Notes for ‘Summer, 2021’
New Orleans News & Views
Posted by Thomas Balzac
The second day of Summer 2021 passed with, both, little and great things happening in the continuing life of the impoverished music composer named Thomas Balzac.
Like the immortal, prolific 19th Century novelist Honoré de Balzac, Thomas’ surname is a nom de plume he uses to submit his compositions for possible publication — similar to how Honoré would submit his novels to European book publishers.
The old failed music composer begins his day as usual sipping coffee and watching C-Span. Often he also posts a Comment about the subject of that morning’s Washington Journal program….
The composer must has scribed 10’s of millions of musical notations: sharps, flats, naturals, rests — dozens of symbols molded into millions of combinations.
He calls it music; however, the — now — old man has never had a “hit” except 30 years ago he enjoyed a bit of acclaim with his Off Broadway operetta “Sodom” which lasted all of two weeks…
Tommy Balzac removes a two-pound block of sharp cheddar cheese from his refrigerator, places it on a large silver platter on the Formica-topped kitchen table . He slices a quarter-inch slab from the short-end of the block of cheese, all the way down. Then, after placing the larger block back into the wrapper (double-wrapping it with a plastic grocery bag) Balzac carefully slices and then dices the cheese into thumbnail size chunks, which he then playfully, yet carefully, feeds to the large family of field mice living beneath his house under the floorboards of his kitchen-sink cabinet.
He realized long ago he had created a monster, so to speak. In fact, the critters are quite friendly, although Balzac — a composer of jazz funeral dirges — keeps his distance except only to feed this large rodent family that is happily living beneath his house under the broken floorboards of his kitchen-sink cabinet.
The field mice never venture “outside” or beyond the inside of their feeding hole (formerly the sink’s dish-sprayer hose hole) for fear of Tarzan the cat; so, after they eat, they return to the field beside the 300-year-old “slave-quarters” that Balzac calls home, situated in the dead center of the Vieux Carré….
Once, a little field mouse bit Balzac’s finger and he, needlessly, screamed “Ouch!” He then smiled and flashed back to a week prior, when he received his “Fauchie Ouchie” Covid-19 vaccination, first dose….
Ouch! That hurt!” Balzac screamed like a girl but the nurse was too tired to smile, or to congratulate the old composer for having taken his first shot of the Pfizer- vaccine.
The arts center nearby was well-operated; from the nurses robotically jabbing-in needles, to the local police cheerfully checking bar-scanner codes and leading the way to the nurse, to the 15-minute post shot waiting room, and to the exit door….
Luckily of the relatively few questions asked about past medicals, allergies, etc., the staff did not ask about Balzac’s pet field mice living beneath his kitchen sink cabinet floorboards….
He did not experience any post vaccination discomfort, but the injection itself stag like hell, even after the needle was out of his right arm, for more than a few seconds….
Tarzan his cat has killed a few males who had strayed from the dark world located only millimeters of an inch below his water faucets, on the other side of the metal and ceramic structure.
As he tries to make his guest comfortable as possible this rare visit, the old composer strokes Tarzan from the very top of his head, to where his back is sitting on the kitchen table at which Balzac and JB are sitting.
“You’re a good cat, Tarzan!” he compliments his feline companion, and continues politely asking JB if he’d like coffee or anything stronger; although the offerings are politely dismissed.
The astronomer was eager to describe tonight’s transit of Saturn’s moons to his longtime friend…..
[From the opera titled: “The Notebooks of New Orleans Sidewalk Astronomer John Thomas Brown,” by Tommy Balzac].
Balzac confides to JB that he is worried his “rats” symposium will mislead folk into believing he is absolutely mad. He is, of course. But he must not allow this personification of his “true” Self dominate public opinion –leave it for history. “What is Truth,” in fact, is the discussion of present-day society –in American 2021, the first year of the second decade of the 21st Century, A.D.
Indeed, he feeds the field mice trapped beneath his kitchen sink cabinet’s broken floorboard, well. Perhaps that is the reason that, somehow, they’ve decided to make their home beneath his kitchen sink rather than stay in the fields. Of course, what once was the fields, before gentrification took over New Orleans’ best faubourgs….
Balzac has come to the end of his rope with these cute creatures, however, and will call a wildlife business to catch them live and dispose in a faraway field…. Balzac is worried they will begin chewing on his electrical wiring; already he has disabled his stove; the critters ate through his PVC piping, already disabling his kitchen sink water….
In fact, this has become a “nightmare” for the old artist. “On second-thought,” he excitedly tells JB (who –again– is not listening, but focusing his telescope lens on Jupiter), “A fitting departure-snub by the powers that be, the ones in charge of one’s Fate (if not only oneself).”
…Balzac is as self-absorbed as his best New Orleans friend, JB, who will lecture for hours about such an arcane subject as the way a planet’s moons circle around their mother planet.
As JB continues his (actually, fascinating) theories, his composer friend takes a moment to study a Bach fugue on a music-stand next to the kitchen table.
He had recently transcribed it into classical guitar music and is now, mentally, carefully plucking — paying careful attention to what’s called rest-notes and free-notes; with each note sounding in composed-unison; striking them with the nails of his thumb, index, middle and ring fingers.
Each nail has been individually cared for by the consummate musician; clipped just above the tip of the finger, precisely molded on the right-side of each left-hand nail ((to form a right- or left-angle, depending whether the guitarist is left-handed or right-handed).
The nails slide off the strings more easily this way, as the original classical-guitar aficionados have instructed their students to form generations of conformity with this “method” of classical-guitar music performance.
Balzac’s unwelcome guests are unlike the “pet” rats under the care of his grand-daughter. The former are tolerable nuisances — but for the funeral-dirge music composer’s hate of death in any form — and the latter cuddly friends of the as-cute ‘tween-aged girls, with names, special food and such….
…Tommy Balzac is worried about many things as of late, the early months of year 2021. The Great Pandemic of 2019 has taken hold of America, beat the crap out of us –-yet we remain ignorant of its dangers and are constantly awaiting another beating.
The streets of Bourbon Street have been repaired, underground plumbing problems and all; yet the stench of crap is strong when Balzac today when Balzac walks his dog to the river and sees more than half of the scores of people in his immediate vicinity, as he crosses Bourbon, without wearing masks. It is “outside” yet these fools defy death as they do life….
A year into the pandemic callers are phoning into the morning citizen-chat section of C-Span’s morning program (“Washington Journal”). Some citizens have good ideas; some are frivolous and ignorant. Margaret recently had her second vaccine; “but what I see around me is terrible….
The pandemic has been an eye-opener to those saying this country is the greatest, exceptional. It has shown to many the level of poverty in this country; it will bring more awareness. Balzac is listening to her as he strings-up a classical guitar in his music studio on Saint Peter Street….
“Even when this pandemic is over we are going to have a huge amount of homeless…can’t even put food on the table.. the middle-class and poor people are sinking lower and lower –they are the people who are dying.”
She believes “things were better after WWII with people building from a war economy to a peace economy….
“Ever since the Reagan years….sank lower than the poverty line. In Australia, 30 years ago the lowest wage was $16 an hour … people could live on it. In this country we don’t value the humanity of other people.”
Another caller thinks the pandemic “is like listening to a long, extended Twilight Zone series. For instance, the hydrocortizone… but the vaccines “to keep people out of the hospital”…the President has both shots but is still walking around with two masks!….”
Mike says the question “When can we declare victory over corona virus,” is a ridiculous one. Other reasons would be killing people that are attributed to corona virus. “The numbers are outrageous. We failed; we should have protected the oldest the most; ….the schools are the safest place can be but closed….It’s the Twilight Zone!”
Gary’s wife has had all the shots, doctors around there are doing a fantastic job, that’s all we’re worried about here.
He turns the TV off and sits back to reflect on his so-called life. Currently the world is in turmoil with a deadly pandemic. Luckily he and his immediate family have not been seriously affected; a few have been ill but survived…
To be continued (or should it be?)
-30- [“My Kingdom for an Editor!”]
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Gregory Arthur Conan, a short story written before Coronavirus
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Yes, he thought so, there indeed is evidence this Tommy Balzac is a fraud! His music compositions are so vapid and void of substance, they are unworthy of hearing, and sharing is certainly out of the question. Balzac is a lightweight in the music composition biz, riding the coattails of composers who merely feign praise upon him — over many decades — because they like him in other ways.
This incompetent composer is, for example, often invited to Mardi Gras parties of these musical geniuses, who require someone over which to tower; because, indeed, composers of this stature are superior beings. Nevertheless, Balzac does not mind putting on a front for them; the whiskey and herb are excellent….
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Published by Thomas Balzac
Publisher of a free online “‘net-paper” with local music & art and links to reputable news & entertainment sites. WWW.VieuxCarreTimes.com is a prototype that I hope to develop into an app or program that allows anyone to create their own ‘net-paper (containing an aggregate of local reputable news and entertainment sites from the user’s own region). Users can also write and publish their own stories and graphics. My idea is based on the old adage: “Freedom of the press is confined to the people who own one.” I do, however, also have a journalism-school degree and beaucoups experience as a newspaper reporter and writer. Thomas Balzac and New Orleans Thomas are pen names. My family name is Abrams.