Documentary about the rapidly fading Cajun culture in rural Louisiana. About half of the tape focuses on Nathan Abshire, "Mr. Accordion," who performs traditional music with his band and talks about the old life. The other major focus of the tape is the celebration of Cajun Mardi Gras.
0:00Copy video clip URL Count-in, WNET logo, warning that the programing is intended for a mature audience. Opening aerial shots of the area and a map of Louisiana.
0:54Copy video clip URL Title: The Good Times Are Killing Me. Cajun County, 1975. With the Balfa Bros. The players play and titles give brief introductions to the people featured in the documentary.
3:26Copy video clip URL What are Cajuns? The culture is explained during Cajun hour at CC’s Lounge in Basile Louisiana where people dance to live music.
5:30Copy video clip URL Mr. Accordion: Part One. While moving items from his truck to a small landfill, Nathan “Mr. Accordion” Abshire introduces himself.
7:26Copy video clip URL Abshire tells the story of how he began playing the accordion many years ago. A woman explains that Abshire is very famous, but he doesn’t believe it. He explains his songwriting process – he can’t write, so he just composes his songs in his head.
11:17Copy video clip URL Comments about Nathan: “Nathan is Cajun, period. Symbolically and any way you want to look at it…” “He’s a legend, an institution, he’s a hero, he’s everybody’s idol.”
11:36Copy video clip URL Abshire’s band plays The Captain’s Waltz.
14:46Copy video clip URL At Malise’s beauty shop, the proprietor, Priscilla, and her customers entertain each other with bawdy jokes.
17:38Copy video clip URL Priscilla explains that she was brought up very strict and talks a little bit about her her life leading up to her marriage. The other women talk about men, marriage, and Elvis.
22:02Copy video clip URL Priscilla and a friend try on their costumes for Mardi Gras.
23:52Copy video clip URL The Acadian Two-Step. People at a party demonstrate the free-wheeling dance as Abshire’s band plays.
26:30Copy video clip URL The Banker’s son shares portraits of his family and begins dressing up in his Mardi Gras costume – a woman. This annual tradition is treated with a certain level of seriousness, and it is explained that his mother always wished she had a daughter instead of five sons.
28:20Copy video clip URL The Banker’s son talks about life where he lives in Louisiana, “As far as any future, there’s no future.”
30:10Copy video clip URL His mother does his make-up and touches up his hair so he’s all ready for the Mardi Gras celebration.
31:52Copy video clip URL Mystery Fried Chicken sign. Shots of chickens in distress. The traditional way of killing a chicken by spinning it in a circle to break its neck is demonstrated. A woman tries to rip a chicken’s head off, but says it takes a man to do it. Two girls claim they eat anything and they list the bizarre meat parts they eat. A man and his wife share stories about his Mardi Gras costumes.
34:02Copy video clip URL Mardi Gras. Text explains the origins of the event and the particular way the Cajuns celebrate it.
36:33Copy video clip URL Masked men prepare to ride horses into town to beg for chickens, as per tradition. Riders race through a field after getting their first chicken and then stop to celebrate and dance in front of the next house where they beg for more chickens
38:58Copy video clip URL “Get drunk and have fun and dance, get chickens. That’s the meaning of Mardi Gras.”
39:22Copy video clip URL There is an interview with one man who doesn’t like Mardi Gras and doesn’t participate.
43:00Copy video clip URL Horsemen parade down the street through crowds of people dancing, cheering and celebrating.
44:29Copy video clip URL Mr. Accordion Part Two. More concert footage. Nathan listens to a record of his band playing.
46:20Copy video clip URL Abshire explains that times have changed since he was young – for example, they did not used to have accordion playing in Louisiana, so he started on the fiddle. “That was old times… Now today every block they got a night club.”
48:37Copy video clip URL Ola, Nathan’s wife, and other women talk about Abshire’s drinking problem and how their adopted son’s troubles with the law may have influenced his habits to worsen.
50:37Copy video clip URL Ola shows family pictures and talks about their adopted son Ray, 20 years old, who is now in Oberlin Louisiana jail for breaking into a drug store.
52:10Copy video clip URL Nathan talks about retiring and difficult emotions surrounding his son, eventually breaking down and crying. “I worked too hard in this world…” Ola also addresses her husband’s emotional struggle.
57:39Copy video clip URL Credits