Friday, September 30, 2011

Voodoo Preistess In the Heart of the Bayou - Marie LeVeau - Larger than Elvis Presley

It's no secret that Louisiana Voodoo is a part of Louisiana and Acadian culture.Voodoo was brought into the French Colonies (Acadiana) at the time when Africans were deported in response to the Haitian Revolution in the early 1700's.

With them came their spirituality, belief in spirits.  And not too long after this culture arose from la Coeur da Bayou (the heart of the bayou), catholic beliefs were thrown into the mix and created Louisiana Voodoo. 

The invisible mysterious force than can intervene in human affairs from the Dahomean's gives us the word "VUDU" on which the modern day term "Voodoo" is based.   Followers of Louisiana Voodoo believe in one God who have lesser 'helper spirits" to preside over daily matter of life, love, success and all human matters.

Why did Voodoo mix with Catholic customs?  Initially, Voodoo was not allowed to be practiced and was punishable by death in the cruelest of fashions. A big social event of the times was to go to Jackson Square which was the site of many executions during this time. The hanging tree still stands today. It’s the big oak tree in the rear left side just in front of the cathedral. The weekly executions were held each Saturday and was a family event including a picnic lunch.  So the Voodoo beliefs were merged with the catholic religion as a disguise to continue practice.

In addition, the preservation of this African culture was extraordinary.  Africans outnumbered Europeans two to one which fostered a prominent and an exuberant African community.  Only a few extremely wealthy Europeans owned slaves at the time which impacted and created a very strong, independent, self-confident free African community. 

And then... along comes a hairdresser turned Voodoo High Preistess named Marie LeVeau. 

Marie LeVeau was born in 1782 to a white planter and a Creole woman of color.  She was believed to be born a free woman and was not entrapped into a life of slavery. When she was 37, she married a Free man who emingrated from Haiti.  His name was Jacque Paris.  Just one year after their marriage, Jacque left Marie a very young widow. Marie took a lover, Louis Christophe Dumensil de Glapion) and they had 15 children together.  

Soon after, Marie became a hairdresser for wealthy white families.  In those days hairdresser did alot more than just cut hair.  They stitched wounds, lanced boils, delivered babies, pulled teeth and many things that would require a doctor today.  One specialty was preparing potions: potions to cure or aid body functions such as willow bark for headaches, a pinch of this or that for a backache and sometimes a potion to heal emotional distraught.

Later she became skilled in medicine as a nurse practitioner during the yellow fever epidemic.  She studied hard and learned the healing qualities of indigenous herbs, spices, and the effects it had on the body.

Before long, Marie conducted private rituals behind her house on St. Ann's street near the French Quarter in New Orleans.  Marie started her ascension as the most powerful Voodoo Queen and Priestess to ever live and concoct a spell.  She was the queen of them all and at one point, appointed herself the Pope of Voodoo.  Folks of all creeds used to go to her.  She would mix potions, create spells (called mojo) and could keep anybody from harming you and could DO anything that you wanted done to someone else.  She used to say prayers, mix dfferent things together, use rubs, incorporate cats and their entrails, throw things over her shoulder or ask you to jump into a river! In an uncanny fashion everything would happen just as she would predict, pray about, or cast a spell upon.

Marie's name became feared and well respected. You wouldn't want to cross her or get too close to her.  Dare you be her friend, for if you did, would she turn you into a Loup-garou? An owl, or send you into eternal damanation???  

Marie LeVeau's grave is visited more times per year than Elvis Presley's grave!  It is believed that you can come to Marie's tomb and ask for something. She accepts money, cigars, white rum and candy as offerings during her time with the living as well as during her time in the adjacent realm in which she supposedly presides now. Appeals must be made 3 times with full concentration.

 In voodoo it is believed that when a Voodoo Queen dies her spirit re-enters the river of life and moves to the next realm, adjacent to this one. Her spirit will always be here, close at hand in and around New Orleands. To this day, people still visit her tomb with the hope that she will grant their wishes."  (1)  Listen to what Crazy Horse Ghost writes about Marie LeVeau:

"Grass grows out of the top of the tomb of Marie Laveau but tens of thousands visit her tomb every year. In fact more people visit the tomb of Marie Laveau each year than visit the grave site of Elvis Presley. People leave offerings , voodoo statues , and more at the tomb of Marie Laveau and some people claim Marie Laveau will never be truly dead. Over the years since her death many people have claimed to see her. Voodoo practitioners often claim that Marie Laveau appears at their voodoo celebrations. Many people place three crosses on the tomb of Marie Laveau for luck or to ask that she grant their wish from the dead.

Many people especially those in New Orleans will tell you that Voodoo is very real. It is up to you to believe what you will believe. And also up to you whether you believe the ghost of Marie Laveau still walks the streets of the French Quarter. What I can tell you is that Marie Laveau had more influence on Louisiana Voodoo than anyone else in history. Other Legends have it she cured the curse of a Loup-garou by chaining it up to a crypt for three nights on a full moon.  Some say she is not a ghost or a vampire, but a Loup-garou and uses the curse to stay alive.  Do you know that their have even been claims made by some people that Marie Laveau is a vampire and that she still lives in the French Quarter of New Orleans today.Thousands of times after the reported death of Marie Laveau there have been reported sightings of her. Most people who see her say that she is solid and that she disappears with a quickness." 

What ever you believe about Marie LeVeau, and whether you chance to see her spirit haunting the streets or standing at the end of your bed in the middle of the night, remember to say your prayers to God and Jesus before you sleep to keep you protected from the Voodoo Preistess.....and as Marie LeVeau said herself...please remember ---To Stop a Voodoo spell from being placed upon you, acquire some bristles from a pig cooked at a Voodoo Ritual, tie the bristles into a bundle and carry them on you at all time and if you lay a broom across your doorway at night, a witch can't come in and hurt you..(2)

Marie LeVeau is watching Y*O*U!!!

End notes

(1) Chambers, Wendy. Voodoo on the Bayou, 2001
(2) Louisiana Voodoo Wiki

Monday, September 26, 2011

Meet Guest Blogger Cher Gatreaux Baum: Real Life Stories from The Bayou

The Acadian-Metis Flag
Please Welcome Guest Blogger Cher Gatreaux Baum.  We extend a huge thanks and warm welcome for her contribution to this blog and the time she has given to us here!   

Cher comes from a long line of Acadians and is proud of her Cajun Heritage. Her Acadian roots extend way way back to Le Grande Derangement (The Great Deportation from Grand Pre', Nova Scotia).  Cher's ancestors were deported from Acadia in 1755.  Currently she and her husband live in northeast Tennessee, along with their 2 dogs, and their beloved horses, Woody & Dusty. 

Cher also at the end of her bio tells us the great Cajun Folktale about the Loupgarou (pronounced "loo-ga-roo") that will give you goosebumps when things go "Bump in da night on da bayou".    

Her heritage reminds us of yet another forgotten piece of fabric in Acadian Heritage woven almost into complete disappearance -  the Acadian-Metis Heritage. The Acadian Metis Heritage consists of one of several terms used to describe people of mixed native and European origin. The word métis is an old French word meaning "mixed." Other terms that have been used include mixed blood, bois brûlé, michif, and country-born. Today the term Metis refers to a distinct group of people who have a common history and heritage.

The first Métis were the children of European fishermen and native women along the Atlantic coast of Canada. In Acadia, many French men took native wives (we in the US may know them at Native Indian Tribal People). Some villages became largely Métis. During the 17th century, both the French and the native people encouraged mixed marriages. For the native people, these marriages strengthened their bonds with their allies and trading partners. The French authorities came to oppose these unions. The church in particular was concerned that the young men preferred the freedom of life in Indian country. Métis children either stayed with their native mothers or were raised in French society. The Métis population increased farther inland. Fur traders and soldiers settled around the tiny forts and fur-trade posts. (1)

Cher tells us ...

"I was born to a Acadian-Metis Father & Irish/Scot Mother.My Father's family centered around Vermilion Parish. His closest family anyway. There were extended families (his Aunts & Uncles) in St. Mary, Iberia, Ascension & Assumption Parishes.   Her father's side of the family is descended from Francois Gautreau (Gauterot in the 1671 Census of Acadia). Francois had 2 wives, the first Marie (last name unknown) and his 2nd Edme'.  Francois fortunately never saw the British rip apart the beautiful country that had become their home. He had passed away long before Le Grande Derangement (the great deportation). Many of his descendants were deported to France and England. 

Then on to St. Dominique (currently Haiti), the eastern shore of the U.S. and South America. Like most Acadian & Acadian-Metis families, we carry the common names LeBlanc, Boudreaux, Arsenault, Broussard...and so very many others in our family tree. When it comes right down to it, there really isn't a "Cajun" alive who isn't a cousin to me in one way or another; for we all descend from those original families of Acadia.  I grew up in a family ripe with traditions and cultures carried down from those first settlers who courageously ventured to Acadia (now known as Nova Scotia) as well as the Irish/Scot ones who settled in the northeastern U.S.. I was blessed to be able to spend many summers in Louisiana among our extended family.  

The Mi'kmaq tribal heritage will be discussed tomorrow as the Mi'kmaq were the natives who married the Europeans.  The Mi'kmaq tribe has a heritage that dates back to 8500 BC (!)

But for now.... here is Cher's Acadian story of the Loupgarou;   Some say the Loupgarou is a myth, some say the Loupgarou is real.   You are never supposed to say this name louder than a whisper, especially at night!

Hang on by your toes and don't make a sound
For the Loup-garou may be milling around!

***Acadian Tale of the Marie and Vincent - the Loupgarou***

... ooooh cha...come close lemme tell ya 'bout da loup garou ;) lonnnng time ago Vincent was in love wit’ a beautiful quadroon (2) gal...oh cha she was da finest thing wit’ steel gray eyes...allllll da men lost their breath when she walked by....her name was Marie...hardly anyone knew that Marie was actually a voodoo queen...Vincent, bein’ a dandy wooed her and wooed her til he finally captured her heart...  He vowed to always love her and her remember cha..he WAS a dandy ;) there wasn't a lady who strolled by that didn't turn his head.....the day before they were to be wed, Marie caught him in a compromising situation wit’ a young lady....heart broken she fled into da bayou.....her heartbreak turned to anger then she swore vengeance....she cursed Vincent!! cast a spell on him that he would no longer be able to live only as a man...every full moon he would become a horrible 1/2 man-1/2 beast...he was condemned to rove da bayous and swamps as he could no longer live among normal this day he lives in da swamps...and his bite is often deadly...awww cha if you are in da dark in da swamp, listen for da screech owl, she'll tell you when he's about....keep your eyes away from da branches of da trees, for that is where he lingers....if you do look up into da trees, and you see bright red eyes---its too late!! For captured in that gaze, he'll hypnotize you, paralyze you then he'll pounce down on you and take your life....some say he's a were wolf, but oh cha he's much worse than see he can appear as a 1/2 wolf, he can become a cow, a horse or any other animal he wants to be.....In da day, he still appears as a man...except for one sign ....his left eye always stays cha, tiptoe thru da bayou...and keep your eyes cast da sun goes down, three times turn round as da sun goes round...and spit on da ground...say "Vincent stay away from me, for I am not your Marie" ;)
Now remember to keep your eyes cast down.  And should you be attacked by a Loup-garou the only way to be rid of the curse is to not tell anyone for a year and a day and only then will the curse be lifted. 

Up next tomorrow: The Difference between Creole and Cajun. 

And before you start thinking that Voodoo is a thing of the past, think again! The religion is alive and well today!  Your Gris-gris bag with Mojo may not work against the attack of Loup-garou.  In two days time, stay tuned for our blog topic on Voodoo, Hoodoo, Cajun Native Religions and the most Powerful Quadroon who caught the respect and fear of the city of New Orleans!  Beware my friends, for Marie might be watching you right now.  Do you feel the weight of her stare watching you from behind????

For more information and discussion about all things Acadian please follow our group on Facebook by searching the Keywords "Buffalo Moon Expedition 2011". 

End notes:
2) A quadroon was considered a person with the mixed race of Indian, French, Spanish and Other European. The word "morphed" into a women who is a Voodoo Priestess.  Marie LaVeax was the most well known Voodoo Queen in this part of the world.  This story is most likely based on her and the lovers that she often took and rejected. In time the name of Marie Laveau became distorted. Mothers threatened their children that she would put a curse on those who didn't behave. She was thought of as an evil witch, capable of causing unimaginable trouble. But there are also reports of her as a nurse. Others mention that small children went to her home every Saturday morning for the brown sugar sticks she would hand out.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Brief thoughts and thanks

Bonjour Mes Amis!   Just a brief note of thanks for those of you who have recently joined the blog.  I am honored that you have decided to follow this ride.   For those of you who have Acadian and French heritage who are following now, you are the very reason why this expedition is taking place this fall.  Ironically my horse's Registered Name   is Eve's Revenge.  I call her Evangeline.  She and I will be bringing our "message d'espoir" and reinvigorating Cajun Heritage and History throughout the entire state. 

Not only will we be honoring and celebrating Acadian heritage and culture, we will also be preserving Acadian Equestrian Travel, honoring slaves history and indentured servants who have been freed from their oppressive existences. Acadiana in many ways is where many people landed whose home countries did not want them or those individuals who were "deported"  So this ride is for all of you Acadians, Ex-slaves, indentured servants and others who have ancestors who lived the oppressed life under governments who TRIED but didn't succeed in stomping out your God Given Heritage and Culture!  I would love to hear your stories and comments about your ancient family would be an honor to have you share a story as a guest on the blog here. 

Thank you again for joining and I look forward to riding for y'all!  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Louisiana Saturday Night - The Fais Do Do

Driving down the paved road beveled with centuries old oak trees on both sides, you accelerate through the green humid tropical evening with the sound of robust crickets serenading your trip.  Opelouses, meaning "Flat Prairie", opens up the possibilities for a night of festival and southern Louisiana music.   Bojangles, Purple Peacock, Napolean's or Cowboy's turn your head and you wonder where's the best place to stop.

A neon sign catch you out of the corner of your eye.  Slowing to a crawfish crawl and lights steaming and shining down a dimly light gravel road, you pull in to perhaps one of the oldest swamp pop nightspots in Southern Louisiana in the outskirts of Opelousas.

You feel out of place.

The trip-el-lette, trip-el-lette rhythm of the fiddle start to make you feel more welcome. Slow, usually melancholic swamp pop ballads, however with their heavy, triplety feel, undulating bass lines, climactic turnarounds and dramatic melodies born generations ago of widespread poverty, hard-living and the loneliness of a largely rural existence entice you into wanting to hear more.  Then the lively fiddle grabs your attention as the beat turns around and flies away on something that sounds like square dance music.  Yep.  You're a Yankee.  A Northerner thinking you were you were cultured as a city slicker. 

"Where's y'all's hat, son?" an  robust Acadian man slaps you on the back and asks you in fun...

You sheepishly reply,  "I.....I  ....I  ...must have left my car"

He cuts you off and replies "I seh y'all not fro aroun' here. S'ats alright.  We make sure y'all hah a gooh time anyway"..  (my apologies Andi if you are reading this and hope it comes through ok)

You keep to yourself while swirling couples dance with heart to the hoppity uppidity beat of a..did you really see that... Yep.  A washboard!  Welcome to the Bayou Yankee... it's time you made it down home!

Wandering up to grab a beverage you look around and someone next to you in conversation mentions something about a fay to doe to toe.  They are uniquely semi-bilingual and you realize you are in for an amazing Louisiana Saturday Night.

Let the Fais-do-do begin!

A Fais do-do is Cajun dance party. The "do-do" (pronounced doe-doe) comes from the verb that transitioned from "dormir" which means "to Sleep". Fais translated into english means "to make". The Fais do-do (to make sleep) is a Cajun tradition all around Louisiana....and one that is happening tonight here in New Iberia at the Louisiana Sugar Cane Fest!

Here's Stuart Landry, an Acadian countryman's, explanation - Years ago, when south Louisiana communities were isolated and traveling was difficult, Saturday night dances were held in homes or dancehalls. Whole families attended these gregarious gatherings, and once the initial visiting was over, the infants and young children were put to sleep (fais dormir) on pallets wherever there was room around the perimeter of the dance floor, in a corner of the room, or sometimes on shelves under the bar. The parents were then free to dance the night away.  

A fais do-do (FAY-DOE-DOE) is like a Cajun hoedown, a country dance. The music, sometimes referred to by the locals as "chanky-chank," was provided by an accordion, a fiddle, and a "ting-a-ling," or triangle. The favored dance of the Cajuns is called a two-step and is akin to a waltz, but livened up with little jig steps.

Sometimes they danced until dawn. And sometimes, they danced outside under the trees because the houses were rather small. La poussière (pronounced lah poo-see-air)-- which means dust--- would fly under their feet! Eula Mae tells us that, "Babies were often put to sleep in another room with a grandmother or other older family member to keep them quiet while the band played on. But sometimes, a mother would hold her baby in her lap until she got up to dance, handing her child to someone else."

My friend C. Gatreaux explains: "Yes! We had fais do do's all the time...even in our second home in Florida.  Good food, great friends...dancin' all night long to great music; fallin' asleep to the laughter of the adults' up the in "attic" on the old feather bed.  Some of my favorite childhod memories!"

Oh, yes, a fais do-do was a good time - a good time for everyone to catch up on the news, see cousins and other relatives, and, of course, eat! More often than not, everyone brought a dish. One family might bring a gumbo or stew; another supplied seafood to boil or fish to fry, and there were always sweet treats, like cakes, cookies, or some kind of dessert made with local fruits.

So let's put on our dancing shoes and head on out ---  we are guaranteed an amazing La Louisiane Samedi Soir (Louisiana Saturday Night).

Music video by Mary Chapin Carpenter performing Down At The Twist And Shout. (C) 1991 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

Friday, September 23, 2011

To make money, You have to sing in English. To save our heritage, You have to sing in French,

When I was learning french in grade school in the 70's, others were being punished for it.  The possibility of speaking another language fluently within our country's borders intrigued me while it earned detentions for those down in Southeastern Louisiana.  

By 1950, the Cajun French language and culture still suffered immensely and many parents did not go to the trouble of teaching their children French.  Why should they teach their children anyway?  Cajun French was considered a "low life language".  Students who tried to speak it in Acadiana were sent to detention in schools if they were caught speaking it. Even sadder still, the Cajun French language was considered unfit for written or spoken expression.  The Cajun French donned their Mardi Gras masks to hide the pain of their own cultural extinction and entertained those who had no clue.  New Orleans bound to let the good times roll.

"They stood up on the stage as if it was their altar, They faced down all the rage and no, they did not falter. They were good enough to play but not good enough to stay, And when they finished their songs boy they had to better be on their way...."  (- Edwin McCain, Good Enough)

Meet  poet Jean Arecenaux: Ils ont entendu son cri du bayouSa poésie "Cris sur Le BayouNaissance d'une poésie acadienne en Louisiane" porteur d'espoir pour les Acadiens que leur langue était bel et bien vivant.

(Enter Jean Arceneaux: They heard his cries from the Bayou.  His poems "Cries from the Bayou: The Birth of Acadian Poems in Louisiana" brought hope to the Acadian people that their language was alive and well) Cris sur le bayou expressed a common desire to inscribe an indelible impression onto others about the problematic experience of the Louisiana French Speaker who was faced with the ghosts of their own extinction.

Cultural Extinction.  Imagine yourself in the 1950's. Schools are segregated.  You are a small child who was taught by your favorite Grandmother to speak French.  Your father speaks Cajun French. Your books are in American and you are having trouble reading.    When you arrive at school you pass your teacher and say "Bonswa".  She wheels around on her heels and swats you on the hinny and says, "Don't you ever talk like that in this classroom. I am sending you to the principal."  The parent teacher conference begins. Your parents are fluently speaking French in whispers.  The teacher sits down and says, " Je comprends et je suis désolé. (I understand and I am sorry). Your teacher, Ms. LeBlanc continues in English and says that Cajun French is not allowed in the classroom and that you will be punished more severely the next time you are caught speaking it in your classroom.  Your teacher's face and eyes express deep hidden sadness. Your parents and she suffer in silence and knowingly console each other that once more, a piece of your and their culture has been ripped away shaming you of your own heritage.  You listen and are writing on the blackboard 100 times, "I will not speak French in the Classroom ever again" and you are crying but are not sure why.

By Jean Areceneaux

Schizophrénie linguistique

I will not speak French on the school grounds.
I will not speak French on the school grounds.
I will not speak French…
I will not speak French…
I will not speak French…
Hé ! Ils sont pas bêtes, salauds.
Après mille fois, ça commence à pénétrer
Dans n'importe quel esprit.
Ça fait mal ; ça fait honte ;
Puis là, ça fait plus mal.
Ça devient automatique.
Et on ne speak pas French on the school grounds
Et ni anywhere else non plus.
Jamais avec des étrangers.
On sait jamais qui a l'autorité
De faire écrire ses sacrées lignes
À n'importe quel âge.
Surtout pas avec les enfants.
Faut jamais que eux, ils passent leur temps de recess
À écrire ces sacrées lignes.
Faut pas qu'ils aient besoin d'écrire ça
Parce qu'il faut pas qu'ils parlent français du tout.
Ça laisse voir qu'on est rien que des Cadiens.
Don't mind us, we're just poor coonasses.
Basse classe, faut cacher ça.
Faut dépasser ça.
Faut parler anglais.
Faut regarder la télévision en anglais.
Faut écouter la radio en anglais.
Comme de bons Américains.
Why not just go ahead and learn English.
Don't fight it. It's much easier anyway.
No bilingual bills, no bilingual publicity.
No danger of internal frontiers.
Enseignez l'anglais aux enfants.
Rendez-les tout le long,
Tout le long jusqu'aux discos,
Jusqu'au Million Dollar Man.
On a pas réellement besoin de parler français quand même.
C'est les Etats-Unis ici,
Land of the free.
On restera toujours rien que des poor coonasses.
Coonass. Non, non. Ça gêne pas.
C'est juste un petit nom.
Ça veut rien dire.
C'est pour s'amuser. Ça gêne pas.
On aime ça. C'est cute.
Ça nous fait pas fâchés. Ça nous fait rire.
Mais quand on doit rire, c'est en quelle langue qu'on rit ?
Et pour pleurer, c'est en quelle langue qu'on pleure ?
Et pour crier ?
Et chanter ?
Et aimer ?
Et vivre ?

Juillet 1978
Linguistic Schizophrenia

I will not speak French on the school grounds.
I will not speak French on the school grounds.
I will not speak French…
I will not speak French…
I will not speak French…

Hey, those bastards aren't stupid.
After a thousand times, it starts to get beaten
Into anybody's head.
It hurts; it makes you feel ashamed;
And then, it doesn't hurt.
It becomes automatic.
And you don't parler français on the school grounds
Or anywhere else non plus.
Never with strangers.
You never know who has the power
To make you write those goddam lines
At any age.
Especially not with children.
They should never have to spend their recess
Writing those goddam lines
Because they shouldn't speak French at all.
It shows that we're nothing but Cajuns.
Don't mind us, we're just poor coonasses.
Low-class, better hide that.
Better get past that.
Better speak English.
Better watch TV in English.
Better listen to the radio in English.
Like good Americans.
Why not just go ahead and learn English.
Don't fight it. It's much easier anyway.
No bilingual bills, no bilingual publicity.
No danger of internal frontiers.

Teach the children English.
Take them all the way,
All the way to the discos,
All the way to the Million Dollar Man.
You don't really need to speak French anyway.
This is the USA,
Land of the free.
And we'll always be nothing but poor coonasses.
Coonass. No, no. That doesn't bother us.
It's just a nickname.
It doesn't mean anything.
It's just for fun. It doesn't bother us.
We like it. It's cute.
It's doesn't make us mad. It makes us laugh.
But when you laugh, in what language do you laugh?
And to cry, in what language do you cry?
And to scream?
And sing?
And love?
And live?

Juillet 1978.

Acadians experienced the painful betrayal of the Cajun language and culture, a betrayal that came as much from within the community as it did from Américains.   Cajuns lived isolated and relatively unnoticed.  Who would be able to revive their culture and bring belonging to these people promised "refuge from their teeming shore"? The Statue of Liberty's inscription by the late 1970's was a farce and mocked Cajun existence. 

"We real cool, we left school, we lurk late, we strike straight. We sing sin, we thin gin. We Jazz June, we die soon".  (Gwendolyn Brooks)

Colonihilism - Jean Arceneaux

Les schools boards étaient composés
De Babineaux, d'Arceneaux et de Leblanc.
C'est-tu des noms américains, ça ?
Pour les quelques Américains impliqués, ok,
Ils sont coupables d'avoir comploté
Pour assassiner un peuple,
Pour étouffer sa langue et sa culture.
Mais les Cadiens, c'était quoi leur complot ?
Le génosuicide par les mêmes moyens ?
C'est difficile de regarder l'ennemi dans les yeux.
Il faut souvent trouver un miroir.

The school boards were made up of people with names like
Babineaux, Arceneaux, and Leblanc.
Are those American names ?
For those Américains involved, fine,
They're guilty of having plotted
To assassinate a people,
To smother its language and culture.
But the Cadiens, what was their plot ?
Genosuicide by the same means ?
It's hard to look the enemy in the eyes.
Sometimes you need a mirror.

Arceneaux acidic poems sometimes will burn out the eyes of his readers. His brutal honesty depicts the necessary wake up call to the rest of America about what exactly happened to this beautiful culture forced to turn Anglican.  "Low life no more"  Arceneaux turns the tables and places a mirror in the Cajun oppressors faces like a contemptious child. He believes that Americans Let the Good Times Roll (but only for the money and tourism).

Pour faire de l'argent,  Il faut chanter en anglais.  Pour sauver l'héritage,  Il faut chanter en français,  À n'importe quel âge,  Juste parce que. (To make money,  You have to sing in English.  To save our heritage,  You have to sing in French,  At any age,  Just because.  You can't buy a crumb of bread With fifty cents of heritage, But you can't buy a crumb of heritage.)  (Arceneaux)

Acadiana needs an Evangeline more than ever to preserve a dying heritage that is mocked by TV Shows like Swamp People, to be delivered from those people who scream from balconies in New Orleans egging on women to "Show me your ****!".  Beads slinging over head, drunken Mardi Gras American debauchery ignoring three centuries of important culture that slams into contemporary insanity.

We jazz june... we die soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Antonine Maillet - Acadian Avenger // A Modern Day Evangeline

Antonine Maillet is one of Canada's best-known writers. The soul of contemporary Acadian literature, Maillet has been responsible for generating pride in her people through her stories depicting strong-willed Acadians. She was the first non-French citizen to win the Prix Goncourt.

 "I have avenged my ancestors," said author Antonine Maillet in 1979 with the publication of her book Pélagie-la-Charrette. Maillet broke new ground and became the voice of disenfranchised Acadians. She would tell the sad tale of the Acadian expulsion in the 18th century. She would also write about mothers, a washerwoman named la Sagouine, bootleggers, fishermen, dreamers — struggling to exist alongside the English majority.  

Maillet was the first author to write in the Acadian vernacular, a language derived from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French. Her body of work helped define the Acadian culture, a culture which, over two hundred years, successive governmental powers have tried to destroy. Her best-known work, Pélagie-la-Charrette (1979) dramatizes the exodus that occurred in Canada after the British destroyed a settlement of French-speaking Acadians in 1755 and dispersed the people along the eastern coast of North America. Some, such as the Cajun in Louisiana, formed new settlements, but many surreptitiously made their way back to Canada.

Maillet is an inspiring Acadian woman who is known to be the spokesperson for the Acadian people.  She still continues to give presentations today. Antonine gives voice to Longfellow's character - Evangeline - and adds her own flavor of Acadian strength through her own Acadian character, Le Segouine.   This interview is ten minutes long but worth every second to watch it. Please listen to Antonine’s timeless message of encouragement, hope and wisdom for women and all people to give them strength to “reach beyond the stars”.... 

Credits: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Last updated: April 22, 2006.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Food with Flare - with Louisiana hot sauce of course

Let’s face it, it’s a foodie heaven down in Southeastern Louisiana and all over Acadian Country! The French Cajun cooking is a very unique style of cooking that blends the spicy with haute cuisine! So today’s blog will have lots of flavor about the fun exquisite mouth watering facts of Cajun Cooking.

Cajun cooking has very few exact recipes. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that and like Emeril would say a little bit of BAM! Ever hear of a Lagniappe (pronounced Lan-yap). A lagniappe is “something extra thrown in” and originates as an Italian word. This Southeastern Cuisine Chefs are brilliant with Lagniappe and spices…but it’s more than that. Gumbo? What kind would you like? Chicken, frog leg, shrimp, you name it, gumbo is more than stew. It’s like stew on steroids! Wow…and is it tasty.

The mood of the cook decides the taste. I hate to have a cook who has had a bad day! Often times, since a chef’s mood dictates taste, you often time will meet the heart and soul of the chef just by tasting their food.

Grocery stores are amazing in this region. The spices and racks of ingredients especially for Cajun cuisine take over aisles and have much to choose from and the smells over take you as you walk in automatic doors. It hits you sometimes so hard, your eyes will water. Little old ladies wobbling down aisles of Cajun ingredients inspecting each little canister of spice like it was priceless. The fresh baked breads and of course, gotta add some Cracklin in your cart to round off snack time. Cracklin’ you ask? Google it... It takes courage to eat Cracklin’.

I’ve eaten and love Jambes de Grenouilles. Only farm raised please. The ones out of the Bayou are touchy and can give you a good case of indigestion. And no folks, they do not taste like chicken. They taste like Grenouille!

Real Boulangerie’s and Boucherie’s exist for your pleasure – the old fashioned heart and soul French butcher and bread shops.

Want some really good food? Step up to the trailer with the graffiti on it in the back of the alley, walk right in and make yourself at home. The only thing this place is missing is a password and a drug addict to answer the door. It’s just darn scary walking up to this joint. A  "Bienvenue Bon Creole" sign hangs crooked on the wall. Po’ Boys are their speciality. Po’ boy sandwiches originated in Acadian Country. Folks in the depression did not have the means anymore to really put great meat on their sandwiches so they started to put anything they could afford on them. Thus the name.

The heart of Acadian cooking is as unique as any cuisine in the US. Recipes generations old passed down and then blended with Spanish, Haitian and French… this style of cuisine is a heart burner in a good way. Be careful though… that hot sauce is HOT HOT HOT! So… if you have a chance to visit Acadian country..make sure you Throw in a little jazz, hot sauce (Louisiana hot sauce of course) and enough time in the mix…and then you can say you’re really  cookin’!  Laissez les bon temps roulez !!!!  

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Waiting Out The Heat

The temperatures are soaring and tempers are growing short for almost the 100th day in a row here.  The brilliance of the sun pounds the asphalt at 325F/162C degrees lifting mirages off into the distance.  The temperatures have been in the triple digits (and for my Celsius friends that’s upward near 43 degrees) and has been doing so consecutively for more than 90 some days.  It started back on June 22nd and has been relentless since then. Indeed it’s hotter than 14 Hades.

I remember those days riding in the thistle torn desert amongst hot thirsty cattle wondering when we would arrive safely at camp as we rode hearty horses to our next host’s destination.   I learned to never dip my hat into a cattle trough full of algae and put it on my head as it made me smell like “cow” the entire day.  Sweat less heat took our breath away as the oppressiveness of it rose to greet us by 8am.  Hotter than 127F/50C.We shut our horses and ourselves down by nine a.m.

The desert is different; reprieve from heat comes on the heels of amazing sunsets. Not much but enough to bear it. Beautiful weather by 9pm and then easy sleep. We looked forward to that promise day in and day out.   Eventually after riding 3 days on and one day off, it wasn’t enough rest for my horse and me.  One of us went to the hospital, one of us was feeling pretty puny and even though I was drinking 2 gallons of water a day, my body needed more than water and rest;  it needed a break from the heat and some electrolytes. Gatorade didn’t work.  Then I started to notice the stagger in my horse.  My black horse, Fancy.  I went home.

We didn’t have to carry any gear; we had a support vehicle meet us every two miles for water breaks for the horses and for us.  I remember those 212 miles in the desert.     

In Western Oklahoma there is no promise of reprieve when the sun sets and begins a new day for my friends in Australia.  The heat stays heavily and lingering with its boa constrictor grasp on its inhabitants like a constant unwanted blanket wrapping us too tightly near our throats.  Our skin feels like fire and our eyeballs parched with screaming heat. Our lips cracked like the land itself separating as it begs for rain as this drought threatens existence as it did with the Maya.

With horse travel, I promised my horse and myself that if  I didn’t have to subject my horse and me to the extremes of life, don’t do it;  only if it’s a life or death matter.

An amazing offer of kindness came from my friend Anna on the way to Oklahoma.  Anna wanted to go on this ride with me but for family reasons she is unable to go with me.  Anyway, after looking for about 5 weeks for transport without success, her father offered to transport Evangeline and me ALL the way back to Louisiana so we can start there instead.  Ironically, this long ride was happening partly to a true need of transport.  The rates were outrageous and I figured I could ride Evangeline back for half the cost. Yes, horses truly get better gas mileage!

Usually I have no pace and no rush… but this time I have to be back by January 1st to start school. Anyway, Anna’s father is able to take us back on Sept. 24th.

There is a time for all of us to realize what is just good common sense.  I hate that I have to wait until Sept 24th to begin this odyssey. While in Oklahoma though I can work with Eve and help around the ranch there until that time comes. I will continue to assess Evangeline and get her more back up into shape, shots, coggins done and etc..before we depart. 

That look in her eye says she is ready to go like I am..but I just have to wait out the heat and do what’s smart for BOTH of us.  I have a feeling this heat won’t break until mid October.   My original plan was to start on October 28th so I am still ahead of the game.   

Whether I leave now or in a few weeks or October 28th, the point is that I am leaving and continuing to live my dreams. 

Over and out for now – September 3, 2011