Parlez-Nous A Boire

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.

Whistles in the Night

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.

The Knowledge it Takes

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 …

Tending the Fire

The breeze, the salt breeze, the fresh breeze, the one that comes off of the Gulf, interrupted by nothing but the bristling silhouettes of oil rigs, rolls across the shifting peaks and valleys of the waterscape, beyond the piled rocks of the breakwaters and comes ashore on the beach of …

Louisiana Summer

The familiar feeling of waking up stiff, still a little drunk, still a little angry, but detached now, like it was all last night because it was, barely, though just enough to venture opening your eyes in your truck, in your driveway, with the sun, already too high, glaring in …

Coastal Louisiana

They say it was the Indians who, in their wanderings, brought the acorns that seeded the oaks that line the secret interior roads that stretch back from the sands of Grand Isle. The word that the beachfront historical display uses is actually “dropped”, indicating (to me at least) a sense …

Morning Hour

I wake up to the sounds of rats fighting in the walls of the camp, a fury of scratching noises interrupted only by the occasional thump. Aside from it being 5 am, it is not as unpleasant as it sounds: its all a part of being out in the marsh. …