Kelly Picks a Fight: Missed Ick Societies

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Kelly Picks a Fight: Missed Ick Societies

It's Ash Wednesday today. That means yesterday was Fat Tuesday heralded by the big, gluttonous debauchery that is Mardi Gras. I went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans once when I was 11 or 12 and was thoroughly underwhelmed. Even then I didn't get how drinking so much you puke in the streets was considered fun.

Although the two are largely synonymous, Mardi Gras doesn't just happen in New Orleans. There are celebrations around the world in Recife, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in Binche, Belgium, in Nice, France, in Colombia, India, Guatemala, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Mexico, Panama, Sweden, Denmark and numerous Caribbean islands. (That's a LOT of plastic beads being thrown around!) Every celebration is different, but one stands out... the first one in the U.S.... in Mobile, Ala.

As the first capital of French Louisiana, Mobile started its tradition in 1703, which was 15 years prior to the establishment of New Orleans. The problem is that Mobile is known for a couple of lasts that outshine this historic first. Mobile was the recipient of the last shipment of African slaves and was also the site of the last reported lynching, which happened in 1981. Even more galling is that those racist legacies continue to infuse Mobile's modern-day Mardi Gras wherein they hold two separate balls for blacks and whites. Lest you think it not so, Confederate jingoism is alive and well, ladies and gents.

PBS began airing a documentary last night – The Order of Myths – that traces the roots of Mobile's segregated carnivals. Filmmaker Margaret Brown cuts through the noise of the 2007 festivities to unearth the underpinnings of emotion, hope and roots. As you might imagine, the white revelers like things the way they are; the blacks speak of needing to move forward. Brown lets us witness with her the first-ever cross-pollination – the black king and queen attending the coronation of their fairer-skinned counterparts. King Caucasian says, "There's a time and there's a place for change, but I don't think anything needs to be forced on it right now. It's worked well for years."

It should be noted that Mobile's Mardi Gras, which actually begins in November, plays host to over 40 mystic societies, many of which are secret krewes that forgo the public events in favor of private, invitation-only festivities. While some of these limit their membership to school alumni, gays, Jews or co-workers, it's not hard to imagine that others have more of a virulent, cosa nostra thing going on.Here's Brown at the Austin Film Society talking about the film:

Comments [8]

conlite's picture

Pancake day: Flipping

Pancake day: Flipping pancakes with Dad and getting them stuck to the ceiling - and not getting in trouble for it!

Kelly McCartney's picture

Truly. And those classmates

Truly. And those classmates of mine are the ones who have now elected Bobby Jindal. Imagine that.

Won't you be my neighbor? @theKELword

Xanadu's picture

Separate proms?

Separate proms? Unbelievable!

Kelly McCartney's picture

Totally! I had lots of racism

Totally! I had lots of racism and other prejudices in my kin, and all around me. Even though I was from there, I wasn't of there. I never understood it. I remember the shock of Katrina's racist aftermath registering with people and me being glad the rest of the world was finally seeing it. I mean, we had separate white and black proms when I was in high school in the mid-80s.

Won't you be my neighbor? @theKELword

Tex's picture

Don't you feel a sense of

Don't you feel a sense of relief for being out of the South? I realize that I am who I am because of it, but I also believe that I am who I am in spite of it....

Never will forget my first Mardi Gras - all those boobs!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Steph H's picture

Hi PK!! No, I definitely

Hi PK!!

No, I definitely wasn't around for the OC pancake conversation -I would have remembered that!

I am very happy to hear you like hearing about England! My mum always moans that every year my dad forget's Valentine's Day but he ALWAYS remembers Pancake Day!!

Oh I love the Two Fat Ladies too - I never missed that when it was on.

Great to hear from you. Steph xxxx

peacekitty's picture

Oh...I love pancakes! Steph

Oh...I love pancakes! Steph I don't think you were around for a great OC pancake conversation of last year, which prompted Leah Beckingham to provide all of us with a healthy pancake recipe.

Ah...those were the good old days.

Anyhow, I love reading your comments about England because I really miss it. And this one reminds me of one of my favorite old cooking shows, "Two Fat Ladies." The were the best. Smile xoxo - PK

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

Steph H's picture

Our Fat Tuesday is otherwise

Our Fat Tuesday is otherwise known as Pancake Day - gluttony of a different kind!