It goes without saying, at this point, that this is my first Mardi Gras season in New Orleans. As an adult, anyway. Among my earliest memories of life (which include a fascination with beignets and that it was okay to make a mess and a toddler’s in-stroller view of the detritus in the French Quarter gutters) is that of parade throws. At the age of what…3? …I must have been particularly enamored with the plastic Oreo cookie necklace on the green rubber cord, because I can see it very clearly in my head to this day. Later, in other towns, other states, growing up one of my most favorite things to play with were my parents’ collection of doubloons. And then, as an adult in Colorado before coming here, I was making King Cakes and bringing them to my coworkers, and tried to keep some Mardi Gras spirit out in the world out there where it is just another Tuesday. As an aside, I am delighted that my tribe out there is having the annual Mardi Gras party this year and I look forward to a shout-out phone call that night.
I’m digressing again, which seems to be par for the course. Last Saturday, J and I moseyed across da Bridge to the Quarter for our very first Krewe du Vieux parade. We got down there in the daylight, our mission for the lit hours being masks for Mardi Gras Day itself and some hoodoo supplies for a little work I gotta do. Y’all don’t get to see the masks until the day happens, so I didn’t photograph ’em. Patience, grasshoppah. But, it was nice to amble around, erranding and enjoying the pretty day.
During our roaming, it occurred to us that we have now seen several holidays’ worth of decor down here, not as a once-a-year visitor but on that different plane of being here. Easter, last year. Missed the 4th of July and some stuff, but came back in time to catch the tail-end of Halloween (before everyone took their stuff down), and then Christmas, and now Mardi Gras. Lordy, next thing we know it’ll be Easter again!
This is the same house I shot the day we were in the FQ for the Easter parade last year.
Which was our impetus for realizing all the holidays we’ve seen so far!
One sunset and a couple of beverages at Pirate’s Alley later (during which we advised a visitor which hostel it was safer to walk to at night and then gave him directions), it was time to snag our spots on the route. We just kind of popped out of the mouth of the Alley onto Royal St. and stayed there. Not too bad, but I advise against standing right at the mouth of the Alley. Lots of folks mooshing through there on their way somewhere else. Ah well, live and learn. In the meantime, a tribe of visiting kids (kids? lord, how old am I?!) claimed a spot with us and offered us some King Cake that they picked up from the Rouses on the corner right there and were sharing with folks. The baby was sitting in the middle of the cake. I had one of them volunteer to stick the baby in the cake while the others closed their eyes. This prompted a whole conversation whereupon J and I educated their eager ears on what the baby-in-the-king-cake thing is and, also, after a wedding second line went by (which faked them out considerably while waiting for the parade), what a second line is, and all that good stuff. Not sure who ever got the baby – they passed the cake off to someone and it went running down the road.
We stood there for a long ol’ time. Music fired up right behind us and out of the corner of my eye I saw a dude with an acoustic guitar. Right on, I thought, and turned my focus forward again. But waitaminnut…he seemed awfully high up. After a double-take, I realized that he was perched upon the feet of a female acrobat who was on her back with her legs up the air. As he played, they kept changing acrobatic formation. I tipped them and laughed and J conversed with them (“Isn’t he supposed to put YOU on a pedestal?”), but failed to get a photo. I think I was too stunned!
So, while all our educating-of-the-excited-youth and omigodding-over-wacky-music-makers was happening, we were unaware that we were being watched. Closely observed, you might say. Until a fine young artist tapped me on the shoulder and handed me the following:
We were standing (by this time with hurty feet and achy backs and with a VERY strong desire to pee…but we didn’t wanna lose our spot by golly) in front of a place with a balcony, where a group of beveraging revelers was tossing beads down upon the masses below (us). I turned to J to say something at one point and SPLAT! A flying pair of golden beads landed perfectly around his neck, cowboy hat and all. He had been lassoed!!!! We both looked up and applauded the gentleman on the balcony who had such brilliant aim and skill.
I love parade energy. It’s just this electric snazz and crackle of expectation that passes among everyone like some unseen but insanely tangible cloud of ZOOM. It was fun to feel it build while watching the crowd gather in. And then, at long last, LO! Krewe du Vieux (and Krewe Delusion right after) were upon us. I love satire and commentary. And lewdness. They don’t disappoint, on any front. Parades are more of a visual thing, so I think this time around I will let images speak louder than words. There are some floats that I did not include here. I’m not prudey by a longshot. I mean, I can swear like a sailor and pick my nose with the best of them. But, holding this site to some certain level of personal integrity, some images Were Not Suitable for Children, as it were, so I’m saving the Energizer Bunny that justkeepscumming and the Chikkin-Headed Cow Penii for my facebook page. Heh. Enjoy:
Whirlwind! Afterwards, for fear of floating down the street after everyone in our own pee-dance, we went to Finnegan’s figuring we could, you know, pee and buy a beer. Instead, we had to buy a beer first, back teeth floating, get a potty ticket from the bartender, and then stand in the line that had accumulated during that time before finding some comfort and relief so that we could go about our merry night. Ha! I get it – folks that crowd out a bar to pee and dodge without supporting the venue kind of suck. But still. Although I was amused, when we filled our tour-guide-extroadinnaire buddy Cap in on the situation over there, that he was so affronted by our plight. “It’s not like they don’t know you over there or anything!” said he. Whereupon we finished out our night at home base Pirate’s and chatted with people we dig and felt, as only spending an eve not being treated like a tourist will, that we are finally becoming familiar and casting off a good vibe and beginning to fit in our roots.
KREWE DU LOOT!
And thus was our own kickoff to Mardi Gras season. It’s on now!!!! Tonight, we are back in it again as the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is doing their thang and since it strikes us as a sort of marching/rolling Starfest (or other sci-fi convention), we must go. Plus, I’m celebrating the permanence-ing of my job, as effective yesterday. It is so on. Laissez les Bon Temps…ZOOOOM!
Featured Image: Sooz on Conti. With a Lion.