Loyal readers know the Up Fronter always keeps the public informed about the annual used book sale in the gym at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. This year’s monster sale is set for March 24-26. Hours are Friday 8 am-6 pm, Saturday 9 am-3 pm and Sunday noon-3 pm. As I never tire of telling people, Sunday’s the day when you can buy a full bag of books for $5.
If you make it on the first day, you’ll be able to choose from more than 20,000 books priced from $.50 to $3. A small number of collectibles cost a bit more. You’ll also be able to buy CDs and DVDs.
You can get to the sale by going through the drive-through entrance on the side of the church. Just follow the signs.
Proceeds are always given to local charities. The sale is closing in on a total of $100,000 donated.
For more info, go to Facebook # goodshepherdusedbooksale.
New N.O. History
Gretna’s Pelican Publishing is out with a batch of new releases. Of particular interest is An Oral History Of The New Orleans Ninth Ward. Although author Caroline Gerdes lives in Seattle, she grew up in N.O.
New Orleans’ history of employing quite a few guides for tours of haunted places may have inspired Pelican to publish a new travel memoir: Drawn To The Dark: Explorations In Scare Tourism Around The World by Chris Kullstroem. Kullstroem travels from Mexico’s Day of the Dead to Germany’s Brocken Mountain on Walpurgis Night to the abode of Krampus in Austria.
Although Pelican has no other books by Kullstroem, it has at least half a dozen additional titles about hauntings and ghosts. Especially good-looking is a book called A Ghost Watcher’s Guide To Ireland.
Learn more at pelican.com.
Guidry Makes Hi-Fructose
Pop surrealism is almost certainly the best known art movement in the U.S. today. The two big magazines chronicling the movement are Juxtapoz and Hi-Fructose. In its last issue, Hi-Fructose devoted a major story to Southwest Louisiana’s premier surrealist — Lafayette’s Amy Guidry.
The piece, “Amy Guidry’s Surreal Paintings Touch on Life, Death and Nature,” was written by Andy Smith and appeared in the Feb. 15 edition of Hi-Fructose. Smith’s headline indicates he thinks Guidry’s work has less to do with pop and more to do with traditional surrealistic painting.
Guidry echoes this in comments she makes to the mag: “My interest in art and psychology continues to influence my work. With surrealism being the grand marriage of the two, I was naturally drawn to every aspect behind the movement. Themes I explore involve the human psyche, who we are and how we interact with each other and the world we live in — our relationship with other animals and nature, as well as the cycle of life and connections between all life forms.”
Smith is aware of Guidry’s broadest concerns, stating that her truly bizarre nature scenes address “the concepts of survival, life and death, and destruction.”
The best thing about this Hi-Fructose story is that it contains big reproductions of 16 of Guidry’s paintings. As a result, readers and viewers have an excellent opportunity to analyze a broad selection of her work.
Here’s what I found in it. Over and over I saw that the painter had magically removed some part of an animal’s body and merged what remained of the animal with some other natural object. In one painting, a group of five galloping horses whose heads and upper necks are missing carry a mountain range on what’s left of their bodies. In another painting, a group of five running deer who are missing their heads carry a large tree and its root system in spite of their apparent decapitation. In a third painting, five horses run across the top of the bottom half of a human skull. Either the human skull is enormous or the horses are tiny.
As Smith says, images of the death and decay of people and other animals are recurrent in Guidry’s work. In one painting, two squirrels sit on both sides of a tree’s trunk. In a cutaway that shows the tree’s root system, we see animal bones in the earth. But also buried in the dirt is the full neck and head of a deer — a section of a deer that has been cleanly separated from the rest of body in Guidry’s trademark style. Also in the dirt are three birds and four butterflies that don’t seem to have deteriorated at all; on the contrary, they look as if they’re flying.
In Guidry’s art, the bodies of living beings can easily be divided into parts and these parts can be united with other living or natural beings — everything from mountains to horses to desert sands. The living is mixed with the dead; the animate mixed with the inanimate.
An easy interpretation is that in this art, the state of life is transitory and malleable, and can easily merge with the state of death or, in the case of mountains and deserts, the state of simply not being alive.
Want to see what you’ve been reading about? Visit hifructose.com and search for the story title that I provided at the beginning of this piece.
On Mardi Gras morning, I briefly went into the office, which is a block from Ryan Street. Someone had set up a little play area for children just off Ryan. When I left the office, the song on the sound system in the play area was “Staying Alive” by the BeeGees — a song recorded 40 years ago.
The day after Mardi Gras, I went to my bank. As I stood in line waiting for the teller, the song on the sound system was “StayingAlive.”
That’s two songs in two days — both of them “Staying Alive”; both of them recorded 40 years ago.
When I was, let’s say, 12, if the radio stations had played songs recorded 40 years earlier, they would have been playing such cuts as Jimmie Rogers’ “T for Texas,” Pinetop Smith’s “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie” and Al Jolson’s “Sonny Boy.” None of these songs were played on the radio when I was a boy. They weren’t used in movies or TV shows or commercials.
So, there are some things that change. In my time, when a child hears popular songs he thinks sound stupid, he can be sure he will spend years and years listening to those stupid songs over and over until his long life of musical mediocrity finally comes to a merciful end in the silence of the grave. But there was a time, about half a century ago, when things were different: when popular songs eventually went away.
And another 50 years from now, funeral homes will advise clients that for a small added fee of $176,000, nonstop oldies can be piped into the casket via Wi-Fi. Good times.
Imagine A University Without Buildings
Ever wondered what’s happened to Louisiana’s universities as they’ve experienced year after year of deep state spending cuts?
Part of the story we already know. As always happens in these cases, arts courses were gutted early on. For years now, we’ve seen the spectacle of Louisiana universities that don’t offer courses in French or German or theater. We know that, at present, TOPS has no state funding. And God only knows how many students are now being crammed into the classrooms of 101 courses.
But of course, all of that put together doesn’t absorb the total state spending cut. So what else has happened?
In a recent issue, USA Today revealed a big part of the story. And that story is about something the paper calls “deferred maintenance.” In the last eight years, Louisiana’s universities have put $1.7 billion of maintenance on hold.
What sorts of things happen as a result? According to USA Today, the state’s top-notch schools are plagued by leaking roofs, mold-covered ceilings and “pipes propped up by two-by-fours.” The worst case scenario is at Grambling, where the A.C. Lewis Memorial Library has deteriorated to the point that it may have to be closed altogether. (After the USA Today story appeared, the Times-Picayune’s Julie O’Donoghue reported that the library was definitely being closed.)
“Can you imagine a university without a library?” asked Grambling President Rick Gallo. I never could have before I read this newspaper story. But immigrants to Louisiana know that the state can bring one around to imagining all sorts of things he never would have imagined when he still lived north of the Shreveport-Monroe line.
McNeese is one of the universities that’s least in need of maintenance. Still, it has $28 million in deferred repairs. Grambling, Southeastern and UL-Monroe are at the other end of the spectrum, with each having put $50 million in repairs on hold.
And Then There’s That
If you’re not an LSU alum, you may not know that one of the things LSU has done to deal with its budget cuts is to change the campus newspaper — The Reveille — from a daily paper to a weekly. As someone who grew up in a journalistic family, I can affirm that it always stings quite a bit when a publication has to make the transition from daily to weekly.
In a recent editorial, student Christopher Godail explained why it might be prudent for The Reveille to print even fewer editions than it does. He noted that the newspaper’s pre-Mardi Gras edition hit the stands Feb. 23 — just two days before the university’s Mardi Gras’ holiday began. A conservative estimate would be that half the student body had already gone home. Godail imagined that most of the newspapers would simply sit in the racks untouched until they’re finally replaced by the next edition.
Godail said he felt students no longer used The Reveille as a source of information. That’s in keeping with nationwide trends in this cyber era. Still, said Godail, he was “proud” to work for the newspaper.
While campus newspapers can be valuable sources of information, their primary value is probably as a laboratory where writers can learn their trade before they have to deal with the often competitive, and sometimes cutthroat, world of newspaper journalism. Roger Ebert and Hugh Hefner both worked for the student paper at my alma mater The University of Illinois. Both were able to hit the ground running after graduation and wound up becoming the preeminent national figures in their very different types of journalism.
Godail is a junior, so we should be able to see pretty soon whether he decides to use his appreciable journalistic skills in the state of Louisiana after he graduates.
‘I Have A Lot Of Talents’
In Lafayette, Kelon George has started a restaurant review blog. This is newsworthy because Kelon is 9.
In his review of Lafayette’s Agave restaurant, Kelon concluded that the cheese detracted from the refried beans; the rice was too soggy; the tortilla chips were too thick and some of the chicken in his quesadilla was burnt. Still, he gave the venue 3.5 stars out of 5, on the grounds that the tasty salsa was a strong compensating factor; the presentation of the food was attractive; and the restaurant was unusually clean.
Like many youths who start writing when they’re very young, Kelon has an abundance of energy and self-confidence. Last year, he put together a lemonade stand that he called Kelonade; with it he raised $500 for his church.
He told the Daily Advertiser, “I have a lot of talents. I don’t know what I want to do just yet, but I’ll figure it out.” Imagine having 10 years to figure out what you want to do when you grow up.
At the time of this writing, Kelon’s restaurant blog, which he calls “Kritic,” had 500 views. That number will go up dramatically now that the Daily Advertiser has published a story about his blog.