Stories of Sweat Management for Summer

Commentator Andrei Codrescu reflects on a hot summer by inventing a story about classes in "sweat management." He says global warming has brought attendance up. He gets students from Alaska.


It's only in the 80's these days down in New Orleans, but just ask anyone and they'll tell you it's been hot this summer. That's made reconstruction that much more difficult.

So, always one to lend a hand, commentator Andrei Codrescu reminds us that he's been offering classes in sweat management since the late 1990s.

ANDREI CODRESCU: At the time these classes were thought to be some kind of joke and we only had a few students. Our enrollments tended to be Canadians who knew that getting used to summer in New Orleans was a serious project that needed to be conducted with the utmost professionalism.

In beginner sweat management we taught students how to slow down their breath and how to produce a circular, slow effect by reciting the poetry of Ted Anslend(ph). We coached them in social situations where the management of sweat was a high art conducted with kerchiefs, bandannas and appropriate language appropriated from 19th Century dialect writers. We organized costume parties in rooms without AC and we served warm drinks that brought our pupils to near collapse, a state ideal for the chilling effects of the snowbound verses of Siberia's greatest poet Iskar Ardune(ph) which we had assigned for memorization.

Our beginning students were thus trained to survive for at least one month in New Orleans. Some of them returned for our tough advanced course, but only half of these graduated. Advanced training in sweat management had for its goal the complete control of every drop of sweat so that it not only went where the sweater wanted it to but it could be directed with precision to cause intense pleasure.

The final exam consisted of a walk from the French Market, up Decatur and over Canal all the way uptown until Carlton Avenue wearing blue jeans and hoodie. The walk itself was rigorously divided into breath training, recitations of poetry, training the breath on varying size lines. Many students dropped out because they couldn't memorize so much poetry or so they claimed. Our analyses revealed they quit because they were wussies.

If those early educational efforts were somewhat tentative, we have no such luxury now. Our classes are mobbed. The reality of global warming has finally sunk in and the summer of 2006 clinched it. People as far as Alaska are looking at sweat training. We've expanded the program and we've hired new staff, mostly soldiers fresh from the deserts of Iraq and Lebanon, where they fought in the 120 degrees heat carrying heavy gear.

The poetry aspect of the training has gotten stronger too with the introduction in the curriculum of dada and concrete poets whose versus appear at first glance impossible to memorize.

One you graduate from New Orleans School for the Imagination's Sweat Management program you will be a master of effluvia control - M.E.C. is the degree earned - and will be licensed to teach the fainting masses of formerly temperate zones.

NORRIS: Andrei Cordrescu lives on dry ground in New Orleans. His book about his adopted city is called New Orleans, Mon Amour.

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