Monday, August 11, 2008

The 'K' Thing in New Orleans

Po-boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Perspective and Soda
Greetings Cats and Hats, and welcome to the nth uninterrupted edition of Where Y’at’s Jazzfest extravaganza bonanza issue. Brought to you by anyone that’s left and has enough dough to advertise and get this puppy back off the ground. Thank you.
You know, we here in the Big Uneasy have a lot to talk about but lately it’s been all about that “K” thing; and we’re gonna try to steer away from that. The more you talk about it the worse it gets.
So, let’s talk of something else.
I recently reread Slaughterhouse Five and finally got it from Billy Pilgrim. And the ‘it’ that I got is that: whatever we’re doing, whatever we’ve done and whatever we’re going to do has already been done and gone like last week’s mugging that’s waiting for us around the next corner about to happen to us again in the past. It only sounds weird. But it’s not really. I mean, here you are reading this and enjoying a day like other days; full of those events that alter and illuminate your life. Except ‘Billy Theory’ says that you already have and will again do this (that bit might be the weird part).
The challenge with that kind of ‘Pilgrim Pretzel Logic’ is that I don’t like to picture me having that splitting headache, hangover and hangnail for sempiternity. Nor do I relish re-occurring birth, puberty and nursing home experiences. However, I do fancy falling in love repeatedly for all eternity; but, I’d rather skip all of those heartbreaks.
For those of you that don’t remember that you’ve read the book somewhere in your future past I’ll remind you: Billy Pilgrim is was a person or not that has, had and will have the ability to view his life as a subjective time traveler, seeing, not often willingly, his birth and death and everything in between right now. In fact, much like ourselves, Billy doesn’t really know where in his life that he will be at any given moment. Billy doesn’t even know where in his life that he will be any time that he closes and reopens his eyes.
That plus alien abductions, family life as an successful optometrist and that nasty Allied bombing of Dresden is kinda of what the book all about. Of course it’s written in the third person plural abstract individual experience mode. Why should you read this book? Too late, you already will have. Why did it make a difference to you?
Because it threw coincidence and déjà vu out the cosmic window and all of a sudden the meaning of heaven and hell became quite clear. Also it improved your memory, made you more popular and an all around better person. You also mind your mouth and manners, remember to accessorize properly and finally get that manicure/massage that you’ve been promising yourself. After all, if you’re going to do today, this minute, over and over again, why not let now be as pleasing as it possibly was (will have been).
That’s why it is so very important to be at Jazzfest every minute that you can. The bucks that you have in your pocket are going to come and go, and, Entergy and Ma Belle will continue to dog your butt every month for time eternal; but, Jazzfest will have taken up such a little piece of your life that you owe it to yourself to be as much a part of it as you can. It’s your own little bit of heaven. The smells, sights and sounds; the warm beer, mud, crowds and noise. The icy cold oysters, the freebees at the cooking demonstration that you can never get close enough, soon enough to get a sample of and the long lines for the toilets are all part of it. The mist machines, that seat in the back of the Gospel tent that’s the only place left to sit. Those guys that sell overpriced peanuts that I’m sure to purchase. That sunscreen that you left at home, the threat of rain, and (hopefully) tribes of Indians sedately making the rounds, the Crawfish Monica, Jama Jama, strawberry ice tea, the pauses that reflect.
I didn’t quite know how to handle the storm’s aftermath, so I allowed my instincts get me through the best that I could; and, just as I know that none of us can rest while any of our neighbors are displaced I know that those of us that have been replaced have to keep things going. The alternative is not to laugh, not to dance, and that’s not an alternative I want to be a part of. After all, what if Billy Pilgrim is right? What if I pass up the opportunity to jump and clap and whistle and grin like a monkey until that lady with the yellow shirt tells me to go sit back down? I want to be in that number, and, especially if the repercussion of missing my Jazzfest over and over again is because of some lame reason (like work) that I will have to repeat again and again instead. Now, that would be hell!
Eighty percent of this city, my city, is in shambles. The least I can do is to invite everybody to come and to hang out with me, for this brief time, and dance to the music.
So, all of y’all, I’m glad that you’re here. Jazzfest opens in the mornin’ and closes at night unlike the aftermath of the storms that knew no closing time. It’s for less days than I spent without water, electricity or a cold beer; and I am one of the lucky ones.
When y’all leave and we go back to cleaning up what’s left of our lives, I’ll look back and ahead to the time that we’re spending together smiling. I sure needed the break. And after all, if either we’re all in this together or we’re in it by ourselves, which part would you want to repeat?

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