Traveling with the Dead March 19, 2013Posted by Mark Folse in Crime, cryptic envelopment, je me souviens, Murder, New Orleans, Remember, Toulouse Street.
1 comment so far
This comment posted day before yesterday explains why I haven’t been posting but instead trying, in my limited time to blog, to finish my list of the dead of 2012.
“My Love, My Soulmate, My Hubby….
*Arthur Jackson* 05/08/78-07/01/07
It’s been 5yrs and it feels like yesterday…some days are better than others, but the pain remains…I’ve know this man since 1st grade, we attended elementary & high school together….He was my friend,soulmate,my LIFE…Our kids miss him so much, I wish he was here to mentor,guide, his boys(2) or see his daughter as she blossoms into a beautiful,bright,intelligent, young lady….although he died during his 2nd surgery it was still a result of gun violence…this type of savagery has claimed the ives of so many of Nola’s fathers, my youngest son’s kindergarten class had 6 kids including my son whose dad was killed…my really goes out to the kids, because they’re the ones whose really suffering….this has to STOP, just the thought of some poor child being told they’re dad is DEAD, gone foever and haing to endure the pain on their face, (as I recall my kids experience) breaks my heart….PEACE*”
The Not-So-Black Death November 2, 2012Posted by Mark Folse in Federal Flood, Fortin Street, Murder, New Orleans, NOLA, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
I open the folder that spent the last seven years in the Toulouse Street shed, and you can smell the light dusting of black mold. I go through it page by page, toss a few on the scanner, and tuck the most precious into gallon zip lock bags but my sinuses are on fire. I imagine the almost microscopic spores settling into the carpet and couch. I should have done this in the kitchen but it’s too late now. I will have to vacuum the front within an inch of its life. I never gutted a house like Ray, never faced the decision of my friend Eric to lose the respirator because working in a Type III in August in New Orleans is a choice between strangulation quick or slow. I remember the workers back in ’06 in the convenience store, grabbing a large, milky coffee and a Mexican sweet roll to start the day, bandannas bandito-style around their necks, the only protection they would have against the gypsum dust and mold.
You gotta die of something I think as I step out onto my stoop for a cigarette. The air is laced with hydrocarbons from the upriver refineries and my coffee is brewed with water from the sewer of mid-America. The other night I saw a man I haven’t run into in a while whose daughter suffered from dangerous levels of lead when first tested, an educated man and wife living in a carefully renovated house, not your idea of a tenement with peeling yellow paint, children stuffing flakes in their curious mouths but in parts of this city the dirt is thick with lead and arsenic. Their daughter is fine now but how many other children are playing in a packed-dirt rental backyard right now?
You gotta die of something, and that fried oyster po-boy might kill you in ways your clucking doctor might not imagine as she renews your cholesterol medicine. R.I.P., Mr. Folse, the shrimp boat captain said on Facebook when I told her I would continue eating wild caught Louisiana seafood. The planes had been out that day, she said, spraying Corexit on the latest sheen from British Petroleum’s Deep Water Horizon wellhead. For now those initials stand for Reel In Po-Boys, and who can blame her for still fishing when I-10 is lined with smiling chefs telling us to Eat Louisiana Seafood? What happens to Corexit when you dump it into a deep fryer? Who knows? Nothing to see here. Move on. What do you say to people who came home to complete ruin that would deter them living here? What would keep the people suffering today in New York away from a steady diet of diesel exhaust, Jersey VOCs and stress? What would take the farmers off the land, the ones who wrestle 50-gallon drums of poison without which they couldn’t make the bank note? What could keep that shrimp boat captain off the water? Short of Chernobyl and soldiers loading people onto trucks, nothing.
You gotta die of something, and if I put down the cigarettes what other diabolical entertainment might my grandfather’s ghost reach up from his alcoholic’s grave to suggest? If I were forced to stop eating seafood you can put me on suicide watch right away. The water is as clean as the Sewerage & Water Board can manage, and wins taste tests, but I know from a local brewer that Dixie used its own purified well water because the city’s Ph was skewed because there are still antique lead pipes in the system. They just don’t know where. I once found a slug beneath my patio chair one New Year’s Day, the hole where it went through the webbing. So it goes. You pick your place and take your chances. You are more likely to be killed or seriously injured by a car while walking in New York City than you are to be shot in New Orleans. After the flooding from the second hurricane in two years to strike New York you start to ask the question you answered a thousand times yourself: why do people live there.?
I am not worried about how I die so much as where, and that is the one decision about death most of us get to make. I was born here in New Orleans in a hospital on Perdido Street. I will die here and invite anyone who wishes to dispute that point to join me. I want to die where my diet is a cheap and easy contributing factor, where a wake is an occasion to shame the Irish, where a band is more essential than a minister. No bouquets for me. Just bury me when the sweet autumn clematis are in bloom, on a cool October day with someone cooking with the windows open, and the sound of the band carrying to the next ward on the apple-crisp air. Just put a pack of smokes and my Zippo in the box to get me through the day.
If you open a beer while making boudin for breakfast at, oh, 11:30 it must be Jazz Fest on Fortin Street. The mini Bose are in the window playing Crescent City Soul Vol. 3 and 4. I found these disks in the Fargo library and promptly burned myself a copy. Someone had stolen Vol. 1 and 2 already. When I priced them I found out why. Out of print, they go for about $400, more if the box they came in is in what book sellers call Fine condition.
This is not a bad way to enjoy Jazz Fest, sitting on the stoop hearing the music loud and clear and watching people go by. The crowds fun watching them pass by the house instead of elbowing your way through a beer or food line. People look at the sign and stop to take a picture and talk. It’s friendlier out here on the perimeter.
And I’m closer to the Blues Stage than you’ll ever be in this lifetime.
Brother Tyrone & the Mindbenders are up on the Blues Tent stage, maybe 50 feet from my stoop so I’m saving Vol. 4 for the next break. Better to check the beans and plant myself in the V.I.P* section of the Fortin Street Stage. Last year no one ate the four pounds of red beans because everyone comes out full, but I figure my neighbor Jimmy and I will have lunch.
* Very Intense Proximity.
Remembrence March 24, 2011Posted by Mark Folse in je me souviens, Murder, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
Every so often, someone searching the Internet for a loved one lost to the chronic violence of New Orleans lands here on Toulouse Street, finding them listed in my (almost) annual catalog of the victims of murder. This one just appeared the other day on the list for 2008.
Felix Pearson: I love you and you will always be my number one cousin. Even though most of the people in life have forgotten you. God and me will always be here. I love you and miss you. XoXo!
Sadly, the day I noticed this I also noticed someone was out searching for the Hanktons again which always bother’s me. These guys appear to be a couple of New Orleans most dangerous, but someone finds them interesting as I regularly get hits searching for their names.
Today is not about the Hanktons, but about the victims, about Felix Pearson whom I never knew in this life. However he died, an innocent bystander or a player with a pistol in his waistband I will never know. I only know he was a part of New Orleans, a part of a family and a neighborhood and he is gone forever but not forgotten.
Silence is Violence 2010 January 11, 2011Posted by Mark Folse in Crime, je me souviens, Murder, Remember, the dead, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
1 comment so far
I began listing the murder victims of New Orleans from 2007 in early 2008, partly because I could not make a Silence is Violence march. I did it again the following year because of the number of people I discovered go searching for their loved ones (I hope, and not gloating over their victims). I didn’t do this last year because I started a writing project (unfinished) called Murder Ballads instead, but I feel bad I did not post a list last year. Since NOLA.com now has a database of murder victims with links to the news stories on that site, I may go back and do 2009, but for now, here are the victims of 2010.
I have copied liberally from NOLA.com, giving more detail than I have in the past.
What I wrote in a piece about one victim still about sums up the reason for this exercise best:
Everyone person on that list, even if they had gone down that dark path and died with a handgun in their waste band and an empty look in their eyes, all of them were once as Chanel once was, as my own children once were: as innocent as a lamb in the lap of Jesus.
The list is long so I’ve placed it on a page here.