jump to navigation

Malfaubourlgia September 22, 2012

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Faubourg St. John, Fortin Street, Gentilly, New Orleans, NOLA, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

There is a discount outlet of Hell in my attic. I’m convinced. The rule is never to turn off the ceilings fans in my son’s room and the back kitchen, and more importantly not to turn them on late afternoon if you’ve forgotten and turned them off. Switching on the kitchen fan at three, even when the window unit is set to 72 degrees and you don’t break a sweat doing two sinks of dishes, is like turning on the oven.

There are more reasonable explanations for this if you insist. The house is old. I think the landlord said sometime in the 1920s, and I wasn’t sure if that was pride in its sturdiness or an excuse for its shortcomings. It seems solid enough in the main, and shook no more in the worst gusts of Hurricane Issaac than it does for a next-door, kettle-drum peal of thunder. The claw footed tub is charming, but the lack of a shower is not. The floor beneath the bathroom is giving way, the bathroom tiles fracturing for a second time in a year, and I moved the refrigerator from the small back room into the small kitchen when it began to list dangerously to port. The fourteen foot ceilings are a blessing when it’s warm, at least until you forgetfully turn on the fan you should not have turned off in the first place. Thespiders are quite safe in their high corners, although the flies from the track prefer to keep company with the groundlings and never venture up to spider height. Behind those 14 foot ceilings is an attic only accessible by the small vents at each end, and I am quite sure that what ever material once passed for insulation, horsehair perhaps, has turned to dust. The house faces north-south and as the long run of the roof captures the afternoon heat it’s attention Hell-Mart shoppers, special on boiling pitch just over the kitchen.

The flies are another clue to the Beezelbublian nature of the place. It could be the race track: all that horseflesh digesting all that fodder into horseshit that draws the crows in great droves when the tractor rakes the dirt, but there’s no point in letting rational explanations get in the way of those that go best with cold beer on dark, warm nights. It’s an old habit of mine. Long ago I told my children’s mother that the thunk she heard every night around 10 pm in my basement apartment on Massachusetts Avenue N.E. in Washington, D.C. was the ghost of the tenant who hung himself upstairs at just that time. Don’t tell me about the settling of an old row house as the last of the afternoon Potomac heat escapes. Give me a good ghost story instead. I never got much more out of that story than a look I found charming 20 years ago, but then she was raised from German-Irish stock in North Dakota where over the generations imagination became reserved for private worry over whether the corn and potatoes would last until spring, and suspension of disbelief was reserved for church.

I lived in a house of similar vintage in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, a beautiful old Craftsman style that would look right at home in New Orleans. It was The Norby House, once the family home of the owners of the local department store. I used to tell the children that the fertility of that shady place in back where plants grew rampant was because old Mr. Norby was buried there, even if I knew it had probably once been the privy. The windows in that houes were original, handmade glass with the ripples and bubbles of their forging. Everything was original including the cloth wiring, which hung from glass insulators attached to the floor rafters in the basement. One run ran up a pipe to a wall sconce my my daughter’s room, a line that I think was not conduit but perhaps had once been a gas line. seller’s The fresh coat of paint on that house peeled the first winter, as the heat leaching out of the house met the below-zero air outside. You could feel it along the walls: whatever had once insulated them floor to ceiling had crumbled to dust in the bottom third of the wall. The house came with not one but two oil tanks in the basement which together would make a proper locomotive boiler, and I still wonder how we managed to afford to fill them. I would do nothing about the gorgeous original windows except to drag out a 24-foot extension ladder twice a year, and haul up and down the original wood-frame storm windows, each about 20 pounds of wood and glass. They hung from hooks at the top, and I had to lean back away from the house with feet and knees interlocked to the ladder to get them on the hooks, realizing that the best I could hope for is that the ladder would follow me down and knock me unconscious so I wouldn’t feel the pain of my other injuries.

You have to have at thing about old houses approaching the clinically disturbing to stand at the top of a fully extended ladder and do that.

This is not a bad old house. There’s that stain on the kitchen floor that is traceable either to human sacrifice or someone rebuilding a motorcycle engine on the linoleum. The brown carpet would do any U.S. route motel proud, and the color hides most stains pretty well except coffee, the thing I spill the most. The windows are cheap aluminum which I discovered in my first week here can be jimmied with a screw driver using less effort than opening a jar of pickles. (I though I had perhaps left it unlocked, until I went to close it after the police left and noticed the latch was closed, and the small dimple in the frame.) Then again there are fans beneath those high ceilings in every room, and that claw foot tub I can actually submerge myself in. I passed on several places with the brutally-industrial, wall-mounted gas space heaters but when I heard the rent for something here on the Gentilly frontier of the fashionable Faubourgh St. John, I resigned myself to them. I have lived in enough old New Orleans houses to find the singing of the gas on a winter’s night soothing, even if I’d rather have the tremendously less efficient and more dangerous ceramic and iron grate sitting inside the bricked up fireplace. The flies are a bother but I would rather sit on my stoop and watch the horses at their morning exercise than than sit in a sterile granite kitchen staring out the window at a holiday-swallowing lawn. The mantles may just be mantles but the scrap of Krewe du Vieux-salvaged plywood hell fire that sits under the one in front is as much of a fire place as needed in New Orleans and goes well with the infernal commerce upstairs, where I like to imagine there are demonic bats in their hundreds waiting for evening, mosquitoes and a chance to get tangled in your hair.

Odd Words July 14, 2012

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, memoir, Odd Words, Poetry, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
add a comment

I promise, we’ll get to Odd Words in a moment, but first a word from our sponsor” The Typist.

I think you have the right to tell your story and like I said I think you should do what you can to protect the privacy of those you write about . . . ultimately, what you’re really trying to do is tell the story of who you are. Sometimes you have to include other people, but mostly it needs to be about you.”
— Cheryl Strayed, who wrote the pseudonymous column Dear Sugar on The Rumpus.

The explosion of auto-biographical writing and creative non-fiction (and the line between the two is not at all clear unless autobiography appears somewhere in the cover, making the other people in the writer’s life just fuzzy enough to not be easily identifiable), may be the last gasp of the Me-X-Y generation. The seminar leaders take up the line as old as Hemingway: write what you know. That is what so many writers are doing, except they are not concerned with fictionalizing their material but with creatively structuring real lives, real people. If they do not do it well it will not be compelling and will fall by the wayside. Joan Didion has not fallen by the wayside. Tom Wolfe has not fallen into obscu1rity. Grab the reader by the short hairs and drag them into a compelling story and the lines between autobiography, creative non-fiction, roman de clef, and first-person New Journalism become matter for academics.

It would take more time than I have to find the point at which Toulouse Street began to become something other that just Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans. It begins with the first person nature of the vignettes that filled the early blog and I don’t think it happened all at once. First Moloch entered the picture, the large national bank I work for. I was not writing about the bank. I was writing about my own descent into burn out working for a corporate monolith. I don’t have time to scan through 1,150 posts to find the real tipping point but I jetted all the way to the back of the list and on Sept. 21, 2007 I posted up a You Tube video of Radiohead’s “Fitter, Happier” not just as another “I have nothing to say today bit of music I like but as a clue, no not a clue because I didn’t consciously know where I was going at the time, where it would lead. By October 2010 it has progressed to this:

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin

the that appeared Oct. 17, 2010, just a few weeks after I left the house on Toulouse Street, grabbing what I though most important and fleeing to the St. Vincent Home for Wayward Boys, the hotel on Magazine noted for its low rates, interesting clientele and bed bugs. I have not mentioned the world divorce in the first person until this moment. I searched and checked. If you are still hear not just for Odd Words (and yes we will get to that in a minute) you may or may not have found The Narrative hidden among the other posts. Perhaps you had to know me already. I hope not as that would mean I have failed in some sense, been too cryptic or simply failed to tell a compelling story. No, this is not a swan song. I am not about to stop now. Some things bear repeating, a technique known at tautology when it is used in writers as sparse as Raymond Carver. I am not half to clever. I am simply going to repeat the quote that has probably appeared too often in the main column in recent months, and cannot be repeated often enough: “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.


& If I were a timely person I would not be telling you about an event that starts in less than an hour, but I’ll stick it in here anyway as we are in the summer doldrums at the bookstores. Garden District Book Shop features novelist Pamela Binnings Ewen and her book Chasing The Wind starting at 1 p.m. and running until 3 p.m., although by the time you see this the reading will probably be past and she’ll just be signing books. Shame on me.

& Today is Bastille Day and there will be all sorts of festivities just up the block and the Bayou (Faubourg St. John) location of Maple Street Books will be having 20%$ off sale. In fact all of the shops will be having a sale but I’m trying to lure you down to Esplanade. The party starts at 5 but the bookstore is already open. All day July 14.

& On July 18th the Healing Center location of the Maple Street Empire Bookshop will host Kim Vodicka and her first full length book of poetry AESTHESIA BALDERDASH, published by New Orleans’s own Trembling Pillow Press. July 18th, at 6:00 P.M. Aesthesia Balderdash is Kim Vodicka’s first, full-length book of poems which “both mock and exalt femininity and feminine “types”. The text is drunk most of the time on seduction and repulsion. It satirizes the American girl’s desire to be an elle—a woman worthy of the belles and whistles of the French feminin suffixes (-ette, -euse, -enne). In short, Aesthesia Balderdash is “whispery, pink-packaged poesie signed by Elizabeth Arden and sealed with an adulteress.”

And that’s it for bookstore events, which I knew before I started and lapse into my rambling thoughts above. Open mic at the Maple Leaf on Sunday, and the weekly Spoken Word New Orleans Speak Easy Sundays Poetry at the Club Caribbean 2441 Bayou Road at 7 p.m. Cover. Visit their website for updates on other spoken words and visiting artists all around town.

An event I missed entirely until I was led their last night was the Southern Comfort Tour reading at the Mudlark Theater last night. The most memorable was local author Utahna Faith’s piece featuring Exile on Main Street. Somehow Sam Jasper and I managed to avoid rehashing, except for a raised eyebrow reminding me of our disagreement, the long standing argument over the place of Keith Richard’s triumphant monument’s place in the Stones’ discography. If I’d had Piano Dave there to back me up we might still be there disputing this point. We all got dinner at the St. Roch instead and grabbed cabs home.

“It doesn’t matter if I get a little tired” July 12, 2012

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Fortin Street, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
add a comment

Someone said to me the other day “If you don’t slow and and catch up on your sleep deficit, you’re shortening your life,” to which I replied:

I don’t think 12-hour conference calls or 12 hours of school work a week for one lousy credit is exactly what Zevon had in mind, but the rest of it’s pretty apt. (I do not own a .38 Special, so no worries).

Warren Zevnon died at 56.

I didn’t ever become a writer, or only by accident June 25, 2012

Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, Fortin Street, literature, New Orleans, quotes, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street, Writing.

If I really appreciated literature I would have become a writer for that reason. But that’s not why I became a writer. In fact, maybe I didn’t ever become a writer, or only by accident . . . maybe I’ve only ever written to understand why I was so afraid. I never wrote to participate in a noble tradition. I wrote to communicate, to explore my own feelings and work through various interpretations of the world. You know, the search for meaning, stuff like that. It wasn’t until I was at Stanford, much later, twenty-nine years old on a creative writing fellowship, when I finally met all these other writers. They all seemed to write for exactly the opposite reason of why I wrote.

That’s not even true. But many of them loved literature and wrote for that reason. How would I know why anybody wrote? Where does the poetry in this come in? Sometimes a sentence is just beautiful, but how can I learn to appreciate a painting? Do I have to learn how to paint? I’ll never be able to tell you the difference between a very good painting and a great painting. I loved the Van Gogh museum. There you just immerse in the mind of this man. It’s not required to understand which of the paintings are minor and which are major. You’re just there, taking it in.
— Stephen Elliot

His Dream. His Toy. His Rest. May 18, 2012

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Fortin Street, poem, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
add a comment

mumble grumble mumble work mumble tired grumble mumble drink, Yes? mumble YES mumble hmmmmm… thwssk!shhhh . . .

. . . There ought to be a law against Henry.
—Mr. Bones: there is.

Shield of Beauty April 27, 2012

Posted by The Typist in Jazz, music, quotes, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
Tags: ,
add a comment

“. . . I am going to put a shield of beauty
over the face of the earth to protect us.”

— Sun Ra

Have A Banana April 25, 2012

Posted by The Typist in The Narrative, The Odd, Theater, Toulouse Street.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Hell, have two. You’re going to be here a while. Or have been here a while. Perhaps a very long while. It’s hard to tell.

It’s Gonna Be A Glorious Day March 16, 2012

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
add a comment

Survey the world from the top of the high board, 360 degrees of encompassing, concrete reality bending away and vanishing into the invisible. Feel the breeze with its barometric uncertainty, the subtle voice of possibility. Dip your toes over the edge. Test the spring. Belly-flop fearlessly into the mirror pool of the future.

It’s gonna be a glorious day.

Hellbound Brain March 6, 2012

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
1 comment so far

Host to Chaucer: “And seyde thus, What man artow, quod he . . .”

Me to Chaucer: “one tyred sonne of a bytch, ye mooder swyver . . .”

Do I go read Emerson now? Really? Is there an energy drink with time release barbituates in it? Anyone know how to wire an alarm clock buzzer to my fillings to make sure I wake up? Does hearing Phillip Glass’s Glassworks in a distant train’s horn count as an auditory hallucination?’

When all this is over, I’m going to board a Hellbound Train and Pitch A Wang Dang Doodle (All Night Long).

The Octo-poca-lips February 4, 2012

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
Tags: , ,

Mankind has paid for its Crimes Against Nature (leaving us at least the fun ones).

The Octopocalypse is upon us as the ancient calendar foretold.

We shall be among the survivors

It is eat or be eaten (or both which is particular fun).

Come with food or fuel or take your chances in the Go Down Under Dome for our perverse entertainment.

We are the Seeds of Decline which shall sprout in the wasteland, watered by the Holy Distillates

Float Eight. Don’t be late.


6 6 6 9

Run Like a Jimson-poisoned Buffalo January 27, 2012

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
add a comment

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
– Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

The quote was originally a reference to the Oakland Raiders, as I recall either a part of or following the interview with Richard M. Nixon in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in which the two discussed nothing but football.

I find a strange analogy between the pro quote and Caros Casteneda’s character Don Juan’s statement that “a warrior is impeccable”, but then I find strange analogies everywhere. All I know is when life gets weird, get down in three-point stance, take the ball life hands you, put your head down and crash through the hole like a jimson-poisoned buffalo run amok. Don’t let the bats distract you.

Now is the Winter of our Discomfort December 18, 2011

Posted by The Typist in Carnival, Christmas, New Orleans, NOLA, The Odd, Toulouse Street, Xmas.

The cranky gas wall furnace is so old I sometimes think it is here by order of the Historic District Landmarks Commission, the committees we have set up to preserve New Orleans historic character by regulating with the fickleness of ancient gods such critical items as the appropriate style of doorknobs allowed. The ugly grey panel inset on my wall is inefficient, unreliable and expensive: the very model of histrionic preservation, but I believe it mostly remains through the inertia of a typical New Orleans landlord. It still works, after a fashion, so it stays. Its cousin the floor furnace is largely extinct as a result of the flood, and the wall furnace lacks the charm of stepping on a metal grate barefoot or the portal to hell sensation of passing over one in operation, but it’s what I have.

The instructions of operation on my wall furnace are so faded that with an eight-cell flashlight and my readers on it still requires the skills of a document historian experienced in the decoding of ancient and marginally legible texts to make them out. Fortunately, it is not my first, and even after 30 years I remember how to turn the regulator just so and to warm the temperature sender for a bit to get the pilot lit. Thank the gods for the invention of stick lighters, as this was once an operation requiring a pile of kitchen matches that brought back memories of reading Jack London’s To Build A Fire.

Once the faint pilot is flickering, after an extended period prone on the cold floor holding down the starter and counting slowly to sixty by Mississippis while the sensor warms up enough to keep it going, you can at last turn on the heat. I know never to turn the gas up past the point it just starts to flow, and to keep my face and arm out of the immediate vicinity of the works. Crank it up too high because the house is cold, the floor is colder and you are desperate for some heat and the explosive blow-back of ignition will belch out of the access panel like a dragon with indigestion.

Winter this far south is not the cozy Rockwell fantasy of the paintings of Thomas Kinkade. (Yes, there is a link. Follow it at your own peril unless you have a large collection of cherubic porcelain children). Our vistas are not snowy landscapes of farmhouses set against a backdrop of evergreens with a skating stream or pond in the foreground and perhaps a horse drawn sleigh in there somewhere. It is brown lawns and winter killed uncut lots, the latter revealing a year’s collection of litter, which is one of New Orleans’ major local products after cheesy t-shirts and tourist vomit.

Our winter season is a confusing mix of Indian summer days and a cold damp so penetrating we must swath ourselves in animal skins like Neolithic primitives. You can keep your expensive, technical mountaineering shell and layers of fleece that work so well for Nordic skiing. Nothing but a thick layer of wool or a shell of leather can keep out the wet chill. The pea coat will never go out of fashion in New Orleans because it is not a matter of fashion but survival. I spent my time up north decked out in Cabella’s most modern fabrics learning to navigate a pair of beaver tail show shoes, awkward constructions of bent wood and tanned animal sinew. with a design dating back to the flint knife. Originally a gift that spent a few years crossed on the wall, my friend who gave them to me insisted they were fully functional and he was right. It was good to get out of the house for some reason other than shoveling, scraping and chipping away winter to a standard acceptable to finicky Nordic neighbors fond of an orderly neatness that does not come naturally to a born Orleanian. Give me a good pea coat for a trip through the French Quarter any day.

Forget a roaring fire. The bricked in hearths below the lovely mantels that rob you of a functional wall were designed for shallow coal fireplaces. I had one still open for use when I lived on Carrollton Avenue that I determined would still draft by lighting a small torch of newspaper. I confirmed it was not terribly obstructed by getting my eyes and a flashlight up the flue by a contortion usually only attempted by advanced students of yoga. Still, it could just manage the smallest of commercial press-wood and paraffin fire logs. I’m sure it had not been properly serviced by a chimney sweep since the last ice man sold his mule to the tourist carriage companies, but somehow we managed not to burn the building down. The first Christmas Marianne and I had the family over for Christmas dinner I fired it up, hoping the most festive part of the afternoon would not be the arrival of the fire department but the damn thing worked and I miss it.

We are simply not built for winter in New Orleans: not our homes, not ourselves. Every few years the city gets the idea to line Canal Street with palms to amuse the tourists but one good, hard freeze (the local equivalent of a howling blizzard) and they are gone again. City government is a dumb and lumbering beast that survives because is just to big to kill, and then what would your Delgado drop-out cousin do if not supervise the mowing of the neutral grounds? If we had real snow down here, we would all die after burning up the last stick of furniture before they would get the plows out.


Other than the icicle winds there are few signs of winter in New Orleans. The feral green parrots still favor the neighbor’s tree, some weedy thing that has managed 30 feet but is so covered in cats claw it is impossible to determine the species. There is an odd dissonance in sitting out for a cigarette in a sweater, thick flannel pajama pants, and my L.L. Bean slipper socks (indispensable for uninsulated hardwood floors) listing to their raucous tropical chatter.

Few trees change color down here to warn of winter’s approach. Only the cypress and some species of birch favored by northern transplants reliably show some Fall color and the fickle things wait until just before the solstice to change. I remember brilliant October afternoons driving the winding roads and low hills of western Minnesota, stopping along the way for pumpkins and apple butter. Here the display of bright orange and red leaves is a catch as catch can affair, and must be viewed between the blustery cold front that triggers the brief display of color and the next which blows the leaves away. Before you know it, industrious homeowners and city workers are out blowing all the leaves into the gutters, ensuring we will all enjoy the occasional use of our pirogues and canoes in the flooded streets.

Winter does have it charms. There is the arrival at your holiday party of a fabulously drunk contingent just out of some other booze-fueled party, intent on making hot-buttered rum, spilling liquor and sugar and melted butter all over the newly installed granite counters. This drives the lady of the house to distraction–convinced they will be ruined–in spite of all of your attempts to explain that the damn things are rocks forged over geological time and not likely to be dissolved by hot dairy products.. There are the fiery hogshead cheese and pickled okra, the Pickapepper sauce over cream cheese and the oceans of alcohol to warm everyone with festive cheer.

Winter is racing season at the Fairgrounds. While bundling up to drink the best Bloody Marys in the city while gambling lacks the rustic charm of snow-shoeing or a sleigh ride through the park, it does get you out of the house and all of the frantic jumping up and down and hollering does get the blood flowing. There are the festive lights that the city’s residents take to a level only a place trained by the gaudy display of carnival would attempt. An inflatable Santa astride a Harley-Davidson may be a universal American icon of Christmas, but there is a Chalmette-aptness to them down here.

And while the rest of America settles in to watch the bowl games, sipping non-alcoholic cider next to their roaring fireplaces, we are busy pulling out hot glue guns and feathers, spilling sequins all over the kitchen floor, because Mardi Gras is just around the corner. Come Twelfth Night, when the true believers in the spirit of Creole Christmas will haul out their tinder-dry trees to the curb, we will all bundle up in our animal skins and pea coats to observe the ancient ritual of a mob of happy drunks boarding a streetcar to inaugurate Carnival. You can keep your ice-skating outings and sleigh rides. Me, I’m ready for the real pleasure of winter: the first parade of the season.

23 Skidoo December 17, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

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, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
add a comment

Somewhere high in this cold grey sky lie the mountains of the moon.

Thumb Studies December 5, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
add a comment

Accidental Thumb Study No. 1

My father had wheels and wheels of 35 millimeter slides going back I don’t know how far. I remember the after vacation slide shows with the neighbors and cocktails and the children on the floor, mostly embarrassed to be put on display with various geographical and cultural artifacts growing out of our heads. The internet, the switch to digital photography and the loss of the sort of community of neighbors common up until the 1960s has killed this tradition.

While I don’t miss those travelogue evenings on the floor, I do regret that my children did not grow up in a neighborhood full of children (we were Baby Boomers, and every neighborhood teemed with kids), the knowledge that they could cut through just about anybody’s yard on the block to get to the lanes of Lake Vista without someone calling 9-1-1, knowing they could always stop by some neighbors for a band aid or a cold drink if there parents weren’t at home.

I do remember my father was a great one for managing to get his thumb into the pictures, a problem I seem to have inherited like driving on a near empty tank (although I haven’t run out as often as he did), or missing one-way signs because I was too busy admiring something as I drove along.

There is something about a phone camera that invites these sort of mistakes, but they look more interesting than the thumb pictures I remember from my childhood.

In the Belly of the Feast December 4, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.

“And there’s hamburger all over the highway in Mystic, Connecticut.”
— The Firesign Theater, Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers

I spent an entire morning last week going over my finances for the last year, pouring over bank statements because at some point I will get to do this for the lawyers. Bless me father, it has been one month since my last day at Moloch and the severance stub arrived and after careful research realized they had craftily structure the new compensation plan–bumping up base and cutting back on bonuses–so as to cheat me out of almost $20,000 gross in severance. Who’s in your wallet?

There is no longer any reason to hide the fact now the severance has cleared: Moloch is Capitol One, they of the apt Visigoths. If you pay Cap One 23% interest to buy Chinese crap at Target or Wal-Mart while they pay you 0.23% interest on your savings you’re too stupid for sympathy. Rant against Wall Street all you want but you are a willing dupe. Avoid the Three Card Monty men at your subway stop and the flashing poker machines at your corner bar.

I spent an hour pouring over the documents of my severance, writing an angry email to the bank, copying CEO Richard Fairbank, then another three hours accounting for where the money has gone this past year, working out a new budget, puzzling out how long I can live on the severance. The answer is: not long enough, not in this economy, not under the current circumstances. It’s pretty simple: I pay the mortgage on the house where I no longer know the alarm codes. I pay my own rent and utilities and other expenses. I currently pay my daughter’s full freight at a local private collage (minus her scholarship, aid and a small loan). I pay her share of rent on an apartment nicer than mine, and her spending money for groceries and miscellany, a check larger than my own rent. I paid all of last year’s taxes and the spring car insurance payment (another couple grand here in Louisiana). I try to live a decent life in this town: go out for drinks, pay the cover, and eat the occasional good meal in a town renowned for its food. I buy a lot of books (the books I need are not in the library).

Several thousand more went in “co-pays” for painful surgery that cured nothing. Nothing to do but wait for the pain to subside on its own and conserve the Vicodin for the really bad spells. Fuck Aetna and Ochsner: I’d have been better off to the tune of several big ones demanding more Vicodin (my first surgeon gave me none before; only my regular doctors on my pre-op visit said, “that’s a very painful condition” and offered them without my asking), swallowing what pain relief was offered and letting the condition heal itself (our first approach, and the one that ultimately worked.) First do no harm has given way to the FDA making doctors parsimonious with pain meds and there’s more money in surgery and I’m sure they have some quota.


This is not the relaxing sabbatical from soulless corporate banking I had imagined.


The money goes out faster than it comes in. That’s the New American Way and Capital One, Bank of American and Chase are banking on it; that and taking the near zero interest bailout money from the government and putting it not into mortgages refinanced but into T-Bills. Stop now. Go re-read that sentence and then go do something mindless like washing the dishes while you consider it. And after you smash that glass in careless anger stop and consider that you have not suddenly had an epiphany. the knowledge that America is a racket you are not in on, that you sit at the bottom of a giant Ponzi scheme that’s been going on since Reagan. Consider instead going into work every day knowing that in some small way you are a part of of all that. You take the decent salary and the bonus because you have a mortgage, children to somehow get out of the house and into college, we must have the bathroom and kitchen taken up to date (must we?), with fine quarter-sawn oak cabinets and thick granite.

The name Moloch came naturally when I felt it necessary to conceal my employer , the great line from Allen Ginsberg’s Howl: “Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks!” Daily for 10 years I tossed not babies but you, my reader, and all your friends into the furnace to feed that hungry god.

It nearly killed me, the last five years of cognitive dissonance; wait, fuck that: five years of watching the cogs turn and slowly grind our customers, my co-workers, myself into meat and I slowly became one of the hollow men and hid beneath my red rock (come in under this red rock) while my life slowly came apart at the seams. That is how I come to find myself going over a year’s finances. We have split the sheets (one of the consequences of us both discovering ourselves lost in corporate Apache country) but have not made it legal, and as that unfolds there will be an accounting, not just of finances but of sins of omission and commission; the usual apportionment of blame and the punishment of the innocent.

I put away the papers around noon and showered and decided to get the hell out of the apartment.


Not bad, thanks. How was your morning?


I don’t know why but I often find consolation in Chalres Bukowski and yes you have to plow through a fair bit of rambling travelogue from hell, like panning a worked out river for gold but when you find the nuggeyd buried in his work it is like finding an undiscovered codex of gospel hidden in the bill stubs. So I popped in a CD of him reading as I drive downtown and maybe this wasn’t the best choice in my state of mind but I haven’t listened to it be once since my sister found it at a garage sale, and I too I have felt these last years I was born to hustle roses down the avenues of the dead.

And so I walk into the library for the book I’ve reserved and it hasn’t been pulled so you walk far into the back of the stacks where poetry is kept, saving the better space for the new arrivals, the tables of best sellers, the practical books of self and home improvement. You walk past the tables full of men (they are all men) in worn clothes with worn faces, some reading, a few sleeping and one or two just staring. Their eyes do not follow you as you pass not because you are not there but because they aren’t. At the last table three men sit in presentable work clothes quietly talking, one with a large new laptop but they talk of prison, a conversation you can’t quite follow. And you wonder just how many more mortgage payments away you are from joining them.

Of course the damned book isn’t downtown (something not apparent on the website or even to the desk librarian who sent you back into the stacks to fetch it) but at the crumbling mansion uptown given to the city long ago as a library. So you climb into the car and drive uptown and at first these libraries can’t find the book either. A helpful young man sets out to find it, as they told the downtown librarian over the phone that yes, it was there. You enter into a former parlor of Milton Latter’s home and sit on one of the old Queen Ann chairs, imagine the gold paint perhaps hidden under a dozen sloppy layers of dripping white, and chose one with a long crushed pink cushion and unraveling seams from which you can observe the desk. Consider the two libraries, the downtown branch with its cargo of hollow men and this monument to the old money of uptown, it’s threadbare chairs and the workmen hustling through the halls trying to keep the old building from collapsing in on itself.


“If you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you’ve still got a soul left to lose” ― Charles Bukowski


Here at the margin of America, closer to the Caribbean than to Wall Street, the two libraries are the city in microcosm: the modern downtown building with its tables of capital’s rejects–their value added sucked dry, the lumpen proletariat–and the disintegrating landmark on St. Charles Avenue, side-by-side with the mansions in which generations of old money kept the oil men out of their exclusive clubs and so drove them all to Houston. I am out of work because my own job was sent away to Moloch’s headquarters, where everyone can be fully immersed in the corporate culture. The story of this city: the wanderers come looking for some Big Easy and sleeping on the tables downtown, the ramshackle, paint faded shotguns of the working poor I pass on the back way Uptown through Central City, the old money folk so set in their ways they would send their children into an historic building the roof of which collapsed this past last year.

Finally I leave with my prize and decide to head downtown to pass the time in a nearby coffee shop reading my new book waiting for my son to get out of his afternoon music program at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. But Bukowski has done something to my head. I find myself instead at the far end of the bar at Mimi’s nursing a beer and typing out the first words of this onto a dirt cheap tablet computer (best I could afford), my fingers constantly missing on the tiny touchscreen keys. The music is too loud to read and there are stories that, left untold, fester like untreated wounds, stories crying like the sacrificial victims in their swaddling clothes before the furnace of Moloch, crying to escape..


“The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him. At that point, he’s in business.” — John Berryman

A Sign November 29, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, NOLA, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Someone the bartenders and regulars didn’t recognize popped into the Apple Barrel and left this on the bar yesterday, and it’s now hanging behind the bar. Coco touched an awful lot of people.

Revelator November 26, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.

“Come killy killy killy quick as you can/Come take a look at a natural man/Waste my time like a Simple Sam/Come take a look at what a fool I am/Oh, Revelator. Oh, Revelator, Revelator, right now.’

— Coco Robicheaux, “Revelator

There is something Odd about getting up this early on Saturday morning to listen to Coco Robicheaux. Like early Dr. John much of it sounds like a music of the night, the place I came closest to knowing him, as a regular at the Apple Barrel bar. (No, Mark, it is not a good idea to put whiskey in your coffee this time of day) We would speak for a while, he always had time and a word for everyone, and that was about it. I think I was always a bit in awe of him, the genuine natural man of his song.

Coco walked a strange path, drawn into a world where his Indian heritage blended with his Cajun-rooted joie de vivre, into the syncretic religion of New Orleans, a blend of Spiritualist church and after midnight barroom, a spirit candle and a bottle of whiskey. A natural man, walking with the spirit. “I am a pilgrim” he sang to close his last album over a joyous banjo. “I’ve got a home in that yonder city…it is not been made by hand. I got a mother, a sister and a brother, who are gone to that sweet home. And I am determined to go and see them…over on that distant shore….cause I am a pilgrim, and a stranger, traveling through this wearisome land.”

I have walked a strange path of my own in the years since the Flood, a road that takes a high toll of great cost, forking from the path I took when I left New Orleans in my rear view mirror New Year’s Eve 1986, traveling into the life I thought expected of me, drawn by another kind of power that resides in buildings of cold marble, filled with self-appointed archangels in rich Italian clothes. I forgot in my youthful blindness that here by the river marble is the stone of the houses of the dead.

I don’t regret the choice I made then, or those that followed. It was a good life. I have beautiful children their mother and I would not know and love if I had not taken that other path, but all that time something gnawed at me inside with nutria sharp teeth trying to get out. It finally got loose, that late Monday afternoon in August I sat in my driveway in Fargo, N.D. waiting for my son to come out to be driven to football practice. It was then that string of mojo beads I had carried back from New Orleans, which hung from the rear view mirror of my otherwise respectable Ford Taurus station wagon, suddenly and spontaneously burst. In that moment I knew the radio was wrong, that something terrible was happening far away, that a great and terrible wave had crashed and the power of it had carried all the way to North Dakota from New Orleans, from home.

And I won’t regret the choices I make now. There are only so many hours and days remaining to me, Coco’s death reminds me, and I can either spend my every waking moment trying to get back to that path that ran through Washington and Fargo, or I can spend it developing the natural talent I mostly suppressed on that other road, give all my waking hours to studying the arcane magic releasing the spirit that lives in words. Somewhere on that path stands Coco, a natural man, and behind the large hat and shades I see him smile. And I know I am on the right road.

Heartbreaker November 22, 2011

Posted by The Typist in The Odd, Toulouse Street, WTF.
1 comment so far

Speaking of thoughtful Yuletide gifts…

The line comes from Rumpus columnist Sugar, who says among other things in her column #64: “Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.”

I just don’t want you to get trampled to death outside Crescent City Books Friday trying to get me that Spanish language catalog of Diego Rivera or that signed first edition of Post Office.

Cassidy November 21, 2011

Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
add a comment

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

Isolation Is The Gift November 16, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street, Writing.
1 comment so far

First posted here 3/27/10. Some things bear repeating, like an incantation, until new things you perhaps never intended but you were meant for, were sent here for, materialize at your command; things monstrous and wonderful, the favor of the gods paid for in horrible scars.

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”

— Charles Bukowski (Factotum)

Rōnin Pen October 30, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
add a comment

Today I am a rōnin pen, unbound from service to Moloch’s hungry furnace of usury. It is a good day to be alive. It is a good day to die. Perseverance furthers.

Hexagram 26
Ta Ch’u – The Taming Power of the Great


Perseverance furthers.
Not eating at home brings good fortune.
It furthers one to cross the great water.


Heaven within the mountain:
Thus the superior man acquaints himself with many sayings of antiquity
And many deeds of the past,
In order to strengthen his character thereby.

The Richard Wilhelm translation of the original commentaries.

Har, vast ye wanderers October 27, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
add a comment

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…

Days of Disobligation October 24, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, fuckmook, FYYFF, Moloch, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.

Now with spell checking (no IE Spell on the work PC) and less hungover proofing of other sorts at the same low price! –mf

It is the last Monday in my last week of service to Moloch, the financial institution where I have given good and faithful server for over five years. My reward is a pot-metal, gold-tone Five Year pin and the relocation of my job to Richmond.

I am not going to Richmond. We all pretended for a while that might happen but I don’t think anyone directly concerned believed for a moment I would.

I walk out to the car, dressed in chinos and socks and a collared shirt. The air is that state of damp just this side of drizzle and the air is rendolent of excrement and wet hay, the stable smell drifting across from the race track. Horse shit and fodder of docile, stabled animals are the perfect bas notes for a perfume bottled just for the event of my last week, my final trips into the office.

Over the next four days I will sit in what Moloch calls a huddle room, tastefully indicated by the skeletal outlines of tee-pees (I wonder if we are allowed to smoke here, if only ceremonially; I could use a cigarette in honor of the occasion). I will confer with two associates I am trying to train up to take over parts of my function, and spend too many hours on a Polycom, those conference telephones designed to fit into the decor of everyone who owns an English-Klingon dictionary, with those who will assume my other function.

There is a certain satisfaction that my job will be divided across multiple people, making up a substantial portion of the day of several. I like to think I will be missed, but better not to think of it as all.

At least I am starting the day out right, with a Revive vitamin water and now my third tall cup of coffee. Last night the Saints played the late game, a blow-out against the Baltimore Indianapolis Colts minus Peyton Manning, petulant scion of the Saint fan’s own hero of the early days Archie Manning. The game was so one-sided the only real pleasure was in the cutaways to Manning on the sidelines in a Colts ball cap, looking every bit the student of Newman and annointed future NFL star denied, through some cruelty of fate, the homecoming crown.

Saints fans are long-suffering and as such a people, we have long memories. Peyton’s insulting tantrum at the end of superbowl XLIV and the failure of Archie out of some misplaced consideration for his brat, to say one kind word about the triumph of the franchise he helped establish are not forgotten, and will likely never bed. Watching Peyton sulk was better than any touchdown or suggestive shot of a cheerleader.

When the game is a blowout, the world divides itself into two sorts of people: those who take their leave early and so to bed, and those who drift into the kitchen, game ignored on the radio, speaking of other things, in dangerous proximity to the beer the others left behind. I fall into the latter category, and so have a wondrous hangover to amaze the druidly Druids to carry me through the first of my final hours of Moloch.

It is a week of disobligation, a set of rituals of the sort favored by the Catholic Church. Not an excomunication exactly but in the end my boss (whom I dearly like, a great fellow) will arrive to collect my badge, laptop, Blackberry, sword, cassock, &c. and take us all out to dinner on the company’s dime somewhere I will suggest. He has never been to Jaques Imos, has long desired to go, and may never have an excuse to come to New Orleans again so that seems settled. After that, Frenchman I think, d.b.a. and that glass of Johnny Walker Blue we were discussing. (Neither of us scotch drinkers, preferring our Jameson’s but we are curious and hope to pass the expense off as another travel meal).

As we drfit deeper into what our children will call the Great Something (everyone agreeing that Depression is formally retired like the names of particularly terrible hurricanes), I should be more concerned. I am not. They are giving my a decent severance and a retraining bonus, enough without other emergencies to get me through a semester at the University of New Orleans, which will kindly accept every last credit hour off my thirty year old transcript and plug them into the current graduation requirements and in as little as six months: voila’, I will be promenading through the sterile mothership cavern of the U.N.O. Assembly Center, in Privateer blue with a bachelor’s white hood.

I rather like that the color of the Liberal Arts in general is baptismal white, as getting my long-defered degree will not be so much an ending as a beginning, the start of yet another reinvention of my life. I left the university both to take a job in journalism at a local newspaper, and to evidence my displeasure at the place denying me the editor-in-chief’s post. It was not so much personal pique but rather that in the late 1970s the U.N.O. Driftwood was a broadsheet that frequently ran to 24 or more pages a week, and sold enough advertising to turn a small but tidy profit, some of which we were allowed to spend to pay staff and throw a fabulously drunken end of year party that culminated in depositing the crawfish shell bags outside the private entrance of the Chancellor (one Homer Hitt, a very nice man who did not deserve it, but it was his Office we were honoring, not the man).

At some point we began to take ourselves seriously as a newspaper and took sides with the Faculty Senate against a particularly odious Vice Chancellor of Administration, and so when it was my turn to assume the top position the newspaper was reduced to a typically hollow college student tabloid, and my job was given to someone from a respectable fraternity who had never before crossed the threshold of the paper’s office.

From college I managed to make my way through journalism with an award or two along the way, a stint on Capitol Hill as press secretary and speechwriter, then a jump into the lower echelons of IT through a general knack with computers and a program of self-study, when I had determined DC was not for me and I needed to arrange some more portable skill than public relations. When I was first hired by another bank, I managed to quickly get myself plucked out of the ranks of bit plumbers and tool pushers and made a project manager, which is where I find myself today. Or rather, where I find myself at the end of in the last days of Moloch.

What happens after that I am not sure. I look forward to another stint in a corporate world that bears a frightening resemblance to the world of Dilbert with all the relish of a felon at-large contemplating his appointed noose. I am much in need of what the academic world calls a sabbatical. After that, we shall see.

In an hour or two the Richmond contingent will arrive and we will get down to work. Until then, I think another Vitamin water for my dry mouth to wash down some Ibuprofen and a cigarette or two are in order. We will get busy once they arrive, and we have only four days to transact all our business. I will be off on Friday to the Louisiana Book Festival both as workshop student and correspondent for NolaVie, the arts and culture adjunct of NOLA.com, and so escape the last bit of the ritual of this week of disobligation, the tossing of the apostate into the jaws of Moloch. I hope instead to carry away a few more unwanted pounds and a Biblical hangover to rival Noah’s from Thursday night’s parting dinner as my fitting punishment.

Fractal Saturday October 22, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Odd, Toulouse Street, Writing.
1 comment so far

A. A violent order is a disorder; and
B. A great disorder is an order. These
Two things are one. (Pages of illustrations.)

— Wallace Stevens, Connoisseur of Chaos

Saturday mornings are I think an indicator of what mornings in my immediate future shall look like. It’s not a holiday, although there was no alarm set for this morning. I rise up at a reasonable hour, make coffee and have a cigarette, then find myself on the computer, doing the daily chores of Odd Words, making sure I haven’t missed something, copying shortened versions of the blog listings to the Facebook page, then even more abbreviated ones over to the Twitter account. A productive and satisfying start to the day.

Then, with the computer in my lap, I start to read. I avoid scrolling down Facebook or Google+ or checking the local newspaper’s website, all the distractions and chatter. Instead I find myself doing a weekly check of the literary blogs (something I was doing daily the last time my job was coasting down toward its end and my workload started to fade away).

Somewhere along this timeline, about the second cup of coffee and cigarette, something starts to happen: notes or bookmarks are made or entire sections of items pasted into notes for saving, one link leading to another not quite at random but in the intent of Rimbaud’s systematized disorganization of all the senses, a connection of hyperlinks like the less well understood networks of the brain, and suddenly: the last blog post, the discovery of another window into a subject I care much about on a blog I used to check daily but have let lapse like many things these last few weeks, perhaps a reminder from the universe not to lose focus; the completely spontaneous decision to forward it to my daughter’s teacher of last year whom I blogged about before, a connection re-established with someone I would love to argue the point with; in that search an old flash-length story found and some minor revisions made, considering if it’s submissible or requires more work, a tightening of the transition from the first part to the second; story filed away for later I consider someone’s reaction to the poem I wrote night before last and read to an audience of two yesterday. “The last section saved it” he said, but I had no time to stay and discuss what he thought of it so I pull it up, re-reading but making no revisions (I think it done, he thinks it deficient, must get another opinion or just trust myself); finally, writing: putting this idea down before it is gone, partly a note to myself toward how to conduct a portion of my program of self-re-education commencing in just over a week, partly a piece of the narrative in still life, the set pieces of the blog accumulating toward some picture of who I am becoming, another vain and probably unnecessary peek into the workings of my mind (which I doubt you have followed this far down the rabbit hole but even if there are only a few of you not among my close friends then I am moving forward, on toward something as yet undefined and wonderful).

Someone suggested the Vicodin I was taking after my surgery was keeping me up nights because I am ADHD, and that my brain chemistry was working in reverse, the way amphetamines are given to calm the ADHD mind. I prefer not to think in terms of chemistry, but of alchemy. If we do not admit of the possibility of order in the apparently random then we do not discover the mathematical laws governing fractals, those glistening snail trials suggesting the possibility of something like God.

We performed an exercise in the writing seminar offered at NOCCA for parents by one of the creative writing teachers she called “automatic writing” which has nothing to do with Madame Blavatsky but is an established technique of writing teachers: just start writing and do not stop until the time is up, no pausing to rethink or revise but the instructor throws out writing prompts and toward the end, a warning that time is almost up. These Saturday morning exercises are a similar experience, just letting the coffee seep into the brain and the brain seep through the labyrinthine Internet, yesterday’s experiences, the half-dozen things you are in the middle of reading and letting it all flow one into the next, noting the connections like blazes on a trail, until the brain finally begins to settle into typing some one thing: first this, then either the story or the poem revision later).

Out of this experience: ideas and insights exploding like stars and seeding the cosmos with the dust of possibility, the building blocks of future stars, their planets, the first stirrings of life (more coffee please), a half billion years collapsed into half a pot and perhaps three cigarettes of time until the emergence of a mindful creature capable of purposeful words and then, dear Watson, the game is afoot.

Dark Nights of the Whole October 18, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
1 comment so far

Who knows what people think when I start posting up videos as I did last night. I used to do this a lot more frequently when this was my backup blog to Wet Bank Guide, the location one blog reviewer said I “let my freak flag fly.” We could argue the merit of song lyric versus “Poetry” (insert imaginary hands wiggling quote fingers). It’s not worth the bother. Either you think Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits are poets or you do not, and I’m probably not going to change your mind (although I would welcome the opportunity to try, provided you pick up at least every other round).

Last night on a lark I went to The Writer’s Block, an outdoor reading hosted by Kate Smash on the amphitheater steps across from Jackson Square. This was all well and good, and I had a great time and felt welcomed at the new guy to what appears to be a well-established small group of regulars, mostly in their twenties.

As usual, going to such events at night leaves me with my mind spinning on hyper-drive, no where near ready for bed, so I gladly accepted their suggestion that I join them for a drink after. A couple of grogs later at The John, an interesting joint on Frenchman where the table tops look like the covers of toilet seats, and the strong pours are served cheap in Mason jars, I finally headed home to get some sleep but the combination of poetry, conversation and rum left me just as energized as when we set off for the bar.

That’s when I’m most likely to fire up Radio Free Toulouse Street; the other circumstance being late night (sometime all night) technical work conference calls, the sort scheduled to make changes when it will not disrupt customers. (The longest one I suffered through lasted 17 hours, and pretty much ruined a Father’s Day. By the time I got off that call, I had my special breakfast for an early afternoon lunch and promptly fell asleep in front of my DVD present movie.

Now that I have something like a “brand” in Toulouse Street (having displaced the Doobie Brothers as the top return for a Google search of that phrase) and another in Odd Words, I wonder sometime if I’m doomed to start yet another blog where I can post these sort of things, or perhaps a Tumblr, a platform I have tried to stay away from. (I have, for the record, a pretty sizable stable of blogs already, although most are updated infrequently, and consist of posting poems and copyright law be damned, by writers I like.

I probably shouldn’t start another blog. I’m already stretched so thin the next step down from human crepe is grease in the bottom of the pan, a particularly unappetizing analogy. So if you’re here for the beer literature and pretzels occasional Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans posts, I guess you’ll just have to put up with my taste in music. You can always avail yourself of the scroll bar.

Then again you might be missing an important element in what is essentially a story, a narrative of transformation referenced in the quote at right by Samuel Beckett. Perhaps to make that point more clear, I will move that little box up above the book ads and remove the link to the mostly abandoned poetry blog (I post those elsewhere, in semi-private, as most dead tree publications treat posting to the Internet as “previously published” and disqualifying.) Spending the night in the company of a gaggle of twenty-somethings, that moment when I made some remark about being the “old fart” at the table that brought an Odd, snappish reaction from one of them. Fifty three, my job descending under the event horizon, as much as anyone at that table looking at a whole new life to build, with more experience to my credit but less breath.

Everything is story: we tell them to live. They are as necessary as air. The longer posts, the snippets of quote or poetry, the songs, the impromptu photo of the cemetery, all are part of the narrative of a man just past midlife, racing at once towards and away from death down a path into the unknown.

Like most children of the Transistor Age (and you’re still living in it, they’ve just gotten much smaller, millions on a chip) music has been an integral part of my life since I got my first AM pocket radio for a present in 1963, just in time for the British Invasion. Steve Jobs recognized the centrality of music, of an imagined sound track to your lives, in the invention of the i-Pod. Walt Disney and his cousins in faux towne center shopping malls were ahead of even Jobs, providing not just musak background music but often something that added to the particular ambiance of the setting.

People of my parents generation (the mid-Century “Greatest Generation”) had perhaps “Their Song”, the one they heard while courting and perhaps danced to at their wedding. Baby Boomers and the alphabet soup of following cohorts have entire soundtracks, songs associated with moments or entire periods of their life. People of my age used to think of themselves as either Beatle-men or Stones-men. (My perfectly Gemini answer is often yes: my inner Beatles-man, laid back and thoughtful, led me down to last night’s reading. My inner Stones-man led me to The John, and a second drink when I probably should have taken off for home. I think it was my inner Zappa/Beefheart man who took control of the turntable last night, but there is a sense to what I posted. There always is.)

Another correct answer to the Beatles or Stones question is: The WHO. (or sometimes, The Kinks. Double Gemini whammy). For now I will let my inner Zappa/Beefheart reject the famous Smothers Brothers’s appearance of The WHO, with the off-cue explosion that permanently damaged Pete Townsend’s hearing, in favor of Patti–I’m no longer ready to die before I get old; I think Patti’s sentiment better fits this point in my life–and send you off to think about how music plays in the narrative of you own life, the moments when Cue Music is the unwritten stage direction.

Time Take 1 October 18, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
add a comment

There are days only David Bryne being mounted by the loa consoles.

“Time isn’t holding us. Time isn’t after us.”

This time with attachment October 16, 2011

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, NOLA, The Narrative, The Odd, Toulouse Street.
add a comment

If you find you have sent one too many follow up emails of apology like this of late, perhaps it is the universe suggesting it is a time to reconsider attachment, most particularly to the circumstance in which this error occurs.