Monday, March 31, 2014

Lunedi Lunacy

It seems that every day I see another obituary for an singer, dancer, comedian, politician (quite often the same thing as the former really) or world figure from my youth.  Today it was Eddie Lawrence, the Old Philosopher.  I remember laughing my head off (we didn't LOAO in those days) as he recounted the list of horrors befalling his "buddy", "cousin" or "booby" followed by the exhortation to "keep you head up" and the blare of a brass band.

This is a routine I don't remember but it does sound very much like a group of us that sat around yesterday afternoon quaffing our Bloody Marys, nibbling our smoked mackerel and Italian olives and bemoaning the follies of today's youth.

Hope Eddie is exhorting those angels to keep their chins up and hold their heads high.

March 31 - 1909:  Construction of the ill fated RMS Titanic begins.
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Près des remparts de Séville - Part II

I have never been a fan of any type blood sport however - you knew there was going to be a however didn't you? - whither I approve/like/accept it or not bullfighting has been a integral part of Spanish culture for several centuries. This does not make it either right or palatable - I went to a bullfight in Arles in the South of France many years ago.  Following the traditions of Provence it was not to the death but I still found it rather unsettling.  There are  things in many cultures that I don't approve of, but that as a visitor I must simply accept as being a fact of history.   While visiting Sevilla I could simply ignore the whole bullfighting phenomena or take a look at it and try and understand where and why it fits into the culture of the country.

The Coat of Arms of Real Maestranza De Caballería de
:  the Goddess of Peace and the Goddess of War
flank the motto Utriusque Interest - it matters to both.
As unusual as it may seem to us the annual season of bullfighting is administered by a Royal Society:    Real Maestranza De Caballería de Sevilla (The Royal Order of Chivalry) The first Brotherhood was established as Cofradía de San Hermenegildo shortly after the conquest of the city by Ferdinand the Saint in 1248.  The Order was created for the purpose of training the nobility in the use of arms and equestrian skills.   Their stables bred some of the finest mares and colts in Andalusia - trained for military action and civilian sport and leisure.   Even in those early days the Order organized public events in the main squares of Sevilla to celebrate feast days, commemorations and Royal visits

In 1670 it was reestablished under its current title and in 1730 came under the symbolic leadership of a member of the Royal Family - King Juan Carlos I,  is the current Hermano Mayor which rather whimsically translates as Big or Elder Brother of the order.  Amongst the equestrian festivals the Order organized were annual games of Alcancias (a military exercise), Manejos (dressage) and Toros y Cañas (Bulls and Lances).  It is the later that was the precursor of modern day bullfighting.

An early French print shows the make-shift set up of the bullring when it was indeed simply a converted Plaza.

Early bullfights were meant as displays of equestrian abilities and took place in public squares rather than in a designated arena.  Streets were blocked off with fences and carts,  stands erected and balconies around the square hung with banners and tapestries.  It was not until the early 1700s that a permanent wooden structure was considered for the annual season of bullfighting.  It was a rectangle styled after the squares that had been the sites of previous seasons.  Later in the century in was replaced by another wooden building but this time in a circular shape.  By mid-century the area had become built up with additional stone buildings accommodating stables, butcher shops and warehouses - these stone buildings were to affect the design of the building seen today.

The bullring of the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla in 1837 as seen by David Roberts.  Though the boxes adjacent to the Prince's Box were roofed-over it was still possible to see the Cathedral and the Giralda from many of the stands.

A more permanent stone structure was begun in 1761 and over the years changed and added to until in 1785 Carlos III prohibited bullfights.  For the next 60 years little was done in the way of maintenance or building until in 1841 construction and restoration began again.  It was to continue until 1972 when the old warehouse under the stands were converted into a broad circular corridor and the museum and art gallery.

The facade of the Plaza del Toros is an 19th century interpretation  of baroque;
as a result of being built, reconstructed and added to over 120 years the building has 30 unequal sides. 

And it was the museum and gallery that we decided to explore to find the story and traditions  behind  bullfighting in Spain and more particularly Sevilla.  The Museum is small but beautifully set up and the guides are charming and more than willing to answer questions and talk about the "sport".  They seem to be sensitive to the feelings of non-aficionados - particularly North Americans.  No apologies were being given but every attempt was made to place things in a historical and cultural context so that though we may not approve at least we were able to understand how it fit into life there.

Guillermo Muñoz Vera's
2014 Poster
Bullfighting has been a popular subject for lithographers, painters and photographers so it didn't seem unusual that there is also an art gallery as an element of the museum.  Back in 1994 painter Juan Maestre, who was also a caballero with the Order, launched a project to commission artists to design the posters for the major Feria de Abril season.  Since then well-known foreign and Spanish artists such as Larry Rivers, Fernando Botero,  Joaquín Sáenz, Ricardo Cadenas, Manuel Salinas, Félix de Cárdenas amongst others have created the images that advertise the two weeks that are the most important of the year.  The wide range of artists and styles have meant that posters have ranged from the whimsical to the reverential to the outright (in my view) bizarre.  And in some cases it is possible that the artist is subtly criticizing his patrons.  

Unfortunately the rather intriguing piece created by Guillermo Muñoz Vera for this year's Feria is only available as a small image.  Muñoz Vera is known for his realism and often a sense of disturbing melancholy.  I may be reading too much into it but I do find the looming shadow of the bull facing the empty stands unsettling.

A click on the rather science-fantasy image of the bull below will take you to a retrospect of the past 20 years of colourful posters.

I have to admit one of my favourites is the 2007 poster by Manolo Quejido - not the most confident of matadors from the looks of it.

March 29 - 1867: Queen Victoria gives Royal Assent to the British North America Act which establishes the Dominion of Canada on July 1.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mercoledi Musicale

Sevilla has served as the setting for several of the more famous operas. Rossini's Barbiere not only practices his tonsorial talents there but proudly proclaims his home town in song and title. Mozart's Don spectacularly fails to seduce any of the maidens in his birthplace (or at least not in DaPonte's version). Leonore, disguised as Fidelio, rescues her husband from the clutches of the evil Don Pizzaro after his long stay at a suburban prison. Verdi's Leonora plans to run away from Sevilla with her Peruvian boyfriend get botched in Act 1 and then she doesn't see him again until Act 4 then promptly dies.

And Bizet's Carmen - well now that's a story isn't it? She works in the Real Fábrica de Tabacos rolling cigars when she isn't rolling customs guards in the nearby Sierra Madres.   And I'm told tour guides in Sevilla are more than happy to show you were she worked and, though I'm not sure how true this is, the odd one can show you the spot, if not the blood stain, on the the Plaza de Toros where Don Jose stabbed her!

I've oft recorded that one of the great evenings I spent at the opera was back in May of 1980 at the Opéra Comique in Paris.  Teresa Berganza had agreed to sing Carmen the year before at Edinburgh provided that the "Spanish" cliches were avoided.  Conductor Claudio Abbado, producer Piero Faggioni and designer Ezio Frigerio built a production around her that was low-keyed, restrained and superbly successful.  Unfortunately by the time it reached Paris Abbado - in a dispute over which orchestra was to be used - had bowed out and was replaced by Pierre Dervaux,   But the main draw remained: Teresa Berganza as Carmen.

In 1984 in conversation with Bruce Duffie she had this to say about the role:

BD:  Is Carmen at all a nice lady?

TB:  Yes, she’s a delightful lady – enchanting.  The problem with audiences going to see Carmen is that they don’t understand who she is.  She has so often been presented as a bad prostitute, and she is not a good or a bad prostitute.  She is a gypsy woman.  Audiences don’t often understand that.  If she were a prostitute, she wouldn’t be working in a cigar factory.  She would have accepted Don José and then given him horns [deceived him] with 5 or 6 men at the same time.  If she were a prostitute, she would have a rich lover and be covered with jewels.  And, if she were a prostitute, she wouldn’t have stood up to José and let him kill her.  She would have fled.  But she is not that.  She is a free spirit, a special woman. . . a liberated woman.

BD:  Do these kinds of women still exist?
TB:  Of course.  It is important to understand the gypsy people, because they are free people.

BD:  Does Carmen plan a few steps ahead or does she just let things happen around her?
TB:  Carmen believes in destiny.  She believes in the cards, so as to preparation, she doesn’t believe that it would make any difference.  The destiny is there.  She has read it in the cards and she goes forward to meet this destiny at the end.  This is the story that Mérimée wrote in his nouvelle and this is the story that Halévey and Meilhac wrote in their libretto and what Bizet put into the music.

BD:  So she goes to meet it rather than fight it?
TB:  She does not fight.  She accepts.

© 1984 Bruce Duffie

And that's exactly how she played and sang it - and when she suggests to poor Don José (Placido Domingo) what happens Près des remparts de Séville he doesn't stand a chance.

You might just hear me - from my first row Circle seat - amongst the cheering audience that glorious night in May.  This video brings back some wonderful memories of an glorious evening.

Mr Duffie's interview with one of, in my opinion, greats of the operatic world is available here

March 26 -1351: Combat of the Thirty : Thirty Breton Knights call out and defeat thirty English Knights.
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Lunedi Lunacy

I'm not sure if the good Dr Seuss actually wrote this but if he didn't he should have!

March 24 - 1837: Canada gives African Canadian men the right to vote.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Près des remparts de Séville - Part I

I mentioned to my friend Michael in Dallas that for some reason Spain had always been fairly low on my list of countries to visit in my forty-five years of travelling.  I'm not sure why the Iberian peninsula was previously excluded but in the past few years I've made up for it with two trips to Barcelona, a stay in Madrid, sadly only a day in Valencia but fortunately longer visits to Sevilla and Granada.  I'm going to need another lifetime because the bucket list still includes Cordova, Cadiz, Zaragoza,  Santiago de Compostela, the Basque Country, Navarre and a return visit to spend more time in Valencia, Granada and Sevilla.

The magnificent Cathedral, the largest Gothic structure in the world, dominates the city in this map of Sevilla from 1590.  The port was the sole centre of trading for the Indies until it was superseded by Cadiz; the Guadalquivir has long since silted and is navigable only for small boats - fortunately ours was in that category.

It may be difficult to imagine now but at one time Sevilla was the major port of the Spanish Empire.  Their Catholic Majesties had decreed that La Casa y Audiencia de Indias or clearing house for all goods to and from the Indies would be located in the city on the Guadalquivir River.  This meant that anyone doing or wanting to do trade with the Spanish colonies had to come to Seville.  It was to remain the greatest city in Spain during the Golden Age until three events sent it into decline:  Cadiz was designated a trading port, plague decimated the population in 1649 and the river that was its artery to the sea began to silt up.

We were fortunate that the Azamara Quest is one of the few cruise liners that is small enough to make the journey to the port and is able to dock right in the city - and I mean right smack in the city.  And we were doubly fortunate as this was the last time that she would be going into Seville - the port insurance costs are too high.  We were to understand why when we watched what it took to get us into dock.

Captain Smith was a chatty,  affable and extremely seasoned seaman and he announced that we would be entering Seville harbour at 0300 in a series of interesting and tricky maneuvers that should anyone wish to look in there would be coffee, tea and pastries on deck.  He felt that it might just be worth missing an hour or so's sleep to see.  Well there was no way we were going to miss this.  I thought I had taken pictures but can't seem to find them on either my camera or my iPhone however Laurent did have a few photos and has kindly given them to me.

Heading up the Canal de Alfonso VIII towards the basin of the Port of Sevilla.

We left the Quadalquivir at the Embarcadaro and entered the Canal de Alfonso VIII (which follows the old course of the river) and passed under the suspension bridge at the Ronda de Circunvelencion with about 15 feet to spare.  When we reached the basin of the entrance to the Porto Captain Smith did a 180° pivot and proceeded stern first or backwards up the left branch of the Canal towards the Puente de las Delicias, the last lift bridge on that stretch of the Canal.

Approaching the Puente de las Delicias lift bridge at 0330 in the morning with the city glowing in the background.
Almost at the bridge in our backward progress towards the site where Columbus docked on his return from the New World.  He had left with three ships but the Santa Maria was wrecked off the coast of Hispaniola and only the Nina and the Pinta returned.
We watched the basic maneuvers from the top deck but then moved to the balcony of our cabin which was right at the aft of the liner.  It was incredible as we slowly moved towards the bridge and passed through it with only about 5 feet on either side (see photo below).  Had we been in the cabins on either side of ours we would have been almost able to touch the bridge - thus the reason that the insurance premiums were so astronomical for our entry into port.

As we passed through the Puente de las Delicias it was almost possible to touch the spans from our cabin at the aft of the Azamara Quest.

We docked at Puente de los Remedios beside the marvelous colonial neo-baroque splendor of Martin Noel's Palace of the Republic of Argentina built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.  The quayside and adjacent Paseo de las Delicias are lined with buildings designed to house exhibitions from the former American colonies of that Golden time when Sevilla was the mercantile capital of Europe.  After the exhibition the Argentine Pavilion became the Murillo High School but now houses a dance academy.

Preparing to dock at the quayside adjacent to  the Pabellón de la República Argentina from the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.  Many of the Pavilions from the Exposition are still standing and in use as municipal offices, museums and restaurants.
By the time we had docked it was almost 0400 so we took one final walk around the deck - took in the lights of the city and a dark sky dotted with stars before turning in for what was left of the night.  Captain Smith was right - it was worth interrupting our sleep to watch.  And his deft work meant that from our berth at the foot of the Paruqe de Maria Luisa we were in easy walking distance of the bosky pleasures of the park itself, the Plaza de España, the Plaza de Toros and all the attractions of the old city.

 March 23 - 1540: Waltham Abbey is surrendered to King Henry VIII of England; the last religious community to be closed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Lunedi Lunacy

The tradition of the seanchaithe is as old as the history of Ireland - and in fact they were the folk history of Ireland from the earliest times.  Some were servants of the tribal chiefs and it was their duty to keep track of the history and stories of their clan and in absence of written records to pass them on.  Some were itinerant travellers, moving from community to community offering their abilities in exchange for food, shelter and, in times of war, protection.  Others were members of established settlements who told and retold the histories and tales of the community and the country at ceremonies, feasts and events. Their stories, and the art of telling them, were passed on from one to another without being written down in an oral tradition that stretches to the earliest days of settlement on the island.

They should not be confused with the fili or bards, who in pre-Christian Ireland were magicians, lawgivers judges, counsellors to the chief or king and poets.  Over time their function came to be solely that of official poets and philosophers.  Though like the seanchaí a fili was expected to improvise and embellish their position required that they retain the "facts" of history in their telling.   

The seanchaí used many things to tell his story - styles of language, changes of voice patterns, intensity and rhythms and gestures.  Here is the late Eamon Kelly, one of the great modern seanchaí, telling what amounts to a "travelling salesman" story.

While watching the following clip (and listening I might add very carefully as Kelly's accent is that strong) I mentioned to Laurent that it reminded me an old TV programme,  La Soirée canadienne  on Télé-Métropole on Saturday nights.  Louis Bilodeau would go to small towns throughout Québec and townspeople would sing, play, dance and tell stories.  Gaelic traditions that acknowledge neither borders nor language barriers.

 **BAN-ukh-tee nuh FAY-leh PAH-drig ur-iv (St. Patrick’s Day blessings to you!)

*Yahoos - disgusting unkempt hairy creatures from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels; they flung their own filth at each other and dug in the mud for pretty pieces of shiny glass.

March 17 - 1337:  Edward, the Black Prince is made Duke of Cornwall, the first Duchy in England.
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Monday, March 10, 2014

Lunedi Lunacy

Les Beaux Frères' towel routine has been going the rounds of the internet for the past few weeks - 4 million hits on the YouTube site I found this one on - but just in case anyone has missed it or wants to see it again:  Voilà

Yohann Trepanier and Raphaël Dubé are both from Quebec and graduates of the famous École national de cirque in Montreal and the École de ciruqe de Quebec.  They formed their duo act Les Beaux Frères back in 2007 and have appeared with Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Eloise and toured throughout Europe and North America.  I'm pretty sure they aren't fréres but they certainly are beaux.

Their talents extend well beyond doing the fully monty and include some incredible cycle and juggling routines - all with that slight wry twist that marks them as new age circus artists.  More of their routines can be seen on their website: Les Beaux Fréres.

March 10 - 1749:  Lorenzo Da Ponte, Italian poet and librettist of three Mozart operas is born in Ceneda (Vittorio Veneto). (d. August 17 1838)

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Saturday, March 08, 2014

A Breath of Feathery Yellow

Today is International Women's Day though I always found the Italian La Festa della Donna a more joyful and less ponderous title and for me the singular suggests that you are each woman as an individual not as a collective. It also appears that back in the early 1900s when the idea was first broached it was suggested as Day of the Woman. A more complete history of the path to this day to celebrate the achievements of women can be found here on Wikipedia.

Unfortunately I am not near to the many women who have add so much to my life.  Friends: childhood friends, work friends and colleagues (not always the same thing), friends I've met in my travels, friends I have made here on the internet through blogging and Facebook and friends I have made in my various homes around the world.  I won't even try to start naming names - the list would last forever and I would be sure to forget someone (old people do that). 

As I've mentioned on other March 8th postings, in Italy the tradition is to give the women in your life a sprig of mimosa as a token of your love, affection and appreciation.  I only wish that I could give each one a sprig of this joyous little flower in person but once again this year a virtual bouquet will have to suffice.

Thank you for the joy, the knowledge, the frustrations (we can all be frustrating), at times the anger (ditto for anger), the love, the wisdom and the caring that you have brought into my life.

Tanti abbracci e dopo - Many hugs and then many more!

March 8 - International Women's Day protests in St. Petersburg mark the beginning of the February Revolution (so named because it was February on the Julian calendar).

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Mercoledi Musicale

Back in May of 1961 the Metropolitan Opera made its annual appearance in Toronto but with a big difference. Rather than presenting the greats of the time - Tebaldi, Stella, Bergonzi, Del Monaco, Warren, Peters, Merrill et al - in the cavernous Maple Leaf Gardens hockey rink they played in the brand spanking new O'Keefe Centre. The O'Keefe had open the October before with the world premiere of Camelot and the first season was coming to an end with the Met on its Spring Tour.

The colour scheme may be pretty close but there was a big difference between seeing the Met at
Maple Leaf Gardens and the O'Keefe Centre - a really big difference.
Every year since 1952 the vast hockey rink on Carlton St was turned into a makeshift theatre and every year since 1957 my father and I had climbed to the grey section at the top of the Gardens to see - in the far distance - Carmen, Die Fledermaus, The Gypsy Baron and Madama Butterfly.

But in 1961 it was a real theatre and I had an orchestra seat - sadly on my own because my father had had the first of the series of strokes that would take him from us later that summer - for the opening night on May 29.  And I was wearing the white dinner jacket that my mother had made for the occasion.  It was all pretty heady stuff for a thirteen year old.  Strangely Mr Bing had choosen a rather low keyed opera for that opening night - the last for seven years.  The Met struck Toronto from its Spring Tour schedule and would not appear in the city again until 1968.

The fussiness of Oliver Smith's decor, Motley's costumes and Carl Elbert's stage direction meant that
an opera that delighted audiences of the Golden Age was less engaging than it really is.

Martha was a popular work in the early history of the Met - a favourite of artists such as Marcella Sembrich,  Adelina Patti, Enrico Caruso, Eduard de Rezske, Freida Hempel, Frances Alda, Benjamino Gigli - but had last been performed in1928.  It was a favourite "Golden Age" opera that had fallen out of favour.  Mr Bing decided to revive it with, if not quite a Golden Age cast, certainly a remarkable one for the time:  Victoria de los Angeles, Rosalind Elias, Richard Tucker and Giorgio Tozzi.  If vocally we weren't let down by the cast unfortunately the production team - director Carl Ebert, designers Oliver Smith and Motley - didn't hold up their end.  The fussy misé-en-scene and bad English translation used were major impediments to what could have been a delightful revival.

If the production wasn't a total success the singing of (left to right) Giorgio Tozzi, Richard Tucker, Victoria de los Angles and Roselind Elias more than made up for it. Veteran bass Lorenzo Alvery (almost out of sight) completed the cast.
The original German libretto by Friedrich Wilhelm Riese had never been heard at the Met nor was it to be for this revival.  Since its first performance back in 1884 it had always been sung at the house in Italian.  Bing decided to commission an English version from Ann Ronell, the lyricist of Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, which proved to be a less than successful match for the graceful music.  And for some reason it was decided that Tom Moore's words for The Last Rose of Summer would be replaced with a crass substitution.  None the less de los Angeles sang it with a beauty that transcended any translation.

Here singing the original German of the Irish folksong that weaves in and out of the opera is Lucia Popp, one of the most beautiful singers - in every way - of the 20th century. She was taken from us far to young by a brain tumor in 1993 at the height of her career.  She and Siegfried Jerusalem often sang together at their home house in Munich.

I wonder at Martha not being more popular these days - the story is no more contrived than any other operatic libretto and beautiful melody follows beautiful melody.  There are lyric arias, spirited quartets, rousing choruses, drinking songs, moments of high drama and some simply gorgeous ensembles.  One of the most lovely moments is the"Goodnight" quartet from Act 2.  In this version it becomes "Dormi pur" as sung at the Met in 1912 by Frances Alda,  Josephine Jacoby, Enrico Caruso and Marcel Journet with Walter Rogers conducting.

As well know as The Last Rose of Summer is the tenor aria Ach so fromm though it is probably better know by the Italian M'appari as oft record by Caruso.  In 1961 Richard Tucker dutifully sang the rather stilted English translation but at the April 13 performance he reverted to the Italian in order, he said, to "let his fans know how Caruso sounded."  Unfortunately there is no recording of that performance but the Broadcast matinee a few days earlier when he sang it in English was recorded.

Listening to this, and that broadcast performance I think I may have misspoken earlier - the quartet of singers that evening were indeed part of a "Golden Age".

March 5 - 1960: Cuban photographer Alberto Korda takes his iconic photograph of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

A Tuesday By Many Other Names

This day in the church year is known by at least twenty different names depending on the area of the world and the branch of Christianity practised there. I was brought up calling it Pancake Tuesday at home and Shrove Tuesday at church.  The former because it was tradition to have pancakes for dinner that evening of the year, the later because in the old Anglican tradition it was the time to confess and be shriven of your sins.  We never questioned why pancakes on that particular day but I've since learned that it was because you used up all the flour,  sugar and eggs in the larder before the days of denial that traditionally marked the meals in Lent.   Of course there was none of this confession Popery tainting our small low-church parish in the out-most wilds west of Toronto.

An engraving from Harper's Weekly, March 1884
In other cultures the day had names such Fastnacht in Germany, Tłusty Czwartek (Paczki Day) in Poland, Máirt Inide in Ireland and Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) in more cultures than you can name.  And of course midnight on Mardi Gras official marks the end of Carnival in most cultures - I know of only one exception and that's Milan where it goes on until Saturday because of the observance of The Ambroisian Rite.  The word Carnival itself derives from the Lenten tradition of abstaining from meat -  carne levare (to take away meat.

Though Carnival is celebrated is many places the three most famous Carnivals are Venice,  Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans.  I've been to the first, just missed the second by a week and have always vowed to go the one closest.  The first record of a Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans was in 1835 though its hard to believe that some form of Carnival didn't take place in earlier times in this most French-Creole of cities.  Cosmus, the first parade Krewe was formed in 1856 and the tradition of Krewes - secret societies - grew out of it.  There are now some 60 krewes holding events - parades, balls, theatrical performances, cook-outs, children's festivals - throughout the period of Carnival.

A parade through the French Quarter - date unknown.
In the early "Golden Age" of Carnival, colourful parade bulletins were published to give the public a glimpse of parade themes and float designs.  And postcards were issued so that friends and relative who were unlucky enough to not be joining in the fun could catch a glimpse of what they were missing.  The Krew of Rex has reinstated the bulletins however unfortunately any pictures of them are too small to be appreciated the way they should be.  However the New Orleans Mardi Gras Postcard Museum has a wonderful complete set of postcards from the 1907 Rex Parade.  A click on the postcard below will take you to it.

Rex - the King of Mardi Gras - led of the 1907 Rex Parade in fine style.  A right click on
the picture will take you to the complete 20 postcard set.  The theme that year was
Classics of Childhood.
I think I'll reaffirm that vow see the parades, maybe catch some beads or doubloons and hear the cries of "Mardi Gras is over.  Go Home." that are echo through the streets of the French Quarter even as they are doing while I am posting this at 2359 on Mardi Gras 2014. 

March 4 - 1837 - The city of Chicago is incorporated.

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Monday, March 03, 2014

Lunedi Lunacy

I was going through some papers the other day - well actually trying to find a tax receipt, because god help us its coming up to that time of year again  - and I came across a birthday card from my friend Lara that I had kept.  Now I may have mentioned in the past that Lara is known for her...  let's just say unconventional sense of humour.

What more can I add???

March 3 - 1875: The first ever organized indoor game of ice hockey is played in Montreal. And it ended in a fight!