Author Archives: jdgainey

University of Alabama Bid Day

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age:
Occupation:
Residence: New Orleans
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/20/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

Bid day at the University of Alabama is like Christmas, Easter, and every other holiday wrapped into one. Every single PNM, potential new member, is waiting with their Rho Chi, or rush, group in Bryan Denny Stadium, at 2pm they open their bids, find out what sorority they have gotten an offer from. Then by sorority, each PNM runs to their house with utter joy. All of a sorority’s active members are present outside of their house waiting for their new sisters to come home to their house. During bid day family members come down to celebrate this news. Fraternity brothers from the university also come to the sorority row and hand out roses to the new members while they are running home. It is one of the biggest celebrations on campus as thousands of new sisters are running down the row.

Context:

EG is a member of a sorority at the University of Alabama and a sophomore. She has been in her sorority for two years and had experienced both sides of this tradition. She finds it is more exciting as an active as you know more people. This piece was taken during a conversation at our home.

Thoughts:

As a member of a fraternity at USC, I understand some of the excitement of bid day. It is a moment is a freshman’s life where they get to join an organization allows them to be the best version of themselves that they can be. Greek Life at the University of Alabama is known for having the biggest presence on any campus in the nation. At USC, our sorority’s also have their bid day all at once. New members run down the row from the Village Lawn into their new sorority house. As my fraternity’s house is near several sorority houses, I can say that EG’s description of her bid day sounds similar to USC’s, but on a much, much larger scale. I find this celebration to also be a really rewarding time after having to go through a lengthy recruitment period.

University of Alabama – Dixieland Delight Chant

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age: 20
Occupation:
Residence: New Orleans
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/20/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

Dixieland Delight is a song by the rock band Alabama, but is more formally known as a chanting song during Alabama football games. It originally wasn’t intended as a song for the university’s football team, but they adopted it as their own. They add their own lyrics in between the verses of the chorus. It’s a tradition to sing it at the start of the 4th quarter of home games. The words between the chorus vary and expletives about their state school rivals in the region are added to it. Because of this her freshman year they weren’t allowed to play this song during football games, but this was lifted her sophomore year.

One constant verse of the song is as follows (additions are in italics):

“A little turle dovin’ on a Mason-Dixon night. F*** AUBURN.

Fits my life. LSU. oh so right. AND TENNESSEE TOO.

My Dixieland Delight.”

Context:

EG is a sophomore at the University of Alabama, and has attended football games for the past two seasons. Both of her parents attended the school and are also avid fans of the team. She was raised an Alabama fan her whole life and has never been otherwise. This was taken from a conversation at our house.

Thoughts:

This trend of chants is appealing to me as it takes a song and adds lyrics to it, similar to a mashup or a cover. This seems to be used as a method of getting the crowd at their games riled up so that they can have a lot of spirit. This being done at the beginning of the fourth quarter would mean that they get much more energy during for the final push of the game. This greatly reminds me of when the USC Band plays Tusk during football games. While we don’t use expletives during the songs, we do add our own lyrics. A similar style of song that is also in the SEC, Alabama’s football conference, is LSU’s chant to the song “Neck”. Students also chant it during games to the point where it got banned. (https://youtu.be/Ji-mFaIAcX4, Neck, LSU Band and Student Body).

Mardi Gras Cups

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age:
Occupation:
Residence: New Orleans
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/20/20
Primary Language:
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

SG has been to Mardi Gras almost every year since she was a little kid. Decorated plastic cups are a typical throw in every Mardi Gras Parade. Parades, known as Krewes to the locals, each have a unique name and theme to them. Riders in each parade have “throws”, which are items riders throw off of floats. These commonly include beads and doubloons, but what is solemnly talked about is cups. Cups are a collectible item during Mardi Gras as they have more value than most other throws. Not only can you keep it as a memorate of a parade, but you can use it for years to come. Families collect these and use them as normal drinking vessels in their homes and lives. Go in any cabinet and next to the glass cups you will find various Mardi Gras cups themed to each parade.

A Swig of History: The Mardi Gras Cup | Where Y'at
https://www.whereyat.com/a-swig-of-history-the-mardi-gras-cup

Context:

SG is my mother and has been to Mardi Gras with kids since I was born. She is from New Orleans and attends every year. This was taken during a conversation with her in our backyard while reminiscing Mardi Gras. She still collects cups and send me them each year.

Thoughts:

As a New Orleanian and a avid fan of Mardi Gras, as I have been many times before, I did not realize that this was not much of a practice outside of New Orleans, collecting cups to use throughout the years. For instance, after my first year at USC, I missed Mardi Gras for the first time in my life. As a response I got my parents to ship me a King Cake and some decorated cups. In the house I was living in, I used them frequently, and people always commented on the designs on the cups calling them unique. I was so used to using the cups that I never took a moment to think about the designs. Each design reflects the idea of that parade. Krewe D’etat, a parade devoted to a satirical take on the previous year, would have cups that mock events from the last year. Krewe of Muses, an all female parade, would have cups with feminine symbols such as the iconic red lips symbol of the krewe. Each design is unique and can only be gotten if one attended that parade in that year.

Summer Camp Taps Tradition

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age: 22
Occupation:
Residence:
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/28/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

BO, a junior at USC, shared this story from a Musician Summer Camp he attended. He says, “Like at 10PM everynight we would all have to be in bed in our cabins while they play a military trumpet song called Taps. Everyone was supposed to be extremely quiet and if you made any noise you’d get in trouble. The idea was it was supposed to give everyone in the whole camp a few minutes of silence to reflect on their day.”

Context:

BO is a junior at USC. He attended this music summer camp from ages 12 to 18 and was familiar with lots of its traditions. This piece was taken during a text chat with BO.

Thoughts:

This tradition seems to reflect the discipline that they would teach at the camp. BO explained how they would train a lot during this musician camp, and discipline is a big part of this training. Playing Taps, a military song which is typically played during solemn times, shows how this moment at the end of their day is a time for them to reflect. The formal nature of it also shows how they are training their musicians to be disciplined, and self reflection is important to that.

Mertz til it Hurtz – Loyola University

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age: 19
Occupation:
Residence: New Orleans
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/28/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

TF, a freshman at Loyola University Chicago, stays in Mertz Hall, a dorm at Loyola Chicago. One tradition they have there is “Mertz til it Hurtz”. TF explains: “There is a Freshman tradition called Mertz til it Hurts. This is named after the freshman dorm Mertz. The floors compete against each other in various challenges. The competition is where students climb the 18 flights of stairs of Mertz tower as quickly as possible. The “Hurtz” comes from your shins hurting. ”

Context:

TF is a freshman at Loyola University Chicago. She is a relative of mine and is in her first year in college. As a freshman she would have participated in the Green Door tradition very recently.

Thoughts:

At USC, due to zoning codes and safety, we do not have very tall dormitories. The dorm I stayed in, Marks Tower, only had 8 floors, so this idea of a competition to get to the top floor was not an idea that we had. What this shows is the spirits and effort that Loyola Chicago students have towards their dorm’s competition. Since TF mentioned how people are very competitive at it, it shows how even over a small things like climbing 18 flights of stairs, Loyola students are very competitive and devoted to their craft, even in times of stress on them.

Green Doors at Loyola University

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age: 19
Occupation:
Residence: New Orleans
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/28/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

TF, a freshman at Loyola University Chicago, explains the lore of the Green Doors at Cudahy Library.

“So there are these green doors to our library and they only open on the first day of classes and on graduation every year. So on the first day of classes, freshmen will walk through them into the library. Then on graduation, the seniors will walk through them out of the library.”

Context:

TF is a freshman at Loyola University Chicago. She is a relative of mine and is in her first year in college. As a freshman she would have participated in the Green Door tradition very recently.

Thoughts

As a USC student, we do not have many traditions like this one. These is not many things or places that we can only go at certain times in our education. The concept of going through the doors represents how they are starting and ending their education through the same doors of the university. What this reminds me of is my college tours during my junior and senior year of high school when tour guides mentioned similar things such as seals and places that you are forbidden to go with the risk of not graduating if you go there. For Instance, Boston University has a legend where stepping on the university seal can put your graduation at risk (see http://www.bu.edu/articles/2019/boston-university-seal/).

Red Egg Party

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age:
Occupation:
Residence: Chicago, IL
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/29/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

According to RE, a traditional Chinese celebration for newborn babies is called a Red Egg Party. “The red egg party is to celebrate the one month birthday of a new baby. You rub their head with green onion sticks and a red egg, and throw a celebration with red dyed eggs. Right of passage sort of thing. Belief of good health, intelligence, long life etc.”

Context:

RE, is a sophomore at USC and is familiar with Chinese traditions. She is very invested in this culture and knows a lot about it. This was taken from a conversion over text regarding these traditions.

Thoughts:

What immediately comes to mind when I think of this is its similarities to a baptism. The purpose of both is a right of passage into a new light and they are both typically done in the first month of a human’s life. One thing I was not able to investigate into is why a red egg and green onions. Though theses are to represent “good health, intelligence, long life etc.”, I was not sure why. This as a right of passage makes a lot of sense. It instills Chinese values into the child one month into their lives and brings them into the culture.

Chinese Housewarming Tradition

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age:
Occupation:
Residence: Chicago, IL
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/29/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

According to RE, there is a Chinese tradition for when you buy a home. “When you first buy a house, before you enter for the first time you have to throw new, shiny coins into the house then the first three items you bring in is oil, sugar, and rice. The meaning behind it is that the coins bring money into the house. Oil sugar and rice bring prosperity.”

Context:

RE, is a sophomore at USC and is familiar with Chinese traditions. She is very invested in this culture and knows a lot about it. This was taken from a conversion over text regarding these traditions.

Thoughts:

I think this traditions is interesting. One thing I know about eastern cultures is that they have values and traditions that have to go with omens. One trend I notice is that omens play a big part in their lives whether good or bad. Symbolize matters a lot and this piece speaks to that part of Chinese culture. Throwing new coins into the house as the first item is obviously a symbol of money, which is a goal for people in life. Another symbol is the oil, sugar, and rice. These being signs of prosperity make sense as they are basic ingredients in food. Prosperity is the idea of living a good life and the start to that is always having food on the table. This helps add to the idea that symbols play a huge role in Eastern Asian culture.

Ultimate Frisbee Lingo

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age:
Occupation:
Residence: Washington D.C.
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/29/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

J is a member of USC’s ultimate frisbee team. In Ultimate Frisbee there are many terms that are used during a game to talk about strategy, they are:

“Laying Out” is when you jump forward and go parallel to the ground to catch the disk

A “Bid” is when someone jumps to get a disk

A “Blade” is a frisbee that’s thrown really vertically

“Bookends” are when you block the disc from being caught by the other team, then you catch it to score a point

“Cutter” is the catcher, “handler” is the thrower

“Chilly” is what you say when you want someone to calm down and not just throw the disc immediately.

Context:

J is a sophomore at USC and a member of USC’s Ultimate Frisbee club team. He has competed on this team for two years and enjoys the sport very much. This was taken from a text chat with him discussing ultimate frisbee.

Thoughts:

While at USC I had played with the Ultimate team for one semester before quitting to focus on other things. One thing I hadn’t learned are the terms above. I find that they would definitely be confusing to any new fan or player that has not heard of them before. The only term I knew from J’s list is “Chilly”. During one of the games I played in my one semester on the team, I remember people saying “Chilly” right people got the disc, and I was unfamiliar with what it mean. However, since it sounds similar to “chill” like “chill out” I understood that it meant to calm down. Other terms don’t make much sense to a new player like a “Bookend” for instance. How would one know that it is a term for blocking a disc? I think that this language reflects the culture of Ultimate Frisbee and its uniqueness as a sport as a whole.

Holy Name of Jesus Crawfish Boil Competition

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age:
Occupation:
Residence: New Orleans
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/20/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

SG is a mother in New Orleans. Crawfish boils are major events throughout New Orleans and Louisiana as a whole. They tend to be more of a social hour rather than a meal. Holy Name of Jesus, SG son’s school, has an annual crawfish boil as a fundraiser for their school. Around 10 different groups, parents and relatives of kids at the school, compete to see who makes the best crawfish boil. Generally each boil has potatoes, corn, crawfish, seasoning, but everyone puts their own spin on it trying to win the competition. The voters are the students and families visiting, and they each get tickets which they can give to the group that they think had the best crawfish. We have gone a couple of years in a row, and they usually have good music, atmosphere, and of course food. As a social hour, since Crawfish at typically eaten standing up, you stand around a table with others and socialize more than just eat crawfish. SG says that crawfish boils are a big aspect of Louisana culture.

Context:

SG is a resident of New Orleans who’s youngest sons attend Holy Name of Jesus School. She has attended this with the rest of her family since her youngest sons attended the school, and plans to go after.

Thoughts:

The idea of this being a social event is really appealing to me. The idea of dining as a social event has always been present be it with dates, luncheons, or business dinners, but this is different. It is similar to a barbecue or cookout, in which you invite others over to eat with you and socialize, but is unique in how people are positions. The fact that you are usually standing at a crawfish boil is interesting to me because that is more like behavior at a bar which functions mainly as a social place. The idea of it being a competition is also interesting because it shows the culture of food in New Orleans. It shows that everyday people in the city care about perfecting the craft that their city is known for and that they want people to socialize around it.