good friends

It was the opening in Newport at Sue’s Salvation Cafe for the new magazine, The Newpy News, editor, Michael Walsh, of Andy Walhol Factory fame, now living in Newport off and on to care for his sick mother. Here I am with Sue, who inspired me to start writing back in 1986. She is now, as well as restaurant owner, a documentary film maker, her most recent film being shown at the New Orleans Film Festival this month, addressing the hip-hop culture that has since been washing inland toward the no-soul areas of outer Louisiana. Sue and I discussed my recent visit to New Orleans and my gig at Snookers, and the empty streets resembling a hosed down Greenwich, Connecticut suburb, devoid of artists and musicians, and other advanced beings, the same old gray faced, paunch bellied southern saps with inherited money, busy renovating their mansions, two blocks from the bulldozers working over-time to flatten the poorer neighborhoods, and ready them for gated communities full of granite covered kitchen counters and reupholstered Victorian furniture.  Gee, one thing was missing. Creative energy. New Orleans begins to bubble, despite the catatrophy, and the real estate pigs clawing up the damaged neighborhoods as fast as they can. Still, New Orleans is not so easy to deflate. Unlike New York City, which has now become the capital of mediocrity, made manifest by a club called The Dom Perignon Gals, who go out to a cafe and perform for each other in exchange for magnums of champagne. Champagne that can make the mediocre seem almost acceptable, being that drinking from the green Dom bottle erases from one;s memory the flat notes, and flat souls, the sagging necks of the monied women who can be, for a short time, a Barbara Cooke or Barbara Streisand. Ribbons and bows and low necked push up breastbones. The deep, heavy, breathless sighs as they miss a note by a mile. The champagne pours heavy, the cabaret room is dark, someone misplaces her mink, dull fingers dial their chauffeurs, A good time has been had by all. The buzz begins. People want to see the ladies, doused in Dior and linen, good champagne and love affairs gone wrong with dryness and demands. Weaving toward the bar for another glass before going home to husband, lover, dog, assistant. A full evening of evocative expression, sung full out flat, arms flapping with the drumbeat, breasts pressing again Be-Be blouses, a large and worthy freak show. The new attitude towards mediocrity, a reward for the attempt, without expectation of excellence, the new freedom. Expression is free and does not demand perfection. I honor the women who spit into the microphone, martini in hand, gray faces painting each color of the rainbow. Sparkles. Bleached smiles. Dreams fullfilled. I suppose the husbands supply the Don Perignon. I was told this story by a New York cabaret producer, who is horrified that these women, without talent, are soaking up the champagne and taking themselves to the top of their own particular talents. They are the Elaine Stricts, on the simple little stools, wrapping their still fine legs around each other. Talking, talking about the slimey top of the deep bottle of cream that the rest of us are struggling to swim thorough. People are very nervous now. It is a good time to stay home and read about the lives of the medieval pesants. who died long before they had time to dream. Who drank drank warm brew and scrapped together barley and wheat for bread. And lay down in the straw together for a simple, fast and slickly comfort. Sue was drunk when this picture was taken. She told me, in her state, that I was her hero, in that I did not compromise myself or my work. And that I was alone. And she did not see what she herself has done in that regard. I hope I do not disappoint her. But we all disappoint each other  because we all need help getting where we must go. Go and help someone today, in any small way. Save someone that you love. They will soon be gone.

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