Monday, December 7, 2009

Tennessee Williams in New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Left Write Left
What Did Tennessee?
This is the writer’s column. Of sorts. Who am I to talk about writers, especially in times like these? I once shot an elephant in my pajamas.
But before that, this: I think that maybe the French Quarter is made up entirely of service industry personnel, musicians, writers/poets, artists, panhandlers, drunks, fortune tellers and wine reps. Also, real estate salespeople, street performers, shop workers, baristas, pick pockets, tap dancers, loose women and chumps playing video poker. Miscreants all. Who knows where mail carriers, roofers, landlords, bus drivers, politicians and/or garbage collectors live? The homeless live everywhere. I cover the French Quarter. I am The Po Boy Views. I are a writer.
In fact, as a writer, I would rather be read than paid; (we’ll pass quickly over that resemblance before my editor gives it the once over twice, if you get my drift.) and I’ll tell you what.
In New Orleans you can’t swing a cat without hitting a musician or a writer/poet and we all wants to fulfill our destinies of iconic fame and we wants the rest of youse to appreciate us for that endeavor, see?
To be a writer, or any of the above listed activations, you have to live within your medium. A writer must see things in literary terms, view things in words and improve their vocabulary to say as much as possible in as few words as can be used. To be succinct is paramount unless, like Faulkner, you get paid by the word.
Columnists like me have only a thousand words (give or take) until Beulah The Buzzer says that my time is up. Sometimes I make up words, sometimes I embellish and sometimes I plagiarize. That’s called being creative. That’s called reaching your audience.
To be any type of writer (no pun intended) is to be a storyteller. From the Pythagorean Theorem to the wooden leg being stolen from the girl by the jilting bible salesman, it’s tales, all tales, and some are taller than others. A good literary narrator, in a decent forum is in hog heaven, a nova in the magma of the universe. Can I get a witness?
Me, I can spin a good yarn and I have a propensity for imagining the absurd and considering it normal. I hear voices. I see ghosts. I cannot tell a joke to save my assets; however, when it comes to wry humor, one liners and snappy comebacks, I take a spanking from no-one. Also, I have a lousy memory and my thoughts have to be written down while they are fresh or they are lost to the ethers. To further sweeten the pot, I was raised opinionated if not outspoken and I admire wordsmiths and people that can talk intelligently without being long winded. In short ---I’m a natural--- with a little work, I may someday become better than good.
Say, call me crazy, but I think someone should have put a turnip in Allen Ginsberg’s mouth before he learned to howl.
And now consider this: just as a painter must know his brushes, a chef must know her knives, a dancer must know the steps and a weaver the thread; a writer must know words and how to use them. The best way to know words and how to use them is to read, parallel advice can be given to those other guys I just mentioned but we aint got room to elaborate.
Right now you might be saying “blah, blah, blah” and big woops and letting your mind wander and wonder and ‘why am I reading this and what’s the message here?’
I want to tell you something; there is something that I want you to know. I want you to know that sometimes I think that, in the scheme of things, maybe I am wasting my life and shouldn’t I be doing something of substance and import and am I being all that I can be and a lot of shyte like that and such and don’t we all think that from one time to another? And then I tell myself to shut the fuck up and examine how much I am doing! Then I think that there are not enough hours in the day and how I am growing in several mediums as an artist and as an artist will. The rest, as I practice patience, will have to wait until I gather the other necessary ingredients for fulfillment: looks and a whole lot of money. And that is what an artist must do from one time to another.
I believe in my heart that we all, every one of us, are artists. There is something in us all that we can do and do well and it’s up to each one of us to recognize what that art is and our responsibility to develop and elevate that art.
And, not only that. It is our duty as artists to reach an audience with our art and connect with positive results; form a symbiotic relationship, reciprocative and mutually flattering in nature. After all, what good is a song, a painting, a slice of pie, a car tune up, a perfect martini, a breast enhancement or a wittily turned phrase if there is nobody there to appreciate it?
As a writer, I write, I read, I blog and I go to conferences and literary festivals (like the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival March 24-28) and I seek to elevate my writing as an art. I love considering myself, against all odds, a writer and an artist. A trait that an artist has that sets them apart is that they believe in themselves.
Another characteristic of an artist is the pursuit of perfection, by their own definition, and all artists seek it. In the making of our morning coffee, in our relationships, in a perfectly put together outfit, in the way that we communicate and in our mediums. Once, I saw a young girl named Lizard make the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The medium is the message.

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