Isaac ‘Mr Ike’ Edwards Jr, died Wednesday at Heritage Manor nursing home in Houma, where he lived since Hurricane Katrina destroyed his New Orleans home. Edwards was the last link to an earlier time in Mardi Gras Indian history. Back then, Indians had to save every penny and nickel to assemble their suits, dying discarded turkey feathers and salvaging beads off old ball gowns.
After earning early awards from New Orleans own Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame, Edward continued to earn praise for his artwork. A few years ago, Edward and Herreast Harrison, Cherice Harrison-Nelson’s mother (a close friend of Edward), received a commission from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee to create a butterfly apron that became part of the Museum’s permanent collection.
Big Chief Edward in 1952
Edward was lucid right until he passed, and one point he made regularly was the Indian culture he grew up with was not violent. This flies in the face of conventional Mardi Gras Indian history, according the late Larry Bannock, Big Chief of the Golden Star Hunters, I’m gonna mask that morning if it costs me my life. That morning you pray and ask God to watch over you, cause everybody is bucking for number one.
After joining the Army Air Corps and the 92nd Infantry Division during the WWII, Edward started working as a longshoreman, which he kept for 38 years. He retired from costuming in 1952. However, after befriending Harrison-Nelson, the daughter of his long time friend Big Chief Donald Harrison Sr, he started sewing once more After being invited by Roselyn Smith, the principal of Oretha Castle Haley Elementary School and Harrison-Nelson, Edward started teaching the Indian traditions to a younger generation and helping to make butterfly patches and suits for the Young Guardian of the Flame.
Working with students rejuvenated Edward. I want to be remembered as a great man who loved children, he said. Up until a month before his demise, Edwards continued to sew, still able to thread a needle without the aid of glasses in spite of his advanced age.
Last month during his hospitalization, he instructed many of New Orleans big chiefs about his funeral. Edward asked Roselyn Smith to make chocolate cake for funeral attendees. He created his own list of speakers for his funeral. He asked that the tune Indian Red be sung during his service and again when the procession was on the street. He wanted lots of Indians and a lot of dancing.
Rolled in Krewe du Vieux’s Krewe of Underwear last Saturday through the French Quarter, Marigny, and CBD. Ate excellent tacos with my Kazoozie Floozie girlfriend, Sue Repasky. Had more fun last night than is humanly possible. Participating in a Mardi Gras parade is the most fun you will have all year. And the fun goes on all day. All KdV floats are designed and completely built by krewe members. It’s a pain in the ass but a labor of love. Seeing your disgusting, ribald designs come to 3D, animated life is very gratifying. The public loves our floats for targeting society’s worst nightmares. This year, it was all Donald J. Trump. He’s an amazingly easy target. There were lots of drawings of Trump, his name was mentioned throughout the parade, and there was quite a few paper mache trumps. He was depicted giving and getting golden showers and getting assaulted in various ways numerous times.
The Krewe du Vieux’s seventeen sub-krewes will each present their own interpretations of the theme. Sub-krewes include the Krewe of C.R.U.D.E., Krewe of Space Age Love, Krewe of Underwear, Seeds of Decline, Krewe of Mama Roux, Krewe of L.E.W.D., Krewe of Drips and Dis- charges, Krewe of K.A.O.S., Knights of Mondu, T.O.K.I.N., Krewe Rue Bourbon, Krewe de C.R.A.P.S., Mystic Krewe of Spermes, Mystic Krewe of Comatose, Mystic Krewe of Inane, Krewe du Mishigas, and Krewe of sPANk.
This year the King in absentia was well known artist Bunny Mathews, who is suffering from cancer and couldn’t march with the krewe. One of his most famous creations is the Vic and Nat’ly cartoon. I hope your health improves soon, Bunny!
Rolling with a parade is truly the most fun I have all year, and I like to have fun. Handing out throws, dancing to the funky brass band marching with us, shaking a lot of hands and screaming, Happy Mardi Gras is a blast every New Orleanian should experience.
President Trump was made for Mardi Gras. He’s a caricature of a man in many respects. He’s the biggest cry baby to ever occupy the White House. Like a five year old he cannot control his temper, therefore he loses his temper a lot. He’s mad at a lot of powerful and not so powerful people. And his skin is orange!
There is no doubt in my mind that Carnival 2017 will be chock full of satirical stabs at our President. His intolerance, inconsistent policy pronunciations, use of Twitter to discuss/set policy, his crazy shock of blond hair, these are targets made for Mardi Gras parodies.
The first real parade of the season, the ribald and risque Krewe du Vieux rolls this Saturday in the French Quarter, Faubourg Marigny, and downtown. Among the Trump floats are our President as Jabba the Hutt; a tentacled, fondling Trump creature; and a homage to an unholy alliance between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Bottles of Trumpoff vodka will be handed out along with I Voted stickers starring Putin mimicking the George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog voting stickers that voters in Louisiana received after voting.
Here is the Donald at Carnival 2016!
Protester Tom Moran wears a paper mache head of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as he demonstrated outside Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York
Mardi Gras 2016 was fantastic, it was exciting, it was downright thrilling at times. Of course, I’m a Mardi Gras freak. It was a very short season, ending on February 9. Next year, Fat Tuesday is more than 2 1/2 weeks later.
I want to thank my sweet girlfriend Sue and my good friend Billy, both Mardi Gras freaks without whom the entire season wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun. Billy lives a block from St. Charles Avenue so his house was parade central and I went to virtually all my parades with Sue.
The season began for me with my own Krewe du Vieux, which rolled January 23. It was a terrific parade and the ball was fantastic, with none other than Texas guitar legend and ZZ Top front man Billy Gibbons on guitar and vocals along with Walter Wolfman Washington and George Porter, Jr. The ball was held in the Civic and it’s a pretty nice party forum compared to some of the more sorry auditoriums KdV has used in their recent past.
I caught a couple of newish throws, the Thoth Fedora and the NYX Earbuds.
When Fat Tuesday was only a couple of hours past sunrise, I was on Jackson Avenue below Dryades for Zulu. I was wearing my purple, green and gold silk scarf, my purple reversible satin cape from amazingcapes.com, my gold half mask, and my newly acquired Mardi Gras furry leggings. I bought the leggings Fat Tuesday morning on the Zulu parade route from a shopping cart vendor.
Bands play a big role in parades, the best bands generally are from local high school and surrounding colleges. Out of town bands perform in many parades toward the end of each season, as local high schools are limited to seven parades per season. Bands have been part of Mardi Gras processions and parades since the very beginning. Bands cost the krewes a lot more money post Katrina. Before the storm, parade band fees ran $1,000-$1,500 per parade. After Katrina, the bands ask for and get $3,500 or more. Bands are in demand for more than one reason. They add the beat and the funk, essential elements of parades. The New Orleans City Council has mandated that all Orleans parish parades have 7 bands. My own Krewe du Vieux has around 20 brass bands participate in the parade.
Year after year, the best high school band is the St. Augustine Marching 100, and the best college band is the Southern University Jaguar Band. Other notable bands in 2016 include the Landry Walker High School Band and the Texas Southern Ocean of Soul.
Some of the best looking floats all year were in the Proteus parade. Royal Artists create this parade, and it’s the best work they do by far.
I ended up in the French Quarter at Molly’s at the Market on Decatur around noon Fat Tuesday, to meet the Perv Patrol, my girlfriend’s Sue’s themed costume group. It was the first time in decades I missed REX which was my choice after deciding to see all of ZULU for the first time in as long. ZULU had a long break near the beginning that was over 30 minutes long and set the parade back big time. We ran into the Krewe of Cosmic Debris which had come down Decatur Street just as I arrived. Molly’s is one of their stops so I had a really hard time getting a drink when the krewe invaded the bar. I went down the street to an adjacent bar and bought a double and returned to Molly’s.
I have always loved Carnival, from the first parade I ever saw to the last one last night. Really looking forward to my new costume wrinkles for 2016 and the fact that I’ll be heading to the French Quarter for the first time in a decade. I’ll be meeting up with my girlfriend Sue at Molly’s at the Market.
When I first came to New Orleans, the only real throws were short beads that had little plastic connectors. The photo below, Muses Rice Beads, shows the type of beads that were all in vogue at the time minus the Muses metal ‘M’. Medallions were timid little things, not the garish giants of today. There were also a number of Czechoslovakian glass beads.
Now, throws are very diversified. Blankets, light up beads of all description, koozies of all description, mini soccer balls and footballs galore, small stuffed animals of all ilk and variety, are just a sampling of the endless variety. Most come in it’s own plastic bag.
So all this junk made of oil is now wrapped in a bag made from oil? Mardi Gras is getting grosser on an environmental level on an exponential level, and that’s a depressing and negative trend. How this came to pass is easy to explain. As throws got more expensive and complex, they warranted individual wrapping for ease of throwing.
In Orleans Parish, there are parade regulations passed by the City Council. Here’s the section on ladders-
Sec. 34-33. – Ladders and portable toilets.
All ladders used by parade spectators shall be structurally sound. No ladder, chairs, ice chests, chaise lounges, barbecue grills, and other similar personal effects shall be placed in intersections or between curbs of public streets during the pendency of a parade. Ladders, tents, grills, and other personal effects shall be placed six feet back from the street curb. Additionally, the practice of fastening two or more ladders together shall be prohibited. It shall be prohibited to use ropes or other similar items to create a barricade or otherwise obstruct passage along public property, unless otherwise specifically authorized.
When I used to see parades on Napoleon Avenue around Prytania Street, where they often line up, the police used to make sure all ladders were 6 feet back from the curb. Around town on Canal Street for Endymion and on St. Charles Avenue, it doesn’t appear the police enforce these rule anymore.
Most floats were full, but some, earlier in the season, were not. Paying for a float and not having any riders on it isn’t the best use of a krewe’s money. I am sure float riders are required to keep their masks on, and the vast majority do. Some parade captains feature less lax enforcement.