Thursday, December 29, 2005

The most comprehensive guide to Louisiana's Carnival season: How To Mardi Gras

Order your copies of this charming and evocative piece of Bayou State culture straight from the publisher.

Please send $6 per copy plus $3 shipping - for up to 5 copies.

Wholesalers, please send $33 and I will rush you 10 copies.

Mardi Gras is a growth industry! Put out the books, talk up the etouffee and put on the Neville Brothers' records. Then watch people make their costumes, dance and jive and stir the big cayenne-scented pot!

That's, y'all. Or simply chat with me at 318-861-6809. Please see more below.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The best way to build your Mardi Gras vibe: put on some Carnival music

Miss Megoo
Originally uploaded by ectomorfo.
This girl playing sax is part of the Notting Hill Carnival celebration, according to the photog. She reminds me of favorite sounds from Dr John. See if you can find his classic Gumbo if you want the tee-na-na.


Originally uploaded by lil.
"Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Asakusa Samba Carnival is held every year in late August. More than 500,000 people lined the streets this year to soak in the infectious rhythms and highly-charged atmosphere of this exciting Latin American festival. Tokyo is home to more than 200,000 Brazilian-Japanese and this is their largest celebration of the year," says photographer Kristen Elsby.

Asakusa, Tokyo, 2005

Masking in Rome, the home of Carnevale

Rome2 009
Originally uploaded by diakho.
Roman Carnival Overture, the concerto by French composer Hector Berlioz, was composed after spending a year in Rome.

"Hector Berlioz established programme music as the Romantic musical form and started the beginnings of the symphonic poem. His music is representative of his own wild emotional swings and he often broke traditional orchestral rules!" So says the site

"Roman Carnival is a fast and exciting piece which captures the imagination and drives the listener forward through a carnival in the streets of Rome, giving us colour, fun, excitement, people enjoying themselves, dancing, singing, laughing, playing — all having a ball!"

In truth, this site says, "Berlioz himself did experience the real Roman Carnival during his stay in the city as a Prix de Rome winner in 1831.

By long tradition, deriving from the ancient pagan Saturnalia (the forerunner to christmas), it was the most hectic, licentious and violent of all Italy’s pre-Lenten carnivals, and one which several Popes had unsuccessfully tried to restrain.

Like Goethe, who witnessed it twice on his famous Italian journey, in 1787 and 1788, and found in it noise but no real merriment — “One has to see the Roman Carnival to lose all wish to ever see it again!” — Berlioz describes it brilliantly, but as his Memoirs show was in fact disgusted by what he too found an almost totally degrading spectacle."

A costume from Venice, one of the homes of Carnival

Originally uploaded by baddogsticks.
Outside of New Orleans - in the places where Carnival has been adopted in recent times - the entire season may be called Mardi Gras. With more background, even newbies will see that the proper term for the season is Carnival. In countries with Latin-based languages, it is Carnevale. Only a single day should be called Mardi Gras if you buy into the rituals and culture of this global party.