LEJ's Blog

My Photo
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Leonard Earl Johnson (photo credit Frank Parsley) covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005), and the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for ConsumerAffairs.com. He is a contributor to Gambit Weekly, New Orleans Magazine, SCAT, Baton Rouge Advocate, Advocate Magazine, The Times-Picayune, Country Roads Magazine, Palm Springs Newswire and the anthologies: FRENCH QUARTER FICTION (Light of New Orleans Publishing), LOUISIANA IN WORDS (Pelican Publishing), LIFE IN THE WAKE (NOLAfuges.com), and more. Johnson is a former Merchant Seaman, and columnist at Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans; and African-American Village. Attended Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship at Piney Point, Maryland. Winner of the Press Club of New Orleans Award for Excellence, 1991, and given the Key to The City and a Certificate of Appreciation from the New Orleans City Council for a Gambit Weekly story on murder in the French Quarter.

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

βš“The Day After Mardi Gras / March 2023

Β© 2023 Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

Voodoo doll, bought at a gas
station in New Orleans

March 2023



"With only one parade shooting
we had to count house shootings, too!" 
L. A. Norma

 *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  * 

LEJ's Louisiana

a monthly e-column at www.LEJ.world

Yours Truly in a Swamp

by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana

~  *  ~   ~  *  ~   ~  *  ~

The Day After Mardi Gras,

Ash Wednesday and the Forty Days of Lent 

by  Leonard Earl Johnson 

Β© 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, 

All Rights Reserved

~ * ~    ~ * ~    ~ * ~
Dedicated to Ernest J. Gaines,
First Issue U. S. Postage Stamp, 

January 23, 2023

Novelist and Writer-in-Residence, Professor Emeritus

University of Louisiana, Lafayette
Born, 1933 in Oscar, Louisiana 
Died 2019 in Oscar, Louisiana


All over Louisiana,
the day after Mardi Gras is Ash Wednesday.  The day Carnival's joyful mantle is lifted leaving Lent's ashen smudge in its place.

At Cathedrals from New Orleans to Lafayette,
 business suits stood cheek-by-jowl with crimson capes and smeared-lipstick ladies awaiting priests dressed in the Vestments of Sorrow, smearing The Sign of The Cross on celebrant foreheads with thumbs dipped in the ashes of last year's Palm Sunday Palms. 


Up and down the Mississippi River, and from the Sabine River to the Pearl River, 
Zamboni-like street sweepers washed away bottles, beads, and other signs of the faithful's sins; and Cajun chickens stretched their necks up to see if it was safe to come out.  

Our forty-day abstinence begins.  The parade limps off stage.  

 Wharbor ecclesiastical doubts, but suffer none whatsoever about this ceremony. 
It is Ash Wednesday, and 
to ashes we are returning. 

Banana Tree /photo credit:
 Deb Kohler

Lent begins, 
ushering in the longest holiday in
 all the Christian calendar.  A holiday celebrating suffering, the very thing the recently celebrated King Cake Baby Jesus grew up talking down.  Yet it remains plumped as the chef's prunes.

Should you need a reason to be suspicious of evangelicals and their temporal political powers consider this:  Carnival's time shrinks most years by measure of an inaccurate Pope Gregorian Calendar designed for the purpose of lengthening Lent's suffering by reducing Carnival's allotted days.
Lent ~ by those same inaccurate calculations is codified into Canon Law so as to never lose one suffering day of penance.

"In such order we find sad truths,"
~ L. A. Norma.




Clearing the Liturgical Air
Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is the last day of Carnival's ever-changing time of joy. 

Next day, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent's never-changing time of suffering.

"The Gregorian Calendar," L. A. Norma explains to a bewildered tourist sharing our pedicab, 
"what with Easter changing with the moon, is none too accurate!  

"For instance, in the secular world we have
leap year!" 



Easter Sunday, 40 days later, marks the end of Lent and celebrates Spring.

  It is a holiday adapted by the marauding legions of Rome, from religions the Romans happened upon in their warring travels.  They proudly harvested it from those who began their distant drummings long before Christianity went on the road. 

Spring, a.k.a., Easter may be the oldest human celebration. Miscalculated on our calendars today with those aforementioned Gregorian instruments forged and honed out of faith in suffering and suspicion of pleasure.

Suffering is not to be monkeyed with in this theological view.  Carnival's pleasures, however, are reducible by God's agents using their inaccurate stopwatches.

For the faithful, Lenten fasting knits Carnival's raveled sleeve and prepares us for Spring's rebirth.  Like the bean sprout and the jazz man say:

"Blow the roof off the sucker"

π… πŸŽ·πŸŽœπŸŽπŸŽΊπ…‘


It has been a good Lent so far this year, with sunny mornings and a warm place in the kitchen to read Internet newspapers and sip coffee.  Cedars Grocery on Jefferson Street, Lafayette, stocks Brocato's of New Orleans handmade Sicilian sesame seed cookies. They are my favorite memory food from before Katrina, COVID-19, Library book-burners, Congress critters like George Santos (R-NY), Russian proxy wars in Ukraine, Republican fifth columns, and daily mass shootings at school and home.  All is well again, with a sesame seed cookie and a warm cup of coffee.  

Lent do your thing, we have sins to atone!    

Photo credit:  Eric Douglas
The live oaks outside our dormer windows are a soft young green. Live oaks don't dump their leaves till Spring's new buds arrive (as followers of JFK conspiracies will readily tell you). Then they change from old dark green to young soft green almost overnight. 

Today soft-green rules coastal Louisiana, and old alligators lie on the banks in whatever sun we can find, dreaming of Easter baskets and Spring.

(A lesser version of this story first appeared in 2004)--------

For more L. E. J.'s Louisiana ~ Yours Truly in a Swamp go to 

*    *    *
Β© 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.

Lagniappe du Jour


After The Mardi Gras

Wayne Toups

You Tube

Wayne Toups, free concert
With Joe Hall & The Cane Cutters
at Downtown Alive,
Friday, March 3, 2023
on the International Stage, 
Lafayette, Louisiana
starting time sunset-ish
πŸš… πŸš‰ 🚍 🚏 πŸš–
Stage is one block from the Rosa Parks Transportation Centre,
(Amtrak / Greyhound / City and tour busses / taxi)
Rosa Parks Transportation Centre

πŸ•Ί  β­  πŸ’ƒ

US Postage Stamp
First Day Issue: January 23, 2023
 Issue Location: Lafayette, Louisiana

Gaines' 1993 novel, A Lesson Before Dying, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Gaines was a MacArthur Foundation fellow, was awarded the National Humanities Medal, and was inducted into the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) as a Chevalier. ~ Wikipedia

~ Select Titles by Ernest Gains ~

Β© Leonard Earl Johnson 

If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.world anytime. 
They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.
~   ~   ~
 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.world,
and historically at
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans
publication of the
It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana

 Β© 2023 Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved