Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Wilbo the Shill Explores Pop Up Culture in New Orleans and Misses the Badly Produced George Perot show.

Artists wait a long, long time for a section of wrought iron fence in Jackson Square, a theoretically free section of fence where art can be exhibited and sold. Have to work through the city and wear an identification card on a lanyard. Artists keep those spaces until going to the great art gallery in the sky. I saw a young man drawing on scores of cedar panels at Cafe Envie. He draws the exteriors of the French Quarter stores with their filigreed verandahs, then paints in the colors. His collectors assemble little French Quarters at home from his panels. I see him working from noon to four to build up his stock, heads down, working carefully. He doesn't have a prime street location but it works for him. He has his eye on the better fences, but that will take time.

Pop-ups are the way in this artistic city, and any place with a large interior or a pleasant patch of grass hosts pop-ups. Allways on Saint Claude hosted an evening with every inch stuffed with racks of Mardi Gras costumes. The event attracted my attention because of an awkward sign pinned up on the front, facing St Claude. I walked over and chatted with a customer. She offered to sell me Dr Cory's hangover pills, six dollars the dose. She placed a pack in my hand and spieled on me.

It's a passive sales close. It's a presumptive close. For a second, the item in the hand seems like a free sample. It is possessed but not free. When the prospect turns to leave, collect the money. Lyn Coffin, then editor of the Michigan Quarterly, placed a "Stop Starr" sticker in my hands when I met her at a poetry reading. When I turned to go, she reminded, "That is two dollars". I pulled out two dollars and paid. Despite that, I still read her poetry and admire its accomplishment.

I read her package, looking to make conversation. "Are you Dr. Cory"? "Dr. Cory is a good friend of mine". Dr. Cory is a naturopathic doctor living and practicing in Santa Monica, who performs with a troupe called the "Shamanic Cheerleaders". She went on educating me. I have an extra strength pack in my car for those nights when dropping the heavier stuff. I assumed she meant e. "Take half beforehand so the jaw loosens and the face doesn't look aggressive". She rubbed her jaw joints. "Take the second half later so your head doesn't hurt in the morning". I passed her back her six dollar light industrial hangover kit pack. "I'm hardly a hangover kind of guy anymore. Thanks anyways". Some people believe that the prospect either buys or dies. That doesn't work for door-to-door or face-to-face marketing. She was five feet down the sidewalk before I could blink. "I'll have a table at next month's pop-up. See you there"! You can be sure I updated my calendar as soon as I pulled out my smart phone.

I am sure I had a surprised look on my face. She got to make a pitch. I got to ask a few questions and get a little glimpse into the tight rope act of living in New Orleans. I am sure I got the better deal. Who do I think I am. Charles Kuralt? Nope. Go back further into the annals of Detroit Television. I would sit with Grandma Aino and watch George Perot, who had as huge a following as Howdy Doody once. Perot got a little sleepy on his show and would nod off while his guest rambled. Everyone watching understood Perot was an older man and still watched. Until the show got cancelled. Perot would talk with travelers and authors whose purpose in life was stumbling around. People who stumble around don't buy and travel on the cheap. My brief acquaintance was quite right to ease on down the road. But still, where has gone the art of pure conversation? That's how my professor Phil Shepard said Buddhism grew through the Orient. Travelers would rest by the side of the road and talk.

The Art Garage has a capacious space where artists can table while events progress. Local authors gathered to read aloud on a lousy microphone before a huge, elephant painted white. Rather than read from published or work in progress, everyone read from protest literature from the past. One earnest guy read aloud from a journalistic account, day by day with Benito Mussolini. One person tended a pop up bar. Five tables sold jewelry or books. A photographer had a book called "True South" documenting the homeless people of the bayou parishes. We rapped about solving the twin issues of drug addiction and homelessness. He was very interested in the Sami, a nomadic people in Finland where all the towns went dry in a single winter, thanks to a minister of the Lutheran Church who finally "got it" and delivered a message that worked to his flock. He made notes. Thank goodness a woman listening to us talk bought a copy. I hear it a lot. "Thanks for shilling". That's me. Will the Shill.

Yes, these are pop-ups where the artists pay a small fee to set up a table. However, there is always an event with purpose occurring in the space, a turntablist spinning discs at least. The bathrooms are not public, but the Hi Ho lounge across Marigny Street didn't seem to mind if a flaneur ducks into the loo from a party at Art Garage. Hi Ho staff can't keep up with the drinking customers and the doorman are just monitoring the peace. I've sat and drank a street beer, a can of ling ling, sitting on the outdoor deck. Just so Big Easy. If there were a place to shower and sleep, I might live there.

1 comment:

Mortimer D. Reardon said...

If you meet the Buddha on the road . . .