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Volume 19 • Issue 18 | September 15 - 21, 2006

The Penny Post

New Orleans movies

By Andrei Codrescu

Linnzi Zaorski, my favorite chanteuse, was bemoaning the dearth of performance opportunities in post-K New Orleans and the fact that she was now on the other side of her mid-20s and she was broke. When she had refugee-ated herself to New York after the storm, she hadn’t lacked for gigs. She worked every night, sometimes two clubs a night. She gave generously of her time when I asked her to introduce a reading I was giving at the Bowery Poetry Club. Among other things, she sang “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans,” and she teared up singing it, and it was not long after that, I believe, that she decided to come back to New Orleans. Beautiful move, all heart, but how to survive? I suggested she star in a movie soon, because she looks just right, a cross between an icy Hitchcock blonde and a silent-movie era comedienne. I envisioned a Japanese scenario for her to star in: It’s 1936 and the emperor of Japan keeps hallucinating this American jazz singer. She appears to him every night dressed in different ‘20s and ’30s styles and sings songs that keep the emperor agitated and sleepless. He travels incognito to America and, one night in a New Orleans jazz club, hears Linnzi and realizes that she’s his hallucination. He kidnaps her and takes her to Japan, but she is accused of being a spy and arrested. In fact, she is a spy and is condemned to death by a military court. After she is executed (sorry, Linnzi, that’s the only bad part) she returns to haunt the Japanese royals and military class. They hear her singing every night. In order to stop the jazz madness that’s undermining their morals and their posture, they bomb Pearl Harbor. Or something like that. I’m no screenwriter, but I figured that an apocalyptic ending with a reference to history never hurt a movie. After dreaming up this synopsis, I went home and read “Soul Kitchen,” by Poppy Z. Brite, a great New Orleans novel. It’s the third in a series about two roguish yet endearing restaurateurs. Poppy is such a vivid and wonderful writer I thought I was seeing the movie as I was reading. “Soul Kitchen” is also a roman-a-clef that has fun with a lot of real players and may be one of the most enduring novels of the city that was. Hurricane Katrina came days after Poppy finished the book. For this one we only need a director and producers.

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