Mark Moves

Benefit for Bob La Crepe Nanou (8)

I am not one for large goodbyes.  Anyone who has left New Orleans knows you have to eat/drink your way out of town, resulting in an extra bulge for the road.

Today, one of my very best friends, Mark Williams, is moving to Beaverton, Oregeon. He’s leaving today and I am trying to be positive about him going to a place where the streets won’t wreck your car and crime is a comma.  Mark has lived in New Orleans most of his life aside from his early upbringing in Mobile, AL.  He’s taught me how to Love/Hate New Orleans with the proper authority.  Since he grew up here, he and his friend Tom, who is also in our circle of close friends based out of La Crepe Nanou, they taught me over time how local it really is to get comfortable with your disgust about the city. I was regularly irritated with their negativity until post-K, when I finally understood their position of futility about our historic dysfunction. 

One of the final breaking points leading up to Mark’s decision to bail was the $800 S&WB bill Mark got at the apartment he shares with his friend.  Two people, $800 was simply ridiculous. He had to go to hearing to defend getting it reduced but it was still too much money.  Suddenly, moving to Oregon with his best friend Tom looked easier.

So, today, he’s gone. He’s probably in OK, City tonight. 

We’ve been through a whole lot together. We’ve known each other since about 1995 when I moved here and we worked together in the bookstore.  Over the past 13 yrs. we’ve been through the loss of two friends to drug/alcohol related problems.  He was there for Robert Small’s benefit at ‘the restaurant’.  I’ll never forget the time he was there to lean on when I had to take a pack of feral kittens who appeared in my backyard to the SPCA. I was convinced they wouldn’t last long and he came over to my house to drive me to there and let me bawl my eyes out. 

In October 2005, Post-Katrina, I kinda lied to him and his girlfriend, Kitty, and said things were fine to come back right when I was looking at a dead dog in the road. But they believed me and came back. I just wanted them to come back.  We all cleaned out our friend Margaret’s refrigerator together.

Mark also lived in my condo while I was away at grad school and took care to call me when there was a bloody shoot-out outside on Toledano. He let me sleep on the sofa bed when I came for frequent visits and introduced me to the illustrious Canadian humor of the Trailer Park Boys to help me keep my sanity. We were good roomies, a real test of friendship. After Katrina, he let me convince him to throw his old bachelor chair on a pile of other furniture on St. Charles Avenue as I was coming back for good and he moved into a new place.

When we both went through some small chernobyls together after Katrina we drank some whiskey on the porch together to talk through things . . . logically.  When I was beyond logical and unable to get out of bed I called Mark to tell me what to do . . .
“take a shower or a bath” he said, and I went about my day, did some laundry and made it through a bad day. 

I’ve relied on him a lot in so many many ways. I sometimes wonder how I will get through the new rough spots yet unseen without him but we promised we will call and he promised to get an email account, he’s a well known luddite, adding to our challenge of remaining connected now that he’s 4 days away from the Small Difficult, our name for the Big Easy.

I am looking forward to hearing his perspective from a city where the mayor isn’t Satan and where they have hills and clean streets, where their MLK has a Starbucks. Some may say he’ll lack the ‘cultural’ stimulation but at this point, normal peace is the goal and not getting shot in the head on the way to get to the corner store sounds like a solid plan of action.

 I have told him a hundred times that I love him and miss him but many people here will miss him and many beers are being tossed back in his honor tonight. As he left, he assured me, “See you at Mardi Gras!”

2 Comments so far

  1. Craig (no_craig) on June 27th, 2008 @ 11:28 pm

    It is seriously sad when one of The Good Ones opts out. They’re serious about staying, they’ve done and gone through all the bullshit, they’ve laughed about it and they’re in the flow. But, at some point (and it’s usually not a huge issue), they’re just done. Period. Happened to a neighbor of ours just a month or so ago. She’s happier on a lot of levels — but it still ain’t home, y’know? She’s not coming back — but she’ll miss it terribly. She’s educated, experienced, positive — but if you want to keep it you’ve got to leave it.

    I swear, if someone offered this city $100 million in cash to solve its problems, there are people at City Hall (and other agencies like the S&WB) who would say they’d take it — but only if it was broken up into 100 twenties, 50 tens, etc., etc., etc. It’s kinda like the corner stores here that literally sell cigarettes by the cigarette. Folks walking up to the cage and plunking down $2 to buy two cigarettes. Huh? Serious re-examination is needed.

    I’ve never met this man you’re writing about — but Lord knows there are so many like him who decide each month that they’ve had enough. I used to think they were the quitters. Now I think they’re the ones who simply need Something Else. I hope I don’t get to the point where I think they’re The Smart Ones.

  2. winochick on July 27th, 2008 @ 5:53 pm

    I NEVER respond to blog posts but I had to sign up to respond to this one. Here goes…

    I just moved to Portland from New Orleans a little over a month ago. Like most weekends since moving here I’m sad – missing everything about New Orleans…even the heat. (I say that now, I know!)

    While this is an amazing city it, like every city, has its drawbacks. There are an unhealthy amount of ANNOYING healthy people. Hippies and vegans for as far as the eye can see. I’ve been carded more here than I have in my entire life. I have a prized collection of to-go cups and I can’t use them since travel beers aren’t permitted. My husband, bless his heart, wants to take advantage of the great outdoors and every Sunday wants to go hiking. Keep in mind that Sundays were the days we would hit Port of Call and, Monsoon in hand, we would stumble thru the quarter. (now thats a what I call hiking!) I’ve also never seen such a tollerance for the homless and "street kids". I hate to even say it, but I saw someone shhot up the other day. I feeli like every sketchy person I see is a meth head. So, when you feel down about New Orleans, and I know I certainly did several times, just remember that there are always the dark little secrets people don’t want to talk about.

    I guess I miss the dysfunction that New Orleans offered. I felt young and now I feel like I’ve been forced to grow up. I miss my friends. I miss the culture…the diversity. You have no idea! At least I can stream WWOZ. Give NOLA a hug for me. PLease.

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