Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day by Day in Treme

The always refreshing city of New Orleans, unlike any place else in the country....and probably among the friendliest cities in the world
Here's the de Bienville statue (city founder), complete with friar and Native dude in high colonial style...but lest you assume New Orleans is like other American cities, it's unique in that--among other things--there were always free black people here, even during the slave era (many from Haiti after the all about it:
Many aspects of New Orleans remind me of Buenos Aires...the latin architecture, the collapsing and faded grandeur, the political corruption and dubious infrastructure, the amazing friendliness and skill at living in the moment

Sighting fauns in a city like New Orleans is almost redundant...

and incidentally, yesterday was the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring

...and where there are fauns, pixies and faeries are wont to play

Saints & Sinners Book Fair was great...did panels on Voice, YA, How to Survive as a Writer and AIDS literature. Also did readings and had the honor of presenting an award to Bernard Cooper

With authors Jeffrey Ricker and Sassafras Lowery on YA...there is now a New Adult (NA) market category as well for 20somethings... stay tuned for OA

 With authors Michael Thomas Ford, Jess Wells, Marty Hyatt and Fay Jacobs on How to Survive...Jess and I have both been Buddhist practitioners/students and shared how getting comfortable with disappointment and impermanence and simply 'what is' are all essential qualities necessary to stick with the writing life...we all have themes in our lives and one of mine has always been 'getting discouraged'...what better teacher than the writing life to work through that one! And no better philosophy than Buddhism to weather the rough spots.....we talked a lot about gratefulness too...we are lucky to be able to do this at all....we deserve better sure...but then, who doesn't? Onward...

Saints & Sinners Hall of Famers Jeff Mann, Bernard Cooper, Andrew Holleran, Amie Evans and Marianne Martin (all wonderful and generous people, well deserving of such an award)

Some of the memorable and friendly characters I had the pleasure of spending my time with over the long weekend in this lovely city

Benjamin Morrisson of Times Picayune

Tre because he's "the third" and his uncle's name is Squirrel...yes, he's from Mississippi

Disco Buddha...the city was also strewn with Tibetan prayer flags as the Dalai Lama was just here...and knowing New Orleans, which isn't terribly buddhist personality-wise (though they do live in the present, so don't take my word for it), these flags will hang for decades like Mardi Gras's just how things go here

Writers and good friends, Emanuel Xavier and Glen Winston James

Otis Fennell, who runs FAB (Faubourg Marigny Books) which supplied all the books for the fair...and his assistant, Tre (again), who boasted this was his 'Jersey Shore' look

Faubourg Marigny Bookstore is a New Orleans's funky like places in SF used to be...I think I have read more times here than almost anywhere (except perhaps Books Inc in SF and Skylight in LA)...I always host an open mike here during the fair so attendees can read a piece....a small way to pay back the amazing reading scene that existed in SF when I was starting out late 80s/early 90s (Paradise Lounge, Cafe DuMond, Elbow Room, Chameleon, Red Doras Bearded Lady, ... I'm leaving tons of them out, but you get the idea)

My friend Alvin Orloff's book on a table in front of FAB

Sven Davisson, publisher of Rebel Satori Press who prints my second editions of Sweet Son of Pan and A Perfect Scar

SM Johnson on left who has published several titles with Rebel Satori and Justin Torres, author of We the Animals

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence!

I can't say I'm a huge fan of the food in New Orleans, or the constant drinking, so I actually went to Mona Lisa twice (a little Italian place...veggie lasagna and chianti), which is over on the Esplanade edge of the quarter. It also allowed me to indulge in some Mona Lisa sightings.....

This one for Loretta...we are definitely not in Connecticut anymore...and definitely not Waterbury!

The J-man appears at night as a about the shadow of America
(Am now reading David McConnell's American Honor Killings, an important and well-written book about the twisted issue of honor among American males that often leads straight into religious insanity, survivalism, racism, gay bashing and all the attendant ills

Too late to meet this particular character (and fortunately won't have to meet his progeny, or not this batch anyway), but it's New Orleans, so the streets are strewn with such refuse...I tried to stay away from Bourbon St. proper which you know you are getting close to when it starts to get loud and the smell of vomit wafts on the wind....I kid you not, 24-7

But over in the Treme at the Antebellum Guesthouse all was refined and tranquil....there were even echoes of the Cloisters in NYC where the unicorn tapestries depicted here in miniature hang for real in all their glory (see my previous NYC blog)

Keith who has made his vision real...his guesthouse is a true and ongoing work of art...he's a well-known stained glass artist and had a big career in NYC  before burning out on that scene and coming to New Orleans, which he'll never leave (except for maybe Barcelona he tells me). Keith and Art weathered Katrina and stayed put even though the military kept coming by and asking them to leave (they are actually on Esplanade Ridge, which contrary to what that sounds like, actually is completely unnoticeable, but involves those crucial few feet which kept the floodwaters out of their house)..he said the poor folks looted TVs and electronics while the military looted art and the real valuables (this gets little press of course). The soldiers asked them: "Do you have a weapon?" Keith had an antique sword. They actually helped some older folks get out of town, and when people began to return, they cooked and shared meals, etc. Keith said he got a ton of reading done, so there are still forces at work that support literature!
I've come to really admire and like these guys...will miss you two!

Off to New York...

1 comment:

  1. Very glad you had a great visit to our town, and that you met Art and Keith.

    I met you briefly (very briefly) at the Saints and Sinners book table. Just finished reading "Horse Named Sorrow" about an hour ago. LUFFIT. Gonna email you soon to request a signed copy of "Faun".