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Fifty: Traces of Angels March 29, 2014

Posted by The Typist in 365, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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feathergirlThis is my entry in Harriet “Happy” Burbeck’s call for stories for her art show “Illustrations Stories That Haven’t Been Written Yet” (which closed last night).

She goes out in the morning looking for traces of angels. Her momma’s house is chock-a-block with cherubs and delicate porcelain nymphs with gilded wings. Even the fractured worm of ash of the cigarette her mother passed out smoking sits in a bowl cradled by the hands of a pieta-headed angel. These are not the creatures she hears in the night, the woosh of muscular wings, the cries that frighten the hoot owls. The curio cabinets rattle at their passing. When she can no longer fight off sleep she dreams of their hot breath on her neck, dark forms standing guard against darkness. She goes out in the morning, gathers their tremendous feathers and takes them into the woods behind the house. She plants their spines like saplings. With each new plume the forest grows more fiercely green, the trunks and branches more muscular and rough. She sits in her feather garden listening to the crows talk, listening for the familiar voices from her dreams.

Forty Nine: This Fresh Hell March 28, 2014

Posted by The Typist in 365, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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You can’t imagine a city like this. The archetypes are all wrong. You’ve drunk so much you’re sure you going straight to Baptist hell the minute you cross the Mississippi line but don’t realize it’s right outside your curtained hotel window, the vomit brimstone steam from hoses rinsing off the blistering streets, the smell of gluttonous garbage decomposing in the brutal, golden sun of August, the flash of gold from the teeth of the last tranny hooker stumbling home. Cathedral Jesus knows what you’ve been up to but he’s been hanging in this city so long all he really wants is to bum a cigarette, something toward bus fare to somewhere less molten, more regular in its habits, some place evil orders the breakfast biscuit and eats it methodically before it pulls out the gun, the horror and the glory of the certainty of Satan’s works on a placid landscape.

Odd Words March 27, 2014

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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& Thursday kicks off with a reading with poet Richard Siken. The reading, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. at NOCCA, 2800 Chartres Street, New Orleans 70117. Siken’s poetry collection Crush is the winner of the 2004 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition, judged by poet Louise Glück. Glück says in the forward: “The poems’ power derives from obsession but Richard Siken’s manner is sheer manic improv, with the poet in all the roles: he is the animal trapped in the headlights, paralyzed; he is also the speeding vehicle, the car that doesn’t stop, the mechanism of flight. The book is all high beams: reeling, savage, headlong, insatiable.” A resident of Tucson, AZ, Siken is cofounder and editor of the literary magazine spork, and the recipient of a Literature Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. The reading will open with UNO Creative Writing Professor and poet Carolyn Hembree.

The Siken reading is the opening event of the seventh annual Lusher Charter High School and New Orleans Center for Creative Art LitFest, a collaboration between the two New Orleans’s schhols for the arts. The Festival, coordinated by Lusher faculty member Brad Richard and NOCCA faculty member Lara Naughton, draws nearly 150 young writers from the New Orleans area who come together to learn new skills, share ideas and celebrate the writing life. Day Two Saturday March 29: offers high school students a day-long festival of master classes with nationally renowned writers and artists, seminars, food, and sharing their work and ideas. Saturday events will be held from 9:30 AM-4:30 PM at Lusher Charter High School, 5624 Freret Street, New Orleans 70115. Tickets for the program are $20 and can be purchased here.

Headlining the Saturday festival will be poet Richard Siken who will offer a master class to all festival participants. After the master class, Siken will also meet with a small group of students to discuss poetry and the writing life. Other session offerings include Screenwriting with Henry Griffin; Spoken Word with Slam Team NOLA; Story Games with Mischa Krilov; Fiction with Maurice Ruffin; Poetry with Carolyn Hembree; Creative Non-Fiction with Adrian Van Young; Comic Art with Kurt Amacker; and Storyslam: Live Storytelling with Laine Kaplan-Levenson. In addition, there will be an open reading by members of the local high school literary scene.

& Thursday at 7 p.m. the East Jefferson Regional Library features James Butler, a writer of science fiction and fantasy (especially steampunk), leads a workshop to encourage the creation of these genres by local authors. Open to all levels. Free of charge and open to the public. No registration. This will kick off a bi-weekly event starting on Sunday, April 13.

At 7:30 p.m. Thursday The Creative Writing Fund of the Tulane English Department presents a reading by Christopher Tilghman of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, author of Mason’s Retreat and The Right-Hand Shore, Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. in the Freeman Auditorium of Woldenberg Art Center. Free and open to the public.

& The UNO Creative Writing Workshop will also host a reading by poet Richard Siken on Friday at 3 p.m., in the Liberal Arts building, Room 197. The reading will be followed by a doughnut hole and black coffee reception. This event is free and open to the public.

& Friday at 6 p.m. Octavia Books hosts photographer Andrew Knapp and his adorable border collier Momo who has become an Instagram sensation. Andrew will give a presentation and sign his new book, FIND MOMO: My Dog is Hiding in this Book. Can You Find Him? In the fall of 2012, photographer Andrew Knapp took his border collie, Momo, into the woods to play catch. Knapp grabbed a stick and gave it a throw, but Momo was not interested in retrieving it—he wanted to play a game of hide-and-seek. After a bit of searching, Knapp found Momo hidden behind some trees. The beauty of the scene inspired Knapp to pick up his camera and snap a few shots of Momo, which he began posting to Instagram with the #findmomo hashtag. Momo soon became an Internet sensation: his Instagram feed quickly gained more than 100,000 followers, and Knapp’s project garnered interest from the media (Huffington Post, Mashable, and ABCNews.com). FIND MOMO is Knapp’s collection of charming photography that invites readers to play hide-and-seek with this ever-cute, ever-patient, ever-eager border collie who is skilled at hiding in a variety of settings.

& Saturday morning at 11:30 am Storytime with Miss Maureen returns to Maple Street Book Shop with Superworm by Julia Donaldson. Toad in trouble? Beetle in a jam? Never fear — Superworm is here! And he’s wiggling to the rescue! But when Superworm is captured by a wicked Wizard Lizard, will his friends find a way to help their favorite superhero escape? From the creators of The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom a super new adventure with a wriggly, squiggly hero you’ll never forget.

& Also on Saturday Garden District Book Shop features C. S. Harris’ Why Kings Confess. Regency England, January 1813: When a badly injured Frenchwoman is found beside the mutilated body of Dr. Damion Pelletan in one of London’s worst slums, Sebastian finds himself caught in a high-stakes tangle of murder and revenge. Although the woman, Alexi Sauvage, has no memory of the attack, Sebastian knows her all too well from an incident in his past—an act of wartime brutality and betrayal that nearly destroyed him.

& Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. join the denizens of the Poetry Brothel for an intimate evening at Byrdie’s featuring unlimited free readings, burlesque and more.

& Sunday at 1 p.m. Octavia Books presents #1 New York Times bestselling author D.J. MacHale (PENDRAGON), comes to present and sign STORM, Book 2 of his action-fueled, tantalizingly plotted SYLO CHRONICLES sci-fi conspiracy trilogy. A thrilling trilogy that begins on a peaceful island community that is rocked by a series of mysterious deaths, and quickly becomes a massive conflict that will determine the future of mankind. A group of young people uncover clues they hope will lead to the truth behind the madness for nothing is what it first appears to be. The quest to defend their home is made all the more difficult because they can’t be sure of whom to trust…and who to fear. Everyone is a suspect. Nowhere is safe.

& Every Sunday at 3 p.m. The Maple Leaf Reading Series, the oldest continuous reading series in the south, founded by Everette Maddox, features guest poets and an open mic. This Sunday poet John Gery reads from and signs his seventh collection of poems, Have at You Now! (2014), followed by an open mic.

& Sunday brings SIRENS, SUFFRAGETTES & SUPER-HEROINES: A Celebration of Women’s Power and Progress at the Dryades Theatre, 1232 O.C. Haley Blvd. at 6 p.m. An evening of dance, poetry, performance & live music celebrating Women’s Month at the Dryades Theater. Hosted by Claudia Baumgarten & Diana Shortes. Fresh new work from performers such as Felice Guimont, Max Bernardi, Reese Johanson, Jennifer Pagan, Ruby Rendrag, Kathy Randalls, and more. $10 donation.

& Sunday is Slam and Spoken Word Day in New Orleans. WhoDatPoets.com lists five Spoken Word shows on Sunday nights. For phone numbers with more details on all these readings visit WHODATPOETS.COM. (I stopped listing all of the events because one venue’s name forced me to limit this post for readers over 21. Check WHODATEPOETS.COM for all the latest on slam and spoken word in New Orleans.

& Speak Sunday is hosted every Sunday at 7 pm by Duece the Poet at Therapy, 3001 Tulane Avenue, also featuring live painting of the performers by C.C. Givens.

& Also on Monday the East Bank Regional Library hosts it’s Fiction Writers’ Group – Critique Session. The Fiction Writers’ Group is a support group for serious writers of fiction. We do not focus on poetry, essays or nonfiction. Events consist of critique sessions from group members, author talks and writing exercises. Free of charge and open to the public. Registration is not required.

& 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. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest. Watch Odd Words on Facebook and Google+ on Tuesdays for a complete list of her guests and features.

& Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Garden District Book Shop presents Nevada Barr’s Destroyer Angel. Anna Pigeon, a ranger for the U.S. Park Services, sets off on vacation—an autumn canoe trip in the to the Iron Range in upstate Minnesota. With Anna is her friend Heath, a paraplegic; Heath’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth; Leah, a wealthy designer of outdoor equipment; and her daughter, Katie, who is thirteen. For Heath and Leah, this is a shakedown cruise to test a new cutting edge line of camping equipment. The equipment, designed by Leah, will make camping and canoeing more accessible to disabled outdoorsmen. On their second night out, Anna goes off on her own for a solo evening float on the Fox River. When she comes back, she finds that four thugs, armed with rifles, pistols, and knives, have taken the two women and their teen-aged daughters captive. With limited resources and no access to the outside world, Anna has only two days to rescue them before her friends are either killed or flown out of the country.

& Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. the 1718 Society hosts a reading by Tulane professor/author Thomas Beller. He is the author of three books–How to Be a Man, The Sleep Over Artist and Seduction Theory, and is a contributor to The New Yorker, Guernica, The Parish Review and N+1. He teaches creative writing at Tulane University. The 1718 Society is a literary organization comprised of Tulane, Loyola, and UNO students. Their monthly reading series at the Columns Hotel is free and open to the public. It showcases the work of student readers, as well as that of prominent local and national writers.

& Every Tuesday night get on the list to spit at the longest running spoken word venue in New Orleans at Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club hosted by African-American Shakespear. Doors open at 7pm and the Mic pops at 8pm. It is $5 to get in.

& The UNO Creative Writing Workshop will host a reading by guest poet Peter Cooley on Wednesday, April 2, at 8 p.m., at the UNO Campus Art Gallery. The reading will be followed by a booksigning and wine and cheese reception. This event, which is free and open to the public, was made possible by a grant from Poets & Writers.

& In honor of National Poetry Month, Fleur de Lit’s April reading will feature local poets. The reading will be held Wednesday, April 2nd, at 6:30pm at Pearl Wine Co. in the American Can Co. (3700 Orleans Ave.). Readers include: Brad Richard (Motion Studies and Butcher’s Sugar); Rodger Kamenetz (To Die Next to You); Melinda Palacio (Ocotillo Dreams and How Fire is a Story, Waiting); Nik Richard (Love and Water and A Dream for Sale), Kelly Harris and Marla Chirdon. You must be 21 to attend this event.

& Every Wednesday at 8 pm at the Neutral Ground Coffeehouse there is an hour-long open mic poetry night (or fiction night; whatever you want to read really!)

Also at 8 p.m. Wednesday the Blood Jet Poetry Series hosted by Megan Burns resumes at BJs. Poets Geoff Munsterman and fiction writer Tom Andes will feature. Share some work as well.

Forty Eight: INSERT TITLE March 25, 2014

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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If I don’t shave, would I be starting a new, full beard? It seems an inauspicious day to start something and equally so to do anything as ambitious as shaving. If I were any less ambitious today I might be mistaken, should someone discover me on the couch, for a catatonic. I have a house full of unread books, one clean plate, a rinsed out coffee up and a fractious garbage can that refused to move itself to the curb unaided. I’m not sure what time it is because my upended bicycle, waiting these two weeks for me to repair the front tire, has become a fixture in front of the bookcase and obscures the clock.

I am, for the moment, perfectly happy with this situation. I am wearing my Hefner burgundy velour robe, managed to make a pot of coffee and when the last cigarette in the pack runs out, I have a pouch of loose tobacco and can resume my project to save money and smoke less by rolling one. Except: rolling cigarettes is such a bother, but it is still more in keeping with my current state of affairs than actually putting on pants and walking four blocks to the grocery..

This is New Orleans, and should I choose to appear at Canseco’s wearing nothing but my robe, my thin hair a charged nimbus about my head and my cheeks suitable for removing paint, I might be worth two sentences between the check out girls before the next neighborhood character. This, however, smacks of intentionally eccentric performance, and intentionality (Christ, I hope that’s not a neologism) is not on the agenda.

Which is all to say that I started this (yet another) project 365–to write something on the blog every day–with entry Zero on January 14. It is March 25th, and I am only up to 48. No, I am not going to launch Excel and do the date math necessary to quantify my failure to meet that goal. I carefully explained to my children while helping them with math that estimation is an important skill in addition to precise arithmetic, that I used it almost daily in my job as a project manager, and I leave calculating precisely how far behind I am to the earnest and eager reader to figure that out.

I think, with another cup of coffee, I might manage to stand in the shower long enough to feel clean, put on yesterday’s jeans, and pick out a book from the clutter and walk toward the park. Walking is an almost automatic act once you set out, requiring no particular ambition. If I had a loaf of bread, I might even make a sandwich, but I don’t so I won’t. Grabbing a couple of apples that have never made it off the kitchen table and out of their plastic bag into the refrigerator may have to do. They are Pink Ladies and delicious, and should provide just enough sugar energy to put off walking back from the park to the coffee shop later.

TWF14: The Law and Order Episode of Who Killed the Essay March 24, 2014

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, lyric essay, memoir, New Orleans, NOLA, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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“This is the Law and Order episode of Who Killed the Essay,” moderator John Freeman said to open the Tennessee Williams Festival panel “The Return of the Essay.” “Someone killed it. We’re going to find out later from Lennie Briscoe,” the character from the crime drama franchise. Panelists Dani Shapiro, Kiese Laymon and Roxanne Gay promptly put a bullet in the head of Freeman’s metaphor.

“The essay isn’t dead, it never died,” panelist Roxanne Gay shot back. “We have the arrogance in this age of believing that we’re going to be the end of literature when it has been around for millenia. That is always appalling to me. The book is dying. Are you kidding me? People were writing books on rice paper. Calm down. Books aren’t going anywhere, readers aren’t going anywhere. I think things are shifting. The essay from Montaigne to [fellow panelist] Kiese, we’re still doing it. I think we’re in the golden age of the essay. I’ve never read more stunning essays than the ones I read every single day and the art hasn’t been perfected because it can’t be perfected but people are practicing it at such a level. If the essay is dead, then the afterlife is quite wonderful.”

“The internet has done a lot of terrible things, but one of the best things it’s done has democratize this writing thing. It has allowed us to read all these amazing essays,” Laymon said. “I think there was a golden age. I think [James] Baldwin was the golden age. Every day, or every other day, I read an essay on the Internet that actually scares me as a writer. I think those are the best essays, I think s— I can’t do it. I just can’t do it as well as other people can do it. Now we have people not waiting for crusty editors to say: here’s your stamp that says, now you can put it out there. Also it puts out some art that is not so great, but it’s also allowed me to read some of the greatest essays that I have read in my life.”

“I don’t think we can know a golden age that we’re in one,” Dani Shapiro, countered. “I will admit tweeting this morning the title of this panel and saying, I don’t think it’s vanished. I also think it’s worth noting that the word essay means attempt, to attempt to get something right and true and universal and authentic down on the page. That’s like saying human nature is dead.”

Freeman asked his panelists: “If style is a struggle and essay is an attempt, what are you attempting in an essay? What makes you want to put the struggle in that form?”

“There’s an urgency when I’m writing an essay,” Gay explained. “Something has gotten under my skin. One of the first essays that got under my skin. One of the first essays that got my attention was “The Careless Language of Sexual Violence”. It was about a young girl that was raped in Cleveland, Texas. The New York Times wrote a story about the town–poor, poor town–and think of these poor boys but there were like 30 of them. The magnitude of the crime was horrific and the shoddiness of the reporting was also horrific. I went into this fugue state trying to temper my rage with understanding how we got to a place as a culture where we’re worrying about a town instead of this 11 year-old girl. The essays that I love writing the most are where I’m trying to make sense of this crazy world, but also acknowledge the god in this world.”

“Kiese, you [mention] the fact that an essay is going to deal some collateral damage to their family, because the wedge into a topic is not just your experience. It’s everything you grew up with. I wonder if you could talk about writing about your family and those essays and how you weighed what you would actually reveal because the truths you tell are quite difficult.”

“I feel like I’ve been writing about that question in my essays and my fiction. I come from a family in central Mississippi. I was raised by my mother. She was 19 when she had me. I went to graduate school and went to stay with my grandmother [also] in Mississippi. They’re both wonderful, brilliant people but whenever they got around white people their wonder and their brilliance and their thickness shrunk, and I think a lot of time they want me to also shrink my brilliance on the page. In [one] essay I talk about my mother pulling a gun on me when I was 19, partially because she wanted me to act right. I was trying to say in that essay there is a consequence to acting right in this country especially for folks of color…I think we talk about the consequences too often of not acting right, but there is a self consequence for acting right.

“Form is really important for me and I’m pushing back against forms and against my mom and I was trying to push back against my inclination to write predictable punditry. My inclination is to just write the traditional, standard essays that will make people say, ‘that’s a smart African-American man’ as opposed to being a potentially revelatory Black human being.” Later in the panel he added, “I come from a community where sadness, funk, funny happens all the time and I was being encouraged to take the funk and funny out.”

“Dani, you’ve written about your family in two memoirs, and this book Still Writing, it looks like a book about writing but then it’s threaded through with all these tiny memoirs,” Freeman asked Shapiro. “Did you find that to write about writing did you have to write about your family?”

“When it comes to form and when it comes to realism, it feels like in the last ten years of my writing life things have been breaking apart. The more I try to make something whole the more it breaks apart. I think what you just said about realism and the surreality that is at the core of it in some way is so true: the puzzle like structure, my last memoir Devotion was puzzle-like, every essay that I’ve written in the last five years. When I started Still Writing I was writing a blog because my publisher told me I had to write a blog. And I was thinking what can I blog about that’s not going to make me want to stick pins in my eyes every day. What I wanted to write about was how to do this every day. I didn’t want to write another book about craft. I wanted to write about what it takes: the courage, the tenacity, the persistence, the resistance. Then I started getting letters from people says, ‘I really needed this today’ and I thought, people are actually asking me to write a book. How often does that happen?”

“I’m reading this and what is it like to revise your life, the story of your life in public.” Freeman said.

“I think it would be an amazing thing for the same writer to spend an entire writing life writing the same memoir every ten years because it would be a different book every ten years because the relationship between the self and the story is the story. When I wrote Slow Motion [arising from the death of her father] I had feeling that this was the before and after moment. I wasn’t old enough to know that there is more than one before and after moment. It was also my son’s illness fifteen years later, and my mother’s death.

There was an essay in Ploughshares that was called “Plane Crash Theory.” I think it’s my best essay. It began shortly after 9-11, my infant son was dropped down a flight of stairs by a baby sitter and for months and months I couldn’t write a thing. It was all in the shadow of 9-11 and felt like a shadow had flown over our house and was hovering there. I was having coffee with a friend of mine in Brooklyn who’s a writer and I said, ‘I haven’t written a word since Jacob fell down the stairs’ and she said, ‘that’s your first sentence’. I couldn’t tell the whole story because the essay couldn’t contain that he was dropped down the stairs but that a few weeks earlier I had noticed these little movements and he was later diagnosed with this rare seizure disorder. An essay couldn’t contain both of those, so I took all of my anxiety and my fear and my feeling of–writing, what is the point of it–but finding a way to pour all of that into a very disciplined form and tell the whole story emotionally and not tell the whole story, what to leave in and what to leave out, which is such an important part of writing memoir and essay.”

“I think one of my most popular essays to write was the hardest to write,” Gay said in a comment that resonated for me in the post-Katrina room. “It was about The Hunger Games, because I love, love, love the Hunger Games to insanity. I started to think what is it about the Hunger Games that captures me as an adult because they are YA . There is a young woman in the novel Katniss, she has to endure the unendurable over and over again is that it showed PTSD as it is, as something that cannot necessarily be cured but something that you learn to live with, and as something that will shape the decisions you will make.”

Freeman asked the panelists if there was someone, an essayist, who opened a door and what they did. “I would say in a word [Joan] Didion if it was an essayist,” Shapiro said. “Grace Pailey was for me an example of the life of a writer, a life I wanted in some way. When I think of Grace I think of her sentences, I think of her fiction, the distillation, a certain kind of minimalism before there was minimalism. She was tremendously important to me.”

Gay, after citing the encourage of her parents from age four, cited Edith Wharton. “She was doing it when women weren’t encouraged” to write. “She is the master of the elegant sentence.” And Zadie Smith: “she is fierce. She makes me feel like I can do anything with the word.” Laymon also talked about his grandmother’s influence. “My grandmother taught me how to work. She worked at a chicken plant and the way she talked about it, the craft, she made me feel I was beautiful.” His essayist pick was James Baldwin. “The Fire Next Time was the first book that I really, really read. I would tear it apart. Ultimately I think I became the writer I want to be because in The Fire Next Time, someone who was so great could not make space for Black women. You could be so sublime and so great and not make space for this entire group of people you should make space for. Baldwin’s otherworldliness is something I could aspire for, not just because of his prose but because of the gaps in his prose.”

Odd Words March 22, 2014

Posted by The Typist in books, Indie Book Shops, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
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The rest of this week in literary New Orleans now that the Tennessee Williams Festival is {almost} behind us:

Sunday still offers some choice Tennessee Williams Festival events, both at 11:30 am: first is The Return of the Essay, featuring panelists Kiese Laymon, Roxanne Gay and Dani Shapiro in the Royal Ball Room at the Monteleone Hotel. The second is Sing Me A Story, Tell Me A Song: When Writing Demands Melody featuring David Simon, Tom Piazza and Luke Winslow King, at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe. And at 1 pm there is Cultural Vistas’ 25th Anniversary Panel.. Join executive editor David
Johnson in a discussion about documenting Louisiana for the past quarter century, along with contributor and author Sally Asher, longtime music reviewer Ben Sandmel and history columnist Richard Campanella. At the Monteleone Royal Ballroom.

And don’t forget the Stella and Stanley shouting contest at 4:15 pm at Jackson Square.

& This Sunday at Octavia Books hosts renowned cartoonist Michael Fry (co-creator and writer of OVER THE HEDGE) comes to read and sign his two recent ODD SQUAD books: ZERO TOLERANCE and BULLY BAIT — middle-grade illustrated novels for all ages. Michael Fry has been a cartoonist/writer/entrepreneur for over 30 years. In addition to THE ODD SQUAD novels, Fry has created or co/created four international syndicated comic strips, including Over the Hedge, which runs in 150 newspapers worldwide – and it was adapted into the hit animated movie of the same name. Over the Hedge was nominated for Best Comic Strip in 2006 by the National Cartoonist Society Rueben Awards.

& Every Sunday at 3 p.m. The Maple Leaf Reading Series, the oldest continuous reading series in the south, founded by Everette Maddox, features guest poets and an open mic. This Sunday features Thaddaeus Conti and Joseph Bienvenu followed by an open mic.

& Sunday is Slam and Spoken Word Day in New Orleans. WhoDatPoets.com lists five Spoken Word shows on Sunday nights. For phone numbers with more details on all these readings visit WHODATPOETS.COM. (I stopped listing all of the events because one venue’s name forced me to limit this post for readers over 21. Check WHODATEPOETS.COM for all the latest on slam and spoken word in New Orleans.

& Speak Sunday is hosted every Sunday at 7 pm by Duece the Poet at Therapy, 3001 Tulane Avenue, also featuring live painting of the performers by C.C. Givens.

& Monday the Robert E. Smith Library at Harrison Avenue and Canal Boulevard hosts a writing workshop starting at 5:30 p.m. “Do you think in verse that could become poetry? Do you imagine characters, dialogue, and scenes? If so, join the Smith Library’s free Creative Writing Workshop.”

& Also on Monday the East Bank Regional Library hosts it’s Fiction Writers’ Group – Critique Session. The Fiction Writers’ Group is a support group for serious writers of fiction. We do not focus on poetry, essays or nonfiction. Events consist of critique sessions from group members, author talks and writing exercises. Free of charge and open to the public. Registration is not required.

& 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. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest. Watch Odd Words on Facebook and Google+ on Tuesdays for a complete list of her guests and features.

Tuesday at 6 p.m. Octavia Books hosts a presentation and signing with journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, featuring their new book, HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton’s surprising defeat in the 2008 Democratic primary brought her to the nadir of her political career, vanquished by a much younger opponent whose message of change and cutting-edge tech team ran circles around her stodgy campaign. And yet, six years later, she has reemerged as an even more powerful and influential figure, a formidable stateswoman and the presumed front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, marking one of the great political comebacks in history. The story of Hillary’s phoenixlike rise is at the heart of HRC, a riveting political biography that journeys into the heart of “Hillaryland” to discover a brilliant strategist at work.

& Every Tuesday night get on the list to spit at the longest running spoken word venue in New Orleans at Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club hosted by African-American Shakespear. Doors open at 7pm and the Mic pops at 8pm. It is $5 to get in.

& On Wednesday at 6:00 at TEN gallery, 4432 Magazine Street artist Harriet Burbeck will discuss her work on view. Michael Allen Zell will read from his book The Oblivion Atlas and discuss collaborating with photographers Louviere and Vanessa. Burbeck is also soliciting submissions from writers from the show Illustrations From Stories That Haven’t Been Written. Writers are invited to view the work and submit stories inspired by her fabric art to tinylittlehappy@gmail.com. She will post all submissions on her blog, and one story will be selected for publication in the forthcoming new journal Ark of New Orleans.

& Wednesday at 6 p.m. Garden District Book Shop hosts Sally Asher and Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names. New Orleans is a city of beautiful contradictions, evidenced by its street names. New Orleans crosses with Hope, Pleasure and Duels. Religious couples with Nuns, Market and Race. Music, Arts and Painters are parallel. New Orleans enfolds its denizens in the protection of saints, the artistry of Muses and the bravery of military leaders. The city’s street names are inseparable from its diverse history. They serve as guideposts as well as a narrative that braid its pride, wit and seedier history into a complex web that to this day simultaneously joins and shows the cracks within the city. Learn about Bourbon’s royal lineage, the magnitude of Napoleon’s influence, how Tchoupitoulas’s history is just as long and vexing as its spelling and why mispronouncing such streets as Burgundy, Calliope and Socrates doesn’t mean you are incorrect–it just means you are local!

& Wednesday the Jefferson Parish East Bank Regional Library hosts an Author Event featuring Game Changers: The Legacy of Louisiana Sports, by Marty Mule. Mule, a local author who has written numerous books about Louisiana sports, talks about and signs his latest book.

& Former Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Borque will be reading at 8 pm Wednesday at the University of New Orleans in room in LA 197 (the Liberal Arts Lounge). Open to the public.

& Every Wednesday at 8 pm at the Neutral Ground Coffeehouse there is an hour-long open mic poetry night (or fiction night; whatever you want to read really!)

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TWF14: What The Professor Said March 22, 2014

Posted by The Typist in Odd Words, Tennessee Williams Festival, Toulouse Street.
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Dr. Kenneth Holditch’s opening remarks at A Little Piece of Eternity Dropped Into Your Hands: “New Orleans was created by writers and visual artists, and that’s kept a lot of New Orleans alive…it was a totally different city from anything I had ever imagined. I don’t want to be the voice of doom but you better look quick because there are forces that want to change it into Columbus, Ohio…Sherwood Anderson said New Orleans was the city of imagination. Other cities may be cities of the intellect but this is the city of the imagination. I think that had a tremendous effect on Tennessee Williams.”

A friend of Williams (name unintelligible on my recording) recounted how “[Tennesseee] recalled when he came to New Oreans, when he was headed south on the bus,  he did not expect too much from the destination other than ‘salvation from the furies that had been unleashed by fate on [his] mortal self’.”

Tennessee wrote in his journal a few days after he arrived here in 1938 “here surely is the place that I was made for of any place on this funny old world.”

TWF14: Untangling the skein of memory March 22, 2014

Posted by The Typist in books, memoir, New Orleans, Odd Words, Tennessee Williams Festival, Toulouse Street.
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A book on authors who knit was not what I expected when I walked into the panel An Examined Life: The Mysteries of Memoir but as Ann Hood pointed out “knitting is a metaphor for life.” Both her personal obsession with knitting and her novel The Knitting Circle grew out of trying to cope with her own tragic loss of a child. She also authored a memoir about the loss of her daughter Grace, COMFORT: A JOURNEY THROUGH GRIEF but knitting proved to be her best coping mechanism “After my first knitting lesson I realize I got through two-and-a-half hours without crying.” She soon discovered other authors who knit, and decided to pitch her new book Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting. She took her editors grunt when she pitched the idea as a yes, and ended up with 27 essays by authors who knit and how it changed their life. When she read her own audio book, she imagined the “fedora-wearing Brooklyn hipster” who was her audio engineer must have thought he had drawn the worst assignment ever, but she said he confessed to crying by the end of the four days by the stories he heard.

An Examined Life covered a lot of ground, some of it at the edge of memoir, but the four authors on the panel–Hood, Blake Bailey, Lila Quintero Weaver and Emily Raboteau–all authored recent books that attempt to reclaim a part of their lives. Bailey’s story of his brother, who fell into drugs and died by suicide, is the closest to true memoir. “Scott was the better brother, the more promising of [us] two before he started to go off the rails. We should have landed in the same place and we didn’t and I decided to write [the book] to figure out why.”

Quintero Weaver’s Dark Room: A Memoir in Black and White, a graphic-novel approach to a tale of growing up a Latin American immigrant in rural Alabama during the civil rights movement is, by her description, as much a book about place: what Odd Words likes to call a geo-memoir. Her father was the town’s only photographer, but the illustrations in the book are all Quintero Weaver’s. Raboteau’s exploration of African-Americans who moved to Israel and Africa looking for a place that felt like home was driven by her own desire to find her identity as a bi-racial child of the 1960s who grew up in New Jersey constantly answering the question “where are you from?” and ends with a return to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, the town her parents fled after her grandfather was lynched.

Solace and closure, the discovery of one’s real place in life and the world, are the meat of memoir. Only Bailey’s and perhaps Quintero Weaver’s books would be easy to file in the bookstore under memoir, but all drew deep on the author’s desire to understand critical events of their own lives.

Asked by moderator Nancy Dixon how their families’ reacted to their books, Bailey replied, “it was brutal. If you’re the sort of person who frets about what your family will think you’re in the wrong genre.” Quintero Weaver responded about the reaction of the people of the small Alabama town she writes about. No one would tell her exactly why they didn’t like the book but suspects “they want to move on.” Marion was at the center of the Civil Rights movement and the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson while the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was in town led to the historic march from Selma to Montgomery. She heard second-hand that the president of the Chamber of Commerce said, “we don’t want her book in our town.”

Hood summed up what is required of the memoir author: “You have to write like you’re an orphan.”

Earlier in the day, novelist Justin Torres spoke of his own approach to putting a life’s experiences down into words in his bildungsroman We The Animals,the story of his own gradual “orphaning” from his family. “When I started, I was writing back to my family…I’d been ejected [for coming out queer] and the original motivation was anger.” Torres brief, 125-page tale of three brothers is fictionalized, although after reading it one brother told him of an episode, “I remember that.” “You can’t,” Torres replied. “I made it up.” Later he added, “I did not write my memoir. This is not my life. This is the emotional texture of my life.”

Asked toward the end how his family initially reacted to the book, Torres said “I hurt them. You don’t tell family secrets. I don’t know that I did the right thing but I believe in art.”

Torres’ interview with Festival Programming Director J.R. Ramakrishnan was titled “The Super Sleek Novel” and a great deal of the discussion was about the brevity of the novel and how it achieves its goals in such a short space. When he went to New York, every publisher he met with told him they loved the book, but he needed to write another 100 pages. Novels are supposed to be 250 pages long, he was told over and over again. The last editor he met with also responded positively to the book, and Torres told her, “but you want me to write another hundred pages, right?” but she said no.

The book unfolds as a series of very short chapters, each unveiling one small aspect of the character’s life growing up with his two brothers. “Super compressed, super distilled chapters: that’s what works for me. I could be very poetic and still get to the point…little movements that were so complete and yet captured the world. What I really like about the short form is you are always creating tension and then there is a little climax.” Most of the chapters begin in the first person plural before moving to the first person. “The idea of we is we feel a collective personality as children, [my brothers and I] had this non-verbal way of understanding each other” and as the book progresses the characters gradually lose that, subtly depicting the gradual unraveling of childhood and Torres’ own place in his family.

Asked if he could write with the same passion if he were not writing from his personal experience, Torress said, “I think that what is true is the kind meaning you make out of your experience. We’re all thrown here on this earth and there’s no meaning, it’s chaos. A lot of writers are communicating the way they found meaning in this world. That’s inherently personal You have to find a way to create meaning. I choose to write from personal experience. I choose to keep it close. Also, because I feel [as] a mixed-race, queer, working-class dude, it’s political in a lot of ways. I’m really interested in intersectionality, I’m very interested in the ways i which my various identities are constructed socially…its absolutely possible to due to that in fiction” as well as writing from personal experience.

Torres never names the parents in his book. “They really are archetypes of our ideas of masculinity and femininity. I made a myth out of them to essentialize them….[t]here is a lot of opportunity for projection” in the book, and he says he frequently is told by readers that’s exactly what my experience was like. “There’s such a universal element in the book” a lot of people see their own families and experiences in it. “I hope the book breaks people’s hearts because we need to keep breaking people’s hearts.”

Forty Seven: Love in a Word March 21, 2014

Posted by The Typist in 365, Odd Words, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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What I wrote during Justin Torres’ master class at the Tennessee Williams Festival. The prompt was to write about sex using only monosyllabic words.

Touch, her teen skin, bare arm, long thigh, breasts brushed through blouse, the way a man boy’s hands move but ah! the kiss, all else is less than that: lips press, faces brush, shared breath, as close as we will get to that soft bliss.

Odd Words: Best of the the Tennessee Williams Fest:Part Two March 21, 2014

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.

The Tennessee Williams Festival continues in high gear this weekend, culminating in the annual “Stella” shouting contest. Here are Odd Word’s picks for the Best of the Fest. For the full schedule visit the Festival web site for the full program [INSERT LINK].

Saturday morning at 10 a is a toss-up for your humble editor:

  • “Whose Life Is It Anyway” is a panel exploring when and how people are entitled to telling their own stories. To family members and friends biographers can seem like psychic vampires bent on destroying their reputations. Panelists Blake Baily, Thomas Beller, Rich Cohen and Nigel Hamilton discuss their years of historical detective work, hostile and friendly encounters and the literary decisions that made their works as compelling as any novel.
  • New Southern Poetry features panelists Lilah Hegnauer, Douglas Ray and L. Lamar Wilson reading from their work and discussing how Southern poetry (and literature in general) has moved from its agrarian and gothic roots toward new paradigms.

At 11:30 the scholars at the Williams Research Center (a venue many casual fest goers often miss) discuss “A Little Piece of Eternity Dropped Into Your Hands”–New Orleans as a Theatrical Setting. Discovering New Orleans was crutical to the development of Tennesee Williams as an artist and an individual. Panelists Foster Hirsch, Kenneth Holditch, David Kaplan and Annette Seddik. The panelists will discuss New Orleans not only as a bohemian backdrop for lyric realism or as a metaphor for nonconformity and the unorthodox but as a visual and musical component is some of his more expressionist works.

The festival’s program of plays continues with afternoon matinees of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Le Petit Theatre and The Hotel Plays by Tennessee Williams at the Herman-Grima House, both at 2 p.m.

At 4 p.m. the Fest continues its traditions of bringing directors, actors and family of Williams for a conversation. This year features Diane Ladd, a cousin of Tennessee Williams, actress, director and author. Ladd has drawn three each Oscar and Emmy nomination, won a Golden Globe and three awards for Best Director for her film Mr. Munck. She will discuss her own career and her cousin Tennessee.

Also at 4 pm Odd Words will be at The Great American Literary Journal to see the amazing Roxane Gay with John Freeman, Jonathan Lee and Michelle Wildgen to discuss the hellish circles of submission and rejection, and the trials of publishing from both sides of the process. Freeman is the former editor of Guernica where Jonathan Lee is  a senior editor. Wildgren is an executive editor at Tin House.

At 5 pm the Pinckley Prize will be awarded for Crime Fiction Debut. Diana Pinckley was the long time mystery columnist of the Times Picayune. The presentation will be moderated by Susan Larson, former book editor of the former newspaper.. (Odd Words was started almost five years ago whe the T-P folded its book page to pick up the local literary listings).

At 8 pm the Festival offers a Literary Late Night “Elmore Leonard was From Here:A Tribute” in the Queen Anne Ballroom of the Hotel Monteleone. The cost is $20 at the door. The master of crime writing, weterns and dark humor was born in New Orleans and spent the early part of his life here

Sunday offers another full program, with Odd Word’s top pick:The Return of the Essay”. Panelists Hilton Als, Kiese Laymon, Roxane Gay and Dani Shapiro discuss how the Internet has spawned a million Montaignes. The literary essay is enjoying a renaissance and the panelists will discuss how humor plays a role in all of their work despite having written books on topics ranging from “drinking and other Southern pursuits”  to a paranoid schizophrenic whose condition is complicated by religions mania. 11:30 am in the Queen Anne Ballroom.

An irresistable panel for dedicated locals will be “New Orleans’ Enduring Traditions” at 10 am in the Queen Anne Ballroom.Panelists include notable locals Rick Barton, Carolyn Kolb, Errol Laborde and Micheal Patick Welch.

At 11 am the Fest hosts staged readings of the 2014 Festival One Act Play contest in La Nouvelle Balroom.  Also at 11 am Tennessee Williams short story Gift of an Apple is presented as a play Gift of an Orange by award-winning playwright Charlene A. Donaghy. At the Herman-Grimma House.

At 1 pm the Louisiana Humanities Council celebrates the 25th anniversary of their magazine Louisiana Cultural Vistas. Executive editor David Johnson leads a panel including contributors  Sally Asher, Richard Campanella and Ben Sandmel.

As I am writing this on my tablet and Bluetooth keyboard at The Kerry Irish Pub, and for all of the festival attendee who show up early for the morning panels in desperate need of coffee, I should throw in Sprited Tipplers in New Orleans, Allison Alsup, Elizabeth Pearce and Richard Read–authors of The French Quarter Drinking Companion–recount their journey through one of America’s most notable drinking neighborhood.

The Festival’s public events conclude of course with the Stella and Shanley Shouting Contest at 4:15 pm in Jackson Square. Contestants vie to rival Stanley Kowalski’s shout for STELAAAAAA!!!! in the unforgettable scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. Women are invited to reverse the role and yell for Stanley.

TWF14: Our Steampunk Copyright Law March 20, 2014

Posted by The Typist in literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Tennessee Williams Festival, Toulouse Street.
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Current copyright “is something of a steampunk law…full of Rube Goldberg contraptions,” New Orleans intellectual property attorney Marie Breaux told the Tennessee Williams Festival Master Class on copyright. “The copyright is not of our time…was drafted to address analog issues.” It does not fit any longer because publication is defind in very physical terms. “What happen to a journal that is only published online? We have some guidance from the Registrar [of Copyrights] but we just don’t know.”

“It may be OK for a library to scn a work and email it to a patron but not to post it on the website,” she gave as one example. And shoe-horning software into the literary copyright box is equally problematic, expecially the idea of work-for-hire when we “live in a freelance world.”  Most distrubing of all, she suggests that copyright is killing books. “You’re more able to find a book from 1880 than 1980.” As books fall out of print getting rights clearances discourges other publishers from reissuing a title.

“It’s time for a new law. This is not Marie Breaux, coyright attorney from New Orleans ,” but she says the Registar has said it is time for a new law. Breaux gave an excellent summary of the history of copyright, from the earliest recorded pronouncement of an Irish king who asserted that St. Columba had no right to copy a psalter written and illuminated by St. Finian. He ruled, “to every cow, it’s calf. To every book its copy.”  England produced the first copyright law, protecting the exclusive rights of printers who reproduced ancient works. In the United States the basis of copyright was written into the Constitution, the authors anxious to encourage innovation in writing and inventions by providing the protections of copyright and patent.

Nation-based copyright law ran into problems with internationalization in the 19th century. Herman Melville first published Moby Dick in Britian to secure copyright there before the American edition was issued, Breaux explained. However the British publisher accidentally omitted the Epilogue, and British reviewers uniformally panned the book as nonsensible. American newsapers picked up with British reviews (as there were no international copyright agreements), and the book flopped into obscurty based on the British reviews. Charles Dickens also had problems with the United States. He had an official U.S. publisher but no protection from others who reprinted his works without permission or compensation.

Today’s problems with antiquainted law is “we are all infringers,” whether we are forwarding an email (violating the implied copyright of the original author), or coying content from the web and sending it to a friend or reposting it, and even by singing “Happy Birthday”  without permission of the publisher. The last illustrates one problem with current copyright law. Over the last century the length of copyright has been continally extended. Breaux used the example of the first Mickey Mouse cartoon “Steamboat Willy.” Everytime that work approaches falling into the public domain, there are amendments to extend the life of copyrights.

The landsape is already changing in response to the Internet and other technologies. She cited the Creative Commons License, which does not alter the copyright but establishes various grants of rights for works put into easiy reproducable forms such as on the Internet. She also cited a growing movement among scholars for Open Source Publication. Many scholarly articles produced by goverment-education scientists doing goverment-subisidized work wind up in scholarly journals that are only available on the Internet behind paywalls. Getty Images, the long-time enforcer of copyright protection for professional photographers, has created an application that allows embedding non-water marked images inside an embedable application that allows Getty to retain control.

“Can we put the toothpaste back in the tube?” one of her cloing PowerPoint (c) slides asked. “Nope” was her answer. “The [current] copyright [law] is not for our time.”

Odd Words: Best of the Tennessee Williams Fest Part One March 18, 2014

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The annual Tennessee Williams literary festival runs this weekend from a gala opening Wednesday night through Sunday’s famous “Stella!” Souting contest. Headquartered at the Hotel Montelone, the festival offers four days of panel dicussions popular and scholarly, masters classes for aspiring writers and a host of other events including Literary Late Nights, walking literary tours and more.

twlogoOnce again Odd Words will be there live blogging selected events across all four days. In addition to the Odd Word’s pick for Best of the Fest, we will post daily event highlights and write-ups of selected panels, appearing here, on the Odd Words Facebook and Google+ pages, and on NOLAVie on NOLA.COM. Also be sure to follow @oddwords on Twitter for real time updates whie taking notes and balancing a cup of coffee on my knee. There is no extra admission charge to watch me do this. Just find the old fart in the young man’s hate.

This is a list of our own picks, but you can find the full schedule at the Festival web site.


Thursday is the annual Master Class mash-up, and Odd Word’s pick for the day is the first of the day. Copyright is a sticky wicket with the emergence of the Internet and changes to the copyright laws. Every aspiring writer who has waded into Social Media or just wants to understand modern copyright law better shouldn’t miss the Master Class at 9 a.m. MARIE BREAUX: COPYRIGHT FOR WRITERS With the growing consensus that the U.S. copyright law needs major revision and the emergence of alternatives to traditional copyrights. Copyright for Writers will sort out the history of authors’ rights (Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo play significant parts) and will try to make sense of a future where open source publishing and the Creative Commons will compete with the traditional copyrights asserted ed by authors and their publishers. The Historic New Orleans Collection, $25 or included in Master Class series registration.

Other Master Classes on Thurday include:

  • ZACHARY LAZAR: DIALOGUE— A BRIEF HISTORY at 11 a.m. This class will start with a discussion of how Ernest Hemingway invented the template for how dialogue in fiction has been written for most of the last century, and cover elements such as the sound of spoken language, the use of indi- rection, subtext, and rhythm. We’ll also look at how other very different writers, from Lorrie Moore to Elmore Leonard, have adapted or tweaked Hemingway’s example; and,
  • Odd Word’s second personal pick at 3 pm ALICIA ANSTEAD: GOING MICRO WITH NARRATIVE. When we write stories and poems, we’re careful to craft each word for a powerful impact. That skill should continue to kick in when we jump onto social media, which is simply another form of creative expres- sion. In this hands-on workshop, editor-in- chief of The Writer magazine Alicia Anstead, will explore narrative technique as it applies to Twitter and Facebook. Show up ready to write. The Historic New Orleans Collection, $25 or included in Master Class series registration. Sponsored by The Writer.
  • </ul?

    Thurday is also a big day for theater with a busy list of shows culminatingn in Thursday evening's Southern Rep production of Night of the Iguana. Others include A Gift of an Orange by award-winning playwright Charlene A. Donaghy, inspired by Tennessee Williams’ short story, “Gift of an Apple” (written in 1936). You can also catch another presentation of HOTEL PLAYS BY TENNESSEE WILLIAMS without the price tag and ironing required for Wednesday night’s gala opeing. The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival brings three short plays by Williams set in such rooms. Gather at the historic Hermann-Grima House and proceed from room to room to experience Williams up-close and person- al. See the Festival Web Site for a full description. Hermann-Grima House, 820 St. Louis Street, $30. Co-produced with the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival.

    You can also check out VIVIEN BY RICK FOSTER. Judith Chapman’s portrayal of two-time Oscar-winning film star Vivien Leigh (A Streetcar Named Desire and Gone With the Wind) is, according to Backstage Magazine, “a bravura performance.”

    Thursday’s theater feature with a bullet is Southern Rep’s presentation of THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA. On stage together for the first time since the award-winning A Streetcar Named Desire, Mike Harkins and Aimée Hayes star with Idella Johnson and Bob Edes, Jr. in the famous confession drama considered to be Tennessee Williams’ last great play. Directed by Phil Karnell. Get tickets at http://www.SouthernRep.com or (504) 522.6545. Produced by Southern Rep Theatre. The Art Klub, 527 Elysian Fields Ave.


    Friday brings another line up of Master Classes, including Odd Word’s personal pick (because We the Animals is a fantstic novel)
    JUSTIN TORRES: THE SUPER SLEEK NOVEL. Torres’ debut We the Animals arrived on the literary scene at a slender 144 pages. Seductive and heart-crushing with its incantory style and first person plural gaze, the novel was embraced by critics, such as Michael Cunningham who called it a “dark jewel of a book.” In this master class, Torres will discuss word choice, minimalist crafting methods, and how to live while distilling blood of personal experience on to the page, with writer and Festival programming director, J.R. Ramakrishnan. The Historic New Orleans Collection, $25 or included in Master Class series registration.

    Other Master Classes include ANN HOOD: THE ART OF REVISION,
    DOROTHY ALLISON: A VOICE LIKE THUNDER, A TEXT A WHISPER discussing the performance aspect of reading off the page, and DANI SHAPIRO: SURVIVAL OF THE STORYTELLER.

    Friday presents an almost impossible to pick-and-choose line up of Festival panels, including:

    • READING WITH THE FICTION CONTEST AND POETRY CONTEST WINNERS Queen Anne Ballroom, Festival Panel Pass. 10:00 am
    • THE UNFATHOMABLE CITY SALON Pairing acts of rescue and of sabotage during Hurricane Katrina, migrations of the Houma tribe and erosion of the coast, antebellum plantations and present-day dialysis centers—and much more—Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas, edited by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker, is a reinvention of the traditional atlas that will forever change the way you think about place. Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom, Festival Panel Pass. Sponsored in part by University of California Press, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. 11:30 am
    • THE DEVIL YOU DON’T KNOW: OTHERWORLDLY FORCES IN FICTION This panel will focus on how different writers repre- sent ideas of evil or horror and how the supernatural may be used and blend with realistic events in order to create a force which speaks to the power of evil in the world. Panelists: David Armand, Victor LaValle, and Valerie Martin. Moderator: Mary McCay. Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom, 1 pm
    • And, Odd Word’s pick for the day AN EXAMINED LIFE:
      THE MYSTERIES OF MEMOIR. Memoir writing requires the writer to stare into the abyss of a very personal past. Our panelists have addressed death, illness, familial quirks, and cultural identity within their works, and will discuss how they dealt with the challenges of delving back. Panelists: Blake Bailey, Ann Hood, Lila Quintero Weaver, and Emily Raboteau. Moderator: Nancy Dixon. Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom, Festival Panel Pass. Sponsored by the Collins C. Diboll Foundation. 2:30 pm
      • The highlight of Friday’s theater performances, which include A Gift of an Orange and The Night of the Iguana, for the first time in over a decade, the Tennessee Williams classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is brought back to thrilling life on the New Orleans stage by The NOLA Project theatre company. Beau Bratcher (A Truckload of Ink, Night of the Iguana) directs a starry New Orleans cast headed up by James Yeargain, Cecile Monteyne, Randy Cheramie, and Yvette Hargis. This special collaboration between NOLA Project and The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival at Le Petit Theatre is an event no theatre lover will want to miss! The TW/NOLF presents a NOLA Project production. Le Petit Theatre, 616 St. Peter Street, $30.

        You can also choose to finish off Friday with this intriguing Literary Late Night at 8 pm: LITERARY DANCE PARTY featuring SURPRISE INTERROGATION READING Spend Friday evening in the club with our literary dance party featuring a live DJ set and a brand new event of a speculative nature, the Surprise Interrogation Reading. Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver will read a short piece, and take his place in the hot seat for a Q&A like no other. His interrogator will be a mystery (even to Victor himself) until the grilling begins. It could be his high school English teacher, his worst critic, or best literary bro— and the questioner can ask him anything at all. Expect revelations and literary dirt. Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom, $15. Sponsored by Whole Foods Market. Ticket sales support high school outreach programs.

        I think that’s enough to digest at one sitting. Check Thursday’s regular Odd Words post which will lead off with Saturday and Sunday’s Best of the Fest. Be sure to follow @odd_words on Twitter for instant update, pictures, and the latest reports from the festival, or check the Odd Words pages on Facebook and Google+

Forty Six: One More Drop of Poison March 17, 2014

Posted by The Typist in 365, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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There’s devils on each side of you with bottles in their hands
You need one more drop of poison and you’ll dream of foreign lands
— Shane MacGowan of The Pogues

Someday I will learn to act my age, but at a particular friend’s St. Patrick’s Parade party there’s not a lot of positive encouragement or enough in the way of positive role models. It’s still only the 16th and I somehow have to recover from my Shane MacGowan imitation to get through an online test and quiz and be fresh enough to venture out tomorrow for the Downtown Irish Parade on the Big Day.

A fellow blogger lamented the leprechaun carnival that is St. Patrick’s Day in America, but by Christ’s nails this is New Orleans. Give us the opportunity of a party in nominal honor of a Catholic saint in mid-Lent and the outcome is predictable. I didn’t catch any beads yesterday but I managed a cabbage or two for the boil that followed the parade. And what is more suitable to a saint’s feast day than drunken float riders hurling large, heavy vegetables at the equally intoxicated parade watchers? They can dye the river green in Chicago and cover Fifth Avenue in a carpet of green vomit but I don’t think anyone quite takes is to the extreme of playing drunken cabbage dodge ball.

Honestly, I think New Orleans is more entitled to its St. Patrick’s Day and i’s St. Joseph festivals than most of the rest of America. Here where everyone is essentially Creolized into Orleanians, observing one’s roots takes on a special meaning. New Orleans is full of the Irish, who were brought to dig the New Basin Canal and whose bones litter the spoil banks that are now West End Boulevard. There were the waves of Sicilians who were lynched when convenient by practiced hands. There are all the Germans of course, whose culture was mostly eradicated by the quasi-fascist hysteria of WWI, but their descendants still bake all of our French bread. And Deutsches Haus manages its own festival of too much beer and food, Oktoberfest, every year. I think I brought my best German to yesterday’s celebration. I was once having dinner with an old colleague’s daughter and her Austrian husband in DC. He remarked after I downed a glass of beer (and not my first) with my first bowl of gumbo that I “drank like a German”, and I’ve always taken that as a compliment.

Things got a bit out of hand by mid-afternoon Saturday. Biscuits for breakfast were no match for whiskey and strong ale for lunch and I’m not as young as I used to be. There was a stumble-and-tumble and the Shirtless Nipple Sticker Incident but mostly we’ve learned how to role with it down here. The root-heaved and muck-cracked sidewalks have sent us all ass-over-Evil-Kenievel on our bicycles more than once and we’ve learned to roll and post like a small boat breasting an Irish wake. At St. Patrick’s Day Lent is the penance of an early riser who ought to be sleeping it off rising up groggy and foggy to make breakfast and coffee. There were the listings to post, a manuscript promised to read and a test to be taken later. Somewhere on Sunday was a brilliant Irish stew with the last can of Irish Channel Stout to give strength because really Saturday’s parade is just a rehearsal for the 17th.

Forty Five: The Lost Tribe of the Celtic Race March 15, 2014

Posted by The Typist in 365, Acadian, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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I am 1/32 Irish as best I can tell. Having an LDS sibling with the obsessive geneoligizing helps one to know these things). I have, however, always been an Hibernophile. I fell in love in Yeats at an early age, helped restart Bloomsday in New Orleans, and actually started Finnegan’s Wake before this semester, then laid it aside. Too much for class work. My delayed honeymoon with No. 2, an incorrigible Irish-American of the went-to-Notre-Dame sort, was to Ireland. And I love the music perhaps most of all. There are two main threads that inform American popular music: the Celtic and the African/Caribbean.

So shall I wear green and head out in the rain (again) to the parade today? The Uptown Irish parade drives me mad in a way. I am in Krewe du Vieux, and I would love to see all those drunks frogged march through the Quarter the way the NOPD drives us like cattle through the streets. Then again there is always the chance that I will manage to catch an old friend who is legally blind but still goes out on his own on Carnival Day, and marches in the parade today. (That, my friends, is a dedication to celebration few of us can match).

I imagine I will dig out one of my rugby shirts, either the wool County Offaly one I bought in a sports shop because I like the look of it, or the cheap green one with the shamrocks. I prefer the more authentic one, which I only learned were the colors of County Offaly when a guard at Shannon Airport greeted me with an Up Offaly! and explained it to me.

I may not be Irish, but I am in good part Acadian along with German and French via Haiti. My paternal German ancestors were long ago creolized into the Acadian way of life. As a fan of the music, I was listening to Fiona Richie’s Thistle and Shamrock national broadcast the day she was interviewing Micheal Doucet of Beausoleil. Somewhere toward the end of the conversation, they were discussing the similarities of Celtic and Acadian music, and Richie pronounced the Acadians “the lost tribe of the Celtic race.” I know what she meant. My trip to Ireland often felt like a trip to a hilly version of South Louisiana: the ease of the people, the music I heard in pubs, the craic.

That’s always been a good enough reason for me to join the drunken throngs in their tacky t-shirts and other things green. See you at Magazine and Louisiana.

In the spirit of “everyone is Irish” here are the Chieftains with the Rolling Stones and Ry Cooder.


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13 Possums

I put on a shirt
with a couple of
gone buttons and a
pair of pants my wife
hates and walk into
the living room and
sit down in a dull
chair. In this way I
acknowledge nothing’s
going on. If I
wanted to really
suffer I could go
lie down in some shit,
but that transgresses
the fine line between
propriety and
masochism. If
I were any kind
of poet I’d go
stick up a Jiffy
Mart or, Say, the First
Bank of the Cosmic
Then I could buy a
red plaid jacket with
a rooster tie and
stumble out into
the clear autumn air
crowing “Guilty! Life,
I’m your beautiful

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Forty Four: Redemption Songs March 13, 2014

Posted by The Typist in 365, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Now at the annual collision of our African, Celtic and Sicilian cultures, in this town where the African’s ripped from their villages and put into bondage were too valuable a property to risk so the hungry Irish were set to work and die digging the New Basin Canal, where the Sicilian residents of the French Quarter were lynched by practiced hands, the Mardi Gras Indians will come out even as the Irish and Italians stage their parades and the green beer and red wine will flow, and the streets will be lined with pork chop sandwiches and loose feathers, a celebration in the way only our entirely Creolized culture knows how to do best. In this one place God set aside like Nod for the rejects of Anglo culture and in which we have established (with a wink and a blind eye from God) all that the propaganda of the north promised in their lies, the true melting pot. It is time to to sing Redemption Songs.

Odd Words March 13, 2014

Posted by The Typist in books, Indie Book Shops, literature, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
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& Interested in learning how to write comics? Think you’ve “got ideas”? Bring them to the new class at BSI Comics, Comic Book Writing 101. On the second and fourth Thursday of every month, the store will host a workshop that will show you how to: Quickly turn an idea into a full script; Write dialogue Collaborate with artists and letterers; Produce and distribute a comic book or graphic novel. You’ll get everything you need to start in a single session. The first event is on March 14th, from 6-10 p.m. (includes a 20 minute break) at BSI Comics in Metairie, at 3030 Severn Ave. Tickets are available at nolacomics.eventbrite.com. The cost for the class is $25.

& Thursday at 6 p.m. Octavia Books hosts a presentation and signing with Richard Campanella celebrating the release of his new book, BOURBON STREET: A History. New Orleans is a city of many storied streets, but only one conjures up as much unbridled passion as it does fervent hatred, simultaneously polarizing the public while drawing millions of visitors a year. A fascinating investigation into the mile-long urban space that is Bourbon Street, Richard Campanella’s comprehensive cultural history spans from the street’s inception during the colonial period through three tu-multuous centuries, arriving at the world-famous entertainment strip of today.

& This Friday at 9pm Cafe Istanbul will have another Artistic Mash Up. All artist are welcome.Many of the artist who have performed at the world famous venue will be in the house. Queen Darrinisha will present a mini drag show, Piano players and vocalist are coming. There will be many more local heroes burning up the stage. Ms Kelly Love Jones will be our featured artist. If you would like to collaborate with her fill free to bring a guitar or bring a song.

& Saturday at 11 a.m. Maple Street Book Shops Whitney Stewart will read and sign her new book, A Catfish Tale. Deep in the bayou, a Cajun fisherman named Jack catches a magic fish that offers to grant wishes in exchange for being set free. Jack doesn’t have a lot of wishes, but his wife Jolie sure does—for a mansion, a paddleboat, fame and fortune. With each wish, all the fish says is “Ah, tooloulou—if that ain’t the easiest thing to do.” But when Jolie wants to be crowned Mardi Gras queen, have things gone too far? Whitney Stewart is an award-winning author of young adult biographies, middle grade novels, and picture books. She has traveled widely in Asia and interviewed such figures as the 14th Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Sir Edmund Hillary.

& On Saturday at 6 p.m. Octavia Books presents a special evening with author Jan-Philipp Sendker when he comes to read and sign his highly-anticipated new novel, A WELL-TEMPERED HEART, the sequel to his international best-selling novel THE ART OF HEARING HEARTBEATS. Almost ten years have passed since Julia Win came back from Burma, her father’s native country. Though she is a successful Manhattan lawyer, her private life is at a crossroads; her boyfriend has recently left her and she is, despite her wealth, unhappy with her professional life. Julia is lost and exhausted. One day, in the middle of an important business meeting, she hears a stranger’s voice in her head that causes her to leave the office without explanation. In the following days, her crisis only deepens. Not only does the female voice refuse to disappear, but it starts to ask questions Julia has been trying to avoid. Why do you live alone? To whom do you feel close? What do you want in life? Interwoven with Julia’s story is that of a Burmese woman named Nu Nu who finds her world turned upside down when Burma goes to war and calls on her two young sons to be child soldiers. This spirited sequel, like The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, explores the most inspiring and passionate terrain: the human heart

& The new “Underground Guide” to New Orleans is out now from LSU Press! To celebrate we are having a book party a month from March until JazzFest. Each of the book parties will have a theme: Rap, Burlesque, Metal. Michael Patrick Welch, Brian Boyles, and special guests will conduct live interviews with members of the various music communities, followed by some live music and other performances. The first party will be Saturday at 9 p.m. at the Allways featuring burlesque artist Trixie Minx, plus Cherry Brown, Ri Dickulous (sensual sword swallowing) and the Gris Gris Strut (dance troupe). Featuring the music of Lil Current Vocal Club.

& Every Sunday at 3 p.m. The Maple Leaf Reading Series, the oldest continuous reading series in the south, founded by Everette Maddox, features guest poets and an open mic. This Sunday features poet Dave Brinks and Loren Pickford on sax followed by Open Mic.

& Sunday is Slam and Spoken Word Day in New Orleans. WhoDatPoets.com lists five Spoken Word shows on Sunday nights. For phone numbers with more details on all these readings visit WHODATPOETS.COM. (I stopped listing all of the events because one venue’s name forced me to limit this post for readers over 21. Check WHODATEPOETS.COM for all the latest on slam and spoken word in New Orleans.

& Speak Sunday is hosted every Sunday at 7 pm by Duece the Poet at Therapy, 3001 Tulane Avenue, also featuring live painting of the performers by C.C. Givens.

& The New Orleans Haiku Society shares Haiku on the third Monday of every month at the Latter Branch Library, 5120 St. Charles Ave., from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. All are invited to attend. For more information call 596-2625.

& Also on Monday Loyola University hosts a reading and interview with the 2014 Zale-Kimmerling Writer-in-Residence Susan Choi. Susan Choi is the author of four novels. She studied literature at Yale and writing at Cornell and worked as a fact-checker for the New Yorker. Her first novel, The Foreign Student, was a finalist of the Discover Great New Writers Award at Barnes & Noble and won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction. Her second novel was a work of historical fiction, American Woman, and was selected as a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. In 2009, her third novel, A Person of Interest, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her most recent novel is My Education. Choi has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She was selected as the inaugural recipient of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award in 2010. Currently, Susan resides in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, Pete Wells, and their sons.

& 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. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest. Watch Odd Words on Facebook and Google+ on Tuesdays for a complete list of her guests and features.

& On Tuesday the Great Books Discussion Club meets a the Old Metairie Library from 7-8:30 p.m.

& Every Tuesday night get on the list to spit at the longest running spoken word venue in New Orleans at Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club hosted by African-American Shakespear. Doors open at 7pm and the Mic pops at 8pm. It is $5 to get in.

& The English Department is holding its second Third Wednesday event of the semester on for March. The topic this month is “A Look at Internships.” Join UNO student Paige Nulty and UNO alums Missy Wilkinson and Bethany Jones as they discuss their experiences with internships

& Join Big Class and Maple Street Books on Wednesday at 6 p.m. for a celebration of a yet-to-be-titled book of tales by young writers. Since December, the 50 talented storytellers in Renew Cultural Arts Academy’s 3rd-grade, with the help of Big Class’s volunteers, have been writing and workshopping imaginative and compelling fairy tales and folk tales. These tales range in tone from hilarious to terrifying, telling of the redemption of princesses and the downfall of zombies. The young writers will be marking the release of their publication (which also collects their original illustrations), with cupcakes and a reading. Join us for a celebration of stories and their tellers.

& On Wednesday at 6 p.m. Octavia Books features a presentation and signing with Sam Irwin celebrating his new book, LOUISIANA CRAWFISH: A Succulent History of the Cajun Crustacean. The hunt for red crawfish is the thing, the raison d’être, of Acadian spring. Introduced to Louisiana by the swamp dwellers of the Atchafalaya Basin, the crawfish is a regional favorite that has spurred a $210 million industry. Whole families work at the same fisheries, and annual crawfish festivals dominate the social calendar. More importantly, no matter the occasion, folks take their boils seriously: they’ll endure line cutters, heat and humidity, mosquitoes and high gas prices to procure crawfish for their families’ annual backyard boils or their corporate picnics. Join author Sam Irwin as he tells the story—complete with recipes and tall tales—of Louisiana’s favorite crustacean: the crawfish. Sam Irwin is a freelance journalist and writer who lives in Baton Rouge. He is the former editor of the Louisiana Market Bulletin and served as the press secretary for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in history from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in the 1970s. A product of a mixed marriage (his father’s family is from north Louisiana, while his mother’s is from the heart of French-speaking Louisiana), Irwin’s writing showcases the Bayou State. Irwin’s fiction has won several prizes, and his nonfiction work appears regularly in Louisiana newspapers and regional magazines, including Country Roads, The Advocate and House and Home. His writing has also been featured in Louisiana Kitchen and Culture, Louisiana TravelHost, Offbeat, 225, Louisiana Film and Video, Teche News and Louisiana Cookin’.

& Every Wednesday at 8 pm at the Neutral Ground Coffeehouse there is an hour-long open mic poetry night (or fiction night; whatever you want to read really!)

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Forty Three: The Dog Breath Variations March 9, 2014

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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If I have to explain how one gets from the hubcaps in the bathroom of Cafe Borrega to lying in bed listening to Frank Zappa’s Uncle Meat you are likely to get lost along the way. There is no map.

The place is packed and the bartender is slammed. They’ve been getting some good press but just lost a chef. “Come back in a few weeks, then Yelp us,” one server tells me, after another suggests a kind review. “Only people who want to complain ever post on Yelp.” It takes a while to get served at the bar, until a regular hails Hugo. The couple next to me are dressed to go out: she’s in a nice dress and he’s wearing a British tan sports coat. Yuppies, you discover, can be people, too. I watch Hugo hand mashing the limes for the margaritas. There is a twenty minute wait for margaritas.

Pachuco: a Mexican-American subculture that emerged in West Texas and migrated to Los Angeles. Zoot suiters. Gangsters. Also a style of doo-wop music that emerged from this culture in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

I order a Hornitos Reposado, iced, and a Bohemia. I have a sentimental attachment to Bohemia. It was the first beer my father ever ordered for me. We were on a trip to Monterrey, Mexico to visit the mountains where the flyways of the eastern monarch butterfly converge.

I walk into the Apple Barrel
& there you are, Venus de Miller
perched on your bar stool pedestal.
The barmaid asks me what I want
but I’m not paying any attention to her
& anyway I’ve left my stomach behind
somewhere in the mountains outside Monterrey
filled with a million Monarch butterflies.
— “Venus de Miller”, Poems Before Breakfast

“Cucuroo carucha (Chevy ’39)
Going to El Monte Legion Stadium
Pick up on my weesa (she is so divine)
Helps me stealing hub caps
Wasted all the time”
— “Dog Breath, In the Year of the Plague” – Frank Zappa

No Hornitos, Hugo tells me. Would you like to order something else? I hesitate. I’m not a tequila connoisseur; I just know I like it. Another sentimental attachment, the drink of Coco Robicheaux. We trade Coco stories. “May I suggest something?” Of course. Out comes a bottle of Siembra Azul. It is a wonderful tequila, with a strange flavor that somehow makes me think of a peyote button, something earthy with a dusty fruitiness. (Blue agave is not a cactus, or related to peyote. Agave is a cousin to aloe). I give Hugo a twenty for my drinks, and leave him the five in change as a tip. Boisterously friendly, he tells me the next one is on him after an appreciate sigh on my first sip and a compliment on his selection. There is the immediate male bond of one guy inducting another into his passion. He leaves the bottle on the bar.

It is not just the Chevrolet hub caps (suggesting a particular fondness for that make) but one is a work of art, a Louisiana license plate dated 1956 with the outline of a pelican in the center, beneath an old, unidentifiable but clearly 1950s hood ornament. “Primer mi carucha (Chevy ’39)…” The pachuco rhythms and voices of the first part of Zappa’s delirious concerto grosso starts to hum itself in my head.

Outside the bathroom Alex McMurray and Paul Sanchez are trading licks and lead vocals. This is as far as you can get from Uncle Meat but not so far removed from pachuco. There are brilliant acoustic guitar moments in the third movement (if I may call it that, and I will), “The Dog Breath Variations.” The pairing of New Orleans’ two premier folk rockers are why we are here. The two rows of tequila and the smells coming from the kitchen are incidental. Cafe Borrega is very much a Three Muses sort of place, set up as a restaurant with music. We spend half our time there leaning on the railing between the stage and the pick up window, trying to stay out of the way of the servers. Whatever the waitress says about the fill chef, the smells are wonderful. Later they tell me he is just too slow, and that this is the first time they’ve had an overflow house. I swear to come back soon and eat.

Eric’s friend Allison reaches over and picks up the menu face down on the musician side of the railing. On the back are a set of what appear to be fortune telling cards. Her British friend (whose name is drowned in agave), she says is El Borracho. He doesn’t know any Spanish and asks, what the hell is that? Is he taking a shit? (In the picture the drunkard is bent a the knees, suggesting unsteadiness). Eric, she says, is El Gallo, the rooster. No one who knows Eric would disagree. I have on a red shirt, and so I am El Diabolito. A little devil? I can own that I tell her. She goes to put the menu down and and stop here. Which are you? La Estrella, I announce, and she smiles. Enamoramiento. (Love sick fool. Diabolito, si).

I had to text Eric to get Allison’s name, although we’ve met at least twice before. For the rest of the night, I think of everyone by their card names: El Borracho, El Gallo, La Estrella.

We get another round, and I manage to spill half my glass. We are all laughing, and Alex McMurray says “I hear someone talking about tequila.” “I spilled half of mine,” I holler back. “The hand of an angel spilled it,” I say “This much and no more tequila tonight.” “You better tip that angel well,” Sanchez says. They break into The Champs song Tequila. After a few choruses they stop, and McMurray offers a shot to anyone who will dance on the bar like Pee Wee Herman. Eric rushes to steady the stool I put my knee on but I think my angel is still close, and then I’m up and they’re playing Tequila again and Hugo has his iPhone out, a huge grin on his face, as I shuffle and shake.

I try to decline the shot. Hugo will hear no objection.

“Please hear my plea.”

The first non-doo wop line of Dog Breath, spoken in exaggerated baritone by Zappa.

Given his fascination with pachuco music and his last name, it would be easy to think Zappa Chicano. Actually, he is from Baltimore and of Sicilian, Italian, Arab and Greek heritage. His family moved to Los Angeles County when he was a child.

“Zappa grew up influenced by avant-garde composers such as Varèse, Halim El-Dabh, Igor Stravinsky, and Anton Webern, R&B and doo-wop groups (particularly local pachuco groups), and modern jazz… [b]y his final year, he was writing, arranging and conducting avant-garde performance pieces for the school orchestra.”
–Wikipedia entry, “Frank Zappa”

Zappa’s first national exposure came in the late 1950s, in which a clean cut young man in a suit demonstrates to Allen how to play the bicycle as a musical instrument, and jams with the show’s band.

We meet the two women who are clearly their for the musicians after the last set is over and Sanchez and McMurray come to the bar. Nicole says she lives in Mid-City. I tell her I live in Gentilly. What we both mean, after discovering that we live maybe three blocks apart, is that neither of us wants to own the stuff Faubourg St. John moniker. She is friends with Sanchez, and the younger woman with her is his niece. “I’m sure I’ll see you around Canseco’s.” Eric, we discover, also know’s the co-owner Linda, Hugo’s wife. This is a very small town of half a million people. This is one of their stories.

I am slowly sipping Bohemia by this time, and Eric is deep into conversation with Paul Sanchez. It is one of Eric’s life time goals to befriend every musician in New Orleans. I lean around Eric and ask McMurray how one auditions for his Valparaiso Men’s Chorus project, in which he leads a small band and a group of men in singing chanteys. “Show up for the next show. Show you can sing.” He tells me the next date, but I had already bookmarked it in my calendar, being fascinated but never having witnessed their performance at the Saturn Bar.

As I drift deep into the complex second movement “Legend of the Gold Arches” I lay in the dark and think: concerto. No single instrument is featured, so the correct term is concerto grosso. The form died out in the late 18th century, but was revived by a long list of modern composers ranging from Stravinsky to Phillip Glass. I don’t think about them as I listen in the dark. I listen to the intricate play of Zappa’s studio mix orchestra and think of J.S. Bach. I resolve to ask the guy who runs the Open Ears free jazz series, who teaches at Loyola, if he thinks “Dog Breath,” “Legend of the Gold Arches” and “The Dog Breath Variations” could be considered a concerto grosso. His answer will not really matter. This is the music they would play in any heaven worth of the name and in the hell reserved for the classical snobs of the sort who drove the jazz program out of the University of Chicago.

By the end of the night, as my eyes drift over the collection of Latino brick-a-brack that decorates the bar, I am fixated again by the rotating Virgin of Guadaloupe over the cash register. She spins around a counter-moving inner psychedelic transparency projecting ever changing colors and a halo of parabolas of light on the nearest walls. I can not get “Dog Breath, In the Year of the Plague” out of my head. (It is, in spite of the name, a catchy pachuco pop/doo wop song). Eric I know will talk all night if Sanchez lets him, and I know the hours musicians keep. I go to Patrice’s and she about to go to sleep. Before she puts the light out, I dig my headphones out of my bag and dial up Uncle Meat on my ‘Droid and jump to the fifth track. I close my eyes in the dark, but can’t get to sleep until almost the end of the record.

“Primer mi carucha (Chevy ’39)
Got me to El Monte Legion Stadium
Pick up on my weesa (she is so divine)
Helps me stealing hub caps
Wasted all the time

Fuzzy Dice
Bongos in the back
My ship of love
Ready to attack”
— chorus and refrain from “Dog Breath” by Frank Zappa

Forty Two: Of Course It Is March 8, 2014

Posted by The Typist in 365, 504, Fortin Street, Louisiana, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist.
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Eric: “This is the best bar in New Orleans.”

The Typist: “At this moment, yes it is.”

Odd Words March 6, 2014

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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& Thursday at 6 pm Octavia Books hosts a a presentation, food tasting, and booksigning celebrating the release of author and photographer Ann Benoit’s new book, NEW ORLEANS’ BEST ETHNIC RESTAURANTS.Ann Benoit takes you on a culinary tour of the continents without ever leaving New Orleans. Chosen for their excellence in food and history, iconic eateries such as Galatoire’s and Pho Tau Bay transport the reader from local Creole cuisine to spicy Vietnamese creations. Benoit also reveals such treasures as the Mediterranean gem Fatoush. From the classic Southern food of Praline Connection, hop the pond to the flavors of Europe at La Provence, the Irish House, or Taste of Bavaria. Café Abyssinia, Byblos, and Mona’s Café conjure the delicate flavor of African and Middle Eastern cuisine.

& Friday will feature New Orleans’ first International Women’s Day Poetry and Music Celebration at The Jazz Park, 916 N Peters in The French Quarter at 3 p.m. Among the participants are: Melinda Palacio, Terisha Angel Lopez, Delia Tomino Nakayama, Amanda Emily Smith, Clara Masako Fernandez, Juanita Jackson, Milena Martinovic and vocalist Kanako Fuwa.

& Neutrons Protons has been publishing smart humor writing and narrative-driven creative nonfiction for six months now. Now we are publishing our first-ever PRINT edition, so we’re having a party. Come buy the magazine, listen to readings, eat food, enjoy music, and be a literary snob for one enchanted evening. We’ll be at Press Street’s The Reading Room 220, basking in the glow of great writing and beautiful design Friday from 6-9 p.m.

& Poets Peter Cooley, Gina Ferrara, Ava Leavell Haymon and Melinda Palacio read from their work at Saturday’s Poetry Buffet at the Latter Memorial Library from 2-3:30 p.m.

& Saturday from 12-3 Garden District Books hosts a signging by Argyle Wolf-Knapp & Jeremy Labadie of New Orleans Beer: A Hoppy History of Big Easy Brewing. Recently, one drink has been getting more and more attention in New Orleans: beer. The craft brewing revolution of the last 30 or so years has caught hold here, creating what is only the latest chapter in New Orleans’s illustrious love affair with boozy concoctions. From old-school breweries like Jax, Regal and Dixie to craft brewers like Abita, NOLA and Bayou Teche, join authors Jeremy Labadie and Argyle Wolf-Knapp to enjoy the first comprehensive history of brewing in New Orleans—a history 287 years long and as wide as the Mississippi.

& Also Saturday 1-3 at Garden District Book Shop Bonnie Warren and Cheryl Gerber sign New Orleans Historic Homes In this series of profiles, the residents of New Orleans’s notable homes invite readers inside. Dazzling photographs of the interiors and exteriors of the dwellings reveal the most stunning abodes of the city. While the owners have undertaken renovations to include modern amenities, the spirit of the past has not merely been preserved-it has been embraced. Brief profiles of famous inhabitants and fascinating architectural and historical details of these celebrated dwellings complement the gorgeous photographs..

& Every Sunday at 3 p.m. The Maple Leaf Reading Series, the oldest continuous reading series in the south, founded by Everette Maddox, features guest poets and an open mic. This Sunday is an Open Mic.

& Sunday at 7:30 pm Slam New Orleans and the Shadowbox Theater present in honor of Women’s History Month, we present to you the 2014 Women of the Word Poetry Showcase, featuring some of New Orleans’ best Ladies of the Mic. OPEN MIC: We invite anyone who identifies as a woman to spit a poem for the open mic. SHOWCASE: 10 spectacular women from all over the New Orleans spoken word scene show us what they’ve got.FEATURE: Our own FreeQuency aka FreeQ Tha Mighty will take the stage as she prepares for the Women of the World Poetry Slam in Austin, TX March 19th – 22nd!

& Sunday is Slam and Spoken Word Day in New Orleans. WhoDatPoets.com lists five Spoken Word shows on Sunday nights. For phone numbers with more details on all these readings visit WHODATPOETS.COM. (I stopped listing all of the events because one venue’s name forced me to limit this post for readers over 21. Check WHODATEPOETS.COM for all the latest on slam and spoken word in New Orleans.

& Speak Sunday is hosted every Sunday at 7 pm by Duece the Poet at Therapy, 3001 Tulane Avenue, also featuring live painting of the performers by C.C. Givens.

& Monday at 5:30 pm the Smith Branch Library at Canal Boulevard and Harrison Avenue hosts a creative writing workshop.

& 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. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest. Watch Odd Words on Facebook and Google+ on Tuesdays for a complete list of her guests and features.

& Ann Benoit, a cookbook author and food photographer, will host a launch party for her latest book, New Orleans Best Ethnic Restaurants at 7 p.m., on Tuesday at the Eastbank Regional Library, 4747 West Napoleon Avenue, Metairie. This event is free of charge and is open to the public. Registration is not required. New Orleans Best Ethnic Restaurants focuses on Benoit’s top 100 ethnic restaurants in the area. The book features stories, unusual suppliers and ingredients, fairs, festivals, recipes and Benoit’s food photography. Ann Benoit is a commercial food photographer and culinary writer native to New Orleans and author of Broussard’s Restaurant and Courtyard Cookbook and the photographer of Magic in a Shaker by Marvin Allen. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the American Culinary Federation and the James Beard Foundation.

& Tuesday at Garden District Book Shop from 6-7:30 Kim Harrison will be signing The Undead Pool. Supernatural superhero Rachel Morgan must counter a strange magic that could spell civil war for the Hollows in this sexy and bewitching urban fantasy adventure in acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison’s Hollows series.

& Wednesday Fleur de Lit and Pearl Wine Co. present Reading Between the Wines, Wednesday at 7:30 pm at Pearl Wine Co. This month’s theme is Celebrations and the featured authors are: Errol Laborde: Mardi Gras Chronicles; Kit Wohl: New Orleans Celebrations; Stephen Rea: Finn McCool’s Football Club; and, Kim Marie Vaz: The Baby Dolls. You must be 21 to attend this event.

& Also on Wednesday Maple Street Book Shop hosts a signing with Michael Murphy, author of Eat Dat, and Jeremy Labadie & Argyle Wolf-Knapp, authors of New Orleans Beer: A Hoppy History of Big Easy Brewing. Eat Dat New Orleans is a guidebook that celebrates both New Orleans food and its people. It highlights nearly 250 eating spots sno-ball stands and food carts as well as famous restaurants and spins tales of the city’s food lore, such as the controversial history of gumbo and the Shakespearean drama of restaurateur Owen Brennan and his heirs. New Orleans Beer is the first comprehensive history of brewing in New Orleans—a history 287 years long and as wide as the Mississippi— from old-school breweries like Jax, Regal and Dixie to craft brewers like Abita, NOLA and Bayou Teche!

& Chelsey Johnson is the 1718 Society’s featured reader for March Tuesday at 7 pm at The Columns. The 1718 Society is a literary organization comprised of Tulane, Loyola, and UNO students. Their monthly reading series at the Columns Hotel is free and open to the public. It showcases the work of student readers, as well as that of prominent local and national writers.

& Every Tuesday night get on the list to spit at the longest running spoken word venue in New Orleans at Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club hosted by African-American Shakespear. Doors open at 7pm and the Mic pops at 8pm. It is $5 to get in.

& Every Wednesday at 8 pm at the Neutral Ground Coffeehouse there is an hour-long open mic poetry night (or fiction night; whatever you want to read really!)

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Forty One: Adiu Paure Carnaval March 5, 2014

Posted by The Typist in 365, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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At the conclusion of Carnival in Nice, France, an effigy of Monsieur Carnaval is burned, the ancient story of the burning man, the sacrifice in fire. As told by Mama Lisa’s World Blog, in that rite Monsieur Carnaval “is responsible for all the wrongdoing people do throughout the year. At Carnival time in France, Monsieur Carnaval is judged for his behavior throughout the preceding year. Usually he’s found guilty and an effigy of him is burned.”

Accompanying the ritual is a song, and I offer the lyrics collected by Mama Lisa below, both in Occitan (the language of the Troubadors) and in English. I suggest you click the link to open in a new tab or window so you can follow along as far as the MP3 goes.

And so, from New Orleans, Adiu Paure Carnaval.

Adiu paure Carnaval

Adiu paure, adiu paure,
adiu paure Carnaval
Tu te’n vas e ieu demòri
Adiu paure Carnaval
Tu t’en vas e ieu demòri
Per manjar la sopa a l’alh
Per manjar la sopa a l’òli
Per manjar la sopa a l’alh
Adiu paure, adiu paure,
adiu paure Carnaval

La joinessa fa la fèsta
Per saludar Carnaval
La Maria fa de còcas
Amb la farina de l’ostal

Lo buòu dança, l’ase canta
Lo moton ditz sa leiçon
La galina canta lo Credo
E lo cat ditz lo Pater

Farewell, Poor Carnival

Farewell, farewell,
Farewell, poor Carnival
You are leaving, and I am staying
Farewell, poor Carnival
You are leaving, and I am staying
To eat garlic soup
To eat oil soup
To eat garlic soup
Farewell, farewell,
Farewell, poor Carnival.

The young ones are having a wild time
To greet Carnival
Mary is baking cakes
With flour from her home.

The ox is dancing, the donkey’s singing
The sheep is saying its lesson
The hen is singing the Credo
And the cat is saying the Pater.

Forty: Ring of Fire March 3, 2014

Posted by The Typist in 365, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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The doom jukebox sings Ring of Fire in the chase light calliope fun house of madness. Betz Brown is lining up snake bites for the regulars. The front door is a barricaded beer and cocktail stand but the regulars know to come down the buildings side entrance. The men’s bathroom is ankle-deep but what can you do? It’s Carnival Day at the Abbey in the late 1970s, the reign of Queen Betz, den mother to the lost. Molly’s with their Media Night thinks they attract the best and brightest, but the Abbey (which still had a shelf of books to read atop the cigarette machine in those days) were the best, the brightest, the most golden-tongued and the most drunken. It was where Marianne and I spent the election night, the year I convinced Guide newspapers to hold the Section I press for late election coverage and we kicked the Times-Picayune West Bank edition’s ass.

It was the place to be.

Betz left, finally pregnant by a regular selected by her but kept secret. (It was not me). Molly’s could have the ghost of Walter Cronkite tending bar one night, but if you consider your patrons a suitable gene pool for your child, Molly’s at the Market will never hit that mark.

I have never stopped visiting the Abbey, through its boring, immediate post-Betz days as a darts bar, and then biker bar, trannie bar, and its return as the watering hole of the dissolute twenty-something. Through all its transformations (except perhaps the first) I was, after explaining over my beer my presence, welcomed like family. The Abbey is not just a bar, it is an exclusive club, a secret society, and the mere mention of the name is the only signal we have.

I wandered in the evening of my first Carnival home in 21 years, in 2006, and found it returned to something familiar: the young and wild lined up at the bar. Is was as if I had stepped into a time machine, expecting to recognize faces in the crowd. I bought the couple at the end of the bar I was talking to a memorial snakebite but was taken aback when the barmaid asked me “what kind of snakebite?” Back in the day there was only one kind, and I only drank them when Betz was working two cocktail shakers while the bartender lined up the shot glasses.

There are two reliable stops on my Carnival itinerary. To sit on the stoop of the building where my great aunts once lived in the 800 block of royal, the spot from which I watched Carnival pass as a small child, calling up my earliest memories of watching Rex from my father’s shoulders back in the day when a moss man was instantly recognized. The other stop will be the Abbey. My days of snakebites are behind me but if I can get a PBR and a shot for $5 I’ll take it. Fortified by whatever cheap whiskey they might be pouring I will wade into the still dysfunctional bathroom and be a bit disappointed if I don’t leave with my shoes wet.

I will then take my anointed dancing feet down toward the drum circle of Frenchman having touched the holy relics of Carnivals past.