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The Blooming New January 1, 2012

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, Shield of Beauty, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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The highest of the downtown fireworks were just barely visible through the trees, but that hardly mattered. Lakeview resounded with something like the sounds of battle, a steady crackling like rifle fire and the wump and burst of artillery and the sky was alive with rockets and star shells, the bang whoosh snap pop hiss of burning metallic blossoms in the dark, dissolving into columns of smoke hanging hesitant in the sky then rushing past like a crowd of ghosts fleeing the ecstatic mayhem.

Lakeview announces to the mob that they have no need to crush themselves into Jackson Square but can drive to Gretna and peel off the hundreds to load their car with all the fireworks they need. I suspect they do not know the history of fireworks but as I stand in the street and watch the ancient Chinese art of lifting fiery flowers into heavens, inadvertently hoisting Sun Ra’s shield of beauty, and with these exuberant explosions of Li Tian’s gung pow simultaneously driving away the smoky ghosts and lingering demons of the old year, clearing the air for the new just as last night’s rain washed the new day clean of the last remnants of the old. I sit on the stoop of the backyard smoking and listen to the bells of Holy Rosary and they seem to ring with a clarity not explained by simple tricks of atmospherics. After last night’s purgative pyrotechnics the bells sound not to drive away but to draw together their faithful for the celebration of the old magic, the rite of transubstantiation.

Two crows fly over at a diagonal of the line between the church and their crossing severs ties to the past. The spell is reversed: flesh into bread, blood into wine, the labor and reward of a life moving forward, outdistancing the past. I feel like Scrooge reformed, want to rush into the streets wishing everyone a Happy New Year.

Thank you Lakeview and to everyone, without reservation or exemptions, a Happy New Year.

An Odd Fellow’s Memorial Day May 25, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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“Now, I have come again
to the land of the fair, and the strong, and the wise.
Brothers and sisters of the pale forest,
children of night,
who among you will run with the hunt?
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.”
— Jim Morrison

It is two years Memorial Day since I saw the city’s towers and the white arc of the Superdome rising out of the vast, flat waterscape, my car hurtling southbound on the Causeway at 80 after days of towing my boat at 55 or 60 the entire breadth of the country, ‘OZ pouring in from the radio like a beacon and the lake flashing in the late afternoon sun like the runway lights of some great airport as I prepared to touch down–the white lines hurtling past–at the Final Destination.

And then I am rolling down Causeway Boulevard in the perfectly American stripmallandia of Metairie, past the old Lakeside Shopping Center and the corner where Harry Lee’s family Chinese restaurant, the House of Lee, once stood. Thinking I will stop to buy some Abita I opt to go down Veterans Boulevard rather than take the I-10 into town. Instead I am too absorbed by the landscape to remember to stop, too smitten by how little has changed on the mostly dry side of the levees. The familiar landmarks march past–the building once a Shakey’s Pizza but now a sushi place, a convenience store at the Bonnabel Boulevard corner where I bought cigarettes so many years ago that I should not have been allowed. The closer to town the more reassuring it becomes: the Lamplighter lounge, Dorignacs: so little has changed in 20 years. And then I am across the 17th Street Canal and rolling down into the lumpy, camp-pottery bowl that is home.

My wife is sitting on the porch of our new home waiting, the wife I have lived apart from for almost half a year is waiting to show me all she has suffered through to make the shotgun double we bought at Mardi Gras a familiar home, painted in many of the colors we first chose in Fargo and now furnished with our things. And still I go the long way down Polk and pass through Lakeview, crawling down the bad streets past the hollow cottages of old south end. I turn up Canal and point myself toward home, past the drowned sunken gardens on the neutral ground and toward Cemeteries, toward Toulouse Street and the house where the children will join us in another day and make it home in full.

As I passed the assembled Saints and Angels that stand watch over the tombs of Greenwood and St. Patrick–wondering who watches over Odd Fellows behind its high walls–this came to me: like Jesus on his ass I knew I had reached the end of my road, the Golden Gate; I knew that some great fulfillment was at hand. What now, I asked aloud, starting up through the sun roof at a sky wholly blue and empty, and pitilessly hot? What next?

I have come to the appointed place.

Last Haul September 5, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Citizen Journalism, Corps of Engineers, flooding, Hurricane Katrina, Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, We Are Not OK.
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