One of my favorite songs in the world is “Parlez-Nous A Boire,” or “Let’s talk about drinking.” The title alone, which is also the first line in the song, is enough to get it on my list, but the next line is “and not about marriage.” A great old good-natured pessimistic Cajun song, lyrically speaking, and with all the whinnying fiddles, driving beat, and archaic harmonies to boot. The kind of song old enough to have no author, but rather seems to have accreted into reality long ago in a community and place that now seems very far away. My favorite version is Sweet Crude’s version here. They take this great up tempo folk song and turn it into a weirdly haunting barnburner.
There are whistles in the night here in Luling; sustained and shrieking tones, vaguely metallic, always as if from some impossible distance. Everyone assumes they come from the chemical plant, I’m sure. That’s why nobody knows what I’m talking about when I mention them. People tune these strange sounds out for a variety of reasons, all centered around the necessity of avoiding confrontation with the unspeakable. But popular opinion on their origin is immaterial in this case: what if these tones are not the sound of the plant itself, but the sound of some effect of, or even response to it? I can’t help but feel they constitute a warning, or worse, some supernatural version of “Taps.”
I find myself staying up late to listen to them.
Was just walking around Luling, Louisiana, thinking about how much you have to know to really understand a place, when I found the perfect example on the wall of a lumber warehouse (pictured). So, to understand what this sign means, you have to know: 1) English, as well as the …