Archive for February, 2015
2015 was my best Mardi Gras in five years. I saw more parades and had more fun. That’s due to better parade company. I’m a parade freak, and if I go to parades with like minded freaks, I’m apt to enjoy myself lots more. 3 years ago I was forced to change my long term parade freak partner and it took me a couple of years to get it right again.
Wednesday, February 12 when Druids and Nyx rolled, I paraded with a special friend of the opposite sex who I hadn’t paraded with before but she told me she was a parade freak. That turned out to be true and a surreal, delightful Mardi Gras parade night was had by both of us.
At Zulu I caught 4 coconuts and at REX, which had a different medallion for each float, I caught over half. I do fairly well at the parades although I’m rarely the target demographic because I costume a bit for all parades and I’m active on the parade route, that is I scream Happy Mardi Gras, Throw Me Something, and other similar exhortations. I had a ball at the parades on Fat Tuesday 2015. It was quite cold all day and windy, but the rain held off completely. I biked to Zulu and then biked to REX.
Surviving Fat Tuesday on Rouses’ Cheese Straws
My food situation was well in hand on Lundi Gras, but by Fat Tuesday, all my plans of a delicious spread had fallen apart. I had made a big pot of my special red beans in the crock pot, and bought a high grade of cold cuts, some mini pistolettes, good cheese and tomatoes to make some sandwiches to eat on the go. On my bike I couldn’t carry the container of beans, and I couldn’t find my cold cuts. So off I went on Mardi Gras Day on my bike with a package of Rouse’s cheese straws, some Pepperidge Farm Nantucket cookies, and two small packs of Cheetos. All day I snacked on the cheese straws, which were to die for- deep cheese flavor with just the right amount of heat and spice, plus some vodka and OJ and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Young Parade Goers Costume in Large Numbers
One of the most heartening trends this year was the preponderance of young parade goers who costumed in some respect for all the parades, not just Fat Tuesday. I took the St. Charles streetcar a lot in 2015 for Carnival and every time I got on there were lots and lots of young folks wearing a head piece, mask or other costume part. I realize part of my attraction to Mardi Gras is the make believe and fantasy aspects of the celebration, so I really found all this new costuming very attractive. You can dress up and become anyone or anything your mind and imagination can envision and create. The possibilities are endless.
Adult Dance Troupes Take Center Stage
More and more high flying adult dance troupes have joined in the parading fun. The Sirens, Muff-A-Lottas, 610 Stompers, Disco Amigos, Pussyfooters, Dames de Perlage, Try Athletes, Bearded Oyster Dance Troupe, Rolling Elvi, Organ Grinders, Roux La La, Amelia Earhawts, Kolossos, and the Star Wars themed 501st Legion were just some of the fab groups entertaining the crowd. I have a friend who texted me after a fun night of parading together that she found a Roux La La couzy in her bra when undressing that night. She said it was the perfect testament to a great evening. O.K., maybe she’s more than a friend.
Lighted beads were ubiquitous for the night parades. Proteus lit up the necklace part, not the medallion like everyone else. There were light up pitch forks, blades, styrofoam tubes, and just about anything else a light could be attached to.
Muses is well known throughout the Mardi Gras universe for their shoe throws. I received my most unusual Muses throw right from a float rider. It was a pack of rice beads with the plastic connectors, but it has a small metal Muses M attached with the ubiquitous bead/medallion metal connector. What kind of statement was Muses making with these retro beads?
Nyx has really come into their own. There were decorated purses coming off the floats in large numbers and many dancing troupes.
360 lenticular cups were thrown by D’Etat, Orpheus, Babylon and Iris. A lenticular lens is an array of magnifying lenses, designed so that when viewed from slightly different angles, different images are magnified.
Parade Route Parties
I attended a number of gatherings along parade routes off of St. Charles and Frenchmen Street. I had a lot of fun and laughs at each and every party. Walking back and forth between the house and the parade is the height parade enjoyment. Some soirees are invitation only, which a security guard checking online invites, but for many others, just showing up is enough to gain entrance. Often the food, booze and crowd is a step above the average New Orleans party- and New Orleans is well known for throwing world class parties.
Proteus in the Daytime!
Hell freezes over! Pigs fly! Since the start of time, or whenever Proteus began parading, whichever came first, Proteus parades at night. Flambeaux carriers only light parades after the sun goes down. Wrong! The start time for Proteus and Orpheus were moved up 75 minutes due to inclement weather considerations, so they rolled in plain, old daylight.
I love Mardi Gras flags, the big and the small, the still and the fluttering, the traditional and the trendy. Originally, only Carnival flags were from the oldest krewes, who put the year they were King or Queen on one corner. Everyone else had only one option basically- a generic purple green and gold flag.
Some flags are very exclusive, and can only be flown by the former/current Queens, or Kings and Queens. Others are more egalitarian, allowing all members to exhibit them.
When Cleopatra and Oshun kick off on Friday evening, we launch the 10 day sprint known as Carnival in New Orleans. Krewe population trends varied around the metropolitan area, an interesting pattern to say the least. Orleans Parish organizations are growing by leaps and bounds, while Jefferson Parish saw several krewes fade away. I really cannot explain this development. The suburbs have been growing for decades as the city lost population. So why did Thor, Zeus and Atlas, three old Jefferson krewes with 140 years of parading history, cease marching?
In the past 17 years, 25 Carnival clubs have quit. The trend precedes Hurricane Katrina. In spite of the Orleans Parish parade moratorium, the Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale received permission to ride this year on February 8. They will parade after the three previously scheduled parades. In Jefferson, the Krewe of Athena Carnival Club received a parade permit to follow Excalibur tonight.
Parade goers will have to come up with a new plan if they set up shop on certain neutral grounds and city street intersections this year. The Army Corps of Engineers’ drainage projects along Napoleon and Jefferson Streets will mess up lots of Carnival plans. Fences on the neutral grounds along Napoleon will severely limit parade watching.
According to Mark Romig, president of the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation, the 2015 season will be a busy one, with many area hotels already filled up between now and Fat Tuesday. However, the Quarter and downtown have suffered recently from bad publicity due to a rash of robberies and assaults.
Additional state troopers were deployed in the French Quarter in August after more negative publicity when a shooting on Bourbon killed one woman and injured several others. Those officers left the city after the 2015 Sugar Bowl was concluded even though the mayor asked Governor Bobby Jindal to extend their stay.
Now, State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson says he is working with New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu to extend their tenure. Plus, the tourism industry has ponied up $2.5 million to keep troopers here. That’s an impressive amount of money.
On a lighter note, the New Orleans Advocate is producing 14 full color Krewe Parade Bulletins for 2015. In 1886, the Krewe of Proteus became the first Carnival organization to present full color chromolithograph newspaper editions showing the float designs for it’s street pageant. Other krewes quickly followed suit, and these carnival editions or bulletins continued to be printed and sold on street corners for a dime until 1941.
This year, and this year only, Friday the 13th and Valentine’s Day fall on the weekend before Fat Tuesday. Several krewes will indicate this event via their float designs and throws.
For most of the last 150 years, New Orleans official reviewing stand for Mardi Gras parades has been historic Gallier Hall. That changed when a large piece of the facade fell off the building last year, closing the building for 2015.
The 2015 version of Krewe du Vieux rolled throughout the Marigny, French Quarter, and Central Business District last evening before a large adult crowd, some small children, and a few kids who had no business attending. It was an all new route for the non-profit krewe dedicated to the historical and traditional concept of a Mardi Gras parade as a venue for individual creative expression and satirical comment.
Virtually all the music provided by the parade last night came from brass bands from around New Orleans.- Langiappe, Pinettes, Kinfolk, TBC, New Birth, Jazzmen, Bone Tone, Big Fun, One Love, Young Fellaz, Paulin Bros, Treme, Egg Yolk Jubilee, and Baby Boy. KdV is the top music parade in the city, and that’s no small statement. 20+ great brass bands truly enrich the parade going experience for both the participants and crowd. We march 3.8 miles across Marigny, the Quarter and the CBD, and every step of the way was a joy due to the continuous, non-amplified, mobile concert that accompanied each krewe.
The KdV pre-party was the food highlight of the evening. The abundant Popeyes’ fried chicken, red beans, po-boys, homemade cheesecakes, salads, and finger sandwiches went over very well. The best food I scarfed- marinaded filet mignon sandwich on biscuit with spring greens and goat cheese.
The temperature was in the mid 50s as the parade kicked off. The parade was the peak event of the evening. The brass band marching immediately in front of our mule was the Big Fun Brass Band. Behind me was Underwear stalwart Egg Yolk Jubilee. Both were extraordinary and added a lot of weight to the festivities. Since my position as Escort is next to the float, I mostly heard the band in front of me. After listening to and dancing to them for a couple of hours, I realized how much the band had improved my parade experience.
I have found that the amount of fun to be had being part of a parade is directly related to the amount of throws you have to throw during the parade. If you have enough throws so you can throw from beginning to end, you will have a superlative time. If you have less throws, you may not have as good a time.
Each sub-krewe that collectively make up KdV design their own hard biting, ribald float based on the mother krewe’s 2015 theme, KdV Begs For Change. This makes for well thought out, well constructed floats. I generally include a photo essay from KdV taken before the parade rolls, but after they have left the den and set up in pre-staging before moving to the start of the parade.
Brazil is suffering from the worst drought in over 80 years. Crops are dying from lack of water, millions of Brazilians are short of drinking water, and electrical blackouts are common. The drought has been worsening for over a year and has decimated southeastern Brazil, the nation’s richest and most densely populated region. As the Southern Hemisphere enters into the zenith of its summer season, the drought continues to worsen.
Over a dozen cities and towns in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais have called off or scaled back their Carnival celebrations. Ouro Preto is a city in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, a former colonial mining town located in the Serra do Espinhaço mountains and designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its outstanding Baroque architecture, has been forced to rotate outages to ensure ample water for the 70,000 tourists who descend on Ouro Preto for Carnival.
In Brazil’s largest city, San Paulo, where water levels are alarmingly low, city council member Gilberto Natalini has called on the mayor and state governor to cancel Carnival and other humongous water intensive public events for the foreseeable future. It would be like dancing samba on a funeral, Mr. Natalini said.
Oliveira, with a population of 42,000, has canceled all 2015 festivities due to very low water supplies. They usually receive 20,000 Carnival visitors for its one week long Carnival celebration. The president of Oliveira’s Carnival Commission, Antonio Penido, said, Never in the history of our city has something like this happened. With broken hearts, we made the decision.
When the world thinks of Brazilian Carnival, it is Rio de Janeiro that comes to mind. The most out of this world and over the top version of Carnival will go on as scheduled with some concessions to current events. At least two of the large professional samba schools that create the event are scaling back water elements on their over-sized parade floats.
Light and mirror effects will be utilized instead of water to depict a rushing 20-foot fountain of youth for the Uniao da Ilha do Governador samba school in Rio. Tourism officials in Rio are expecting almost a million Carnival tourists, who are expected to spend three quarters of a billion dollars on all the myriad of tourist restaurants, lodging, souvenirs, transportation and deluxe parade seating and event packages.