Jazz Funeral

oh, goddamnit. they had better sort this shit out. all the servers for new orleans sites are down. how odd.

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cry, the beloved country
i've been to new orleans four times in my life. each time i go, i come away with a sense of alternate reality, as if there's a version of me that's been there for years. back when i was making decisions about what college to attend, i narrowly missed landing at tulane university, courtesy of a last-minute deal with my parents and a slightly heftier scholarship from nyu's gallatin school, where i ended up. i have a feeling that a vanessa in new orleans at seventeen might have ended up staying there, and things would have gone very differently for me.

all speculation aside, i've always been in love with the place... with the attendant music, past and present ("house of the rising sun," the be good tanyas' "lakes of ponchartrain," and even "bloodletting" by concrete blonde") and the historical mystique and the marvelous food and the horrifying, carnal primality of the flesh-hot air and the swamp and the bayous and the roachy, lizard-spotted, banana-leafed immediacy of it all.

if you shuffle back in the archives here till you reach june, you'll see copious notes on where i went, and what i ate, and about a million photos of everything i saw, save for the goddamn roaches because i just don't have the presence of mind to take snaps of insects which are skittering about at excesses of the speed of sound. i could go on, here, but i guess what i am leading up to is the big storm, Katrina (a category 5 hurricane, to be precise) which is even now plowing mightily over jefferson parish on its way to points north. i didn't take any pictures of it, but if you've driven over the Lake Ponchartrain causeway, you'll have an idea of what i'm talking about when i recall the seemingly endless shallow-water flats of glassy silver reflecting the sunset in shades of dove-gray and blush-pink. it's something. the city and it's environs, under the folkloric-sounding name jefferson parish, which is a nifty euphemism for 'county' i guess... are all clothed in a palpable sense of deep, purple, tropical gothic mysticism. it's not so hard to imagine half-mad voudons gleaming with sweat under fragarantly smoking bonfire shadows, or nattily attired vampires abroad in the garden district, for god's sake, when you find yourself in a place as determinedly backwards, (and beautifully so) as this...

with the palpable sense of mortality that hangs over the whole shebang, it ought to come to no surprise that the teasers of it's own doom sound like this:

"NEW ORLEANS — When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, it could turn one of America's most charming cities into a vast cesspool tainted with toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins released by floodwaters from the city's legendary cemeteries. -AP Monday, August 29, 2005"

What a way to go...
So here's a list of things I'd miss, if the Atchafalaya Basin becomes the Atchafalaya Memorial Landfill today:
Trey Yuen Cuisine Of China in Mandeville, LA
especially the monster crab rangoons and the crayfish in spicy lobster and black bean sauce, which i never would've ordered if it weren't for Andy nagging my ass. also, the gorgeous gardens with the biggest man-made fishpond i've ever seen, just crawling with frogs and crayfish and god knows what else.

Audubon Park, Garden District
A very pleasant, if horrifically steamy, place to run, with the most gorgeous lake populated by what seems like hundreds of snowy egrets and mossy-backed turtles.

Rockefeller, Bienville, Arnaud, on the half shell, and best of all, Drago's Charbroiled...
Drago's Restaurant in Metarie http://www.dragosrestaurant.com/
was the first meal I had off the plane the last time I was in the city, and I'm never not going again.
from the site:
"About ten years ago, Tommy Cvitanovich, manager of Drago's, was thinking about the dish that bears his name. (Drumfish Tommy is broiled drumfish napped with a superb butter garlic sauce.) He wondered: How would that sauce taste drizzled over one of the fat, tasty oysters for which Drago's is known? And what if that oyster was then cooked over an open fire? There were other oyster dishes cooked in a shell, but those were baked with a stuffing. Tommy's idea was simple. Almost too simple. We tested it. It was extraordinary! We tried to improve on the sauce by adding wine. We tried bordelaise sauce. But the unofficial tasters at the restaurant, who had the enviable chore of sampling countless oysters, all came to the same conclusion. You can't improve on perfection!"



kenny salvini is two years younger than me and now he's a quadriplegic. he has no feeling below his shoulders, just stuck in a - what? a bed? a chair? forever. before his accident, he was an athlete and an amazingly gorgeous and obviously very smart person, with every reason in the world to be happy and to expect to enjoy his life, and then one day, he broke his neck skiing with his dad, and now he's facing the prospect of always being reliant on people for the most personal and basic tasks. bless him, though, he's been writing it all out so lazy fuckers like myself can look into his head and see the movies of memory and hopes he's replaying. i came across his weblog in msn spaces and was amazed when i started reading his posts as often as he refreshed them. eventually i figured out that he had pictures up on his site and was even more dismayed that this guy was just unfrickingbelievably beautiful to look at, too. somehow that made it a bit worse. does that sounds shallow? would it be even more terrible if he was a brilliant, sensitive horse-faced pigmonster stuck in a pressure bed for the rest of his life? i don't know, so don't ask me. i'm just saying that he's so gorgeous, and it makes my heart hurt a little to think that this is what he's got to work with from now on.

today he writes about making weight for wrestling and i was just shattered by the determination and the clarity of purpose. (two things i'd do anything for.) towards the end i caught myself wondering if it was worth it. all that rigor and early mornings getting to know how to use this body, honing it down to it's peak, starving it and working it till it was perfected, so that he can now recall in such details the sense-memory of electric impulses jagging down every nerve fiber, or the sharpness of hunger after a week of starvation. would you be glad you'd made the most of it? relieved that you'd proved your mettle before it was stripped away? or would you wish you'd smoked up and eaten brownies and mac n cheese and taken the ease of your body.

what makes every minute count? when i'm lying in a bed i know i'm not getting back out of, am i going to remember the roasted foie gras with peeled grapes and brioche and sauternes or will it be coming to the top of the hill in the park and seeing the lake and feeling the pain fade away and the wind buff my cheeks and chill my sweat? will i remember being loved and falling asleep in someone's arms, or the sheets on saturday morning?

(to some extent, this train of thought is lawrence's fault, as his blog from this morning got me thinking about the astroglidelubed texture of time, about how fast each good minute flows past.)

back when i was taking scott's classes, i remember talking about the arrow of time, and about how there is not any particular reason for us to percieve time as flowing from past to future. although that has since proven to be untrue, (
http://www.aip.org/pnu/1998/split/pnu402-2.htm) having to do with 'T violation in the observed decay rates for neutral K mesons,' (whatever the fuck that means...)

it seems to me that i was on the right track back in sophomore year of college in thinking that time just rushes us through like a snotty waiter.

i deserve this... punishment? for my life of fornication and pot-smoking, wine-swilling, cigarette-huffing sensualism far more than killer kenny salvini does. at least he gave it his best shot... what in the fuck am i doing with it? making amusing comments, i mean...?

check it out:


the ship of now has sailed
and glides like night into the port of evening
through foggy voices
like shouts in pillows
or birds calling in a downpour

the rattle of the subway
is the ringing of the telephone
and the empty platform
is the hum of an open line
and friends brought home by the cops
after long wandering
were disconnected, but fine

certain particle-board futures
have the bland mouth
of bread and flesh
the pallor of swedish modern
the knotted hardness of knuckles on toes
without the utility of the other kind
and after long discussion,
do we agree that these are just as dangerous as
the hardwood forest
the undisclosed source of the blackest river
the well that fills with sleep
and then starts to seep past its bounds


sparkly with denial

like coal, i resist,
and my hard black center
is the backlash of gravity,
the impurity of spirit.
looking closely you will note
that my inclusions are exclusions
my flaws are in relief
my false color, an overdose of
flourides and sulfur.
army world, you're making indestructible
shatterings of me.
my foaming black life
into stark formality
in crystal facets.
no engagement ring or
weeping innocent tears,
but a navel ornament
for a trophy queen.

i refuse to be blamed for what's been
wrought of me.


Was there a time

Was there a time when dancers with their fiddles
In children's circuses could stay their troubles?
There was a time they could cry over books,
But time has set its maggot on their track.
Under the arc of the sky they are unsafe.
What's never known is safest in this life.
Under the skysigns they who have no arms
Have cleanest hands, and, as the heartless ghost
Alone's unhurt, so the blind man sees best.

-Dylan Thomas

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

TS Eliot, Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

I'm feeling very small and very fallible these days.

pictures of you

a thousand years from now, when our work
is gravel and rubbish, and a broken moon
rises over white corpse-dust that once was us.
going to meet a line of lovers
whose names i don't yet know.
in the heart of a gleaming cloud
between stars, great silence presides
over immense beginnings.
amid my many twins back at the beginning, being
borne through the years, and still safe from the future.
my own reflection in the subway window.

this is how i try to imagine
not knowing your face.


best. beer. ad. ever.

This morning I was going through my usual search of internet news when I found two articles, seemingly unrelated, that point to the bleak future in store for us all. Yeah, it's been that kind of week, and I wanted to share the love.

The first is that no one is reporting UFO sightings any more. From Area 51 to England, UFO societies are shutting down for lack of members. It's possible that after 60 years of failing to convince the public that aliens have been visiting our planet, UFOlogists are giving up, except even the hard-core X-files people out there just aren't getting enough celestial pings to make their nightly vigils worth while. Maybe the aliens are waiting until Burning Man before they visit again.
The second is that the permafrost in Siberia has begun to melt big time. The ground in Siberia has been frozen solid for the last 11,000 years. In the few settlements that exist in this wasteland that's bigger than Texas and Oregon combined, toilet pipes had to be built above ground, because the permafrost was as hard as concrete. Not anymore. Scientists report finding new lakes a mile across, and peat bogs that haven't see the sun since the last Ice Age ended.
Forget about China cranking out millions of new cars every year, or the United States and Australia committing themselves to another generation of burning coal. Even if everybody in the world woke up tomorrow with Ralph Nader's brain, the permafrost melting means that the amount of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will double in the next thirty years.
The more greenhouse gases, the faster the temperature will rise. In Siberia where there's nothing but dirt and water and both trap heat, the permafrost will begin melting at an accelerated rate, liberating more methane which will raise the temperature faster. What's really depressing is that this means it's officially too late to stop global warming.
It no longer matters whether we save the rain forests. This is a point of no return. Thanks for trying Tony Blair, even if the G-8 accords, which the US, Australia, China and Korea refuse to agree to, are like trying to put out a campfire by spitting on it, but it just doesn't matter any more.
Maybe that's why the aliens have stopped coming around lately.
A species so stupid that it didn't realize they were wiping themselves out just isn't worth studying. The aliens have fifty years of images and specimens like cow parts and Elvis for the museum of failed civilizations.

The rest of us might as well be burning fucking tires on our lawns, cooking American eagles for supper and huffing freon from the air conditioner. If natural processes happened in a time scale humans could easily understand, everybody on the planet would be screaming like bitches right now, because holy shit, we're all going to die.
The folks over at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who can visualize time on this scale, are most likely scoping out cheap land in the Andes and Nepal, making friends with survivalists.
Those of us who have been following hurricane season already realize how whack things are. Everybody else will figure it out in the next five to 15 years, in a direct ratio to how much time they spend watching Fox News or listening to Rush Limbaugh.
This is like that scene in Titanic where some people wait until the boat is at water level to jump in only to be pulled down by the weight of the ship.
There isn't even a good way off this dying planet.
NASA recently announced that they were scrapping the space shuttle in favor of a return to the Mercury capsules.
This is like your grandfather trading in his 1968 Buick for a 1950 Studebaker.
Just when we could really use some alien spacecraft they stop coming around. There's never a Vogon around when you need them.

-not me. nuff said...

what these little hurts make is
sticky pudding, black with dates
left awhile to wait
and grown crass and gross
with mold and moss and age,
liverspotted like damning words, which march
in regiments across a page
and, denying understanding in their martial movements,
lose context as they go
so i lose my shape and
i bend and break with the hard elbows and
jabbing umbrellas
and proofs which i must offer of goodwill and faith

don't we all look for quiet?
but i lie in my bed and the thundering feet
and the harsh teutonic squeals
and the furniture movers at four am
are like the poltergeists of my perished heart
tapping out a message i would prefer to ignore
cracking knuckles and slamming doors
making manifest the truth of this long and harried wait
while in my stomach, hidden by analgesics and coffee
coil the overripe mysteries of life
which i may yet accept or deny

this is all borne
moment by moment,
and distractions come and go.
i'm not without hope, though sometimes i fear
hope may have gone on without me.


alex winter? meh.

dear alex winter,

last night while i sat watching entourage, laughing at a jeremy piven gag at your expense, i realized that i have never liked you, even before i had reason to really actively think you're a poop man-sculpture. bill n ted? who sucked more? lost boys? come on, with your pretty girly blonde curls. i am considering a movie marathon so that i can mock you mercilessly, but wait... there are only four movies that anyone's ever heard of... and no one wants to watch Bill n Ted 2 again. Ever. So that leaves me with Lost Boys (vampire), Freaked (Ricky the bonehead) and B&T's E. A. (otherguy the bonehead.) Great. as long as no money of mine ends up in your pocket. who's in?

go to hell, alex winter, with your pretentious interviews and your cold, cold heart. i'll see you there.


below, jerk.
ObscenitiesUttered byJesus Christ.
- - - -
"Dad damn you."
"Holy Mom, mother of me."
"Myself almighty."
"Good me."
"Me, Mom, and Mom's husband ..."

McSweeny's Lists and Open Letters. (http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/lists/)


"Knock hard - life is deaf."


telephone pictionary: http://www.mbinde.com/games/telephone-pictionary/

sounds like fun. why doesn't anyone play parlor games anymore?

also: "all camels look like mick jagger"
simplest best like the cool air beyond the threshold
best like the white sheets amid your limbs in the gray morning
easiest is the first bite that sharpens my hunger
the melting ice cube at the bottom of the glass
which is as crisp as the word itself
or clean hair, smelling of soap and sun
sweetest and no less is the lap around the park on saturday afternoon
napped in sweat and prickled with goosebumps
running in a fog of green, green clorophyll smell
through garlands of barbeque smoke
best yet the moments after loving you
before sleep sets in, with my ear cupped to catch your hearbeat
tickled by your hands as they come to rest
and, oh yes, the memory of ferries and fried shrimps
at tables wreathed in familiar faces above
and bare feet below
"The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all."

oh, me.


Confucius say "Man who stands on toilet is high on pot."


the long dark snacktime of the soul

growing up is like being a recovering alcoholic, i think. it seems to me that just like a dry drunk, a person's never over their inner 'tween, you never get the cred you feel you deserve, someone else is always having more fun, and even if you're the most popular kid in school, some authority puppet's still kicking your ass over something.

the reason i mention this is that i realized that just as i'm getting over the fact that i'm kind of a slut, and plenty happy about that, thanks, a whole bunch of other issues are cropping up all uninvited... forget all that hooey about being talented and special. it would be nice to be the prettiest girl in school, and not a curvy, pleasant-faced midsize sedan. it would be nice to have my own company or have invented the post-it note, or just something. it seems unfair that after getting over the boring but pervasive neuroses of a private-school upbringing and immigrant family, i'm still just ordinary after all. don't get me wrong- i'm not complaining about my numerous blessings of health and vigor and brains and so forth, not to mention a high-quality education and my own brand of smiley stubbornness. (i'm a great cook, too.) what i mean is that in the end everyone turned out the same. the great, the good, the stinky, the mean and the golden are all working nine to seven and trying to furnish our apartments, eat a decent meal and get some exercise before we turn into tastycakes, or else we're living at home with our folks and slicing cold cuts at King's. no one tipped the scales and erred on the side of fantastic. (at least not yet.)

so it turns out that the prize for forgetting all their bullshit is that ten years after high school graduation, i finally start to internalize that we really are all the same? well, shit.