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Archive for February 21st, 2012

While you stroll in New Orleans
You ought to go see the Mardi Gras
If you go to New Orleans
You ought to go see the Mardi Gras
When you see the Mardi Gras
Somebody’ll tell you what’s Carnival for.
 – Byrd/Terry, “Go To the Mardi Gras

Today is Mardi Gras, which I referred to in last year’s column on the subject as “one of the last large-scale pagan festivals left in the increasingly sanitized and homogenized United States”; those of you who didn’t read that essay may wish to do so today.  You’ll notice that it is dated March 8th, because Mardi Gras moves with Easter, which is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox and can therefore fall anywhere from March 22nd to April 25th.  Likewise, Fat Tuesday (since it’s always 47 days before Easter) can fall anywhere from February 3rd to March 9th; last year it was about as late as it could be, and this year it’s pretty typical.

As I wrote in the aforementioned column, one of the weirdest things about moving away from New Orleans is seeing everyone go about his business normally today as if it were any other day, when I know that back in the Crescent City there’s a huge party going on!  When we were in town two weeks ago, the signs were everywhere:  many places were decorated in purple, green and gold, the stores were full of king cakes, and viewing stands had been erected on the major parade routes in both New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.  Unfortunately there weren’t any parades any of the nights we were there, but that doesn’t mean we had nothing to do; we visited friends on three nights of the five, and on Wednesday went out walking on Bourbon Street with an out-of-town friend who had arrived that day.  While we were there, we went into a little courtyard called “Musical Legends Park”, where a jazzman named Steamboat Willie was playing.  My husband always buys a CD from any live performer we enjoy, and while he was doing so in this case he also requested that Willie perform “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?” for me.  Well, when he heard my name he insisted on performing two songs for me, the first being his original composition “Maggie” from his album Move ‘N On (you can listen to a sample or download the song or album on Amazon).

Anyhow, even though today isn’t a holiday for most of you, it will always be one for me:  You can take the girl out of New Orleans, but you can’t take New Orleans out of the girl.  So I’m taking the day off, and I wish all of you a Happy Mardi Gras!

One Year Ago Today

The first installment of my four-part interview of sex worker rights activist Jill Brenneman, who was the victim of real sex trafficking and realizes that “only rights can stop the wrongs”.  The first two parts of the interview are both graphic and disturbing, and I caution sensitive readers to consider carefully before reading them.

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