Author Topic: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile  (Read 2550 times)

navkat

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I thought y'all would find this interesting. Not many people know this little fact and even my NOLA peeps give me puzzled expressions when I explain that "Yes, I am going to Mardi Gras parades this weekend" and "No, I won't be at Endymion or Bacchus because I'm staying in Mobile until I'm ready to move." A lot of them *still* don't know that Mobile was the first capital of LA (Louisiana Purchase included much of Alabama) and I remember being fascinated with this stuff when I first moved to 'Bama.

Mardi Gras was actually started by a bunch of rich, white young southern boys who didn't want to stop drinking and go the fuck to bed one night so they picked up rakes and cowbells and pots and pans and ran around town, hootin' and hollerin like a bunch of nuts, waking up the entire city. They were the original Discordians.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mardi_Gras_in_Mobile

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Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama[pronounce] is the oldest annual Carnival celebration in America, having begun in 1703,[1][2][3] over 15 years before New Orleans was founded (1718).[3] From Mobile being the first capital of French Louisiana (1702), the festival began as a French Catholic tradition, celebrating until the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, until midnight on Mardi Gras day (French for "Fat Tuesday" or Shrove Tuesday). However, Mardi Gras in Mobile now has evolved into a mainstream multi-week celebration across the spectrum of cultures in Mobile, becoming school holidays[

One of my favourite historical stories about Mobile Mardi Gras is the Joe Cain "Legend."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Cain

Quote
Joseph Stillwell Cain, Jr. (Joe Cain) (October 10, 1832 – April 17, 1904)[1] [2] is largely credited with the rebirth of Mardi Gras celebrations in Mobile, Alabama, stopped due to the Civil War.[1] [3] In 1867, following the American Civil War and while Mobile was still under Union occupation, Joe Cain paraded through the streets of Mobile, dressed in improvised costume depicting a fictional Chickasaw chief named Slacabamorinico.[1][3] The choice was a backhanded insult to the Union forces in that the Chickasaw tribe had never been defeated in war. Joe was joined by six other Confederate veterans, parading in a decorated coal wagon, playing drums and horns, and the group became the "L. C. Minstrel Band", now commonly referred to as the "Lost Cause Minstrels" of Mobile.

In order to understand that part, you also kinda have to get into the history of how--despite racism, slavery, ignorance and all the other shit that the American South has a mixed-truth notoriety for--much of Gulf Coastal cities really just were nice, oblivious, working and middle class people who genuinely didn't want to be forced into the Union...much the same way the settlers no longer wanted to be forced to remain part of England. There actually are really good people in this city...even some of the older families. While there were some definite dirty dealings (Foster and Meaher families, I'm looking at you) that people try to (*ahem*) whitewash, A lot of the "rebellion" aspect genuinely was born of a desire to not have a tyrannical and hypocritical northern aristocrats force the South to pay for a government that didn't represent them. There are still families here today who insist that slavery is evil and was right to be abolished...even punished and are still adamant about the right of secession.

However, there is a dark side to Mardi Gras. I highly, highly recommend the documentary movie "Order Of Myths." It was done by a member of one of the oldest families in Mobile and while it's definitely slanted through the eyes of a well-heeled, rebellious "Old Springhill" rich girl, anxious to toss off her birthright and advantages in the name of trying to be just like "one of the little people" (when we damned well know, she's going to hit about 25, marry well, choose her ball theme, colors and train design and that will be the end of THAT), it does a fair job of exposing both the ugly side as well as the "Rome wasn't built in a day but at least they're trying" aspect of progress down here. It's streaming on Netflix right now but if you don't have a Netflix, I'm sure you can snag it somewhere.

I want to say this: there are a lot of fine, goodhearted, charitable people in these societies today. Many of them just plain old, upper-middle class people who spend a lot of the year holding fundraisers for their floats and events and for charity. I know these people. They're good folks who insist on doing good works in the community as a requisite to membership much the same way the Masons do. There are also a lot of exclusive, well-off puritans who would never, ever let a nouveaux riche or a Yankee in their little clubs. Either way, these parades are something everyone looks forward to (from the profoundly poor to the very well-heeled), all year long. It is a part of their heritage now--white and black.

Regardless of how you feel about these people, it's interesting and since people still seem to be enjoying Nigel's "race" thread, I thought this would be enjoyed and add some wonderful substance to the conversation here.

Enjoy.


Nephew Twiddleton

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Re: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2012, 04:27:02 pm »
Its funny- i feel that the government doesnt represent me because of the south.
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Re: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2012, 04:41:25 pm »
That's a pretty all-encompassing statement you've got there, Twid.  you might want to consider dressing it up with a little nuance, though.

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Re: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2012, 04:43:07 pm »
Interesting stuff, navkat.
i'll have to check out the netflix recommendation.

Twid. i submit you try secession!   
maybe it would be an amicable split that way. :lol:

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Re: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2012, 05:00:14 pm »
Nah. I wouldnt think that a seceded northeast would represent me either because if all those new yorker fucks.

I do find north and south perspectives to be rather interesting though. Some southerners will refer to it as the war of northern aggression. A northerner will say that the south attacked us first. A southerner will say it wasnt about slavery but states rights. A northerner will quip yes- whether a state has the right to legalize slavery. Its just funny how the civil war still divides us to a degree.
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Re: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2012, 05:01:48 pm »
Nah. I wouldnt think that a seceded northeast would represent me either because if all those new yorker fucks.

I do find north and south perspectives to be rather interesting though. Some southerners will refer to it as the war of northern aggression. A northerner will say that the south attacked us first. A southerner will say it wasnt about slavery but states rights. A northerner will quip yes- whether a state has the right to legalize slavery. Its just funny how the civil war still divides us to a degree.

I feel like I'm not being represented, because of stupid people who still bitch over things that happened 147 years ago.

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navkat

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Re: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2012, 05:17:12 pm »
 :lulz:

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Re: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2012, 05:21:39 pm »
Well sure. Its much easier to look at everything thats going wrong with the country, whatever the definition of wrong happens to be for the individual, and to blame it on "yankee aristocrats" or "southern yahoos" than to accept that the guy you backed in the last election is just as much to blame. Its all part of the game. And the culture. Its almost like americans are programmed to look down on the people outside their own region.
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Re: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2012, 05:26:19 pm »
Well sure. Its much easier to look at everything thats going wrong with the country, whatever the definition of wrong happens to be for the individual, and to blame it on "yankee aristocrats" or "southern yahoos" than to accept that the guy you backed in the last election is just as much to blame. Its all part of the game. And the culture. Its almost like americans are programmed to look down on the people outside their own region.

The British do that, too.  It's hardly an American thing.
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Re: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2012, 05:39:27 pm »
Well sure. Its much easier to look at everything thats going wrong with the country, whatever the definition of wrong happens to be for the individual, and to blame it on "yankee aristocrats" or "southern yahoos" than to accept that the guy you backed in the last election is just as much to blame. Its all part of the game. And the culture. Its almost like americans are programmed to look down on the people outside their own region.

The British do that, too.  It's hardly an American thing.
It's a monkey thing.

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Re: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2012, 05:46:32 pm »
At any rate its coming close to my annual month of vegetarianism with the exception of st. Patricks day. So i'll be celebrating a sort of meaty gras myself. Maybe this year i'll slice up a hot dog and put it on a bacon cheeseburger wedged in between two chicken patties.
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Re: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2012, 06:10:45 pm »
TIL there's a place called "Mobile", and they have a Mobile Bay and a Mobile River. I bet you get a lot of earthquakes?

Some southerners will refer to it as the war of northern aggression. A northerner will say that Han shot first. A southerner will say it wasnt about slavery but the Empire's rights.

I feel like I'm not being represented, because of stupid people who still bitch over things that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

So, Star Wars is a parable for real life :eek: That's why it's such a big deal!

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Re: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2012, 06:12:30 pm »
:lol:
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navkat

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Re: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2012, 07:08:43 pm »
Well sure. Its much easier to look at everything thats going wrong with the country, whatever the definition of wrong happens to be for the individual, and to blame it on "yankee aristocrats" or "southern yahoos" than to accept that the guy you backed in the last election is just as much to blame. Its all part of the game. And the culture. Its almost like americans are programmed to look down on the people outside their own region.

You are ignoring the entire bulk of word-of-mouth, "grassroots" History and tradition in my country from 1770 until radio became popular in the 1920s (I'll even give you that), television in the late 40s and internet (ignoring Arpanet, Prodigy and AOL which don't really count) in the late 90s.

This is about attitudes and ignorance (I don't mean the common connotation of "ignorance" which is a polite way of saying "racist," but rather, the fact that there really are some nice, decent, working-class people of both white and less "advantaged" races in this country who just don't know what they don't know).

In much the same way that I, who tries to be an open-hearted, open-minded human being that pushes an attitude of love and community and acceptance couldn't understand how my passive role as someone who is "colorblind" could be a form of stubbornness until it was drilled into my head a few times by Nigel, there are some really difficult to overcome disconnects here that are more complex than the over-simplification of blaming a bunch of really disconnected politicians (who are themselves, aristocrats), party lines and pop-culture pigeonholes.

The responsibility of changing homey comfort-zones and traditions among the majority lies with us, not some "guy in the sky" in a congressional meeting. If we fall for blaming "They" and "Them" entirely for our own attitudes, we are no better than religious zealots who blame "Him." Lazy thinkers who say "Let go and let God."

EDIT: is that the point you were trying to make? or was it the opposite? I might be attacking you for agreeing with me on second glance and if I am, I'm sorry.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2012, 07:15:43 pm by navkat »

navkat

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Re: [History Dept] In case y'all didn't know, Mardi Gras started in Mobile
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2012, 07:10:59 pm »
And Roger: I'm starting to comprehend the frustation you feel when you put some really good, close-to-the-heart material out there and all you're met with is witty one-upmanship and pat, little quips.

My empathetic apologies for my own part in that mess.