Tomorrow, March 8, is Fat Tuesday, a single day of excess before forty days of sacrifice and deprivation. Here in Michigan the holiday is called Pazcki Day in honor of the jelly doughnuts everyone gobbles down. But not for me. The day I say It’s Pazcki Day! instead of Yes, I’m eating five Peppermint Patties because it’s Fat Tuesday is the same day I order a pop instead of a soda which means never because I don’t even drink soda anymore and because just saying the word pop would obliterate my entire sense of myself as a superior person who doesn’t say that word.
To celebrate Mardi Gras poem-elf style, I direct you to my latest song obsession, Spearhead’s “Red Beans and Rice.” The song, a great get-up-and-dance tune from the 90’s, is an antidote to the Allen Ginsberg poem of my last post, “C’mon Pigs of Western Civilization.” On Fat Tuesday, food should be a celebration, not a symptom of moral decay. (By the same band is the more recent hit, “Say Hey (I love you).” Sorry, couldn’t get a link without an advertisement.)
Turn it up LOUD and have yourself a little Mardi Gras.
For those who will be celebrating Fat Tuesday New Orleans style, with lots of drinking, here’s a poem for you:
by Charles Baudelaire
translated by Louis Simpson
You have to be always drunk. That’s all there is to it—it’s the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.
But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.
And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: “It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”