Archive for February, 2012
I think Emily Gras was one of the coolest Mardi Gras events ever! This child was traumatized by stupid drunk parade goers, and after Mom blogs about it, BOOM! A group of Muses members along with some 610 Stompers and other marching groups invited Emily and her mom to the Muses Den for some first class treatment and a ton of great throws.
A happy ending for this child, but there is a dark side to the Carnival parade world that received a lot of press due to this incident, including a big story on the front page of the Times-Picayune and TV news coverage by the local stations. The Huffington Post spread the story worldwide.
There is a huge amount of underage drinking at the parades. This has to be the biggest underage public drinking party in New Orleans. Kids don’t hold their liquor very well, leading to a lot of boorish parade behavior.
If you are handicapped or elderly, plenty of parade goers can’t wait to step in front of you for a better vantage point. They really don’t mean to block your view of the parade, they don’t think of that. They are just doing their thing at the Mardi Gras. My wife attends parades in her scooter. She’s the invisible woman, that’s our joke about how overzealous parade attendees treat her.
Then there’s the haughty krewe members and their exclusive throwing habits. They throw to the pretty young things on the parade route, and to children. If you are any age other than those two groups, most krewe members wouldn’t throw to you.
Muses members reported to me that as their parade has grown to super krewe status in the last few years, bigger crowds have turned out and bad manners on the parade route have grown exponentially. That makes the ultimate New Orleans experience, joining a krewe, not as much fun as it should be. In a perfect world, krewe members would be egalitarian but that doesn’t mean they will be. Booze may affect their judgement considerably. As the throws have become more exclusive, bad behavior seems to grow. Only the longest beads and the more exclusive throws count.
Reserving spaces on the neutral ground and side walks has developed into a fine art. Dozens of ladders with kiddie seats are set up right next to one another, making an impenetrable barrier. Huge tarps are used to hold big spaces as well. Though this behavior is not allowed by the police, they don’t enforce this at all.
In many respects, Mardi Gras in New Orleans is growing with many positive developments. The democratization of Mardi Gras means more people can get into krewes for less money.The greening of Mardi Gras is happening on many levels, from the green throws of the Giacona Company to the growing bead recycling effort and the ARC Recycling Parade Vehicle. VerdiGras is a Carnival Krewe dedicated a greener cleaner Mardi Gras.
I’m very hopeful about the future of Carnival, but troubled by some of recent negative changes.
The just passed Carnival season was warm, with very little cold weather. It was the warmest season in long time. Next year Mardi Gras comes earlier, on February 12. That means the legendary Krewe du Vieux rolls January 19, 2013. That’s mighty early. I can’t wait!!
The warm weather helped to loosen up the masses, and the crowds were large uptown, downtown, by the Mississippi and the lake. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is very, very unique, like other Carnival celebrations around the globe.
Lots of celebrities showed up to have some fun: Will Farrell (filming a movie locally), Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis, Mariska Hargitay, Bret Michaels, Patricia Clarkson, Maroon 5, Hillary Swank, and Harry Connick Jr, among others had a blast at the 2012 New Orleans Mardi Gras.
Zulu, REX, the trucks and Parade of St. Anne are just the big names in the truly million public and private events and parties in New Orleans on a Mardi Gras Day. Talk to any convenience store owner in any part of town and they wish every day was Fat Tuesday!! I noticed a smaller store in my neighborhood had more than half their stock sold on Tuesday.
There are many zenith points on Fat Tuesday. The French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny are one major zenith. When Zulu and Rex roll, that’s another zenith or two. All the Mardi Gras Indian Gangs, both uptown and downtown, are a big big zenith.
All around town, there are mini zeniths too numerous to count. Add all these little ones up, and you have the biggest zenith of all- the neighborhood combined zenith!
Throws are changing. Since the 1960s, the doubloon was king. Beads were much shorter and lighter, and glass beads from Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) were more plentiful. They were the most sought-after throw for decades. In the 1980s, the Giacona Container Company pioneered the logo, full color cup. Now, Giacona sells the krewes Green Cups. One of their big Mardi Gras clients is the School of Design, aka REX, King of Carnival.
For 2012, beads were longer and heavier than ever before. Many lay on the parade route; people are looking for more unique throws. Short beads along with longer beads were the domain of the truck parades. A pack of 12 beads weighs a ton compared to the bead packs of the past. If you get hit in the head by a pack of the modern beads, it can hurt you seriously.
After a wild final weekend, the big day is here!! Get out there and enjoy the zillion events, the weather is perfect.
I know a lot of folks who avoid Zulu, Rex and the trucks. It seems to me that Krewe of St. Anne in the Marigny is more popular than ever. My friends are flocking to the informal costume oriented event.
Others hang with the historic Mardi Gras Indians, from downtown to uptown. I remember the year of the police strike – I spent some time with the Wild Tchoupitoulas when Chief Jolly, Norman Bell, and the Neville Brothers were in the group. I remember sharing a joint with Aaron Neville that day. It was really enjoyable.
The Back Street Museum is a popular destination on Mardi Gras Day.
I’ve always been a parade person, but I may, someday soon, join one of the many walking parades and experience Mardi Gras Day this way. Time will only tell.
Once again, Happy Mardi to all- however you experience it- have a ball!! I hope to see YOU at the Mardi Gras!!
It’s my 30+ anniversary of my first NOLA Mardi Gras, I’ve been here since 1975. Turns out I love Mardi Gras more now than I ever did, and that’s because it’s more fun than ever! There are way more private events, night spots, affordable krewes, and scheduled events than ever before. There are an amazing assortment of neighborhood Mardi Gras celebrations that leave the parades alone and are very genuine in their own right.
Cheaper original krewes lead the way in making Mardi Gras more affordable to the masses. Many krewes have their own ideas as to throws, floats, and music. There’s more variety to the throws than ever before. The leader in innovative throws is the all female krewe of Muses. Krewe of Chewbacchus leads the way in affordable krewe fees.
There are more music clubs than ever, with alternative rock, brass band, rock, R&B, Funk, Soul, etc. enjoying a live music club renaissance on a level I haven’t seen in 30+ years. Many of these newer and some older clubs lack a music license, meaning no cover charge, and the band gets paid via tip jar plus 20% of the bar. When the club does around a thousand patrons or so, the band can make real bucks this way.
Facebook and other social networking sites make it easier to keep in touch with friends from high school through retirement, making the party that much richer and fun.
Add the exotic foods, and you have a grand slam of fun. King Cakes lead the way in Mardi Gras foods. I’ve had sushi, BBQ, Popeyes, lots of Martin’s Wine Cellar roast beef, rotisserie smoked turkey breast, etc. sandwiches. I’ve grilled fish, oysters, steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, shrimps, and lots of vegetables. All on Fat Tuesday. Desserts like Decadent Chocolate Cake, Mandel Brot, pies, cookies, loafs, etc.
While hanging out on Napoleon Avenue this morning before NOMTOC, I witnessed a number of small incidents that depicted the competitive nature of parade watchers.
I watched this guy arrive this morning about 8 am. He set about searching for his stuff- chairs, table, etc. His belongings had been moved to the back of the neutral ground. When he realized that the folks who moved his stuff were not there, he moved his stuff back by removing the tarp that had replaced his stuff. He moved their tarp to the back of the neutral ground.
Immediately the neighbors started giving the man crap about moving the tarp, claiming the tarp was there before the guy’s stuff; he claimed he would never put his stuff onto someone else’s tarp!
An hour passes, and the guy is still sitting in his chair. I notice that his car is right across the street, and NOMTOC is starting!! There are band units lining up to the left and right side streets. He calls over a friendly cop who helps him get out of his predicament. It takes about 20 minutes, and he finally gets off the parade route.
Within five seconds the vultures descend on the unguarded spot and discard the guy’s chairs, etc., re-institute their tarp and that’s it, our guy has lost the spot he held for 2 hours before the parades ever rolled on the historic longest day of parades ever.
Someone is not being truthful here, and that’s the real manners violation. These is Mardi Gras, and masking is all the hiding most people do. But some have other agendas that include fibbing to their fellow parade watchers to gain a better spot?
The second incident mirrors the first. A man and a woman had the same basic argument about who moved whose stuff, who was there first, etc. This must have occurred all over the parade route at different times and places.
That’s where it crosses the line, and becomes anti-Mardi Gras. So where is the fun in that?