Category Archives: Hurricanes

T.S. Lee / Ezra Pound

Tropical Storm Lee is coming on in, and you can feel it. Hurricane Katia is in the Atlantic, but we have had hurricanes in October several times. In 2008 I lost the same piece of my roof twice, to Gustav and then to Ike.

Update 1: And it’s here, and a state of emergency has been declared just in case it is bad, and Hurricane Katia is grazing the Antilles and aiming for South Carolina at Category 1.

Update 2: And my roof is leaking, goddamn sing goddamn.

Update 3: It appears to have permanently altered the shape of my cypress tree. Had it bent the trunk, the sun would pull the tree back up from its crown. But it has bent the lower branches, which I am not sure get enough sun to change back.

Ancient Music

Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm.
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.

Goddamm, Goddamm, ’tis why I am, Goddamm,
So ‘gainst the winter’s balm.

Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm.
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

A parody of the Anglo-Saxon poem, Cuckoo Song

Advice to New Faculty: Save like the dickens. I do not know why we were told to work in the red — go to every conference you can, stay on the job market, save every spare moment for writing. What you really need is a second job and to save money like the dickens, because it will rain.

Lament: For a week in October I had rented out the room whose roof is now leaking for $500. With luck I will repair the roof by that time and the rent, which was to go toward repairs outside the house, will help offset the cost. (The window is cracked too, as the neighborhood boy’s baseball fell on it a few days ago.) If not, I will have to cancel that rental, and it will be proof, once again, that to make money you have to have assets. Goddamn sing goddamn.


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29 August 2005

I became quite interested in this song when my cat, who may have been Turkish, disappeared earlier this year. He celebrates his eleventh birthday today and his sixth month of disappeared status Friday. When he was first absent I would sing this lullaby in case he was hurt or scared somewhere, and to calm myself.

Other people sing it in all sorts of versions, including tacky versions, punk rock parodies, and versions with Turkish subtitles. It is a lullaby for a child who has beauty spots; his hands are decorated with henna tattoos. The cows are eating the cabbages and must be run out of the garden.

On 29 August 2005 it was my cat’s fifth birthday and it is hard to believe but more than half of his life — that is, more than half of the part of his life he spent with me — took place after Katrina. Now we will sing the song again, a cappella, in honor of that night when the storm had passed through, and the levees had not broken.



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Irene, Good Night

Afternoon is fading in Maringouin and I did not get to Rising Tide, which must have been an adrenalin filled event since Hurricane Irene made landfall as a Category One storm in North Carolina this morning. I have written Eric Cantor:

Bayou Maringouin, LA. Today marks the sixth anniversary of the arrival of the Hurricane Katrina evacuees we were destined to host here and at points north and west over the next few months. Evacuees and refugees from Hurricane Rita would arrive a few weeks later. In honor of all those who suffered, and especially of those who died or suffered permanent losses as a result of these storms, I request that you do everything in your power to provide immediate and long term relief for all victims of Hurricane Irene, without a requirement to “pay it back” in the form of other budget cuts. Yours very truly.



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Gates of Eden

This song is for that Spanish Professor and Clarissa. It is truly American, and it explains a great deal.


I hope, but cannot promise, to be at Rising Tide today. This year August 29 falls again on a Monday, as it did in 2005. Classes had just started and things were hectic, and we were keeping our back eye on the storm. Saturday morning things seemed cosy and bright, and I was not thinking about it at all when the phone rang from New Orleans, can we come up? Everyone was packing all Saturday and securing houses, and we were shopping for supplies.

Sunday people drove up and in some cases through in slow contraflow, with the sky darkening, and we went to one of the afternoon dances. Monday we felt the outer bands and tried to aim Google Earth at New Orleans streets. By night it appeared not to have been so bad.

Tuesday I went in to work, where we soon heard that the levees were breaking. I did not get to New Orleans until Thanksgiving and when I got there, it looked — no, was worse than San Salvador. I had the foolish idea of going to Managua at Christmas and it was as New Orleans is now: settled into disaster. Later that winter, moving toward spring, I started this post-Apocalyptic weblog.



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TS Arlene

Our Mayan ancestors, says the Popul Vuh – that sacred text of which this weblog is but a performance – were all great sacrificers and penitents.  “Sacrifice and penitence are not for mortals, but for the gods,” says one of my old post-it notes, and I would like to reaffirm this right now. “Everything I do gon’ be funky from now on,” said Twisty at one point. Today I announced the same, publicly and in person, and I am sticking to it.

In news, the storms have started. TS Arlene is dissipating in central Mexico and the rain we are experiencing may or may not be related to it. Some more tenured faculty in Louisiana have been dismissed due to program reduction, and we are unsure whether we will have Interlibrary Loan or JSTOR next year. Assistant professors are on the market, and I saw an ad inviting adjuncts to teach courses, for college credit, on the use of Microsoft Word.

Somehow it is this last bit of news which, to me, seems the most emblematic of the current situation. In addition to everything else one can say I ask: could we not at least teach them to use one Microsoft alternative? Nonetheless I repeat: sacrifice and penitence are for the gods, not for mortals, and everything I do gon be funky from now on.



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Walking to New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina, five years on and still so many people are not home. So they can come home and stay, we need a coast, and for that we need among other things a United States Senator who supports coastal restoration.

Charlie Melançon won the Democratic primary last night and we truly deserve your contributions to his underdog campaign against David Vitter, R-BP, for the seat in the U.S. Senate Vitter now holds.

I do not agree with all of Melançon’s views but it is precisely his conservatism which makes him a viable candidate in this area, and he will stand for reason where Vitter does not.

Again, please consider supporting Melançon and, thereby, all of Louisiana as well as the entire United States, since what happens here DOES have an impact on what happens to the rest of you.


The other suggestion they are making on the radio is to support a musician to return to New Orleans.

Many of those who cannot afford to return due to the housing situation are musicians whose presence here would help ensure the continued existence of the important engine of world musical culture we are.

You can buy a good CD at a low price and otherwise support the New Orleans Musicians’ Relief Fund right here.



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Gulf Restoration with D. L. Menard

We went to Lafayette, to a benefit for the Gulf Restoration Network, and saw D. L. Menard. We went in through the front door, so as to pay the cover charge, which was the point. To get there, we burned fossil fuels; that is why we had to leave dedans la porte en arrière. You, too, should donate to the Gulf Restoration Network.


Back in Maringouin, I realize I should get out more. When I lived en ville, I would habitually go out directly from the airport, without passing by my house first. I did this in January, when I came back from Brazil. I do not like to go out in Baton Rouge, and from Maringouin Houston and New Orleans are expeditions. As the older dance halls close down I tend to forget that one can still go out in Lafayette.


Jolie Blonde, as sung in 1946:

Sidetrack: Roy Acuff’s Freight Train Blues, 1947, with falsetto:

In 1938, Robert Lee McCoy was better on this song, but the video has an ad.

An Opelousas trail ride:

Finally, these Dutch or Flemish people went to Paris for the weekend, but their chosen theme song for the voyage was Allons à Lafayette.

Please donate to Gulf Restoration. How green was my valley then, the valley of them that have gone.


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Ses purs ongles

Ses purs ongles très-haut dédiant leur onyx,
L’Angoisse, ce minuit, soutient, lampadophore,
Maint rêve vespéral brûlé par le Phénix
Que ne recueille pas de cinéraire amphore

Sur les crédences, au salon vide: nul ptyx,
Aboli bibelot d’inanité sonore,
(Car le Maître est allé puiser des pleurs au Styx
Avec ce seul objet dont le Néant s’honore.)

Mais proche la croisée au nord vacante, un or
Agonise selon peut-être le décor
Des licornes ruant du feu contre une nixe,

Elle, défunte nue en le miroir, encor
Que, dans l’oubli fermé par le cadre, se fixe
De scintillations sitôt le septuor.

–S. M.


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Kairouan (Tunisia), 1920s

It is the weekend, and this video is what we are singing. At 10 AM EST on Saturday, however, HURRICANE PALOMA was leaving the Cayman Islands as a CATEGORY FOUR STORM and heading to Cuba, where it is expected to make landfall at CATEGORY THREE. C’est fatigant.



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Election Time

I love the blog Mudflats, which is so funny that it actually manages to distract me from my concern about Hurricane Ike. I love the forecasters at the National Hurricane Center, especially forecasters AVILA and BEVEN, but their forecasts on Hurricane Ike have been making me nervous.

Hurricane Ike made landfall in northeastern Cuba around 11 PM Sunday at Category 3. Now he is in the water just south of Cuba at Category 1. He is going to make landfall again and go to Havana, and then to the central Texas coast where he is scheduled to arrive Saturday at 1 PM. All of this is terrible, and Havana may be destroyed. At the same time New Orleans may not be, and I may not have to evacuate.

I am not on the coast, so I am unlikely to drown, melt, or be picked up and transported to the Land of Oz. For many reasons the cheapest and easiest thing for me to do is to stay. But if there is mandatory evacuation now or later in the season, where should I go, and should it be by car or by plane? Plane reservations would normally be too expensive at such short notice, but I have learned that if you make a reservation with frequent flyer miles and then decide not to use it, you can change the dates. This means you spend no money, and lose no miles.

By car, I am thinking I could evacuate to NEW MEXICO or ILLINOIS. Each is about a thousand miles away, which is a long way. One needs to get beyond Texas if going west (Austin and San Antonio will be very crowded, and New Mexico is the next viable place). Memphis will also be very crowded, so one might as well aim for the library at UIUC, a very solid building. Interstate 49 leads right to Arkansas, so Hot Springs, Little Rock, and Fayetteville will be full. I also expect southern and central Arkansas to get rain and tornadoes as well during hurricanes. Maybe I should go up to the Ozarks and get a cabin, or a campsite in one of the national forests near Fort Smith.

The only interesting, closer place I can think of is GREENWOOD, MISSISSIPPI. When you ride down from Chicago to New Orleans on the train, Greenwood is the second to last stop. Before that is Memphis, where there is a theoretical transition to blues country, but a lot of people on the train are actually bound for Greenwood. That is why, when the conductor shouts “Greenwood, Mississippi!” I, too, can tell I am almost home. Greenwood has art, blues, food, and famous native sons and daughters. And I can drive there on non-freeways, a great advantage.

By plane, I am thinking of CALIFORNIA. I thought of other places including MEXICO CITY (a creative idea, with cheaper food and lodging than U.S. destinations, and there are lots of flights), but I was planning to go to California soon anyway. And having an evacuation plan is a preparedness issue. What do you think of my ideas? Do you have other ideas? How do you vote?



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