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Mardi Gras 2011

9 Mar

I am still a little worn out from Mardi Gras; I’m so glad I didn’t have to work Ash Wednesday.

We walked through our neighborhood, the Marigny, to the French Quarter like we usually do. It has become a moveable street party with tons of people in costume. I look forward to it every year so much.

When we got to the Quarter, we sat on some steps for awhile to watch people go by, and a nice woman passing gave us each a vintage whistle. She said it was a parade throw from the Krewe of Thoth in the early ’60s. You blow through the narrow end, and there is a hole in the circular part. It is tiny, but loud!

What a lucky thing!

I also had my first All That Jazz sandwich from The Verti Marte, and that was an experience! In all honesty, I tend to like things that are flavorful but relatively simple, so I had never ordered the All That Jazz before. It is grilled ham, turkey and shrimp with swiss and american cheese along with grilled mushrooms, tomatoes, and “wow sauce” on grilled french bread.

I do not think it is simply the cocktails I had that made me swoon over this sandwich! It’s really, really good and if you haven’t had one, you should. They say it cures a hangover, but I didn’t have one…maybe it prevents them as well?

 

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Red Beans and Rice Parade

8 Mar

I usually lay pretty low on Lundi Gras, but I am so glad we went out for this parade. Everyone in the parade makes their costumes utilizing dry beans and rice. Because the group is sponsored by Camelia brand beans, any variety of their dried beans is OK, so black ones and white ones and yellow and green split peas were used along with the red ones.

These costumes are all about the details, and they were so impressive. Some of the outfits were almost completely covered in beans, and one guy’s jacket was almost all bay leaves. Big bonus: The Treme Brass Band played. Hooray!

Back view of a seersucker suit made into a Huey P. Long-themed costume! So great! Not the most liberal use of beans, perhaps, and coupled with heavy utilization of feathers and glitter, but completely genius.

Front view of the same. She won the title of King of the Red Beans and Rice Parade. I wasn’t trying too hard to get pictures, but I am interested in Huey and I got excited over this one.

Below is a little video as the parade approaches and then stops for awhile in front of the Spotted Cat Music Club on Frenchman Street. Try to ignore the renegade sax player who did his best to ruin the song!

Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus

7 Mar

This first-time parade was so fun and wonderfully handmade! The theme included all things sci-fi, and while some stuff was unfamiliar to me, it was all great to look at.

C-3PO with a Wookie baby!

Cardboard Storm Troopers!!

Sexay Darth Vader? OK, sure, why not?

Terminator wedding at the end of the parade.

Also, I love marching clubs! I look forward to seeing a bunch in Muses each year: the Pussyfooters, the Bearded Oysters, the Camel Toe Steppers, and the all-male 610 Stompers. This parade had the Deathstar Steppers. Sadly, I did not get a good picture, but I hope they return next year with some coordinated dance moves. Work it, ladies!

Vintage 60s Travel Brochures- New Orleans and Mardi Gras

4 Mar

As if you have to entice people to visit this place!

So civilized! A motorcoach holiday!

A lovely make-believe world! Ain’t that the truth?

What I wouldn’t give to go back in time for a night at the Roosevelt’s Blue Room!!

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!”