Carnival New Orleans
This was a Mardi Gras to remember. The police strike (NOPD) cancelled the parades in Orleans Parish, but Jefferson and St. Bernard Parishes held all their parades. Much of organized Carnival was canceled in New Orleans, but all of the less organized groups came out as usual.
On Fat Tuesday morning we went to the west bank for Grela and the trucks, then headed back over the Mississippi River bridge to find the Wild Tchoupitoulas Indians. We found them, with Chief Jolly, Charles Neville on sax, and Aaron Neville smoking a joint with our little group! We really enjoyed our time with 2nd Chief Norman Bell, Chief Jolly (George Landry), Aaron and Charles Neville, and other Indians and musicians.
We were living on Robert Street off of Danneel St, so we were very close to where the Nevilles all lived back then, on Valence Street. This was right before the Nevilles became major label fodder and began to travel the world in earnest as the pride of New Orleans, the Neville Brothers.
We hung out and followed the Wild Tchoupitoulas for a couple of hours before heading the the French Quarter and a party on Royal Street. These uptown Mardi Gras Indians were followed by a crowd of about 20 people. It was really an enjoyable aspect of Fat Tuesday that year.
Since that time, we’ve gotten into a bit of a fun rut on Fat Tuesday. We set up on St. Charles for Rex and the Trucks, and catch some of Zulu on Jackson Avenue before. There is so much to do and see at the New Orleans Carnival you can hardly go wrong, as long as you travel in a small group for safety reasons. We always bring a number of really excellent foods and drinks for Fat Tuesday. We BBQ, bring hot gumbos, sushi, traditional desserts like king cakes, mandel brot, decadent chocolate cakes, chocolate babka, etc. Not all of that each year, but I always make a half dozen Po-boys in advance for guests and friends who show up during the number of hours we’re on St. Charles enjoying the parades and trucks.
We always bring a king cake, that’s positively necessary.
Here come the most incredible draft horses in the world, the fabulous Budweiser Clydesdales hitch, six huge Clydesdales at a time, pulling an old time beer distributors truck on St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street.
The Clydesdale is a breed of draught horse derived from the farm horses of Clydesdale, Scotland, and named after that region. Although originally one of the smaller breeds of draught horses, it is now a tall breed. Often bay in colour, they show significant white markings due to the presence of sabino genetics. The breed was originally used for agriculture and haulage, and is still used for draught purposes today. The Budweiser Clydesdales are some of the most famous Clydesdales, and other famous members of the breed are used as drum horses by the British Household Cavalry. They have also been used to create and improve other draught breeds.
01/26: Krewe of Pontchartrain – Drive New Orleans, LA
01/27: Krewe of Alla – Drive New Orleans, LA
01/29: Mardi Gras-Single Horse – Drive New Orleans, LA
01/30: Mardi Gras-Single Horse – Drive New Orleans, LA
02/01: Krewe of Metairie – New Orleans, LA
02/02: Krewe of Olympia – New Orleans, LA
02/06-01/07: Mardi Gras-Single Horse – New Orleans, LA
02/08: Krewe of d’Etat – New Orleans, LA
02/09: Krewe of Endymion – New Orleans, LA
02/10: Krewe of Bacchus – New Orleans, LA
02/12: Krewe of Argus – New Orleans, LA
The breed was developed from Flemish stallions imported to Scotland and crossed with local mares. The first recorded use of the name “Clydesdale” for the breed was in 1826, and by 1830 a system of hiring stallions had begun that resulted in the spread of Clydesdale horses throughout Scotland and into northern England. The first breed registry was formed in 1877. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, thousands of Clydesdales were exported from Scotland and sent throughout the world, including to Australia and New Zealand, where they became known as “the breed that built Australia”. However, during World War I population numbers began to decline due to increasing mechanization and war conscription. This decline continued, and by the 1970s, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust considered the breed vulnerable to extinction. Population numbers have increased slightly in the intervening time, but they are still thought to be vulnerable.
I generally dress in the colors of purple, green and gold for Fat Tuesday. I’ve always identified with Mardi Gras, and dressing in those colors seemed like the right thing to do. Below is a picture of me on Fat Tuesday in my purple, green and gold costume. You can tell by the squinting of my eyes that I’m smiling broadly.
I was hanging out on kickstarter.com, as I was mulling over ideas to try out there. I notice an Amazing Capes project, and I took a look (to try your own project on kickstarter, it helps to donate to a few projects first).
So for $35 I became a kickstarter backer of the Amazing Capes project, and for that money I was promised an Amazing Capes for my backing. I asked for a purple, green and gold cape, but was told that the initial production line only included a set number of designs, and the purple cape edged in gold (named Noble Rainbow) with a multicolor striped reverse was the closest one. Since one side was a correct color of Carnival, I felt the cape would work well with the rest of my costume, and I was told as late as yesterday that cape would be shipped on February 4. As Fat Tuesday is February12, I am sitting pretty with my new cape arriving in time for the big day.
Kickstarter is an amazing online beast with a crowdfunding model that works for many and fails for many more. If you ask for $1,000 and you raise $999 in the prescribed period, you don’t get the money and you have to return it all to the backers.
Indy musician Amanda Palmer asked for $100,000 for new concept album, and raised $1.2 million.
I helped a local roots rocker, Lynn Drury, fund her West Coast/Canada tour via kickstarter. My $25 got me an autographed copy of her latest CD. She asked for $3,500 and received $3,615. Half her money came in during the last 48 hours. She made her goal and made her tour. The tour was booked, she needed food, hotel and gas money for the trip.
Though lots of folks mask during the Carnival season, more don’t. One thing about masking; the minute the mask comes on and you go outside, your identity is hidden. As people who know you approach you, they won’t know you with the mask on.
During Carnival, to mask, is an exhilarating experience, and it’s liberating also. It’s liberating because you are not recognized for yourself, and it’s exhilarating because it frees you up to act differently while the mask hides your identity.
I remember when I was in my twenty’s, I hated for Carnival to come to an end. I never told anyone of this feeling, since I didn’t want to appear crazy! Fortunately, as I got older, this feeling lessened, and now it’s gone completely.
My advice to all those who attend any Carnival event around the globe, in New Orleans, Galveston, Cannes, Viareggio, Mobile, etc., is to MASK!!!
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is under three weeks away! In the middle of all that, we are hosting the Super Bowl, featuring the Baltimore Ravens vs. the San Francisco 49ers. Mardi Gras will be taking a nine day vacation while we host Super Bowl XLVII in the venerable Super Dome!!
We are having an incredible month, with President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, MLK Day, plus the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras! Whew!! That’s a lot of huge events for any month in New Orleans. Of course, the President’s inauguration and MLK Day occur all over the USA, From New York to California and all points in between.
The 2013 Carnival season kicks off in high gear this weekend with lots of parades on the St. Charles Avenue route. Oshun, Cleopatra, Pontchartrain, Choctaw, Sparta, Pygmalion, Carrollton, and King Arthur all roll down the traditional route.
Can you guess how many parades from the list immediately above are older than 20 years old originated on St. Charles Avenue?
Uno Un One. Which one?
Sparta, which began in 1951. There are plenty of old neighborhood parades in that list. Can you guess them?
Cleopatra paraded for 39 years across the Mississippi River before changing to St. Charles for 2013.The New Orleans City Council voted on yesterday (January 24) allowing the ladies krewe from the west bank to move their parade to the traditional New Orleans uptown route. The Krewe of Cleopatra will kick off the Carnival Season on January 25, 2013, the first Friday of Mardi Gras.
Captain Dolores Kepner says,This is the perfect year for us to move our parade to the New Orleans uptown route. It opens up tremendous possibilities for the first weekend of Mardi Gras. We are honored to be a part of that.
Choctaw is parading down St. Charles for the first time in 2013, and has plans to return to their traditional parading grounds, the West Bank, in 2014. King Arthur (1977) also started on the West Bank. Pontchartrain began in the Lakeview area, marching on Hayne Boulevard by the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. Carrollton first paraded in their namesake neighborhood. Oshun and Pygmalion started on St. Charles, but they are newer parades.
That leaves only the Knights of Sparta as an historic procession originating on St. Charles. The Knights of Sparta are often mis-named the Krewe of Sparta!
There are two non-conformist parades out in the Faubourg Marigny over this weekend- ‘tit Rәx, and Chewbacchus, and both roll Saturday in the Marigny. ‘Tit Rәx used to be named ‘tit Rex, until the King of Carnival, the Monarch of Merriment, sued tiny little ‘tit Rex for stealing their name! As can be seen from the photo below, ‘tit Rәx is a miniature hand made float procession, not a full sized parade like Rex. I don’t think Rex made the proper decision, but tit ‘Rәx’s solution to turn the ‘e’ in Rex into a ‘schwa’ which is what a ‘ә‘ is.
Chewbacchus is a science fiction kind of krewe which features costumes and hand pulled floats in the Star Wars tradition.