Archive for February, 2013
There is no competition when Muses hits St. Charles Avenue, in terms of original throws. There are a couple of different reasons for Muses’ unique throws. One the one hand they control all throws all members can toss. The krewe is rather large, at least 1,100 women.
On the other hand, they make the maximum amount of money on very expensive throws with small margins. The public benefits from these factors.
In 2013, I saw very few decorated shoes coming off the floats this year. Contrast this with my experience at the Zulu parade on Jackson Avenue. When the double deck floats arrived, I personally caught 5 coconuts in 10 minutes, then had to leave to make it to REX on time. If I had stuck around I would have caught a dozen coconuts from these double decker floats. Granted my costume was extensive for Zulu but for Muses I had my masculinity going for me.
Muses handed me lots of cool throws, I caught a powerful ring flashlight;a light up shopping bag medallion; a magnetic shopping list with pad and special marker; a reusable shopping bag, a collapsible flask with caribener; a heavy duty guide to the Makin’ Grocery floats that could double as a picnic blanket; shoe laces in a cool plastic test tube; koozies; kazoos; shoe bracelets; lariats; other medallions; shoe beads; coin purses, etc. It seemed relatively endless in terms of the variety of Muses stuff thrown off the floats.
This makes Muses a very high priced parade to ride in. I assume the dues is far less than the throws. By a wide margin. Again the public benefits from the wild variety of throws Muses throws.
Muses seems to pull marching organizations out of the wood work. No parade on St. Charles Avenue has more. They include the Pussyfooters; the Krewe of the Rolling Elvi;the 610 Stompers; the Camel Toe Lady Steppers; Disco Amigos; the Dead Rock Stars, and many more.
We truly live in the age of the democratization of Mardi Gras krewes. No longer do you have to spend a thousand dollars or much more to participate in a Mardi Gras parade (Bacchus, Endymion, Muses). The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus charges around $40 to join. My own Krewe du Vieux is around $125. This is really a fantastic development, and it opens up the thrill of belonging to a krewe to so many more New Orleanians and regional folks.
Many of these alternative krewes cost nothing to join. If you show up in costume with a musical instrument while the Krewe of Kosmic Debris is rolling, you are in. If you have a fantastic costume, the Societe de Saint Anne will welcome you.
The Mystic Krewe of Barkus is another inexpensive krewe, and it’s unique- You need a dog to participate. Barkus is a lot of fun- New Orleans is a very doggy city, and we really do get attached to our four legged friends.
Regular krewes hire float builders to build their parades. Alternative krewes generally build their floats themselves, and over time may become very good at their efforts.
Many alternative krewes consist of sub-krewes. I belong to the Krewe du Vieux, and my sub krewe is the Krewe of Underwear. Other KdV sub-krewes- Comatose, Drips and Discharges, and Seeds of Decline.
The Krewe of Cork has grown into a very substantial entity. Founded in 2000, the KoC has grown into a world-famous Mardi Gras and wine industry phenomenon. Krewe members gather on selected Fridays, usually the first Friday of each month, at restaurants throughout the area for T.G.I.C.D. (Thank Goodness It’s Cork Day).
The krewe’s two main events of the year are its Mardi Gras parade day festivities, and participation in the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience Royal Street Stroll. Throughout the year, the Krewe of Cork invites members to wine dinners and other special occasions, such as road trips and wine tastings.
Then there’s Better Than Ezra’s Krewe of Rocckus. Begun in 2011, Rocckus was formed to allow BTE’s fan base a way to celebrate Carnival with the band. Rocckus includes concerts, a brunch, second line parade, private parade viewing and a cruise on the Creole Queen.
The 2013 Carnival season in New Orleans was one of the warmest on record, I didn’t wear a jacket until the last couple of days of the season. The Super Bowl interrupted Mardi Gras this year, so parades were held before and after the 9 day break.
Had a rather tough time at the parades this year, my large group of parade goers had winnowed down over time to just me and my beloved wife. Now that she’s gone, I saw the parades by myself. That’s not much fun, and it’s kind of sad.
I still enjoyed myself when the parades rolled. I’m such a huge Mardi Gras fan,I couldn’t help myself. I love the atmosphere, the bands, marching groups, floats, etc.
So we’ll start with the King of Carnival, REX. I dress in purple, green and gold most Mardi Gras, and this year I had a felt frog hat that added a bit of mirth to my serious costume.
REX is an old line krewe that is composed of 3 circles of membership. The inner ring is old blue blood types, and the King and Captain come from that group. The middle ring is new money types. They can become officers, but that’s it. The outside ring is composed of anyone, more or less. If you are successful in life and give something back to the community, there is a good chance REX may have a parade spot for you.
The first two rings of REX are very haughty on the parade route. They only throw to pretty girls and children. The last ring of REX throws to anyone. They are just happy to be riding with REX and give throws to the male sex even! Obviously, the sentiments laid out here are generalizations only.
REX looked grand, it’s the best looking daylight parade by far. The floats aren’t the huge ones that Bacchus, Endymion and Orpheus use, as the float chassis are build on very old wagon bodies, with wooden wheels on the floats!! I don’t know who repairs the wheels, the last wheel wright died a while ago, and I lost touch with the process.
Zulu rolled right at 8 am on Jackson Avenue on a beautiful Mardi Gras day. Marlin Gusman was on horseback with a gaggle of sheriff’s deputies, Mayor Mitch Landrieu was also in the parade.
Zulu appreciates costuming, and if you have a funny aspect to your costume, that only helps. Zulu has some haughty riders, but most aren’t. When the double decker, double length floats arrived, they were handing out coconuts with a frenzy. I caught 5, gave away 2 on the spot, and one later. I don’t remember any double floats in the past handing down so many coconuts.
Zulu now color coordinates their coconut colors! If the riders wore orange gowns, their coconuts were painted the same color orange.
I had to leave Zulu at 9 am to go home to pick up the smart card for my camera, then off to REX. On the way I say a man and his son walking around near Zulu. They were having a tough time getting there, so I reached into my bag and gave them a nice Zulu coconut. You never saw such big smiles! I was happy to give them that coconut.
Proteus the night before was one gorgeous parade. They are a very old krewe, from the late 1800s. Proteus also uses wooden wagon chassis and wooden wheels from long ago.
Muses is the biggest all female Carnival krewe in existence. The crowds turn out for Muses, since their reputation for new, novel throws has grown large. Their most unique and rare throw, the Muses decorated shoe throw, is highly sought after. I didn’t get any shoes this year, but got lots of other unique throws, including a Muses magnetic shopping list with pad, special marker,and erasable writing surface; Muses collapsible drink flask with carabiner; Muses shoelaces in a cool plastic test tube; Muses flashlight that flashes the Muses symbol (as in Batman and the Bat signal commissioner Gordon uses to get Batman’s attention); a Muses reusable grocery shopping bag; and a Muses bead catching net. The net was a pain at the parade, all the folks who received them waved them in everyone’s faces while trying to catch throws.
I noticed for several years that Muses only throws stuff with their logo on it. That means the krewe must buy all their throws from the krewe. That’s a very expensive proposition. Most other krewes require their members to buy some throws with their logo on it, but allow the members to augment their krewe purchases with generic, cheaper throws. I bet the Muses dues is less than the cost of purchasing all those krewe throws. I really don’t think the average Muses krewe member cares. To belong to Muses, is well, one of the more divine and sublime experiences in the New Orleans Carnival world.
Krewe du Vieux rolled very early in the season, moved back a week by the Super Bowl. Nevertheless, the first parade of the season had rather warm weather this year, As readers of this blog know, I’m in KdV, and I’m very partial to it.
All the reasons- the historic parade route, the donkeys, the brass bands, and the outright over the top ribald floats- have been covered in this blog numerous times. Yes, I love my KdV!!
Roger Goodell, long time NFL Commissioner, made a statement alluding to the KdV float, the anti Goodell signage in stores,restaurants and bars all over town, and the voodoo dolls he’s been given. He claims none of that influenced his decision to lift Saints Coach Peyton’s suspension a couple of weeks early. We all know better!
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.
Politics has reared its ugly head upon the pristine party pastures of the New Orleans Mardi Gras.
I’m trying to figure out who is the bad guy in this story, and I’m fairly sure, though not 100% positive, that Arthur Hardy is the bad guy. It’s a confusing set of facts, however, so I’m going to try to sort things out.
A rumor was started that the Krewe of Zeus had canceled their Metairie parade. WWL and WDSU TV both reported that Zeus canceled. Once an innuendo gets launched, it helps to have two major networks carry your fake story. This makes the false tale seem real, since your trusted newscaster told you. WDSU revised their story and stated that Hardy gave them this information.
According to the Krewe of Zeus, they haven’t canceled, and plan to parade on Lundi Gras right after the brand new Hera, the newest parade, and one that is affiliated with Zeus.
Next, Zeus’ logistics officer, Brian Landry, denied the cancellation reports and blamed Hardy on his Facebook page. Landry wrote, Latest reports name the unnamed source on the false reports as none other than…Arthur Hardy!! I knew there would be a backlash when we opted out of an ad in his magazine.
Here’s where politics intrudes itself into the Jefferson Parish Carnival scene. Parish Council Chairman Chris Roberts blamed his own Carnival coordinator, Scott Burke, for the discredited report of the Zeus parade cancelling.
In faulting Burke, Roberts refocused attention on the degrading relationship between council members and Parish President John Young’s administration. Roberts and Young don’t see eye to eye on this or many other issues.
Hardy has responded, claiming he did not say Zeus was cancelling.