Volume 17 • Issue 37 | February 11 - 17, 2005

The Penny Post

New Orleans: Spring!

By Andrei Codrescu

We’ve had our frigid weather, cold enough to freeze the glitter on a fairy, and now it’s spring. People are sprouting buds and the ends of their fingers are turning into pruning shears. It’s an amazing transformation, dependent on subtropic know-how. I contemplate the dead banana tree in the backyard, the chief victim of our winter, and I am getting psychologically prepared to lop it off. Sawing through banana trunks doesn’t require a chain saw, but the juice gets on you. Dragging the suppurating limbs to the curb is another job. Meanwhile, the Japanese magnolias are blooming and seven flowering trees are preparing to follow suit. They put on such a color-and-bloom show, even the sorriest ruined shack can be sold now to a pale snowbird. Sun-starved tourists are being marked by real estate agents just about now and sprung into the trap as soon as the trees do their fleuring thing. Trees and flowers don’t get enough credit for selling New Orleans real estate faster than the termites can cancel it. In fact, trees and flowers are faster than both termites and developers, which are these human termites with money who hire crews of wreckers to fill the day with noise and dust. I’ve been warning people about these pests for years. Doesn’t do any good. Like termites, they multiply and get louder. The only thing that stops developers is lack of money, which is to them what wood is to termites. When they run out of money, basta. They drop everything half-finished and leave it to the termites. Anyway, I meant to sing the glories of spring and here I am, once more berating the creepy nature of some humans. O.K., forget all that and let’s talk about Lafcadio Hearn. A Hungarian film director named Andras was in town because he expects to live here one day and write a book about Lafcadio Hearn, whose writing he discovered in Japan. Lafcadio Hearn, was one of New Orleans’ greatest rhapsodists and observers. He moved from here to Japan where his work is worshipped. In New Orleans few people know who he is, but then few people know who Baron von Reizenstein is, either. Imagine! People know neither Hearn nor von Reizenstein! On the other hand, here comes spring and the magnolias, so all is forgiven. All is forgiven also if you didn’t miss the massing of the fairies in Jackson Sq. on the Friday before Mardi Gras. And I sure hope you didn’t use the ashes from the bar ashtray to put the cross on your forehead at the start of Lent. That’s just not forgivable.

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