The entire book appears at this link with chapters added after appearing online:
On Christmas Day 1987, Tyger Williams, video
artist, discovers a classified ad for an insurance investigator
which he answers. On New Year’s Day, he burns the “box of
troubles” at the abandoned 1984 World’s Fair site Downtown New Orleans.
Later, he attends a New Year’s party at an Uptown club.
“GOOD MORNING NEW ORLEANS”
Christmas Day, 1987. Tyger Williams sleeps on a lumpy
mattress on a hard wood floor. His head is in the clouds.
Silly rabbit, leaping off, onto a new horizon.
First assignment — newspaper retrieval.
Check. It lies below the front stoop.
Tyger, who has been sleeping in his clothes, cascades like a
brook down five steps; hops, skips, and jumps across freshly laid
dog shit. Thanks for nothing, beasty boy.
It seems like the typically fun day already, especially
for Christmas. Temperature is in the mid-50s, due to rise
near 70 degrees. Wind wafting from the
south-southwest, approximately 10 miles per hour.
A quick surveillance of the scene reveals business as
unusual. No vehicles clog usually slow as
molasses Magazine Street. No neighbor out and about.
A quiet gentle haze lingers.
Sweet honeysuckle perfume permeates languid air.
Thank goodness for small favors
Tyger prepares the first morning chore.
This consists of scooping two spoonfuls of PJ’s coffee
into a Black and Decker coffee-maker
followed by two cups of bottled water. The percolating spirit
Tyger continues his daily ritual, opening the Times-
Picayune newspaper to the classified section. Not only is this
the most amusing section of the stupefying wood pulp product that
passes for informational rag, but also a semi-essential part of
rising and shining for the po’ boy.
Tyger — you see, comrades — has been resting for quite a
while in his natural vegetative state, a proud member of the not so
gainful army of the unemployed. It’s looking a lot like job hunting
time again. Merry Christmas, y’all.
Tyger can do this regardless of employment status. He
rolls a thick one. Ah, sweet reefer. Living the life.
Looking through the help wanted section is one sorry sham
after another, one minimum wage job after another, and
another and … Fuck this shit.
Zut and ehe’, suddenly some small thing
like a brown moth alights. Hmm.
Surprise surprise, Doesn’t sound half-bad.
Maybe this, this thang might turn, transform,
into a brilliantly colored butterfly.
“Insurance Investigations — Video Experience Preferred.”
Said classified lists a West Bank post office box.
And so, dear comrades, along for the cosmic ride,
Tyger the lame is about to leap like a deer
into the wonderful world of private eyeing courtesy of that
seemingly innocent Christmas Day calling.
Tyger post-toasties his resume, carefully enveloping it in
white paper seeking approval. He departs the blue-with-white
trim shotgun residence assuming a morning walk.
Hello dawn, your yellow yawns. Golden burnt green lawns
invite immediately pooping pooches. Those damn dogs are shitting
all over Uptown New Orleans. No respect, Rodney Dangerfields of the
spirits, for anyone or anything.
You know, Tyger ponders as he wanders, balking here and thar
he blows. You know, that is something he thinks he can, he thinks
he can, he thinks he can do. He could really and truly dare.
Following persons around with a video camera might even be
amusing. He already does that anyway, for fun. They give you money
for that? What a racket.
Around and around the oblong formed by the Audubon Park
walking track yielding incantations incandescent. Tyger picks
up the pace almost bowling over a middle aged matron
ridiculously blocking his all-consuming hurricane of a path.
Tyger pauses when he reaches a small lake punctuated by cute
little duckies following their mother. He picks a likely rock and
throws it at a nearby oak tree spreading. A mystic force guides
that rock to a wood target affirmation.
Whack! Tyger still has it, sports fans. He strikes the
cosmic object. Yes!
Oh happy delusions for a well struck sacred day.
Back back back through retraced steps Tyger hops hopefully.
Sneakers smoking, big feet joking, after three miles finally
comes to automatic stop.
Back home at the ranch, time to craft a bed of Liberty Valance legends
veering towards facts.
On good typewriter electric; on Rude-Dolph, on Wolf-
Blitzen. Tyger embellishes experience.
Watching Cable News Network blues with one eye and the
sparrow with the other; Tyger types some stinking hype,
type, type, types some more, and flashes tripe. A series of
lucid non-moments, presto pismatic primo-pimpo; he has
himself a hell of a past and a heaven of a future. (Perhaps.)
A few days like those sturdy small birds zoom from coffee
house to garden patio. They are seamlessly timeless grand
vectors sweeping across visionary fields chirpingly fast.
Tyger, along with most of New Orleans, is swept away by the
football Saints rousing success as they, miracle cf miracles,
have finally qualified for the National Football League playoffs
after nearly two decades of frustration. Bless you boys.
On a fine day before the New Year, a postman drunk with
holiday cheer, drops off the Thursday mail. Tyger expects
something, but retrieves his booty disappointed. It’s
a Shakespearean day: “There is nothing either
good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Nothing,
but bills lacking birds to wear.
Not nearly enough to meet ends. Tyger needs a j-o-b, Maynard
G. Krebs style, he yelps, ·W-O-R-K, WORK!!! Gulp.
Tyger resumes the normal routine although all is not well
nor well-ended. Smokes some rope, observes TV, exercise, and then
more nothing. Tyger pouts for a few hours, goes for an afternoon
delight iced coffee at a sympathetic serving spoon– this one or that
depending on his mood.
Cardinal, bluebird, black crow, across the small backyard
linger, then flash in dawn’s easy light. Later than usual as usual,
Smoke more reefer, watch more TV, then over to the post office.
Expecting something? Yeah, right. Back across the usual
avenues of desire, then, through the unusual troth of time like
sands through the hourglass having memorized the rest of the
soap opera’s tired lines.
Feeling a mixture of boredom, exaltation,
despair, and delight. What do other people worry about?
Must everybody worry alike?
Sheer joy of having nothing special to do saves the day for
a spell. The rabid delight in manic moments and lovely
fermentation that bubbles over mankind’s giant primordial
lifestyle soup. Eat it already! Afternoon delight.
So what, so what, so what follows each day turns to night and
evening prime-time schedule, a dulling sameness: eat, smoke bluntly,
watch television, a couple of telephone calls.
Hey, poker face. Four days pass and five,
a royal flush. Trash,
That is the bottom-line, comrades. It is what it is.
Life, a boring shaft through which our story plunges.
But, this day, this next blessed day is a news day
as birds call louder, swimming in dulcet, golden tones.
Up stretches Tyger pricked by ringing telephone.
Sometimes Tyger doesn’t even bother to answer. It is always
an ethnic voice spewing “Ahhhh, ahhhh, awww … ,”
Today is different. A female voice inquires politely.
“Is there a” — pregnant pause — “Tyger Williams here?”
Tyger fesses up in his best out-of-body, out-of-mind voice
returning service. “Yo. Present.”
“I would like to speak to you about a job we advertised in
the newspaper.” Wah, dat, diddy, snap, crackle, pop.
“Are you interested in talking about an insurance
“Uhh, yeah. Very interested in fact.”
The woman — what was her name, Tyger can’t remember, rats
tells him to be at a Marrero, Louisiana address next year on
Wednesday January 6, 1988.
“Let me check my schedule,” he says hahaha,
“I think that can be arranged,”
So ends the year of (someone’s) Lord, 1987. Good riddance to bad
rubbish. Auburn Tiger fans can be heard whooping and hollering in
the French Quarter. Something about a Sugar Bowl.
AIDS, crack, covered up savings and loan scandals. Age of Reagan
ending with a whimper, of course, no bang. You were expecting
something apocalyptic? No way, babe,
every mediocre story has a mediocre ending.
For the likes of Tyger Tyger burning in bloom of late
youth bright, 30 years old, single, 6’1″, 225 pounds,
brown hair, brown eyes; days lengthening
past yet another winter solstice,
Tyger grasps for this particular infinitely small now elongating
moment. He occupies a space within the spatial plate like
water expanding. His mind stretches beyond set limits, snaps a
distant shore, and brushes back.
Wave follows wave, floods over the sea wall. Each
thought so exquisite in passing instantly seems past
noting. Each moment follows in an orderly procession that,
when examined, dissected, rotated on its plane, and analyzed upon
further review reverses the official’s call,
thereby befuddling sports fans.
Tyger sits on a psychic beach, stretching on soft sand in
front of a television set before which he has sunk a zillion
Tyger flips his lid. Another beer, another foaming
moment. CNN reviews that far-out 1987 withdrawing into time-space
recollected, a year in which everything crumbled but nothing
fell, the glorious parabolic prelude, in the mists of memory
receding, coinciding with Tyger’s universe like a red-nosed
bloody clown falling falling into a black hole.
Symmetry of consciousness does the old audience wave big
wheels rolling rolling rolling into the future rawhide.
Tyger neglects making any New Beer’s plans, save one.
First, pay last respects to that infinite year of
nothingness withdrawing. Turned over and done son.
Dusk sweeps quickly across the hands of Thursday December
31, last day of the nothingness known as 1987. Lights twinkle
throughout New Orleans metropolitan area as
respectable humanity heads home along Interstateless-10 into a
burnt orange offering bathing the year in coming darkness.
Tyger takes a last ceremonial lap along Magazine Street
passing small antique shops and porch-punctuated houses,
just past Jefferson Avenue where Lee Harvey Oswald lived. So on
and so forth by a smelly downtown bus crawling as it spews ozone
depleting fumes skyward.
Back home, Tyger takes for a spin his beat-up old grey
Toyota station wagon. Dark birds silhouetted in perfect harmony
with darkening sky sing of symmetry across graying electrical power
transformer lines. Hallowed be their resting state.
Farther along past grace, Tyger turns the engine roaring
carriage — no muffler — past seedy used furniture shops in
dark neighborhoods strange and scary. He skirts the visible
housing projects that expel semi-wretched poor now lingering
by check cashing liquor stores. A humbler race runs there.
A strange rara avis of a companion rests
next to intrepid Tyger on a barely upholstered seat.
That cardboard object is a very significant
relic dubbed the “box of troubles” by someone.
Tyger has accumulated in this container
refuse of a very poor calendar year. He has
the receipts and letters from his insane mother,
employment application rejections, a losing Unfair
Grounds horse race autotote ticket, or rather, many; and other
painful and perverse reminders of a mediocre, at best, year about
to reel into space time.
Here lies a disgraceful brown box begging to be immolated.
The good Tyger believes theoretically that he can escape his
previous troubles by burning the offending contents of
the bad brown box.
One never knows. It might work. At least, that’s
Tyger’s story and he is sticking to it.
For, now, the sacred ceremonial spotlight burns along the
Mississippi River waterfront beneath the Greater New Orleans
Bridge near the dark and silenced Robin Street Wharf. A former
asbestos and hazardous materials storage site as yet
unacknowledged by local authorities squatting
tight along the raucous riverfront by Downtown.
Tyger wings his chariot along pot-holed Tchopitoulas
Street spanning near distance industrial. He swerves
erratically to avoid being swallowed by killer fault-lines.
No argument here that asteroids strike the earth for
evidence exists in plain view that something must have caused
these hellish fissures at land’s end. No man could have wreaked
such havoc currently posing stranger than fictional obstacles to
safe and sane driving.
A Schwegmann’s once super store stands frightfully
abandoned leading to another bombed out building.
A small clan of ragged African-Americans
leaning over a cracked crack pipe, then one-by-slinking-
one into orbit, stumbling through space ejected like sad
meteorites gone mad with self-horror.
A couple of dark youths suddenly roll in front of Tyger’s
vehicle. He angles into a pot-hole — kerplunk — barely avoiding
their sad rock cocaine high. Tyger honks the horn as one would at
a dog or cat to prod the creatures more quickly in the opposite
direction. Then, he flicks on the car’s bright lights.
Towards the far orbs that span the Greater New Orleans
Bridge blinking in wide space, planet Tyger slides off the road
coming to a temporary rest in a jagged asphalt parking lot. The
long yard is blank, blinking off past regrets
with an obscene gesture.
On the blank wall, Tyger Williams, graffiti artist of
dips a psychic psychedelic paintbrush exploring
the awful dismantling of evil that has come to be
represented in a stupid brown cardboard foot-square box filled
beyond it’s karmic brim with last year’s troubles.
Laughing lights on bridge-top mumble. Tyger takes a hit of
purple plastic. Senior Bridge you laughing shambles.
Turning up the radio, followed by the roaring Doors,
“Let it fall, baby fall. Let it fall all night long.”
Burn, you Rosemary’s baby exorcist pimp.
Let it burn, baby, burn.
Ah, sweet smell of burning cardboard ripe from the joy
of torching. Great kudos from the whistle section.
Even sportscaster Buddy D. has been rendered mute on the
adjoining radio station. But how long can that last?
“What about dem Who Dat fans,” he chants. “Have yourself a
very Who Dat New Year.”
The fools don’t even suspect what is in store for them.
Burn burn, yearn away a smoke-filled night. Time smokes. A
Polaroid SX-70 madly flashes, injecting shots into fetid
atmosphere collecting. Bang. Bang. Reload. Bang. Gotcha,
Splitting cardboard box in pieces smashed, ghosts flying
into blinding darkness. They laugh..
They slash. They take with them all the fucking past.
“Now Buddy,” avers a distantly disembodied throaty voice.
“I think that this is really the Saints year. After all,
Pope John II blessed them boys last August.”
“Thank YOU Larry,” emulsions of psychedelic colors blurring,
Buddy D. with a giant frog in his voice — ahem, ahem —
“And how about Dave from Harvey.”
“Well, Buddy, I think that this is the Saints year at
everlonging last … ” blah blah blah talk radio.
Tyger ends radio torture, concentrating on a higher calling,
i.e. ridding the Big Easy of all sin. Somebody got to do it.
A very tall order, the box of troubles recoils like a fireworks snake,
thankfully burning on asphalt by Tyger’s mother the car.
Ballerina graceful atoms smash and splash down
near Thalia Street Wharf, A long honking sound cutting
through descending river fog as lookee lookee
over there the bridge of sighs tumbles, then explodent.
The little baby bullshit Jesus is at this moment being
fitted for his New Year’s drop at Jax Fake Development Brewery.
He smirks in typical bare-assed half-naked fashion. Duck and ever
cover comrades brzzzzzzzz-cachooie sound of incoming fashion.
Tyger cowers behind the dashboard. Considers how he got
there. Fuck if he knows. (Good answer.)
Leaving smoldering ashes of last year’s model collapsed in a
charcoal heap can be an exhilarating treat. Comfy cool sweater
weather sanctification; shaman driver brain spins like a dredl.
Hey pops: the old get older as the future likewise spins
around the corner like one of the crack in the wall gang youthtops
Tyger has a good feeling about the Saints reaching the
Super bowl. He mentions that to a blank Buddy D. radio show
staring back in silence. What time is it? Not yet midnight?
Tyger got where how?
Shtick it in reverse Uptown. He springs into traffic circle,
ejecting emulsions uptown to a Willow Street tavern where Tyger stops
to tell good buddy and eminence grise Mr. Milty the non-discouraging
word about this latest conflagration.
“Yeah, but suppose burning the box has an opposite effect,”
Mr. Milty, song-writer creative leader of the rock group New
Neanderthals, counterpoises Tyger on break. “Suppose by burning
the box you have released troubles that were bottled up
“Hmmm.” ponders a suddenly confused Tyger. “Hadn’t thought that.’
With that, Mr. Milty returns to the group that serenades in
1988, playing laid back until they are dead pseudo-rock as a
small platoon of camp followers stumble towards morning. As usual,
the New Neanderthals are sloppy as shit. So far, New Year or not,
nothing in particular has changed.
Then again, no one is throwing bottles at them… yet.
The New Neanderthals are ahead of last year’s pace.
Shit, have another hit. Noisemakers and officially ignorant
greetings are exchanged concerning the possibilities for coming
disorder rung in by a dropping baby Jesus near Jackson Square.
The New Neanderthals neo-rock on with yet another cover ripoff,”
Teenage Head.” Smoke curls from everyone’s platypus bills
except for Tyger and his friend Armor’s who has appeared like
puff the magic dragon roaring.
“Hello bar scene from Star Wars,” he observes, slapping
Tyger ouch, too hard on the back. “It is getting
like very ugly around here.”
“That’s cause you are here asshole,” Tyger says. “I can take
it. I can take it. I can take it,” Armor’s chorus continues.
“Just keep saying that, Tyger.”
“I can take it,” Tyger answers.
(Franz Biberkopf for brains. )
Tyger stumbles briefly, falling ever so gracefully into the
waiting arms of a “Lost In Space” pinball machine. Smash!
No one notices.
The New Neanderthals are genetically programmed to rock on
no matter how few persons are listening.
None appear to be doing so in this case.
Tyger takes another bottle and long necks backwards into a
desert throat dry. Best beer he ever queered.
Quaff quaff little ducky dives into sloppy choppy bar
waters. A red haired girl saunters gracefully by. Bye-bye.
“Happy new beers,” according to Tyger. “Do I know you?”
“Guess not,” Bye-bye, creep.
“Oh, that’s Crissy Crist,” Armor’s recognizes.
“How is the weather, baby?”
“Do I know you?” The girl replies.
“Ahh, you ain’t so hot,” Armor’s pisses.
Blare glare, in evening wear, clunk; so, the band of fools
finish. What? What? Da-what? Conversation, true, but not much
exchanged by way of communication.
Armor’s, zen master, leads a Bill Cosby jello meltdown.
“Hey baby, I think you look great.”
“Thanks, but no thanks,” continues Crissy Crist
bitch deluxe. Armor’s bemoans his fate. Tyger hands him a
Dixie long-neck in which to cry.
Further words gymnast tumble towards curved ears concerning
said burning of the box of troubles, arriving late to
the club etc. Armor’s eyes still focus on a nearby Crissy
Crist. He nods with half-intensity at Tyger’s conversation.
Tyger remands himself to immediate fate. It is New Year’s
and he has not a spare cent to spend. On the other hand, he has
just torched the evil box, although Mr. Milty believes this might
result in mixed smoke signals. And now, of all indignities yet
suffered, dry scratch throat afflicts him.
Finally, a tactic works. Crissy overhears these pathetic
remarks. She pulls a rather large bill out of her hat. “You
in luck tonight after all honey,” she soothes, “because it looks
like my turn to buy.”
Buy buy, and buy she does, champagne for everyone, even
Armor’s, well into the night. So all karma isn’t lost after all.
Mr. Milty is wrong. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.
A reefer smoking party sponsored by New Neanderthal butthead
fans backstage now is officially in progress. The musicians
are not even good for that, instead relying on the kindness of
strangers who have never seen them before and never will again.
The Tyger-Armor’s connection soar higher than any bird ever
imagined above the band. Crissy disappears with an
ugly fellow traveler never to return. Bon Voyage darling, but
thanks for the crazy dharma.
Images soar and dive with bird-like facility as Tyger cranes
his neck to catch a better view. Turning, burning yearning
boats slip off the main stage, veering beyond consciousness.
An enraptured Tyger becomes unglued, but fortunately the
acid flattens out by 2 a.m. He walks through the open door to
a more magical dimension, where Armor’s smiles like Tony Curtis
falling off the bar stool. Funny boy pratfall stumble expert
laughs his ass off as he reclaims the perch.
Party-time, party line: 1988 sure is great. Toasts all
around until everyone is burnt like toast, too. Blurry eyed fools
dissolving into a sea of blank faces.
“lt’s okay. You’re okay,” Armor’s is slurring his speech
by 3 a.m. “TodayI’m nobody. Who’s in charge?
Ahh, ahhh. Must make sense to someone.
How ’bout them Saints””
The band of New Neanderthal fools finally conclude their,
shall we say, set. No one listens. No one cares.
The New Neanderthals play regardless. Good for them since
they are not being paid.
Hallelujah. Flowing lines. The next day loud Auburn fans are
destined to kiss their siblings in a Sugar Bow1 tie with
traditional arch-rival Syracuse University.
Plus written in stone the following events of Tyger’s world
impinging. Oh baby baby bulldog dikes,
stick your fingers in the future.
Motion sickness timely night on a story boarding. When
Tyger awakes, it is that eagerly anticipated new beginning. He is
young, relatively, and it is very very sunpower bright New Year’s
Day. Oh yeah ….