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August, or Some People Have All the Luck 

My friend Maria Jetta, who is a traveling soprano, went to Iceland and cruised among the fjords, playing Grieg for Scandinavians. In Minneapolis in June, she gave me two sensitively sculpted huge hands that I was going to use in the movie I was shooting. Back in June, I was an energetic and creative person who did things that were amusing and cooling, while being productive and kind of hot. Now it's August and I'm just hot. I wrote Maria back:

Dear Maria,

My summer came to an abrupt end when our producer ran out of what he calls "money." The crew dispersed for a week, then two, and now I've lost count. We stopped in St. Louis after shooting half the movie, which may be good, given the melting temps in the zone. The Mississippi Delta this time of year will give you not just the blues but also a fainting spell. The hands were used (by me) to scare Rose, the youngest member of our crew, who ran away and shrieked when I went after her with those oversized mitts. Other than that, they have been carefully stored for the scene at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans where, hands in hand, we'll offer them to the Jesus who lost his fingers snapping Katrina 10 miles away from the French Quarter. We were going to have Zoran, the Minneapolis sculptor, break the fingers off at his goat sacrifice, but we thought that it might be anti-climactic to break them off so soon. Zoran and his tribe (of artists) barbecued a halal goat inside one of his sculptures by the river, and he and I ate the brain (on camera). Two porny-looking Barbies, who were shooting some kind of "modeling news show" at a studio next to Zoran's, came with their director to "interview" me, hence the spectacle (which I hope makes it into the movie) of two anorexic Paris Hilton look-alikes holding dripping pieces of goat (and biting daintily into them) while asking questions like, "Where are you from?" Can't make that kind of thing up.

After that, things went downhill, and now it's August. August is not what I ordered. I specifically said, "something summery and interesting!" -- not "hell in flames and paralysis!" School starts in early September, and I'll torment the young, always a revivifying activity. When the film starts up again (the producer claims he found what he calls "money") we'll doubtlessly be back in Minneapolis for one thing or another, and if you're there, let's drink something on the rocks. I'll let you know how August turned out.

Fellow lizards, take heart.

P.S. We have a winner for the free drink I offered the reader who could tell me why I wrote back to a guy who wrote to me about squids who eat their own brain -- and didn't answer a TV producer who wanted me to talk about vampires in New Orleans. The winner is Michelle Perron. She said: "Because you're a brain-eater, not a vampire!" referring to the Minneapolis goat-brain scene and to my well-known horror of kitsch.

Andrei Codrescu's latest book is New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writing From the City (Algonquin Books).


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