Monday, March 30, 2009

The City of New Orleans: The Perception of Cool

Day Two.

As we eased into New Orleans on Sunday afternoon, once again, Muffy took it upon herself to play that song again on speakers, for the train to hear. This time, however, all of the patrons that we'd befriended over the past several hours sang along with us.

There was this old Irish woman whose son lived in Kankakee, IL, and got all excited when Willie dropped the town name in the song. A gentleman from Memphis kept on singing out, "Good morning, America, how are ya?" on repeat, laughing in embarrassment, but playing along anyway. Others, too, whose names and life situations I completely forget.

It was like living in the jaunty, annoyingly elevated and rosy minds of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Secretly, I loved it, and in my head, a motley crew of strangers harvested complex vocal harmonies and shared rhythmic dance sequences with the steel rails of the train, and singers dropped their personal lines with smiling, coaxing asides to scowling passengers who eventually realized that they needed to lighten up and live, dammit, and in the end succumb to the raw power of Willie Nelson and his proverbial back-up singers.

Jesus, I don't even know if that made sense.

We stepped onto the platform, twenty minutes after the song was over, and people were still humming the tune, singing with each other.

In the end, though, I think everyone was just really excited to get off the goddamn train.

Immediately the five of us snagged a cab and headed straight to a show at the Dragon's Den, packs and all, just so we could watch a band from Indiana that we see all the frakking time in Chicago.

On our way to the show, our cab dragged behind a short man in a vest and fedora riding a doubledecker lamplighter bicycle and balancing a live rooster on its high horse handlebars.

The Dragon's Den is on the border of the French Quarter and Bywater, littered with those heroin chic little crust punk fuckers.

You know the type. The ones who are trying so hard to express their individuality through fashion, and in the end just all look like a clan of dirty little homeless people, with torn clothing and too much eyeliner. The punk-punched leftovers of last night's party...why do they try so hard to be each other? Individuality should be effortless.

Just as an aside, to the naysaying elitists: the harder you try to be different, the more of yourself you will lose. You are conforming to the movement of non-conformity, and there's already tens of thousands hiding in there, striving for cool. I propose that to truly be different, you must first abolish the concept of "cool," because really, that's all that's holding everyone back from becoming what they want: they're afraid it won't be cool enough for their peers.

Define cool however you want. It could be crust punk and dreadlocks, it could be power suits and couture handbags, it could be serving fried catfish at a Christian Mission House, it could be dried flowers and old oiled leather. Murder the concept cool, cement and bag it, because you don't need it, and it's holding you back.

At least I think you don't. I could be wrong.

Now, Bourbon Street? That's not cool. I know, I know, I said murder the concept of cool and don't judge and be yourself and all that business, but seriously, fuck that succession of city blocks. Amateurs, the lot of them, puking and pissing and crying all over themselves. One girl: riding a mechanical bull with a short skirt and an open crotch, giggling uncomfortably, embarrassed at getting mad at the operator, who gyrated the bull and pimped out her box for the bar, grinning like a pedophile at the playground.

Bobbay yelled at that guy for nonconsensual eye-rape of a girl too scared and stupid to stand up for herself. I have never been prouder of a friend.

And so, the Professional Drinkers Association was born: consisting of Us, passing drunks their good, solid reputation back, with a handshake and a guffaw, not as slutty bullshit Tinkerbells oblivious to action, but as sloppy, poetic fighters and dreamers and champions of hilarity and conversational soul.

Welcome to New Orleans.



Mrs. Booms said...

I kind of did the same thing, but replace the train with my couch, the city with my house and the crust punks with my kid.

Anonymous said...

i like the concept of abolishing 'cool'. but first, i need to say that Emmett Kelley clown make up, with leather, backless chaps, cannot ever, by any definition, be even one molecule of cool...

Rassles said...

Boomer: Welcome to my Friday, except instead of your kid, it was Cool Ranch Doritos.

Daisyfae: I don't know, I'm kind of a fan of the Emmett Kelley look, in an Edward Hopper, how-do-you-paint-the-sadness-in-your-own-eyes kind of way. But coupled with the backless chaps, I mean, fuck that.

By the way, I feel like I should clear that last paragraph up a little: By all means, if you wanna be slutty, do so. But don't blame it on alcohol. Own it, unapologetic and free. It's much more respectable and shiny.

renalfailure said...

It's like you're Batman and his Gotham crew (Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, Huntress) except you help drunks instead of solving crimes.

Mia Watts said...

Damn. Too bad those little black rectangles don't actually pop up to cover that kind of thing.

Am also of the thought that riding said bull post-box sharing sweetie, would be like sharing a used pad. No thanx.

Anonymous said...

"smiling like a pedophile at a playground" is the creepiest simile I've heard in a long while

Red said...

Good writing, babe.

I, too, believe that you shouldn't care much about being "cool".

I'm not much of a drunk, so I leave it to the professionals. However, I once dated a drunk for the best part of a year, and he got drunk on beer and sometimes rum and diet Coke. LAME! When I do drink, it's usually vodka rocks. I just usually stop at one.

Gwen said...

I also think "cool" is acheived when we stop trying to acheive it.

The Ambiguous Blob said...

I should drink professionally. Instead, I do it for free and then everybody wins. Especially the people who I yell at to "STOP DROP AND ROLL"!!! It's... my thing, I guess. It's what makes me feel cool. I'm perpetually worried that people are out of practice and that when they finally catch on fire, they'll forget what to do. You know?

Bluestreak said...

I love this post. Makes me jealous of you big time.

Yes, cool and anti-cool both gotta go, because they are just more of the same shit. Yeah, those t-shirts that the anti-cool kids bought at the Goodwill were uncool and all until they started selling them at abercrombie for $50 a pop and then suddenly they became uncool, I mean cool, therefore lame. whatever, you know what I mean. If you care about fashion so much to prove that you don't care about it, you obviously care about it, right? I've given this a lot of thought as I have experienced rejection from uncool on the grounds of being too cool, which was way uncool.

Rassles said...

RF: You couldn't be more correct. Except I smile more than Batman.

Mia: I tried to make one with my hand, and then I realized my arm was far heavier than normal, due to the insane amounts of alcohol I was carrying around in my veins.

Nurse: Good. Because it was supposed to be.

Red: I'm basically a Beer drinker, and when I venture into shots it's usually whiskey, or whatever they're buying for me. I'm really not that into hard alcohol, but I do love a dirty gin martini.

Gwen: Concur.

Ambiblob: I bet you would make an excellent member of PDA. Once I've come up with a hazing ritual I'll let you know.

Blues: There's a fine line, is there not? I also don't understand how some people can't differentiate between "bad" and "awesomely bad." Eight Legged Freaks? Awesomely bad. Dragon Wars? Bad.

paperback reader said...

Ah, crust punks. I never really got them, but my old band played to them and in their houses so often I just took them for granted. They never would understand my points about how writing "a bullet for every homophobe" was every bit as closed-minded as homophobia itself, but the patch-panted aren't big on irony.

Le Meems said...

Standing outside the wig store, sadder but wiser.

Welcome to NOLA indeed.

Rassles said...

Pistols: I can't help harboring some sort of disdain for them, because I know they feel disdain for me, because I don't look like them, and then they get mad when they get judged for their appearances. Which is exactly the kind of hypocrisy they showed you, I'm beating a dead horse.

Le Meems: Much like, for sure.

~Mountain Lover~ said...

I agree with abolishing the concept of cool, and Bobbay is like the coolest person ever.

So.fucking.creepy. I would have gone ape shit!

PS. I love this whole series. I'm now re-reading in my un-depressed frame of mind and commenting this time. :)