Start the day with a Juxtaposition, because tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which starts the beginning of Lent, which used to matter to people a whole lot more than it seems to in the present day.
You can go back into history and find all sorts of ways people marked Lent centuries ago, but even in my lifetime, we gave up something we liked and adults fasted on Fridays and abstained from meat, which we did all year anyway.
Tomorrow, you’ll see smudges on foreheads here and there — including on the First Forehead — but I don’t know how many Catholics still cut back to one Lenten meal a day and they haven’t abstained from meat on Fridays outside of Lent for decades.
As for giving things up, some time ago people decided it was better to do something positive for Lent, which could mean being kind or something similarly amorphous that they should do all year long anyway.
Not eating meat on Friday had no meaning except that it meant remembering your faith, which often included a nudge in the snack line at a basketball game from a fellow-Catholic as you reached for a burger.
Dammit — Darn it — if you’re going to have a religion, remembering it isn’t a bad thing.
I had a friend who visited Morocco and discovered to her horror that she’d scheduled the trip for Ramadan, which meant her poor guides had to show her around in 100-whatever-degree temperatures with nothing but sips of water to sustain themselves.
But then the evening meal is a pleasant social event, and the end, Eid, is a true festival.
As the little boy said, “I’m so glad I’m home, I’m glad I went.”
Heller points out that we’ve sacrificed a lot over the months of the pandemic, and you can’t deny that it’s created a secular sense of community not unlike the sacred.
However, I’d suggest — and could cite a lot of cartoons today to make the point — that we’ve turned into a society that celebrates Mardi Gras without paying the price the next 40 days.
Though perhaps we haven’t fallen quite so far after all. Back in the 1890s, Mr. Dooley noted the failings of the flesh in regard to Lent.
I say “potentially” because I’m not sure how it measures up to what the rest of us are eating. The actual report alludes to permissible levels and the gap found:
My concern is how much similar testing goes on with our regular food supply. And I’d note, too, that the House Subcommittee requested information from seven companies but only four responded.
In any case, perhaps the real crisis is our having been hornswoggled into the belief that babies need “baby food” in the first place.
In the back-to-nature days of the 70s, our kids ate what we ate, passed through a food grinder, made for the purpose and small enough to take along wherever we went.
Good choice, though the boys were in high school by the time Beech Nut got busted for selling colored sugar water as apple juice.
Speaking of the Olden Days, today’s Fastrack (KFS) reminded me of when my then-brother-in-law had appendicitis and his girlfriend rushed him to the hospital in the middle of the night, which brought up the issue of how she knew.
I would think that, even in the days of corded phones, they could have simply said he called her, but they came up with a ridiculous story about him pounding on the floor and her living in the apartment below his.
Then-mother-in-law played along, but got a chuckle out of it, since she had long been pretending to accept the fiction of them having separate apartments.
So I like the idea that Dethany and Guy’s main conflict was about letting their families know what families almost always know.
Which is related to young gay and lesbian people coming out to their families, who are relieved to no longer have to feign ignorance.
I can segue this: The connection is telling people things they already know!
Over at Monty (AMS), young Sedgewick is visiting an island set up for his personal enjoyment but populated by “natives” who may or may not be actors but have taken him and his butler, Jarvis, prisoner.
Aside from the joke itself, which is funny enough, there is the central conceit of an old story about Columbus getting out of a jam by predicting an eclipse.
So much of what we “know” about heroic Columbus is bullshit that you should generally discount more than you accept, and, in this case, not only is the timing extraordinarily dubious, but — and I’m factoring short life spans into this — it’s hard to believe the natives had never before seen an eclipse.
It helps to rely on the belief that pre-industrial people are idiots, a theory largely based on melanin levels.
Finally, and in the spirit of the day if you’ll give me a minute to get there, I’ve been meaning to plug Wayno’s blog, on which he discusses the previous week’s Bizarro, because the current week’s conversation includes some talk about Roy Lichtenstein who became famous by duplicating the work of comic book artists.
Which some people think is art, some think is an homage and some think is plagiarism.
The relevance to Mardi Gras being that this street sign was spotted on Bayou St. John, which put a very pleasant earworm into my head because that’s where Jump Sturdy did her thing, according to Dr. John, back in his gris-gris days.
I had the good luck to stumble onto his gris-gris show when he filled in for the Byrds on a bill with Linda Ronstadt and Tim Buckley and that was one helluva swap but one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.
So here’s one Crescent City genius covering the work of another: