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Get Your Costumes Ready

January 5, 2008 | Blogging,Friends,Guest blogger,Guest post,Stuff,Weird things

Crawfish costumes on Bourbon StreetGet your costumes ready. It’s nearly Carnival Time — also known as Mardi Gras. Hi folks, I’m guest blogger Laurel — also known as Road Trip Mom — and the editor/owner of MomsMinivan.com. Formerly I also wrote a Katrina Returnee blog, but those days are long behind me now. I prefer to focus on the fun times that still continue at my former home in New Orleans. Like Mardi Gras – my favorite holiday.

That’s right, a real holiday — as in banks are closed, no school, no mail delivery, everyone gets the day off to eat, drink, and be merry. It’s actually more than just a holiday – it’s a whole season. New Orleans really only has two seasons: Summer and Mardi Gras. Just one more day until the debauchery begins. January 6th is Twelfth Night which marks the start of Mardi Gras season which then comes to it’s grand conclusion on Fat Tuesday.

One of my favorite Mardi Gras Day memories was the first Fat Tuesday following Hurricane Katrina. I spent it with my friend Devra. Being that it was the first Mardi Gras after Katrina we weren’t really sure what to expect, but we were not going to miss it, and we were going in full costume, of course. Mardi Gras is infinitely more fun if you are in costume.

Crawfish Et ToupeeWe decided to put a spin on one of our favorite local dishes, Crawfish Etoufée, and wear it as our costume. We found some crazy crawfish hats and added little brown wigs, and covered ourselves from head to toe with rubber crawfish. We wore little signs that said, “Chef Special: Crawfish Et Toupee”.

We started out with a quick breakfast in the outdoor patio at Cafe Dumonde by the river (a popular tourist spot). Beignets and cafe au lait hit the spot and tourists immediately began to swarm us like papparizi wanting our picture. We obliged and then proceeded into the French Quarter for some bizzare people watching and more photo ops. Costumers were basically in two catagories that year: those in traditional “anything goes” costumes, and those in Katrina themed costumes.

We were in the anything goes group, as was this cute couple dressed as Got MILF? and these guys dressed as a fur burger and bearded clam. We also saw a guy dressed as the Yellow Brick Road. He had a whole group of people dressed as Wizard of Oz characters who were ….. following him. The French Quarter swelled with party goers and costumers galore. The overall turnout was huge, which says a lot for the spirit of the people of New Orleans.

Some of our favorite Katrina costumers were these folks wearing rubber inner tubes so they’d be ready for the next flood. We also saw people dressed as duct taped Rotten Refridgerators, Blue Tarped Roofs, and even Mardi Gras Maggots. We laughed out loud at the Ho Depot Ladies, Looters with Hooters, and my all time favorite Blind Levee Inspectors. (I posted all our photos at Mardi Gras Costume Pics.com)

We hit a few parades, listened to some live music, and enjoyed the sights. We eventually stopped in a restaurant for a little lunch — you would think it would be hard to find food on a day so crowded, but it never is. Parking is never a problem either if you know where to go.

After lunch, it was time to wave hello to the Internet Bourbo cam, and then go in for a little karaoke at the Cat’s Meow. I am not exaggerating when I say that we brought down the house with our rendition of “Respect” dressed as crawfish ladies. Gawd, I love singing karaoke. Especially when I’m wearing a mask….. and a score of rubber crustaceans.

As the afternoon went on, the streets became more and more crowded. It was a good time to try to find a balcony for a better view. I happen to know that there are several bars that will let people wearing cool costumes use their balconies for free. From our high perch, we danced to the music and taunted tourists below with our supply of beads while they waved and clamoured for us to throw them down. It was like being a rock star for a day.

At one point during our adventure, I took a photo of Devra using a trash can to actually throw away some trash. We wanted to set a good example for others. Maybe start a trend.

Eventually we headed home with our photos and memories of a wonderful day. Everyone should experience Mardi Gras at least once in their life. And you simply MUST wear a costume. You can be anything you want. And if you just can’t come up with a costume, you can always just wear your suitcase. That works too.

Posted by Laurel @ 3:07 am | Comments  

Oy To The World, the Chinese Is Come, Let Jews Receive Their Food!

December 25, 2007 | Books,Family,Friends,Guest blogger,Guest post,Middle East,Movies,My neighborhood,Opinion,Research,Stuff,Weird things,Working Mother

Aviva and Devra are in da house!  Merry Christmas Ya’ll!   Maybe you aren’t expecting a holiday greeting from the Two Jew Crew, but when Becky asked if we would guest blog, we requested Christmas. Why? Because we know You People our Christian mishpuka should be able to spend time with their families, so we shall work today so you don’t have to!  (So when Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur roll around return the fave. K?)

Jews and Chinese Food.  Add Christmas to the mix and you get a Holy Trinity  representing a Trifecta of Treyf. Why is this night different from any other night? Why on this night do Jews eat at Shun Lee instead of at home?  From Christmas Eve to Christmas Day Jews are making their Kung Pao pilgrimages.  Even Working Mother Magazine  Jews can’t tell you where this longstanding holiday observance originated, we only know it’s tradition. It’s how we roll.   Everyone should  know more about Jewish holiday observances beyond, “They tried to annihilate us. We survived. Let’s Eat!”  If Becky where here, she would no doubt be calling out the people striving to be our nation’s leader to tell us why Jews eat Chinese food On Christmas. 

 Hillary should know.  Fred Thompson may have the secret.  Is Barack is just one consonant away from unlocking the mystery?  Oh hell. Move over politics! Let’s dish…

Believe it or not, the combination of Jews and Chinese food is an ancient custom – OK, not biblical ancient nor is it an Ancient Chinese Secret, but it does appear to go back to the late 1800’s – no putzing around!

In lower Manhattan, immigrant Jews opened delicatessens for other Jews,Italians ran restaurants for other Italians, and Germans had many places serving primarily Germans. But Chinese restaurants welcomed everyone. As a result, even in the 1890s both Jews and Italians usually felt more at home in Chinese restaurants than they did in each other’s eateries.” (Originally published; “New York Jews and Chinese Food: The Social Construction of an Ethnic Pattern” by Gaye Tuchman and Harry G. Levine) 

Fast forward a few hundred years and it is still generally true.  Chinese food does not include dairy products. The fear of mixing a little dairy with your meat isn’t an issue. (You say, “Pork!” We say, “Kosher house, not Kosher stomach.”)  Look, Chinese food  became a status symbol for our people during The Depression – immigrant Jews who ate out at Chinese restaurants identified themselves and others as being chic and sophisticated-why should we want to change that practice?  Is it so terrible? Who does it hurt? Don’t you want your mother to be happy? 

Nowadays, you can find many eateries willing to open their doors to make a buck on Christmas, and you can find quite a few folks  who would rather buy a meal instead of cook one.  However, it wasn’t so long ago, Chinese restaurants were about the only option for eating out on Christmas day.  Another bonus to Chinese food on Christmas is the holiday repast is available before or after the matinee. Just because Christmas is not a Jewish holiday, does this mean no Jewish observance? Feh. Whatever your observance, we wish you Good Fortune and a very Merry Christmas!

Posted by Devra and Aviva @ 8:43 pm | 1 Comment  

Are your friends Republicans?

December 23, 2007 | 2008 campaign,Friends,Guest blogger,Politics

Hi, everyone. I’m Margaret, and I’ve actually never met Becky. We are e-friends, known only by listserv, email, and blog. We share interests in having a family and having a life as well. I admire her from afar, particularly now that she’s in Norway.

I’ve just started dipping a toe into political activism, and I’m puzzled by some of the things I’m learning. I thought I’d bat them around here and see what you think.

A few months ago, John Edwards did something I liked, can’t remember what it was, but I donated an embarrassingly tiny amount of money to his campaign. Naturally I have been bombarded with e-mail ever since. Now, I like Edwards, but I’m not sure if he’d be a good president. It seems to me he has little experience in Washington and none as an administrator of a big organization. But I do like many of the positions he’s taken. Also, as a blue-collar kid, I’m a real sucker for that whole “my daddy was a mill worker” shtick. And I’ve noticed a pattern: he announces a plan or stakes out a position, and later Hillary and Obama announce theirs, which are slightly to the right of  Edwards’s. It looks to me like he’s providing cover to the frontrunners and pulling the whole field somewhat to the left, and for me that’s reason enough to be thankful that he’s in the race. (Note: Becky has not endorsed a candidate, and what I say here is my opinion only.)

So I responded to one of those e-mails and got on a conference call with Edwards  supporters in New Jersey and found myself volunteering to collect signatures to get Edwards on the ballot for the primary here in February. Now, I’m not shy, and as a student, I registered voters in housing projects in the Bronx (which would scare my mother half to death, so I’ve never told her about this, even now, after 30 years). So I know this isn’t hard to do. Problem is, I live in a comfortable suburb, in one of those towns people move to for the schools, and this area is overwhelmingly Republican. I needed to find registered Democrats to sign these petitions. But I figured that among my family and friends there are quite a few who share my politics, so it would be easy to find Democrats. Was I wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong!

I was right about my family; the people I thought were Democrats actually were. But none of my friends, and I mean NONE, are Democrats. Most are independents, and a couple are Republicans so they can vote in the Republican primary in local races. Since around here the Republicans dominate, local elections are basically determined by who wins the primary. (In New Jersey, only party members can vote in primaries. I know it’s different in other states.)

I am spooked by this, by the fact that my friends are not Democrats. Maybe I am completely naïve (a distinct possibility), and not that the Democrats are perfect (Lord knows they are not!) but I despise and fear so many Republicans (Dick Cheney! Newt!) that I cannot imagine either being a Republican or remaining aloof and being an independent. There are a few Republicans among my family, but I just figure that Rush has infiltrated their brains, so I consider them the political equivalent of pod people.

So here are some questions I’d like to throw out to all of you. Do you belong to a political party? How did you decide? Do you know if your friends have made the same decision? Do you feel as strongly about this as I do? Is this making sense to you, or do you think I am a total wacko? (It’s okay, you can tell me, I can take it.)

Posted by Margaret @ 12:57 am | 5 Comments  

Giving thanks for friends

December 5, 2007 | Friends,Thanksgiving

We had visitors over Thanksgiving weekend.


We made them drink this.


Good times.

Posted by Becky @ 12:21 pm | 2 Comments  

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