Good Night February 1, 2015Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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sad minions of the Krewe of Going Home: the Krewes du Vieux and Delusion, the frustrated lovers, mad trance dancers (children of Dionysus and Orpheus), hustlers of nothing, the irreparably ripped, the friends of the band, the last to stand.
Retire now to your tents and to your dreams./
Tomorrow we enter the town of my birth/
I want to be ready.
Rest well. Sweet dreams.
[Loop: Marlboro Theme Song Performed by the Incredible String Band} January 15, 2015Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptic 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.
If this is the corner I’ve painted myself into November 22, 2014Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Everette Maddox, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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…think only this of me
That one more cheap camera
against the world’s beauty.
— Everette Maddox
Spill That Wine Dig That Girl November 21, 2014Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptic 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.
About Silence November 15, 2014Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, Poetry, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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From Jack Spicer’s “Imaginary Eligies II.”
The poet builds a castle on the moon
Made of dead skin and glass. Here marvelous machines
Stamp Chinese fortune cookies full of love.
Make love to other Tarot cars. Here agony
Is just imagination’s sister bitch.
This is the sun-tormented castle which
Reflects the sun. Da dada da.
The castle sings.
Da. I don’t remember what I lost. Dada.
The song. Da. The hippogriffs were singing.
Da dada. The boy. His horns
were wet with song. Dada.
I don’t remember. Da. Forgotten.
Da. Dada. Hell. Old butterface
Who always eats her lovers.
Forty Three: The Dog Breath Variations March 9, 2014Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
Tags: 365, Cafe Borrega, Siembra Azul
If I have to explain how one gets from the hubcaps in the bathroom of Cafe Borrega to lying in bed listening to Frank Zappa’s Uncle Meat you are likely to get lost along the way. There is no map.
The place is packed and the bartender is slammed. They’ve been getting some good press but just lost a chef. “Come back in a few weeks, then Yelp us,” one server tells me, after another suggests a kind review. “Only people who want to complain ever post on Yelp.” It takes a while to get served at the bar, until a regular hails Hugo. The couple next to me are dressed to go out: she’s in a nice dress and he’s wearing a British tan sports coat. Yuppies, you discover, can be people, too. I watch Hugo hand mashing the limes for the margaritas. There is a twenty minute wait for margaritas.
Pachuco: a Mexican-American subculture that emerged in West Texas and migrated to Los Angeles. Zoot suiters. Gangsters. Also a style of doo-wop music that emerged from this culture in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
I order a Hornitos Reposado, iced, and a Bohemia. I have a sentimental attachment to Bohemia. It was the first beer my father ever ordered for me. We were on a trip to Monterrey, Mexico to visit the mountains where the flyways of the eastern monarch butterfly converge.
I walk into the Apple Barrel
& there you are, Venus de Miller
perched on your bar stool pedestal.
The barmaid asks me what I want
but I’m not paying any attention to her
& anyway I’ve left my stomach behind
somewhere in the mountains outside Monterrey
filled with a million Monarch butterflies.
— “Venus de Miller”, Poems Before Breakfast
“Cucuroo carucha (Chevy ’39)
Going to El Monte Legion Stadium
Pick up on my weesa (she is so divine)
Helps me stealing hub caps
Wasted all the time”
— “Dog Breath, In the Year of the Plague” – Frank Zappa
No Hornitos, Hugo tells me. Would you like to order something else? I hesitate. I’m not a tequila connoisseur; I just know I like it. Another sentimental attachment, the drink of Coco Robicheaux. We trade Coco stories. “May I suggest something?” Of course. Out comes a bottle of Siembra Azul. It is a wonderful tequila, with a strange flavor that somehow makes me think of a peyote button, something earthy with a dusty fruitiness. (Blue agave is not a cactus, or related to peyote. Agave is a cousin to aloe). I give Hugo a twenty for my drinks, and leave him the five in change as a tip. Boisterously friendly, he tells me the next one is on him after an appreciate sigh on my first sip and a compliment on his selection. There is the immediate male bond of one guy inducting another into his passion. He leaves the bottle on the bar.
It is not just the Chevrolet hub caps (suggesting a particular fondness for that make) but one is a work of art, a Louisiana license plate dated 1956 with the outline of a pelican in the center, beneath an old, unidentifiable but clearly 1950s hood ornament. “Primer mi carucha (Chevy ’39)…” The pachuco rhythms and voices of the first part of Zappa’s delirious concerto grosso starts to hum itself in my head.
Outside the bathroom Alex McMurray and Paul Sanchez are trading licks and lead vocals. This is as far as you can get from Uncle Meat but not so far removed from pachuco. There are brilliant acoustic guitar moments in the third movement (if I may call it that, and I will), “The Dog Breath Variations.” The pairing of New Orleans’ two premier folk rockers are why we are here. The two rows of tequila and the smells coming from the kitchen are incidental. Cafe Borrega is very much a Three Muses sort of place, set up as a restaurant with music. We spend half our time there leaning on the railing between the stage and the pick up window, trying to stay out of the way of the servers. Whatever the waitress says about the fill chef, the smells are wonderful. Later they tell me he is just too slow, and that this is the first time they’ve had an overflow house. I swear to come back soon and eat.
Eric’s friend Allison reaches over and picks up the menu face down on the musician side of the railing. On the back are a set of what appear to be fortune telling cards. Her British friend (whose name is drowned in agave), she says is El Borracho. He doesn’t know any Spanish and asks, what the hell is that? Is he taking a shit? (In the picture the drunkard is bent a the knees, suggesting unsteadiness). Eric, she says, is El Gallo, the rooster. No one who knows Eric would disagree. I have on a red shirt, and so I am El Diabolito. A little devil? I can own that I tell her. She goes to put the menu down and and stop here. Which are you? La Estrella, I announce, and she smiles. Enamoramiento. (Love sick fool. Diabolito, si).
I had to text Eric to get Allison’s name, although we’ve met at least twice before. For the rest of the night, I think of everyone by their card names: El Borracho, El Gallo, La Estrella.
We get another round, and I manage to spill half my glass. We are all laughing, and Alex McMurray says “I hear someone talking about tequila.” “I spilled half of mine,” I holler back. “The hand of an angel spilled it,” I say “This much and no more tequila tonight.” “You better tip that angel well,” Sanchez says. They break into The Champs song Tequila. After a few choruses they stop, and McMurray offers a shot to anyone who will dance on the bar like Pee Wee Herman. Eric rushes to steady the stool I put my knee on but I think my angel is still close, and then I’m up and they’re playing Tequila again and Hugo has his iPhone out, a huge grin on his face, as I shuffle and shake.
I try to decline the shot. Hugo will hear no objection.
“Please hear my plea.”
The first non-doo wop line of Dog Breath, spoken in exaggerated baritone by Zappa.
Given his fascination with pachuco music and his last name, it would be easy to think Zappa Chicano. Actually, he is from Baltimore and of Sicilian, Italian, Arab and Greek heritage. His family moved to Los Angeles County when he was a child.
“Zappa grew up influenced by avant-garde composers such as Varèse, Halim El-Dabh, Igor Stravinsky, and Anton Webern, R&B and doo-wop groups (particularly local pachuco groups), and modern jazz… [b]y his final year, he was writing, arranging and conducting avant-garde performance pieces for the school orchestra.”
–Wikipedia entry, “Frank Zappa”
Zappa’s first national exposure came in the late 1950s, in which a clean cut young man in a suit demonstrates to Allen how to play the bicycle as a musical instrument, and jams with the show’s band.
We meet the two women who are clearly their for the musicians after the last set is over and Sanchez and McMurray come to the bar. Nicole says she lives in Mid-City. I tell her I live in Gentilly. What we both mean, after discovering that we live maybe three blocks apart, is that neither of us wants to own the stuff Faubourg St. John moniker. She is friends with Sanchez, and the younger woman with her is his niece. “I’m sure I’ll see you around Canseco’s.” Eric, we discover, also know’s the co-owner Linda, Hugo’s wife. This is a very small town of half a million people. This is one of their stories.
I am slowly sipping Bohemia by this time, and Eric is deep into conversation with Paul Sanchez. It is one of Eric’s life time goals to befriend every musician in New Orleans. I lean around Eric and ask McMurray how one auditions for his Valparaiso Men’s Chorus project, in which he leads a small band and a group of men in singing chanteys. “Show up for the next show. Show you can sing.” He tells me the next date, but I had already bookmarked it in my calendar, being fascinated but never having witnessed their performance at the Saturn Bar.
As I drift deep into the complex second movement “Legend of the Gold Arches” I lay in the dark and think: concerto. No single instrument is featured, so the correct term is concerto grosso. The form died out in the late 18th century, but was revived by a long list of modern composers ranging from Stravinsky to Phillip Glass. I don’t think about them as I listen in the dark. I listen to the intricate play of Zappa’s studio mix orchestra and think of J.S. Bach. I resolve to ask the guy who runs the Open Ears free jazz series, who teaches at Loyola, if he thinks “Dog Breath,” “Legend of the Gold Arches” and “The Dog Breath Variations” could be considered a concerto grosso. His answer will not really matter. This is the music they would play in any heaven worth of the name and in the hell reserved for the classical snobs of the sort who drove the jazz program out of the University of Chicago.
By the end of the night, as my eyes drift over the collection of Latino brick-a-brack that decorates the bar, I am fixated again by the rotating Virgin of Guadaloupe over the cash register. She spins around a counter-moving inner psychedelic transparency projecting ever changing colors and a halo of parabolas of light on the nearest walls. I can not get “Dog Breath, In the Year of the Plague” out of my head. (It is, in spite of the name, a catchy pachuco pop/doo wop song). Eric I know will talk all night if Sanchez lets him, and I know the hours musicians keep. I go to Patrice’s and she about to go to sleep. Before she puts the light out, I dig my headphones out of my bag and dial up Uncle Meat on my ‘Droid and jump to the fifth track. I close my eyes in the dark, but can’t get to sleep until almost the end of the record.
“Primer mi carucha (Chevy ’39)
Got me to El Monte Legion Stadium
Pick up on my weesa (she is so divine)
Helps me stealing hub caps
Wasted all the time
Bongos in the back
My ship of love
Ready to attack”
— chorus and refrain from “Dog Breath” by Frank Zappa
Happy Holidays December 24, 2013Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Fortin Street, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street, Xmas, Yule.
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from The Typist and Mr. Burroughs. My second favorite holiday tale after The Little Match Girl, which my mother loathed and my grandmother insisted she always read us.
Solstice Brothers December 21, 2013Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Fortin Street, New Orleans, NOLA, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street, Yule.
Tags: City Park, cypress, solstice
It’s been seven years since I left the land of Norman Rockwell seasons, fields of trees in their fiery finery and frost on the pumpkins. I am lucky enough to have a row of burr oaks across Fortin Street that put on a moderate display but the understated seasonal star of Louisiana is the cypress. Here where winter is mild, theirs is not the bright fireworks of more northern trees: more the burnished copper, bronze and gold of bangles on brown arms. There is one spot hidden in plain sight, not far from the Christmas twinklies that draw the crowds at the holidays, right up against the Friday night lights of Tad Gormley Stadium, a field of cypress drapped with moss that look their best when half done, the armature exposed with just enough leaves left to qualify as nature’s contribution to the seasonal decorations, their grey beards suggesting some wild creatures of the forest learned in the seasons.Today’s windstorm will, I suspect, strip them bare, a reminder to those with eyes to see them it’s the tipping of the year.
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’re Looking in the Wrong Mirror October 22, 2013Posted by The Typist in Beauty, cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
Tags: body image, Etude de fesses, Félix Vallotton, women
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Félix Vallotton, Etude de fesses
As we age, a woman’s body becomes rounder and more pliable, a development at once erotic and comforting. The asymmetries younger women seek to hide become more pronounced, each body becomes more itself, more the unique person you love.
Set The Controls for the Heart of the Gone October 22, 2013Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Fortin Street, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Emptiness as a quality of dharmas, in the early canons, means simply that one cannot identify them as one’s own self or having anything pertaining to one’s own self…Emptiness as a mental state, in the early canons, means a mode of perception in which one neither adds anything to nor takes anything away from what is present, noting simply, “There is this.” This mode is achieved through a process of intense concentration, coupled with the insight that notes more and more subtle levels of the presence and absence of disturbance.
— Thanissaro Bhikku
You can’t get there on this bus October 18, 2013Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptic 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.
When the Music’s Over May 20, 2013Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, je me souviens, New Orleans, Remember, the dead, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Ray Manzarek
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…now night arrives with her purple legion
Retire now to your tents and to your dreams
Tomorrow we enter the town of my birth
I want to be ready
Somewhere in the City of Lights tonight a single bulb fails to illuminate and that absence will be drowned in rivers of headlights and the sparkling hills. PG&E will not notice. The grid of copper and gold will continue to enfold us in its clutches. There is, however, another grid, an etheric one, that operates in that place where photon waves collapse into particles and the very air dances at frequencies only discernible to the ears of the so attuned. The minor catastrophe of the end of a single human life vibrates through that grid until it reaches every other life the lost one touched. A harmonic resonance begins which, left unchecked, could shatter the world, and only the countervailing vibration of Love that runs back through the etheric grid cancels it out and prevents cataclysm.
The old embed code no longer works on You Tube. When the Music’s Over.
RIP Ray Manzarek
Let It May 11, 2013Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Beatles, rain
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Having established a stable orbit and allowing for the radio delay from Saturn, we resume our old habit of Radio Free Toulouse Street.
Sin. Repent. Repeat. February 7, 2013Posted by The Typist in Carnival, cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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Cartoon moonjam madam meet Sir Sluralot on Chartres by noon or you’re on your own with the feather men & rum demon lizard stampede squeezing through Bourbon Street toward some bar-hell bathroom line where someone wearing that very feather (you’re sure of it) you lost at MoMs offers you to cut in line with a smile and a slip of his tipsy cup. This is just when Sir Sluralot and his calypso courtiers appear singing Indian and you turn around and the feather’s gone and so are you leaving that crew to call you tomorrow wondering where you went but your phone is dead beside the feather bed you found on Frenchman following the drums.
Thorsday January 10, 2013Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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Thursday. Thor’s Day. The hammer wielding guy wasn’t so bad. To steal baldy from Wikipedia: “In Norse mythology, Thor (from Old Norse Þórr) is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing, and fertility. The cognate deity in wider Germanic mythology and paganism was known in Old English as Þunor and in Old High German as Donar (runic þonar ), stemming from a Common Germanic *Þunraz (meaning “thunder”).”
Here is a symbol typical of his hammer Mjolnir with interesting Celtic aspects to the scroll work that appear on almost every example I looked at.
Storms and oak trees, hallowing and fertility: I think if he was looking for a winter getaway he’d feel right at home in New Orleans.
Cryptic Envelopment December 21, 2012Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Jerry Garcia, New Yea, solstice, The wheel.
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The faster we go, the rounder we get.
Happy New Year.
It’s After the End of the World December 21, 2012Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
Tags: apocalypse, calendar, Macha, Maya, Mayan, Pacha
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“It’s after the end of the world. Don’t you know that yet?”
— Sun Ra
I did not see the end of the world up close and personal, but I lived it with a vicarious survivor’s guilt seven years ago that was–for me–world shattering.
Shall we rehearse those memories, if only to put to rest the nonsense of millennial crazies? It is an exercise more appropriate to Good Friday than Christmas so let it pass. I will not mar your holiday with that old crown of thorns.
And yet it is fitting to remember as the great Mayan wheel turns from Macha to the Pacha that the elders of that race promise a transformation not of the universe but of the hearts of men. In New Orleans we live with peril the way the rest of America lives with Starbucks, ubiquitous and just around the corner. Men have gashed canals into the earth and sucked the black blood of the ancestors, collapsing geological into historical time and dooming the lands and cultures of the Creoles and Acadians to eradication. It is not possible to forget that the great cities of the Maya lasted centuries longer than New Orleans can survive. One can only hope that instead of the false apocalypse people remember the words of the Mayan elders, who tell us that the the new cycle, the Pacha, will be the end of man’s dominion, the lifting of Yahweh’s curse, and the beginning of a time of humanity’s cohabitation with the earth and with each other. A thousand years from now, let the broken towers of downtown rise up from the water to remind everyone of the foolishness of the past.
Here on Fortin Street, a dozen miles as the crow counts from The End of the World Marina, it is Solstice not Apocalypse. Here it is already after the end of the world. Tonight I will kindle a fire in the cold clear night and roast meat and drink strong ale as my German ancestors would have done. If tonight there are parties in New Orleans we do not mock anyone’s gods. We thank our own, the tangled saints of Africa and Spain and the gods of our ancestors, for another day and a year to come on this fragile land.
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“. . . I am going to put a shield of beauty
over the face of the earth to protect us.”
— Sun Rha
Off to Room 107 on Broad to resolve my son’s unpaid moving violation (not my fault, but somehow I made the online payment and get to go and settle it). I am harboring a Wanted Man for the time being.
Then off to the downtown tower, hair freshly cut and braid tight and hidden behind my collar, to spend the next couple of days with the bossmens.
I will come home with my Shield of Beauty or on it.
It’s after the end of the world. August 2, 2012Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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Don’t you know that yet?
— Sun Ra
Going Home July 16, 2012Posted by The Typist in Dancing Bear, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Frenchman Street, Lionel Batiste, Marigny, second line, Uncle Lionel
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When I pitched face down on the floor of The Barrel with no assistance from the tricky step up to the bar, I knew it was time to go look for the second line. Sam and I split a sandwich from the grocery across the street earlier, I think, but clearly I needed movement, fresh air in my face. “Purpose,” I shouted as people helped me up from the floor. “I’m going to scout for the second line.” I glanced at half a Jockamo on the table but decided I was fully prepared to reconnoiter over the broken sidewalks leading to St. Claude and Elysian Fields. “Are you su..?” “YES. I’ll text you when I see them.”
Outside the overcast broke for a moment, a good omen for Uncle Lionel’s sendoff I thought. The glimpse of blue, the air on my face as I moved up Frenchman, focused on Royal Street just ahead, my artificial horizon, a dancing bear balanced on the balls of my feet, I moved through a lucid dream, wide awake and walking through an invisible gelatinous substance. Right at Frenchman, a glance at the old folks’ apartments where Uncle Lionel spent his last days at which the second line would stop soon, then a left at Elysian Fields, St. Claude just ahead. Purpose, I thought, walk with purpose, my internal gyroscope, leaning forward at the precise angle that converts the lifting of feet into momentum, a swagger stagger as straight as a swizzle stick.
At St. Claude there were hot sausage and cheese po-boys $7, two women waiting for the bus and no sight or sound of a second line. When I came to a stop purpose got all wobbly and I leaned against the newspaper machine, shielding my eyes. Someone switched on the sun the moment I stepped out onto St. Claude. Nothing. I sent a text back to The Barrel: “638 no sifn od daocid/or/Wnd/lon @ Stclaude/and/ukusian.” The newspaper machine did not seem particularly steady so I crossed the street into Walgreens and bought an energy drink, and took out some more cash. I was on the route and I knew the second line was somewhere down St. Claude so I crossed to the neutral ground and headed in their direction. Purpose, gyroscope, horizon, movement.
The worthless sun-sensitive lenses in my glasses finally adjusted and I could hear but still not see a band in the distance. I stopped and sent another text: “Indinana hwew ehwy comw.” I managed the two blocks down to Touro and saw the second line, police in front. “Police comin 2ns line c”5 +3 %!e+32&8”#,” I wired back to The Barrel. “Drums comin’,” I managed two minutes later. The second line had come to a halt at Touro Street, the scheduled end of the route. “Srtopped at tojro,” I sent back at precisely 7 p.m.. The parade was to come up to Frenchman Street, past the bars where Uncle Lionel spent the last evenings of his long life, dressed in smooth, perfect suits, diamond stick pin and cane, a sharp hat. Everyone was waiting on Frenchman Street not realizing the parade permit had expired at seven and the police forced a stop, that the second line had managed six blocks in two hours and was over. I noticed a group of tubas above the crowd turning down Touro. A piece of the crowd peeled off and followed and so did I. It didn’t matter that the official second line had shutdown at Sweet Lorraine’s and the police didn’t seem to notice the impromptu parade escaping on a side street.
I lost my artificial horizon but was caught up in the flow and the music, just another fish in the school, swinging and swaying in time with the crowd, and no thought of how or where to go. No point to counting blocks or moments. What thought does the fish give to the river except to drink deep and follow the current? I took a few camera phone pictures and three seconds of video. Later I liked the ones of blurry feet dancing in second line in particular, and the two that are upright and in focus. I had abandoned the thought of another text message. We would be there soon enough, the high, bright tubas trumpeting the herd toward Frenchman.
No one expected a parade to come up Kerlerec and hook down Chartres. We were coming from the wrong direction and found no one on the street but the usual crowd you might watch from the Barrel’s bench. The now silent tubas moved as a group toward d.b.a, the crowd scattered and dissolved into the bars. I lurched toward the Apple Barrel where, according to the one reply text message I stopped to read, there was whiskey and Herbie and the umbrella I’d left behind. I arrived just in time to save tee totaling Herbie from the devil whiskey and recover my umbrella, apparently not as attractive as the vanishing Zippo I’d once left on that bar for a minute. I managed my way to the table without another fall and someone slapped a Jockamo in front of me. The Marigny had their parade for Uncle Lionel and no one noticed, except the lucky hundred-and-some who followed the tubas home.
Can’t find my way home June 17, 2012Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street, Uncategorized.
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The true light awaits.
Come out of your hermit’s cave
Detached from the past
If you cannot fathom the relationship between the poem and the song it is not the true light that you see. Return to your cave and consider that the next time I climb this mountain my aging form may become as the fallen leaves. The trees will grow taller, stronger and more beautiful. Meditate on this until you hear and smell and taste the light.
Apollo 13, this is Houston s s s s s s s s s June 14, 2012Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Fortin Street, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Mystic Order of Memories February 19, 2012Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
Tags: MoMs, MoMs Ball, Radiators
” . . . MoM’s had always been one of my favorite things about Mardi Gras, a gathering of all who chose to live in the fabric of Mardi Gras and not just inhabit a costume for a few hours, a party only the resolutely dissolute can enjoy, or survive. MoM’s is what I hope Saturday night in Hell will be like, should I find myself stuck there between planes. But thousands in a shed did not hold up to the memories of hundreds in a hall in Arabi decades before. I don’t know if I will return to MoM’s, preferring this one true memory of carnival’s past. And then I can say well, I don’t go anymore, you know, but back when . . .”.
— ‘The Last Mardi Gras”, one of my contributions to A Howling in the Wires
I knew it wouldn’t be the same. I had seen the last MoMs with the Radiators as the band. I knew I didn’t have time to put together a proper costume last week. I knew I would likely be playing Daddy Taxi even though its not my week. I knew I had to get up only a few hours separated from the time I would likely get home, and clean house before my son comes over Sunday, at least vacuum and dust for his allergies, and clean the bathroom and probably mop the kitchen, too. I knew after I cleaned I ought to begin to type up my paper abstract for Chaucer, to see if I really had enough supporting material to write a paper on a subject that appears no where in the Annotated Bibliography of Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale. I knew my responsibilities like the weight of of an elaborate costume.
I knew as I dropped off a car load of friends on Convention Center Boulevard I should have gone.
A Long Winter’s Nap December 24, 2011Posted by The Typist in 504ever, A Fiction, Dancing Bear, NOLA, peace, Shield of Beauty, Toulouse Street, Xmas, Yule.
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Toulouse Street is now on holiday autopilot until the eggnog is gone. I’ve posted a few of these before but we all have our own old chestnuts to roast and the one original story is rewritten and I think improved.
The sun has closed it’s circle and is born again. As we gather around the fire with our circle of family and friends to tell the old stories may it’s waxing light warm the hearts of believers and nonbelievers alike.
23 Skidoo December 17, 2011Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Jesus, John Prine, The Lost Years
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No Hostilidays on Toulouse Street this year, but here’s a bit of holiday cheer in honor of John Prine’s visit to all good little boys and girls tonight.
Fairy Sybil Flying December 7, 2011Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
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Somewhere high in this cold grey sky lie the mountains of the moon.
Cassidy November 21, 2011Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
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The Grateful Dead’s Cassidy blasting through the dashboard, the hiss of the cranked, antiquated cassette deck of an ancient Custom 500 Interceptor, seals gone, car trailing a cloud of Sean Connery smoke covering a James Bond escape until the rusted iron head expands and the clattering cams dream again of high speed pursuits, the hiss of the cassette and the hiss of the balding tires passing over the long swamp causeway.
Cassidy is an elegy, yes, but not just a vanishing into the final night but the promise of tail lights merging into the arching continental darkness brilliant with Arcturus-red stars, an amphetamine stream of consciousness tossing worry like empties out the window, hurtling toward le petite morte, a flowering satori in a pair of cornflower blue eyes. Out there. Somewhere. Release. And you have to find it.
Until you understand why men go out for cigarettes in Mid-City and don’t stop until they hit Beaumont there’s no point in continuing this story. Rewind and play the song again, another pass at perfect harmony, another cigarette, another beer can clattering onto the shoulder, another chance
Cassidy November 21, 2011Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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An elegy yes, but one fraught with possibility, vanishing perhaps not into the next world but roaring down a dark desert highway, tail lights merging into the arching continental darkness brilliant with stars, Benzedrine stream of consciousness hurtling toward le petite morte, a flowering satori in a pair of cornflower blue eyes.
They’re all wasted November 3, 2011Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, music, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
Tags: Lifehouse, Pete Townsend
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“There once was a note. Listen.”
–Peter Townsend, “Pure and Easy”
Below is the version of Teenage Wasteland originally written for Peter Townsend’s concept performance/rock opera Lifehouse, which in most of its versions is about a dystopic future in which everyone is living connected to The Grid, inside suits that isolate them one from the other. All of their experiences take place alone in tubes to which the suits can connect. Some of the lyrics are familiar, some you have probably not heard before. You can find them here. The antidote to this dystopia is the emergency of an old guru who remembers ancient rock-and-roll, and its cathartic, Dionysian power.
In some ways the prescient concept of Matrix (if not the rest of the story line) captures this moment perfectly.
I think of my own children, slaves of the Grid realized, the careful constructs of cable television and Internet. Controlled by media conglomerates, the Grid stands ready to package and sell them commoditized lifestyles of conformist rebellion suited to their particular taste, from the decadently preppy world of leering models at American Apparel to the depths of industrial goth. Come on in, kid, we have just what you need to rebel and conform all at the same time.
We of their parents generation still live in a personal era in which rock-and-roll is not the forgotten art of the Lifehouse or a carefully scripted commercial soundtrack, but in which the healing power of a song called on in a moment of distress is like that of prayer, with the promise of being born again not in the spirit of the Xianists but as cleansed and refreshed human beings, eyes and hearts open. That was Townsend’s concept for Lifehouse. At its best and before the media conglomerates absorbed the genre rock-and-roll was about not about unbridled freedom (an inverted nihilistic illusion) but about a genuine rebellion, a rejection of the past in favor of a future of possibility, a future still malleable to the hands of people (not just the children) seeking and ready to make the world their own place. It is an idea that must not be allowed to die.
Somewhere It Is Tuesday November 1, 2011Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, je me souviens, New Orleans, Remember, Toulouse Street.
Tags: All Saints Day, Halloween, Samain
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Tonight we have mimicked and mocked death.
Tomorrow (this morning) we go to our city in minature cemeteries to be with our dead, and then have lunch in their honor.
Somewhere else in America it is Tuesday.
Har, vast ye wanderers October 27, 2011Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
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So of course its my last night together with my soon to be former coworkers unencumbered by early flights pr other inconveniences and drink has been taken and the jukebox of the Old Absinthe Bar tested to it limits but I must cab it home and reclaim my car as i have a box of stuff to haul home from my last day of work and must ferry these same coworkers to Jaques Imo’s tomorrow (tonight in fact) but first there is the damned radio set on WTUL-FM and I don’t know why but I think back to the early 1970s, when the station broadcast in single watts from an antennae all of four stories atop the student union and I was a radio geek who managed an antennae that could pull them in and it was about the time Larry found this albums in the garbage behind Lenny’s Music on Harrison Avenue and by some accident of fate I heard the same record played on WTUL and it was maybe 1971 and I would call in as the Lone Lakefront Listener and could command Micheal Perlitch of them and they would play it because it was 1971 and it was a low power campus radio station and some madman from a half-dozen miles away would call and introduce himself as the Lone Lakefront Listener and how could you resist such an obscure request from such an obscure listener and as my job winds down to done almost 40 years later I listen to ‘TUL on my way home and want to call and make the request but I can’t quite catch the number much less dial it while driving and I have to settle for the copy I put up on YouTu8be long ago and think as my job comes to its end that I am embarked on Perlitch’s Blue Sky Ocean.
“…to the far side of the deep blue sea is the island its waiting for me on my blue sky ocean…”
Unloose the topgallants and we’ll be there before morning…
Time Take 1 October 18, 2011Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
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There are days only David Bryne being mounted by the loa consoles.
“Time isn’t holding us. Time isn’t after us.”
Potter’s But Not Forgotten October 15, 2011Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, je me souviens, odd, Remember, the dead, Toulouse Street.
Eprit d’escalier October 14, 2011Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, odd, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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Am I coming? Are you going? Where was it again? When? What’s the story, morning glory? What’s the frequency, Kenneth?
Are we here yet?
Excuse me, I was just leaving. I’ve got a quarter for Zoltar & I’m off to find the man who wasn’t there.
The faster we go the rounder we get September 20, 2011Posted by The Typist in cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Europe '72 Volume 2, Grateful Dead
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You Ain’t Goin’ No Where July 30, 2011Posted by The Typist in 504, cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
Some days after a long week of herding feral cats through a labyrinth of financial and software process controls you make a frozen pizza, wash it down with a Vitamin Water energy drin and stay up late eating Vienna Fingers (the cookies you called streetcars as a child), watching most of Season Four of the Wire.
And then suddenly: it’s Saturday.
The clouds are rolling in and its gray, with just enough intermittent breeze to stir the hangers on the temple bells but not to ring them. You watch the squawking wild parrots in some indeterminate weedy tree next door, the one with roots choked in another vague3 shrub and its crown choked in cat;s claw, that one hanging perilously over the house on the street behind you and you wonder when it will finally fall, what is the rated load in parrots of this particular situation? Perhaps you just want something to happen. The sky is blank, calm and ominous and something is bound to happen, and you would rather in happen nearby.
Today’s accomplishments so far:
- Drink half a a pot of coffee.
- Boot up the laptop, ignoring the book you meant to read when you woke up.
- Go to the bathroom. Wash face after.
- Re-read two blog posts several times, then wrte an email explaining why you are stuck on your contribution.
- Drink other half of pot of coffee
- Determine your son is alive (he’s been sick all week so I was letting him sleep as late as he wished).
- Make more coffee.
- Offer your son breakfast: we have eggs and bacon, bagels and Honey Nut Cherios. (Omar’s breakfast of choice). (He declines). (My son, not Omar. Omar would eat the Cherios).
- Open a new pack of cigarettes.
- Read a post and all comments on HTML Giant, and suddenly understand why you never saw professors in the coffee shop at college.
- Try to decide if you’ve had enough coffee
- Read an interview between a sort-of anonymous The Rumpus interviewer (you know which one lives in Ann Arbor) and Megan Boyle, in which they discuss web pages selected by Google’s I’m Feeling Lucky button. You are not feeling lucky. You should have waited for the movie, except Tao Lin will be in it.
- Watch parrots from the back yard smoking your newly opened cigarettes.
- Read last sentence again and decide to leave it that way for the hell of it. Insert your own while. (This is explained below).
It is almost three o’clock in the afternoon and you have reached a point. Not a metaphorical point (time to shower, time to get moving, time to make more coffee) but an actual point, a unidemensional non-space in which there is no narrative arc, no impetus to shower or get going, no impulse to resume watching The Wire or pick up the book you opened last night in bed and decided to start in the morning, such possibilities requiring four dimensions and you are stuck in one. You have mislaid the while from the sentence above. Trajectory is not a possibility in one dimension but there seems to be a simmering here somewhere, the recipe for a singularity, a point in non-space and non-time in which time is the burning fuse and out of which something is certain to exploded.
Perhaps it will be the trunk of the tree. Or the coffee pot carafe left unattended on the burner.
Possible things to do today:
- Read Julio Cortazar’s The Observatory. (That book again, sitting insistently on the other side of the bed like that load of laundry you should get to if only because in one pocket is a $50 bill).
- Make lunch
- Watch the rest of The Wire disks
- Decide about dinner.
- Decide to watch the DVDs after dinner
- Finish Cortazar while my son plays video games.
- Make dinner
- Drink a beer and smoke a cigarette or two on the back deck. (The parrots are gone. The tree remains).
- Watch The Wire.
Saturday is named after Saturn. In astrology Saturn is the planet associated with practicality, achievement and conformity. Perhaps that is why I can hear the whine of lawn equipment in the distance and would never dare to venture for errands into the ants nest of cars on Veterans Boulevard today. It is the year of my second Saturn return: 54 years, two orbits. I should be busy at something: determining my next career step, starting some great new undertaking (om shri ganeshaya namah), realigning my life for the next 27 years should I be so lucky. (My family often makes it into their 80s in spite of lifestyle. It could happen). (I did one practical thing this morning, but we will omit that for now as it would be ill luck to speak of it.) For now I am typing random thoughts into a window and wondering which is the planet associated with lethargy, too much coffee and indecision.
I think I’ll go make some more coffee, smoke a cigarette and think about it, reawakening the horizontal and vertical, the possibility of pitch and yaw, put into motion at least possibility in contemplation of one or more possible futures. Saturn will be back before you know it. I had best get busy.
School’s Out For Ever July 2, 2011Posted by The Typist in Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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At Easter the horses left for other tracks, and with them the crows laughing at the sun I loved to follow in the morning. It was not long after the heat rolled in as if the loading of the thoroughbreds into trailers bound for Evangeline Downs were a natural migration, a signal that summer was imminent.
It came in May like a plague on Egypt, the high nineties and humidity the weathermen said felt like one-ten. It came like a tsunami with no warning, swallowing Spring and leaving us all wrecked on our porches, dripping. It came without afternoon storms of cold downdrafts and downpours to cool the concrete: hot and drought enough you could feel the trees dreaming of the Ozarks and Appalachians, shedding new leaves like Okies on the road to California.
I seemed to be the only person who didn’t much mind. True, I spent a part of that early onslaught mostly inside healing up from some minor surgery but every time I stepped out somewhere inside a clock turned back and I remembered the sweetness in May’s heat, the end of school and the summers to run the lanes of Lake Vista and City Park just across the street. I sweated like the rest of us but increasingly didn’t care. Because I worked from home I lived in shorts and flip-flops, bought another pack of wife beaters, showered twice a day (at least) as I did when I lived with Marianne who was violently allergic to the spores that grow inside the condensers of air conditioning.
The few times I felt compelled to appear in the office, I looked at the socks and leather shoes laid out and tried to remember the order of assembly, recalled teaching my children how to lace their shoes (cross the bridge and through the hole to see the rabbit). I pulled on the fine-spun golfer’s polyester pants I favor in the summer for their coolness, and wondered who decided men should wear an undershirt beneath a polo: some fool in New York or California who wears starched long sleeves and summer-weight wool in June out in the noonday sun and thought of Snoopy thinking to Linus who wondered about fur in the summer: some of us must suffer for fashion.
Perhaps I am finally re-acclimating to the climate after my long absence, in the same way I learned to haul the garbage out to the snowbank in leather-footed mukluk socks and shirtsleeves when I lived up north. When I step out into the dazzling morning, blinded by the heat, I don’t recoil but embrace it as the way of things, thinking sometimes of summer afternoons of blanket heat and cold swimming pool: the simmering afternoon, the icy water, the natural order of things.
Perhaps a part of it is my age, my children grown enough to miss the vicarious experience of childhood. And so my mind drifts back to my own youth. I live near the park and sometimes walk over or cutting through by the museum stop and park and walk around what they now call the Great Lagoon across from Christian Brothers School. I spent five years in that old mansion, playing water polo in the marble-lined pool, bats dying in the heat dropping out of the rafters onto the basketball court, searching for entrances to the catacombs rumored to run beneath.
On the last day of school we would eschew a ride from our parents and tell them we would take the Canal bus home. Released at noon, we would linger for a while at that lagoon when it was still part of a golf course, toss the odd notebook or two into the water, an offering to the landscape of summer in honor of our release from bondage. After a while we would make it to the Casino for ice cream-desert first–and wander dripping chocolate down our regulation chinos and colored shirts along the south lagoon, past the tennis courts toward the Peristyle, trying and failing to scale the low branches of the old oaks in our leather shoes.
Ice cream done and the park wore out (thinking of cane poles and dip nets and three point gigs with which we would return to torment the wildlife in days to come even as, at thirteen, we slyly watched the young mothers at the playground, the women in their short tennis skirts bending to return a low lob), we wandered slowly under the oaks of City Park Avenue toward Bud’s
Broiler, not so much from hunger (chocolate still wet on our shirts) but to go in and sit beneath the dripping air conditioners suspended from the ceiling, and eat a Number Four just for the savory barbecue sauce, the taste of summer in our mouths.
Our skin and clothes dry at last from the refrigerated air (thinking old tin signs with dripping cubes) and something freshly carved into the tables with the knives we had brought against all school rules expressly for the purpose, we would finish our amble down past the cemeteries, the marble and white wash blinding white against the carefully tended green, until we reached the Cemeteries stop. We would cadge a few STP stickers for our bikes from the old man at the gas station long gone from Canal Boulevard, and sit under the tin roofs waiting for our bus.
There is something of those days when I step outside my door now. At first blinding white, after a moment a golden glow settles over everything and the sauna-warm air slaps an instant coat of sweat on your body that catches the sight breeze. I am learning again to walk slow, to favor the shade, to leave the windows down until the air blows cold in the car. I’ve bought more handkerchiefs, and leave an extra bandana in the car. Its summer and there is no more point to complaining than there is about age, which means to say we will complain but settle in and live with it. Now that the rains have returned the trumpet flowers grow rampant on the racetrack fence. Picking my way over the broken sidewalks to Canseco’s grocery a few blocks over I am met in every block by some new scent, sometimes a garbage can missed (there’s a reason we have twice a week collection here) but more often some hidden flowers behind a fence, the Spring’s sweet olive succeeded by fragrant honeysuckle and nicotinia.
I am tempted to pick up a stick and rattle it along the fence boards, to pick some rock and kick it all the way to the store and back, but I don’t. Not yet. Instead I select a mostly flat rock and hum it sidearm at the Goliath light tower in the race track parking lot. I miss, but that’s OK. I have months ahead to practice.
Sun Ra on Fortin Street May 7, 2011Posted by The Typist in 504, Dancing Bear, Jazz, Jazz Fest, music, New Orleans, NOLA, Sun Ra, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Jazz Fest, Sun Ra
“Its After the End of the World. Don’t You Know That Yet?”
Too busy watching the world go by and trying to hawk books to get together a Jazz Fest post today but stop by the Shrine of Sun Ra at the Fortin Street Stage on your way in or out and light a josh stick. I just had to respond to the very nice woman I met the other morning who put up the Jon Bon Jovi shrine, and the Cyndi Lauper shrine that went up in answer a few days later. I think a jazz artist and a man of such spiritual truth deserves a shrine.
For years, the tagline on my Wet Bank Guide blog was the signature chant from the Space is the Place film, “It’s After the End of the World. Don’t You Know That Yet?”, a perfect statement for the Alice in Underland situation of New Orleans. The flood was a baptism that washed away the original sin of conventional Anglo-Saxon America and left me a pure son of New Orleans. When I got my tattoo I went for Moose Jackson’s equally apt line “I’m not alright but I am upright” but it was a hard choice. I may yet have Sun’s words permanently inked on my body, marked forever with the sacred chant of the postdiluvian elect.
So stop by and get you some Cosmic Vibrations at the Shrine (and a beer, a bathroom and some beans). You know you want some.
Odd Words: Fish Head Emergency Edition May 4, 2011Posted by The Typist in 504, books, cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, literature, music, New Orleans, NOLA, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
Tags: fish head music, Radiators
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Ah crap, I’m supposed to go see Marcia Ball tonight and I’m going to miss this. I was there at the public beginning in Luigi’s and I desperately need a copy of this book autographed by the entire band.
GOT THE FISH IN THE HEAD: A RADIATORS RETROSPECTIVE
May 4th, 2011
On Wednesday, May 4, 2011, Jay Mazza, fan and friend of The Radiators and author of I Got the Fish in the Head: A Radiators Retrospective, will be at Maple Street Book Shop at 6:00 P.M. He will read from, discuss, and sign his book. Mr. Mazza has announced there will be musical entertainment: Chris Mule, the guitarist for Honey Island Swamp Band, Phil deGruy, and Stephen Smith also on guitar.
“Intended for fans of New Orleans music and culture, the book is as much a cultural commentary on the city and its music scene as it is a musical tribute. Filled with distinctive characters that passed through the bars and clubs where the Radiators played, the book is a retrospective of the New Orleans scene as told by someone who was there at almost every important juncture of the last 30 years.
This post requires emergency audio overdrive.
If this had been an actual fish head emergency, you would have been instructed to burn your t-shirt.