So I wasn’t here for Katrina, I stepped foot in Louisiana for the very first time about four months after it hit.

Because of that – because I did not go through what most everyone I have met here has, because i did not know the glory of this city – New Orleans – one tiny bit before I moved here and therefore have nothing but pictures and other peoples’ stories to compare it to before Katrina, I often feel like some sort of strange imposter compared to my friends and everyone else who has, firsthand, suffered through what they did, and continue to feel the pain.

Still, there is an uncommon resilience I see here in these people. They say “Oh, I lost that in Katrina”, and go on – regardless if it were their clothes, sentimental keepsakes that could never be replaced due to flooding, or their entire house. I don’t know if they have repressed everything, or actually accepted it.

Perhaps there is a strange comeraderie that bonds them together, letting them feel as if they aren’t alone, therefore not making the pain any less, but more bearable.

They still have their lives.

Tonight however, while IM-ing with someone I have not been in contact with for a few months, I got angry – then terrified. How much of the country actually has the same attitude as this person?

***

(towards the end of the conversation…)

XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:08:34 PM): so, everything is good over there in LA?
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:10:14 PM): besides hot?
ksea_flux (5/30/2006 10:10:34 PM): good? Hmm – well, okay for me, except for the heat and humidity. Two days away from the new hurricane season though, and the army corps of engineers are far from done repairing the levees.
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:10:47 PM): oh, shit.
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:11:03 PM): man, all those guys got the short end.
ksea_flux (5/30/2006 10:11:45 PM): the short end – like – ummm – losing everything they had ever owned – if they were lucky?
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:12:38 PM): LOL
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:12:44 PM): unfortunately, yes.
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:12:48 PM): it sucks.
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:12:58 PM): completely and utterly.
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:13:12 PM): anyway, I gotta run
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:13:18 PM): great to hear from you!
ksea_flux (5/30/2006 10:13:25 PM): okay, nice talking with you too…
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:13:44 PM): maybe I’ll run into you on the playa this year?
ksea_flux (5/30/2006 10:14:16 PM): and really – the lol was completely uncalled for. You haven’t seen this place.
ksea_flux (5/30/2006 10:14:48 PM): and heard the stories first hand, or seen people – still – completely breaking down.
ksea_flux (5/30/2006 10:14:58 PM): I know you didn’t mean any harm, but…
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:15:33 PM): oh come on ksea
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:15:52 PM): it seems like I can’t say anything without you taking offense
ksea_flux (5/30/2006 10:15:55 PM): what?
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:16:25 PM): you have scolded me enough times, I think
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:16:37 PM): for things I didn’t even mean the way you took them
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:17:06 PM): where did your sense of humor go?
ksea_flux (5/30/2006 10:17:23 PM): well, when a couple of thousand people lose their lives, they’re still finding bodies in the rubble of people’s lives, and you you seem to take it lightly – HUMOR???
XXXXX (5/30/2006 10:17:42 PM): you know what, I think we shouldn’t talk anymore.
ksea_flux (5/30/2006 10:17:46 PM): oh. yeah. it’s real fucking funny here.

then they signed off.

This is a recipe I know.

Throw in what you have, but be careful with the things that are precious, the ingredients
that you only bring out for the best,
and somehow, make it work.
Some things are saved for only the best.
I am not a chef – only a good cook. I have learned the ways that the ingridients mix, I have learned the base of them – I have learned the lessons.
But
I find it difficult to create something out of nothing. I find it difficult to dream something that might never have been if it weren’t for someone else there to appreciate it. It is nothing, it is lost and no better than dead without someone delighting in what you have created for them.

There is no creation worth anything without love, and i am such a cautious glutton.

I stand by your table as I serve you
me
I step back,
wanting you so much to roll me around on your tongue
wanting so much to see you taste
all of the different levels
as I peel myself away and give my creation
my creation, me
to you.

Can you taste everything? Is this only another meal offered
only another meal devoured with no words
and then
you ask for the check
pay the price
and I understand.
This was just a meal, nourishment
and you have eaten my heart, my soul, everything out of what i had
which was nothing but the desire to please you.

and you pay what you need to
dissapear as I go back behind the doors
and wait for someone else who i might believe in
looking through the small glass panes
looking for that someone who might want to taste everything
selecting and finding no one
and waiting, impatiently waiting for you
to come back.

I can’t send you love poems. With every word
i am terrified of pushing you away. With every word
I grow more distant,
I grow closer, clearer in its release.
I give you everything and take it all back
i give you everything, and it is yours to keep.
I give, but the walls are brilliantly constructed
and I only give
as little as I can
until you ask for more.

ask.
please ask.

giving all I am able
wanting so dearly
waiting
for permission to give all
but taking me
from my heart
to my head
and knowing that I am being foolish
always the fool in love
so i give it back
so I push it away
so the answer, the echo, the echo
all that could make this peace
all that this foolish game
I have found myself in again

after so long

all that i want
all that I need
all that i should know better than to dream about
but
still do
and everything is all I can do
to make it stay
in this one sided imagination
and I go on
and I love
and I love
and I love
but never as much as I could
unless you meet me there.

If anyone has a subsription to the New York Times…

I was “interviewed” by someone hoping to become a photo journalist on Saturday, who is taking classes and shot a bunch of photos of me on her chosen asignment which is NOLA street performers. Apparently sometime this week they will have a full page somewhhere in the NYT. If you see it, please contact me and let me know…

It’s *gotta* be better than the last time i was mentioned in there during the early ”90’s, which called me an “Axle Rose look alike”…

(If I’m mentioned at all, of course. Photo’s of a human statue are pretty dam rediculous I think – “Look! You can’t tell in the picture, but he’s standing really, really still!”)

Street Solidarity & the sweetness of Sugar

Of all days to not bring my camera…

Saturday – it was another hot, humid day in New Orleans. I got down to Jackson Square about 3:30, then checked to see if the prime pitch was open, directly across Decatur Street from Cafe’ du Monde, and the prime tourist location for busking in The Quarter. I’ve always done well statuing there.
The pitch was being used, but the guy using it told me he had to split at 4 – so I waited, and when it was time, set up, got up on my box, and began the work day.
It was the usual crowd, tourists, families, groups of girls and boys, drunken fools who can’t seem to think of anything else to say except the typical “I’ll bet you he’d move if I grabbed his box/grabbed his crotch/tickled him – har har har…”
It’s an incredibly peaceful job at times, but also one that you need to be on guard pretty much all the time. I recently described statuing to a friend as “much more of a discipline than a talent”. It’s a strange combination of ignoring everything, but at the same time being accutely aware of everything that’s going on around me. It’s the people that make it so rewarding – the children whose faces completely light up in amazement as I offer them a wink and subtle smile as their parents look away, as if letting them in on a secret that’s just for us; it’s the older people who walk by and quietly give me beautiful compliments, even – and perhaps the most appreciated, the occasional gutter punk who digs deep in his/her unwashed pocket to give me what change they can offer. I will never cease to be amazed and humbled by that…
But it’s also the *other* people that sometimes I can’t help but slowly look down at, raise a dissaproving eyebrow, and solemly, silently, shake my head in pity. Fortunately, this frequently seems to get approval from their friends.
Most commonly I have found it to be, predictably, the people with drinks in hand, drunk and wandering around, who can’t help but fuck with the statue a bit – but they’re usually harmless, and after the initial foolishness switch over to words of appreciation, then they’re off to the next bar.
That’s always nice – both the switch, and the leaving.
The worst I have encountered, however, are the packs of whatever-teen year olds. Some of these kids just mess around harmlessly, saying silly things, searching for the approval of their friends, having fun – but only a couple of weeks ago I came the closest I have ever been to putting my cane to use before looking at the two most offending of this pack of about 15 and saying “Little boy, little girl – get the fuck away from me, now.” They had been standing there for about twenty minutes, and as much as I have dealt with doing this, as much as I can tolerate – or “stand for”, (pun intended) as the case may be, at that point I was pushed to my limit. Thankfully, they left shortly after.

That’s why this past Saturday, as I saw a pack of about eight or nine girls making their way directly towards me from Cafe’ du Monde, I was a bit aprehensive. When I heard one of the two in front say “Okay – you ready?” to the girl next to her as she was looking at me, I thought to myself “Oh, shit, this is it…” wondering how I could react, somehow, with grace to whatever they were about to do to me, or how I could prevent it altogether. I wasn’t coming up with anything. I had no idea what they had planned. I had no choice but to wait and see, as jumping off the box and asking them just what the *FUCK* they thought they were about to do just didn’t seem too graceful or appropriate just yet…

What happened next was truly amazing.
For those that don’t know, Cafe du Monde sells a french style pastry called a bignet (bin-yay)- a rectangular donut type thing with no hole – and completely covered in powdered sugar. Completely. More powdered sugar than you could ever have a use for in a simple order of three bignets, and inevitably there will be mountains of it left on the plate, long after the bignets are gone.

When the two leading girls were about two and a half feet away – just at the very edge of the box people put money in for me, their hands simultaneously came up – and as I tried to asses just what the hell was going on, saw the powdered sugar streaming from them – and then, they did something I couldn’t have imagined – they smeared the powdered sugar all over their faces. First the two, then the rest of them, coming to stand beside me, making their faces as white as possible with the powdered sugar, and doing quite a good job of it.

In a glorious way, I had been beaten. I could not have felt more honored.

I laughed – laughed well, stepped down off my box and bowed deeply to them all, then handed one of the first two my cane, and set my hat on her head as I helped her get up on my box for the pictures.

Once the pictures had been taken, one of them asked me if they had made my day. “My DAY?” I said. “You have made my day, my week, my month, my year. This is hands down, the best experience I have ever had statuing – and thank you.”

For some reason, that seemed to suprise her – but then a huge smile of peaceful satisfaction for a job so *very* well done crossed her face, she giggled, I talked to the rest of them a bit and offered my thanks, and then, doing their best to wipe the powdered sugar off of their faces, they were off to their next adventure.

I stepped back up onto my box with a huge smile – then just a few seconds later, stepped back down and started to pack up.

It was getting slow and late, and besides – it couldn’t get any better than that.

I smiled for hours afterwords, and it’s a smile that I will carry inside for a long, long time. As the daily fools come by with their lack of imagination, with their rediculous words and comments, I will think of them, those wonderful little girls, and I just may occasionally look down at one of these people…
and subtly smile.