Friday, May 26, 2006

Aquarium of the Americas

Today I and my boys were among the first in line for the grand reopening of the Auqarium in downtown New Orleans. This has always been a great aquarium, and many in the city and region have mourned the loss of all of our fishes and sharks and etc.

It was a little emotional to walk through the tanks knowing that these were all replacement fish. Even my young children knew that. They were very excited to see the divers giving high fives and feeding broccoli to the tropical fish. I had a hard time dragging them up the stairs to see the penguins, who arrived this week from their temporarty home in Monterey Bay Aquarium back to us. They arrived to a jazz band and purple carpet--Ben cut that picture out of the paper and made a collage.

Anyway, I don't have anything interesting to say about the experience. I was surprised not to see any press there. By comparison, when the zoo first opened and we were waiting outside, I think there were more reporters than visitors. So many people and communities contributed fish or money for fish to our institution--Thanks.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


The semester is finally over and I couldn't be happier to be at home. This year was, for many reasons, horrible. There was the house, my teaching schedule, and this one particular awful section I was teaching. II though last spring was bad when I had to practically manhandle a male student who was shooting spitballs into a pentecostal girls hair. I mean--give me a fucking break. In that same class a different student was arrested in the middle of the midterm exam. (I think he stole an ATM machine--one that spews right wing messages on the receipt.) Anyway, I almost missed them compared to this one section I was dealing--forty percent of the class failed. Several of them plagiarized and then lied about it, appealed it, and dragged the whole process on for months. Ruined the class.

My children, ages three and four, have already figured out that it is better to tell the truth than to lie about it.

Anyway--enough. I'm sure none of those kids will ever sign up for a class with me.

The writing all wee has been going well, but of course no finished anything. I'll neer understand people who are prolific.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Society for Humanistic Anthropology

Boy am I glad I opened what I thought was a piece of junk mail that came to me at school today. A letter from the University of Georgia and the Society for Humanistic Anthropology informing me that I won the second place prize in their Ethnographic Poetry Competition for my "Bois Sec Suite." Bois Sec was a real live Cajun musician. Many of you may not know that my father was a fine Cajun dancer--he even taught it for many years, and sometimes I would travel with him to bard or shows--anywhere, really, to dance, and that's how I became interested in the music and the musicians. My family, the Pelegrin side, is Cajun, and they speak a few French phrases in the home, but this music was never played to me. My great grandmother was very old school, and she lived a long time, so her influence had a far reach, but I never herad Cajun music. I never heard it until my father began to dance.

Here are some lines from the poem. Well, actually it's the second section of the poem

ii. Bois Sec Gets a Squeeze Box

Me, I started young with my fooling.
Used to, I'd sneak up top the barn
and play my brother's acordion.
Thought he couln't see or didn't care,
him working sun to sun out in the fields.
Still, I watched that dirt road for his figure,
a speck to warn me when to sneak
the music back in its dark case.
Little did I know that music would sound far--
most likely all the times I thought
I was singing to women who danced in the clouds
ten acres of fields heard my words.
One day he come up and caught me.
Hearing me squeeze that box better than him
got him mad enough to throw it out.
Soon after I saved up three dollars
and bough my own off a dead man's wife.
She twiseted the coins in a pocket square
dug from her brassiere and wished me
ruination at the crossroads. Black magic,
I thought it was, playing well enough
to follow Amedee to dances. He only
let me ring triangle back of the band,
but I thought I had poweres, still.
Chank a chank--Play, Bois Sec, Play!
Shoot. Them days was good.