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Posts Tagged ‘carnival’

People don’t come alone to Mardi Gras to find a hooker.  –  Helena

Whores and Wives

Amateur women’s attacks on sex workers are always pretty pathetic, but this one is truly stupefying:

…real men don’t pay for sex.  A man who needs to objectify women obsessively is not a man at all…when a man pays for sex, it says a lot about his character.  It takes a certain type of man to believe that women can be bought and sold…just because you need sex doesn’t mean you have to get it through prostitution; a real man knows how to get it without his credit card…sex shouldn’t be bought, but earned…A real man would never take another man’s daughter, forced to live a life of prostitution, to bed. A real man isn’t satisfied with fake moans…

The way she flails wildly between demonizing whores and denying our agency is especially fascinating.

Not To Be Taken Internally (February Updates)

“Lillian” is the professional name of Padge Victoria Windslowe, who is on trial…[for] third-degree murder…in the Feb. 8, 2011, death of exotic dancer Claudia Aderotimi…[who] flew to Philadelphia from London for a buttocks-enhancement procedure that consisted of silicone injections administered by Windslowe…The 20-year-old died after the silicone migrated to her lungs…Windslowe is [also] charged with aggravated assault for injections she gave 23-year-old Sherkeeia King in February 2012 at a “pumping party”…King was hospitalized, vomiting blood and struggling to breathe.  Doctors found that silicone in her buttocks had migrated through her bloodstream to her heart and lungs…

Above the Law rapist cop James Greene

This week’s rapist cops hail from Louisiana:  “…James Greene [of Shreveport] was [only] charged with abuse of office…[for raping] a woman [at gunpoint]“…and Canada:

Three Toronto police officers…have been charged with…gang sexual assault…Constables Leslie Nyznik, 38, Joshua Cabero, 28, and Sameer Kara, 31…[raped] a female [cop]…

Sex Work is Work

The ridiculous need to deny that sex work is legitimate work has some weird results at tax time:

…Ms X…set out her business plan for the Tax Office in considerable detail and sought confirmation that her earnings from her proposed activities would not attract tax in Poland.  She would supply, she said, “virtual sex services”, using internet cameras and microphones to connect [to] the service buyer…Prostitution is not forbidden by law in Poland, but at the same time does not constitute a “socially desirable or acceptable behaviour”, and so contracts for prostitution cannot amount to valid and legally-enforceable undertakings.   No income tax is due if a particular activity cannot be the subject of a legally-binding and enforceable agreement…the Tax Office…took the view that…as there was no physical contact in the services proposed, there was no…prostitution…and therefore…not tax-exempt.

Don’t be stupid, ladies; it was “tax evasion” that finally took down Al Capone:

A South Dakota man…paid $1 million over a four-year period for sex with an exotic dancer…David Karlen…was a star witness in a federal trial last year against Veronica Fairchild.  She was accused of failing to pay taxes…sentenced to nearly three years in prison and ordered to pay more than $214,600 in back taxes.

Original Sin (#321)

An especially amusing twist on the “porn causes sex trafficking” trope:

…Pat Robertson…linked women who enjoyed…Fifty Shades of Grey to an increase in sex trafficking around the world…“How many women have read the book and how many women are going to the movie…It’s about all kinds of sadomasochism, it’s about bondage, about whips, it’s about boiling oil, it’s about various types of restraints”…

Girls, Girls, Girls! (#337)

This article on how Mardi Gras affects the sex industry in New Orleans is interesting and more or less accurate (though I see some things have changed since my time, like this new “single woman” rule), but woefully incomplete:  the “New Orleans sex economy” ain’t just strip clubs, y’all.

Imaginary Evils 

Remember, huge police operations have never found more than a single-digit number of “sex trafficking” cases in the UK:

Inside one of Britain’s biggest special anti-trafficking operations, police officers surrounded by files, forms and photographs attempt to unravel a complex network of crime…Operation Retriever was set up in September after police in northern England were alerted to a Slovakian woman who had been tricked into travelling to Britain and then forced to marry a man…There are as many as 13,000 victims of slavery in Britain, forced to work in factories and farms, sold for sex in brothels, or imprisoned in domestic servitude…

devilsdoorbell

Innocence Never Had

Why can people not get this simple concept through their thick skulls?

Homelessness is one of the main reasons youth…engage in “survival sex”…LGBTQ…youth are dramatically more likely to trade sex for a place to stay, according to a new study…Prior research has shown homeless LGBTQ youth were “seven times more likely” to trade sex than their heterosexual counterparts…Those surveyed saw, on average, 11 to 18 customers weekly…The law considers any minor participating in the sex industry to be “trafficked”…but…only 15 percent said they had been in an exploitative situation during their time in survival sex…

Bread and Circuses

It’s good to see the mainstream media getting it:

…on June 25, 2014, visitors to RedBook got a rude shock.  Instead of a directory of links to sexy ads, forums, and reviews, they saw a dire-looking alert from the Department of Justice, FBI, and IRS stating that RedBook’s domain had been seized.  The Feds’ message, still up today, asserts that there is probable cause that the site was involved in “money laundering derived from racketeering based on prostitution”…

Legal Is As Legal Does (#450)

Banning prostitution from Auckland’s troublespots will not be a job for the Government.  Instead, Auckland Council has been told it already has the power to pass a bylaw to address the problem.  There had been interest in the law change because other cities, in particular Christchurch, were keen to have similar powers to ban prostitution near schools, family homes or sports facilities…

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Mardi Gras 2015

The deities who preside over [carnival] are not those associated with Christianity, but rather the ancient pagan gods who, in New Orleans alone out of this whole grim, Puritanical country, have never fully relinquished their rule.  –  “Mardi Gras 2014

If you’re a new reader and not from New Orleans, you may not understand why the day is still important to me even though I no longer live there (and in fact, I’ve never been as far from the Crescent City on a Fat Tuesday as I am today).  So take a look at my previous columns for the day (the one linked in the epigram plus 2013, 2012 and 2011), and if you want to celebrate in your own small way try indulging yourself in whatever way makes you happiest, at least for one day; that’s exactly what I’ll be doing!

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There is neither heaven nor earth
only snow, falling incessantly.
 –  Hashin

You may be wondering why I’m featuring this lovely picture of a beautiful witch on this particular day.  Well, since this is Christmas Eve in Russia, you might think of her as the Frost Maiden, granddaughter to Ded Moroz (the Slavic Santa Claus).  And since today is also Epiphany,  when children in many Catholic countries receive their presents, you might think of her as Befana, the witch who performs that function in Italy.  Befana is traditionally depicted as an old lady, but since Italy is Italy sexy Befana images are now quite common there; besides, if I were an immortal witch with magical powers you can bet I wouldn’t go around looking like a hag.  Befana is a Christianized version of the minor Roman goddess Strenia, who was herself associated with the Greek witch-goddess Hecate.  So as you can see, a sexy witch image is totally appropriate for this first day of the carnival season…and besides, it’s my blog and I’ll use just about any excuse I can think of to post a picture of a beautiful fantasy chick.

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Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.  –  “a great princess” (according to Rousseau)

I like cake, and I’m sure you do as well unless you’re some sort of disguised alien (just kidding)(not really).  But I wonder if you’ve considered the amazing variety of cakes that there are?  They come in many shapes, textures, flavors and presentations, and the familiar chocolate cake, wedding cake and the like represent a very small region of the cake world.  Recently, I realized I hadn’t done any recipes lately, and since a couple of sex workers I follow on Twitter often mention how much they love cake I was inspired to share some favorites you might not find in the typical cookbook.  I’ve assigned each of these recipes to one of the demi-seasons as I count them (each anchored by one of the sabbats), but you can really make most of them any time you like.  Some of these recipes are easy, and some a bit trickier; the first two are actually brioches, and two others (one today and one tomorrow) could even be made with a box cake (just don’t tell me if you do that).

There are a few general things I should note before we start; if you’re an experienced baker you can skip this paragraph.  First of all, DO NOT be tempted to replace butter with margarine; butter is pure fat, while margarine is an emulsion of fat and water which does not behave the same way in cake recipes and may ruin the results.  If you want low-fat, I’ll be happy to share my recipe for angel food cake if you haven’t got one (it has no fat whatsoever).  DO NOT omit salt if a recipe calls for it; it’s there for a reason, especially in the brioches (yeast needs a slightly saline environment in which to grow).  Use large eggs, and unless a recipe says otherwise add them one at a time, beating for about a minute after each.  You don’t need to use cake flour for any of these recipes, though you might get a slightly finer result from Moss Ross Cake (tomorrow) if you do.  Though I’ve provided metric equivalents for most ingredients, I don’t know whether sticks of butter are the same size in other countries as in the US, where a standard stick is 4 ounces (113 grams).  The same goes for pans; a 13” x 9” rectangular pan would be 33 x 23 cm, so use the closest equivalent.  Test most cakes for doneness by inserting a wooden toothpick or skewer near the center; if it comes out clean, it’s done.  Test sponge cakes (like Moss Rose) by lightly touching the top; if done, it will spring back.  And since brioche is really a sweet bread, panettone and king cake are tested as bread is: by tapping on the top, which sounds hollow when done.

Yuletide  (late November – January 5th)

Panettone is an Italian brioche traditionally eaten during Yuletide; you can buy it imported from Italy in a box, but making it fresh is so much better.  You’ll need a peculiar baking tin for this one: a large, clean coffee can with a volume of about 3 liters, or something similar to that.

4½ to 5½ cups (1 to 1.3 liters) flour
1 package fast-rising yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml) nutmeg
1 tablespoon (15 ml) ground orange peel (orange zest)
1¼ cups (300 ml) milk
½ cup butter (1 stick)
¼ cup (60 ml) sugar
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) raisins
½ cup (120 ml) candied orange peels

panettoneCombine 2 cups (480 ml) flour, yeast, nutmeg and zest in a large mixing bowl.  Heat and stir milk, butter, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter almost completely melts, then pour the mixture over the flour mixture and beat with electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix on high speed for 3 more minutes.  Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can, plus raisins and peels.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough; this will take about 3 to 5 minutes and will still be slightly sticky when you’re done kneading.  Shape the dough into a ball, put it in a lightly greased bowl (cooking spray is perfect for this) and turn the ball to grease the surface of the dough.  Then cover it with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour.

Meanwhile, grease and lightly flour the coffee can, then cut a circle of waxed paper to fit in the bottom of the can and sprinkle a little more flour on it.  At the end of the rising time, make a fist and punch down into the uncovered dough (it will deflate as gas escapes), then gather it up and put it into the prepared can.  Let it rise until double again (another hour), and near the end of the time preheat the oven to 350o Fahrenheit.  Bake the loaf for 35 minutes, then drape a piece of aluminum foil on top to prevent overbrowning and bake 15 minutes more (50 minutes in all); the top should sound somewhat hollow when you tap on it.  Immediately remove the panettone from the tin to a cooling rack and dust the top with powdered sugar; when ready to serve, cut it with a bread knife.

Carnival  (January 6th – Mardi Gras)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In New Orleans, the traditional dessert of this season is king cake, the very first recipe I ever shared on this blog (on Twelfth Night, 2011).  Of all these it is the one most firmly attached to the season I’ve assigned it, though panettone is a close second and pumpkin cake third.

Lent  (Ash Wednesday – Easter Eve)

When I was a lass, Easter baskets in the Deep South could be counted on to prominently feature products from the Elmer’s candy company of New Orleans, and among the most prized of these was a chocolate, marshmallow and almond confection called Heavenly Hash.  Here’s a cake based on it, though it uses pecans rather than almonds; if you can’t get pecans I’m sure almonds would be just as nice.

Heavenly Hash Cake

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups (480 ml) sugar
4 eggs
1½ cups (360 ml) flour
1½ teaspoons (8 ml) baking powder
¼ cup (60 ml) cocoa powder
2 cups (480 ml) chopped pecans
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
3 cups (720 ml) miniature marshmallows
1 recipe icing (see below)

Heavenly Hash cakePreheat oven to 350o Fahrenheit, grease a 13” x 9” baking pan and sift dry ingredients together.  Beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds or so, then add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each one, then add flour mixture and mix well.  Add vanilla and pecans, mix just until combined and pour into pan.  Bake for 40 minutes or until done; remove from oven, immediately cover cake with marshmallows and prepare icing.

3½ cups (840 ml) sifted powdered sugar
¼ cup (60 ml) cocoa powder
½ cup (120 ml) cream or evaporated milk
¼ cup (½ stick) butter, melted

Beat together all ingredients until smooth; pour over hot marshmallow-covered cake.  Allow cake to cool thoroughly in pan, then cut into squares.

Springtide  (Easter – late May)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe arrival of spring meant Maman “would pay me far too much money to cut her lawn every week, and usually made a cake for me; my favorite one was a simple yellow cake made in a ring pan and drizzled with powdered-sugar icing flavored with a powdered drink mix.”  I now call it Love Cake in memory of my beloved Maman.  Just bake a regular yellow cake in a tube pan (an angel food cake pan); you’ll probably need to add 5 minutes to the baking time.  Cool it for 20 minutes in the pan before removing it, then combine 2 cups (480 ml) sifted powdered sugar with ½ a packet (just under a teaspoon, about 4 ml) unsweetened powdered drink mix and 2 or 3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) milk and mix well; drizzle it evenly over the top of the cake, letting it pour down the sides.  You can use any flavor, but I like orange best.

Tomorrow:  Four more recipes for the other half of the year!

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All because it’s carnival time
Well, it’s carnival time
Well it’s carnival time
Everybody’s having fun.
  –  Al Johnson, “Carnival Time

Mardi Gras 2014 by Andrea MistrettaAs I’ve written before, “even though today isn’t a holiday for most of you, it will always be one for me,” and though I don’t live in the city any longer I always try to avoid going anyplace on Fat Tuesday (in French, Mardi Gras) because it’s just too weird seeing everything open and everyone acting as though it isn’t a holiday.  See, even though the occasion’s rationale is strictly Catholic (it’s the last day one can eat, drink and be merry before the solemn season of Lent begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday), the actual celebration is purely pagan and comes down in a direct line from the Babylonian Zagmuk by way of Saturnalia and medieval Twelfth Night celebrations.  The mock king who was sacrificed in the true king’s place became for centuries the Lord of Misrule, then eventually a mock king again…wearing raiment made to last one day and a cardboard crown, seated on a papier-mâché throne and dispensing plastic largesse to people who are not his subjects.  That’s why it’s so funny to hear idiots babbling about the ribaldry and excess of carnival and attempting to shame women for baring their tits; the misbehavior is exactly the point, and the deities who preside over the festival are not those associated with Christianity, but rather the ancient pagan gods who, in New Orleans alone out of this whole grim, Puritanical country, have never fully relinquished their rule.

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‘Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.
  –  Sir Walter Scott, Marmion

Los Tres Reyes¡Feliz Día de Los Reyes!  In other words, Buona Epifania!  Or, S Roždestvom!  Which is to say, Melkam Gena!  In the English-speaking world yesterday was the last of the twelve days of Christmas, and last night was Twelfth Night, on which Yuletide gives way to Carnival; in these hasty modern times, most of those countries were done with Christmas days ago, rushing it out practically before it had found itself a comfortable seat.  But in other parts of the world, the best part of the holiday has only just arrived.  For those traditionally-Christian countries which use the Gregorian calendar, today is the feast of the Epiphany, on which the Magi were supposed to have visited the infant Jesus; it is thus also called “King Day”, and in the Middle Ages was the day on which presents were exchanged in deference to that belief.  But while the gift-giving shifted back to Christmas Day in most of Christendom, Italy and Spain retained the King Day tradition, and it is still the custom in both countries and all over Spain’s former empire.  Children in those countries awoke this morning to discover that Los Tres Reyes (The Three Kings), or in Italy the good witch Befana, left them presents during the night.  But in countries whose churches stubbornly refused the Gregorian calendar, today is only December 24th (liturgically speaking), and tomorrow is Christmas Day.  In Russia it’s even more complicated, because the officially-atheist Soviet Union switched the winter celebration to New Year’s Day; different families might be visited by Grandfather Frost on the night of December 24th, December 31st or January 6th. But whether today is for you the beginning of the Christmas festival, or the end of it, or the first day of Carnival (which ends this year on March 4th), or just another work day, may it hold many gifts for you.  Christmas Witch 1907

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On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Two turtle-doves and a partridge in a pear tree.
  –  Traditional Christmas carol

wren boys on Wren DayWe all learned the traditional carol as children, but did you ever stop to think of what it’s actually about?  Other than a rather improbable inflation of increasingly expensive gifts, I mean; just imagine how much it would cost to hire ten noblemen to leap at someone’s party on three successive days.  I’m sure most of you realize that Christmas was originally a twelve-day festival, but you may not realize what that actually means:  pre-industrial European society essentially shut down for twelve days while everyone celebrated.  Other than the Church, virtually every social institution – banks, businesses, governmental functions, the lot – was closed until January 6th.  Now, obviously things moved a lot more slowly in those days; crossing the average country took days rather than hours, and people (again, outside the Church) planned more by the calendar than by the clock.  Considering that, the twelve-day hiatus was not much more inconvenient than a weekend was in my childhood, when virtually everything other than restaurants (and the Church) was closed from 5 PM Friday to 9 AM Monday.  On top of that, it came midway through the slowest time of the year: though most modern people imagine that the agricultural lifestyle meant constant hard work, that was really only true in the spring and autumn; summers weren’t at all bad, and winter was basically a three-or-four-month vacation except for normal household chores.

That started to change with the rise of the towns in the High Middle Ages, but even then work during the festival was probably a lot like the Friday afternoon before a long weekend:  lots of people out “sick”, and the ones who aren’t not really trying too hard.  This was undoubtedly a large part of the reason dour work-until-you-drop-you-horrible-sinner-because-God-hates-you Protestants condemned the festival so relentlessly, even getting it banned in Britain under the Commonwealth from 1647-1660, and in Boston from 1659-1681.  Industrialization and the breakup of extended families renewed the attack a century later, and though the influence of rural people and writers like Charles Dickens revived the holiday in the first half of the 19th century, it only survived as a shorn, domesticated, factory-friendly one-day celebration rather than a two-week orgy of eating, drinking, games, music and most un-Puritan laziness.

But today, we’ve regained some of that leisure time we started losing in the 18th century; though many of my readers returned to work today, many others did not (perhaps even using vacation or “flex time” to accomplish that).  If you’re one of those lucky ones, I suggest you resist the urge to join the throngs at Boxing Day sales or returns counters; instead, indulge in the traditional activities associated with this day such as visiting friends or helping the less fortunate, or else just rest at home with those you love and eat Christmas leftovers.  While it’s true that we can no longer put the entire world on hold for twelve days, I’m sure most of you can manage two. Medieval Christmas banquet

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