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Tag, I’m it. (Nearest book meme) October 31, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Odds&Sods, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
1 comment so far

Ok, I never do these things, but since Maitri started it, here goes:

Day 428: The Nearest Book Meme
By Maitri on internet


1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

This book doesn’t have a 123, so I’m going to page 23:

. . . Hums all night like a machine underground.
The wisteria next door inhales to speak,
But the wind blows in the opposite direction.

Opposite! The very work is like friendship.
I reach my hand and lave a smudge on the air.
When I make what I make, I drop into cold water . . .

This is from Paranioa, from the collection of Raeburn Miller’s poetry The Comma After Love. He was a professor at U.N.O. and taught me senior level 20th Century Poetry (both parts). I was laying on the counter to dry out after having a run in with a leaky coffee machine.

Ok, we’re rolling. It’s . . . August 29th . . . October 29, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Flood, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
Tags: , ,

“Good morning, it’s Sunday August 29th . . .”

The voice of the person I believe is recording engineer Jim Gaines speaks these words at the start of the first cut of Michael Perlitch’s Keyboard Tales, an obscure 1972 Atlantic Recording alt/art record. I surmise it is the engineer as someone clearly Perlitch answers, and it is a solo work.

I pulled this LP out after rereading this post on Wet Bank Guide, to digitize the vinyl and burn myself a CD copy. I also pulled out Electric Ladyland, after a comment post of most of the lyrics of 1983/Moon Turn the Tides in response to Traveling Mermaid’s announcment that her Katrina-centric blog will be largely superceded by one that will not mention The Event.

The Mermaid will be missed, but if her new blog continues her posts that had nothing directly to do with the deluge, the links to art, to music, to musings on her journey through our watery world at the edge of America, then we won’t lose that voice and the iconic Mermaid of the year of the flood will remain in our memories of the past months.

This post is running astray like a ship lured toward the rocks by a vision that just might, possibly might, be a woman with the tail of a fish. I meant to write about the minor bit of synchronicity at the start of Perlitch’s recording. We are all living in the endlessly echoing concentric ripples of the Flood. I put on a record, and hear a voice say “It’s . . . August 29” and once again the entire web trembles and glistens with the brackish splatter of the last year.

I don’t desire to escape the web as Charlotte does, but then I am not a survivor. I don’t labor carrying that tremendous stone up the endless steps my every waking moment. As terrible as the Flood was, for me it was like the satori in a painful slap of the Grand Master, an awakening. Even as I find myself drifting in and out of the pervasive dark cloud that hangs over the city and all its residents, I hear this date spoken on Perlitch’s record and suddenly, there is the flash of light that reveals another strand.

For me, the web is the tangle of strings of unimaginable composition–something like pure energy–that I find in the writings of Carlos Castaneda and in books about theoritical physics, strands of simultaneous light and substance. A voice speaking that date by cosmic accident on a cutout LP is just another thread in the tapestry that had hung behind my entire life, the backdrop I only truly begin to see in the light of that first episode of Flood-born synchronicity August before last, a moment that opened up a set of possibilities that before had been nothing but conjecture or idle day dream, a moment like that when I read (in the same year this record was released) Thomas Pynchon’s suggestion in Gravity’s Rainbow that paranoia might be “the leading edge of awareness that everything is connected”.

For tonight, I am content to listen to Captain Zanzibar.

Har vast ye wanderers on my
Galleon Bound
Toward uncharted waters
Strong winds fill the sails as we
Wander Around
To the far side of the deep blue sea
Is my island and its waiting for me
On my blue sky ocean
On my blue sky ocean
On my blue sky ocean

Morgus October 20, 2006

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, Uncategorized.


The Voice of Genius, from 1959

Maple Leaf Rag October 4, 2006

Posted by The Typist in art, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Poetry, Rebirth.
Yesterday I visited the Maple Leaf Bookstore for the first time in 20 years. Nothing has changed, I thought as I grabbed the center pull of the screen door and entered. There is something about a cramped bookstore that entices in a way the marketing and design teams of the big box stores simply haven’t comprehended. Perhaps it is just that I am not the twenty to forty something woman book buyer they all believe they are catering to.

Borders and Barnes and Nobles will do in a pinch. A bookstore is, at the end of the day, still to me what a candy store is to a child, a place of wonder and reward. Still, there is something about the neatness and organization of the boxes that is repulsively antiseptic, that fails to hook me and make the sale. I routinely walk into B&N or Borders and leave without a book. When I visit an independent book store, that is clearly run for the love of books, even the endlessly cavernous Powell’s in Portland, Ore. (the highlight of my trip there last year, ahead of even the Japanese Garden), and wander the pratical and untidy stacks, I am entranced. I could never leave such a store empty handed. Hell, I think I even still have the receipt from Powell’s, and a half-dozen their bookmarks.

The staff of the Maple Leaf solicitiously offered to order me the book my daughter needed, but I couldn’t wait. Instead, I just wandered the cramped space, finding the poetry shelf right where I left it two decades ago. I picked up a little chapbook, Katrina-ku, storm poems, from the New Orleans Haiku society. Must are senryu, the form without the rigid references to nature. The real high point are the pen-and-ink drawings that accompany each poem. And the renku “Only The Living/a renku”, written collaboratively by members of the society, is a gem.

I still haven’t gotten my cannoli yet at Brocato’s, but I have no one to blame but myself. Returning to the Maple Leaf was just as sweet.