by Jeffrey Murrell

Chapter 6 (part 2 of 2)

Because of the bad quality of coordination within New Orleans' city administration, and between it and other branches of government, it is quite easy for outside entities to break into the governmental regime and to have their ways with it (as long as they are organized). And long-established entities, like the white power-majority and the Catholic Church, have the greatest influences over the system there.

A good example of how both have simultaneously managed to worm their way through the system in New Orleans to steer things in their favor was when a deal supposedly was struck in early August of 1990 between the Catholic Archdiocese and the New Orleans District Attorney, Harry Connick, Senior (a devout Catholic) to cover up a perverse kiddy-porn cottage industry which had been run by an area priest named Dino Cinel. Father Cinel had been running this sick little operation of his out of no less than the basement of his church (which just happened to be located in Mr. Connick's church parish)! Archbishop Phillip Hannan was the one who made the alleged deal with the D.A., but both fervently denied it all. The allegation was that Mr. Connick did everything he could to avoid bringing the pervert's actions to the public's attention, supposedly at the Archbishop's request, because this would have very badly compromised the Church's reputation and identity there. So, Dino Cinel, for having destroyed the reputations and identities of the young men and boys who had put their spiritual trust in him to guide them righteously in the way of God, was quietly moved away to avoid the spotlight which was sure to have fallen on him, had he remained there on the same stage upon which he had conducted his man-boy performances. Mr. Connick is rumored to have immediately thrown the whole matter into the hands of the same federal authorities who thought that he was taking care of it. Because of this apparently, it got lost in the paper shuffle - something a person in his position would be very much aware would happen. So it looks as if he was able to wash his hands completely of the matter, and get it totally obscured all in a very innocent-looking way. Were that the case, it would have been a very smooth trick, indeed! And Dino Cinel, having been quietly defrocked, was able to pursue a lucrative teaching job at the City University of New York. Thankfully, justice was able to prevail a little bit, and Dino got his butt hauled back down to the Big Easy from the Big Apple to endure judicial hearings regarding the sick affair.

I don't know what happened to him or all the tapes that he made of himself having sex with all those boys, but he did lose his job at CUNY, and he will have to deal with the stigma of it for the rest of his life wherever he goes - they've even heard about it back where he comes from in Italy! Of course, no matter what was officially said about the matter by either the New Orleans District Attorney's Office or the New Orleans Catholic Archdiocese, everybody found out about it there eventually, and everybody was wondering the same thing about the integrity of Mr. Connick and Archbishop Hannan concerning their involvement in it. The fact remains that nobody was able to bring swift justice to Dino Cinel because of the stealthy way the affair got swept under the rug. He basically got away with it, and the Catholic Church, on which so many people depend for spiritual guidance and authority about how to do right in the eyes of God, suffered negligible damage, too.

God is God but, unfortunately, those who run His church for us here on earth are only people who are replete with sin! And there is no place that any of us can escape the taint of evil, except within God's paradise.

Paradise - how many ways do we have for saying it? Heaven, Utopia, the Happy Hunting Grounds, Nirvana, Valhalla, Elysian Fields - the list is extensive because so many of us are so obsessed with the concept. We even name things after it, like streets. In Paris, there is the grand Champs Elysées (French for Elysian Fields). In New Orleans, right at the very start of the 19th century, a man by the name of Lafon Barthelemy tried to duplicate the famous Parisian avenue in what was the first suburb of New Orleans, land that he had developed in 1805 which was part of a plantation owned by Marquis Bernard Xavier Phillipe de Marigny de Mandeville, and which was located adjacent to the French Quarter on the down-river side (the French word back then for suburb was faubourg, so they called it "Faubourg Marigny," a name by which it is still known today). Elysian Fields Avenue stretches all the way from the back of the French Quarter up to Lake Pontchartrain across town. I traveled on Elysian Fields Avenue quite regularly, and it was once while traveling that route which is named after one of the most highly-revered concepts of truth, that I was made to see the truth, or at least I believe that I came as close to seeing it as I probably ever will.

As I was driving up Elysian Fields Avenue, I found myself held up behind a slow-moving pickup truck with three or four clean-cut, all-American boys in the back, apparently getting a ride to school because they were all wearing the khaki uniforms required at the all-boys Brother Martin parochial high school which was located a ways down from where we were poking along. They made me chuckle a little because they were all laughing hysterically and pointing their fingers over at something. We were moving slowly enough so that I could get a look at whatever it was that they were all getting such a rip out of - a stout Negro man, about six feet tall, who had a complexion which was very broken and blotchy with patches of waxy, magnolia-blossom white all over his face and other exposed areas of skin, obviously from some inherent condition which creates a sporadic lack of skin pigmentation, probably vitiligo. Those were some real mean little bastards in the back of that truck, laughing at that poor man who was so monstrous to behold, "monstrous" as in the Latin meaning "to show" or "to be displayed" (not as in some horrible creature who hides under bridges to catch and eat billy goats who try to cross over). This man was a poor monster, someone who stands out, who was standing out at a bus stop in New Orleans, Louisiana, forced, by whatever circumstances, to have to involuntarily exhibit his deformity before the likes of those cruel boys. And there they were, riding to their private school, and neglecting to stop and think for a moment, and to be grateful that they had been so blessed as to be born into a time and place where their white skins and penises would raise them up to a social standard favored above all others. The situation really made me sick. It really made me mad!

That really got me wondering what "loving" God could ever make such tragic monsters out of some of His children, like that poor fellow at the bus stop, and others so envied, like the punks in the back of that pickup truck. What loving God could divide His children so by creating some in one way and others in another? How could He make some of them suffer so much by afflicting them so unfairly with such discouraging disabilities as epilepsy and asthma, and traits which are such sources of humiliation, like what that black guy had? My answer was slow in the realization, but it came to me after a lot of reflection. I figured out that it's not God who creates monsters to be scorned by boys, but the wickedness which has infiltrated the hearts of so many. It's not God or even those rapscallions who harbor the evil, but the evil itself that makes monsters as opposed to boys. The real monster is the evil. Without it, there would be no such laughing and finger-pointing, no such hurt as surely must have been felt in that monstrous man's poor, unsoothed heart. There would be no dereliction of or deviation from the values that compose all of that which is truly and purely human; that which is human and humanitarian, that little bit of us which comes peeking out sometimes and lends a warm glow to what has become a dismal world. There would only be peace, there could only be paradise as we so often think of it. But it has been vanquished by the evil, as sad as that is (as utterly tragic as that is!). The evil is what keeps us from trusting each other, and to trust is supremely important for us to be able to do, especially for those of us who are brought into the world with a physically or morally crippling affliction. The evil makes us cruel to each other, making us laugh and point our fingers at those who have differences instead of trying to understand them. It is an awful bastard who deserves only hatred!

And it's sneaky! It gets those who least expect it (which are the ones whom no one would usually expect). It deceives and clouds vision. It wrecks reason and warps its very core which is the human intellect. It trashes human sensitivity and blinds with misconception. It colors passion a different, darker shade, and holds its victims hostage thusly. And they just go where it tells them - they never stop to question, but they usually always are quick to judge. They are the blind ones who ignore the soldiers who have crossed the mine fields of life already. They can't seem to listen to anyone or anything, save the evil. It knows whom it can entrance and entrap, but it also knows those who refuse to heed its influences. Those are the ones it usually just ignores because it knows that those are usually the ones whom it has already had in its grip, but lost. They know it best, and that's what it can't get around. So it strikes out for more and more, and it finds itself locked in an eternal battle with those whom it can no longer manipulate, fighting to maintain ground as they slowly, yet surely, defang it and reclaim as many of its victims as possible. It may be able to transcend their temporary mortality, but it will never be able to follow them to what may lay beyond their earthly existence, and it is blinded with fury over that. Make no mistake, it will die as soon as there's nobody left for it to feed on. And when it dies, it will suffer what so many of us fear we will after we pass on, and it will come to an utter end and be absolutely nothing! Until then, it's wise to keep away from its hungry jaws so that a true life, which is good and meant to continue, will not be destroyed and thusly wasted just so something which is not can go on for only a moment longer.

Living is what it's all about. By living, I mean continuing onwards for a reason. That reason is that each of us is a work of art, a creation in our own right not to be judged by others. Here I'll give just a little credit to those like Louisiana's Bible-wielders who preach and carry on ad nauseam about how bad it is that we've become intelligent and not remained as naive as they imagine Adam and Eve were before they blew it. This residual poison in us from Eve's forbidden fruit which we call intelligence, the thing that makes some of us who become so profoundly disabled by it and think they're on to everything, has been like a ladder to us which has been leading us all down into a big, slippery hole called "insecurity." It has collected in most of our systems to the point where we've become blinded by its strangulating side-effects. Because of this, we're not able to see that we are all beautiful manifestations of some great force. Whether that force is just a big coincidence or a God is quite beside the point - what matters is that that's the way it is for us, and we are able, perhaps to our great detriment, to realize it.

One can't rationally come to the conclusion that, once such force has brought together such a fine work as a human being, all the results of that force or energy or whatever else one may wish to call it are simply cast carelessly aside after time. We have worth being what we are, and that is the only reason needed to justify our being preserved to continue on in one form or another by whatever brought us about in the first place. But, again, we must be careful not to get too carried away playing on that rickety old ladder, or we may end up so far down in that hole that we may get stuck in there. Then we would be throwing ourselves away, just like the evil wants us to do.

We have to try to see the patterns which are formulated by the elements all around us. There is a consistency being obeyed from which we can learn a few things more about our world and ourselves, and especially about our destinies. As like begets like on our planet, isn't it likely that we, being creations of whatever elements combined to bring us into existence as we are aware of it, are also creators ourselves? There's creation, as in procreation, but isn't there something to our inherent creativity which is not so much an automatic, biological function, but is rather complex and difficult to objectively identify? Of course there is! If no such aspect could be found in the human condition, then we would never be able to ask the question to begin with. Without the knowledge that we, as entities, all create in one way or another, thus making evident this particular pattern, we would never be able to catch on to enough to formulate the questions dealing with greater creative powers than ourselves. After all, for there to be a greater, there has to be a lesser. Conversely, if there is a lesser, there is always a greater. This is what we're shown by this and other patterns of life. Unless our vision someday becomes more refined, all we will ever definitely be able to see is infinity in one direction when it comes to creation, that being back and/or behind us (in the past). But there are indeed clues as to whether there exists a second direction of creativity forward and/or ahead of us which perhaps leads the way to an origin or ultimate starting/finishing point that would thusly make it finite and, accordingly, the answer to all of our questions. Finding such clues is probably a lot simpler than most of us realize, too!

As creators, our focus falls naturally on that which drives our creative energies: Expression. When one creates, one is expressing oneself. No matter how minor a creation one produces, be it a work of art, a trimmed hedge or even a simple change of clothes, one is leaving an imprint of certain expressions in one's wake. One is telling the world, "Look! This was done, and it was I who did it. You might not realize that I did it, but that's okay because I have thusly contributed to your existence as well as mine in one way or another by doing it anyway!" One basically sustains one's worth and purpose by creatively expressing one's existence. It is a way of telling ourselves that we matter. It is very important to us and, in fact, I would go as far as to say that it may be the very core of human life and the force which keeps us going spiritually. It appears to be the fuel of our human engines.

Creation from expression - these are a couple of the clues that direct our gaze forward and ahead to that which we cannot readily see. But there is still another link in the pattern which can help us to see more clearly that which lays down the road for us. That link is inspiration. To create, one must express oneself. To express oneself, one must be inspired. Where does inspiration come from? What is it in the first place? Some would say it's hope. I don't know if it can really be labeled with our mortal words, but hope sounds as close to it as we could ever manage to come, I think. Hope - that's one thing we all need because without it, none of us could ever have any faith in anything. That includes in ourselves! But faith isn't necessarily a link in this inspiration-expression-creation chain though, because so many people obviously have none whatsoever. But it can certainly be considered one of the last links in the chain for quite a few of us who do have it. For those of us who have faith in creation as such, we may or may not be able to see what lays beyond it, but we can sure guess that it's what we have faith in, be it spiritual or not.

Faith is a mysterious thing in New Orleans. Everyone seems to have it or, if they don't, they pretend to have it. Most of their faith is not placed in themselves, but in the place itself because it represents them better than they themselves can. So many of them seem to think that, because they come from New Orleans, they are the end-all of everything that is venerated in the United States. And it doesn't matter what kind of New Orleanian one is - Creole, Italian, French, Hispanic, Irish, etc. - they all have the same impression that their particular ethnicity has contributed the most to New Orleans and what they're under the impression is its venerable standing in American history and culture. (Well, they're wrong about that, of course!) And no matter what ethnic descent they come from, they all have to eat, breathe and dream "ersters, thwimps an' crowfish" (that's OYSTERS, SHRIMP and CRAWFISH - they're so retawded!). And each main ethnicity in the city has to have its own damned parade to block up traffic each year. There's the Irish Channel parade, the Italian parade, the Irish-Italian parade and a whole slew of others, including a gay parade in the Quarter at Mardi Gras!

For all of those who know what it means to miss "New Or-leenz," I can sympathize. I sympathize because I think it's just such a shame that the historic, tranquilizing sounds of the gentle steamboats' whistles out on the mighty Mississippi are strangled time and again so viciously by the shocking sounds of automatic machine-gun fire in the night; that a proud place with what could have been an enviably unique past can allow itself to deteriorate with such great neglect; that a people such as those who inhabit a place which is trafficked so much by the world's merchant navies can be so closed-minded to outside progress; that such a potential paradise has been lost forever to abuse, corruption and selfishness. Yes, I sympathize. How could it be that this one-time great and wonderful city, a legendary capital of the Old South and a mystical twinkle in the eye of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, has been allowed to go to such pot? As it lays tormented and dying from the wounds inflicted on it by all the neglect, so does every song and story ever written about it. But maybe that's okay. As I've said, it's really no legendary place at all. It's just another big, North-American city. But one thing is for sure: For that place and its people, there will never be a second chance. Betrayed and sold out by racism, corruption, exploitation and ethno-centric stupidity, it has most probably already lived and died, and its residents have received their reward in full, that being the illusion that theirs is an enchanted history spun from the stuff from which legends are made. In fact, theirs is a story weaved from the shame of economic dependency on slavery, rampant, unchecked outbreaks of yellow fever, military occupation and, to this day, the persistent dependency on old, colonial cultures for something they're crude enough to label as being their own.

Well, up until the very last day that I was still living there, I saw Mammer Jammer out on her favorite street corner preaching to nobody in particular. She still had those curlers in her hair, and it looked as if somebody was still dressing her in fresh, clean clothes daily. I swore that I'd walk right up to her one day and meet her eye-to-eye before I left to see if she was really that crazy, or if she was just putting on some kind of act, but I never managed to summon up enough courage to do so. My guess is that she was really that crazy. I did wave good-bye to her from out of the window of my rental truck, though. She didn't see me, and if she did, she didn't pay any attention. (Maybe she thought that it was me who was really crazy!)

I never did see Big Red again since I moved out of my old neighborhood. He must have finally pinched the wrong nun on the fanny or something, and gotten taken to Charity Hospital for receiving retaliatory injuries. (Who knows what could have happened to him?) I'm just glad that I never had a real fatal encounter with the boy. I would rather have gotten caught up in a bad hurricane, let me tell you.

Old Hard Hat? Yeah, I saw her again a couple of times out prowling around in her plastic-bag sportswear. She must have been one tough old gal to have been always wandering around the whole town like that. She was a spooky old thing, but she was an old thing in need of some rare human understanding and compassion. My heart will always feel regret for not ever having taken the chance to help her out with a little spare change. Perhaps that's my punishment, a sort of inadvertent guilt-curse that she put on me. (If so, it would have been the only real curse that she ever put on a body.)

Max will probably always be the orneriest old fart whom I've ever known. He would be a real hard act to follow. Until the last day I saw him, his apartment still looked unfit for human habitation. He was still inviting strange Japanese tourists over to stay the night, and he was still bitching about either all the blacks that were there, or his old sister, the queen of uptown spendthrifts. I'm afraid that I left a very bitter and lonely old man even more alone. He got along as well as he probably ever could way before I ever showed up, so I'm sure he did just as well after I abandoned ship on him. In fact, he was probably far better off without all the criticism that I constantly heaped on him. Old Max was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I'll actually miss him a lot (him and all that free beer he gave me)! He gave me a really cool little propane grill before I left that he said he had no use for. It got all rusty sitting out in the moist Southeast Louisiana air before I finally packed it up with the rest of my stuff to move. Now I make "Max burgers" on it in the summertime - big old patties of ground chuck, all blackened and tough around the edges, but tender and runny on the inside. I don't necessarily enjoy eating them, but I do it anyway, just as I didn't necessarily enjoy Max's company all the time, but I kept it anyway. I think it did him some good, and I feel glad about that.

About [the thin white] Duke - he seemed to have dropped out of politics after his embarrassingly unsuccessful, second bid for the U.S. Presidency in 1992. (Yeah, right - PRESIDENT DUKE! Tell us another funny one there, chief!) After that, he fell into some obscure private dealings with an insurance company there in Louisiana (I bet he didn't exactly have people kicking his door down to buy a policy from him). As to whether or not I cared about what he was doing, the answer is definitely no. He lost his seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives, he lost his bid for the office of Governor of Louisiana, and he lost face and most of his followers in the process. He was a true loser! (I'm sure he wasn't too worried about making a living though, as he could always fall back on peddling Nazi literature out of his Metairie home if worse came to worst for him.) What did sort of concern me, though, was the fate of his poor children. He had a couple of very lovely daughters as I last recall, and it worried me that those two innocent girls were going to have to carry the stigma of having David Duke as their father around with them for the rest of their lives. Poor girls - it almost made me want to start up a trust fund for them so that they could pay for some plastic surgery someday to hide any obvious resemblance to him that their faces might harbor. (But, of course, it may very well be that, with all the cosmetic surgery that he reportedly had done on his face, they might not have had to end up bearing much of a likeness to him at all. Wouldn't that be some luck?) And with all the hoopla generated by his political storm-trooping, we never did hear anything much about his parents and whether they were still living or passed away, or embarrassed by it all, or what. I feel pretty damned sorry for them, too! (I hope, for their sake, they weren't still living to see what their boy was making of the family's name.)

A long time after I left the hotel, I tried to call Zach a couple of times to see if we could get together again to have some laughs, but I was never able to get a hold of him. When I was working for the mayor, I would drive past the hotel on my way to city hall from the building where my office was, and I would see Zach out there on the drive, humping people's bags up into the hotel for a buck or two. And every time I passed, I wondered if the old guy was still throwing those damned suitcases down the stairs. I sure hope so - how else could a bellman get satisfaction when ingrates don't tip?

Zach was a very special person, and I sure am sorry that I ever lost touch with him. I can only hope and pray that the remainder of his life was pleasant and fruitful, despite all the ugly aspects to living (especially when you're a black man in America). But then, he knew how to deal with all that. He was a veteran of the segregation era who sure as hell knew how to get around certain types of nasty people with attitudes. He didn't need this white boy's support, that's for sure. But I could have used some more of his. I gleaned one insight from Zach that'll last me from now until eternity, though. I won't bother with explaining just what that was, but I will say that I'm very grateful to have received it. It is like a precious gift that he gave me with nothing more than a few casually spoken words. I'm sure I'll see him again, a long ways down the road.

I don't know if it was really true or not, but ol' Jim told me that Daryl had died of some kind of liver disorder. I did see him once again before I left, though. He was using the same corner laundromat as I was one Sunday afternoon. Much to my surprise, he was quite a decent fellow then, doing his wash and acting all responsible like a normal adult and everything. I was even more surprised to see why: Daryl had found him a girlfriend! She seemed to be a pretty good match for him, weighing in at about two hundred pounds or so. Daryl kind of timidly introduced me to her after he got the evil eye for standing there and talking too much when they had a couple of more loads yet to do to get through that tired, muggy day. She seemed very pleasant and almost shy. I can't remember what her name was, but I do recall that it was something that went along very well with Daryl's name.

When he got another half-minute to break away from the washers and chat, I asked him about his mom and how she was getting along. "Fine," he said flatly, almost as if he were ashamed of her or something. But it could have been that he just didn't know how she was doing, or that he just didn't care. I got enough out of him though to glean that she was still living next door to the old place at the Vietnam veteran's apartment. He never mentioned if he had moved into a place of his own - he just seemed to be existing happily in New Orleans, oblivious as usual to all else but his own little sliver of life. That's what happens to you when you're simple - you end up happy (or close enough to it).

Well, I finished up my little bit of laundry and said, "See you around, Daryl!" He said "bye," and even called me "buddy." Imagine that! I could never have imagined such a thing would drop from Daryl's mouth in my direction. I guess truth is really stranger than fiction after all.

Now, what I really can't imagine is that New Orleans didn't get any worse after I pulled out of it. I'm sure it did. At the time, the state legislature had just granted the city administration's wish to bring legalized casino gambling in, even though it was expressly forbidden in the state's constitution at the time. It would seem appropriate to have casino gambling in New Orleans, though, considering how well such a low-life industry would fit in with all the rest of the others there. (All the cab drivers had a heyday over the news, I remember!)

The weather has probably stayed the same (miserable, in general). And it's most probably still not the place for those who don't care for roaches or mosquitoes. The air probably still makes one's eyes water, being constantly filled with sooty exhaust from endless streams of tractor-trailer trucks along the big avenues and the interstate, and never-ending, traffic-clogging processions of poorly maintained tour coaches around the CBD and various tourist spots (which pretty much comprise the entirety of the city), not to mention the smoke from all the boats coming up and down the river all the time. No, it's not the place to be for those with respiratory ailments. If you're old or growing old, you don't want to be there! If you're young and ready to start school, or if you have children who are ready to enter school, you don't want to be there, either. And if you're a sailor on shoreleave in New Orleans, remember not to get too drunk and rowdy because then you'll probably get picked up by members of the police force that the Justice Department cited as being the most brutal in the whole nation. This was according to a 1992 report released by the U.S. Justice Department which showed that a total of thirty-five brutality complaints were lodged against N.O.P.D. officers, topping the list for that year, and beating out even Los Angeles which came in second. (Coming in third on that list was none other than New Orleans' racially separate neighbor, Jefferson Parish - I didn't just make this up!)

Between the steam and the bugs, the cops and the teenaged killers, that place is the stuff that slasher-movie nightmares are made of. When you add all the other junk to that, it looks terrible indeed! It's like walking through one of those dreams where you're stuck in mud up to your knees as you try to escape from some monster chasing you. It's like skydiving without any health insurance. It's just mad.

I can't deny that the mess there is mostly due to history. I'll never be convinced that it was any sort of romantic, swashbuckling, aristocratic garbage that brought on all the ineptness, though. It was history all right, but a history made by tired old conservatives who ran their households like dictators, making their children kneel on rice for even minor infractions of their warped, ideocentric rules. And their children grew up the same way as they did, naturally. Outside of their homes, they bought, sold, beat and molested black people and others, probably not entirely for economic necessity, but probably because it also somehow made them feel bigger. And they'd still be wanting to do it today if they could, but we've got the shining sanity of the North to thank for saving us from further humiliation. What a shame it is that we can't just erase all of that evil from the country's past. But it's there, and we've got to deal with it better somehow. We've got to deal with it because it's practically a cornerstone of the nation's history! We've dealt with real bad things before, so we can deal with our own past - right? (History may be behind us, but unfortunately, it's not inert and it keeps coming back to haunt us.)

Somehow, this cycle of rice-kneeling must be brought to an end. Somehow, somebody from somewhere else in the country will have to show them how to be compassionate and fair to their fellow human beings down there - and to themselves. Somehow, they're going to have to learn how to do things, and how to do them right the first time. I imagine it'll be somebody from up North again who will do it. But then who's going to come to the United States to teach the rest of the country how to get along as members of different religions, races and classes first? I don't think there is anybody else out there who is any more qualified than we here in America, so it looks like we're going to have to drill into our own heads just how important it is to be able to let the hurt of the past go while still remembering enough to forever know how to love each other, and to get along for the short duration of torment that we must share together while being subjected to life on earth. We need to do what we as Americans do best, and take the initiative to discover how to do it on our own. That would be best, I think.

Well, the next time you're down in New Orleans, try to keep your wits about you, or you may fall under the vaporous spell of the setting sun's peony glow as it tints the lofty plumes of some singular, splendid palmtree standing high above the wispy foliage of serene oaks whose plummeting limbs, heavy with age and luscious green, as green as the green you've always longed to see but couldn't quite ever seem to (like the green of the trees in drawings from favorite, long-remembered fairy tales), comfortably shroud gracious mansions and prized Creole cottages which are all dressed in fresh, Easter-Sunday hues, and nestled down in blossom-speckled gardens. But never mind - the sweetness of the spell will be instantly soured at the first sight of a ragged black child peddling suspiciously slowly along on a creaking, rusty old bike and hunting with a chewed-up old plastic bag, half-filled with crunched-up old aluminum cans, hunting - not for playful reasons of childhood fantasy, but for worriful reasons of animal necessity. You'd know for sure then that it could never be the Elysian Fields of ancient Greek paradise, but only the Elysian Fields of modern New Orleans: Elysian Fields lost.

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