Our doors and windows have been open for the past three weeks. New Orleans is unseasonably … perfect.
After Jazzfest, according to local wisdom, the houses will all be shut tight and air-conditioned for the next six months. We will all become vampires. The sun, she’s already getting tropical on us.
We can be human animals in a place that’s falling down around us. There’s no more room to obliterate nature landscapes to make way for ugly box stores full of useless things here on the end of the Earth — there are only dilapidated spaces to rebuild and start anew. And then water.
Like the Situationists said: In order to create, one must first destroy. In this case, nature took care of that bit, and she probably will do so again. At the end of the earth, you look futility in the face and call it awesome. You don’t nuke and pave over it and pretend it doesn’t exist. You are ready for it.
You don’t belong to the modern world anymore. You have no idea what’s on TV, now, or ever. You grow out hair and smell like an animal and and sweat and slap bugs and occupy yourself with reintroduction to things that matter — and not things. You realize you are made of meat.
At the end of the earth, roads go to shit, plants bust through the sidewalks, vines overtake houses, and graves burp up from the ground. Nature bats last, and there’s no point in denying it. But unlike the manicured, tamed, asphalted and strip-malled suburbs to which we’d been exiled growing up, in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood now, Nature is right there to provide when the power goes out. Can’t fish on a golf course; can’t garden in a parking lot.
Springtime oozes into summer; snow has melted. The river is swollen; hunting lands sit in water; culverts overflow in storms. Fifteen named tropical storms so far loom on the horizon this year, as opposed to the ten last year at this time.
Mosquitoes will breed out of control in the sweet warm fog. And we will be at war with them, figuring out the best way to drench exposed skin with catnip and citronella, and researching construction of purple martin birdhouses. Because they eat mosquitoes.
The car trunk looks like a resourceful hobo has been living in it. High on the Action Item List: Clean it out and re-stock supplies for the hurricane(s) evacuation(s). It’s also time to take inventory of all material possessions, organize them for quick removal, decide what’s important to save, and determine what to leave behind, to sacrifice to the water, should the water call for it.
BIENVENUE EN LOUISIANE … WELCOME CENTER (still? forever?) CLOSED FOR RECONSTRUCTION.
(p.s. listen to Eddie Bo’s “Check Your Bucket” here.)
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