Sunday, February 8, 2009

Old And In The Way in New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Po Mouf
Old And In The way
I came across an old photo in a book the other day; it was a young guy, a thin guy and he didn’t wear glasses with which to be able to see. Now, this sounds like the beginning of a country western song and I guess you know the next line: “yes, that young guy was me…”
Although I’m still young for a geezer and definitely have some tread left, I seem to be seeing more people around me that are younger and, if I might add…. younger.
Whoo Boy Howdy!!; I could have raised some hackles by ending that sentence with words like cuter, dumber, brighter, weaker or any other adjective that someone long in the tooth says, on a regular basis, about those that they don’t understand that are just plain………. younger.
‘When I was your age’, another phrase of boredom usually begins with, I didn’t give a shit about what someone older than I had to say. Now that I’m older, I don’t listen, any more than casually, to anyone older ---or younger--- about anything. I can usually get by best with my peer group; those folks that when they say: “they told me that I’d get older, they just didn’t tell me that it would hurt” I literally feel them.
I have a very good friend that I worked along side of, as we elders say, back in the day. We were, and still are to some degree, chefs; but we referred to ourselves as “line cookin’ dogs”. Between the two of us, it is safe to say that, we have forgotten more about cooking than the average chef knows today. He’s in Costa Rica and I have a cookbook shop; a tale best saved for much more space and time. Anyway, David and I communicate regularly by email and under the subject space (you know, that little window at the top of the message?) we generally put in the words to songs (of our day) that we knew and could recite easily. We also sign on and off in fictitious names; our beginnings and sign offs take forms such as to: Florenz from: Ziegfeld or Jackie to Gleason, Philip to Morris, Ben from Dover and generally have a grand old time busting each others chops and commiserating on the times that we’re in, the aches that we’ve accumulated and, of course, sex, drugs and Rock n’ Roll. We generally agree that older people didn’t smoke enough dope when they were younger and, younger people haven’t smoked enough yet to talk about. We consider ourselves of a blessed generation. We know Jack.
But wait, it gets better. Back in the day (there I go again) and in a time that not many people remember there was a man named Mel Lyman. He was an avatar and prophet; some said he was god and some said that he was the devil. I know that he was a teacher and the main thing that he taught me was, coincidentally the same thing that Ernie K. Doe taught: “pay attention to your intentions”. I’m trying. It gets confusing.
I don’t want my shoes made by children or my chocolate from slave labor. I don’t want to have the evidence of my existence wind up in a landfill and I want a say in what goes on in my life. By the same token, I want those nouns that are around me (people, places and things) to look further than their noses as to what is really best for all of us collectively, to live with an inquiring and a questioning set of ethics and awareness. And this means you; is that too much to ask? I wonder how would George Carlin would put it?
I was at the corner of Broad and Esplanade waiting for the Shame Train (bus) along with other denizens of my hood. It is a lesson in humility, civility and patience to wait on the Shame Train, I recommend that everyone stay in touch with that school of soft knocks. Folks are reluctant to have conversation with one another; and for good reason. Only those who can’t afford to drive or are incompetent, invalid or indigent have the nerve and reason to bus it. Only those traveling far a field from home bus it.
For me it takes a real steeling to ride the Shame Train and there are times when, frankly, I’ll go on the ‘shoe leather express’ rather than take that ‘humbling’; it’s healthier for mind and body anyway.
So, there I was waiting with my ‘rounds (those that live ‘round me) and abruptly, a couple of young girls started signifying to a couple of young dudes in a pick-me-up truck, talking “bitch this and bitch that and mother f*cker that and N***** the other”. As they spotted me and a like aged black woman they apologized for “dis-‘specting” us “elders”. “Okay, fine, don’t worry”.
I turned to the woman and asked: “did you see that special on television on Petey Greene?” Well, you know a conversation can only go so far when the person that you’re talking to doesn’t understand who or what you’re talking about, and we got no further. Going no further sucks.
Where am I going with this? Just this: this is the year of the teacher and the student, and time is a terrible thing to waste. This Spring can be a new awakening; primavera means Spring: the first truth (and not a pasta dish), it’s time to shake out the cobwebs from the winters of our discontent and be positive influences on our lives and in the lives of others.
Going… going…
And, as this is one of the tougher pieces that I’ve written. I’ve read it over and over again trying to get my point and it turns out that my point is, quite frankly, purely subjective. There is way too much bullshit in our lives and I’ve been taking it in and dishing it out and not listening to my Teachers as I should. However; Spring is a good time to make changes, isn’t it?
River Deep—Mountain High

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