Archive | February, 2011

Barkus 2011

27 Feb

I love, love, love Barkus, the dog parade that marches through the French Quarter!

This year, the theme was Broadway Tails.

We found this spunky little orphan dog on the way to the parade, and we just had to make her a part of our family! Can you guess what we named her?

Hail the Queen of Barkus!

Go! Go! little dog in a harness!

It’s Joseph in his technicolor dreamcoat!

Must end this post with our sweet girl! We didn’t really find her on a stoop, but she is a rescue dog. I wouldn’t get a pet any other way.

‘tit Rex 2011

27 Feb

‘tit Rex is a parade of miniature, handmade floats that are pulled along by their makers. This year’s theme was “Too Little, Too Late.”

The Egg Yolk Jubilee Band marched with the parade.

This was one of my favorites: Revenge of the B.P. Mutant Ninja Shrimp.

This one was titled “Ya Can’t Fix Ugly.”

This was our pal Gina Phillips’ float! It had an Alice in Wonderland theme, with Alice looking down into the rabbit hole. I’m in love with the rabbit, with his long, serene face. Gina is a brilliant artist, and her website is here.

This was our pal Caesar Meadows’ float. I love the joke about the high lead levels found in our city’s soil recently. See how the kids’ eyes are all glowy? Caesar does comic strips for some local magazines, among other things, and has a website here.

After seeing the whole parade near the beginning, we went home for a bit and then came back out to Vaughn’s, the end spot. We got to Vaughn’s just before the parade arrived, and when they did, the Egg Yolk Jubilee Band did “When the Saints Go Marching In.” I did a little video, and though the acoustics are pretty bad, it was a fabulous moment.

If you are lucky when you go, you will get some tiny throws. Here is my booty:

Tiny bead necklace, tiny felt fortune cookie, tiny frog, tiny comic, pipe cleaner jack, and a couple of nuts painted up all zulu coconut-esque! Hooray!

I feel so lucky to live in a city where people do this kind of stuff. All the money and time and creativity that goes into it. So much love.

 

 

A Mardi Gras Documentary (sort of)

23 Feb

The other day I watched Mardi Gras: Made In China. I knew it wouldn’t be a feel-good Carnival movie, as it’s about a Chinese bead factory. But I didn’t think I’d dislike it as much as I did, or that it would make me feel defensive about Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

I will start by saying that I used to have the Bourbon Street image of Mardi Gras, and that is why it didn’t interest me in the least. I ended up visiting on Mardi Gras one year by accident (really) and that is when I discovered that there are lots wonderful and creative aspects of the holiday. Walk down Royal Street instead, just one street towards the river, and you see tons of people in great costumes…I was going to say instead of the drunk throngs, but I should amend that to say drunk throngs of a different kind. A more fun kind, if you asked me.

Carnival is a time when everyone celebrates together. It’s a family thing, a partying thing, an open house thing, a meet-your-neighbors thing. I know some people just look to Mardi Gras as a time to get drunk and flash or be flashed, but for me, it’s so much more.

And while I sympathize with the issue of worker exploitation and hate the terrible reality of a Chinese factory worker making one cent for every twelve necklaces she makes, I felt the filmmaker went wrong with the narrow focus of the film. It really touches on so many complex issues like globalization and different economic systems and tries to make it all simplistic. And in doing so, I think he also does a disservice to the culture of carnival in New Orleans.

And, I mean, I do agree that beads and throws can be a bit silly. They are just cheap, plastic things. But I’ll confess that I forget myself when I’m at parades and I get into the thrill of it all. Heck, last year I almost climbed over a police barricade to get one of those giant toothbrushes. It’s fun, for goodness sake. And I defend fun with all my heart.

One thing struck me about the restrictive factory life, which is really life inside a factory compound for the people who work there. I had a thought that, in a way, Mardi Gras is part of what is right with our lives and what everyone deserves. Everyone deserves leisure time. Everyone deserves freedom of behavior and expression. You can denigrate Mardi Gras, and goodness knows there are elements begging for denigration, but there are elements that are just about the best things in life as well.

And so I will say with equal vigor, “Workers of the world unite!” and “Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!”

Krewe du Vieux

20 Feb

Saturday night was Krewe du Vieux. It is my favorite parade for so many reasons: it’s the only one to go through the Marigny and French Quarter; it has some horse-drawn floats; and it’s satirical and raunchy with a d.i.y. vibe. ┬áIt’s also the first real parade of the season, so you know Carnival is really kicking in!

It’s hard to get good pictures, but I tried!

Krewe of C. R. U. D. E.

I wish I got a better photo of this last one. It’s the Krewe of Inane, and the image is of an absinthe fairy riding a pink elephant. Love!

If you want to see more pictures, you can check out the Times-Picayune’s photos.

I also did a few videos, which are pretty dark, but you can see how it’s a very up close and personal parade with excellent brass bands. There’s even a little bit of a horse at the end.

I Heart Banksy

19 Feb

I was super busy this Valentine’s Day, what with it being Adam’s birthday and doing the red velvet recipe showdown and all. It took me days to go take a picture of the red-heart-adorned Banksy, and I was so happy they were still there! I even like how some are starting to spill onto the sidewalk.

Most of the Banksy works I know of in the city have been painted over, but this plexi-covered one remains. Luckily, it’s my favorite one. Love to Banksy and love to whomever preserved it ’til now.

Cupcake Toppers

19 Feb

Because I was baking Adam red velvet cupcakes for his birthday, which happens to be Valentine’s day, I decided to do the red velvet cupcake recipe showdown and give a bunch of cupcakes away.

I like to think that Valentine’s Day is about love in general, not just romantic love, so I’ve done treats for friends other years. Also, my husband is a pretty indiscriminately enthusiastic eater of all food, which a great trait overall. But when you are doing a recipe showdown, you want more comments than, “They are both good!” Friends needed to be engaged as more critical voices.

So, all this to say, if I’m giving people a bunch of Valentine’s Day red velvet cupcakes, they need some kind of holiday topper! I googled heart images and other such things and picked four different ones. Adam was nice enough to size the images and make them into a grid for me, then I cut and glued them to toothpicks.

They came out pretty funny, and I was relieved that other people thought they were funny, too. That doesn’t always happen to me!

Sorry they are not the best images, but you get the idea! The possibilities are endless with this kind of cupcake topper!

Red Velvet Recipe Showdown

19 Feb

Adam wanted red velvet for his birthday, which was perfect because I had a recipe with “amped up” chocolate-i-ness that I wanted to try. I found the recipe for the amped up red velvet cupcakes over at Shelterific, and for comparison, I also made a dozen cupcakes using the Magnolia Bakery recipe on which Megan B. based her version.

I think everyone who tried both loved the extra-chocolaty version, including me. Both had a kind of crispy top that was really good. You usually don’t get variations of texture in a cupcake, so that was a yummy surprise, especially when they were warm out of the oven.

I used Megan B.’s mom’s cream cheese icing recipe, and it was excellent. Don’t you hate cream cheese icing when you have to look for the cream cheese flavor? This one isn’t like that at all.

Now, the one hitch in the amped up version is that it calls for red cocoa, which is more expensive and which I could only find by mail order. After one bite of the amped up cupcakes, I decided it was worth the trouble and expense. Then my friend was telling me about Hershey’s extra dark cocoa powder. I didn’t even know that existed, but I’m sure it’s easier to find and less spendy than red cocoa powder. And I found a recipe on wit and whistle that calls for about as much cocoa powder as the amped up ones…so now I’m thinking I need to do a showdown with the new recipe using extra dark cocoa powder vs. the amped up recipe. I’m sure no one will complain about another taste test!