Saturday, 26 September 2009

Voodooswampland (day forty three and forty four)

Texas is a strip mall. Shops lining the interstate, warehouse sized with fast food chains sprinkled along salt and pepper. It's dead in the gaps, empty fields with nodding oil pumps slurping out the earth. Old river/ghost river crossed by road bridge, a watery highway back up north. Beaumont is one aisle in the shopping centre in this flat grassland. The Subway staff haven't heard a foreign accent in a while and they love it. Behind in the queue the man asks what we make of Tony Blair. We dodge the political intent (which now seems like mere curiousity) and centre our attentions on the sandwich. Too long searching for Blimpie we starve and wolf down anything.

Way back when we were in Austin, American Apparel gave us snickers like it always does- i wish i could dress like them- i wish i could wear gold lame. Snide comments attack- don't bitch about the employees as an employee walks past. Crane your neck in, son, you don't want to raise your dukes against this welterweight whelp. He'll duck and weave, a merry dance he'll lead you on within the ropes. The tacos will only show you up, echoes of eggy cheese and guacamole and lettuce bloating ye up.

The kidney pool is cold in the Texan sun, Germans smoking feet deep as i paddle lengths. Austin is a chic beautiful city and i'll be sad to see it go into wing mirrors and fade out. Facts that help you understand a place in one sentence- the Texans built their state capitol a foot higher than Washington's. Fact #2- it is the Lone Star state. This Texas attitude craws in my maw and throat. Meh. Off to Louisiana, to the sea, to the Gulf of Mexico, and we reach the south east corner, to turn north, to the snowbound Arctic we won't reach- flood damaged jazztown in the hurricane's path, forgotten by federals. Toot toot.

Louisiana sleeps away its muggy days, insects tracing lazy circles. Bridges cross the swamps below on concrete spokes, miles long highways passing herons and hidden alligators toothyglum under the grimy mire, nostrils snorkeling. Drowned trees green and creeper ridden or spiky stumps slow rotting. This is a swampland. Factories are plumped into the towns, skeletal towers and turrets thronged with ladders and stairways and pipes, the insides outside and chemicals inside- industry driven to an area by an area's need (bribery). Lessons learned from the Dutch in land reclamation and living below sea level. It's so much safer in the mountains, anywhere up high, in a tower, or up a tree, climbing. We are lost. We are sinking.

Down, further down, and a little bit further down and we strafe the Superdome, ominous and imposing in white and brown. Is there an elephant in this paragraph? Shhh... you'll wake Katrina.... Unavoidable catastrophe. It is everywhere, and it is now, and then. The roads lose their names in Treme, narrow and uneven, bumpy. Jazz developed its loose swing and brass cacophony badoopbop down these timber housed streets. Now it's lost. Now it's sinking. Half abandoned, lonely bums wondering the pavements pushing black bag filled carts. Stores closed, pastel shaded homes tumbledown abandoned or ramshackle and fading. Is there culture here, or just neglect? Is neglect a culture. This feels... vibrant. We'd be lying if we said we didn't lock our doors.

"Exposure to the Son may prevent burning." Religion using jokes on its billboards is a winner. Sign me up. This is the South- mouth mangling accents and they won't understand ours- godly billboards and crayfish billboards and BBQ billboards. The home of voodoo and the home of the godfearing, they bury their corpses above ground to stop them floating to the surface with each flooding from Old Muddy, the Mississippi that we cross and that we'll recross a few more times, carrying sediment to build the land further out towards Cuba, towards the storms. American daring, an epic game of bravado, that's all this city is. Now it's lost, now it's sinking.

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