a short note, formal letter, or business card, even more special. Once an integral part of social life, the use of engraved stationery has become a lost art. In The Complete Engraver, author Nancy Sharon Collins brings this venerable craft to life-from the history and etiquette of engraved social stationery in America to its revival and promise of new visual possibilities. “

& Saturday evening at 7 p.m. the Shadowbox Theater will host The top finishers from our monthly poetry slams will compete for a chance to advance to the Team SNO finals and represent New Orleans at the 2013 Southern Fried Poetry Slam and defend Team SNO’s title at the National Poetry Slam in Boston, MA. Hosted by Pass It On co-founder, HBO Treme-featured poet, and MelaNated Writers Collective member, Gian Francisco Smith. 7 p.m. $5 admission.

& Sundays at 3 p.m. the soutt’s oldest continuous reading series at The Maple Leaf Bar meets in the back patio with featured readers followed by an open mike. The January list is not out yet but watch the Odd Words Facebook page and Twitter feed for updates before Sunday. 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.

& Monday, Jan 14th at 4 p.m. Garden District Book Shops features Miles Arceneaux’s new novel Thin Slice of Life, the latest in a series of mysteries penned under the “nom de plume” Miles Arceneaux by Texas-based writers Brent Douglass, John T. Davis and James R. Dennis, who began the novel as a lark–a daisy-chain manuscript with participants writing chapters in turn. Critical encouragement, a Best Mystery Manuscript award, and friends’ enthusiasm for the book combined to encourage the trio to finish it. Miles is currently working on the third novel in the series introduced by “Thin Slice of Life.”

& 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, Jan. 15 at 5:30 p.m. Garden District Book Shop presents William Rau’s “quintessential resource of 19th-Century European Painting” From Barbizon to La Belle Époque, Ninteenth-Century European Painting.”Touted by scholars for its unparalleled approach in 19th-century art history scholarship, this limited, first edition is expected to generate high demand.”

This scholarly yet approachable book by William Rau sheds new light on the history of 19th-century European painting by examining the works of over 200 masters, covering dozens of movements from Romanticism to Impressionism, and everything in between. Masters of 19th-century art, including Corot, Bouguereau, Alma-Tadema, Godward, Monet, Renoir, van Gogh, Pissarro, Mönsted, Grimshaw, Dawson, Elsley, Vibert, Soulacroix, Herring, Sr., Delacroix, Courbet, Lewis, and Gerome are examined.

& Tuesday Jan. 15 at 6 p.m. Octavia Books hosts presentation and book signing with Tulane Law School’s Vernon Palmer featuring his new book, THROUGH THE CODES DARKLY, an examination of the history of Louisiana’s “Code Noir” or slave laws.

& A week from today on Thursday, January 17 at 6 p.m. “New Orleans Food Goddess” Lorin Gaudin and photographer Romney Caruso celebrating the launch of their new book, NEW ORLEANS CHEF’S TABLE: Extraordinary Recipes from the French Quarter to the Garden District. With a Bachelor’s degree in Theater from Loyola University of New Orleans, and a culinary diploma from The Ritz-Escoffier in Paris, she parlayed her education to become a Food Editor/Reporter for national, regional and local publications as well as local television and radio stations. Lorin is a contributing editor/writer for The New York Post, Culinary Concierge, Where Magazine New Orleans and Where Y’at Magazine.

Odd Words Update January 5, 2013

Posted by The Typist in books, Fortin Street, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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Two Three stellar events didn’t make it into this week’s column, mostly the fault of your host’s death struggle with a mutant uber-rhino virus for over a week now.

& Saturday its Poetry Buffet at the Latter Memorial Library, hosted by Gina Ferrara, at 2 p.m. Featured this months are poets Dave Brinks, Carolyn Hembree and Brad Richard. All three have new books for sale which I’m sure you can pick up a copy of here. I have not read Richard’s, the subject of the review mentioned above, but I can personally vouch for Hembree’s and Brink’s. And if you haven’t seen Hembree performing from her work Skinny don’t miss this opportunity.

& The Black Widow Salon kicks off its second year on Monday, Jan. 7th from 7-9 p.m. with Pandora Gastelum and Ratty Scurvics reading and discussing fairy tales, puppetry, performance, and more. Upstairs at Crescent City Books, 230 Chartres St. Hosted by Michael Allen Zell No cost, complimentary wine/beer/water. Gastelum is the driving force behind The Black Forest Fancies and Mudlark Theatre. Scurvics is the catalyst for Black Market Butchers. Both appeared in the recent production of “Sweeney Todd” at the Allways Lounge Theater.

& On Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. Multi-media artist jenna mae will host Secrets for Lucky 13 at her home/salon space, 1501 St. Roch Avenue, featuring readings by Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Jenna Mae, Kristina K. Robinson and Michelle Embree. Ruffin} has published work in Apalachee Review, South Carolina Review, and Regarding Arts & Letters. His short story, “The Pie Man,” received the 2011 Ernest Svenson Award, a prize given by the University of New Orleans for excellence in fiction. Maurice will probably read in English. mae is a mixed media healing artist. She practices poems in both hand and heart genres. She dreams of publishing a full-length manuscript, and keeps a lucky arrowhead in her coin purse. Robinson is pursuing an MFA in fiction at the University of New Orleans where she is working on a collection of stories focused on race, class and the war on drugs and publishes the blog Life In High Times where she muses on race, all things Hip-Hop, love, and sexual politics. Embree is the author of Manstealing For Fat Girls, a young adult novel nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in 2006. She is an award winning playwright and sometimes even a pretty lovely person. She will be reading from her memoir in progress, By The Skin of These Words. jenna says bring your favorite cookies and byob.

Odd Words January 3, 2013

Posted by The Typist in books, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
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In March the New Orleans Institute for the Imagination returns for the first time since 2005. Founded over a decade ago by poets Dave Brinks and Andrei Codrescu, the March event will offer workshops by John Sinclair, Cyril Neville, Katarina Boudreaux, Kichea Burt, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, The Rev. Goat Carson, Roger Kamenetz, Felice Guimont, Louis Maistros, Valentine Pierce and Joseph Maikos.

Room 220 continues its series of reviews and interviews with Brad Richard’s Butcher’s Sugar. You can catch the review here.

& so to the listings…

& Saturday its Poetry Buffet at the Latter Memorial Library, hosted by Gina Ferrara, at 2 p.m. Featured this months are poets Dave Brinks, Carolyn Hembree and Brad Richard. All three have new books for sale which I’m sure you can pick up a copy of here. I have not read Richard’s, the subject of the review mentioned above, but I can personally vouch for Hembree’s and Brink’s. And if you haven’t seen Hembree performing from her work Skinny don’t miss this opportunity.

& 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. The January list is not out yet but watch the Odd Words Facebook page and Twitter feed for updates before Sunday. 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.

& The Black Widow Salon kicks off its second year on Monday, Jan. 7th from 7-9 p.m. with Pandora Gastelum and Ratty Scurvics reading and discussing fairy tales, puppetry, performance, and more. Upstairs at Crescent City Books, 230 Chartres St. Hosted by Michael Allen Zell No cost, complimentary wine/beer/water. Gastelum is the driving force behind The Black Forest Fancies and Mudlark Theatre. Scurvics is the catalyst for Black Market Butchers. Both appeared in the recent production of “Sweeney Todd” at the Allways Lounge Theater.

& 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.

&On Tuesday, Jan. 8 The 1718 Society, a student-run literary organization of Tulane, Loyola, and UNO students, continues their reading series with poet Metta Sama reading. 1718 meets the first Tuesday of every month at the Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue at 7 p.m. Open to the public, 1718’s reading series provides an opportunity to experience writers (primarily local poets, but also fiction writers both local and national), while giving students a forum to present their own work to their peers and the community.

&Also on Tuesday the Maple Leaf Book Shop’s First Tuesday Book Club will be meeting January 8th at 5:45pm at the Uptown location to discuss A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

& 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, Jan. 9 at 8 p.m. Don Paul’s Poetry Ball at Cafe Istanbul featuring singer/songwriter Nasimiyu, poet Dave Brinks accompanied by saxophonist Earle Brown, poet Carolyn Hembree and poet Niyi Osundare. Open Mic to follow features!

& Also on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Multi-media artist jenna mae will host Secrets for Lucky 13 at her home/salon space, 1501 St. Roch Avenue, featuring readings by Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Jenna Mae, Kristina K. Robinson and Michelle Embree. Ruffin} has published work in Apalachee Review, South Carolina Review, and Regarding Arts & Letters. His short story, “The Pie Man,” received the 2011 Ernest Svenson Award, a prize given by the University of New Orleans for excellence in fiction. Maurice will probably read in English. mae is a mixed media healing artist. She practices poems in both hand and heart genres. She dreams of publishing a full-length manuscript, and keeps a lucky arrowhead in her coin purse. Robinson is pursuing an MFA in fiction at the University of New Orleans where she is working on a collection of stories focused on race, class and the war on drugs and publishes the blog Life In High Times where she muses on race, all things Hip-Hop, love, and sexual politics. Embree is the author of Manstealing For Fat Girls, a young adult novel nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in 2006. She is an award winning playwright and sometimes even a pretty lovely person. She will be reading from her memoir in progress, By The Skin of These Words. jenna says bring your favorite cookies and byob.

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