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Best Of Cast Off Sculpture December 27, 2015

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

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

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

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

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Solstice Brothers December 21, 2013

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, Fortin Street, New Orleans, NOLA, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street, Yule.
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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.

A Star in the Beast December 7, 2011

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, Xmas, Yule.
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The rain falls in a dismal Oregon mist, a drizzle so fine my Fargo-raised son says it feels like snow. It is not. It is only in the low fifties out, and it is raining, the steady, penetrating damp of New Orleans winter.

It drives Northerners nuts. Before moving here she said: I’ll never get to where my sweaters, looking at that hope chest full of good Norwegian wool. Yes, you will, I answered. They come from the north expecting palms and balmy breezes and instead get a cold so bleak I wonder if this is how Ernest Shackelton’s men felt marooned on Elephant Island. I expect to pass a restaurant chalkboard and see Booby Soup featured.

When I lived up North the great moment of vernal excitement was when “the ice was off the lakes.” It then commenced to rain instead of snow, the icy rain of clouds off the North Pacific riding polar air masses south, on days cold enough to wear a sweater even if the sun were shining. This they called Spring. For someone from New Orleans, it was a second winter, more depressing than six months in an igloo, a winter without the pristine joy of fresh snow still a wonder to a Southern boy after a decade.

Granted that here in New Orleans we all might be swimming in Grandma’s pool come Christmas Day, but December is one of the city’s cloudiest months, and near the top for rainfall. This is the month when I remember and wonder: we almost moved to Portland, attracted by an guaranteed job with the company I worked for. My Portland-based boss and co-workers would have been pleased if we had come. I had looked at houses on the Internet, studied the tide tables of the Columbia River thinking of sailing on strongly tidal waters. Then I thought of endless drizzle and clouds. Then the Flood came, and all other plans were off. I was coming home.

I stood in a bar last Saturday, and fell into conversation with a group of Canadians. The day’s high had reached into the fifties but begun to fall outside. They all wore light fleece, the sort of thing one wears in “Spring” or in the warming house in the north. I have had this conversation two dozen times before: would we trade 50 and drizzle for a clear and windless 10 degree day, the sound of snow shows biting through the crust, the swoosh of cross-country skis?

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Tuesday was another gloomy evening of drizzle. As I turned to take my shortcut through City Park along Roosevelt Mall to get to Esplanade–car heater blasting like Satan’s chimney, blessed seat warmers up on high–I was greeted with the sight of a new set of Christmas lights in the park: an avenue of blue stars with white comet tails hanging from the oaks. I took my foot off the gas and let the car slowly roll beneath them. I was struck with the wonder I felt as a child visiting the Centanni House on Canal Street, oblivious to the weather, crunching into a candy apple from the several vendors who gathered there. When Salvador “Sam” Centanni died, king of over-the-top Christmas lights Al Copeland sent a lighted Christmas wreath instead of flowers, addressed to “The real King of Christmas.”

Once the children abandon Santa the way you left the church behind years ago, Christmas is a strange season: dinner at the in-laws stretched from hours to days, an obligatory Mass where you hope no one notices that you don’t even bother to mumble anymore to the Apostles Creed. Catholics are rotten singers but there was still something about midnight mass, waiting impatiently to bellow at the end Gloria in Ecelsis Deo over the woebegon Catholic pioneers around you. There was a ballooning joy in seeing the children’s faces when they opened their presents on Chritsmas Eve but I never quite got over the idea that presents belonged to Christmas morning. For half my life Christmas Eve was a time for parties and visiting neighbors, my father and my uncle drunkenly assembling a bicycle after midnight. But the great pleasure of the season wherever I lived was the mid-winter carnival of lights.

When I first got home to Mid-City, I would drive down City Park Avenue and look at the tangle of torn wires in the oak trees, all that remained of the Celebration in the Oaks. Over the years it has slowly recovered, and the site of the chase-light candy cane tunnel over the miniature train tracks no longer leads to my slamming on the breaks at Marconi. I am sad they moved the dragon far back into the lagoons and replaced it with the swans at Wisner and City Park. That dragon blown akimbo by the storm and left in the lagoon for seasons was for me not just a a memory but a promise, that mythical creatures still have meaning, manifest themselves in our lives if only by the magic of lights strung on a wire frame.

I don’t believe in a star in the east, but I do believe in the power of a hundred thousand glowing bulbs–the CO2 soaked atmosphere be damned for a month or so–to lift the cold-soaked soul toward the heavens.

Cargo Cult of the Endymionites March 8, 2007

Posted by The Typist in cargo cult, Carnival, Dancing Bear, Debrisville, Mardi Gras, Mid-City, New Orleans, Odds&Sods, Toulouse Street.
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The tribal peoples of Mid-City appear to have erected this cargo cult wagon and covered it with beads in memory of the great god Endymion, which once visited these precincts. On close examination it also contains a snare drum, a favorite of the parading gods, and part of the of the cross-buck lights from the City Park miniature train. I wonder if they intended to signal to the great being that Mid-City is back, complete with amusement rides in the Park for his lordly pleasure. This odd vehicle is on the raised concrete platform in City Park on the west side of the site I recall from my childhood was a seal pool but which Gambit suggests was a swimming pool. (I think I’m right).