Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Orleans as Atlantis

Hurricane Katrina has struck New Orleans. Levees have been breached. New Orleans is below sea-level, and may fill up “like a bowl.” I’ve been to two conventions in New Orleans. In the early ‘70s, with the war in Vietnam still raging, The Committee of Small Magazine Editors and Publishers, or COSMEP, met at Tulane University. Afterwards, I visited with Darlene Fife at her apartment in the French Quarter. Darlene’s newspaper NOLA Express waged war against Nixon and the Establishment. Darlene hosted the conference; she embodied the counter-culture; initially she even refused to inform the Times-Picayune what all the long-haired hippies were doing in New Orleans. More recently, I was elected as a delegate to the assembly of the Modern Language Association, or MLA. In December 2001, I journeyed with Ben, my 11-year-old son, to the MLA convention in New Orleans. The World Trade Center was still burning. Security made Ben remove his shoes on three separate occasions. My guidebook was Christopher Benfey’s Degas in New Orleans: Encounters in the Creole World of Kate Chopin and George Washington Cable. I tried to find the streets and buildings Degas knew. The New York Sun today describes New Orleans as a “drowning city.”


Blogger Kirby Olson said...

How did you end up as a delegate to the MLA?

11:48 AM  
Blogger Michael Andre said...

Some stranger nominated me as an unaffiliated scholar. I had lots of ideas for life outside the academy, and I guess I wrote a good statement. I was elected. But the discussion in the assembly for the most part concerns university life.

10:56 PM  
Blogger Kirby Olson said...

Michael, I think you should help me put together the book of Corso anecdotes. You have access to various people that I don't especially in the New York city milieu such as famous artists and ordinary people, too, if such a thing exists in NYC. I wonder if I will be able to collect enough anecdotes on my own out here in the hinterlands. Let's put your scholarship to work! Can you get oral testimony from people and transcribe it? Even up here in the Catskills I run into people who knew Corso and am often trying to turn their stories into little written anecdotes that they then must approve. I'm thinking of Marisol for starters. With three tiny kids travel to NYC is scarce and chance as they say on this end. I get most of what I can get done through the internet.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Kirby Olson said...

I also think you should write a preface to the book. You know a lot about his family that other people don't. This whole aspect needs to be set down to widen the frame for understanding his poems.

I heard from one guy that Corso's mother ran a famous Italian restaurant in Trenton New Jersey where all the famous politicians of that state went to eat. How I wish I could track her down and get her testimony!

The thing is that a lot of people who didn't know Corso saw him in an extremely amusing light, and it is they whose reportage will cause the most ... interest on the part of the future. He's a kind of Diogenes for our time.

8:09 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home