I'll go with thee to the lane's end... I am a kind of burr, I shall stick. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

I write not to teach but to learn. Rebecca West

drew's writing:

  • "Always Forever Now," Ideomancer volume 13, issue 2
  • "Black Sun," Black Static # 32
  • "Bread or Cake" and "Pride/Shame,"2nd Annual Philadelphia One-Minute Play Festival
  • "Copper Heart," Polluto Magazine issue 5, A Steampunk Orange
  • "The Accomplished Birder's Guide to Overcoming Rejection," Last Drink Bird Head, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • "Another Night With the Henriksens," Player's Theater Halloween One-Act Festival NYC 2008
  • "Hating the Lovers," and "Pipe Down!" Geez Magazine: Thirty Sermons You Would Never Hear in Church
  • "Beth/slash/Nathan," Paper Fruit Blogiversary Contest

Friday, March 16, 2012

zulu coconut

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At Mardi Gras, at the Zulu parade, a woman dressed like a queen stood on a float, brandishing a coconut before the crowd. A handsome man said, throw it to me.

You come get it, said the woman.

Throw it to me!

You come get it.

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The man ran up to the float, and the woman placed the coconut in his hands. One year someone was injured by a flying coconut, so now coconuts are handed from floats. There's the woman on the right.

It irks me that America is assumed to have a "heartland," and that this heartland is assumed to be in the middle, where corn grows. I propose we regard New Orleans as the heartland. Is any place more essential than any other? Paul asks, in 1st Corinthians: "Can the eye say to the hand, I have no need of you? Or again, can the head say to the feet, I have no need of you?"

Below see a coconut handed to my sister-in-law as soon as we arrived at the Zulu parade.

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My sister-in-law said she had been coming to Zulu her whole life and this was her first coconut. She attributed the coconut to the presence of her daughter. It was my niece's first Mardi Gras.

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I couldn't seem to get a coconut. My brother has lived in New Orleans for more than a decade, and hasn't gotten one yet! When I woke on Mardi Gras it had never occurred to me to want a painted coconut, but shortly after arriving at Zulu, I wanted one badly.

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Through desire and scarcity, a commodity is born.

People invest in gold when times are tough, but you could eat a coconut.

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There are many prizes at the Zulu parade. I was tossed a Kung Fu Panda, and an enormous quantity of beads was flung me by an old man high in the upper tiers of a float. You're supposed to trade the beads for views of people's anatomy on Bourbon Street, but I didn't know this, and didn't know what largesse the old man was showing me. The beads were worth endless vistas of human flesh, oceans, mountains, deserts of flesh. I just wore them; my father clued me in later. I'm always late to the party, always the guy saying How long has this been going on? Like the mediocre servant in the Parable of the Talents.

When I'm ripe to fall from some teetering height of years, will I fling my leftover will to some younger proxy?

It's expensive to be on a Mardi Gras float; you buy all the gifts that are flung--or handed--to the crowd. Anyone who can afford it can be on a float, and anyone on a Zulu float wears blackface. Black people wear blackface and white people wear blackface.When I first noticed this, it gave me a jolt.

A woman on a float watched me watching the parade, and wanted to give me a coconut.

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I didn't notice her: you know how I gape at the world in a state of transfixed rapture. A tourist is a soap bubble, hovering above the scene hollowly, empty of thought or judgment, delirious with reflections.

But I heard the woman yelling Hey, hey, HEY! and looked, and ran up for my coconut. She placed it in my hands.

So I got my coconut.

The day after Mardi Gras, we went birdwatching, and my father asked me to be sure to stay in touch with my niece throughout her life, to look out for her when he was gone and share all the enthusiasms that unite our family--presumably art films, strange dense novels, and natural science. She'll get all that from her parents, as well as a political intelligence that I couldn't give her. But my father had paid me a huge compliment in asking. It tells me he thinks I have something essential to offer, or I embody some living piece of the encouragement or wisdom he could give his granddaughter in her life. Either way, it was a grave compliment, and probably the wrong time to joke. "You bet," I told him. "I've already gotten her a subscription to Baby New Yorker."

"They have a Baby New Yorker?" he said.

I said no, I was kidding, and assured him I would always stay in touch with my niece. To be essential to your family is a great thing. I'm grateful to be valued, and don't take it for granted.

To be loved is the real coconut.

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