Epiphanies

by angeliska on January 6, 2007


Central Panel from the Epiphany Triptych
of Hieronymus Bosch

I am not able to let this go.
These things must be addressed:
not just random acts of violence
happening somewhere else,
far, far away to strangers,
ignorable, avoidable- no.
My heart is smashed into
pieces over this, over what
it means for so many.
How one rash action
will shape and twist the
lives of a family, of an entire city..
Recently, I’ve been overcome with
thoughts of how dense we’ve become-
our overpopulation choking what
beauty is left in this world,
thinking how the herd needs thinning,
and thinking that the apocalypse
needs to hurry it on up
and get here already.
Then this- and what do you say?
I didn’t mean it like that!
Don’t take the good ones!
Not her!
Not the sweethearts,
the innocents, the helpers,
the music-makers..
Don’t extinguish the bright lights
who worked tirelessly to make
change, to make it better..
So much pain in the city
I once called home.
Soon others will be leaving too,
because of this I know- and who
can blame them? When it
comes down to live or die?
Live freely, without fearing
for your life every day and night?
Or stay and fight..
I’m not sure what the right
thing is, but I know that
what I’m hearing many spout
in their own moments of fear
and pain doesn’t help
the situation..
I’m so weary of people
anthropomorphizing the shit
out of New Orleans-
of placing all the blame
for every horror at “her” feet.
It’s typical, and sadly so.
New Orleans is not evil,
it is not cursed- unless by
crooked politicians who have
raped the soil and people there
for centuries.
Tonight is Twelfth Night,
The Epiphany, where
the wise kings come to kneel down
before the child- but if that ever did
happen all those years ago,
it’s not happening tonight.
The Mayor and the President
and the Chief of Police
aren’t kneeling before
little Francis Pop
explaining why they didn’t
do a better job of protecting
his mother, of protecting
New Orleans.
If you follow, you’ll find an incredible
piece my friend Moose Jackson
of The Illusion Fields Project
wrote for Helen
as well as writing from Kid Twist
about the death of his friend
Dinerral Shavers of the Hot 8 Brass Band.

yesterday, two of my oldest friends here in new orleans, the two people that i would tell you are the most positive in the world of all the people i know anywhere, who have done more real, effective service to the people who need it most than anyone i know, were shot in their home. one died. this poem is for her.

senseless
the last hallelujah left town today
got up at five in the morning
while death was still walking, still stalking
came knocking
the last hallelujah was already up
like every day, getting ready to
help thy neighbor
when came this rude meeting
and just like the darkest hour precedes the dawn
she is gone
last minute boarding that ghostship
and i don’t know when
and i don’t know where
you are sailing to
but i hope you get there today
and i hope they can host your heart better
than we could here
i’ve scouted in dreams, i think
the hero’s hall where you’ve been called
and i can tell you
there are many friends there already
and thousands upon thousands of candlelights
and good homebrew and vegan delicacies for all
we’ll throw up our hands
and hide our applewine tears
til the seventh night of the year in case
you are still near and will hear us mention your name
always in the present tense
this doesn’t make sense
let this dreary day shut its stormy eye
on our pain and our poverty
i don’t know when
and i don’t know where
we will find more hallelujahs
unless we become them ourselves
and get whisked off the dust of earth
just as fast as we can be borne
today i stand just as innocent and lost
as a potbellied pig in the face
of the onrushing flood
they say st. peter’s gone digital
and it’s true that he’s got his sleeves rolled up
and he hasn’t taken a vacation
since before evacuation
he’s up to his neck in blood but
i know he won’t see many of our dearly departed
for our rebelhearted anarchangels have been up all night
building a pirate heaven
and i don’t know when
and i don’t know where
but i know i’m going to see you there and
you know, it might be soon
because death’s heavy boots are still
echoing through the marigny
there’s a rumour that the other side of st. claude
has been turned into a secret training camp
for pluto’s big revenge
and that the academy graduates are being handed bonewhite scythes
instead of diplomas and soldiers laugh
as i pass the midnight market
people want to throw blame in all directions
but the birds have told me this:
that el niño has nothing whatsoever to do with it
what i don’t know is
how that lady can play the calliope so fucking loud
on a day like today
when there are no more hallelujahs
we gather round a big pot of tea
in the place that used to be my home
and none of us knows how to do anything anymore
but ask helpful questions and
hold each other’s silence
so open a bottle of your finest pain
whether it be looted from flood or fire
for we must always honor that which unites us
no matter how sad, no matter how ugly

and i don’t know when
and i don’t know where
but there is an answer to this question
there is a response to all the questions that,
due to inclement weather
and the first-time silence
of angelic voices in this land
none of us yet dare to ask

-Moose Jackson
Dinerral Shavers Is Dead.
This is from my friend Kid Twist of APVR
(A Particularly Vicious Rumor)
about his friendship with Dinerral..
His funeral was today.
2 days before new years dinerral shavers (aka dinero), the snare drummer from the Hot 8, was shot and killed by a 17 year old who was trying to shoot his step son. in the back of the head. driving away. he was, by his own admission, the best snare drummer in new orleans. i couldn’t agree more. i learned so much watching him, and he moved me like no other. two things about dinero i’ll never forget…
when “shotgun” joe, the trombone player and arranger for the Hot 8 was killed 2 years ago, dinero had recently begun a career as a cop. he came up from lots of people that didn’t respect cops, but he did it for his family. he played all hours of the day and night in bars with people drinkin and smokin weed, out on second line (more of the same) and then put on that blue suit and never missed a beat. the police shot joe 9 times. he was unarmed. it was brutal and unnecessary. within days dinero quit the job that provided more money for his family than most musicians ever make (especially with two kids). it was the right thing to do.
two halloween’s back i was marching with a ragtag bunch of skeleton painted fools through the streets. we came up around a party by armstrong park and as we were rounding the bend i almost ran into dinero in his cop suit working security for a private event in the mahalia jackson auditorium. he didn’t know i played and the grin on his face when he figured out it was me was priceless. we only knew each others faces so i introduced myself, then asked him his name…he said “my name’s dinero, the baddest snare drummer in new orleans!”. damn right, how can someone say something like that and still be so unpretentious and lovable?
dinero came back after katrina and started teaching at a local high school. he brought a music program to a school that never ever had one before. in the time i knew him he was always there to answer my questions about his unbelievable sleight of hand on the snare drum. and i got my fair share of late night calls about how to get his triton (it’s a keyboard) up and running so he could churn out beats for friends.

i’ve had alot of good times with dinero. i can’t believe this is real.
-kid twist
This is a link to a speech Helen made at a film symposium after Katrina.
If you listen to her story, especially the part about the little frogs-
if you listen to the sweetness in the cadence of her voice
you might get an inkling of how wonderful she was.
Hearing her voice again really helped me today.
There’s also an excellent article here
that I recommend reading.
On Sunday at 7PM, at Café Brazil, there will be a tribute to Helen
showing her films. Everyone is invited.
A memorial site is being set up at www.helenhill.org
Photos and memories can be sent to memory(at)helenhill(dot)org.
There’s information at the site for sending condolences to her family,
as well as donations made in her memory to Doctors Without Borders.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
With so many feeling helpless in the face of the latest tragic
shootings, Marigny and Bywater residents are planning a march to
City Hall to demand action.
The march is scheduled for Thursday, January 11 which will be the
one week anniversry of Helen Hill’s murder and the two week anniversary
of the murder of Dinerral Shavers, a teacher & the drummer from the Hot 8 Band.
Marigny-Bywater residents and ALL concerned New Orleanians, please
come to a planning meeting this Sunday, January 7 at 1pm
at Sound Cafe (2700 Chartres St.)
More info: 504-948-0917

One comment

[…] I’ve lost a lot of loved ones over the years, so unfortunately I am am more experienced than I would like to be in the ways of grieving – the long, dark process that wrings your soul out like an old rag shredded in the teeth of a big, black dog. Until a few years ago, though, no one I’d known had died because another person took it upon themselves to end a life. Murder is different. It requires a whole different set of tools for coping, for processing, for coming to peace. It’s the hardest to reconcile, because the thought of another human taking that kind of action – willingly pulling the trigger, or wielding the knife or their hands and just snuffing out someone you loved – it’s just so inconceivable, so fucking wrong. What’s even worse, is that the people I’ve know who were murdered were the brightest stars, the most shining examples of what a good friend, a good human it was possible to be. I know that in retrospect, after someone has died, it’s usually only their very best characteristics that get remembered or brought up at the memorial. Those who have died are rarely referred to as “just okay”, nor are their flaws generally brought up or remarked upon. It’s so easy to saint someone who’s not around to remind us of how messed up or annoying they might have been sometimes. That being said, I have to say that the friends of mine who were murdered – well, they truly were like saints in my eyes, and to many others as well. I’m not exaggerating or speaking with the slightest hyperbole when I try and explain their goodness: they really were that good. Through and through: just extremely kind, generous, warm, ALIVE people. Until someone came along and randomly chose them to kill. That’s the part I don’t get, I guess. Why them? Why these beacons of light, these people who were so well-loved, so active in their communities? Why people who were always doing things, making things, and helping others? It should be known that I’m not always universally altruistic in my view of humans as intrinsically good or even worthwhile, so when things like this happen, I can’t help but wonder – if this was just some random act of senseless violence, why couldn’t it have happened to some shitty person, some mediocre jerk with a bad attitude. We all know they’re out there. I’m not saying that anyone deserves to die, or be murdered, but why take away from this world the ones who add the most to it? Five years ago, when my friend Helen was shot in her house by would-be robbers, I wrote this: […]

by Angeliska Gazette › A FRESH WOUND IN THE WING OF THE YOUNG YEAR on January 8, 2012 at 8:32 pm. Reply #

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