Monday, February 15, 2010

Mardi Gras and Possibility

It is Mardi Gras in my hometown.  To those not from our community, Mardi Gras is nothing but women baring breasts, men getting drunk, and people of all inclinations pinching rounded asses.  Well, a fair amount of that definitely happens, but much more happens as well.  

Mardi Gras is a time for comradeship as well as revelry.  Yes, we go kind of wild, but we have lots of good fun, friendly competition as we dive for throws(at least, most of us), and fellowship with our neighbors.  Mardi Gras season is one of possibility and fantasy.  For one time of the year, people abandon their daily lives--lives often filled with boredom, frustration, and care  The time is one of possibility.  A quarterback can be a king of the grape.  Ordinary citizens can don masks and reign as monarchs.  Regular businessmen can toast the crowd and hurl what--on any other day--would be worthless trinkets at people.  Later those trinkets are often donated to charities for resale.  

Mardi Gras is a day of escape but also one of possibility.  We dare to dream and hope that our dreams will come true.  That point has been driven home this year in a poignant way.  Many of our Saints players and their coach will reign as monarchs or grand marshals of the parades.  These men elevated their team from the depths of obscurity to the pinnacle of success.  The Saints--once the laughingstocks of the NFL--are now NFL champs , and our whole region made the NFL back down when they tried to appropriate our local slang.  

Mardi Gras is a day of hope and of escape.  It even gives hope to a high school English teacher and fledgling author trying to perfect her current projects.  It gives her hope that dreams come true as she forms into words the new projects pounding through her brian.  

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Who, the WhoDat Nation, and The Saints

I know many people have wondered why people in New Orleans are so excited that the New Orleans Saints are going to the Super Bowl.  I wondered myself why even I-- a self-avowed sports geek--was almost giddy.  The reason is not one easily explained, and it is linked to Katrina and the devastation our region suffered.  Now, I know that the rest of the country is tired of the word K-A-T-R-I-N-A, and we wish the monster had never come our way, believe me.  This team, however, has done a great deal for our rebuilding and this community.  Individual members have given to charities and schools.  The Brees Foundation has given large amounts to charity.  Today, I am wearing a Saints "Finish Strong" T-shirt.  The proceeds will go to local charities.  Their players go to schools to push character to local students.  We've never been so proud of a team or the young people who compose it.  Their visionary coach has brought them a long way.  Coach Peyton has stressed the need for community involvement and of working as a team.  

Today, the legendary Who will rock the WhoDat Nation(that's those of us in NO) in Miami.  Like the Saints, the Who have come a long way.  They began as the unapologetic bad boys of rock 'n' roll, leaving a trail of broken instruments in their wake.  They chanted that their generation "{wouldn't} get fooled again" and that they "hoped {they} died before {they} got old."  Through the rebellious hype, they emerged as one of the most important rock bands of the era, creating rock operas like Tommy and Quadrophenia.  Sadly, two of their members did die before they were old.  John Entwistle's licks on bass and Keith Moon's powerful drumming will be sorely missed; however, their large shoes have been filled by some impressive talent.  Simon Townsend (Pete's younger brother), Pino Paladino, and Zak Starkey will round out the Who's numbers Sunday evening. (Zak's dad played with a band called the Beatles.)  

Like the Who, the Saints also have been through many changes.  They were once the team that had no respect in the NFL.  Even those of us in their hometown called them "The Aints"  and wore bags over their heads.  The team, however, evolved from a group of athletes who didn't work as a unified whole into a group of professionals that perform like a well-oiled machine.  Like a well-rehearsed band of professional musicians, this team anticipates each other's moves and works together to create a gorgeous, rocking opera.  

Tonight, win or lose, I'll toast the Saints with Coppola's Merlot. 
Long Live the Who!  Long Live the WhoDat Nation!  Long Live the Saints!  

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Blogging and Writing

The film JULIA AND JULIE revolves around a young woman who vows to recreate every recipe in Julia Child's book within a year's time.  When she embarks on this endeavor, Julie Powell starts a blog detailing her adventures and misadventures in the kitchen.  The film then depicts the parallels struggles of the older Julia Child and the younger Julie Powell as they attempt to become skilled cooks.  

The movie kept me interested for several reasons.  Meryl Streep and Amy Adams are excellent actors, and the take on blogging was fascinating.  Through blogging, the modern Julie connects with others who share her interests and follow her adventures.  Julie's readers sometimes encourage her, chastise her, or act as voyeurs while she cooks.  Julie eventually develops relationships with her "followers" as she works her way through her idol's cookbook.  Her readers keep her focused when she is tempted to cheat on her stated goals or when she doubts her own prowess in the kitchen.  As I watched Julie pound away at her computer, I realized how modern technology, particularly cyberspace, keeps us connected in ways we never were before.  We "know" people who are states, even continents, away from us.  Through shared interests, these people, or followers, have become our friends.  Like Julie, I've "met" many people who have become friends and associates.  I've developed an interest in their lives and projects.  They have expressed interest in my life and in my writing.  I also think cyberspace is keeping us connected in other ways as well.  For example, e-books are keeping literacy alive for a new generation brought up on computers and video games.  These young people have no problem reading a book on-line.  E-books are also keeping books affordable for millions of people.  I, for instance, was very fortunate to have Sapphire Blue as my publisher.  E-books are an egalitarian alternative to the more expensive print books.  I am not trashing print books.  In fact, I think they are important to our society, but for many cash-strapped people, e-books offer a positive alternative. As the world becomes more connected by technology, e-books will find even a larger market.  

What also struck me was how cooking saved these women from boredom and mediocrity.  By cultivating a gift, Julia and Julie found themselves and inspired others.  Writing also has helped save and define me.  In my darkest hours, I have run for my pen or pounded on my keyboard.  When my mother died, writing saved me from debilitating grief.  Revising BURIED TRUTHS and focusing on other projects rescued me from utter despair.  I  only pray I have inspired others.