[Music cue: The Hawkettes, Mardi Gras Mambo:
where the Blues was born. . . ”] New Orleans
February 21st is Fat Tuesday. . . Mardi Gras Day!
Generally speaking, Mardi Gras is the culmination of about two weeks of celebrations ending the day before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. Now, I am no religious scholar, so I could not begin to tell you about the religious aspects of this season. But I think it means you are supposed to be really regimented and restrained – including a lot of fasting – and Lent lasts about forty days! So I guess the idea of Mardi Gras is that before this period of solemn restraint. . . you go wild while you can.
And the most famous city in
for Mardi Gras is America . New Orleans
I've been to
once, in August of my last year of college. Many positive images of the visit are still with me. Fortunately I was shaded away from the crime and poverty that unfortunately are a part of New Orleans . The part of New Orleans heritage that would be tragic to lose is that cultural gumbo of the music, the food, the mythology (voodoo spirits, etc). . . and the spirit of celebration New Orleanians embrace so often. Most of this I embraced in New Orleans . San Luis Obispo, California
[Music cue: Ellis Paul, Hurricane Angel]
With this in mind, maybe it won't sound so strange that when Hurricane Katrina hit, I felt pain for the people of
and the New Orleans via Gulf Coast . Besides the humanitarian concern for the people in the Gulf, there was a connection with my friends in San Luis Obispo, California . It was almost like my friends there and I took an emotional hit in spirit for California – feeling the loss of something that was a part of us. New Orleans
[Music cue: Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans]
Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005. As February '06 approached, I felt a little guilty for wondering, “will there be Mardi Gras in
?” Six months after the hurricane, New Orleans ' population was still depleted. What with rebuilding, infrastructure concerns, etc, there were more serious matters than putting on a city parade and celebration. I called the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce to ask about it. The woman who answered me said that yes, they were good to go. Her voice had a friendly yet assured sense that may as well have said, “not have a parade in New Orleans – you must be joking!?!” New Orleans
[Music cue: Professor Longhair, Go to the Mardi Gras]
Most of our human nature tends to emphasize grieving over our disappointments or losses. And sometimes you do need to grieve. But
culture does seem to celebrate the good of something even in the worst of conditions. This Mardi Gras, I wish you well in emphasizing the New Orleans philosophy. I know I need to. New Orleans
Whenever and however you can, Laissez Les Bon Temps Roullez (i.e; Let the Good Times Roll)!
Bring on the beads,
- Perry Persoff