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Greg Peters August 3, 2013

Posted by The Typist in Bloggers, cryptic envelopment, je me souviens, New Orleans, NOLA Blogroll, Remember, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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“Sing, Goddess, the wrath of Achilles.”
–Homer, opening of the Illiad

WelpNo, that’s not right. Greg Peters was so much more than the wrath of Suspect Device and so much the opposite of the boastful Achilles. What I most remember was the last conversation we had. He was sitting alone at a table at Mimi’s before the Krewe du Vieux parade, and I don’t remember a word we spoke. I just remember an easy manner, a smile like a child at once guilty and proud of what mischief he had done, the smile of a bashful teenage lover, looking down a bit when he smiled lest someone catch him at it. Beneath the public exterior of satirical cartoonist and ranting blogger was the soul of a genuine Buddhist, an easy compassion and acceptance of the world that perhaps masked an acceptance of mortality. He sat that night at ease among friends and yet distant, as if he were already leaving, sitting alone at his table receiving visitors, so many not knowing it would be the last time they would speak.

No, not an acceptance of mortality. This is going all wrong. Greg had the word “indestructible” tattooed on his forearm a short while ago. Words, ink: he was only going to fall with his pen in his hand, with a samurai beauty that combined a fierce defiance and a Zen certainty of bliss beyond death. That word spoke of his love of his young sons, the companionship of a good woman and many friends, so much he was not at age 50 ready to leave behind, so much more for a lightening-fired mind yet to do.

We were all thrown together by the storm, a collection of ranting and lamenting bloggers who fell together into an indivisible friendship. We birthed an anarchist conference called Rising Tide, “A conference on the future of New Orleans” and Greg was our artist. Each poster and t-shirt topped the last, the best the rough angel rising from the waters. Rising Tide has moved onto to a 501(c)3 with paperwork and committees and most of us who were there at the beginning fell away from that but never lost each other. At the center of that group was a meeting of minds and hearts larger than the rest, Greg’s (with Ashley Morris’s) largest of all.

We knew of his heart problems from the first. After his first surgery at a distant heart clinic fellow organized a collection to get him a Macbook so he could continue to work in his convalescence. We knew that heart of steel had a fatal flaw, one that would one day break and leave him holding the haft and staring Death in the face.

A heart of steel is no guarantee except against despair. Invincible until the end. We should all go so well.

Oṃ tāre tuttāre ture svāhā. I don’t know if Greg followed the Taras, the female Buddha, but he modeled so many of her aspects: Green Tārā, known as the Buddha of enlightened activity; Red Tārā, of fierce aspect associated with magnetizing all good things; Blue Tārā, associated with transmutation of anger. In the end White Tārā, also known for compassion, long life, healing and serenity, took him into her bosom, recognizing his compassion and serenity through so much suffering. It was enough for this one soul to advance. Oṃ tāre tuttāre ture svāhā.

Greg left us too soon but he carved a path through the world large enough most men would happily call it a life. Tārā Mother of Liberation, teach me to walk in his footsteps.

Come On Rise Up November 12, 2012

Posted by The Typist in Bloggers, Federal Flood, hurricane, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, Recovery, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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1 comment so far

My friend Sam Jasper’s post over at New Orleans Slate Unsolicited Advice to the Northeast in the Aftermath has gone viral in the Northeast. There are now 70 comments and dozens more private emails. Less than 1% of people who actually read a blog post (discounting those who drop in and leave) every leave a comment. You need to go read this wherever you are.

She starts off with a Bruce Springsteen Song Jersey Girl. The Springsteen song I can’t get out of my head is the one the NBC nightly news ran at the end of one of their broadcasts over a montage of the ruins of Sandy, the same song he sang to tens of thousands reduced to sobbing at Jazz Fest 2006: My City of Ruins.

When I could bring myself to watch the news the force fields went up. It is as if you have just had a minor stroke. The brain is empty, the body seems distant and alien, and the television a nightmare half remembered.

I only cried when I heard that song.

Come on, rise up.

You can do it. Your boots are on the pile in front of the house so you will somehow have to manage to lift yourself up by sheer will, above every gospel word Sam has written in her post. Some folks in the affected areas may not fare to badly. The government starting running dump trucks of money into Manhattan after 9-11 to repair utilities and such. Maybe you’ll be lucky, and your utility bill won’t double. Maybe you have stronger elected officials, who won’t stand for a property-and-casualty insurance bill larger than the principle on your mortgage. I hope so.

Come on, rise up.

We felt so abandoned after the Federal Flood a deceased friend adopted the term Sinn Fein, not a reference to modern Irish politics but to the origins of the party but to the translation: Ourselves Alone.

Sinn Fein, baby. But you are not alone. The people of the hurricane coast, who have done all this before in 2005 and again and again before this, stand at your shoulders like the ghosts of every soldier buried in a foreign land. The people of the south are a prayerful people, and right now millions of hands are clasped, a hundred thousand Saints’ candles burning, uncounted joss sticks lit to the Merciful Ones. Trucks are loaded. Checks are written. If you finally figure out what we’ve known down here since Camille in ’69 the mayor of Staten Island has figured out, and you will to, but one way or another help will come. It will come not from the insurance racketeers. It will come unsought from church groups. It will come in trucks from points unknown filled with cleaning supplies. It will come with all I see that remains of the America we were taught, and it will not come from the government. It will come from you neighbors. It will come up from the coast from those who stayed, from those who returned, by the heavenly intervention of the ghosts of the flood.

It will come.

“I pray Lord
with these hands
for the strength Lord
with these hands
for the faith Lord
with these hands

Come on rise up!
Come on rise up!”

Rise up.

Word. January 2, 2012

Posted by The Typist in 504ever, Bloggers, music, New Orleans, Theater, Toulouse Street.
3 comments

Of the Lord (Lord David, that is) from The Truth and Other Lies. If you don’t read his blog, consider yourself woefully under-informed and your opinions beneath notice.

I find myself closer to a Stepford/Mayberry in Hell reality than I ever thought possible for the City of New Orleans…

Join me in the following year, if you dare, in going out to see music that MATTERS; from the Soul Rebels to Ratty Scurvics & the Black Market Butchers, or Dr John sitting in with JD Hill at the St Roch Tavern.

Patronize amazing local theater at out-of-the-way places like Allways Lounge & Marigny Theater, the Shadow Box theater or Otter’s Backyard Ballroom, rather than more commercial endeavors, like Professional Douche Bag, Pres Kabacoff’s, ugly little orange mall..

Gird your loins appropriately, folks, and head on out.
Life in this city is dangerous.
Its complicated.
It’s amazing & it’s beautiful.
In the final measure, for me, it’s the only way to go.

Rising Tide IV: Sinking to New Heights July 29, 2009

Posted by The Typist in 504, 8-29, Bloggers, Federal Flood, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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rtiv--final-type

Rising Tide IV, the annual bloggers conference on the recovery and future of New Orleans, will be “Sinking to New Heights” on Aug. 22 at the Zeitgeist Multi Disciplinary Arts Center in New Orleans. Our featured speaker: the multi-talented Harry Shearer, a great champion of New Orleans on Huffington Post and elsewhere, along with panels on the status and future of New Orleans music, food and parading culture; the state of New Orleans health care, politics in the Last Year of the Reign of Nagin, and more.

Our artwork (feature above) is once again produced by the award-wining editorial cartoonist and artist Greg Peters of Suspect Device.

I am working with NOLA Slate on a panel on the state of New Orleans culture, with panelists who will speak on the state of parading, food and music culture in the city in Year Four after the Federal Flood. Speaking on parading culture will be Edward Buckner of The Porch Seventh Ward Culture Organization and the Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club Our food panelist will be Susan Tucker, editor of New Orleans Cuisine: Fourteen Signature Dishes and Their Histories. Our music panelist will be Bruce Raeburn of the Hogan Jazz Archive and author of New Orleans Style and the Writing of American Jazz History.

Registration is open
and is only $20 until August 12th and includes lunch from Cafe Reconcile.

The site of our legendary Friday night social is TBD but we will spread that word as soon as we lock in our location.

Happy Trails July 26, 2009

Posted by The Typist in 504, Bloggers, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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7 comments

We would lay in bed in the hot August night in our unairconditioned house in Detroit Lakes, MN under the humming fans I had installed and not be able to sleep for the heat or the distant, hollow sound of the last act of the WE Fest country music festival, what we not-from-around-here folk referred to as the redneck Woodstock, until we would hear this song on the distant PA across the lake and know it would soon be quiet, a song I also associated with the end of the MoM’s Ball, a festival of an entirely different sort far away, when the lights would come up and reveal us exhausted in our debauched finery.

I knew this song before then, before both MoM’s Balls in Arabi or those years sweating out an August festival night in the otherwise cold north. I would rise up every Saturday morning as a child and make myself a bowl of cereal while my parents slept in and turn on the old Roy Rogers movie reels that ran at 6:30 in the morning.

That was a more innocent age, when it didn’t seem to matter that Cookie drove a jeep or that the bad guys might try to make their getaway in a high wing single engine place as Roy galloped Trigger alongside to shoot out the tires with his pearl handled pistol. In a time when men flew rockets into space it did not seem incongruous that there would be a shortwave radio back at the ranch. In the early Sixties we were closer to our parents generation, the ones who sat around the radio with their decoder rings than we were to our own children at the same age, the electronic tentacles of the world that intrude on their childhood too soon.

This was the song that closed each episode and as I crawl out of bed a bit beer bleary with not enough sleep after an evening sending off Ray Shea back to Austin it seems a fitting thing to post up here. Ray was one of those who, like myself, moved back to New Orleans after the flood from a home he had established somewhere else. When the out-of-town reporters who found me asked if I knew anyone else who chose to move here after the storm, I always gave them Ray’s name.

He was one of the people I thought would never leave, as I plan to never leave. When the divorce decree came down and allowed his ex to take the children to Austin, he had no choice but to follow. None of us would do any differently even as leaving compounded the pain of parsing out a life to spit it into two piles, the pain of being at best a part-time father.

But the world rolls on unmindful of the pathetic specs that crowd its surface and the gods such as they are never tire of troubling us for their own amusement, so we the best we can do is throw a damned party (this is New Orleans; there will be a party) and get on with it. Last night’s went particularly well, with all the best of the gang crowded into a Marigny bar until someone came in the door and announced “there’s a brass band up the street” and we spent half the night on a little spit of concrete across from a house where the New Generation Brass Band played on a balcony.

We couldn’t have arranged it better ourselves and the happy accident of horns and drums, provided by some spirit that watches over this city and watches over us all who love it produced a band just when we needed it, a reminder to Ray (sadly) of what he leaves behind but also an omen: the city provided and will not forget him as long as he does not forget the city, that always somewhere there will be friends and a band when he returns.

So, Happy Trails Ray. Till we meet again.

Being There June 4, 2009

Posted by The Typist in Bloggers, cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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10 comments

manwho120202_450x380

By way of Twitter, direct from the online site of New York Magazine, which I began reading on my Blackberry but finished on my desktop while a mail and file search absorbed my laptop, which never the less managed to chime and pop up ghost summaries of emails as the Blackberry pulsed to warn me of my next meeting, and topped like a cherry on a sundae with a picture pulled via Google from Flikr, comes this interesting article on what digital multitasking is doing to our minds.

I defy you (as the author does in his opening paragraphs) to read it all the way through, online, without stopping to wonder if someone has answered that email or topped your clever comment on Facebook. ——————————— Sorry, I had to stop and check the chime on my Blackberry, reserved for certain important messages. I’m back. I swear.

These are our Modern Times. We live in a world in which The Man has figured out how to speed up the virtual assembly line, and if we wish to maintain the lives we have grown accustomed to–pay the mortgage, educate the children, enjoy our few pleasures–we have no choice but to deal.

Our modern times–if we were to remake the classic film Modern Times today it would be a single, fixed shot of the eyes of Chaplin, the story told by scenes on his computer screen reflected onto the spectacles of our modern anti-hero, the only real movement would be by his eyes. Perhaps his hand would rise up to touch his Bluetooth headset or push his glasses back up his sweaty nose, but nothing more. We would tell the entire story of our modern times projected a few small pieces of glass to one man, alone, flashing by in a fragmentary mosaic. (Cue score of Koyaanisqatsi.)

Pistolette , who found this article, is rightly concerned with how this is all impacting us. I have not gone fully offline in a long time, but I used to envy a woman I shared an office with once who would take a week off every summer and go to a secluded cabin sans husband and children with a big stack of books. That seems idyllic to me.

I don’t worry too much about how all of this obsessive multi-tasking and media overload is impacting me. I work with a scattered team at work and having a rich set of channels to manage that life–email, instant messaging, wireless phones–seems to help enormously. It does require that I shut down some channels when I really need to focus. I moan that the firewall blocks Facebook and Twitter but its probably for the best.

I feel scatterbrained lately but that has much more to do with stress unrelated to my online life. Most people in New Orleans seem more scattered than people elsewhere, but living here where It’s After the End of the World seems to have that effect on people. It is not caused by a rich digital life but by the stress on the streets, in our daily life, not precisely post-traumatic because the emergency never seems to completely end.

In this one central piece of my wired life on Toulouse Street, the serendipity of the moment often informs what I write, and that is why this one paragraph in the long article jumped out at me. Read it and judge for yourself, but I think I will continue to both walk the streets of my city as well as wander the virtual channels of the Internet, drinking it all in and waiting for the intuitive flash of that bright moment in which we know our doom.

The prophets of total attentional meltdown sometimes invoke, as an example of the great culture we’re going to lose as we succumb to e-thinking, the canonical French juggernaut Marcel Proust. And indeed, at seven volumes, several thousand pages, and 1.5 million words, À la Recherche du Temps Perdu is in many ways the anti-Twitter. (It would take, by the way, exactly 68,636 tweets to reproduce.) It’s important to remember, however, that the most famous moment in all of Proust, the moment that launches the entire monumental project, is a moment of pure distraction: when the narrator, Marcel, eats a spoonful of tea-soaked madeleine and finds himself instantly transported back to the world of his childhood. Proust makes it clear that conscious focus could never have yielded such profound magic: Marcel has to abandon the constraints of what he calls “voluntary memory”—the kind of narrow, purpose-driven attention that Adderall, say, might have allowed him to harness—in order to get to the deeper truths available only by distraction. That famous cookie is a kind of hyperlink: a little blip that launches an associative cascade of a million other subjects. This sort of free-associative wandering is essential to the creative process; one moment of judicious unmindfulness can inspire thousands of hours of mindfulness.

Find someone or something to cling to May 9, 2009

Posted by The Typist in 504, 8-29, Bloggers, cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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3 comments

Purloined from today’s Poetry Daily (see the RSS feed down the gutter at right), something in this piece at the bottom of this post seems to speak to this day in New Orleans like an especially apt horoscope. The news that another one of us is leaving, torn away by the whirlwind of a bitter child custody dispute, reminds us that we defy the gods to be here and risk the price they can extract.

When I first moved here and through some contacts in the media was interviewed as a willing transplant to a disaster zone, I was asked if I knew of any other post-Federal Flood arrivals. I always recommended Ashley Morris and Ray Shea.

Ashley died last April. In the afterword to Carry Me Home, I recalled something from his funeral:

Three of us were written up by the Los Angeles Times: Ray Shea, Ashley Morris and I. Ashley died April 2, 2008 at the age of forty-four of a heart attack. As we listened to the Hot 8 Brass Band playing at the cemetery after wards, someone came up to me and said, “Now it’s just you and Ray.” It sounded not precisely like a curse, but certainly an unlucky thing to say in a cemetery in New Orleans….

Does that make me the last man standing? By no measure. NOLA is full of people who love this place madly, who by words or paint or music or food or costume or dance live out that madness in a very public way. Its not only false, its a vain conceit, and if one is even a bit superstitious perhaps a dangerous one. Not precisely a curse is what I wrote last year, but Ray’s departure still seems a reminder of the potential price of our defiant stance here on this uncertain ground.

May he, like Odysseus, return home.

Storm Catechism

The gods are rinsing their just-boiled pasta
in a colander, which is why
it is humid and fitfully raining
down here in the steel sink of mortal life.
Sometimes you can smell the truffle oil
and hear the ambrosia being knocked back,
sometimes you catch a drift
of laughter in that thunder crack: Zeus
knocking over his glass, spilling lightning
into a tree. The tree shears away from itself
and falls on a car, killing a high school girl.
Or maybe it just crashes down
on a few trash cans, and the next day
gets cut up and hauled away by the city.
Either way, hilarity. The gods are infinitely perfect
as is their divine mac and cheese.
Where does macaroni come from? Where does matter?
Why does the cat act autistic when you call her,
then bat a moth around for an hour, watching intently
as it drags its wings over the area rug?
The gods were here first, and they’re bigger.
They always were, and always will be
living it up in their father’s mansion.
You only crawled from the drain
a few millennia ago,
after inventing legs for yourself
so you could stand, inventing fists
in order to raise them and curse the heavens.
Do the gods see us?
Will the waters be rising soon?
The waters will be rising soon.
Find someone or something to cling to.

Kim Addonizio

Five Points
Vol. 12, No. 3

Ashley Morris April 1, 2009

Posted by The Typist in 504, Bloggers, je me souviens, New Orleans, NOLA, Sinn Fein.
1 comment so far

Remember

morris.jpg


For Ashley Morris 1963-2008
All New Orleans mourns for you.

By Dylan Thomas
And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

A Continual Farewell March 20, 2009

Posted by The Typist in 504, Bloggers, Debrisville, Federal Flood, je me souviens, levee, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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11 comments

But I still hear them walking in the trees: not speaking.
Waiting here, away from the terrifying weaponry, out of
the halls of vapor and light, beyond holland into the
hills, I have come to

– the last lines of Samuel R. Delaney’s Dhalgren

this, not an end but like Delaney’s circular last and first lines in the novel both an end and a beginning. Maitri of Vatul Blog and Loki of Humid City (and their respective spouses) are both bound for Ohio, that place famously derided by Lafcadio Hearn in comparison to New Orleans.

It is an end to the counting of day’s since 8-29-05 by Maitri but many more beginnings–new jobs, houses, friends, challenges. It is a continuity of things that will not change: HumidCity.com, or an abiding love of New Orleans. Listen to their own words:

Maitri: “It’s hard to fathom leaving New Orleans, its wonderful culture, color, cuisine and craziness, and all of you, my amazing friends and blogger buddies here. Without you guys, the Exile would have been truly unbearable and, on our return, we made something good together. New Orleans is my love. I died a little when I told some of you…that we’re leaving.”

Loki (long ago and from a context that makes it bitter sweet); “The pull of one’s roots is strong. The call of generations of Blancs, Monroes, Williamses, Martins and other blood relations is loud and persistent in my mind. This is my home…”

George and Maitri will be remembered for many things, not the least of which is the crazy amount of energy they both bring to life here in a place famous for its insouciance. Listening to D talk about Maitri’s (and his) adventures in Krewe du Vieux, I felt like they were personally putting on a parade for us all to share. The loss of their intensity is a grievous blow but to live here is to learn to roll with the punches.

It is hard to see them leave, to see anyone leave New Orleans, but the pull of life’s demands–jobs, families, spouses–is irresistible. It led me to spend years living in places that seem strange to other Orleanians, small town Minnesota and Fargo, N.D. in the howling cold winters. I know from my own experience that life leads us where it will, to places never imagined, but also that the mark this city leaves on us all is indelible, that wherever we go we carry the city with us.

While in Fargo some music professors at a local university who had a traditional Dixie Land band put on a Mardi Gras festival. A local caterer managed very creditable red beans, we spent one of the funniest moments of my life as the leader tried to teach hundreds of Scandinavians how to clap on the downbeat, and we ended with a second line parade. A local radio personality whose station sponsored the event led us and not very far down the path he handed the decorated umbrella to me and said, here, you lead. You look like you know how to do this. It was one of the happiest moments of my life in the North.

I know that as sad as the parting will be for the strange band of NOLA bloggers it is not the end of New Orleans in the aggregate or the individual. Immigrant Maitri and old line Creole Loki are like us all deeply imprinted by this place, and will carry it with them wherever they go. Their leaving does not dilute the city but expands the franchise. They will go to their separate corners of Ohio and teach the Buckeyes how to cook and to eat, how to drink and to dance, how to live and be happy, how to turn sack cloth and ashes into a costume and parade.

~~~

Dhalgen ends on a circular note, the words above wrapping around to the opening lines below:

to wound the autumnal city.
So howled out for the world to give him a name.
The in-dark answered with wind.

I am continually drawn to the bizarre tale of Dhalgren as an analogue for life in postdiluvian New Orleans. Our city seems afflicted with a madness we cannot diagnose and still it pulls at our heart, whether we struggle mightily against it or simply immerse ourselves in its slow, wild life, drinking deep at the happy delirium to drown the noise of dementia. As it was in the time of Hearn New Orleans can be bleak and beautiful all in the same frame.

I am not Delaney’s Kid: nameless and lost, answered with wind. This city is a maze and every step in takes me closer to something that calls to me, unfolds a fractally perfect pattern I could find no where else. I do not know if I will find a bright treasure or the Minotaur and madness at the center. I many never reach the center. Perhaps New Orleans like Dhalgren is a puzzle never meant to be solved, and that the entire point of it. I know I am called to stay, and judge no one else by that measure.

My journey is not through but into the city and when I lay dying in New Orleans the worth of the journey will not be what we saved (and how do you “save” a city, a thing that by definition is at once permanent–at least on the scale of a single lifetime–and yet constantly changes as much as this place has since 1957). The measure of the journey will be the people I met in and about and because of this place, the noisy crowd of NOLA bloggers I once described this way: “We’re not paragons, of virtue or anything else. We’re as dysfunctional a band as any mid-career high school class, mad as bats as often as not, cranky as an Ash Wednesday hangover and drunk 24-7 on the elixir of New Orleans.”

It will not matter where these friends are tomorrow (or tomorrow or tomorrow). From the first meeting of bloggers at Fahy’s and the first Geek Dinner to this last Mardi Gras and the farewell parties yet to begin: we’ll always have New Orleans.

To Maitri and D and Loki and Alexis, all I can say is this, the words ground control in Houston once spoke to a famous Buckeye named John Glenn: God speed.

Balance March 11, 2009

Posted by The Typist in 504, Bloggers, Citizen Journalism, New Orleans, NOLA.
Tags: ,
5 comments

As part of our continuing campaign to keep this from turning into the Grandpa Elliot blog (wow but that guy can drive some traffic in), here’s another bit a lazy snipping from Pistolette. The same subject has been on my mind. There’s so much I could say about conditions in this city, but then others–E, Schroeder, Oyster,that Yellow Blog guy–who dedicate themselves to citizen journalism do such a fine job I’d just be an echo.

Anyway, Pistolette sums up my feelings on why I write about what I do write about here on Toulouse Street (and why I don’t write about the sort of things that used to fill up Wet Bank Guide long ago).

I don’t want to discuss politics or social issues here anymore. There is something disharmonious about having a whimsical cooking post backed up to a long rant about the mayor or city council. It just doesn’t feel right to me. So Pistolette will stick to personal and lifestyle posts. As I’ve mentioned many times, part of staying happy and sane in a place like Nola requires you to simultaneously face and tackle the destruction and corruption around you while remembering why you’re doing it – the good things – that familiar home culture of people, food, history, imagery, fests, family, architecture – a cocktail of physical and emotional beauty not found anywhere else. Too much of the good stuff and you’re in denial, too much of the bad stuff and you’re wallowing. You need to keep that balance going, and it’s not always easy. Yet another mental fee to pay if you want the privilege, not the right, to live here.

I promise to return from lazy cut-and-post behavior once I’ve finished my submission for the Finn McCool’s St. Patrick’s Day writing contest. I also plan to start writing about public affairs in the greater city and not just the insular world of Toulouse Street on the HumidCity.com platform, at least when the issue seems to call for comment and no one else on the HC team is stepping up.

Beyond Jena January 8, 2009

Posted by The Typist in Bloggers, New Orelans, NOLA.
2 comments

Local blogger Bart Everson is organizing Beyond Jena, a conference on social media and social justice at Xavier University on Saturday, January 31.

Rising Tide, the annual Blogger’s conference on the recovery of New Orleans, is a community sponsor of this forum.

The details are below. I encourage you to attend.
______________________________________

A Forum on Bloggers of Color, Education and Social Justice in New Orleans
January 31, 2009 — Xavier University Center Ballroom

The 2007 demonstrations in Jena, Louisiana, were “a civil rights protest literally conjured out of the ether of cyberspace, of a type that has never happened before in America” [Chicago Tribune]

Nearly a year and a half after these cyber-driven protests, this innovative forum will continue exploring the relevance of social action initiatives like Jena, as well as the blogosphere and grassroots media as vehicles for social justice. Convening diverse panels of bloggers of color, faculty, students and activists, the forum will also focus on the rise of the blogosphere in New Orleans and the unique ways that grassroots media can be utilized to enhance pedagogical practices as we seek to realize the Xavier mission within the classroom and beyond.

How can we merge new technologies, pedagogy and grassroots media to realize the Xavier mission in unique and innovative ways? We’ll address this and other topics through two exciting panels:

PANEL ONE: The Rise of Blogging and Grassroots Media as Tools for Social Justice in New Orleans and Beyond

PANEL TWO: Using Blogging and Grassroots Media as an Educational Tool to Realize the Xavier Mission: A Discussion of Best Practices and Student Reflections

Beyond Jena: A Forum on Bloggers of Color, Education and Social Justice in New Orleans will be held Jan. 31, 2009 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom at Xavier University of Louisiana. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. Admission is free and open to all, but registration is required.

Register here.

And death shall have no dominion April 3, 2008

Posted by The Typist in 504, Bloggers, cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, New Orleans Saints, NOLA, Odds&Sods, We Are Not OK.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
6 comments

morris.jpg

For Ashley Morris 1963-2008
All New Orleans mourns for you.

By Dylan Thomas
And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

Its a new day January 21, 2008

Posted by The Typist in 8-29, Bloggers, cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Flood, home, New Orleans, NOLA, NOLA Blogroll, Odds&Sods, Rebirth, Recovery, Remember, Uncategorized, We Are Not OK.
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1 comment so far

Just a note if you’ve wandered in from Wet Bank Guide, as I transition out of that project and on to others, to welcome you to Toulouse Street — Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans. This is a different space, one I originally started as a place to put odd things that didn’t seem to fit on the high tone I had set at WBG. If you scroll down, you’ll find plenty of odd bits of life in NOLA here, and some just plain odd things that just pleased me as I sit here typing on Toulouse Street.

I have updated the once brief blogroll here to incorporate everyone (I think) who is still publishing that was listed at WBG. I’ve I’ve left you off, sorry. I often steal time away to blog late at night or early in the morning when the faculties have sometimes sent themselves to sleep early even as I bask in the glow of the monitor and thoroughly screw up my circadian rhythms, or else are still lying tangled in the mind’s sheets even as the body stands upright and stares intently at the dripping coffee.

New Orleans remains my theme, my obsession almost. That deep connection was always there in me during the 20 years I lived away, in the manner Catholicism is imprinted upon me by growing up in New Orleans and twelve years of Catholic school regardless of professed or practiced faith. New Orleans will still predominate here, but since this is more a blogger’s blog–what I once called (no insult intended) a vanity blog–I feel freer to drop in bits of favorite music, poetry and the just plain weird.

If you’re looking for something more like what Wet Bank Guide had become over time, keep coming. I am not going to stop writing about New Orleans and I will continue to find joy and sorrow worthy of note and a special effort on my part, and will post some of that here. You can also drop by Poems Before Breakfast and find where some of my creative energy has been going lately.

And here, as at Wet Bank Guide, we will always Remember. The events that drove WBG are as imprinted on us as the necessity that any dish in a pot worth having should begin with celery, bell pepper and onion in a sizzling roux. It is still After the End of the World. Don’t you know that yet? My touch stones remain: Je me souviens Remember 8-2; We will never forget. Still, Toulouse Street is more a celebration than a lament. Jim Morrison’s lyric “I love the friends I have gathered together here on this thin raft” is our slogan, even if we are still huddled together here because it is after the end of the world. For us it’s a new day every day, a continual act of will and creation to make again one of the great cities on this earth.

Ok, that’s enough cheerful stuff this early in the morning. We now return you to your regularly unscheduled coverage of my view from Toulouse Street — Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans.

Xmas in Hell (aka You Tube) December 13, 2007

Posted by The Typist in Bloggers, cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Debrisville, New Orelans, New Orleans, NOLA, parody, Xmas.
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4 comments

I didn’t want to have to do this. They made me do it. It’s all their fault.

There, you’ve gone and ruined Xmas for all the little kiddies. I hope you’re satisfied.

The ex-pats make the LA Times August 9, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Bloggers, Citizen Journalism, Mid-City, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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1 comment so far

The story that my wife and I (and Ray and Ashley and David) have all been waiting for has finally made the LAT:

Sense of Duty Lures ‘Expats’ Back Home to New Orleans

By Ann M. Simmons, Times Staff Writer
August 9, 2006

NEW ORLEANS — When Mark Folse told his mother-in-law he had decided to move his family here shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit, she handed him a magazine article about New Orleans’ gang problem.

“The understated text was, ‘This is where you’re taking my grandchildren?’ ” said Folse, 49, a New Orleans native then living in Fargo, N.D. …

“The more people who come back, who value the city for what it was and what it is, the more difficult it will be for them to wrest it from us,” Folse said.

Watching the catastrophe of Katrina unfold last August, “I felt an overwhelming need to come here and plant my flag and buy a house, and try and save New Orleans,” said Folse, who tests computer software for a national bank that lets him telecommute. “Admittedly it sounds grandiose and self-serving. But I felt I had to come here and be part of it.”

There rest is here

http://wetbankguide.blogspot.com/2006/08/have-beret-will-travel.html

Next year’s model July 20, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Bloggers, Citizen Journalism, Mid-City, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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2 comments

How did I manage to elect myself the model of anything? Today, an LA Times photographer came by to snap my family and I for a story on returning ex-pats, and next week I will have coffee with an NPR reporter on the same subject. Fellow blogger Schroeder has asked me to read a post for broadcast on WTUL’s Community Gumbo radio show.

While I have publicly chronicled aspects of my return through the past year, I hardly expected to make a national stir. I appreciate it when people take interesting in what I write, as my readership slowly grows and prominent bloggers link back to my posts, when I found myself listed on the Radio France Katrina page–the only blogger–between the links to the BBC and FEMA.

Today I found a link into the Wet Bank Guide from the TPM cafe, where I was once again quoted by Boyd Blondell of After the Levees .  Boyd seems to fancy my angry, ranting side, the same approach that got me some notice from Will Pitt of Truthout back in January.  I’ll have to ask the photog if he can get a shot of my angry side. Then I can post it up in the gutter of the Wet Bank Guide; perhaps I should also have a wistful, thoughtful shot to chose from, a sort of avatar of the mood of today’s post.

The angry posts are the easiest to write and the hardest to publish. I don’t want to tip over the edge in anger, and when there is so much to be angry about that’s a highly springy tightrope I find myself crossing like a bear on a unicycle. Now that I’m about to go national, I think I will have to watch it even more closely. The angry tenor of political blogs, while it has been energizing the marginalized left, is not going to result in a rapid return to civic discourse. Angry sells, but I don’t know that I want to be remembered as a footnote in this history of political talk radio and blogging as the angry voice of Katrina. (And, lets face it, I think Professor Morris does angry so much better).

Instead, I hope I can inspire. I’m glad that, through the agency of some former colleagues in journalism, I have this opportunity to tell my story to a wider audience, and to bring in the stories of another half-dozen returning ex-pats I know of. I hope that the outcome of the stories will be by Ashley (aka Professor Morris) and Ray and myself telling our stories, we will discover we are not alone.

Even more important, I hope that there a hundreds if not thousands more in the ex-pat community who have felt as I have since the unfolding of the flood and its aftermath last September: a powerful desire to come home, to plant their flag for the future of New Orleans, to be another spear in the host who are committed to the future of the city.

I’m reminded of the long, narrative anti-Vietnam war ballad Alice’s Restaurant, which everyone in a certain Baby Boomer age bracket will remember. Toward the end, when Arlo Guthrie talks about singing the song to the draft board, he says this:

You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. They may think it’s an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it’s a movement.

And that’s what this is about–the blogs, the stories–the Rebirth of New Orleans Movement. If these articles push even a couple of ex-pats or lingering evacuees over the edge and make them decide to come home, I can lay aside my lingering doubts about my own suitability as poster child, the nagging fear that I have over taken the story, that the Gonzo Journalism Version 2.0 style that defines much of Citizen Journalism in the blogosphere has eclipsed the subject.

Geek Food July 16, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Bloggers, Mid-City, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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2 comments

The wine did not arrive a time, a perfect post-Flood New Orleans touch to the Stormhoek Geek Dinner in New Orleans, hosted by Alan Guitierrez of Think New Orleans. The attendees cataloged already by Loki and Danger Blonde were not deterred, and there was beer enough and plenty of carried in food to keep the evening afloat and well fed.

A few of the bloggers in attended had threatened to take Stormhoek to task for the missing wine, but I take that to be just another (minor) example of how We Are Not OK in NOLA. For the evening, this collection of several dozens blog publishers, coders and assorted hangers-on was more than OK. And, when the wine does arrive, we will have a perfect excuse to do it all again.

I agree with Loki that the baby doll in the king cake and unofficial guest of honor was ten-year-old Blogger Kalypso, daughter of blogger Mike Homan who produced this video about our fair city.  And thanks again to GW for putting together this nifty list of the bloggers in attendance:

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