Sunday, June 19, 2011

~Editilla Notellas~We missed posting yesterday, and posted little today, because we're getting into the dirty nitty gritty of restoring Editilla's House of Piety. I commute now from Memphis to Nola in 2-week work trips. It's gotten hard, and is getting complicated as we move into the guts of the house. While I had NO INTENTION of getting into something like this, a total gutting restoration, it seems well and fitting to go for it, smooth to the fine.My father gave me this house in a way, as he was gracious enough to include me in the succession of the family farm ---much to my honest and great surprise! Really. It's a long story, perchance even a book, but suffice to say I expected Nothing.
He'd tied up loose ends, come to me more than once. Pop and I were settled.
My father passed away at sunrise on July 11th, 2009. He was 80.
I loved him very very much.
One of the last cogent talks I had with Pop was from a pay phone in the French Market, during the Flood'05, I think the day or so after the Produce Company had exploded atop a 200 year old toxic waste dump a few blocks from my studio, and sometime after I had fought another man in the dark dark with a two foot long sword. It is hard to say what day it was, but it was so hot.
Dog Flora and I were aimlessly wandering into the Quarters to get away from the acrid smell of poison which still blanketed the hood like a rat bag.
Nearly everyone we knew had gone by then.
It is hard to describe the bleakness. It was just hard.
No cell phone towers within a hundred miles yet these old pay phones that Huey P Long installed still worked. So, Editilla phoned home. After getting the rest of the screaming family off the phones, I began to broach the issue with my father of my last wishes etc. It took a second, since Pop was still under the impression that "this can't be happening in America".. that people wearing a uniform meant something and I just needed to go find them and get out of there.. that our country, his country.. well whateva... we were left to die. I knew this. Many there knew this.
About that moment a NOPD car drove by full of BlackWater Mercenaries, all the windows gone with their little rifles sticking out, ball caps on jar heads... I really remember the tiny sunglasses when they looked Directly At Me. They too knew this.
"No, Pop. America doesn't DO uniforms any longer," I said.
So, I needed to get my affairs in order. No more 2nd chances.
"No, Pop, I'm not leaving dog Flora. She is all I have left."
Pop of course disagreed with that sentiment, all of it --and wasn't having any of it. "OK THEN, You get your Goddamn Dog on the Goddamn Levee and go North and we'll find you!" said R.L. Biles.
I broke down.. "Yes sir," said his son, and got my ass in gear.
Alas, his youngest, the straggler, the errant troubadour, I could not face my father until he came and found me, still armed, in Memphis, 4 months later.
He had a massive stroke the following April, yet was allowed 3 years to say goodbye to his children, 6 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
A Ramblin'wreck from Georgia Tech and a Hell of an Engineer,
both Civil and Electrical, 17th in his class, Lt. Col. USAF Ret,
Formidable Nemesis of the Corps of Engineers, to wit:
"Son there is Nothing more dangerous than a lying engineer,
because then all you have left is the word of a liar."
Planter, Maker, Science Fiction fan, Dog Lover,
Master of Sarcasm and Ruthless Wit,
Protector of the Sunflower River,
Son of the Mississippi Delta,
Richard Leonidas Biles Jr.



Sandy Rosenthal said...

Thank you for sharing this moving story.

Ima Wizer said...

This is a wonderful post and he would be proud of you today! Onward through the restoration, my friend! He is watching you and applauding your many efforts! I can't wait to see the place!

Irene said...

I won't be able to listen to "The Saints are Coming" in the same way again, Mr. Editilla. Very powerful and moving. The weight of countless hearts are carried in the words, and your father's presence and insights will always matter in this.

Thank you for pulling me in again. xo