-Blanche DuBois, "A Streetcar Named Desire"
Today, on my In Bed podcast, I talk about my enchanted trip this month to New Orleans— my first since the storm. I'm still as in love with this city as the first day, twenty years ago, that I stepped foot into the spellbound eternity that Tennessee Williams describes so well.
You know what struck me about N.O. today? It was a comparison. Look at the rest of the country— we're paralyzed with anxiety about the ensuing economic collapse and environmental chaos. We're so afraid, we smell bad.
In the Gulf, in New Orleans, everyone left standing has BEEN there and DONE that. And they've got the Army Corps of Engineers tattoo on their shingle to prove it.
They've seen the worst; every day is a little bit better. They were abandoned by the federal zookeepers, left for dead, no joke. But you know what? This city won't quit. You can't kill a a bloom that's been seeded for centuries. You can't deny a flood of endurance, nor the hearts that stitched themselves together when no one thought they could keep ticking. This is the Eternal Krewe. They stomp on.
I once said that while the rest of the United States lives and dies on its work ethic, New Orleans survives and thrives on a pleasure ethic. Friends, neighbors, family— and the wee and languid hours you spend with them— that's what makes something last when you're in the middle of a disaster area. You can't buy it, and you can't strive for it. You have to live this way, you have to care about beauty, and ritual, sensuality, and communality.
The fact that Southern Louisiana and Mississippi are still standing, partying, fucking, cooking, and making music together, is testimony to a human spirit that survives out of sheer spite— and true love. This is a community of survivors. They're the early adopters of Armageddon. I found it relaxing.
I got my first decent night's sleep in months, listening to the streetcar roll by. I dreamed such wonderful pleasures. I woke up and the air smelled good.
Sure, everyone has PTSD. There's an unspoken understanding of giving one another some room to be a little crazy, a little extra time to unfold. "Be Nice or Leave" said the sign in many bars and eateries I walked into, and I found that advice to be just the right temperature. Everyone's been through so much here, they don't need an impatient fool's conceit or drama.
The formal reason for my appearance in this fair city, was to give a lecture at Tulane University, which I called "Beyond the Vagina," in honor of the 10th anniversary V-Day celebrations that Eve Ensler organized for New Orleans the week I was there.
I met hundreds of Tulane students and faculty during my visit, and among many conversations, I asked them to indulge me in one of my anonymous sex surveys. I ask them, among other things, to jot down a question that might not be the easiest thing to ask on the mike, in front of everyone.
I've written the complete list here, separated by gender and age.
There's plenty to discuss, and I'll blog more in the coming days. Every campus should have a sex center/hotline/dropin where every single one of these questions gets addressed. None of them are inexplicable!
One thing I've observed lately is that women and men of every age, are obsessed with that erotic unicorn, the Grafenberg-Spot. It's hardly Louisiana; it's an American obsession.
I wish I'd never brought up the darn G-Thingy twenty years ago when I was one of the first to start writing about it. Talk about a backlash....
I'll be crunching the rest of my survey numbers in the coming week, and look forward to more sex ed discussions!
Finally, thank you, especially, to the magi-eloquent Crystal Kile, the inspired Charlotte D'Ooge, the revelatory Mimi Schippers, and the silver-tongued Jonno, for their more-than-hospitable care of me during my stay. You know I'm coming back...
In Bed Goodies...Don't forget, you can send your confidential questions, feedback about the show, and requests for free show coupon cards to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Episode 337, April 18, 2008)