Posts Tagged ‘chimera’

Portrait of New Orleans

February 25, 2020

Since this is Mardi Gras, and while listening to appropriate music on downhome grassroots radio WNCW. . . I slipped into reminiscent mood about days gone by . . . re when I lived in Luzianna back in the day, long time ago, in the days of my youth and . . . remembering that a few years ago–2008– I got a wild hair and wrote a novel about genetic engineering and buried treasure back in that fabled bayou state. The story takes place in and near that historic Miss’ippi River Crescent city of N’Awlins.

In this scene, clipped from chapter 26, we find the silverspoon banker reprobate bad guy, Mick Basker, as he is recovering from a gun shot wound that he had gotten only because he stabbed the protagonist, Robby, in a moment of poor decision enflamed by a not-small nip of wine.

Now he’s laid up in a hospital room, until he receives a visit from Ophelia, a nice anthropologist lady (long story) and he asks her to give him a ride back to his warehouse where he has some stealthy business too attend to before it is too late. So Miss Ophelia obliges him. In this scene he is giving her the driving instructions to . . .

             “Turn right out of here. Take this street to Carrollton. Then turn right again.”  He slid the seat back as far as it would go, and stretched his right leg out. It was obvious Mick was dealing with some pain.

“You might have rushed it a bit, checking out of the hospital so soon,” said Opelia. Mick didn’t say anything. Driving the Jaguar was a new experience for Ophelia.  I could get used to this.    When they reached Carrollton Avenue, she turned right.

“Go up to the expressway, and turn right onto it.” They rode in silence for a few minutes.  Mick was nervous.  And so was Ophelia, not knowing what she had gotten herself into.  She had entered his room on an impulse about an hour and a half ago.  Now she was breezing along in control of a Jaguar on a concrete ribbon that stretched eastward, just a little higher than the funky city below.  It was about four in the afternoon. The city was hazy, like the unclear sort of agenda that seemed to hang over their expedition.  Or maybe the unclear agenda was in her mind. Ophelia had no idea where they were headed.   Over to the right were the brown and grey, dated, middle of the pack skyscraping obelisks of an old city whose glory days had checked out about 1965 or so, leaving generous tips for the bellmen and the cab drivers and the dancers and the jazzmen on the street and providing suitable gratuities for the artists and fortune tellers on Jackson Square, but no guaranteed income for those citizens born into the metropolis where every man is a king, and the queen of hearts trumps spades with the everpresent  half-empty glass in her hand and a gaggle of Mardi Gras beads coiled around her neck while the jack of diamonds stands outside  a strip club on Bourbon Street summoning desperate souls.

But it wasn’t entirely dicey.  New Orleans’ irresistible character  and native nobility was—in  spite of the worn-out rehearsals of a painted lady personsa whose playbill was perpetually posted on that old streetcar named desire—despite all that hurley-burley girly exploitation, its future  hung  upon, still, the solid hopes and noble dreams of a million creole souls whose thin checkbooks and postage stamp  domiciles sheltered them from the same deluge of disaster that lapped upon the levees or bridges or subways or suburbs or cul-de-sacs of any city in the wounded, wound-up  world.  Furthermore, there was still a place there where you could hear old colored men and young, hopeful white guys and gals who had a thing or two to learn about authentic music sing   Just a Closer Walk with Thee. There’s always hope. There’s always hope for a great city.  And I told him that.

“Take this exit,” said Mick.

GlassChpic

One more note about that New Orleans: have a listen:  When the Saints Go Marchin’ In!

Glass Chimera

The Four Horses

November 20, 2019

This morning I heard Meghna Chakrabarti interviewing Sylvia Poggioli about the flood in Venice, Italy.

Hearing the WBUR On Point hostess ask NPR’s Italian correspondent about that watery excess, my imagination flowed back to my visit to Venice in 2003.

On that day, sixteen years ago, I stood in a long tourist line to visit the Basilica of San Marco.

On that day, flood waters from the Adriatic Sea were lapping up the stepped entryway into the nave of the cathedral.

My daughter Kim, studying in Italy at that time, snapped some photographs. I assembled three of them here:

SanMarco3

It is plain to see that, yes, there is an ongoing, and worsening problem of flooding in the ancient city of Venice.

Moreover, the evidence is mounting that, yes Virginia, there is in fact a worldwide problem of more frequent coastal flooding, and it is reasonably related to climate change.

My position about climate change is that we should collectively educate ourselves about the impact of human activity on our planetary ecosystem. But human rights—rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness— should not be violated for the sake of imposing restrictive laws to reduce and control carbon emissions.

However all of our overflowing angst about climate change gets spread around, I would like to hone in on a certain detail in the frontal edifice of San Marco church building.

Look closely at this picture of the front of San Marco. You will notice, above the middle arch, four horse statues. 

When I noticed them up there in 2003, I was fascinated with those horses.

SanMarcoHrs

Five years later, as I was writing a novel later entitled Glass Chimera, I included those horses—actually, miniature glass reproductions of them— in part of the story I was cloning together at that time

In chapter 13 of Glass Chimera, we find this scene:

Sunday afternoon, Mick Basker slept until 1:30, then got out of bed, made some coffee, and sat down at his computer to take a look at the chip that he had retrieved from the glass horse’s gonads four nights ago.  He   reached down to open the bottom drawer of his desk.  Then  he noticed a scrap of printed paper, about the size of a small  index card, on the floor nearby. Recognizing it as a slip that  he had found within the figurines’ crate, Mick picked it up to get a closer look. This is what was printed on the little paper:

Congratulazioni! Lei ha comprato uno degli articoli di vetro più belli nel mondo. Quest’edizione a bassa tiratura della “Quadriga Marciana”  ha soffiato degli artigiani specializzati della Società del Vetro Leoni di Venezia, Italia. Gli articoli di vetro sono i riproduzioni squisite delle sculture di bronzo che fa la guardia di sopra del vestibolo occidentale della Basilica di San Marco in Venezia. I cavalli originali sono giungi a Venezia con il ricco bottino di guerra dai Veneziani dopo la conquista di Constantinopoli al termine della IV Crociata nel 1204 A.D. Dopo cinque secoli, nel 1797, Napoleone li fa trasferire a Parigi, ma i cavalli erano ritornati alla Basilica di San Marco nel 1815.

But Mick knew no Italiano, so he set the little paper aside, and   reached down again to the bottom drawer, from which he produced a yellow pharmaceutical container, a pill box.  Inside it was a was a patch of plastic foam  which  concealed a little green circuit board  about the size of thumb.   Carefully, he inserted his chip, looking like a little black crab with metallic legs, into the device, then pushed the assemblage into a USB port on the computer. He typed and moused his way to the chip’s data, and when he found it this is what he saw: 

OAT,  GHN-1:17q22-q24,  DTNBP-1:6p22.3,  IGF-2:3q28.

But he didn’t know what it was.

If you ramble around this world, you will notice that life on our planet is full of mysteries. You just never know when another strange happening might come flooding into your mind, your mailbox, or your city square, or even your own sacred space.

But no matter what strange occurrence crosses your path or your mind, try to make the best of it.

Glass Chimera