Turns out I have two more items bookmarked from the previously mentioned Sociological Images blog, so I’ll just quickly clear the decks here.
First: In this earlier post I mentioned the documentary about Mardi Gras beads (Mardi Gras: Made In China). This post on Sociological Images checks in on the subject of beads: The writer, though charmed by the glistening objects dripping from trees well past Carnival season, got curious about where they came from etc. In addition to citing the documentary, she quotes from a book called Authentic New Orleans: “Workers in China sew the plastic beads for $4.25 a day, or about $85 a month. Local krewes contract with U.S. bead distributors to order customized beads to sell to individual members,” etc.
Not exactly a huge revelation to anybody vaguely familiar with Mardi Gras, or, you know, the modern economy, that this is the underlying system. But still.
In a different post, the writer cites the same book in saying that “beads for boobs” began in the 1970s. You may recall this earlier post here summarizing Mardi Gras-related research said something similar and offered various theories of actual scholars on the the underlying “meanings” of this “ritual.”
As you may know, I have some thoughts about bead-mania (from the perspective of scrumming for beads as a parade-watcher, and being the target of bead-hungry onlookers while parading in Krewe du Vieux) in a chapter of Letters From New Orleans.