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Matthew 25:40 December 25, 2012

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

Holiday Cheer December 24, 2010

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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This is too good not to share, and much more cheerful than my usual resort to William Burrough’s A Junkie’s Xmas. Hat tip to Amy Loewy who posted this up on Facebook. Here’s to children of imagination, all well meaning parents who have lived something like this more than once and especially for aunts in the kitchen with cocktails.

The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas

Holiday Roundup December 24, 2010

Posted by Mark Folse in 504, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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There are few things more cheerful than the sounds of a firetruck siren in the pre-dawn hours of chilly Christmas Eve in New Orleans (he thinks, eying the cranky panel heater in the wall next to him). Let’s hope it’s a false alarm. Since I’m up, I might as well get this out of the way. For the last couple of years, I’ve posted the same few things this time of year, usually adding a new link each year like adding a new ornament to the tree. Rather than start firing off a lot of reposts, here are the links to past posts should you be looking for A Holiday on Toulouse Street.

And finally this, which I can’t resist posting up for your immediate enjoyment.

Granda Elliot’s Nutcracker December 14, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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One-time recording artist Elliot Small, better known to visitors to the New Orleans French Quarter as Grandpa Elliot, displays some serious harmonica chops for us on this mixup of a Nutcracker Suite and the William Tell Overture.

This Playing for Change video is now the leading driver of visitors to this site. Grandpa Eilliot is apparently quite an internet celebrity. But internet hits don’t pay the bills, and until he sets up a paypal donation button all I ask is this: if you find yourself Christmas shopping downtown, spare a buck for this street legend. Imagine what the quarter would be like without street musicians (particularly the talented ones).

The Ghost of Christmas Present December 14, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in 504, Toulouse Street.
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“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge.

Everyone who has finished high school in American in the 20th Century has likely read O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi”. You may wonder where is the connection between that story and William S. Burroughs’ tale of a junkie, a heroin addict: Danny the car wiper. Some might consider this story Oddly unsympathetic, but if we cannot find the same satisfaction in this tale we find in O. Henry’s then the very last traces of magic have gone out of this world and for all our pretty lies our own lives are no less bleak than Danny’s.

Part 1

Part 2

The Ghost of Christmas Past December 13, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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The last Christmas with real snow and frost on the windows that did not come from a can. A place where you could cut your own northern pine if you had enough hair on your balls to haul yourself out into the woodlot at twilight as the temperature plunged toward the wrong side of zero. The last Christmas with a real fireplace crackling not some video loop on the CW with bad Christmas carols.

It was a good life, one that helped make my children the fine people they are today. It was a good place full of good people, and my wife who brought me there the best of the lot. And still I would sit late at night, perched on the bricks in front of the fireplace sneaking an inside cigarette as the draft sucked away the smoke and I sipped a midnight whisky, hearing this song and dreaming of trees draped not with lights and tin balls but faded beads.

Happy. Peace. Merry. Joy December 24, 2007

Posted by Mark Folse in Christmas, cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans Saints, NOLA, Odds&Sods, Toulouse Street.
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On reconsideration, this deserves it’s own post.

As the wheel turns away from the dark, let us all follow and second line into the light.

The dew upon their feet shall manifest. December 24, 2007

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orelans, New Orleans, NOLA, Xmas.
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Not everyone in this nation is a Christian, and so many struggle with this season. For those who’s own world view does not tend toward the religious, I offer this gift of a favorite poem that has carried me through many a churchly holiday and more than one family funeral.

If this seems too solemn, then let all of the gods and spirits and sons of men join together and dance. The faster we go, the rounder we get.

Sunday Morning

1

Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.
She dreams a little, and she feels the dark
Encroachment of that old catastrophe,
As a calm darkens among water-lights.
The pungent oranges and bright, green wings
Seem things in some procession of the dead,
Winding across wide water, without sound.
The day is like wide water, without sound,
Stilled for the passing of her dreaming feet
Over the seas, to silent Palestine,
Dominion of the blood and sepulchre.

2

Why should she give her bounty to the dead?
What is divinity if it can come
Only in silent shadows and in dreams?
Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
Divinity must live within herself:
Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;
Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued
Elations when the forest blooms; gusty
Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;
All pleasures and all pains, remembering
The bough of summer and the winter branch.
These are the measure destined for her soul.

3

Jove in the clouds had his inhuman birth.
No mother suckled him, no sweet land gave
Large-mannered motions to his mythy mind.
He moved among us, as a muttering king,
Magnificent, would move among his hinds,
Until our blood, commingling, virginal,
With heaven, brought such requital to desire
The very hinds discerned it, in a star.
Shall our blood fail? Or shall it come to be
The blood of paradise? And shall the earth
Seem all of paradise that we shall know?
The sky will be much friendlier then than now,
A part of labor and a part of pain,
And next in glory to enduring love,
Not this dividing and indifferent blue.

4

She says, ‘I am content when wakened birds,
Before they fly, test the reality
Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings;
But when the birds are gone, and their warm fields
Return no more, where, then, is paradise?’
There is not any haunt of prophecy,
Nor any old chimera of the grave,
Neither the golden underground, nor isle
Melodious, where spirits gat them home,
Nor visionary south, nor cloudy palm
Remote on heaven’s hill, that has endured
As April’s green endures; or will endure
Like her remembrance of awakened birds,
Or her desire for June and evening, tipped
By the consummation of the swallow’s wings.

5

She says, ‘But in contentment I still feel
The need of some imperishable bliss.’
Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her,
Alone, shall come fulfillment to our dreams
And our desires. Although she strews the leaves
Of sure obliteration on our paths,
The path sick sorrow took, the many paths
Where triumph rang its brassy phrase, or love
Whispered a little out of tenderness,
She makes the willow shiver in the sun
For maidens who were wont to sit and gaze
Upon the grass, relinquished to their feet.
She causes boys to pile new plums and pears
On disregarded plate. The maidens taste
And stray impassioned in the littering leaves.

6

Is there no change of death in paradise?
Does ripe fruit never fall? Or do the boughs
Hang always heavy in that perfect sky,
Unchanging, yet so like our perishing earth,
With rivers like our own that seek for seas
They never find, the same receding shores
That never touch with inarticulate pang?
Why set pear upon those river-banks
Or spice the shores with odors of the plum?
Alas, that they should wear our colors there,
The silken weavings of our afternoons,
And pick the strings of our insipid lutes!
Death is the mother of beauty, mystical,
Within whose burning bosom we devise
Our earthly mothers waiting, sleeplessly.

7

Supple and turbulent, a ring of men
Shall chant in orgy on a summer morn
Their boisterous devotion to the sun,
Not as a god, but as a god might be,
Naked among them, like a savage source.
Their chant shall be a chant of paradise,
Out of their blood, returning to the sky;
And in their chant shall enter, voice by voice,
The windy lake wherein their lord delights,
The trees, like serafin, and echoing hills,
That choir among themselves long afterward.
They shall know well the heavenly fellowship
Of men that perish and of summer morn.
And whence they came and whither they shall go
The dew upon their feel shall manifest.

8

She hears, upon that water without sound,
A voice that cries, ‘The tomb in Palestine
Is not the porch of spirits lingering.
It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay.’
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.

Peace Out, Man December 23, 2007

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orelans, New Orleans, NOLA, Odds&Sods, Toulouse Street.
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Ho!

I am so going to hell. December 20, 2007

Posted by Mark Folse in Dancing Bear, Mid-City, New Orelans, New Orleans, NOLA, Odds&Sods, parody, Toulouse Street, Xmas.
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I wonder what they do down there on Xmas eve? Roasting chestnuts? I do miss having a roaring fire at the holidays and those little pine cones covered with heavy metals that make the pretty colors…

The Rebel Jesus December 19, 2007

Posted by Mark Folse in Chieftans, cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Mid-City, New Orelans, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK, Xmas.
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I tried to answer Bart’s question about how to deal with Xmas when one is not an Xian as best I could. I think, however, that Jackson Browne kicks my ass.

So here, Bart, is at least part of the answer you are looking for:

So I bid you pleasure and I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus.

The Rebel Jesus
Jackson Browne
The streets are filled with laughter and light
And the music of the season
And the merchants’ windows are all bright
With the faces of the children
And the families hurrying to their homes
As the sky darkens and freezes
Will be gathering around the hearths and tales
Giving thanks for all God’s graces
And the birth of the rebel Jesus

They call him by the “Prince of Peace”
And they call him by “The Saviour”
And they pray to him upon the sea
And in every bold endeavor
As they fill his churches with their pride and gold
And their faith in him increases
But they’ve turned the nature that I worshiped in
From a temple to a robber’s den
In the words of the rebel Jesus

We guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why they are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus

But pardon me if I have seemed
To take the tone of judgment
For I’ve no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In this life of hardship and of earthly toil
We have need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure and I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus.

We tree king in orient car December 10, 2007

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orelans, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, Xmas.
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“We tree king in orient car
smoking a Jamaican cigar.
Make you lazy and so crazy:
Man dig that crazy star, -ar…”

Ah, the sounds of a man hanging his Xmas lights, singing stupid lyrics as a defense against the deathless earworms of traditional Xmas Muzak. There’s just something about dripping sweat on a chilly day while untangling icicle lights up on tippy toe on the porch railing right where the power lines enter the house that brings out the stupid in all of us.

“We wish for some figgy pudding.
We wish for some figgy pudding.
We wish for some figgy pudding and a cold glass of beer.
Good tidings to you, so what’s here to eat.
Some nice figgy pudding and a piece of cold meat.”

My wife comes to the door and glares at me in jest (I hope), then turns up the Charlie Brown Xmas album and closes the door. The lamps on my beloved plastic ivy that decorates the door go out. I leave off filing the orientation tabs off of grounded plugs by rubbing them on the cement steps and starting wiggling bulbs.

“Jingle Bells, Rudolph smells.
Santa broke the sleigh.
Mrs. Claus is a mean old broad
who drinks a quart a day, -ay”.

“If you need something productive to do, you can come inside and help,” my wife suggests. Have to remember the unplug everything before I water the plants, I remind myself. Never had that problem in Fargo, but can’t say I miss climbing that 24 foot extension ladder on a windy, 10-degree day to string up the giant triangular arrangement that made a tree. I left half a kilowatt of lights behind with friends up north, where battling the darkness seemed even more important when twilight is at 4 pm and it’s dark when you get to work at 7:30 in the morning.

“Im’a mimute,” I mumble, cord clamped firmly in my teeth (uh, is this thing plugged in?), as I stretch around the triple columns at the corners of my Craftsman porch, reaching to stretch the last string of icicle lights to the last nail. I must have left these strings up last year while the neighbor was having his roof redone, as there’s a certain Dickensian black grit covering the white wires of the icycles.

Ah, done at last, my own little Folse Drive in Mid-City.

Mr. Bingle December 2, 2007

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Debrisville, New Orelans, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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Thanks to the New Orleans Radio Theater website of local broadcast memorabilia for this snapshot of of our long-ago childhoods.bingle3.jpg Picture are Al Shea, a stalwart of Golden Era local television, along with Mr. Bingle and Pete the Penguin. The website tells us Shea was the voice of the Penguin, while the Mr. Bingle fan site tells us that Edwin Harmon “Oscar” Isentrout was the voice and puppeteer behind Mr. Bingle

Mr. Bingle was the star of an extended advertisement for the long-departed Maison Blanch department store chain which ran on late afternoon television back in the early 1960s. Those of us of a certain, late-Baby-Boomer age remember Mr. Bingle as one of the touch points of Christmas in New Orleans. In addition to the television show, Mr. Bingle was the start of the store windows at the Canal Street store.

Here’s a scratchy but listenable audio-only recording of an long ago Xmas Eve broadcast of the Mr. Bingle show.

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