Yorick February 10, 2016Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, The Dead, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist.
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Yeah, I knew him. Nice guy, what kind always finish last. Or first.
Artifice January 1, 2016Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, quotes, The Narrative, The Typist.
Tags: Charles Bukowski
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since fact is an artifice of fiction let’s call this fiction so like all good boys and girls we can relax
― Charles Bukowski, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck
Best Of Cast Off Sculpture December 27, 2015Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, art, FYYFF, je me souviens, New Orleans, Pedestrian I, Remember, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, WTF.
Tags: City Park, Delgado Museum of Art, NOMA
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The Forgotten Labor Of Heracles: The Slaying of the Psychotropic Bacon at the Gates of Taste
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.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales December 25, 2015Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street, Xmas, Yule.
Tags: Dylan Thomas
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The Junkie’s Xmas December 24, 2015Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
Tags: A Junkie's Christmas, Wiliam S. Buroughs
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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, 2015Posted 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, 2015Posted 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?
(That’s It For) The Other One October 6, 2015Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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He ends his day by slipping comfortably into the third person, as into a pair of slippers formed to his feet by long use. This shift is not among his many disorders, those of the mind, of the body, the derangement of his bookshelves or the irregular draping of his room in laundry. This narrative shift out of of day’s I shall, I must, I have forgotten, I must never into a comfortable distance quiets the incessant, neurotic scissoring of memory and its demon familiars, regret and doubt.
The plural simply won’t do. What shall we have for dinner evokes loneliness, the absence of so much as a cat. He had a cat once, his daughter’s, which he watched die, taking with it the last possibility of a plural innocence. His son, who loved the cat perhaps more than his daughter, assisted at the end, and by doing so helped erased their childhoods from his life.
He is incapable as that other, self-aware and self-centered person of meditation, of stilling the mind. The inexorable scissors, clattering from the moment he awakes–often bodily exhausted and short of sleep–that slice open the envelope of worry and empty its contents onto the bed. Then it is did I? Will I? How shall I and so on to coffee and a cigarette, his ego’s faithful companions in preparing to confront the mirror, his I standing their red-veined and unfocused, stumped by the choice between washcloth and toothbrush, the dangerous razor.
He lives to survive another day, his I fixed on the computer screen and the unending stream of work. To Them he is a third person, a distant figure time zones and plane changes away, a receptacle for tasks to be emptied every night, but this is not him, and evening’s distanced and remote person is his own creation, something beyond Their reach. He lights a cigarette and reaches for his book or his e-reader, ready to surrender to someone else’s story, allowing their omniscience to fill his world with hims and hers and them.
Later he will brush his teeth and wash up without reference to his tiny shaving mirror, the bathroom conveniently disarranged with a set of shelves before him and the mirror off to the side. He knows where his mouth is, the familiar shape of his face under the washcloth. The brush and rag are always in the same place, one bit of stability among all his disorders, the unstable arrangement of his unwashed dishes faintly rattling as he passes, the dishabille of his bedclothes, the absence of pajamas in his overstuffed drawers. When he is done he can pass through the house switch by switch, enveloping it in a comfortable darkness. There is no need for his I to guide him down his familiar path.
Sleep will come without too much difficulty as long as it is he and only he who climbs into bed, having closed his I hours ago.
Crabapple Lane June 27, 2015Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, Poetry, The Pointless, The Typist, Toulouse Street, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
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Happiness is for saps.
You see them paired in
matching polos and shorts,
their fat pink squealing children
on even, green lawns.
Science we find is wrong.
The universe does not rush into
their vacuous block
to fill the gaping void yawning
in formless boredom.
There is this skulking skunk.
He squats inside my chest
I want to yank him out, toss him
butt first in their yard.
You’re Only Coming Through In Wave 1 Release May 15, 2015Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, Moloch, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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This week has been more fun than pulling cactus spines out of your hide, but not as much fun as falling drukenly into the cactus. I am listening to the solo works of Syd Barrett VERY LOUD while sipping a beer as I finish up work. There is an unopened bottle of the sugar skull tequila, intended initially as decorative, staring at me suggestively (cut that out!) from the mantle.
This is certain to end well.
The madcap laughed at the man on the border
Hey ho, huff the talbot
The winds they blew and the leaves did wag
And they’ll never put me in their bag
The seas will reach and always see
So high you go, so low you creep
The winds it blows in tropical heat
The drones they throng on mossy seats
The squeaking door will always creep
Two up, two down we’ll never meet
So merrily trip for good my side
Please leave us here
Close our eyes to the octopus ride!
At 5 o’clock in the afternoon, or perhaps 7:45 April 18, 2015Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, Fortin Street, fuckmook, FYYFF, ghosts, je me souviens, New Orleans, postdiluvian, Remember, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Metairie encroaches from the East, swallows Carrollton Avenue. Brooklyn comes from the west across the Industrial Canal in a pathetic, staged white second line. We lost the north when they made Lakeshore Drive the private dog park of the of Lake neighborhoods along Robert E, Lee. To the south loom the gas-flare, metal islands of BP, Mobile, Exxon.Sucking the black ghosts of marshes long past was not enough.The water must run red as blood.
There is no retreat, no defense. When America erupted in flames and east Detroit held off the National Guard for two days, nothing happened here. Riot is not our style. Its too damn hot and a lot of work.
You are left only one choice, to chose the place, the once familiar corner with its shuttered store, and the moment (Esplanade in the rare, painterly golden light of late afternoon, perhaps) when New Orleans dies inside you.
Sixth months ain’t no sentence February 20, 2015Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
Six months I have wandered and sought, excavated closets, scoured books, and read the crazed fragments of once familiar streets ( heaving in gentle tectonics, from dust to dust) & not even the iridescent scatter of glitter is enough.
Somebody, somebody must hold the key.
Radio Free Toulouse February 15, 2015Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, Leon Russell, New Orleans, NOLA, pirates, Shield of Beauty, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Resumes its broadcast schedue from our pirate tramp freighter located somewhere in the radar clutter of The Gulf.
We are prepared to repel boarders from BP’s Coast Guard and the forces of any other nation which does not recognize our right to Be. Watch out for the transdermally pychotropic water cannons, motherfuckers One blast and you’ll be Ours
Diary of a Hermit Crab Home Worker January 20, 2015Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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February 26. Covered 172 miles. Cloudy sky, grey sea. Nothingness.
February 27, Covered 94 miles. Blue sky, blue sea. Nothingness.
– Log entries from Bernard Moitessier’s The Long Way
[Loop: Marlboro Theme Song Performed by the Incredible String Band} January 15, 2015Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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After a long day, toss all those hours of staring at cryptic test cases written by people with marginal English language skills who are clearly feasting on brownies they are not sharing with you into the back of your pickup, spit on your hands, and crawl behind the wheel with a Frosty 40 of Tree Frog. Peel out, spreading gravel and greenhouse gasses everywhere, Adolph’s mountains spewing spring water in the background while the swine soar on the katabatic drafts and the eagles squeal as the winds flatten their pens. It’s Syd Barrett Time.
Knife Switch December 31, 2014Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Or, The ritualistic use of tobacco and whiskey in modulating irregularities in pharmacologically induced states of a socially integrated and productive equilibrium perceived by the subject as happiness.
One whiskey, two whiskeys, three whiskeys, snore. The addition of Buproprion to an SSRI regimen to combat a lethargy born of a crisis in the ability to give a fuck is not indicated if significant sleep disturbances occur. Such disturbances lead to a reliance on coffee (praised be its name) to overcome the loss of sleep resulting in an aggravation in sleep disturbances. Don’t drink so much coffee is not included in the detailed, agate-type instructions and cautions.
Socially integrated. Forget Integration of the Self, the once Holy Grail attainable by psychotherapy or a whispered, $300 personal mantra.
‘Selfhood’ or complete autonomy is a common Western approach to psychology and models of self are employed constantly in areas such as psychotherapy and self-help. Edward E. Sampson (1989) argues that the preoccupation with independence is harmful in that it creates racial, sexual and national divides and does not allow for observation of the self-in-other and other-in-self.
The very notion of selfhood has been attacked on the grounds that it is seen as necessary for the mechanisms of advanced capitalism to function. In Inventing our selves: Psychology, power, and personhood, Nikolas Rose (1998) proposes that psychology is now employed as a technology that allows humans to buy into an invented and arguably false sense of self. In this way, ‘Foucault’s theories of self have been extensively developed by Rose to explore techniques of governance via self-formation…the self has to become an enterprising subject, acquiring cultural capital in order to gain employment’, thus contributing to self-exploitation.
Integration, then, into what? My current state of disintegration–indicated by the inability to give a fuck, by anti-social tendencies bordering on agoraphobia relieved only by occasional atavistic, narcissistic forays into barflyism–is unlikely to be relieved by anything short of a trip to Room 101. Some breakthrough is required but in my current state of disinsurance it will have to be a breakthrough of my own making.
There are a million doors in the naked city, exterior and interior, almost all of them painted in a uniform palette of whites . How then to find the one that may be opened by the application of the correct bottle (larger or smaller), by incantation (Speak, Friend) or by kicking the fucker down? What lies beyond it, in the magical land where old dogs learn new tricks? (Everybody’s going to be happy/That means you and me, my love). Or is consideration of this possibility simply another trap set by society to keep us moving along (nothing to see here; you’ll be late for work), a new flavor of savior on a stick?
In the event of an emergency, are you able to fill in the blank seat-back card in the pocket in front of you and execute what you have written?
30 Century Man December 11, 2014Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
The video is a complete waste of your time: full of sound and worry, signifying nothing. I created it a few years ago Christmas after spending an entire day watching a House marathon, an activity for me that is not far removed from standing on a ledge throwing pigeons at the fire department while shouting gibberish.
Perhaps it’s not a complete waste of time. Not of mine, at least. Despite any desire to vanish into Africa or the South Pacific, I am not that likely to jump the next freight west to search for the ghost of Charles Bukowski in the sun-shocked underworld that is L.A. Maybe it’s just something I needed to get out of my system, a swollen psychological boil painfully anticipating the sitz bath of annihilation.
If this video speaks to you in some way, it may not be too late to get help. I find the drug stores in New Orleans among the finest in the world. You traverse the liquor aisle to reach the pharmacist.
Fires of the Season November 22, 2014Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
Tags: death, solstice, Xmas
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Walking out for a forbidden cigarette I take a turn around the lot and notice the neighbor’s overgrown oleanders are in full fall bloom, while the seed pods of the adjacent Chinese lanterns have withered to a color somewhere between grocery bag and old parchment (and just as fragile could I reach them): the same old story–the one the crow knows–of the turning of the wheel. I am so engrossed in my new job I did not notice the odd oaks across the street and just outside my window had turned, but walking to Canseco’s Grocery I did see one of the deciduous cypress dressed in scarlet and yellow, the color of the fires we light against the cold and dark, the bonfires to guide Papa Noel and the ones once lit on Orleans avenue, dressed in the colors of the diminishing sun.
Having lost the thread of Xianity long ago, I dread the holidays. I miss the orgiastic liquor and fireworks around the bonfire on Orleans, a proper New Year’s display to call back the sun. Run around it three times, close enough for a mild, one-sided sunburn, for good luck in the New Year. Sadly, two city administrations have thought otherwise, even after we raised the money to get a welding cloth to put under it and agreed the NOPD could fence it off. The fire department was often held up as the scapegoat for the ban, but as a small crowd of us who helped make the last bonfire happen left a meeting with the police and fire chief, a high official of the firefighter’s union pulled us aside and said, “we are with you,” the men of Engine 35 thought lucky to watch over the festivities every year.
It is time to clean up my backyard, which the house painter turned into a white trash tableau of studied neglect. It looks like the still in the garage exploded, but most of my things are in a random pile in the center. I need to scrub the black mold off the chairs and spread the black plastic lawn rug I bought because the landlord’s man is slow to mow. I can flip over the rusting fire pit, give it a quick shot of Rustoleum for Grills and take my chances on the good will of the sparks that flit about like dangerous faeries with a will of their own. Behind the flames I will light a candle before the Green Man who watches over my little bit of weed-wild meadow..
There are spirits in need of propitiation if my own are not to remain mired in the dark. Yesterday my eldest and dearest sibling turned 69. My mother is now officially on Hospice Care, free to refused her dinner and medications, only oxygen and morphine as required. I went to see her the evening after what gave every indication of a heart attack. She picked a bit at her food because I was there. She tried to take her pills but the orderly forgot to raise the bed and almost chocked her. My sister knows she is not taking her medication or eating but she always puts on a good show for the boys. Or rather, for me. I am the only one she has left besides grand children. Someday the paper will read, “preceded in death by her loving husband Sidney Joseph and her son Paul Omer.”
Will she fulfill the holiday wishes of the statisticians and hang on until after the holidays? She is a Hilbert bone and sinew, built to last. Still, she will be the chair that is not there when my nephew takes us all out for Thanksgiving. Knowing our family, I am thinking of taking a cab, although Ralph’s on the Park is halfway between P’s house and mine and within staggering distance.. In these circumstances intimations of mortality are inevitable but not to be confused with inclinations. What I post on Facebook after a bit too much rum are not bits of morbidity but a few of the more beautiful expressions of death that I know.
If Coca Cola’s jolly red elf and the hanged god bring no solace, the trees remind me there is always comfort and color in a fire, to warm the hands and backside, and shed an uncertain light on an uncertain world. The firefly fairy sparks call to the things half seen in the flickering, just out of the corner of the eye, that delight in man and his fire, spirits of fire and earth drawn toward light. Perhaps a prayer is in order, starting with the green man who guards my house, that I not burn it or any of the neighbors’down. Or better yet, just sit as the fire burns itself down, leaving winking embers and the scent of the season ascending to the heaven the earthly flames reach for but cannot, the solstice incense that comforts men in the dark.
Spill That Wine Dig That Girl November 21, 2014Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist.
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Morning will come before you know it pouring through the door like the boiling oil of hash browns on the side. It is not time yet time for breakfast. Another rum? I could think of a hundred good reasons why not but none of them is rum, the liquor of the loa, the universal Pan-Caribbean elixir of frantic ecstasy, the shuffle and the dub, the wiggle of the skiffle, the because of Carnival.
Bring it dawn. I’m steady, and ready to roll. Sunny side up.
Give me November 19, 2014Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, FYYFF, Moloch, New Orleans, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free so that we may burn them.
I have bills to pay and you, Mr. and Mrs. I Love America Look The Flag Is Right There On Our Credit Card, are It. I am Elmer Gantry with a PowerPoint tour of hell and a Visio process map of how to get there.
“If you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you’ve still got a soul left to lose”
― Charles Bukowski
Shellhenge October 24, 2014Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, Fortin Street, New Orleans, NOLA, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Fall, Stonehenge, weather
A new sign of fall: the sun has crawled from behind One Shell Square’s fifty stories and shines into my eyes when rising as if it were the Stonehenge of Poydras Street. I had not considered before exactly how the shadows fall. I had simply started taking off my sunglasses as I trudged from my lot beneath the Claiborne overpass toward my temporary new job in a low-rise (eight story), mid-century modern building on Perdido Street. Virtually nothing in this city runs precisely east and west, or north and south. Canal Street runs toward the lake and fairly true on a north-westerly course, but the streets on each side are called north on one side and south on the other. My personal bit of Poydras does tend a compass point to the east of Canal, so it is not surprising that I should discover this little astronomical signal of the change of seasons.
Here the air is everything. The cool has come, the humidity has gone down, and the sun can otherwise do as it pleases. It is not an overwhelming fact of life as it is in August, merciless until interrupted by an afternoon thunderstorm, only to return and steam the streets dry. It is not the sun I rarely saw in North Dakota in winter, arriving and departing work in twilight, or the happy orb that looked of four o’clock on June nights when I was trying to put children to bed at eight. The air governs here, the sun simply playing its part to warm the air and the oceans where the big storms are born. In other places I have lived people will take in a deep breath of brisk fall air but are quickly distracted by the turning of trees, and all too soon by signs of frost. Only a few shrubs (one I planted once but cannot name, that grows along a building on Poydras) and the cypress trees turn color. I will have to check a particular stand with their grey bears that hide off Marconi between the stadium and the attractions up towards City Park Avenue. But the air—the cracking open of windows painted to reluctance, leaving open the door to the sounds of nightlife on my street as I sit in front—the air, the cool air is everything.
That Wound That Never Heals October 21, 2014Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Frederico Garcia-Lorga, La Luna, Luna
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When the Muse sees death appear she closes the door, or builds a plinth, or displays an urn and writes an epitaph with her waxen hand, but afterwards she returns to tending her laurel in a silence that shivers between two breezes. Beneath the broken arch of the ode, she binds, in funereal harmony, the precise flowers painted by fifteenth century Italians and calls up Lucretius’ faithful cockerel, by whom unforeseen shadows are dispelled.
When the angel sees death appear he flies in slow circles, and with tears of ice and narcissi weaves the elegy we see trembling in the hands of Keats, Villasandino, Herrera, Bécquer, and Juan Ramón Jiménez. But how it horrifies the angel if he feels a spider, however tiny, on his tender rosy foot!
The duende, by contrast, won’t appear if he can’t see the possibility of death, if he doesn’t know he can haunt death’s house, if he’s not certain to shake those branches we all carry, that do not bring, can never bring, consolation.
With idea, sound, gesture, the duende delights in struggling freely with the creator on the edge of the pit. Angel and Muse flee, with violin and compasses, and the duende wounds, and in trying to heal that wound that never heals, lies the strangeness, the inventiveness of a man’s work.
— Garcia-Lorca, Theory and Play Of The Duende</blockquote>
Le mal du pays October 19, 2014Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, home, Murder, New Orleans, The Dead, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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‘Le mal du pays.’ It’s French. Usually its translated as ‘homesickness’ or ‘melancholy.’ If you put a finer point on it, it’s more like ‘a groundless sadness called forth in a person’s heart by a pastoral landscape.’ It’s a hard expression to translate accurately. — Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukiru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgramage
Homesickness. Home sickness. Home. Sickness. “…they are the figures in the frame that make the landscape.” There is nothing pastoral about the Upper Ninth Ward. Taking the shortcut to Poland down Galvez to avoid the no left turn signs, the Musician’s Village is just a few blocks over but you don’t see the pretty stick-and-Tyvek houses. You see the aging wood-frame shotguns sagging with and into the ground, come to a stop at Poland across from a scrap yard filled with rusty anchors.
A man gunned down in the middle of a street in the Lower 9th Ward Friday night has been identified by the Orleans Parish coroner’s office. Malik Braddy, 18, of New Orleans was killed shortly after 10 p.m. in the 1600 block of Lizardi Street.
When I come to post here the dashboard shows statistics for most viewed posts and pages. The leaders are always the list of victims I started several years ago, and have semi-abandoned. (Somehow I have to find time to finish 2013 before 2014 is over). Melvin Labranch III.
Once upon a time downtown in the nine, what it don’t mind dyin’ Sworn to a life of crime, was a youngin’ standing only 5’5, big money on his mind Clothes ain’t wrinkled with his hand on the iron, shot six times Shot six times, ran in from of my mom (dear lord) — Downtown, Kidd Kidd
People come looking for Labranch, the subject of the R&B style hip hop elegy by his cousin, who elsewhere in the song sings “somebody done killed my brother, now I gotta get back/let ’em know cause a nigga gotta feel that/Sitting shotgun with the shotgun: when you hear the shots come, nigga don’t run.” The song is a hit of sorts, which is I guess what drives the traffic: the celebration of a child “sworn to a life of crime” and someone “riddin on those niggas” looking for revenge.
Guess this is the game we chose to play Crazy how it’s always been the same.
Has it? Has it always been this way when I was growing up on the Lakefront just off Robert E. Lee Boulevard, and the Times-Picayune and States-Item just didn’t bother with dead black me? I don’t think so. There is nothing pastoral about the Upper Ninth Ward, but there is a terrible sadness. There is as I suggested above, a home sickness, the old style proud of the working class–black and white–that was once settled with fists that has metastasized into a violence most Americans only read about in the paper, stories of some far away country, and then only the body count of the American soldiers, not the million and a half Arabs dead for what? Killing random people because they live in the wrong ward of the planet just for revenge. A friend went ballistic on Facebook after attending a memorial for the man everyone in her hood in the upper nine knew as Sappy. She was mostly going after the hipsters in the same bar looking for food but avoiding any contact with the largely black crowd at the memorial, black except for her and her partner. She grew up in San Diego in poverty to match any sad story from the Ninth Ward, but chooses New Orleans. She lives there, running a small business with her partner while both work part time, and make themselves a part of their stretch of St. Claude. What is sad about Sappy is not the hipsters gathered in a tight, white knot at the other end of the bar is that he was a country kid from Mississippi who also chose New Orleans, made a living as a minimum wage worker at Rally’s. When he was gunned down over some stupid argument in the parking lot of Church’s Chicken on St. Claude he asked the woman who drew the gun, “Are you going to shoot me?” She did. Was his tone of voice confrontational, the braggadocio that is part of a life in that part of town, or was he incredulous that some dumb argument could turn so quickly to a gun? I like to imagine the latter, but either way it doesn’t matter. The man born Derrick Christmas is cold in the ground. It was not his first brush with senseless violence. He was the victim of a vicious beatdown in a bathroom with Harrah’s for brushing a man’s shoulder. To chose to live in New Orleans is to chose to live with the body count, to walk back to your car in the relative safety of the Marigny like a soldier on patrol, every sense hyper-alert, suddenly sober as the adrenaline prepares you for the man passing on the street who might be a road side bomb waiting to go off. To chose to live in the Ninth Ward is to put your plastic piece down on the Monopoly block where many go directly to jail, do not pass home and collect $200. No real hope going in, less coming out. And too many do not pass home but go directly to the cemetery. How to live in this city when every morning I go to the blog to grab the day’s Odd Words to post and see my statistics, the numbers next to the list of the dead. Sometimes they leave comments, as I ask, the way people leave plastic flowers, bottles of a favorite rum, a faded picture in the spot where another one fell. I don’t need to open the newspaper to be reminded that I live in a city at war with itself. How to live in this city? When my daughter came back from a semester in Amsterdam there was a seminar they were all required to take on readjustment to one’s home culture. I only had a week of jet lag, and a second week frantically finishing a paper and a manuscript for the courses I took there. It was only then that the culture shock began to sink in. I met an old friend for drinks and after walking back to her house to sit on the patio on Conti Street. When I left, she insisted there was no way I was walking alone through the quarter the nine blocks to Buffa’s, or standing on the corner of Esplanade and Rampart waiting for the last 93 bus to take me home. She shoved money in my hands and walked me up to the corner for a cab. It wasn’t safe, she insisted, to walk nine blocks through my town, although I count myself a street-wise former quarter rat, keep to the well-lit, no-parking side of the street. Too many robberies, and the latest craze, senseless beatdowns. How many died while I was wandering Europe? I could consult my local newspaper’s helpful online Murders page. Does your hometown newspaper have a Murders page? How to live in this city? Those who know me know I have sworn a blood oath to New Orleans as serious and final as any gang initiation, and yet I find I can’t stop asking this question. I know a woman alone could not walk the dark streets of Rome or Barcelona as I did, but I wandered lost and enchanted in the Barri Gòtic looking for the familiar square that had become my landmark, from which I could easily find my way out of the maze and back to my hostel. Now I am home and am told I dare not walk Burgundy or Dauphine nine blocks to get a burger. “A groundless sadness called forth in a person’s heart by a pastoral landscape.” Were I to look back at my pictures, the view from the castle in the Tyrol of northern Italy, the vistas of Granada from atop the Alhambra, my memories of Lorca’s beloved vega (and that was le mal du pays, but not homesickness but rather the pain of leaving, of going home to the place I love); in those visions it is not a groundless sadness in the pastoral landscape. It is a sadness born not of homesickness but home sickness, a culture shock the two women returning from the castle to San Diego will never know. It is a deep sadness, born of blood, like the Deep Song of the gypsies of southern Spain, the black and terrible angel or familiar demon of Duende that lives deep in the gut, born of love and suffering. Le mal du pays.
Box Three, Spool Five October 3, 2014Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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How to live in this town when every saxophone is a glittering instrument of pain, its every note a howl of anguish?
I can’t tell you this story, not unless I am prepared to call in the final airstrike: the raging curtain of napalm on Kurtz’ temple over the mournful sound of the Doors.
“Calling PBR Street Gang, Calling PBR Street Gang. This is Almighty. Do you read me? Over.”
I have bared my soul here but there are limits. There are other souls I love more than the fitful god they say created them and I will not reveal their secrets, but how to live in this town when every saxophone comes in under what resounds like the final trumpet, wails painfully with the most human voice of any instrument built by man. There are songs I will never be able to listen to again.
I have walked the darkest streets of Barcelona at unreasonable hours and not heard a gunshot. I can manage enough Spanish to scan the headlines that still hang from kiosks in Europe, and no where did I read of the kill count. In Granada I stood in the Huerta de San Vincente and thought of Ezra Pound, and was ashamed. I live in the world Pound warned us of, when you subtract his predictable anti-Semitism, leaving only the banks and the war machine. I live in the world Garcia-Lorca died defying, the machine gun Inquisition with no questions, no promise of redemption through confession.
Suffering is. If I met the Buddha on the road I would kill him. If I happened upon Calvary I would weep at the brutal senselessness of it all. I would become, as in Gaudi’s masterpiece, the faceless person imprinted with suffering, his Veronica. Because suffering is is larger than any individual.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
— Psalm 13, which I have quoted long ago
What do you do when the magic is gone? Once I bled for this city, gave friends up to the soft ground who shared my love and anger. Today I wonder why.
I think it is time to pull out the expensive BBC Collection of Samuel Beckett, to listen to Krapp’s Last Tape.
Box Three, Spool Five: the perfect absurdity of the banana peel, tragedy not comedy, the traps we set for ourselves.
…” clear to me at last that the dark I have always struggled to keep under is in reality”…
Ambulatory at Best October 3, 2014Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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I awoke this morning in in my tub in the remains of an ice bath swaddled in crudely-wrapped bandages, the apparent victim of an involuntary fuckectomy. I had already somewhat anesthetized myself with three pints and three shots in cross-wired celebration of my first paycheck in nine months and learning on the same day that my recruiter’s promised six month contract is in fact tied to a 12 week Statement of Work, and that my manifestly less productive predecessor burned a bunch of those weeks doing not much. There is no clarity on extension. So my new job will last about six weeks, maybe 10, but not six months. Better than Henry Chinaski in Factotum, which is absolutely the wrong book to be reading right now. I just finished Ham on Rye, but I’ve gone from the consolation that someone’s life is much worse than mine to the temptation to crawl into bed with a bottle.
Perhaps somewhere there is a network, a bounty system in which young IT contractors identify productive older contractors and have them taken out of the market to keep rates up by arranging these ambush fuckectomies. Now my ability to fully give a fuck is in an organ cooler passing as some construction worker’s lunch. The man in the truck bed is not a pick-up from the front of Home Depot but a sworn devotee of Santa Muerte. Under his shirt the haloed death’s head is tattooed in prison purple and the dull red of pilfered BIC pens and also underneath there is a submachine pistol. The bloody remains of my fuckectomy are off on its way to whomever doesn’t sufficiently give a fuck, but could afford to pay to steal someone else’s give-a-fuck-ability. Perhaps they are transplanted into burnt-out executives who can afford to have one to regain or even boost their ability to give a fuck, seven by 24 by 365 by the synced clock on the office smart phone, nine nines of ready to roll fuckability.
Ghosts of the Flood August 29, 2014Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, Corps of Engineers, Fargo, Federal Flood, Flood, FYYFF, Hurricane Katrina, je me souviens, memoir, postdiluvian, Shield of Beauty, The Dead, The Narrative, The Typist, We Are Not OK.
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” . . . so many, / I had not thought death had undone so many . . . ”
The Wasteland, T.S. Eliot
Sometimes I feel them, my wife told me, their spirits, as I’m driving down the street. All that suffering, she explains, all those people. As if 300 years of yellow fever and the lash, the lynchings and gansta gun battles weren’t enough to populate a parallel city of spirits in this place where tombs are mansions and burials a celebration, the Flood came.
Now there is a brooding presence even in the bright of day, looming over us all like a storm-bent house on the verge of collapse. These empty shells of former lives that line so many streets are a daily reminder of the vast catastrophe; the windows staring lifelessly at broken sidewalks, the facades washed pale and colorless. Each still bears the esoteric marks of the searchers that mimic the scratching on tombs in the old cemeteries, some the dreaded number at the bottom that totals up the lost.
The tally marked beneath the cross now rises to 1577, a crowed like that described by Eliot. I imagine not a host but solitary figures, the ghosts we know from childhood stories. In their newness to death, I picture them wandering as curious as children in the house of an aged aunt, getting underfoot and touching what they should not, interrupting and making unwelcome mischief. The brush of their passing is still strong enough to reach out and touch a good Catholic girl from North Dakota, one as innocent of the spiritualist shadows cast by every flickering candle flame before a New Orleans saint’s statue as a Midwesterner could possibly be.
Even the most rationale and disinclined among us imagine ghosts in a city this old, where the steamy air is a tangible presence on the skin and lights flash erratically in the night through the stirrings of the thick, tangled foliage, where the old houses creak and groan as they settle into the soft earth like old men lowering themselves into a chair. Once I wished to experience that touch of the other, a product of reading too much fantastic fiction. One of the signature scenes in film for me is John Cassavettes as a modern Prospero in The Tempest, standing in his urban tower and saying, “Show me the magic.” For him, the sky erupts in lightening. I would sometime catch myself whispering those words, but they were simply blown away by the night wind.
Then one bright August afternoon I was sitting in my idling car in my driveway in Fargo, North Dakota. At just before five o’clock that 29th of August a string of Carnival beads which hung from my rearview mirror–black and gold beads interspersed with black voodoo figures–suddenly burst. It seemed strange at the time that they would break as the car sat still, would break at the bottom and not at the top where they routinely rubbed against the mirror post, where the string was tied off, the knot weakening the line. It was not the way that I, as a sailor with some idea of how a line will wear, would expect them to break.
Perhaps the beads slid about at the end of the string as I drove around, causing the string to wear through at the bottom, so that it was inevitable that is where they would break first, given enough corners turned, sufficient applications of the accelerator and brake. The timing of just before five o’clock on that Monday in August of 2005 was just a coincidence, the inevitable laws of physics unfolding without regard for the observer and his sense of time.
Be careful what you wish for is the lesson we learned in a dozen fairy tales. The longed for touch of the other, and the tide that washed me up on the shores of my personal Ithaca, into this house on Toulouse Street in the only place I have ever thought of as home, came with a terrible price: both are tainted with graveyard dust. I would undo it all in instant, if I only knew how.
I’ve written this post before–or ones very like it, that tell this story of the broken beads–and then deleted them. It seems just too strange and personal a tale to share with just any aimless visitor wandering the Internet. What will people think? I ask myself in a voice that sounds vaguely like my mother’s. What if some future employer Googles up this article? worries the husband with a mortgage and two children to raise. I don’t expect them to understand.
Unless you learned from the maid that cleaned your family home that crossing two matchsticks in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary and sprinkling them with salt would bring rain, unless you believed that a piece of candy found on the ground could be made safe to eat by making the sign of the cross over it, if people did not come in the night and scratch odd marks on certain tombs on the grounds where your family is buried; if these were not part of your earliest experience, then my tale of the broken beads sounds like the product of an overworked imagination, something like Scrooge’s undigested bit of beef, a spot of mustard.
There is a spectre over New Orleans. As the August anniversary slipped away, I thought the grim, invisible cloud that hung over the city would begin to drift away. Instead, as the weeks passed, I was increasingly convinced: everyone in New Orleans was haunted. You could see it in people’s eyes, in the way they walked, hear it in the words they spoke, or the ones they wrote online as they spoke about their lingering pain. It was a spirit as much inside as out, the ghost in the machine that haunted our every step.
Then came the Monday Night Football game. I thought about the curse of the Superdome, the one that suggests destruction of the Girod Street Cemetery has cursed the ground and all who play there. Was the spirit of the people in the Dome that night just the charm needed to lay that particular haunting to rest, to break that curse? The morning after the strut in people’s step, the lilt of their voices told me that perhaps, just perhaps a healing had begun. We were not a city in need of an exorcism: we were the exorcism.
The ghost of the Flood is now a part of who we are. Ultimately it doesn’t matter if it is ectoplasm or the synchronized firing of a million neurons in ways science does not yet understand. In the end we have to come to term with it. This is something that we as Orleanians, the people who live next to our dead in their exclusive farbourgs of marble and white-washed stone, should be able to do.
We need to honor these dead and respect them, not with the weight of Confucian ancestor worship but in the simple spirit of the pre-Confucian Japanese who venerated odd stones, in the ways inherent in our own Latin roots mingled with the traditions of Africa, where the community of saints and the loa of Africa intersect. We don’t need an exorcism. We need a conjuration, a ritual that calls up the ghosts and honors them, that welcomes them in the way the way the devotees of Vodoun welcome the possession of the loa.
Perhaps next August 29, we should all tie a brown cord on some pillar or post of the house at just the point where we have carefully painted over the water stain. Just above that, we should mark in dust of ground gypsum the rescue symbol that is now as much a part of our selves and our city as the sign of the cross. We will do this to tell whoever is listening—Our Father, Oshun, Mother of God, ghosts of the Flood—we remember. We have suffered, and we will never forget the Flood and those who did not come through. We are the people who came through and came back. We remember the lost. We remember you. Je me souviens.
When we accept and embrace this spirit, perhaps the haunting will end once and for all, will not be a permanent pall over the city, a fearful sound in the night like a howling in the wires, or an unpleasant knotting in the stomach as we pass an abandoned house. It will cease when it becomes instead like the glinting of the sun on white-washed stone above the neat green grass of the cemeteries, just another comfortable part of who we are.
First posted Oct. 5, 2006 on Wet Bank Guide.
56: Heaven on 11 May 14, 2014Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Jimi is fixed on Channel 13. Davis paces behind him muttering, “if they only had a horn. ” “Quiet, Miles. Have a taste of this. Listen. This is what we could have done if we’d only had Time.”
“Time, gentleman. Choir and harp practice in fifteen minutes,” an angel reminds them.
“Fuck you and your white-ass cracker choir,” Miles said. “Tell the Big Man the Spheres are in here.” Miles plugs the Pyle and Polks into the TV and cranks it until the clouds dissolve and ranks of angels are left fluttring, wondering what exactly is happening.
The Big Man man walks in and plops on the couch next to Jimi. “Pass that shit over here.” Miles and Gabriel play their muted horns, trading licks with the Joel Harrison.
The Big Man takes a hellacious hit, expanding to galatic diameters and lets it out slowly, a celestial tempest. “You know that’s why I brought you here” the Big Man says.”I want them all to tempt the Devil and aim for heaven.”
“Shut up,” Miles says, “and listen.”
Two January 16, 2014Posted by The Typist in 365, A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, Odd Words, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Why 365? The idea took hold when I was on Facebook and looked at the column on the right and noticed this:
Past: Writer. Sadly apt, that.
I don’t know how I got into this situation. At one point I blamed the SSRI antidepressants and their nefarious side effects (the most amusing of which is the possible combination of anorgasmia and dangerously persistent erections; I asked my pill doctor if he was trying to kill a man my age with that). Anhedonia, the inability to feel strong emotions, I have addressed elsewhere at length in “Confessions of a Pill Eater“. That was a cheap and easy explanation, but not an entirely satisfactory one. At some point poems stopped coming, or rather the inspiration, the absolute drive to put a line, an idea onto paper, to explore it and expand it and finish it, simply stopped. Writing here on Toulouse Street trickled down to nothing. To quote myself from “Confessions”:
I have a blog where I wrote incessantly what I hope are phenomenal personal dispatches from a place of constant wonder, Leopold Bloom crossing Bourbon Street. It is sometimes a personal journal as well, what most writers keep but don’t publish. I have another Beckett quote in the sidebar of the blog: “I write about myself with the same pencil and in the same exercise book as about him. It is no longer I, but another whose life is just beginning.” I was not afraid to write about myself when it was true and right and burned to get out. The pieces don’t come anymore, the spontaneous energy that drove it all dissipated…I walk down the street and instead of that perfect moment of New Orleans for the blog I look for a good place to put out my cigarette.
That’s not entirely honest. I don’t walk down the street enough. My office is a corner of my living room and I spend entirely too much time in this 12 by 15 foot cave, the blinds drawn to keep the glare off the screen. This is easily fixed. As I am unemployed, I have the liberty and will take it to shower as soon as I finish this and head out the door, not to return until sometime tomorrow. Perhaps I will go to my girlfriends after class tonight and watch movies, drifting off to sleep on my side of the bed. Or maybe I will slip out after dinner to go see the Johnny Vidacovich trio, notebook in my bag, sipping beer at the bar and observing. Music, and jazz in particular, takes me out of myself, the performance itself a platform for reverie. I rarely sit through a session of the avant-garde jazz show Open Ears without pulling out my notebook.
My other writing block is actually a reading block. Between work and school and the obligation I felt for a while to attend simply everything literary in town in my Odd Words persona, I found less time to read for myself. If you do not read you will not write. You will not come across that line that makes you lay the book down and consider that cluster of words as if you were purchasing a gem stone, will not be driven from that meditation by an urge to rip those words out of their context and make them your own because it has opened a door. I go nowhere without a book in my bag, but lately never find time to take it out. If I am free in the evening I am as likely as not at my girlfriend’s house, where we can talk for hours in her two cat-tattered wing back chairs. At the point in such evenings when I would once take out a book a read, we are more likely to cuddle up in front of a movie on her laptop. As much as I love her companionship, I need to rip myself out of that comfortable cocoon more often. She can watch a movie or one of her television series with her headphones on while I read, or I can retire to my own couch back in the cave and plop myself on the couch to read myself to sleep as I was long wont to do.
The idea of myself as writer, the internal definition and not the cocktail party throw away line when asked what you do, grew out of my Wet Bank Guide blog starting in 2005 and grew and grew until the writing stopped coming. I fretted about it but did nothing concrete until I saw that small block of text on Facebook. Past: Writer. The part of my self-identify became over the last nine years as important to me as anything and everything else in life; its gradual loss as painful the divorce that transformation contributed to. To lose that would be to lose everything. Like every other writer I desire readers, recognition, occasional applause, but the real drive is internal and deeply personal. Losing it is like losing your libido or your taste for food. Ability becomes disability. Something is wrong and you ignore it like an itchy mole at your own peril.
The term writer’s block implies something beyond our control. We unbarricade the torn up street at our own peril. We cannot perform a home angioplasty. It is only truly a writer’s block if you have set yourself time and space for the work, and do it daily. You reach a point in a piece where the next line is not coming. Fine. Go read a book. Go take a walk and observe the world around you. It is not a writer’s block as much as a writer’s lock. Somewhere there is a key. Go write something else until you find that key. In my case, 365 is that time and space and that something else, the work. And when I am done writing this I will walk out the door with eyes and ears open and a fresh notebook in my bag.
One January 15, 2014Posted by The Typist in 365, A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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The spiders are after me.
Deep in the unseen catacombs of the Internet job placement services I have never heard of are out there, aggregating resumes from other sites, and matching me to jobs. Good-sounding jobs, right up the alley I have backed myself into, at the end of which I am frantically scrabbling at the chain-link fence in too-big shoes trying to escape. I almost escaped once. Terminated with a fat severance, I went back to school to finish the bachelors I abandoned 30 years ago. I didn’t get to the end of February before Moloch* was back, asking if I would be willing to come back as a contractor. At that moment I should have said no, and gone on with a full 15 hours. I would have graduated by now. I would be on a new path. At the time, with a daughter in Loyola and the prospect of a son who had not decided between UNO and Loyola’s music programs, I had to contemplate writing another fat check to the Jesuits if he choose Loyola.
I accepted, and dropped some classes and managed to work and finish the the remaining three.
Moloch. I have nailed my theses and neuroses very publicly to the portals of the Internet, and I know enough not to name my employer. Moloch seemed an apt choice. Ginsberg’s Whitmanesque rant against America has echoed in my skull since I first read it and the further I plodded up the corporate path, the louder it sounded.
I am not anxious to go back.
It is good to know those jobs are out there if I need them. All I need to do for now is to hew to my salary demands, knowing I have fallen into the ranks of contractors, am no longer a valuable member of the team but a disposable commodity, a human pencil. I have to hope they will realize I have no bachelors degree, demand too much money, wear my hair in a long queue (I think a skull pendent at the end best for these interviews) and they will decide to pass, all so I can finish school and take some time to decide what I will do next.
If I return to corporate America it will be on my own terms. I know how good I was at the job I no longer want, have a folder full of fawning references who will attest that I am King Kong Superman and quite a catch. The work-a-day playing field is so titled against us that most people cling desperately to niches lest they fall. If I return, it will be with an ice-axe confident in my hand, a disturbing gleam in my eye and the determination to blaze a new route.
* “Moloch, whose soul is electricity and banks…” — Allen Ginsberg, Howl. [Who’s in your wallet?]
Zero January 14, 2014Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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As I was checking out at the Botanica on Broad, the cheerful clerk asked how my new year was going or some such banal question. “You know, they say, how the first two weeks of the year go dictates the rest of your year.” If you’re just looking to pick up some pretty candles you could pass this off as mere clerk chatter, but if you are there on Serious Business, it sounds as ominous as the labels on many of the candles and jars of oils and powders for all purposes. In the two weeks leading up to Day 1 of 365—a series of daily posts to get myself writing again—I have become unemployed, acquired health insurance I can’t afford only after innumerable telephone calls into bottomless queues, attempted to rekindle an old friendship which ended up much the same as before in too much wine with a twist of bizarre, fell into a problem with someone close to me that falls somewhere between an episode of House and American Horror Story (hence the candles). I could go on. Should I even mention the crud and helpful chemicals that have turned my brain into a hideous midwestern Jello mold?
In spite of all this, Day 0 hints at possibilities. I have ordered or bought the books I need to finish my long ago abandoned bachelors in English Literature. It is a flimsy currency acquired over six scattered years, worth less than a year on the campaign trail or in the corporate labyrinth to my ability to examine, analyze, comprehend and communicate. Still, it is a goal, one that opens possibilities. I burned through a chapter of a simplistic course in basic anthropology and finished two chapters of Susan Sontag’s On Photography for a class in film and anthropology. I am done with English classes, and of the three classes I need to finish this last one promises to be interesting rather than rote recitation of nonsense as required.
I need to jettison the old, much as my ex deposited boxes on the porch filled with children’s memorabilia: notebooks, middle school art and poems, a plate my daughter made at the do-it-yourself ceramics shops. Why she sent all this to me I can only guess, but I suspect a desire to put 20 years of nuclear marriage behind her, to immerse herself in the present pleasure of two talented adult children. I immersed myself in all this as a tonic to wondering how to afford them in college when I am unemployed and determined to remain that way until May with the unemployment checks still flowing in. All of those construction paper and crayon masterpieces are a reminder that I have done some things right, that out of the bloody caul of childhood night terrors and teenage angst and clash something bright and beautiful is born.
Whether I will prove the old man at the Botanica wrong or leave a trail of ticket stubs from my own Grand Guignol remains to be seen.
Day 1 will dawn cold and bright with possibilities: brisk, invigorating, beckoning.
Welcome to 365.
The Strongman Weeps December 23, 2013Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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We are the ten-cent mirror in which they perceive their normality, the comfortably odd at a safe distance, caged and staged. Later they will gawk at the lithe aerialists, be distracted by lust for or envy of the magician’s smiling assistant while I herd the elephants toward the tent, just another animal in the menagerie. They will take home their greasy dreams like the stains of popcorn lard. I will retire to my caravan alone, listen to the magician’s silent assistant sing the arias of passion and dream of angels flying just out of reach.
Unhappy Hour October 29, 2013Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, Counting House, Dancing Bear, Moloch, New Orleans, Rebirth, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist.
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That hour when you realize you have lost the connection with the people you work with and wander off to another bar to drink alone. Some sadness is natural, after seven years together. Some anxiety at what comes next. Beneath it all is the realization that this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. At 56 and on your fourth “career” you remember that somewhere inside you is the spirit of Odysseus. You have lingered too long at the money tit of Circe. It is time to visit Tiresias.
You can’t get there on this bus October 18, 2013Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
“Victims 2010 91 searches”.
That is what it’s come to, really: a catalogue of the dead. And Odd Words, but in life as in literature it’s the dead who get the attention. Odd Words lives on Facebook, mostly. This is just a convenient place to store the column, words buried with a telephone.
Even the peaceful fields of Arles can drive you mad, and it has been rather quiet here, lately: a book of photographs I am less and less inclined to open, because I’m not that person anymore.
I write about myself with the same pencil and in the same exercise book as about him. It is no longer I, but another whose life is just beginning. – Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
I’m not sure who I am just right now but I can’t complain about that. It is all part of a process, a methodical accident prompted by the subconscious, by events larger than myself, by a tiny piece of magic: a string of beads hanging from my rearview mirror that decided, while the car was at rest, to burst one August afternoon. I still keep what are left of those beads, the little black voodoo men who hung from the bottom, but these are a memento, not a fetish. They hold memory but not power. The process continues. The hollowness of not knowing who going where is sometimes an aching cavity, and sometimes the space through which cherry blossoms fall to earth.
I have a blog where I wrote incessantly what I hope are phenomenal personal dispatches from a place of constant wonder, Leopold Bloom crossing Bourbon Street . . . The whimsical distractions that turned into poems don’t come anymore. I walk down the street and instead of that perfect moment of New Orleans for the blog I look for a good place to put out my cigarette.
I wrote that a while back as a description of over-medication, not depression, but I was diagnosed with a melancholic personality. (Looks around office for jars of leaches). I swallow my Jetson’s breakfast like a good fellow. Enough has been said about depression, antidepressants and writing so I won’t go there. I did a good bit of writing after posting Confessions of a Pill Eater, but not much of it here. Then it just stopped again, my life becoming a centrifugal melee of Too Much Everything, and writing tapered off to nothing. The listings. Odd jottings. The quotes I posted on Tumblr that I used to post here.
Toulouse Street is just a memory, and the Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans that were its reason to exist come less and less often. Perhaps Odd Words needs a home of its own.
Sometimes the littlest things can prompt me to write: a fresh notebook aching to be filed, an idle hour in the coffee shop.
Maybe it is time for a new notebook.
Complicated Life September 10, 2013Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, NOLA, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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The Wrath of Frog August 15, 2013Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Great lashings of rain like the wrath of Frog making the world over for the sins of men. Streets run rivulets & storm wash (do not cross when) peaked in white & swallowing cars & lapping at the stoups iron storm covers dance & rattle & the beer can chicken bone cigarette butt flotsam tumbles past visions of the sins we ought repent but every flood passes in its time & in the low lots all frogdom will sing with delight & we will sit again on the stoup with beer & cigarette & listen & take joy in their singing.
Certainly August 13, 2013Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, New Orleans, quotes, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
Tags: anais nin
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Daydream Believer April 8, 2013Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, Shield of Beauty, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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The tragic, formulaic sitcom of my life, as viewed with excessive empathy which renders too much of comedy painful. [I watched Synechdoche, N.Y. several times before someone pointed out it was a dark comedy.] Swallowing the draft of poison every day until I become invincible. Possible side effects include madness and sharing too much in writing.
“You give me a reason to live
You give me a reason to live
You give me a reason to live…”
— “You Can Keep Your Hat On”
The Dream Eater December 22, 2012Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, Fortin Street, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
The city swallows dreams as it does the cars of the morning commute. Approaching from the east barricaded exits to nowhere stand as monuments to the vanity of speculators imagining hydrologically impossible towns, an endless extension of the city’s fringes farther into the dissolving marsh. The closer you approach, the towers of downtown bathed in a damp haze, the city appears like Atlantis ascending to reveal itself to a new age but this is just another soluble delusion. The exits to nowhere, the road collapsing into the soft earth which rolls the car like a small boat or drums a rattling tattoo, are reminders that the waters are gradually reclaiming the black muck bottom of forgotten dinosaur oceans, washed down by continental rivers, returning itself to the sea.
Every boarded corner barroom with its murals for Regal Beer is a dream. Canal Street with its tourist streetcars and its empty sailor’s stores is a dream. The mansions of forgotten cotton along St. Charles Avenue are a dream. The Lakefront shuttered at dusk against the predation of old fishermen and young lovers is a dream. The swallowed dreams confront us everywhere like empty bowls with the crazed scrapings of forgotten suppers, rattle in our ears like a bottle tree. They suck at our ankles like quicksand but the natives know the trick of crossing. We quicken our steps toward the corner spilling music and beer into the street, moving toward gumbo and corner smokers and everywhere the brass alleluia and the African drum. We move beneath the notice of the Manhattan-fashioned condos of the New Americans. Their dreams of bringing us the Anglo-Saxon gospel is another morsel for the hungry city.
Only those who willingly surrender their dreams to the city will see the windows of heaven opened and poured down upon them a blessing of dreams until there is no need. Sure its the old Malachi racket of every UHF messiah but just ask any oilman banished to Houston perdition contemplating the ex-wife bedrooms of his empty mansion as he puts the revolver to his lips. Look in the sunken, shadowed eyes of the skeleton woman backing her pearlescent Escalade into the shopping mall parking space. What use is an immortal soul without a guitar? What good is prosperity without a bar-tab entry to balance the books? What is the reason for a dream if you will not place it on the table and spin the wheel? Only the broken angels of St. Claude understand the bargain and make it freely and wear their dreams like ink in the skin. A terrible light pours out of their eyes like tears and bathes the city in dreams.
Bad Apples December 16, 2012Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Coco Robicheaux, Frenchman Street, Kenny Holladay, The Apple Barrel
The Apple Barrel is a trip hazard with a liquor license, 500 square feet maybe counting the superfluous jukebox I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard. In front Kenny Claiborne in once-white Western boots sings Indian Red like a Seventh Ward Kaddish over a mournful dobro. Momma Cat passes the tips spittoon while keeping time with a tambourine stick she says she got at church. Marco and Monica who painted the mural behind the band are in from Sarasota and as we talk Claiborne calls “Coldplay. Because we can” and the dobro hollers its own metal voice into the song. Piano Dave says the tattoos at Electric Ladyland are overpriced but I still contemplate Bukowski and Maddox on my forearms and think anyone I have to explain them to is probably not worth working for. The tourists sit mostly in the back, as expressionless and obvious as tinsel Christmas trees in a bail bondsman’s office, nursing incongruous Stella Artois until they give up or get a table at Adolfo’s upstairs. Photos of Coco Robicheaux watch over us with a Bodhisattva’s Cheshire serenity and I write and have to scratch out Kenny Holladay instead of Claiborne when I start to jot these notes but as long as there’s a band I am half right: Coco and Kenny and a host of others whose boots will never pass through these door again are as palpable as the smoke from the musicians’ cigarettes. I contemplate my bottle and think that if I have another Jockamo there’s no telling what’s going to happen but we are prepared to exercise the uncertainly principle until we raise Schrodinger’s cat from the grave. We order Reposado shook over ice and tell J.D. to make one for himself, then pour the first taste onto the floor. Somewhere outside the door is the heart of Saturday night and Apple Maps will never get you there. You have to follow the woman dressed in wrong-holiday rabbit ears through this door and never be afraid to drink what’s in front of you.