our new mill

29 october 2015

for Andrew, Blair, and mostly Phineas.

Baking is a humble endeavor within a fabric of increasing exaltation. We live in a city of personality—character of characters, petty gentry; it’s as if God hurled a lopsided kaleidoscope blind to earth. The refraction of its crashing light impregnated every mosaic tile which built New Orleans. Broken tesserae which, individually, lack coherence. It’s through gentle lapidary and mutual assemblage that they become cohesive. The image becomes phonetic, the writing on the wall legible; like the arrival of vowels at a party of consonants. And, like those tiles, not even the dead, or our tree’s roots, are kept underground in this city. So that we may not lose sight of them, and afterwards ourselves. The fear of concealment precipitates blindness; as Rilke said, God walks through men in the South.

Our new mill, in its own way, provides the mosaic an adhesion: in a place where, unfortunately, culture created by the exterior—the underclass, subaltern, marginalized, oppressed—is being liquidated into “capital” and materialized into a “cultural economy.” (Consent has been manufactured, and culture is hiring a foreman). We believe sincerely in the integrity of our project. We never seek to reduce, revise, renege, develop, invigorate: nothing about New Orleans needs a shot in the arm. (Only a fool tries to change what he loves; and his behavior will only change him. If you’re trying to change New Orleans, go home). So, with all the hypocrisy and pandering of K10 over, we can focus on life, here, now. Anniversaries, like funerals, are postcards from the present. Beveled mirrors in simple frames: don’t look into mirrors to see in front of or behind yourself. “Joy and peace are the joy and peace possible in this very hour…if you cannot find it [here, now], you won’t find it anywhere” (T.H. Hanh).

I find purchase in bread. Always have, since day one. And there is immeasurable, inconceivable value to milling our own flour: nutrition, flavor, freshness. And we truly desire to remind anyone who will listen that we used to have this proximity in every walk of life. The baker to his flour, the musician to her sax, the cork to its bottle, New Orleans to its perpetual past. But that elegance is gone, that grace, its poise—the ear now bankrupt of the word “beauty” in all its robes. Values are not ephemeral; the Revolution of the 60’s failed because people tried changing others before changing themselves.

By doing our part, in fulfilling selfishly our calling, we hope that our clarity will empower the bigger picture. An act of love as simple as milling wheat into flour…think of it. It’s banality superb, deceiving; recorded history’s first ink dried here, with one person sitting down to mill grain in Baghdad. And look where we are today, still, well, making music, milling grain, divorcing, talking about ourselves. Nothing has changed the space in between, mere parentheses.

We knew immediately when Andrew of Elmore Mountain Bread agreed to build us a mill thst we had a cobble stone from the road to Oz in hand. Andrew=Orpheus, calling down to the dead crafts on his spectacular granite lyre; Carl Sandburg from Whitman would be ashamed to know that Obama grabbed a Nobel for the troop surge, 1% of America grows food for the entire nation, and Andrew is a lone wolf. Andrew is the only man I know with a womb; he has nurtured and gestated a critical link to our humanity by re-building stone mills. He’s a conscientious objector to euthanasia; his Hippocratic vow is serious, rigid. Something vital that is dying should be allowed to die, for it too once saved. The craft of milling, the humanity of milling, is so.

We want to lease this needle through the stitches of the old collar, one thread at a time. We want the texture of New Orleans to remain prickly against our skin, we want the precedent of a local food system to be refurbished, the embers blown on until our lungs wheeze and chest hurts. I want to spit blood on the fire until it’s a conflagration incinerating all the artifice, development, kickbacks, and porkbarrel handshakes. I want people to eat food again, not the hot air in between bites. The more you scratch, the more you itch. The more you look, the more you see that the whole dictates the parts.