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Anywhere, anywhere December 31, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, quotes, The Journey, The Narrative, The Pointless, The Typist.
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Have you sunk into so deep a stupor that only your own torment gives you pleasure?  If that be so, let us flee to those lands constituted in the likeness of Death.  I know just the place for us, poor soul!  We will leave for Torneo.  Or let us go even farther, to the last limits of the Baltic; and if possible, still farther from life.  Let us go to the Pole.  There the sun obliquely grazes the earth, and the slow alternations of light and obscurity make variety impossible, and increase that monotony which is almost death.  There we shall be able to take baths of darkness, and for our diversion, from time to time the Aurora Borealis shall scatter its rosy sheaves before us, like reflections of the fireworks of Hell!

At last my soul bursts into speech, and wisely cries to me:  Anywhere, anywhere, as long as it be out of this world!

— Charles Baudelaire

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That’s It For The Other One, Con’t. December 28, 2015

Posted by The Typist in Moloch, Sinn Fein, The Narrative, The Revolution Will Be Televised, The Typist, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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I really need to sweep, but so does the United States.

Best Of Cast Off Sculpture December 27, 2015

Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, art, FYYFF, je me souviens, New Orleans, Pedestrian I, Remember, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, WTF.
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The Forgotten Labor Of Heracles: The Slaying  of the Psychotropic Bacon at the Gates of Taste

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The Ignominy of Ignorance: Kinetic Sculpture by Some Guy from Some Where with Docent in the Background

All photos by A. Eulipion. Reproduced under a letter of Marque and Reprisal issued by the Committee of the Whole, Free  City of New Orleans.

Ed. Note: Some explanation for the blog’s many subscribers from afar: These are the sculptures that graced the front of the New Orleans Museum of Art in my living memory, a span of half a century. I did not grab a picture of the plaque beside the bronze sculpture of Hercules of my earliest memories and so cannot name the artist. The kinetic piece below, Wave, is by Lin Emory, a world renowned native of New Orleans. His deserved place of honor is now taken by a monstrous Lichtenstein. I would not argue the acquisition of the Lichtenstein, or a place of honor for it in the Bestoff Sculpture Garden behind NOMA. I am resentfully nostalgic that the museum would displace a native son with it. The title is a play on the Bestoff family partnership in the local Katz & Bestoff drug store chain.

Little Miracles December 25, 2015

Posted by The Typist in The Narrative, The Typist, Xmas, Yule.
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This is an excerpt of a long ago blog post on Wet Bank Guide.
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… [b]ut I believe in Christmas miracles. A decade ago, my three-year old daughter fell in love with a character called Rugby Tiger, from an obscure [Jim Henson production]  called The Christmas Toy. Having Rugby Tiger was her only Christmas wish, the only secret she had for Santa.

Finding Rugby Tiger proved to be impossible. The Christmas Toy is a wonderful show, but not a spectacular of the sort that generates tie-in marketing. The stores at Christmas are full of great piles of stuffed animals, but none came close to looking like Rugby. We scoured the smallish town we lived in at the time, and all the stores of Fargo, N.D. as well. I dredged through catalogs of online stores back in the early days of e-commerce, and called every major toy store I could think of. It became increasingly clear there would be no miracle, that the first Christmas my first child really understood would be a failure, a disappointment that would haunt her the rest of her life.

There’s a happy holiday thought.

Then one day, perhaps a week before Christmas, I went into a little mom-and-pop drug store in little Detroit Lakes, MN, and walked past the big pile of stuffed animals I had twice before torn apart. As I came back from the pharmacist with my little bag, I decided to have one last desperate dig. And that’s when I found him.

His tag didn’t say Rugby Tiger, but he was a perfect replica, the very image of the television tiger. Christmas was saved.

I’ve told this story to my children, when they finally asked me about Santa Claus. Yes, I can tell them with a straight face, I do believe in Santa Claus, because once when I truly needed a mieraculous Christmas present for someone I loved, it happened.

Perhaps I’ve used up my quotient of miracles. But I know that belief is more than just a bit of sustaining psychology. I am a poor excuse for a Christian, probably not one at all at this point in my life. But I know there is a power within us and without us that, sustained by belief, can work miracles in this world.

Most miracles are small and personal things: two people meeting and falling in love, a child’s face on Christmas morning when they find a dream come true, the birth on a winter’s night of a child entirely ordinary and no less miraculous. My Christmas wishes for myself and for my city may seem as improbable as the sentiments of a beauty contestant, but they’re not. My wish is for the thousand tiny and entirely human miracles I know are possible.

A Child’s Christmas in Wales December 25, 2015

Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street, Xmas, Yule.
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The Junkie’s Xmas December 24, 2015

Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Burroughs does Xmas stripped of all the pretense. I love this story but then I was raised on The Little Match Girl. If you don’t understand why Jesus of Nazareth would love this story go back to wrapping presents. Better yet,  burn your tree. Leave the angel on top so she can fly up to the heavens in the smoke and ash and ask whatever gods may be lurking behind the entirely ordinary stars of a mythical winter’s night to have mercy on your soul.

A Day in the Park December 23, 2015

Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Dead, The Pointless, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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It is a pivotal moment that occurs, of all places, in the lunch room at work.  It is the guy across the table eating his daily bacon cheese burger, dipping each French fry delicately into the ketchup, explaining that your quinoa is grown by people who are now suffering from malnutrition because their crop is more valuable than coca. So they chew coca and eat expired U.S. surplus cheese food and white flour which they make into something resembling biscuits and gravy. Cheese burger guy will, through a genetic dispensation, live to be 87 and die quietly in his sleep after a night of wild sex with his fourth wife, followed by a cheeseburger and French fries from the all night fast food joint.  This comes to you as a haunting as you stare at your floppy gluten-free sandwich, which was stiff if not crisp when it came out of the lunchroom toaster oven, but is now floppy again. You stare at it but do not eat until the lunch room is empty: quiet, white, almost serene. You get up and walk out of the office without telling anyone and wander the streets for hours stretching into days during which time you don’t eat. You subsist exclusively on weak diner coffee with three sugars and a non-dairy creamer, because when you walked into Starbucks your remnant college Italian left you incapable of deciphering the sizes on their menu. As you walk your cell phone will ring and the picture of a familiar woman will appear on the screen, but you don’t remember how to answer. Eventually the battery dies and you trade the phone for a patty melt on white with a side of fries and bottomless coffee for the night.

When the plastic card stops working you move into the park and start collecting acorns to eat and find a hollow shrubbery in which to sleep. Over time, the birds and squirrels and insects increasingly find you harmless, although they wish you had some cold popcorn. They speak to you until you begin to learn their languages. They explain that they too are dying like the Andean quinoa farmers because the world has become poisonous because of man. You are unsure what is quinoa or an Andean farmer.  You wonder if you are a man. None of the large animals you see in the park have a beard as long as you do, and they wear ugly boxes on their feet. You try to approach them one by one to discuss this creature man, until you encounter a creature magnificent creature covered in shiny bits who wears a belt much like the things the other bipedal creatures in the park wear on their feet. It is full of interesting looking objects. As you attempt to ask him your question the last stitches holding up your pants give away, and you stand naked trying to ask him your question. He pulls out a box that is at once black and shiny, with two bright shinier bits on the end, and he fills you with their light until everything goes black.

You awake up in a box lying on a soft box with a soft thing under your head. A two-leg in a white wrapping visits you every day and talks to you, doing something with a stick and a board as you walk, and another two-leg who brings you am acorn like thing only larger filled with brightly colored things to eat. You like to watch the light on the wall march across the room, and stand at an opening looking at the animals outside. You eat the brightly colored things until you are declared fit to get up and join everyone else in the lunchroom, where you eat brown things …. chicken …. chicken nuggets, yes, and soft white potatoes covered in …. gravy and and a mix of new colored things which are soft.  One day the man in the white wrapping informs you that as you have no insurance, you are now well enough to be discharged. You are not quite sure what this means, but you are given a set of wrappings …. of, clothing, and out of pity the white wrapped man named Doctor gives you a wad of green paper. You walk out, unsure where to go, until you capture a familiar smell in the air, and another forgotten word. Coffee. You walk into the place with coffee, and notice a green and white figure of a woman with something on her head, and she reminds you of the nice  …. nurse who brought you your …. medication. You stare at the menu, and because you have forgotten almost all human language much less Italian, you see the word Grande and something in your head tells you this means wonderful and large. You are disappointed at its size, but overjoyed by the aroma. The woman who is not green but just white and wears nothing on her head bangs on a metal thing, and speaks until you remember what the green paper is for.  You give her some, and she gives you more back (hurray! you think, you think) along with shiny things. You are afraid of the bright shiny things because something frightening once happened to you when you were touched by bright shiny things so you put those in a …. jar with other shiny things. You keep the brown ones, and wonder if the green paper and brown shiny things are something the animals would like to eat. The colors remind you of …. acorns. You wander into the …. park, but the animals will not eat either the green things or the shiny brown things. They chatter at you. You remember that once you could knew their words, could speak to them, but now it is all noise. Everywhere there is noise …. horns, you think, which go with something called …. cars. There are loud metallic and howling sounds that wake the memory of the shiny black box with the  shinier bits sticking out of it. And rhythmic noise you believe might be …. music, but you do not like this music. You prefer to whistle the sounds you once learned from the birds. You listen and try to remember how to do this.  You walk slowly through the park drinking your coffee. When it is gone, you drop the cup and a woman yells at you but it is all noise. You keep walking until you reach the lake in the middle of the park.  You keep walking until the noise stops and all around you are beautiful dancing lights.

 

Such a Beautiful Day December 23, 2015

Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, The End, The Journey, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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This is the movie that will destroy your comfortable American life. It is on Netflix. What are you waiting for?

 

Odd Words: This week in literary New Orleans December 21, 2015

Posted by The Typist in Book Stores, book-signing, books, bookstores, literature, Louisiana, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, reading, spoken word, Toulouse Street, Writing.
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This quiet holiday week in literary New Orleans, Odd Words reminds you that if you are reading this, there is probably no one on your shopping list who wouldn’t like a book. And time is running out to pay a last visit to Maple Street Book Shop. Look down the list of Indie book stores in the right hand column of the blog.

& The December meeting for the New Orleans Haiku Society, which would typically take place today at 6 pm, is cancelled for the holidays.

& There are no other literary events at the New Orleans Public Libraries this week, and all branches will be closed Dec. 24-26.

& The Westbank Fiction Writers’ Group is listed for Tuesday at 7 pm at the Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego. However, the calender lists a “Programming Break” all through the week due to the holidays. I strongly recommend you call the library to confirm.  (504) 349-5912.

& The Jefferson Parish libraries will be closed Dec. 24 and 25.

& St. Bernard Parish libraries will be closed Dec. 24-26.

 

 

Saddest of All Animals December 19, 2015

Posted by The Typist in errata, Poetry, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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““[V]erily I feel myself sometimes to be that saddest of all animals,” he wrote, “a poet who cannot write poetry…””

— Malcolm Lowry

Abandoned Cruciform December 19, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, Once Upon A Bayou, The End, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Abandoned Cruciform
Take your oil
& burn it.

It is the blood of our uprooted earth
which we have given up to you.

Do this in ignorance of me.

Still Standing December 15, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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“I am not alright but I am upright.”
— “O’Neil’s Lament“, Moose Jackson

Indecency December 14, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, film, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Fellini fought so that indecency would not become a habit. When the TV channels went to spy on his death their real mission was to announce the end of a world and the birth of a new cycle. Politics as the constant invention of reality, as deception.
— Mung, Viva la libertà

Odd Words: This week in literary New Orleans December 14, 2015

Posted by The Typist in Book Stores, book-signing, books, bookstores, literature, Louisiana, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, reading, spoken word, Toulouse Street, Writing.
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& Monday at 6 pm James Beard Award-winning Chef John Besh returns to Octavia Books with his newest, BESH BIG EASY: 101 Home Cooked New Orleans Recipes. And, he is bringing some tastes of Mamma’s Seafood Gumbo which is from the new book. In BESH BIG EASY, John Besh makes his favorite hometown cooking accessible to a wide audience of cooks and readers. In this, his fourth book, he takes another deep dive into the charm and authenticity of the cuisine of his hometown, New Orleans. “There’s no reason a good jambalaya needs two dozen ingredients,” John says. In this book, jambalaya has less than ten, but sacrifices nothing in the way of flavor.

& Tuesday at 7 pm at Cafe Istanbul the Lost Love Letters series continues a reading of vintage love letters, childhood diaries, and other artifacts of youthful angst.

& Wednesday at 6 pm Octavia Books hosts a presentation and book signing with photojournalist Cheryl Gerber featuring NEW ORLEANS: Life and Death in the Big Easy. The book uses photo juxtaposition to portray New Orleans culture–its contrasts, dichotomies, and social ironies, the things that make the city so richly diverse and distinctive–as seen through the lens of photojournalist Cheryl Gerber, with shots of her hometown’s local color, showing how everyday New Orleanians live and how they celebrate life through Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, second lines, and more. The images then take a more serious turn as they depict the inequalities that sometimes make living in New Orleans so difficult. The book closes with photos depicting the way New Orleanians observe, mourn, and celebrate death. Besides images of jazz funerals, the photos include vigils for slain rapper Magnolia Shorty and Archbishop Philip Hannan, among others.

& At 7 pm Wednesday the Algiers Regional Library presents its Big Easy Author Series featuring Kit Wohl, award-winning writer, photographer, and artist. A lifelong food and win enthusiast, since 2005 she has authored twelve cookbooks that celebrate cuisine and her native New Orleans, including New Orleans Classic Creole Recipes and New Orleans Classic Cocktails. She will be discussing another of her classic cookbooks, New Orleans Classic Celebrations.

& Thursday at 4:30 pm the Algiers Regional Library continues its Spoken Word Workshops for Teens, in Partnership with New Orleans Youth Open Mic (NOYOM). At each workshop students will channel their creativity to write and perform original spoken word pieces. Using model texts from local and national artists, students will elevate their craft while also building a community of young artists. Hosted by A Scribe Called Quess? of NOYOM and Team SNO.

& At 6:30 pm the The East Jefferson Writer’s Group meets at the East Jefferson Regional Library. This is a critique group for serious fiction writers of all levels who want to improve their story development skills. This group focuses on discussing story development and writing elements and applying critiquing skills in romance, adventure, mystery, literature (but not genres of SciFi, Fantasy, Horror of the alternate Thursday Sci-FI Writers). Short stories, novels, screenplays, plays, comics are accepted; however, non-fiction, such as poetry, biography, autobiography, essays, or magazine articles is not. Free and open to the public. No registration.

& At 7 pm Thursday the December Dogfish features Dogfish Reading Series Founders Alex Jennings, Jessica Kinnison, Becca Kelly Moussa, Taylor Murrow, and Cate Root. The reading takes place at 2448 N Villere St.

& At 7:00 pm Thursday the Nix Library hosts an Author Night at Nix featuring Marvin Allen’s Magic in a Shaker. Allen, a bartender for the last 25 years, currently works at the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone. His book, Magic in a Shaker: A Year of Spirited Libations, is a guide to mixing cocktails. Each chapter talks about a spirit, its history, and recipes pertaining to that spirit.

& Sunday at 3 pm the Maple Leaf Reading Series features poet Danny Kerwick reads from and signs his new book, Behind Lies the Sugar, from Portals. Meeting in the patio (weather permitting) of the Maple Leaf Bar, this is the oldest continues reading series in the south, founded by beloved New Orleans poet Everette Maddox.

Debt Is Freedom December 14, 2015

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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I am come from the underworld
to tell you your new gods
are concerned about your parsimony.

This country was built on credit, goddammit,
so spend it. You are not carrying your weight
in their grand scheme of things & things.

Their sisters will snip your disobedient cards &
abandon you to eating the happy employee meal
sweating at the bus stop over the rent.

They can take it all back at any minute,
a repossession worse than death:
carless, houseless, under the overpass.

The obsolete missionary gods slop contempt
on mercy’s plate. Get a job, their prayer but
there’s no good work for folk with your credit score.

I was as you once, and walked away, thinking:
freedom. It was then they came for me. No room
for bad examples except under the overpass.

Your new deities send me to tell you:
debt is freedom, the endless shelves
of choice beyond your grandparents imagining.

Spending and getting is all of heaven
you will ever know before the balloon note is due
& cold repo death, the only old god left

comes due at some month’s end.

Chicken Salad on Rye December 14, 2015

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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It’s 4 am and I’m hungry so I decide I’m not quite ready to go back to sleep. I make a sandwich. Chicken salad on rye, things that are good for turning around my pre-diabetes you have not through sloth and gluttony but because you sat too many hours through too many days in a job from hell, gaining weight while living in a constant state of molar-destroying stress. And you think chicken salad on rye not just because it’s on your safe list, and you are rapidly becoming one of those dietary obsessives, the vegan and gluten crowd, but because you know this drill. You father worked himself into a complete collapse, literally dropping at work followed by a week in the hospital and a month of doctor’s orders for no work. He had to piss on the tape back then but came back from it. I don’t know if he managed his stress by getting himself fired, or walking away (they always let you walk away, they let me walk away), owed $100,000 which was serious money back then. But he bailed, and he beat it. And I have walked away. And I’m going to beat it.

And if this is starting to sound like a Bukowski poem without line breaks I started reading Bukowski when I couldn’t sleep because Clarice Lispector is a madwoman of the first order, a twin separated at birth from Beckett but you’re just not ready for Lispector and her brilliant cockroach monologue, because that sort of concentration doesn’t come at 4 am. You are up because of an anxiety dream about your ex- who is freaking out because our daughter is bringing her dog home with her for Xmas, and you just know she doesn’t want to leave a nervous dog alone in her obsessively Southern Living-ready condo. And later this morning you have to call unemployment because they don’t want to give you unemployment. You have to call the insurance company because they’ve lost your crappy COBRA policy but at my age I need something. You have to call the life insurance company which canceled your life insurance policy because you spaced a bill with a rate hike. They’ve cashed the makeup check but you still don’t know. You have to get out and walk five miles to loose the weight gained sitting in the Herman Miller chair you splurged on to make sitting in that tiny corner of your apartment 12 hours a day slaving for people you hated a little more bearable, the job you kept only because they paired you with a single mom with two small kids who had never worked anywhere else who was also loosing her mind from all the work, and you just couldn’t leave it all to be dumped on her. (Asked once by an HR department if I had a friend at work, I declined to answer, finding it creepy and intrusive. But in the job from hell, I made a true friend at work. And I was not going to bail on her).

And you’re reading Bukowski because he’s not trying to be intellectual or clever in ways your brain can’t process at 4 a.m., and the other book on your bed is Grace Paley and while you love her stories she’s just so persistently cheerful through all of the mad lives of her characters you can’t stand it right now. Bukowski, he is just telling you brilliant little stories of life without Paley’s incessant optimism; stories of life’s moments of bullshit and beauty, and your own life right now is an endless freight train with moments of beauty glimpsed between the endless gondola and tanker cars of bullshit, the boxcars filled with sacks of bullshit, the boxcars half the politicians in this country would stuff you into if they were given the chance. Bukowski was first and foremost a journalist who looked deep into the cesspit of America and spoke what he saw. He afflicted the comfortable and comforted the afflicted, unless he was drunk and the afflicted were making a scene of their affliction then he threw them out because they didn’t know how to suffer with class, because they couldn’t take a punch.

I should go back to sleep but in half an hour the lights will come on at the Fairgrounds across the street and maybe I’ll make some coffee instead, sneak in the back gate and stand at the rail and watch the horses warming up until someone tells me to scram. Maybe later I will go to the track instead of walking because the track is exercise for the mind and the body if it’s done right: first the form, to train the brain, a puzzle to keep the mind working; then off to the paddock to study each horse’s temperament, the way they manage themselves in a tight space surrounded by the competition; followed by a trot out to the rail for the post parade to see how they move, again a question of temperament but also how the muscles flow, if they prance with excitement do they do it with the grace of a dancer or a nervous wobble? Then watching the tote board, comparing what you’ve doodled on the form to the constantly changing numbers, probability and statistics meeting up on the mind. Then, at the last minute when the tote board seems to be settling in, the sprint to the window and back to the rail. Finally, the stationary cardiovascular circuit of the horses running, the blood pounding and your voice shouting encouragement.

Just maybe that is how Bukowski lived as long as he did with all the wine and beer, the cigarettes and cigars: he know how to exercise his mind and body in one place, how to celebrate the wins and how to suck up the losses; like the fighter he was, how to take the adoration of the winner and the humiliation of the loser, but most of all how to take the punches.

The sandwich is gone. I wonder if a glass of wine would help me get back to sleep, or if I should just call it a night and go watch the horses. The horses may disappoint, but they are always beautiful.

Honorary Thieves December 12, 2015

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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How does some rich asshole come to “Sponsor” a WPA bridge?

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How does some wealthy fuck come to “sponsor” a WPA bridge?

Baphomet’s New Orleans (17th Ed.): The Christmas Lounge December 10, 2015

Posted by The Typist in Baphomet's New Orleans, Christmas, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street, Uptown.
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The Christmas (or Christmas Tree) Lounge is a bad answer to any question. Located just over Lowerline Street from stolidly respectable Uptown–the tourist-bus haunt of gnarled oaks, neo-Classical mansions and money as old as Egypt, rooted in a river, cotton and slavery–the Christmas Lounge stands in the adjacent nineteenth century suburb of Carrollton, long ago its own town with a quaint neo-Classical courthouse turned school just where the streetcars turn at the spot called Riverbend by real estate agents but known to past generations Uptown as the Devil’s Elbow. Surrounded by the once modest but now fashionable bungalows of a prosperous antebellum bourgeoisie and their employees, like all good dive bars the Christmas Lounge has the low-roofed and neon ambiance of a place men once gathered to wreath themselves in cigarette smoke and drink away the day’s labor straight from the beer bottle.

Today it is more likely filled with weary service people after the manager has tossed them out of the bar and everywhere respectable is closed, and the children of local, Jersey and Long Island money who mingle with the confident ease of daddy’s platinum card, students at Uptown’s expensive if not precisely prestigious universities, scholars of the sort who have quiet forgotten exactly which class they are in. Here the next generation of waiters and lawyers assemble to while away the smallest hours of morning with a studied drunkenness handed down in New Orleans from generation to generation.

The Christmas tree can manage a quite respectable martini early the evening, but the specialty of the night is the beer and occasional shot. Upended bottles of Jägermeister stand half-empty in their chiller/dispensers, the inverted stag suggesting a tribute to the author of this guide. A bottle of cinnamon whiskey does not last long and sugary sorority girl cocktails can be managed at all hours. There is still an active jukebox, an increasing rarity in an age when bartenders are liable to dial up a Pandora channel on their smartphone, and the music is an indefinable mix best categorized as loud and danceable.

There is a small set of long overused couches near the front, available for whiskey-earnest arguments, public foreplay, and passing out to the Instagram amusement of your friends. Toward the rear are small high tables opposite the bar, stools across long taken by the time you arrive, and the usual, narrow obstacle course through the middle where drinks are apologetically sloshed back from the bar.

To truly appreciate the Christmas Tree, it is best to dress in casual and spill-sacrificial clothing, start drinking before dinner, and continue doggedly on through the evening at one of Uptown’s many music venues until the band tears down. If you think you can still drive the Christmas Lounge is for you, or one can simply stagger over from the nearby destinations on Oak Street as they close.

Ranking: Four horns out of five largely for its promising youthful depravity.

Odd Words: This week in literary New Orleans December 6, 2015

Posted by The Typist in Book Stores, book-signing, books, bookstores, literature, Louisiana, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, reading, spoken word, Toulouse Street, Writing.
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& At 6 pm Monday New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson comes to Octavia Books to present & sign his new book, UNDER OUR SKIN. Can it ever get better? This is the question Benjamin Watson is asking. In a country aflame with the fallout from the racial divide – in which Ferguson, Charleston, and the Confederate flag dominate the national news, daily seeming to rip the wounds open ever wider – is there hope for honest and healing conversation? For finally coming to understand each other on issues that are ultimately about so much more than black and white? An NFL tight end for the New Orleans Saints and a widely read and followed commentator on social media, Watson has taken the Internet by storm with his remarkable insights about some of the most sensitive and charged topics of our day. Now, in UNDER OUR SKIN: Getting Real about Race – And Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations That Divide Us, Watson draws from his own life, his family legacy, and his role as a husband and father to sensitively and honestly examine both sides of the race debate and appeal to the power and possibility of faith as a step toward healing.

& Monday at 6 pm Garden District Book Shops hosts Carol Reese, Tina Freeman, and Walter Stern’s Longue Vue House and Gardens. The stunning interiors and glorious gardens of New Orleans’ unrivaled jewel and architectural masterpiece. Longue Vue House and Gardens, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and listed as a national historic landmark, was designed and built between 1934 and 1942 by landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman and architects Charles and William Platt for Edgar Bloom and Edith Rosenwald Stern, New Orleans’ foremost mid-twentieth-century philanthropists and civil-rights activists. The mansion and its surrounding eight acres of garden spaces, with varied designs ranging from the formal to the wild, draw upon Southern architectural traditions and native Louisiana flora, even as they echo the contemporaneous garden-design movement that set the stage for the creation of some of the most breathtaking garden estates in the country. Lush photography, supporting architectural drawings, and an informative text bring the main house and gardens to life and establish the estate as an enduring symbol to its creators’ contributions to building a just society.

& Tuesday at 6 pm Chef John Besh will be signing Besh Big Easy: 101 Home Cooked Recipes at Maple Street Book Shop’s Holiday Party.In this, his fourth book, award-winning chef John Besh takes another deep dive into the charm and authenticity of the cuisine of New Orleans. “Besh Big Easy” features all new recipes, published in a new flexibound format and accessible to cooks everywhere. Much has changed since Besh wrote his bestselling “My New Orleans” in 2009. The book is dedicated to accessibility. “There’s no reason a good jambalaya needs two dozen ingredients,” John says. In this book, jambalaya has less than ten, but sacrifices nothing in the way of flavor. With 101 original, personal recipes such as Mr. Sam’s Stuffed Crabs, Duck Camp Shrimp & Grits, and Silver Queen Corn Pudding, “Besh Big Easy” is chock-full of the vivid personality that has made John Besh such a popular American culinary icon.

& Also at 6 pm Tuesday the Robert E. Smith Library hosts an Author Visit: A Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook. Cynthia LeJeune Noble’s cookbook offers recipes inspired by the delightfully commonplace and always delicious fare of Ignatius and his cohorts. Through an informative narrative and almost 200 recipes, Nobles explores the intersection of food, history, and culture found in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, opening up a new avenue into New Orleans rich culinary traditions.

& At 7 pm Tuesday the Alvar Library presents an Evening with José Torres-Tama, Performance Poet & Artist. Immigrant Dreams & Alien Nightmares is a debut collection that documents twenty-five years of José Torres-Tama’s poetry in his unique bilingual voice. Labeled a “Permanent Resident Alien” during his entry into GringoLandia at the age of seven in 1968, he explores the psychic, physical, and open wounds of an Ecuadorian immigrant balancing two languages and cultures, challenging the United States to live up to its mythic ideals as the beacon of democracy.

& Also at 7 pm Tuesday the Westbank Fiction Writers’ Group meets at the Edith Lawson Library in Westwego. Writing exercises or discussions of points of fiction and/or critique sessions of members’ submissions. Meets the second and fourth Tuesday of every month. Moderator: Gary Bourgeois. Held in the meeting Room.

& At 6 pm Wednesday the Norman Mayer Library hosts author Tiffany Monique talking to prospective authors about the process of self-publishing and promoting one’s own work. & Wildlife photographer C.C. Lockwood will be signing Louisiana Wild at Maple Street Book Shop, Wednesday, at 6 pm. Lockwood has lived and worked in fragile ecosystems whose preservation shapes his artistry. His work has earned him international acclaim as an environmental artist, including the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award for conservation photography. His newest book, “Louisiana Wild: The Lands Protected and Restored by The Nature Conservancy”, portrays the good work this organization is doing on over 280,000 acres of land in our state. The scenic images that Louisiana brings to mind—moss-draped cypress, lush marshlands, alligators gliding through bayous, herons coasting across an open sky—all spring from one of the most diverse and productive ecosystems on the continent. From the precious maritime forests of Grand Isle to the steep contours of Tunica Hills, Louisiana’s wild outdoors defines each region’s sense of place and value.

& Also at 6 pm Wednesday meet Anne Butler and Henry Cancienne, creators of LOUISIANA SWAMPS AND MARSHES at Octaviva Books. Louisiana’s wonderful wetlands, coastal marshes, and swamps have meant much to different visitors over the years–sustenance for fisherman and trappers, food supplies for hunters, inspiration for artists and writers, hideouts for hermits and pirates, unbroken solitude for weary souls and assorted dreamers clinging to a vanishing way of life. But these wonderful wild spots are so fragile, and every year brings the loss of more of them. We have been so careless about our environment in the past, so sure our natural resources would last forever. Now we know better. Noted photographer Henry Cancienne has a passion for preserving our unique natural environments through his spectacular images, and in this book he shares some of his favorite walking trails and drives, most free and easily accessible via raised boardwalks and well-maintained paths. Significant spawning/nesting/breeding grounds and vital habitats for wildlife, including a number of endangered species, these wetlands and wildernesses are themselves in danger of vanishing as well. Visit them while you can.

& At 8 pm Wednesday the Blood Jet Poetry Series at B.J.’s in the Bywater hosts a special fiction night with Ann Glaviano and Alex Jennings. Jennings is an author, comic, actor and music writer living right here in New Orleans. He loves comic books, fancy beer, trashy movies, fine films, shoes, and jokes of varying quality. He spends way to much time procrastinating on social media, but it’s usually for a good cause, he swears. Glaviano is a multidisciplinary artist and a born-and-raised New Orleanian. In 2015 her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Atlas Review, descant (Frank O’Connor Award for fiction), Gravy, VIDA’s “Report from the Field,” Antigravity, and Please Forward: How Blogging Reconnected New Orleans After Katrina (UNO Press). A novella, Dickbeer, is forthcoming from Day One in January.

& At 6 pm Thursday Maple Street Book Shops will be hosting Robert S. Brantley, author of the new book, Henry Howard, Louisiana’s Architect. One of the nineteenth century’s most prolific architects but also, until recently, one of the most historically elusive, Henry Howard (1818-1884) left an indelible mark on the landscape of his adopted home, Louisiana. Howard gave Louisiana some of its most iconic structures: the Pontalba buildings on New Orleans’s Jackson Square, the Robert Short house in the Garden District, and a string of legendary plantation houses along the Mississippi River. The photographer and architectural historian Robert S. Brantley provides a comprehensive survey of Howard’s career in this meticulously researched collection. Lavishly illustrated with photographs both new and historical, and interspersed with archival drawings and plans, Henry Howard: Louisiana’s Architect restores its subject to his rightful place in the pantheon of southern architects.

& Thursday at 6:30 pm Garden District Book Shop hosts a discussion of How Research Informs Both Fiction and Non-fiction with National Book Award Winner Adam Johnson, Gilbert King, Scott Hutchins and Eric Puchner. The authors books will be available for purchase and autograph. Fortune Smiles consists of six masterly stories, Johnson delves deep into love and loss, natural disasters, the influence of technology, and how the political shapes the personal. Devil in the Grove, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction, is a gripping true story of racism, murder, rape, and the law. It brings to light one of the most dramatic court cases in American history, and offers a rare and revealing portrait of Thurgood Marshall that the world has never seen before. In A Working Theory of Love, before his brief marriage imploded, Neill Bassett took a job feeding data into what could be the world’s first sentient computer. Only his attempt to give it languagethrough the journals his father left behind after committing suicidehas unexpected consequences. Amidst this turmoil, Neill meets Rachel, a naïve young woman escaping a troubled past, and finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her and the possibilities she holds. But as everything he thought about the past becomes uncertain, every move forward feels impossible. In Model Home the Zillers—Warren, Camille, and their three children—live the good life in a gated Southern California neighborhood, but the sun-bright veneer hides a starker reality. As Warren desperately tries to conceal a failing real estate venture, his family falls prey to secrets and misunderstandings, both hilarious and painful, that open fault lines in their intimacy. Their misguided attempts to recover their former closeness, or find it elsewhere, lead them into late-night burglary, improbable romance, and strange acts of betrayal.

& At 7 pm Thursday the SciFi, Fantasy and Horror Writer’s Group meets at the East Jefferson Regional Library. he purpose of the group is to encourage local writers to create works of fiction based on science fiction, fantasy and horror themes. Participants submit manuscripts to be critiqued by others in the group. Open to all levels. Free of charge and open to the public. No registration.

& At noon Friday Octavia Books hosts a tasting & signing with Chef John Folse featuring his new encyclopedic cookbook, CAN YOU DID IT: Louisiana’s Authoritative Collection of Vegetable Cookery. Readers can expect to find chapters on the swamp floor pantry, root vegetables, leafy greens, off the vine, grains, exotics and more. Recipes focus on vegetables as the primary ingredient in appetizers, soups, salads, sides, entrées, breads, desserts and even drinks. Like Folse’s three other “Big Books,” Can You Dig It begins with a look to the past by co-author Michaela York. The history of agriculture is told from ancient man and biblical perspectives; there are discussions of farming in antiquity including Egypt, Greece and Rome; gardens of the Middle Ages and Renaissance are explored; as well as the discovery of America and vegetables’ influence on population and power through the Colombian Exchange. The history section culminates in an overview of Louisiana’s deep roots in agriculture, with particular focus on the farming methods of the seven nations that make up Louisiana culture and cuisine.

& Friday at 6 pm Octavia Books brings Katrell Christie to the store to share words from her newest book, TIGER HEART: My Unexpected Adventures to Make a Difference in Darjeeling, and What I Learned about Fate, Fortitude, and Finding Family. Her special guest will be husband Thanh Truong, news anchor from WWL Channel 4. Christie was a thirty-something artist turned roller-derby rebel who opened a tea shop in Atlanta. Barely two years later, her life would make a drastic change–and so would the lives of a group of girls half a world away. “I chose the name of my tea shop–Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party–because it sounded whimsical. India wasn’t part of the equation. Not even remotely. I didn’t do yoga. I had no deep yearning to see the Taj Mahal or tour Hindu temples. Indian food? I could take it or leave it.” Yet on a whim, Katrell did go and fell in love with a country that was gorgeous and heartbreaking all at once, where tragedy, humor, resilience and kindness were inextricably bound. From dodging feral monkeys, to slamming shots of whiskey to win acceptance at a local Rotary Club, to forging lasting friendships with the people who stepped up to help her cause, Tiger Heart offers a shot-gun seat on an inspiring trek across the globe, capturing the essence of India: its quirks, its traditions, and its people. Fate may have led Katrell to a tiny spot on a map, but it was a kinship that brought her back home a half a world away. Tiger Heart is a life-affirming look at the ties that bind and the power of each of us to make a difference.

& Saturday at 11:30 am Marti Dumas will be reading from and signing her latest Jaden Toussaint book at Maple Street Book Shop.Jaden Toussaint is a five year-old who knows it all. I mean, really knows it all. Animal Scientist. Great Debater. Master of the art of ninja dancing. There’s nothing Jaden Toussaint can’t do. The only problem is that grown-ups keep trying to convince him that, even though he’s really smart, he doesn’t know EVERYTHING. The thing is…he kind of does. This time our hero must use all his super-powered brain power to save his school and some possible alien invaders (which may or may not be caterpillars) from destroying each other.

& At 4 pm Saturday Kalamu ya Salaam and Kelly Harris-DeBerry read at Community Book Center to launch Kelly’s poetry CD, Revival.

& Sunday at 3 pm the Maple Leaf Poetry Reading Series hosts GROUP READING BY UNO MFA Creative writing students studying with John Gery and Carolyn Hembree.

Cognitive Disobedience December 4, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, FYYFF, New Orleans, The Journey, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Yesterday I walked away from the prospect of a job, a job job with health benefits for all the fun stuff that comes with growing old, life insurance to replace the policy I just lost (again, like my COBRA over and over) because, well, Aetna. Back to Moloch, with banker’s hours and all the usual holidays paid. Back to the racket, automating ways to shake you by the ankles until all the money falls out. A job job, in an office full of clones who wear a full undershirt beneath a polo shirt, with razor sharp faces and clean shaven hair. Razor cut. Razor. Cut. The blood of the lambs on my hands.

Again.

But I might die tonight.

Radiant Brains December 2, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Poetry, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Poetry as discipline (yes, mistress) the painstaking arrangement of the gunpowder flowers pounding the Anglo-Saxon drum of controlled explosions the crackling shower of non sequiturs of my radiant brains        Klonopin espresso shots! Wallace Stevens Terry Gilliam! Fellini Bugs Bunny! Gasoline-flavored rainbows! Clem and the Amazing Technicolor Radio!        the whizzing pinball governor humming Apple bomb chords of tilt resonating Steven Gould’s piano.

The trick is putting Xmas back neatly in its box–not a jingling crinkle out of place–with a just-so paper lady bow.