Eh La Bas

Eh La Bas


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



We have our lives and a house, though a house surrounded by wind-felled trees.

I think those tall pines might have saved this house on a pond. This morning,

I saw the bass weaving to and fro below the pond water. We can always fish!



Eh, La Bas, Cherie! 

A Letter from Mackie Blanton

A New Orleans Evacuee


In NE Covington, we have no electricity yet, nor running water. Our cell phones do not work there ever, under the tall pine trees. These days we are coming into downtown Covington to a bar where we can get internet service and smoothies. Alcohol has been banned until the parish (St. Tammany Parish) gets all of its residents back on their feet. As yet, we do not really know what state our residences (Jordan’s and ours) are in Orleans Parish. Or perhaps we just can’t face facts yet. The city government is predicting that residents won’t be allowed back in until shortly before or sometime after Thanksgiving. 

First, they need to evacuate the entire parish, then drain it entirely, then clean and disinfect it. Every now and then I imagine something that is most likely under fifteen feet of water: Jordan’s baby portrait on canvas, Jordan’s first drawings as a kindergartner, Jordan’s later art work, our carpets and rugs and artwork from North Africa, a nice hand truck I bought once, a naddy tweed jacket I recently got elbow patches on, all of the tapes of my cable tv show, my video camera I bought for documentaries, Linda’s quilts, Linda’s notebooks, books upon books upon books, and clothes. There is no longer a distinction between possessions and memorabilia. There’s just memorabilia now. It’s weird, but as we were leaving Heron St. for Fussell Cemetery Road, I reached for my passport, passport pictures, my laptop and zip disks, and a Faruk Turunz oud. Linda packed important papers (as we’ve always done) and reached for some memorabilia and jewelry. I still can’t understand why we didn’t pause to notice what we were doing long enough to see that we should have also packed up the jeep with clothes and other items. We left the Jeep behind. All our clothes – and my clothes and luggage for Turkey – we left behind.

Somewhere in our psyches, we thought, as New Orleanians always think during hurricane season, “We’ll be back in a day or two. Surely, this one will veer east or west or downgrade to a Category One hurricane and all we’ll get is a lot of  wind and a few wind-felled trees.”

Katrina did veer east, but it didn’t matter. The eye of this Category Five hurricane was 30 miles wide and its wind gusts were 150 miles an hour. And it traveled slowly, very slowly, taking its time chewing up our worlds. All in all, we three are quite well. We have our lives and a house, though a house surrounded by wind-felled trees. I think those tall pines might have saved this house on a pond. This morning, I saw the bass weaving to and fro below the pond water. We can always fish! Last week, Jordan and I assisted one of our neighbors, a nurseryman, to clear-cut the roads up to the highway. Then she drove off to a wedding on one of the sea islands off the coast of Georgia. She should be back sometime today. Did I say that I still plan to go to Iznir? I was supposed to leave yesterday but I’ve postponed my departure to the 20th. I need time to buy some clothes, but also to continue clearing the land as much as I can. Linda and I think it makes a lot of sense for me to proceed as usual just because for us, fortunately, life will be somewhat as usual, even if it will again become so slowly.

UNO is setting up offices and courses at LSU; so she will be needed there. She will more than likely commute to Baton Rouge from Covington, or from her Cousin Patty’s home in Houma, or from Patty’s apartment in the French Quarter. There is very little that we can do but sit and wait for insurance agents. After they make their estimates, we can hire local crews to clear away fallen trees in Covington and, if it comes to that, to bulldoze our home in New Orleans. So life needs to go on.

We all, however, of course, grieve for those thousands upon thousands who have perished or may wish that they had perished since they lost so much. This morning I had coffee and conversation with two men who did not lose much but who were in tears just remembering the human suffering we have heard reported on the radio and tv. The problem for us Louisianans is that the country’s marine biologists, meteorologists, geologists, environmentalists, physicists, architects, etc. have reported for at least the last forty years that disaster would one day be visited upon us if the politicians did not rebuild the coastal wetlands, construct more powerful city pumping stations, and create higher levees and gates and locks against the lakes and rivers.

It happened finally this year because the temperature of waters in the Atlantic and the Gulf were warmer or hotter than in the past. When a tiny swirl of wind in the Sahel of Africa, rises and makes its way across the deserts toward the Atlantic, it becomes twisters across the sand and when it reaches the shore, crossing into the Atlantic, it becomes a tropical storm. A tropical storm will become a hurricane if warmth from the waters fuels its core. Tropical storms or hurricanes for us will, after the Atlantic, cross the Caribbean waters and Gulf and engulf us fiercely of severely. Eh, La Bas, Cherie! as we say here in multicultural/intercultural Southeast Louisiana.--Mackie

posted 8 September 2005

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

*   *   *   *   *

The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”  His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 20 April 2010 




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