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I saw an angel. She was tall, sculpted like a high-bred horse, walking proud down Chartres Street in a sleeveless blouse with our 504 area code tattooed on the pristine flesh of her left arm 3 inches tall. What's reality when angels like that roam the city?

We need a lot of angels now, real angels, to just show themselves and walk around us. The city was full of angels around 1998, attracted no doubt by the flavor of the Apocalypse that's been wafting from our city since its inception. I was writing the novel Messiah back then, so I was hyper-alert to angels, and they responded by appearing to me frequently.

There is an excess of faith in New Orleans now. The prices for rebuilding are high, but peoples' faith in New Orleans is like that of ship captains. If it goes down, they go down with it. Faith flies in the face of the unknowns like Joan of Arc's fleur-de-lis flag. This much faith has a trickle-down effect that manifests itself in angels. The more faith, the more angels.

The whole of the U.S. is now gripped by two quasi-mystical insane phenomena: The Da Vinci Code and American Idol. The Da Vinci Code has the descendants of Jesus hiding all over the place in fear of being killed by the Catholic Church. How absurd is that? I know several descendants of Jesus, and they are not hiding. They are hanging out in plain view at some of our watering establishments (primarily Molly's). The descendants of Jesus are all drunks, without exception. They are attended often by a host of angels that only they can see, although I'm pretty good at spotting them, too. One afternoon in 2000 I counted 16 angels streaming by Molly's in about an hour. We didn't quite need them then, but we sure need them now.

The other mass hysterical delusion is American Idol, a competition that had more people voting for their favorite than voted for both presidential candidates in the last election. It's clear: people don't want good leaders. They want idols. They want to worship. They are right, but looking in the wrong place, at their TV. Instead of looking for a TV idol to worship, they should come to New Orleans to worship angels.

I am advising Mayor Nagin to begin his new administration with an all-out call for angels. Then he can take care of the practical stuff, like rebuilding immediately, without losing the giddy aura that makes the city feel now like Paris in the '20s, a propitious environment for angels. There seems be a low-level insurgency underway in the city. It's not Baghdad yet, but we need angels. If the mayor manages to get George Bush and the Godfather to swear allegiance to New Orleans, he'll be the new Joan of Arc. The early Joan, anyway -- the one who risked everything for her kingdom. The heavens cooperated with her for a while. She had angels.

Andrei Codrescu's new book is New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years Of Writing From the City.

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