Wednesday, September 10, 2008

2008 vote from New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Are We There Yet?
Coo Coo Ka Joo

Well, it’s November and we’re about to be shot at and missed and shit at and hit. The days of wine and roses have come and gone and with the last shred of my innocence we’ll go from hell and high water straight into the prospect of a Thanksgiving with the realization that we may have, with our votes, actually chosen the wrong team to lead us. I mean, what happens if we are left at the mercy of those who may (or may not) have voted with us being instrumental in making the exact wrong choice. Have we unleashed the hounds of hell or elected people who, for all intents and purposes, cannot (read are not capable to) deliver the change that they promised because the infection of greed in our country goes too deep even for the brightest and the best of us to effect a difference for the good of all? When doubt rears its ugly head, pessimism snarls like a junk yard dog and optimists catch the last train to Clarksville. All those oysters and no pearls of wisdom.
The gas companies raked in sixty billion dollars this year in profits, the combined salaries of the two biggest loan association’s presidents (that the government had to bail out) is in excess of thirty million dollars a year and I’m sitting here eating pimento cheese spread and crackers wondering how I’m going to pay next month’s rent.
I remember that I had too few friends growing up, I remember when I didn’t give a thought about politics and I remember a time when ambrosia was the most exotic dish that I could ever have imagined. Concentrating on the welfare of my pals and eating exotic foods are good for my nerves, thinking about politics is not.
You have to take into consideration that this column is being written with a deadline of early September and hurricanes and evacuations are more on my mind then the outcome of a decision that will be collectively made about this country’s future standing and it’s citizens’ welfare for years to come. Believe you me, this is putting a serious cramp on my Halloween plans.
Now see what you made me do? You know how hard it is to set down a thousand words and I just erased what would have been the next one hundred and twenty five words just because they were ugly and mean. Believe me, you do not want to know.
Let’s start again. Yo! Flaws and faux pas, goofs and gaffes, the crass, the craven and the interlopers will be led up the golden staircase only to be cast aside for the chosen few to take their unrightful place and there will be the gnashing of teeth and the rending of garments by those affected and afflicted by the loss of prestige and power. How many ballerinas will dance on the head of the pin? Who will do the laundry when Snow White goes out to play? While Harry Potter strips to the full Monty and love affairs are conducted by text messaging; where do the unenlightened go for a good cup of Joe? Clover Grill hops with Little Queenie and the Percolators and Chris Owens look-alikes vie for the company of gorillas and nobody wants to dress up in the costume of a governor. Meals ready to eat, bottles of water and bags if ice served on blue tarp tablecloths and we’re celebrating the day of all souls on the eve of All Saints in black and gold. When someone passes us a joint we pass it back with solemn invocation…”it’s only dinner”.
The Von Trapps have escaped again and Monkey Hill is alive with the sound of charwomen dressed as faeries. Who will be the next manipulator of history? Who will pass the mental note torch, pull the trick of the mind? From whence will come our collective next brain seizure? You’ll need to be Houdini to get out of this one.
Dust off your View Finder and find the 3D images cavorting on Bourbon Street. Despots will come and go, the next incarnation of the Maitreya is at hand and the crazed delivery boy beheads his lover and after ravishing what’s left of her body, goes for a lap dance and a drink culminated by a swan dive from a roof top. Ambiguous thunder from the East and Lenny Bruce nods out sagely after declaring “I told you so… Halloween is Carnival compressed”. The Fire Queen is being summoned to the court of the Crimson King and the next four years will need you to call for much more than lawyers, guns and money. This may be the election that screws us hard and dry and up against a frigging tree.
However, before I tell you to hang the crepe…. you are a registered voter, right? You have been following the debates, interviews and massive media debris, right? Right? Well, where’s your friggin’ button? How ready are you to defend your candidate with facts, logic and energy? You won’t get fooled again. Right?
One thing that we can all agree upon (I hope to god we can all agree) is that the last administration mugged, raped and pillaged us. We the people. And the fact of the matter is that we did absolutely nothing to stop them except to wait for our phone to ring with a pollster asking how we rated the destruction, as if the fate of the world was judged like a popularity contest…the biggest looser. Which in effect makes us all a bunch of lazy cowards who put up with the bullying, backstabbing and deceit and let them stay on the island.
The least that your vote can accomplish is to cancel out one of theirs. The amount that your voice can accomplish is that you speak up for what you believe in and the fact that you do believe in something more than what you’ve got today. It means that you want a stake in your future and that leaving home was not the last mature thing that you did.
I work the polls. If you’re registered, I’ve got your name. If I’ve got your name, I’ll know if you vote. Not voting is the most self-destructive thing that you could ever do.
Missed a column?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Carnival in New Orleans

Po-boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
The Twenty-five Thousand Dollar Cake
Mardi Gras Mad Man
Cab drivers and communists! Cheese and crackers! Christ on a crutch! My long lost nephew has moved back to The Big Easy!
Actually, I don’t know if he’s ever lived here before; I haven’t laid eyes on him since he was knee high to a Huge Ass Beer ™ cup. But, his parents used to live here, so that’s enough for me to classify him as a replant, of sorts. There was, as I recall, a certain gleam in his Daddy’s eyes while he was here, who knows, it may have been him.
I’ve only seen him once since he’s been back, but knowing the intelligence level of his family, and mine, I feel sure that he’s reading this. I must tell him about Mardi Gras, lest he become grist for the mill.
Dear Nephew,
Welcome back and let me say, for one, that things have changed a bit since you were here last in flesh or in gleam and not, I fear, for the better.
You see, there’s this thing called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday (not to be confused with Lundi Gras, which is the day before, or Foie Gras, which is the Friday before). Fat Tuesday has always been preceded by Carnival. It is, definitively, THE uber-experience. There’s even a Mardi Gras Cake that won $25,000.00 in a national bake off.
The word Carnival comes from the Latin ‘cruise from Hell’ or ‘flesh be gone’ which ever you choose to believe. Carnival is a time for partying, exchanging body fluids, dancing, eating and throwing up, all to excess. A lot of natives do this all the time; but, when you have millions of amateur ‘visitors’ trying to keep up, it can get real messy.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a tired old horse that middle-aged merchants start whipping at the beginning of the year in the hopes that by Ash Wednesday the frothing, wide eyed, sweat soaked, bleeding and exhausted mount will have generated enough profit that some of it may actually stay in Louisiana.
Carnival officially starts at Twelfth Night, which is twelve days after Christmas, called Kings Night, after the Three Wise Guys who came to see newborn Baby Jee; they had given all the gifts they could, starting with a partridge in a pear tree, had to split back to the Orient and marked the occasion as a Catholic holiday. Amen.
What we do nowadays on Twelfth Night is: bake a cake with a baby in it, smear it with purple, yellow and green icing and whoever bites into the baby gets to sue the bakery or buy the next ‘King Cake’ and continue the cycle. Needless to say, a lot of dentists make money during Carnival. This continues until Mardi Gras, which is the day before Ash Wednesday . Ash Wednesday is forty days before Easter and nobody is supposed to have a good time during that period. It’s Called Lent. Why? I don’t know.
When is Mardi Gras? Forty-one days before Easter. When is Easter?
Officially, Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox or Winter Solstice or something . So, to find out when Mardi Gras is, do the math, consult an occultist or look at a calendar.
To start celebrating Carnival, start drinking at Thanksgiving and don’t stop until the trash on Bourbon Street is waist high and everyone else looks really, really strange. The two may, at times, be mutually exclusive.
Carnival is also celebrated with Fancy Dressed and Masked Balls (no pun intended), Parades, public humiliation, and large amounts of money going to other Third World Countries. The only thing we stop short of is human sacrifice, I think.
Parades and Balls are put on by Krewes, which is French for Crews. Krewes are made up of ‘social and pleasure’ clubs that elect a King and a Queen to lead them in parades where they cheerfully throw things like cabbages, condoms, coconuts, medallions, doubloons and strings of beads at frothing, maniacal spectators who then fight over them. The King is usually a middle-aged merchant and the Queen is usually a young woman from a well to do family who has reached drinking age. The King remains masked while the Queen wears LancĂ´me ™ tastefully. What’s up with that? Again, I don’t know; they’re called ‘Secret Societies’.
Another group of ‘Secret Societies’ is The Mardi Gras Indians. The fact that I consider any ‘Society’ that doesn’t invite me to join them, ‘Secret’ is another issue altogether. The Indians, far and away, would be the last group to ask me in. Why? I can’t sew and I don’t speak their language. Let me explain:
‘The Indians’ trace their roots back to the native Americans that befriended persons of color that they felt a kinship with because of the, non native, persons of non color’s rotten attitude toward anyone besides themselves, middle-aged merchants and young women who had reached drinking age. That’s how I see it, I could be wrong, it’s only my word against anyone else’s.
Anyway, Indians sew elaborate, intricate and complex Native American costumes, the likes of which would have Sitting Bull standing in his grave. They parade in groups of twelve to twenty resplendent in sequins, feathers, fabrics and heavy artillery. In their words “when you see us comin’, better get out the way!”
The Indians chant words like “Jock-imo findo hondo-wando fee nah nay”,
“Iko Iko”, “Tu-way-pa-ka-way. Oowa-a-a!” and “kick your ass on the overpass”. This either means: “my ‘Spy Boy’ spotted your ‘Flag Boy’ and ‘Big Chief’ (from the Metarie Ridge) has a shiny pistol and is “gonna make you jump in de river”, or “War, huuh, (good God, y’all) what is it good for?” (Absolutely nuthin’!).
Anyway, Carnival generates a gazillion samollions towards the housing, education, working conditions and welfare of the needy for places like Mexico (tee shirts), Burma (sweat shirts), India (condoms), China (baseball caps), Indonesia (beads) and other parts of this country (food stuffs, plastic ware, breast implants and alcoholic beverages), none of which you’ll ever see. Content yourself with having a good time watching a bazillion of out of towners doing things that they would never do at home and remember:
1. Never drink anything stronger than you are, or of a color not found in nature.
2. Never, ever try to stop someone from acting improperly. One woman that I know did that and got her ass kicked by not one, not two but three ‘visitors’.
3. Don’t fight old ladies for beads. Doing so is a sure way of getting a heel print imbedded on the back of your hand.
4. Dress appropriately. No beads, wallet, credit cards, expensive jewelry or more cash than you care to part with.
5. If someone wants to bet you that they know ‘where you got your shoes’, tell them that they’re not your shoes.
Your loving Uncle, Phil
P.S. If you want the recipe for the $25,000.00 Mardi Gras Cake email me