Louisiana Gumbo (and some Lagniappe)

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Macrology
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Re: Louisiana Gumbo (and some Lagniappe)

Post by Macrology » Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:03 pm

New Orleans, Exported

Just a quick throwback to this post, featuring Homer's odyssey (heh heh) through the New Orleans culinary scene.

In a Herculean effort, two Swiss tourists, Katrin von Niederhäusern and Janine Wiget, created the montage shot for shot.

I'm both jealous and impressed.



(Note at 00:17 seconds in, where the iconic Gene's Poboys has since shut down -- victim of a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.)
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Re: Louisiana Gumbo (and some Lagniappe)

Post by Wooley » Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:59 am

Macrology wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:03 pm
New Orleans, Exported

Just a quick throwback to this post, featuring Homer's odyssey (heh heh) through the New Orleans culinary scene.

In a Herculean effort, two Swiss tourists, Katrin von Niederhäusern and Janine Wiget, created the montage shot for shot.

I'm both jealous and impressed.



(Note at 00:17 seconds in, where the iconic Gene's Poboys has since shut down -- victim of a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.)
So amazing, those two women are welcome in New Orleans for life.

Also, I thought I'd heard that Gene's was being saved or coming back somehow?

But the gentrification of our fair city has become a terrifying issue. Will all our culture be lost and we'll be reduced to transplant-led second-lines for tourists?
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Re: Louisiana Gumbo (and some Lagniappe)

Post by Macrology » Wed Nov 06, 2019 6:10 am

Ernest J. Gaines, whose A Lesson Before Dying I recently wrote about in this thread, just died today. His NYT obituary. I need to read more of his work.

Planning to update this thread with a more substantial post soon.
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Re: Louisiana Gumbo (and some Lagniappe)

Post by Macrology » Thu Jan 09, 2020 7:44 pm

Image

The Apostle | Robert Duvall | 1997

I first heard mention of this film when I was reading up on Flannery O'Connor after finishing her
Collected Stories. While the film is a far cry from the brutal (and decidedly Catholic) religious
ecstasies of O'Connor's fiction, it's easy to see why the writer compared the two: both strive to
reconcile religious attitudes with violent realities, and they are among the few works of American
fiction that handle the subject of religion without resorting to condescension or sentimentality.

The story starts in East Texas, where an Evangelical preacher (Duvall) commits a crime of passion
and flees to rural Louisiana to evade arrest. With incredible, riveting charm, he connects with the
local community and goes about starting a congregation. Based on the violent beginnings and the
standard Hollywood take on evangelicals, one expects him to callously manipulate his followers,
but this is the anti Elmer Gantry: Duvall treats his protagonist with absolute earnestness, a
man who believes that he is called by God to call others to God. The result is not only an electrifying
character study (and arguably Duvall's greatest performance), but one of the only honest depictions
of evangelicals in cinema -- one that addresses human failure without condemning its ensemble.

The film is most remarkable for the way that it illustrates how religious life engenders a sense of
community and belonging, with Duvall rallying diverse people (across race lines, although almost
invariably poor) and creating a physical and emotional space that enriches their lives. This culminates
in a scene where a belligerent, racist outsider (Billy Bob Thornton) shows up with a bulldozer and
threatens to tear down their newly restored church, and the unexpected emotional force of this
scene rivals some of O'Connor's most vivid revelations. As for the setting, while it doesn't scream
Louisiana (West LA and East TX are very similar), it captures the vernacular of the area as few films
do -- the way people talk and preach and interact -- thanks in part to its location shooting in St.
Martinville and Des Allemands and its casting of several local actors and nonprofessionals.

Lagniappe
While The Apostle is about evangelicals, Louisiana is comprised primarily of Southern Baptists
(in the predominantly Anglo North Louisiana) and Catholics (in French/Spanish South Louisiana,
where I live). And while cities like New Orleans have grown more secular over time, and some of
the city's Catholic churches have been converted into theaters and event spaces, many Catholic
traditions are still firmly in place and have even been adopted by non-Catholics.

Even the New Orleans football team is called The Saints, and I discussed our St. Joseph's Day traditions and the
Holy Trinity of Louisiana cooking in previous posts, but there are a few other peculiar local traditions
that deserve our attention. In the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel on Rampart Street in New Orleans,
there's a statue depicting Saint Expeditus, a Roman centurion martyred for converting to Christianity.
According to local lore, the chapel received a large shipment of saintly statuary, but one of the
packages wasn't labeled. Since the package was marked 'Expedite', the nuns figured it must be St. Expedite.

Image
St. Expedite in the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel.

One of the most prevalent Catholic traditions in South Louisiana -- one that is still practiced, though
it is beginning to fade -- is the celebration of All Saints Day. Traditionally, this involved dressing
up in your finest Fall fashion, visiting the cemetery to bedeck the family tomb with flowers and
wreaths, repairing any damage to the tomb, and mingling with the other visiting families.

Image
An illustration depicting All Saints Day in the late 1800s.

Image
All Saints Day in the 1940s.

Now, only a few families in New Orleans actively take part in All Saints Day traditions, but the
tradition still thrives in some of the small towns outside of the city, particularly places like
Lacombe, Louisiana, on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain, where observers spend the day
decorating their family's grave sites and tombs with flowers and candles, so all through the
evening roadside cemeteries and graveyards tucked into the woods glow with gentle, beautiful
persistence. I've gone to Lacombe twice with friends to see the All Saints decorations, and each
time ended up conversing with local residents, who shared stories about dead loved ones or
their struggle to keep this slowly dying tradition alive. Here are a few of the pictures I took.

Image
Approaching one of the cemeteries set back in the woods.

Image
A closer look at that cemetery.

Image
One of the most lavishly decorated cemeteries.

Image
I visited this grave both years: it's adorned not only with candles, but a whole miniature fairy tale scene.

If you're interested, this lovely article goes into detail about more of Louisiana's Catholic folk traditions.
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Re: Louisiana Gumbo (and some Lagniappe)

Post by Torgo » Thu Jan 09, 2020 7:50 pm

Image
Last Great Movie Seen
Road House (Herrington, 1989)
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Re: Louisiana Gumbo (and some Lagniappe)

Post by Captain Terror » Fri Feb 07, 2020 3:08 pm

Macrology wrote:
Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:39 am
Image

Always for Pleasure | Les Blank | 1978

In honor of Mardi Gras, I decided to crack open Criterion's Les Blank boxset with its titular film. And that title couldn't be more appropriate.

Blank totally eschews documentary reportage to offer us a sensual distillation of New Orleans street culture and the jubilation of Mardi Gras. He offers only enough background to establish a rudimentary understanding, so it only scratches the surface of the culture, but that surface is a shimmering, resplendent display of color and vitality. The film itself is a sustained celebration of the fact that we love to celebrate.

It's interesting to see a New Orleans of 1977 on film, mostly because outside of fashion, very little has changed in 35 years. It features the Wild Tchoupitoulas, who we discussed earlier in the thread, and the film's opening takes advantage of the street name motif that is so common in the city's literature (after all, we have a Pleasure Street in New Orleans). However, I'm baffled as to why Luis Bunuel is thanked in the credits. Anyone have insight into that?

(Y'all can expect reviews of Blank's other Louisiana documentaries in the months to come as I make my way through the set.)

Voodoo: [ ]
Mardi Gras: [x]
Live music: [x]
Gratuitous reference to local cuisine: [x]
Questionable accents: [ ]
I rewatched this one last night. Figured you'd have written about it already, and found this old post.
I slightly disagree with your "very little has changed" comment, because I feel like things were more insular then. We were in our own world and if tourists wanted to share that they were welcome, but we weren't putting on a show for them. I feel like we're accommodating outsiders more than we used to. Which is fine, but different nonetheless. Anyhow, that's a topic for another day.

Regarding the doc- Yes, it's just as aimless as a doc about New Orleans ought to be. Here's a parade, here's a MOUNTAIN of cayenne pepper being poured into a boiling pot (jeezus!), here's a funeral, etc. The footage of the Tchoups onstage with the Nevilles is priceless. I'd love to know how much of that was filmed, would love to see the outtakes.
Although most of this was filmed in neighborhoods I did not frequent at age 6-7, it still brought back lots of memories and also helps explain why I feel like such a weirdo when I visit other parts of the country.
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Re: Louisiana Gumbo (and some Lagniappe)

Post by Macrology » Mon Feb 10, 2020 4:35 am

Second lines probably have changed in the intervening decades, but I've only been attending second lines post-Katrina, so it's harder for me to say. But in my experience of second lines, very few tourists seem to know about them or attend, and second lines have always had a performative quality. You can see that in this film, and maybe the people performing for the camera makes the insularity less obvious.

As for Mardi Gras, we've been indulging tourists since at least the 50s, just based on what I've read. Though Mardi Gras Indians have definitely become more of an attraction, even just in the time I've been here.

I'll be updating this thread with another post within the next week or two. Whenever I can get around to it. I'm working hard on producing a play at the moment.
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