About Jim Gabour
Jim Gabour is a film producer, writer and director, whose work focuses primarily on music and the diversity of cultures. His New Orleans novel Unimportant People is available via Kindle.
Articles by Jim Gabour
Dead, they were all dead.
Spring 2006 was marked in New Orleans by the appearance, in patios and yards everywhere, of thick carpets composed of unmoving migratory butterflies, jewelled dragonflies, moths and honeybees.
Jim Gabour is an award-winning film producer,
writer and director, whose work focuses primarily on music and the diversity of
cultures. He lives in New Orleans, where he is artist-in-residence and
professor of video technology at Loyola University.
His website is here
A selection of Jim Gabour's recent articles in openDemocracy:
"This is personal" (23 April 2007)
"Cutting loose" (4 May 2007)
"Mahatma 189" (11 May 2007)
"Undercurrent" (22 June 2007)
"Cry Oncle!"(12 July 2007)
"Lessons in the classics" (6 August 2007)
"The recurring anniversary of wilderness" (28 August 2007)
"Native to America" (26 September 2007)
"Number One with a bullet" (22 October 2007)
"The upper crust" (8 November 2007)
"Look at those balconies", said Priscilla Fogarty, short, shrill, and solid. Priscilla, brilliantly and unnaturally redheaded, was encased in a polished silver linen suit that looked as unwrinkled and shiny as medieval armour. Her name and corporate logo stood emblazoned on a twenty-four-carat gold shield that decoratively protected the severe up-slope of her left breast pocket. I had noticed over the weeks of our association that Priscilla's heavily-constrained body - like her manually-applied features - never changed shape or flexed, whether she was sprinting up stairs to point out a skylight or standing on tiptoes to disable a burglar alarm. There was no doubt that the woman's garments, above and below, were every bit as formidable as Priscilla herself.
To begin with, three episodes in an unfolding story:
United States House of Representatives - Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security of the Committee on the Judiciary (16 April 2007):
"... A January 2006 article in the Houston Chronicle titled ‘New Orleans Gang Wars Spill into Houston Area,' (cites) ... a criminal such as Ivory ‘B-Stupid' Harris, who had been arrested over 19 times, including 2 murder charges, in New Orleans prior to the hurricane, was wanted in Houston for his involvement in several murders in November after the hurricane (Bryant and Khanna, 2006)..."
I was eating my second raw dozen, balancing a paper plate full of food while standing on the slippery banks of the Amite River, a man dedicated to the consumption of honoree bivalves at the Oyster Festival in Amite, Louisiana.
Then suddenly I heard my name called out loudly somewhere behind me. I turned to see an oil-covered, snaggletoothed, long-haired biker in full leathers racing toward me with his penis in his hand.
The crowd parted instantly, jumping back and yelling as if a rabid dog had been dropped into their midst. Fathers put their hands over the eyes of children. Mothers stood agape and transfixed. A gaggle of teenaged girls tracked the movement of the tumescent organ across the fairgrounds with a synchronised formation of half-a-dozen pointed index fingers and a moist cloud of snickers and giggles. I ignored the gasp from my own female companion. She also had reacted quickly and now cowered behind me holding onto my shirt as if she was afraid of falling into the yawning gateway of the erotic maelstrom that had suddenly opened in the middle of a family-oriented food fair. My opinion of her diminished. I would have actually thought her better prepared for such an eventuality. I know I was.
The date has come round again, and in search of a fresh feelgood headline, national statisticians are reporting vast numbers in the news, indicating hugely increased percentages of returned population for New Orleans. They do this from afar, reading computer readouts compiled by other distant creators of factoids.
Those of us who live here can tell you the reported numbers are for the most part untrue. This is verified in a front-page article in the New York Times ("Patchwork City: One Billion Dollars Later, A City Still at Risk", 17 August 2007; also here), which has a graph showing two-thirds of the city still 50%-90% below its pre-Katrina population.
During my simultaneous house restoration and television-series production, I had been too busy to deal with the stove, what with alternating surprise bouts of plumbing and sound re-edits, and also the fits of depression that punctuated both processes. It was hard to cook, or at least cook interestingly, while living in a continuing, seemingly endless night-time purgatory of brutal, unending manual labor on the house, with only the prospect of waking to spend the daylight hours being artificially nice to people, acting the studio cheerleader as a producer must, coddling culinary divas - this was a cooking show. The work and stress loomed ahead day after day, a gruelling production schedule that stretched well into the next year.
The golden sunlight of a summer afternoon warmly caressed the lush, verdant expanses of a typically southern, rural antebellum scene. Across the vast green lawn, family members strolled and excitedly exchanged reminiscences in French, as was their custom, in anticipation of the more formal gathering that was to come. The tableau was pure Seurat, women clad in pastel cottons and linens, men in tailored grey and black morning coats.
Uncle Ben approached his great nieces, a smile spreading broadly across his gentle mahogany face. The two handsome young girls stood waving in the hallway of his family's lavish plantation home. Jade, their mother, watched the old man's approach, knowing that Mon Oncle, as she had affectionately always called him, would once again come to her aid with his tantalizing sauces.
He'd phoned twice the week before, and I'd returned the call to his hotel voice mail on both occasions, but we hadn't connected. So when the 350-pound biker widely known across the deep south as "Grizzly" called me again last Thursday, I was as prepared as could be for another of his semi-annual communications.
He was back home in Baton Rouge.
"Shit fire, Jimbo, I called and called, where the hell were you?" he yelled without preface as I picked up the phone in my office.
"Out of town, Griz, but I got your messages and left a couple for you explaining where I was."
Forty-one years before Virginia Tech, there was the University of Texas. Jim Gabour has reason to remember.
"M.J and Mary Gabour, their two sons, and William and Marguerite Lamport were headed up the steps from the 27th floor. They found the door barricaded by a desk. Mark and Mike Gabour pushed the desk away and leaned in the door to see what was going on. Suddenly Charlie rushed at them, spraying them with pellets from his sawed-off shotgun. Mark died instantly. Charlie fired down the stairway at least three more times.