30 November 2011

Follow Up Post on Sub Cultures

I suppose I should fully explain yesterday's post on "subcultures." Within the great American culture are numerous, at least 1.56 million subcultures. I am apart of many: the liberal Protestant subculture, which can be even sub divided into the liberal-evangelical social gospel variety. Then there is the whole Baptist - a rather large and sometime ubiquitous subculture. Then there are the following: the Appalachian subculture, the foodie subculture, the loves baseball but never really pays attention to September subculture, the wishes NFL offenses were not so predictable subculture, the prefers playing on Sunday afternoons rather than watching football subculture, the typewriter subculture, the cannot stop reading Roald Dahl books subculture, and so on and so on.

I have participated in each of these subcultures (still do actually) but never gave much thought about how miniscule they are in relation to the larger American culture. Then one winter night I attended my first beekeeping class in Rhode Island. There I was confronted with a whole new subculture that I never knew existed and that I could never have imagined. Beekeepers who would have thunk it.

So what was so different about the beekeepers in RI? For the record the following explanation is totally conjecture and speculation on my part, I have no physical proof to substantiate this offering. I found a group of people who were lonely & bored who found in beekeeping a supportive group of people and a hobby to devote countless hours and dollars. Spread out through southern New England you would never notice this quiet and non-threatening subculture but grouped together in a class one could not mistake them. I kid you not - Black and Gold minivans, esoteric and over the top corny beekeeping bumper stickers, black and gold flannel shirts, beekeeping t-shirts that had to be printed in small batches of no more than 15, dreams of sweet pepper bush blooming in the Spring.

My next introduction into a subculture took place a couple of years ago when I took the kids on a steam train tour. The kids loved the train, they climbed all over the outside, they pulled the chain to let the whistle blow, the ran from car to car, and rang the bell. I, however, was more interested in the conversations going on by members of the Steam Train Association. I heard one man telling onlookers about a bridge over the Mississippi with such detail and passion that I can only surmise that this man waits with great expectation every year for this one day when he has the opportunity to share his knowledge and love.

Thomas Merton, in reflecting about his vocation of prayer as a monk, once remarked that the perhaps the prayers of the monks at Gethesemani were the only act keeping the world from spinning off into madness. Now I do not think the existence of subcultures have the same impact but I do think the pleasure, sense of worth, education and relationships they build do keep the madness, somewhat, at bay. Can I get an Amen from the other 6 adult learners of the violin from RI and MA?

27 November 2011

introduction to another sub culture

Roughly two weeks ago my household added a new addition: a dog, a Dalmatianish mutt to be as specific as I can. We have talked about a obtaining a dog for quite a spell but never acted on our impulses. Then we received word of a litter of pups who needed homes. It was time.

blogosphere allow me to introduce you to Louie:
The criteria for the name.
1. It had to have a New Orleans connection. Name most considered by us: Napoleon but what if someone concluded that we named a dog after the former French dictator instead of the street where we celebrate carnival season.
2. Easily pronounced. Name most considered by us: Thibodaux - probably my favorite Louisiana town to pronounce. But imagine the scenario where Louis escapes and someone new finds him and then they try to pronounce Thibodaux on the dog collar.
3. Had to fit on a name tag. Name most considered by us: Tchoupitoulas. I love that name but cannot imagine a dog collar large enough to handle 13 letters.

Having a dog, thus far, has been fantastic but difficult. Many thanks to Jon Katz's book Katz on Dogs for help and assistance. Having a dog has also introduced us to the sub (rather large indeed) culture of dog ownership.

We have lived here in NOLA for almost 2.5 years. I have been able to meet the acquaintance of a number of people. But I cannot believe how many now say hello to me that I have a dog. When I go take the pup for a walk people that have never in the past even made eye contact now stop to chat. I should interject here that people are not necessarily saying hello to me as much as they are to the dog.

Just yesterday myself and a neighbor were standing out in front of the house talking about dogs. As we were chatting another neighbor came out. She said hello to the neighbor by stating hello then his name, then she looked at me - she does not know my name - so with an uncomfortable chagrined look she said hello, then she looked down and with a huge smile said and there's Louie! You see what I am talking about reader!

Perhaps Steve Martin's experience with a cute dog can best explain the phenomena of neighbors/strangers liking your dog more than you -- from the 1984 movie, A Lonely Guy:

01 November 2011

The White Suit on All Hallow's Eve

Last year Lori and I had wonderful 2011 Halloween costume ideas - so wonderful reader that I am keeping mum on them in hopes of making them for 2012 - but, things happened and we found ourselves the week of Halloween trying to conjure up some last minute ideas for ourselves.

Lori used the world wide web to find inspiration - she went as Mother Earth: she squirted a ton of hair spray on her head so her hair would stand straight up and then spray painted it green: thus grass. Then she put snakes, spiders and other critters in her hair and on her face. She accompanied this with brown make up and a brown top and pants. She looked pretty cool and a little spooky at the same time.

The progeny went as Rosie the Riveter, A Ninja, and a Vampire:

I took a different angle. I started thinking about wearing my white suit. I mean why should I let the fashion police tell me that I cannot wear it after Labor Day? First thought: Mark Twain, but too much hair. Second thought: Tom Wolfe, but too esoteric. How many kids would know that Tom Wolfe wears all white all the time? Then like a shooting star dashing across the heavens it came to me: The Colonel. That's right, the one and only Colonel Saunders!

The outfit was quite easy: a white suit, a black ribbon for a tie, some scraps of black fabric for a pocket square, some kind of puffy white pipe cleaner that I used for facial hair (which needed trimming) - eyelash paint to glue them onto my face, a pair of 3d glasses you get from the movies (just punch the "glass" out), a large KFC bucket (yes, they just gave it to me), and viola:

Reaction: as I walked around uptown trick or treating with the kids and families I noticed that my outfit brought many smiles and conjured a deep nostalgia from the other adults., i.e. lots of, "Hey its the Colonel."

If I had it to do all over again. 1. I would have painted my hair and eyebrows snow white. 2. I would have passed out chicken legs rather than biscuits (I made a pan of 'em and passed 'em out to the kids as we traversed the streets). 3. I would have driven to KFC with the outfit on and asked for the bucket rather than go in civilian clothes. 4. I would have worked for weeks on one liners. After I dropped the family off and searched for a parking space a gentleman on a bicycle rode past and asked, "Hey Colonel, what's in those 11 herbs and spices?" Man I wish I had spent some time prepping for that! Next year...