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Bellona on the Bayou February 26, 2008

Posted by The Typist in 504, Carnival, cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, literature, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, NOLA, postdiluvian, Toulouse Street.
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In reponse to Greg’s suggestion in the comments on “That Bright Moment” that the real connection between postdiluvian New Orleans and the work of Samuel R. Delaney is the dystopic novel Dhalgren, I offer you this Scorpion-like figure I encountered while waiting on Royal Street for the Krewe of St. Anne to come by.

The scorpions in Dhalgren are criminal gangs that decorate themelves in elaborate electronic costumes that project figures of light such as dragons around them. This picture (which I hadn’t originally posted to my Carnival Flikr set) reminded me more than anything else of what I have seen of my mental pictures of those scorpions. I wish that thought had popped into my mind on Mardi Gras so I could have asked this fellow (who sat at the next table at the coffee shop for quite a while and bummed a cigarette) if that was in fact what he intended.

Odd Words June 30, 2010

Posted by The Typist in Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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Well it’s Wednesday and I’ve really got nothing to spice up the listings. In fact, I don’t have any listings. And I completely forgot to post an Odd Words last week until it was about 11 at night and all I could do was groan and drag myself to bed and think, well, better luck next week. There was a large crowd to hear poet, playwright and story teller extraordinaire Jonathan Kline at the Goldmine in spite of my failure.

And in spite of this reminder that I’m mostly doing this to entertain myself, I’m back although I have something else I really should be doing right now and I’m basically stealing time from sleep for this. Which is silly because I Got Nothing.

Except maybe this: there’s a feature on The Millions called Difficult Books which returned this week featuring Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany and, well, yes it’s a hard read no doubt, vanishing deep into the character’s head about halfway through by way of his hallucinatory journal, itself an alternate version of the novel. I found it strangely satisfying as I only got around to it a few years ago after returning to New Orleans’ real-world apocalypse and finding a powerful resonance in the bizarre adventures of the plot and its idiosyncratic characters, not one of whom you’d give a second glance passing on a bicycle in the Marigny. If they had decided to close the city after Katrina but abandoned the die hard downtown folks to stay you would likely end up with something uncannily like Dhalgren’s Bellona. Not long after I finished the book I found this fellow’s exoskeletal costume at Mardi Gras immediately put me in mind of novel’s scorpion street gangs. If you are headed to the beach (OK, maybe not) and you are ready to crawl into the shade and completely leave reality behind without waking up with a hangover or wandering naked somewhere looking for your clothes, I suggest you give Dhalgren a whirl.

§ The Maple Leaf takes the Fourth off. And the Dinky Tao Poetry Series continues its long running non-occurrence on Tuesdays (although I’m hatching a plan to revive it with my friend Sam, since it still comes up in the local newspaper listings). There are no interesting book signings. Nothing. It’s the Fourth of July in New Orleans and that means nothing is going on except the sweaty crowds in the Quarter trying not to pass out before the fireworks, or (better yet) staying in Mid-City and reminding ourselves of the consequences of mixing fireworks and alcohol. Again.

I have a novel idea (Ed.’s note–please untie me before he makes any more bad puns): maybe this is the ideal weekend to pick up Dhalgren or Gravity’s Rainbow or Ulysses. Go spend some serious cross-eyed quality time decoding Dylan Thomas. Or even make your way at last through the dreadful Tennyson-on-Seconal wasteland of the later works of Auden. Somewhere on your shelves is That Book You’ve Been Meaning To Read/Finish. You’ve got a long weekend and nothing else to do.