Trash-Talking Grandmas

My grandma and your grandma
Sittin on the bayou
My grandma says to your grandma
I’m gonna set your flag on fire

Iko Iko (Jock-A-Mo)
James “Sugar Boy” Crawford (1953)

So we get to the farmers market this morning and at first I’m not feeling it. The parking lot isn’t packed. Not seeing much hustle; not seeing much bustle. We go on up and it’s kinda quiet. There’s a decent crowd, but it isn’t loud. I like it loud – it’s reassuring. I start over toward the coffee while E gets in the bread line and I run into pixie girl. The outside air has been hitting fifty the last couple of days so she’s in shorts. Got some sort of combat boots on, but those will come off soon since once the ground thaws a little she stops wearing shoes. We start talking about a novel she’s writing and I tell her that I need some new pages to read. She’s got me making an appearance in the story so she asks how I like myself in the book. I tell her that what I saw was an old guy who can still move pretty well, you know… for an old guy. She says cool, that’s what she was going for. We start talking about tattoos and a woman comes by wearing a nice poncho sort of thing. I like it, and I say so to pixie girl. She says yeah it’s nice but be careful, she’s a sensei at the karate dojo and she can kick your ass. I find this oddly exciting. My phone rings and I say I need to take this, so pixie goes off to buy some sausage. I’m expecting a call from a beloved dharma sister who’s catching a plane to Costa Rica so she can assist in a yoga training for the next two weeks, and that’s who it is. She says she’s getting on the plane, and I get that much, but I pretty much can’t hear what else she’s saying because of a PA system which is probably telling her to turn her phone off. I’m talking blind but I take a shot and wish her well, say goodbye and “hang up.” I wander around and say hey to some of the farmers including Angie’s husband. He says she’s coming in pretty soon with the baby. In a little while I run into Angie just getting there. She has the baby but she says she’s forgotten the parsnips. She says for me to tell E that she’s here. Energy is feeling better for me, but really I don’t want to get into better and so forth because I want to look into what’s actually going on like there might be something I need to pay attention to. I talk to Sandy over by the coffee. He’s a dentist and I haven’t seen him for a while; he used to bring his whole staff in for a private lesson once a week. He says they still do what I taught them on their own and he asks me for some advice on his home practice. I tell him to do some easy twisting for the spine, a little forward bending, a little back bending, some good stretching like warrior and end up with a little more twisting but take it easy and breathe through it all like the rest of it didn’t matter. We talk a little about retirement and then his lovely wife comes and collects him. Then I see Omkara and Nitya who are two teachers where I teach and who have just come back from three months in an ashram. Omkara buys me a cup of coffee and I get a hug from Nitya who has colored her hair like a rainbow. I go back to making my rounds and smiling at people I know and people I don’t know but might, and pretty soon there’s not much difference.

Right about now you might be asking yourself what any of this has to do with Mardi Gras Indians.

There are always musicians here and today there are two of my favorites. They each play banjo and fiddle and they trade off. They do a little singing, too. I kinda like it best when she’s taking her turn on the fiddle. She gets into it so nicely, and she’s good. She really gets going – they both do. One of these days I’ll go over to her and  say, Hey lady do you know your strings are smoking, and she’ll say, No but if you hum a little bit I’ll try to pick it up. I just made that up, of course, and it’s an old joke. And today my first time by they’re workin on a reel and he’s stompin his foot and she’s intense and a couple of little girls are dancing. I keep on with my patrol and the next time by they’re both singing and I think, Wait… That sounds like Iko Iko! So I go over and sure enough – Iko Iko. Dr. John would be proud.

It’s a song about confrontation between two Mardi Gras Indian tribes where appropriate threats are being duly exchanged. The Mardi Gras Indians have a rich history and by some accounts have had some fairly serious animosity toward one another in the past. But I figure if the grandmas can sit down together to talk trash, then the blood must not be too awful bad.

So what’s the point? I’m not going to tell you that I know. I suspect some things, but I’m not going to claim any certainty. I do have a sense of movement. But that’s only a sense. Maybe I’d rather call it an experience. I have an experience of rhythm. I have an experience of light and not light and of warmth. Experience requires a body and a consciousness. So I know that I’m a little bit awake.  And sometimes the experience of the vibration forms into an experience that I can name and say hello to. And sometimes everything lines up so sweetly that I can say Love, as in I Love You. And if I had to stop right there, that would be enough. At the same time there is an urging onward. After all, I don’t yet love everyone so there is still work to do. What if we worked for the day when all ill will had been dissolved into a song? That would be worth the effort. But even that thought takes me away from this moment when I am writing to you, trying to tell you what I can. And I don’t want to idolize that either. So I think I’ll just stand here and watch the little girls dance and listen to the lady play her fiddle, while my sweet wife is over there loving on Angie’s baby.

Let it flow
Let it blow
Let it fais do do!

Check the links, y’all…

Dr. John

Dixie Cups

Neville Brothers

Wikipedia Article


Note: This post was originally published as “Iko Iko” and hardly anyone came over to read it. So I changed the title to “Trash-Talking Grandmas” in order to make it sound more interesting. Thank you.


6 responses to “Trash-Talking Grandmas

  1. This is fun, part short story, part something else, steeped in that voodoo yoga practice that we love in the south. A little spooky and innocent and rhythmic. I’m not the authority on rhythm, I might add, but I’m just saying, it’s around. I like the rhythm of this post, it has a hectic and lolling river like cadence, as in walking around the French Quarter instead of a farmer’s market somewhere else.


  2. A couple of years ago my son and I took a road trip to the west and on the way out spent an afternoon doing some serious lolling around the Quarter. Sweet.


  3. Mm i can smell the subtle whiff of nature caressing the cheeks of visitors and playing in their hair. Sounds like an awesome farmer’s market. Loved the back twisting stories 😉


  4. I loved what you wrote….you instantly transported me to a room full of whirling dervishes, twisting and twirling, spinning both themselves and the cosmic energy. You captured the essence of the market perfectly!
    As for your part in my book…well…IF you choose to go back and reread the part about you, you’ll see it was MUCH more complimentary than what you put forth here my dear one 😉
    See you Saturday at the market…barefoot, eight toes and all.


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