This Is No Tight Ship December 31, 2012Posted by Mark Folse in Everette Maddox, Faubourg St. John, Federal Flood, Fortin Street, Mid-City, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
An open letter to the members of the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association, our Mayor and other leaders, the people of New Orleans and of the world:
with Huck Finn’s taste for
the mixed-up. This is no
tight ship. I wouldn’t
want my moments run off on an
assembly line like toy ducks. That’s
not the point…”
— Everette Maddox, “Just Normal”
Once again I hear the cry raised against the indiscriminate use of fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Yes they are illegal and to some people and their animals terribly annoying. I am sorry for your inconvenience. What disturbs me about this protest is that it is part and parcel of a snowballing intolerance for the transgressive by some citizens and the current city leadership. Whether it is fireworks on New Year’s Eve (or the sadly lost Mid-City Bonfire), unlicensed artisans at Jazz Fest or guerrilla food vendors at second lines or music clubs permitted only by the tolerance of neighbors who have long lived next door, we are losing the tolerance for the transgressive that is fundamental to who we are, to what this city is. It is that tolerance that made New Orleans a haven for gays and a magnet for artists, that makes Carnival and the year-round debauchery of Bourbon Street possible, that puts a pie-man on a bicycle at just the right corner at the very moment when you find you are most in need of a piece of sweet potato. Without it the inherent spontaneity of the city will be lost.
I spent 20 years wandering in regular America with only one dream, to return to this La La Land. I returned after the storm to a city that was not precisely the same one I left in my rear view mirror in 1986, and certainly not the city of my childhood, but so many of us spent so much effort in the years after the flood working to make sure that whatever came out of the events of 2005 it would be recognizably New Orleans. If we allow this creeping intolerance to take over the city it will become a Disney cartoon shadow of itself. If that is allowed to happen everything we have done in the last seven years will have been for nothing. We will become post-Hugo historic Charleston, S.C., a dark ghetto of transient tourist condos for the wealthy. The corner bars and restaurants that birthed the food and music of the city will be permitted out of existence. The city will keep its pretty buildings and fine restaurants but will no longer be New Orleans. It will be a frozen diorama of what once was.
I would not want to live in a city where a bar across from a church was not at least a grandfathered if not an explicitly permitted use.
I’m just a renter across from the race track but I still own property in Mid-City. I understand the complex and abstract math of property values. The banning of the bonfire depreciated my property on Toulouse Street in my eyes. I found Endymion to be mostly a bother (but a great excuse for an open-house party) and would never suggest it be moved out of Mid-City. When I lived in Treme years ago, I walked out of my large and cheap apartment (now an expensive condo) to listen to the New Year’s service music through the open windows of St. Anna’s that opened onto my yard. Before I sat down I noticed a hole in my plastic webbed lawn chair and beneath it a slug smashed on the concrete patio. There are common sense limits to tolerance but trying to ban fireworks, which have been both illegal and ubiquitous since my childhood in the 60s, is probably not a good use of the police’s time on National Amateur Drunk Driver Night. We need to learn to tolerate the inconveniences (fireworks, Endymion, all of Carnival if you happen to live uptown) in exchange for the pleasures our tolerance of the transgressive provides.
If you seek the perfect, suburban peace of the grave New Orleans is probably not the city for you. I am sorry if this statement angers you. I am one of you, if only a renter of a run down half shotgun on Fortin but I searched for a year for a property I could afford in this neighborhood. I have called Lake Vista, Gentilly, Treme and Carrollton home, but once I landed here I knew I had found the best neighborhood of all. When I walked into DeBlancs for the first time in 20 years and the woman behind the counter looked down at my license and up at me and said, “you look just like your father” who had passed on 20 years earlier I knew I was home. I’m not looking to stir up trouble but I have to say all this: I cannot idly sit by and watch the old and rough-running engine of this city throttled by the growing climate of intolerance until it stalls and dies. If you enjoy Endymion I have borne that burden for you, gladly. All I ask is the same forbearance in return.
Odd Words October 4, 2012Posted by Mark Folse in books, Everette Maddox, literature, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
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& then there is this, courtesy of Maud Newton [sigh]. A tempest in a thimble to my humble self, so far removed from the important world in which such people move. The problem I see with the proliferation of book blogs is for the writer and avid reader who spends too much time on them, the realization of how many potentially wonderful books are being churned out by presses large and small that I will never find time to read, one of which is the comprehensible book in Borges’ Library of Babel in which I will find the key that unlocks “aha! that is how it is done!”, to realize how deep and broad the competition is, a river I could never swim. It is a wonder that the visitors to such places, myself included, bother to write at all, but once you’ve been cursed with a tongue of fire there is no going back to mending nets.
& so, onto the listings…
& This coming Tuesday is Everette Maddox’ birthday, and the loose-fitting plan so far (hatched by me because I don’t have enough to worry about already) is to show up in the patio of The Maple Leaf Bar around 7:30 p.m. to read and celebrate the words of New Orleans’ most iconic poet, founder of the Maple Leaf Reading Series and by all accounts–including his own–a mess. I think a sort of half-baked plan involving the Leaf, poetry and alcohol would meet with the approval of the author of “Just Normal“. If you haven’t read Maddox you have no excuse since UNO Press, back in the days when it mattered, issued the wonderful I hope it’s not over and goodbye anthology. In fact, if you haven’t read Everette Maddox you are not allowed to mention Confederacy of Dunces again until you have rectified this oversight.
& Tonight at 6 p.m. Octavia Books hosts the New Orleans premier of MEANWHILE, BACK AT CAFE DU MONDE . . . Life Stories about Food, including readings and signings by the book’s creator/editor Peggy Sweeny-McDonald and contributors Margarita Bergen, Nell Nolan, Sal Sunseri, Liz Williams, Karen Benrud, Drew Ramsey, Matt Murphy, Leon Contavesprie, and more. “Based on presentations of Meanwhile, Back at Café Du Monde . . ., these foodie monologues invoke your own special comfort foods, recalling tasty memories of life, love, family, and friends to warm your heart, feed your soul, and make you pause to savor the sweetness of life!”
& Also at 6 this evening, Maple Street Book Shop Uptown will host Sonpri Gray signing her latest book, Kept, an insightful-narrator-rises-above-her-humble-circumstances book (as opposed to a gaggle-of-inseparable-girls-friends-and-their-lives subgenre of Chic Lit. I would definitely have picked up this book for my ex- on spec at the library, and I had a pretty good track record on picking winners.
& At 7:30 p.m. 17 Poets! hosts poets AMANDA AUCHTER and PATRICE MELNICK followed by OPEN MIC hosted by Jimmy Ross. AUCHTER is the founding editor of Pebble Lake Review. She is the author of The Wishing Tomb, winner of the 2012 Perugia Press Award and of The Glass Crib, winner of the 2010 Zone 3 Press First Book Award for Poetry. MELNICK is a writer, arts administrator, educator and business owner. Melnick taught English and creative writing at Xavier University in New Orleans for 13 years where she founded and developed one of the first creative writing programs in New Orleans at a historically black university. Additionally, Melnick has taught a literary nonfiction workshop in the low-residency MFA program at the University of New Orleans
& Saturday is the monthly Poetry Buffet at the Latter Library at 2 p.m., featuring poets Vincent Celucci, Chris Shipman and L.A. Weeks reading from their work. I have to get the mistress of ceremonies and talented poet Gina Ferrara to start posting bios for her folks, ’cause I have to stop writing this and go make some money.
& Also this Saturday the excellent Crescent City Books is hosting a 20th Anniversary Reading/Reception from 2-4 p.m. with guest Carolyn Hembree, professor at the University of New Orleans and the author of the recently released collection of poems Skinny. Also, day-long discounts and giveaways are also promised. Best collection of new, used and noteworthy and collectible books anywhere. Try stopping by to visit with Michael when the American Booksellers are in town and try not to get trampled.
& On Saturday at 6 p.m. Maple Street Uptown will feature Andrew Kahrl signing and reading from his book, The Land Was Ours: African-American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South. The Land Was Ours delves deep into the history of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and tells the history of African-American beaches and resorts on Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In particular, the book traces the human and environmental history of Lake Pontchartrain’s southern shore over the course of the 20th century, and looks at how the struggle for outdoor leisure and recreational space became an important element of the larger civil rights movement in New Orleans. This definitely sounds interesting for those of us old enough to remember Lincoln Beach.
& Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Maple Leaf Bar Reading Series. Followed by an open mic.
& 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 words and visiting artists all around town.
& 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. repeating Sundays at Noon. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest.
& On Tuesday at 6 p.m. Octavia hosts a presentation and signing with John McCusker celebrating the launch of his new biography, CREOLE TROMBONE: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz, a book that is going to wind up on my shelves for sure. “Drawing on oral history and Ory’s unpublished autobiography, Creole Trombone is a story that is told in large measure by Ory himself. The author reveals Ory’s personality to the reader and shares remarkable stories of incredible innovations of the jazz pioneer. The book also features unpublished Ory compositions, photographs, and a selected discography of his most significant recordings.”
& Maple Street’s downtown book club at the Healing Center , which meets the second Tuesday of every month, is reading David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. They will be discussing it Tuesday at 7 p.m. Newcomers are welcome!
& On Wednesday Maple Street Uptown presents Philip Meric at 6 p.m. to discuss The Fortress of New Orleans, compiled by Evans-Graves Engineers, Inc. Please join us for a wine and cheese reception before the presentation. The Fortress of New Orleans: A Photographic Tour of the Largest Civil Works Program in U.S. History serves as a visual record of representative parts and pieces of the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System, a true flood and surge defense system comprised of traditional earthen levees and floodwalls as well as state-of-the-art flood-control components that are viewed as engineering marvels.
Water Lilies January 17, 2012Posted by Mark Folse in Everette Maddox, New Orleans, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Tags: University of New Orleans, UNO
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What are all these buildings and tall green trees on the barren landscape haunted I remember haunted with the ghosts of barracks? Does the mad bag piper still practice on a fire escape of some building as we walk through the ground fog back to Wadsworth street? Where are the matronly black ladies in cafeteria white who once worked the hot line in what is now a food court? Who’s playing Luigi’s Wednesday?
Who are these children? What future have we built for them in the last 30 years? If I knew, I would tell them but they are too busy hustling from class to class, texting that girl they met in CHEM 1069 for coffee later. A few more years of innocence left and I should not trouble them with my grey worries, but walk with them in the bustling sunshine toward some life as yet unimagined.
By Everette Maddox
The window of my half-
ass job frames a group
of students dripping
across a small yard’s
green gloom. No more
rain! Because a noose
of sunlight snares them—
skirts & hats
& army jackets–& pulls
them tight, like
a yellow slicker,
retarding their academic
progress. Fixing them
(such a lovely mess!),
making an old man’s
day immortal. Water-lilies.
Happiness is for Saps September 17, 2011Posted by Mark Folse in books, Everette Maddox, New Orleans, Odd Words, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Bob Woolf, Everette Maddox, New Orleans Review
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This is New Orleans; everyone changes here.”
— G.A. Shirley, Greyhound bus driver
(From a letter from Everette Maddox
to Bob Woolf, 1978, quoted in
The New Orleans Review)
Reading Everette Maddox’s letters to Bob Woolf is fascinating but makes a man thankful for an unmade bed of my own one room over from a respectable liquor cabinet. Think I’ll have a
few fingers fist of whiskey when I get home and read something cheerful like Lay Down in Darkness.
Everette’s ghost of awe plays pachinko June 8, 2009Posted by Mark Folse in Everette Maddox, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
As I usually do when I find that the site www.everettemaddox.org has gone down, I shoot off an email to the fellow who keeps it up and let him know. And when he gets it online again I celebrate by posting up one of Everette Maddox’s poems. This being Monday the idea of actually having to think through and write something, well, that transgresses the fine line between propriety and masochism.
Here’s one I like if only because the poet and I appear to both suffer the odd symptom of spending most of the night in REM sleep, and being woken all the time by our dreams. Dedra tells me this is a symptom of sleep deprivation and she more than anyone would know, but I like to think of it as part of the lucky curse of an over active imagination. All that stuff just rumbling around somewhere behind the daily grind of the counting house has to pop out somewhere, if not here.
I love the line “the ghost of awe” in POEM. It has a certain musical ring that I don’t have a technical term for (near assonance?) but which lights up my synapses like a digital pachinko, a vibrational affinity that sings as clearly as an easy example of assonance. (My favorite example of that being Bob Dylan’s “the ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face” which I like partly because of its wonderful mix of assonance and the soft alliteration of “s” and soft “c” sounds. Just my personal favorite. There are better technical examples. Try googling “Sound and Sense” if you must have one).
So now I’ll just do my lazy online jig of joy (Cntrl-X! Alt and Tab! Cntrl-V! Cha-cha-cha!) and offer this up from the Everette Maddox Songbook. (It’s in my Amazon wish list for only two hundred and some odd dollars if you’re feeling guilty about missing my birthday, or just won the lottery and are thinking of ways to share the joy). Oh, and if you can identify the line in this post above this point that is a quote from Everette Maddox, I’ll buy you a scotch, from the well, at the Maple Leaf. Oh, and you’ll be entitled to give this post a more sensible title.
After everything quits,
happening. The phone
rings. A knock comes
at the door. Lightning
flashes across the bed
where you bend, looking
at the dictionary.
Asleep, you keep waking
from dreams. The surface
of your life keeps
being broken, less and less
frequently, at random.
Raindrops after a storm:
surprise: the ghost of awe.
Happy Damn New Year January 2, 2009Posted by Mark Folse in Everette Maddox, New Orleans, poem, Poetry.
I found today that www.everettemaddox.org is back online after a brief hiatus. Thank you Tom Woolf.
On account of this great occasion and the New Year, consider this:
Oh hush up
right there on
plate, and you’ll
yell “Take it
But there won’t
– Everette Maddox, from The Everette Maddox Song Book
UNDER THE BANYAN TREE March 26, 2008Posted by Mark Folse in 504, cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Everette Maddox, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
Tags: 504, banyan tree, Everette Maddox, literature, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, Rutledge Youngblood
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Cheer up, @skooks. it’s always darkest just before the 16 ton weight drops from Terry Gilliam’s drawing table onto one’s head.
RUTLEDGE YOUNGBLOOD REFUSES TO LIE UNDER THE BANYAN TREE ANYMORE
By Everette Maddox
Rutledge has made up his mind
this is the last day he will lie
at length in his glinting hair
his eye fixed on a fig
his toes alive in the permissive mud.
Out beyond these roots in a pool
clear by day dark by night
purple eels jiggle:
that is another universe of course
but that is not where Rutledge lives
and neither is this.
Though the air is thick with bells
bizarre with flutes
Rutledge lies on his belly now
billowing like a child’s balloon
and it means nothing to him
that ultimates and ultimates buoy him up.
He will leave in the morning
by the ordinary door
and walk in the shrill gray streets
in the old soot and sunshine.
He has learned all he needed to know,
what he already knew, that he is happy.
Visit 13 Possums.
Bar Scotch January 3, 2008Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Everette Maddox, ghosts, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Tags: 13possums, Bar Scotch, Everette Maddox, poem, Poetry, rare book
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Cover price of seven bucks, plus shipping. I hardly know what to say, except that I instructed my wife the other night that I am absolutely, positively to be buried with a bottle of scotch.
Thank you Mr. Maddox, wherever you are. I’ve already posted one of the Bar Scotch poems up to 13possums, where I hope to try to recapture some of what was lost when http://www.everettemaddox.org went dark. Look for more poems posted there as I get a minute to type instead of just read.
think only this of me September 28, 2007Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Debrisville, Everette Maddox, New Orelans, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, quotes, We Are Not OK.
Tags: Everette Maddos
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…Oh if this moment
should indeed prove
to be the corner
I’ve spent 35 years
painting myself into
think only this of me
That one more cheap camera
against the world’s beauty.
— Everette Maddox
For New Orleans September 21, 2007Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Debrisville, Everette Maddox, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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Another Everette Maddox poem for and about the city:
for Ralph Adamo
From the air it’s all puddles:
a blue-green frog town
on lily pads. More canals
than Amsterdam. You don’t
land — you sink. When
we met, you, the Native, shook
your head. Sweat dropped
on the bar. You said:
“You’re sunk. You won’t
write a line. You won’t make
a nickel. You won’t hit
a lick at a snake in this
antebellum sauna-bath. You
won’t shit in the morning if
you don’t wake up with
your pants down.” And you
were right: Three years later
I’m in it up to my eyebrows,
stalled like a streetcar.
My life is under the bed
with the beer bottles.
I’ll never write another line
for anything but love
in this city where steam
rises off the street after
a rain like bosoms heaving.
Blinded by Sunrise June 23, 2007Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Everette Maddox, Mid-City, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
For Everette Maddox
So listen: it’s not like we ever met
Or anything, but I think we’ve both been
Blinded by sunrise refracted in a bar glass.
It’s like this: I’ve had just enough of a taste
Of your words that I’m haunted like a man
In love who’s suddenly not sure where
His next drink’s coming from, except:
It’s not from her. She’s up and left.
The books stores are dry as Texas on Sunday
And I can’t even get lucky with a librarian
Dropping your name. It’s as if
Every trace of you was washed away
In a flood of bar scotch. I’ve started
Chalking Xs on the shelves I’ve searched.
You being dead and all I’m sorry
To bother but if you scare up a copy
Of any book of yours in some sidewalk box
I might happen to pass by,
I promise I’ll have them bury me
With a bottle so I can repay the favor.
A Poem for New Orleans May 16, 2007Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Everette Maddox, Mid-City, New Orleans, NOLA, Poetry.
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By Everette Maddox. I’ve been looking around and nobody in town seems to carry his work.
for Bob Woolf
Now I don’t care about hum-drum
order any more than
you do. I sympathize
with Huck Finn’s taste for
the mixed up. This is no
tight ship. I wouldn’t
want my moments run off on an
assembly line like toy ducks. That’s
not the point: it’s been
raining possums for a month. And now,
when I’m absolutely up to my neck in
a whole bathtub of concerns, you
walk in unannounced, wearing
an ETERNITY sweat-shirt and leading some
kind of out-of-date dog on a leash, and
shake my slippery hand and tell me
“Just normal, thanks.” Well, no
thanks. I’ve had enough. I’m going to
pull myself up over the side, and get
all the way out of my mind.