Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Got a good two feet of hair cut off my head yesterday. Whenever I walk into a hair salon with my hair down to my waist and tell 'em I want it bobbed, the stylists' eyes always bug out and they ask, "Are you sure?" Yeah, I'm sure, otherwise I wouldn't be there in the first place. The day an open heart surgeon asks a patient if he's sure he needs that quadruple bypass is the day I'll be accepting of these folks' alarm. Until then, I reserve the right to be indignant.

Reason why I love New Orleans: better prices on some things. Keep in mind I went to a fancy schmancy hair place here.
NOLA cut: ~$40
Queens, NYC cut: ~$75
I may well end up with a "shingle headache", but it's definitely worth more ways than one.

Another reason to love this city: open discussion over how much revelry and satire is too much or goes too far. Dan, the little guy, and I took in the Krewe du Vieux parade this year for the first time since we returned from NYC. Main reason: friends of ours were marching with the Seeds of Decline subkrewe. Plus, we like the parade. I did hesitate at bringing the little guy, because there are some years when it is a truly raunchy spectacle, but we figured that the joy of seeing good friends outweighed warping his fragile little mind for one night (Dan and I have the other nights covered all by ourselves...). This year, it was relatively tame, plus, I got to see a NOLA blogger or (possibly) two marching along with the whole show. A good friend of ours kept going on and on about how great the giant vagina float was that she saw last year, however, which was annoying to hear after the first couple of times, largely because I had missed it and I woulda liked to see it. If anyone's got a pic, let me know...

As Jews, a good number of my friends and I have got our own troubles within our religion. Out here in New Orleans, however, the troubles amongst Catholics in this Catholic city always come out around Mardi Gras time - and almost always concerning the Krewe du Vieux parade and the insanity that is the French Quarter around this time. A truly bizarre column came out from Chris Rose about his ride as king of KdV - and though I do still enjoy reading his stuff from time to time, this one really puzzled me.

First off, he went and commented about all the religious brouhaha from inside and outside this city as though he was a long-standing krewe member rather than an invited guest of honor. Shouldn't the organizers of KdV have their true say on this one? Perhaps the best way to have dealt with the objections of the Archdiocese and of the Pennsylvania group would have been to give them no more press than they have already received; sometimes the best way to respond to such inane stuff is to just let it die on the vine.

Which brings me to the second thing - that of knowing when to leave well enough alone. The parade still rolled. Rose was having a ball on the float. People appreciated the rude, crude, and still somewhat socially unacceptable themes running through the parade. Why couldn't a simple reporting of what was seen from the king's float have sufficed?

A waaaay better critique than mine can be found here.

My suggestion, as a true outsider: dissolve the Catholic Church into Judaism. It would be the end of the pope and the beginnings of a whole new set of squabbles to add to those that already plague all the different Judaic denominations, sure. The orthodox Jews in Israel would have a field day with the Law of Return. Jewish dietary laws would be more hotly debated than ever before. However, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, which usually occurs close to Mardi Gras, all of this stuff would be set aside for a day.

On Purim, we'll celebrate a beauty contest winner exerting her influence on a drunken king and saving her people in the process. Religious mores are busted within the confines of the synagogue, as people boo Haman, the big, bad enemy of the Purim story who wanted to kill all the Jews of Persia because one of them wouldn't bow down to him, and cheer on Esther, Mordechai, and even king Ahasuerus, just a tad...when he's not being laughed at, that is. I myself have heard the Torah, normally chanted with a series of "tropes"(melodic signatures accenting each word), chanted to the tune of "Yankee Doodle" on Purim. More importantly for the New Orleans area, however, is this rabbinic instruction for Purim revelers, detailed by Rabbi Irving Greenberg:

On this day, no fasting is permitted, no eulogies are given, no penitential prayers are recited. The Rabbis were so determined to make this point that they instructed people to drink - at least to the stage when they could no longer tell the difference between blessed Mordechai and accursed Haman. (Those who can't tell the difference all year long are excused on Purim).

Wouldn't that be something? All of New Orleans being Jewish? Parades with satirical themes all over the place - themes that bust some righteous halakhic bubbles? And secular ones, too?

Wait, it's already being done...

Mass conversion to Judaism would never work around here, anyhow. These people love their shellfish too much to give it up.


Adrastos said...

Oy such a post. What do you do about the agnostics like me? Of course, I grew up with almost all Jewish friends and my beautiful blond shiksa mother's played cards with Mrs. Goldblum, Mrs. Rosenberg and Mrs. Greenberg. There were a lot of bergs in my burg.

End of semi irrelevant comment.

Oh yeah, I'm sort of amazed by the people at Ashley's blog who think this is a tempest in a teapot. It's about free speech: nothing's more important than that.

Leigh C. said...

Ohhh, NOW I know what you're all about...some of your best friends are Jewish, eh? ;-)

Yeah, the problem with truly baffling columns such as Rose's is that people focus on the messenger waaay more than the message. Then again, he didn't convey the message too well, so the point just went airborne for some.


Funky-Rat (a/k/a Railyn) said...

Admittedly, what I know about Mardi Gras can fill a pamphlet. I know the basics - the Cliff's Notes history that you see on TV about the significance of the dates, the religious aspects of it, etc. I've had a few friends attend over the years, and I've been the recipient of their take and their stories and pictures, etc.

While I don't know a lot, I do have an idea of what goes on, and would pretty much know what I would be walking in to. I'm sure it would be different than my preconcieved notions, but I think I can say that I can safely say that if I saw someone riding a phallic symbol down the street, for example, I wouldn't be surprised or outraged or anything. On the contrary, I'd probably find it amusing.

The religious right really annoys me. The great thing about this country is that we have guaranteed freedoms. There are things that go on that I don't like, but if somebody's right was taken away just because I don't like it, then truly no one wins. That being said, I think most people out there know what goes on during Mardi Gras, and to specifically go there just to confront those who enjoy it should really have a reality check. My philosophy has always been this: Does it cause a direct threat to anyone? Is your dislike for it mainly personal? If the answers are no/yes, then just stay away. Period. I'm not a fan of sport hunting. However, I know a large number of people who rely on what they hunt to be able to eat during the year. I also know that if hunting were outlawed, the animal population would be overrun, and they'd die anwyay. My solution: I don't pick up a gun and go hunting. It's that simple.

I'm not familiar with Chris Rose, but I read the article,and while some of it went over my head, most of it smacked of "CYA", which I would expect for someone in that situation. I've always wanted to attend Mardi Gras, and perhaps some day I will. And I promise that I won't bring the religious right down from PA with me.

And I think you look nice with short hair, although it was a bit of a shock the first time I saw you with it short. I haven't had my hair "big" since 1995, and it's been very short since 1999. Easier to take care of. The fact that I ruined it by overprocessing it all those years makes it more of a necessity as well.

Daisy said...

Religion aside, did you donate the hair?

Leigh C. said...

Yes, I did.

Aren't I a good girl?


Wendy said...

There are 2 Mardi Gras (really there are more): the one in the French Quarter, where such a parade is accepted with some outrage but still rolls and then there is the Mardi Gras in Jefferson Parish and the Westbank, where such a parade would never roll.

I went to my first Mardi Gras in the French Quarter when I was 16. I was shocked to say the least, but went on my merry way. I find it funny when there are people walking around with big signs telling all of us we are going to hell for our partying ways. Um, does anyone know New Orleans history? Besides, us Catholics are revving up for our religious diet. Let's not forget that Lent starts and we all have to behave for 40 days. The biggest scarfice is not having meat on Fridays.

It doesnt bother me in the least, because I dont have to go to such a parade if I dont want to and I wouldnt bring my children to see. None of my business if someone else what's to bring their, I just dont want the questions. There is enough stuff going on during Mardi Gras for everyone. To come down on one parade is ridiculous. As far as I can see, there has always been 2 sides to this city: Adult and child. Dont make a big deal about it, just do what you want to do.

As for converting the city to Judaism, you had me until you said no shellfish. What? Not possible, it is hard enough to give up meat on Fridays for a few weeks. Good God, woman what do you want from us. :)

Leigh C. said...

Rabbis over the millenia have developed a number of reasons why there is a prohibition on the eating of shellfish and crustaceans in the Torah, among them the fact that lobsters and oysters just couldn't be adequately preserved for eating and the fact that all of 'em are the sea's scavengers. Fact of the matter is, however, that the only seafood the Israelites are allowed to eat are fish with fins and scales, and the edible sealife that is deemed to be unkosher includes crawfish, crabs, shrimp, and oysters.

However, if you are a secular Jew, like myself, keeping strict kosher is not a must. I loves me a good shrimp po-boy and some boiled crawfish, and my husband goes berserk over the all you can eat boiled crabs at a local restaurant that are served once a week when the crabs are in season. plus, it's waaaay tougher to keep kosher in these parts, sad but true.

Daisy said...

Yay! I'm so glad. Have fun this Mardi Gras season and make sure to email me to confirm your participation in my diss. project. You got the email, right?

Leigh C. said...

Actually, I don't think I did. Which address is it coming from, so that I can make sure it makes it through the spamblocker?

ashley said...

Locks of love?

Leigh C. said...

Herr Perfesser Not Dr A., check this link:

It is a highly worthy cause for which one can sacrifice loads of their lovely locks. There's even a Saints player who does it regularly.