A Life and Death Situation
“Crickets. Do you know what I remember most about right after the storm? How quiet it was. No cars. No buzz from those power lines. No birds. Not even crickets. It was quiet as death. So know when I hear those buts rubbing their legs together like they do, I feel fortunate, Delmond.”
New Orleans, 2007. Life. Everywhere life. In hotel rooms fancy and nasty, in the back seat of cars, singing in the trees. Life and death, rolling side by side like running partners because here in New Orleans we’re all running away from and toward death and when you come to a corner and you don’t know where to turn, there’s a bar. There’s a jukebox. Out in front, a crepe myrtle blooms.
New Orleans, 2007. Life.
Death. Albert facing about the doctor. “It’s about how you stand.” I think I know where Delmond stands, or where I would like to see him, following the Wild Man out on Carnival Day. We all know how Albert stands. Won’t bow. Don’t know how. The juxtaposition of the senseless death of Jay Cardella and Albert’s diagnosis, neither fatality ever to appear on an Official List of Victims of Katrina. Cardella would wind up on the signboard outside St. Anna’s Episcopal Church. Albert’s obituary may not mention the flood at all. A friend of my mother’s died in 2007, elderly, displaced, traumatized. She will never appear on the Official List but her headstone reads “A Victim of Katrina” and she was. Neither of the characters can claim that horrible distinction but each was lead to death by the city they love. “There’s two things that make life worth living, and one of them is fried food,” Albert tells Delmond with a mock leer and truer words were never spoken. Cardella and his real life analogue found happiness in this city’s famous tolerance for what my current anthropology reading calls “transgressive behavior.” Death was incidental. Joy was intentional. I lived in Washington, D.C. for most of a decade and in the late ’80s and early ’90s death was ever-present. In my frontier neighborhood in North East I could see it walk the streets at night with a tell-tale swag, hear it in the slow, crickety buildup of a gun battle somewhere to the north while sitting in my backyard. There was something fatally attractive about D.C. but it was different from New Orleans. The attraction was power, the Hierophant (V), nothing worth dying for whether on a corner up by Gallaudet or on the sands of Iraq. The troubles of New Orleans may be about power but the city is not. It is about mystery, exploration, a distracted carelessness, an ancient arcana. Its card is The Fool (0). In New Orleans is a reason to live not found elsewhere, and a place worth dying in, preferably of old age and muleish pig-headedness. [Insert obligatory half-step snare-snap trombone parasol wall oven reference here].
I think I said something about this already, once upon a time in the 2007 time-frame of Season 3, and we’ll leave it at that. “If history and the city consumes us all one-by-one but the city lives on, that perhaps was what was always intended, why we were all lured home.”