I write this to you in the delirium stages of a long search. Perhaps a quest is what I am on now truly. Knight errant lost in the wilds of several worlds, a veritable multiverse of realities, all crammed into 50 gyrating states that seem more likely to rip each other's heads off then call themselves a republic. These are the road weary and THC-addled ramblings of my latest project for this newsletter.
I have decided to write my poor decision making process down. I have decided to spend as much time as I can in search of the New American Dream. So I am out and about in a newly rebuilt camper van in search of this elusive elixir. This sacred alchemy of the emergent, rebellious, free, novel, and people, places, and things only possible here.
I write these words from the Bayou of Houston, TX after my first attempt to hunt for this prey of mine. Maybe it is more like a chimera. Maybe it has been killed before anyone could find it and declare to those around them: Here! Here lies the newborn dream of these not-so-United States. Here in the muck and mire of this barn, or in this project, or on this subway car is the American dream. Screaming perhaps like infants do, right now, little throat irate and toothless maw crying out for loving and safe arms.
My first instinct was to look in combinations of music, culture, and raw unadulterated history, searching for more Black or BIPOC people around. I found New Orleans, Jazzfest, and my newest music obsessions: Goose, Tank and the Banga, and Dead and Company.
Here. Here had to be the first clue in this mystery. Was the newly born and reincarnated American Dream here? Dancing with their tiny little brown ass slipping out of they onesie? Somewhere between Bob Weir's twang, several members of the Meters, Rue Morgue Ave, my camper van, second lines, and an unequivocally Black city had to be this divine child.
Or at least the wispy traces of something that resembled my friend, the American Dream, who was murdered for all to see January, 6th 2021. But this isn’t about that anymore. Every dipshit with a pen, paper, substack, and not a goddamn minute of actual experience of facing fascism in anything but debate is going to be writing about that.
This is a story about the search for hope. This is about pointing to this places I have mentioned before:
I’m going to share with you the secret places in this country ’tis of thee. Places you walk by every day and maybe have never examined. Places that are writhing and gyrating with life and growth. With color and hues that your eyes have never seen and with sounds your ears have never heard. Worlds within this world that are rich and textured and have a depth that if you stare into them long enough, you may never truly come out. They are packed full of characters who aren’t plot devices and have a history that isn’t chronicled or witnessed by many. Well, except the many who are in this separate yet interwoven world. These stories are swapped among us like sacred scripture. As Paul Simon puts it, I spent a lifetime seeking the places “Where the ragged people go / Looking for the places / Only they would know.” ( Duncan. United States of Grace)
This is the ragged story of the birth of the New American Dream being ripped out by the continued assaults of disaster capitalism and laid bloody on the table wailing. Cut the umbilical cord and ignore the shit. This is how all life rips into the world. Our first stop in New Orleans was successful, but I am not sure the potent eboo that is New Orleans or the medicine that is live music was where I saw it. At Goose I saw old dogs in the media learning new tricks and ingratiating themselves to yet another anointed rock and roll band.
I love this band. Don’t get me wrong. I even love the Psychedelic merry-go-round that is fortune and fame in rock and roll media. I am just saying in the chase, the passes, the ten minutes on the other side of the rail, other than Jay Blackensburgh and others, there isn't a lot of art. Just more feeding of the corporate machine. But you also love to see the swirl and madness around a band you used to see at bars.
Also Tank flirted with me. She said that I was “looking good” during the “daze between festival” and, if she ever reads this, please come get me! Girl, your poetry and art is one of the reasons I do poetry and art. Maybe our first date is the New American Dream!
Like any good rock and roll tour I had a few “nemesis” types around. Willing to play out old stories from my teen years. I declined and danced. Somewhere over that five to six days of dancing, driving, making out, tiger king truck stops, beignets, chicory, cracklins, but mostly in the dancing, I got my first clue. We had maybe brought a little of the New American Dream with us.
It was my lover. My Boyfriend. It was in his/their dancing at a show that I was over before it began. We entered the muddy soaked and overcrowded battlefield of the last night and last show of Jazz Fest 2023 to see Dead and Co., with 50 years experience between us and a large gap for them.
When was the last time you waded through a crowd of 50,000 maniacs in the rain to Truckin’? It will bring the Holy Ghost of I-10 right out of ya, and having you praising the Gods of the Road for all the blessings you have had over the years. Either that or you a heartless fucking monster. We surfed rivers of mud, passed by actual mud people covered in head to toe now gleefully sliding up and down the hill on drunken tummies. This is a good sign! Like spotting hobbits having a drink, this is a good place.
It was in that good place, not wanting to be a drag during some song to appease a very diverse crowd, after coming back from a piss and another festival mom talking about our boys who were so happy, but how we should be at the other stage listening to H.E.R, I saw my first glimpse of the New American Dream. The cunning little fucker took up residence in my lover Lester for a whole 30 minutes. There was this sweet queer, in the heart of Dixie Land, mud up to his knees at points, dancing totally free for the first time since top surgery.
The start of what he/they have dubbed “shirtless summer.” They got every fucking tune they wanted that night. Just like at Goose the nights before. Free, dancing, hadn’t been hassled or misgendered in at least a few hours. Loved on by Southern Hospitality and the incredible spirit of New Orleans, where the three ladies dance. Osun, Yemoja, Oya. Dancing in the mud to Cumberland Blues. It was there I saw the little New-born American Dream, whispering in Lester’s ear. Then it was gone, and I was back on the road.
I loved this piece of writing.
I join you in the search. The search may happen differently for each of us but the hope lies In the fact that we are still searching for that dream which for most of our history as a people has not been elusive in my mind but has been infused by terror and hostility that has little to do with us.