Good morning and greetings, Louisiana Purchase fans. Yes, despite the incessant rains, Katrina flashbacks and the shocking upset of Drew Brees and the Saints in the first round of this year’s NFL playoffs, Mardi Gras was in full swing last week in New Orleans. So to get into the true spirit of this event, I draped myself in beads and paraded around the house wearing a mask while my kids constructed a root beer float from which I could toss tiskets, taskets and a bunch of purple, green and gold baskets.
So what is this cajun-style holiday all about? Well, the words “Mardi Gras” are in the French language, right before “we surrender.” Broken down, “Mardi is the French word for Tuesday, and “Gras” means fat. So when French is translated to English, the last word spoken is the first word translated. So if this makes sense, mess amis, then we’re talking “Fat Tuesday,” which is not to be confused with “Skinny Wednesday,” “Obese Thursday,” “Rail-Thin Friday,” “Chubby Saturday” or “Ice Cream Sunday.”
The celebration of Mardi Gras goes back to an old ancient Roman custom of wild partying before a period of fast, like we do every year around my house on the day before Yom Kippur. It is believed to have come to America in 1699, right around the birth of John McCain, with French explorer Sieur d’Iberville. They started celebrating in New Orleans in 1827, when a group of philosophy students put on strange costumes and danced in the streets like wild monkeys. According to the Food Channel, the residents of New Orleans were captured by their liveliness and offered to sponsor them in a semester overseas studying computer graphics and dessert toppings.
Mardi Gras was originally known as Boeuf Gras, which means “Beef Fat”, which is not to be confused with my favorite criminal mastermind on the new “Hawaii Five-0,” Wo Fat. Boeuf Gras was the last feast of meat before Lent, the holiday where people traditionally go around asking to borrow money. The celebration originated in Europe and one of the customs was parading a fat ox through the streets. And if they couldn’t find one, they used Rush Limbaugh.
Mardi Gras is celebrated with a series of soft parades, in which floats are exotically decorated and are ridden by people wearing Chanel #5 and outrageous costumes. The costumed crew then throws beads and necklaces to the crowd which they collect as souvenirs, and in a new tradition, sometimes the women’s tops come off. This is called beads gone wild.
Mardi Gras is also known as “Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday, Waffle Wednesday and French Toast Thursday.” These names came about because Mardi Gras is the last day to celebrate before the Lent period starts, and therefore one should eat up all the fattening food items which are generally prohibited during the lent period fasting, like lobster eggs benedict, double fudge chocolate cake and chicken dinosaurs.
Mardi Gras and the day before college basketball’s March Madness begins are considered to be the important days for confessions of the sins and to get your bracket picks in as the following day starts with mourning and Lent until Easter Sunday and the Final Four weekend arrives. So although Fat Tuesday is gone with the wind, I’ve still got that jambalaya spirit. Anyone have change for a French Quarter?
So believe it or not, sports fans, the 2010-11 sunrise and sunset season, much like my dreams of getting the readership of this blog into nine digits, is pretty much over. It was chow fun while it lasted, as prime time was from late October through early February. So for today’s photo train, we are journeying back to the early morning of January 13, the last semi-spectacular sunrise to grace the skies above Monterey Bay. Much like my first shampoo with coconut cream rinse, it was a day and a cleansing my subconcious won’t soon forget.
As you can see, the eastern skylights started out on a good note, and then like my wedding night, just got better and better. The fifth shot was taken on the path along West Cliff Drive. While I was snapping away, a gentlemen came along and said, “the shot you want is from across the street.” I thanked him for the photo tip and that made a mental note to remind my kids never to talk to strangers, unless they were holding a seance or a camera.
Now, in my full-court defense, I have only been shooting from this spot around Lighthouse Point since the beginning of time, so this angle would have come to me somewhere before Medicaid. Anyway, my thanks to that gentlemen, who inspired the final and my favorite shot of this six pack, which I am pretty pleased to share with the thousands, er, hundreds of dedicated Sunrise Santa Cruz cyber constituents.
On to the late night. “Mexican President Calderon told President Obama that the United States must do more to reduce the demand for drugs. Obama said, “We got Charlie Sheen off cocaine. What more do you want us to do?”–Jay Leno “Charlie Sheen is planning a humanitarian trip to Haiti. He says he wants to show them what a real disaster looks like. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been offered a role in a sequel to “Terminator.” In this one, he travels back in time and kills the person that suggested he run for governor.”–Conan O’Brien
“In a new interview, Newt Ginrich says he cheated on two of his wives because he was too consumed with love for his country. Yeah, apparently he misunderstood the phrase, ‘Please rise for the pledge of allegiance.’” –Conan O’Brien “Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is a man who cheated on his first wife and left her while she was in bed with cancer. Then he cheated on his second wife with his current, third wife. I don’t think actual newts are this slimy.” –Bill Maher “Republican Presidential hopeful Mike Hucka-BS is attacking actress Natalie Portman for getting pregnant without being married. It could get a little awkward if he runs into Sarah and Bristol Palin at Fox News.” –Jay Leno
“Julianne Moore is going to play Sarah Palin in a new HBO movie. Julianne said, ‘But I know nothing about politics,’ and the producers said, ‘Perfect!’” –Craig Ferguson “A flight attendant was fired from Virgin Airlines for placing a baby in an overhead compartment. To be fair, the baby did not fit under the seat.” –Conan O’Brien “Airlines are considering charging for reclining seats. Also, your scrotum now counts as a carry-on bag.” –Stephen Colbert
“Women who drink are less likely to be obese than women who do not drink. All this time, you’ve been on Jenny Craig while you should have been on Johnny Walker.” –Jay Leno “Donald Trump denies that he’s pretending to run for president to gain publicity for his TV show. He says that anyone that says is this is clearly an “apprentice,” and they deserve to be fired on Thursday at 9:00. According to Forbes, the richest man in the world is from Mexico. It turns out he’s Oprah’s gardener.” –Conan O’Brien
So that’s our mid-March report from the Big Easy. We had a little tsunami action last Friday at the harbor here in Santa Cruz, as 17 boats were sunk, 50 were damaged and two men were left on base, but nothing compared to the fifth most powerful earthquake that devastated the residents of Japan. The footage of the tsumani that followed the quake was just incredible and made me appreciate that I had asked Stevie Wonder to take me to a higher ground.
So get ready for the wild and crazy first round of March Madness in the NCAA’s college basketball tournament and we’ll catch you in the field of 64. Aloha, mahalo and later, LaMarcus Aldridge fans.