Christmas is unlike any other holiday (except possibly Mardi Gras) in that it's almost completely impossible to avoid. Observance is not optional " even if only manifested by the crowding of your local Rite Aid's shelves with reindeer-antler headbands and multiple varieties of candy canes, or by the inconveniently abbreviated hours at the grocery store as the calendar reaches the eve and day of. This is all well and good for those happy elves who see the town streets barren as the North Pole during the days surrounding Christmas as evidence that everyone is sharing their warm fuzzies, comfortably at home, roasting chestnuts on an open fire. But what about the rest of us? Some folks may be far away from their families, with no home-based holiday festivities beckoning. Some may just hate their families, and gag at the thought of stockings and stuffing. Some, like me, are Jewish, and regard the whole thing as a mandatory day off, for which we'd better stock the fridge and order up plenty of Netflix. And some people " particularly in New Orleans " simply never do anything the regular way, and Christmas is no exception. As the holiday approaches, here are some options for those who opt out of the cookies and caroling scene.
Leading up to the holiday, steeling yourself with eggnog (or something stronger) is easy to do in New Orleans. Even on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, most downtown bars will be open with some version of yuletide festivities on tap " though it may only go as far as a bartender in a Santa hat. For those escaping the family, or just plain avoiding the holiday, DJ Casingle is in residence at One Eyed Jacks (615 Toulouse St., 569-8361) in the French Quarter on Wednesdays " both on the 19th and on Boxing Day, spinning New Orleans bounce classics. Even more in " or out of " the spirit is the second annual 'How The Goths Stole Christmas" DJ night at Dragon's Den (435 Esplanade Ave., 949-1750) at 11 p.m. on Friday. DJs Schadenfreude, Wrapped In Plastic and Tot Kuhjunge " the usual perpetrators of the Shadow Gallery goth/industrial dance party " announced, via flyers, that they have kidnapped Santa Claus and will be giving prizes to the best 'dark holiday costumes." Billed as a 'Black Christmas worth dying for," the party also will feature a fire dance performance celebrating the Winter Solstice.
Bringing political consciousness to the holiday scene are the activist workers of the Common Ground Collective, who've written a series of post-Katrina-themed alternative carols aimed at those who want to protest something weightier than an overcooked turkey. Viewable at http://www.commongroundrelief.org/node/358, the cleverly written original parodies include 'You're A Mean One, Mr. Bush," 'The Twelve Days Of Katrina" ('On the seventh day of Katrina, our leaders gave to me " seven unsafe shelters, late relief workers, five armed marines, no sign of FEMA, many missed meals, breeched levees And a grim refuge at the damned dome"), 'God Rest Ye City Councilmen" and 'They're Beginning to Lock Out All Your Freedoms," sung to the tune of 'It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas."
There's some truth to the rumor/stereotype that on Christmas, we Jews go to the movies and eat Chinese food. Semites and Gentiles alike can take part in that tradition this year. Nine Roses Chinese and Vietnamese restaurant (1100 Stephen St., Gretna, 366-7665) is keeping regular hours on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day, the film Juno opens at Canal Place Cinemas (1 Canal Place, 363-1117; www.landmarktheatres.com) " a heartwarming, quirky comedy about a pregnant 14-year-old penned by former exotic dancer Diablo Cody.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day fall on a Monday and a Tuesday, generally weak days for entertainment at the best of times. However, the stalwart Rebirth Brass Band will still be taking up its regular post at the Maple Leaf Bar (8316 Oak St., 866-9359) on Tuesday night, Dec. 25. And just down the street, Snake and Jake's Christmas Club Lounge (7612 Oak St., 861-2802) will be pouring all night long " celebrating the one time of year that their décor is actually appropriate.
- Neither rain, nor sleet, nor federal holiday will keep the Rebirth Brass Band from its regularly scheduled Tuesday night gig at the Maple Leaf.