From Lent to Easter / March 2016
|LEJ / Janis Turk|
has never seen the United States until he has experienced Mardi Gras in New Orleans."
~ Mark Twain
LEJ's Louisiana / Yours Truly in a Swamp,
~ March 2016 ~
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|LEJ Carnival Time Reading, NOLa / Mark Konikoff|
Eugenie "Ersy" Schwartz
September 20, 1951 ~ December 30, 2015
From Cathedrals and parish churches ~ to mission altars and heathen households ~ the Sacrament of Death is celebrated in Louisiana.
We got our ashes early at Saint Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square and then caught Amtrak train #1, the Sunset Limited, West.
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|Hommage to the Society of Ste. Anne / Eugenie "Ersy" Schwartz|
photo courtesy of Arthur Roger Gallery
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At the Cathedral's earliest Mass business suits stood cheek-by-jowl with crimson capes and smeared-lipstick ladies. Some held palm fronds, shredded and woven into what-not-box art. They awaited priests dressed in the violet Vestments of Sorrow.
With thumbs dipped in their ashes from last year's palms these priests apply a smudged sign of the cross to the forehead of believers. I never miss this ceremony. I have doubts galore about many theological things, but none whatsoever about this. To ashes we shall return.
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We rode the Sunset Limited over Huey P. Long's bridge at Westwego, Louisiana ~ a town named for a verb! (The original trainmen forded the Mississippi River at this spot and chipperly called it,
Away from the Sins of Big Swamp City we rode! Out of Town, "On our father's magic carpet made of steel". Could Lent's first day have a more fitting manifestation?
Lent is the longest holiday in the Christian calendar. It holds steady at forty hair-shirted, whip-lashing days of deprivation.
To accommodate this mathematical trickery,
Carnival's pleasurable length shortens by measure of the poorly constructed Gregorian Calendar and Canon Law which dictates adjusting those forty-days of Lent so as to lose not one minute's suffering.
As for Carnival? It shrinks by weeks! Great gobs of goose fat!
"Not to worry,"
L. A. Norma says to some altar boys outside the Cathedral discussing the weight of this year's Mardi Gras garbage.
Our favorite cab driver is picking us up on the corner of Saint Peter and Chartres. He arrives wearing the signature t-shirt of an unemployed actor turned cabbie: "My Parents Went to New Orleans And All I Got Is This Lousy I.Q."
|For information click the t-shirt|
on Loyola Avenue we boarded the train.
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Three Days before Easter ~ Lenten deprivation ends. March 27 is Easter, and the forty days of Lenten deprivation stop the Thursday before. You can not fast on Good Friday, it is a Holy Day! Saturday? I'm not sure why, but no fasting goes on. Guess it is
lost in the boiled-egg and coconut cake preparations for Easter.
Easter is a ceremony about Spring borrowed from religions that came long before Judeo/Christianity. It may be the oldest human celebration on Earth, and it is calculated (or miscalculated) by Canon Law, using instruments crafted from faith in suffering and suspicion of pleasure. Resulting in temperatures and seasons sometimes out of wack with your costume.
It has been a cold Lent with sunny mornings and a warm place in the kitchen to read Internet Newspapers and sip coffee.
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"Bless us o'Lord for these thy gifts which thou hast provided through thy bounty." The Amish man said it was a lovely prayer.
"That's reasoning we've heard before," L. A. Norma said, as we
|courtesy of Amtrak|
|Leonard Earl Johnson, Mardi Gras 2006, NOLa / Janis Turk|
FYI: You may not receive a monthly notice for LEJ's Louisiana / YOURS TRULY IN A SWAMP, until / unless I figure out how to set up a new freemail system. Don't hold your breath. I am a storyteller, not a computer-pinball gamer). Contact me if you want on the list - that may get e-mailed.
If you wish to read any month's story go to the archives at www.LEJ.org
(They are posted newly on the first of each month and polished for the next few weeks.)
Hope you do, I love talking with you,
Leonard Earl Johnson,
Columnist to the elderly and early weary.
Lagniappe Du Jour
three great songs
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"Hommage to the Society of Ste. Anne," 105 toy soldier-sized people, animals and surrealistic combinations of the two. The cast-bronze mini parade, arrayed on an enormous table is in the collection of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
Hommage to the Society of Ste. Anne, 2002-2004