It was a soggy day (again), with predictions of heavy rain. But the weather held for most of the day, thank Bacchus! I tried to wake myself up at seven AM to get to Krewe of Zulu, which rolls at eight; but as many of you are well aware, seven AM comes really, really early, and what with Orpheus the night before, I was not awake til nine. I know, I'm a lazy slug-o-bed. But nine was fine. As Lauren began painting herself blue, I donned my finest Steam Punk gear, and we headed downtown.
I imagine that when most people who are not from around here think of Mardi Gras, the image that pops into their heads is that of drunk women showing their bosoms for plastic beads on Bourbon Street. And yes, that does happen: the women and the bead throwers, and everyone else on Bourbon Street, are tourists. Locals avoid Bourbon street religiously, and head to Frenchmen Street and to the Marigny end of Royal Street. That's where Locals Mardi Gras takes place (at least, one version of locals Mardi Gras---there are many different Mardi Gras, happening all over the city: next year I'll try to get to a totally different one in a totally different neighborhood!).
The way to get to Frenchmen Street on Mardi Gras is to park in the Marigny (because of the threat of rain, it was a lighter turnout this year than it has been in other years: this was good, as we got a parking spot in the Marigny with absolutely no problem!). Then one puts themselves in the path of the Saint Anne's parade, which goes along Royal Street, through the Marigny, ending at Frenchmen Street, and one walks along in the parade, which, with stragglers, can stretch several miles.
Above and below; Saint Anne's arrives at Royal and Elysian Fields, a block from Frenchmen Street.
Above, this rider's bicycle is a huge shoe, referring to the Krewe of Muses.
Once the parade arrives at Frenchmen Street, the entire street becomes a gathering place. At every corner a live brass band plays (often made up of impromptu musicians coming in from various parades), or a boom box with mega powered-speakers is set up, and each corner along Frenchmen becomes a dance party.
We met up with Lauren's friend E. and her husband, and grabbed a spot under a balcony to watch the goings-on, and from which I could rove the area and take photos, as I do.
E., J., and Lauren at our observation point in front of Yuki. Note the drink in J.'s hand: this is a theme you will see repeated often throughout this blog post.
E. creates her entire costume each year: she is a gifted seamstress.
Lauren looking so adorable.
Here are some shots from Frenchmen. I took so many photos this year that I cannot fit them all into a single post. There will be a part 2, and maybe even a part 3, with more photos from this year's Mardi Gras. So here are just a few to whet your appetite...
Above and below: the lovely Ginger Schweikert, a member of Slow Burn Burlesque troupe, and a local business woman, dances to the brass band at Frenchmen and Chartres.
As we stood at our little spot, another parade, the Krewe of Cosmic Debris, began to meet up and dance as they formed their marching ranks. Cosmic Debris began in the '60s as a hippie Mardi Gras parade, and has continued to this very day, attracting the beautiful and weird to its ranks.
We followed Cosmic Debris, and ended up at our favorite breakfast joint in the Quarter, En Vie. Their open sidewalk cafe is a great place to watch Mardi Gras while having morning coffee. It was there that we met this Anarchist Marching Band from Montreal:
From En Vie, we followed Decatur to Jackson Square, where we found more dance parties going on...
We walked from Jackson Square down Royal Street, where I received two things. First, when I photographed this girl she gave me a little green souvenir of Saint Anne's parade...
Then I photographed these people who were, as if you could not tell, dressed as bananas...
...Who then gave me a banana with their phone number on it....
Hand written on the banana is: txt or send pic to 504 xxx xxxx please pass on do not eat happy Mardi Gras
Gin Walker's dance pole from the Krewe Of Chewbacchus Parade mysteriously appeared on Royal Street, where revelers used it at random. This is a good reminder of our local saying: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas: What happens at Mardi Gras can come back to haunt you forever!
I love these guys!!!
Above: this witty costume refers to the electrical black out that occurred during the Super Bowl.
Baron Samedi, Voodoo Lwa of cemeteries (and star of a James Bond movie!).
Above: two lovely antlered creatures.
Above: this couple told me that today was their wedding day. It was adorable, until you saw the back of his costume, below:
Hey, at least his shoes match the barrel.
Above: when I took this girl's photo, she told me today was her 21st birthday. She seemed very excited when I told her I would include her in my blog post. I could not imagine a better way to celebrate one's 21st birthday than Mardi Gras.
Returning to the Frenchmen Street area, we beheld a pale horse, a demon from Biblical prophecy:
This woman's news-of-the-moment costume refers to the defacement of Eugene Delacroix's painting Liberty Leading The People last Friday. A woman wrote the phrase AE911 on the painting, which hangs in the Louvre. Note the phrase written on the woman's hip, which refers to a 911 conspiracy theory.
Back on Frenchmen. Above, local musician Meschiya Lake at the party.
Members of the Krewe of Renegade Indians, above and below. In this city, where we have three kinds of Indians. white people can't be Indians, unless they create their own kind of Indian.
It was pretty cool to run into the Golden Gate Bridge, above, as Lauren and I are flying to San Francisco tomorrow.
As we left the Frenchmen area, we ran into musician. Treme actor, and my buddy David Roe, confusing gay men everywhere...
So that's the overall view of my wonderful Mardi Gras. I still have many photos, and I will post them in a Part 2 in the next few days. Until then, from New Orleans, slowly recovering from Mardi Gras, this is Kenny Klein explaining it all.