Kenny Klein with Stapler

Kenny Klein with Stapler

Monday, February 11, 2013

Soggy Beans

 I woke up this morning to the sound of rain on my window. Even though it was Lundi Gras, I stayed in bed a while, as one does on rainy days. Then I got myself up and called David Roe to ask if our Lundi Gras party and the Red Beans parade was still on. Yes, DR assured me: the party was on, there were gallons of Gumbo on the stove, and Red Beans was rolling, rain or shine. So off I went to the Marigny for our Lundi Gras tradition of gumbo, fellowship, and the Red Beans parade.

DR's gumbo was, indeed, delicious. I think it contained 9 kinds of road kill: gator, nutria, squirrel... whatever was in there, it was great (I'm eating meat through Mardi Gras, then going back to being vegetarian at Lent).

Then following the intrepid DR, we strolled down to Royal street for this year's Red Beans parade.

There are several shades of Southern culture in red beans. Red beans are a staple Southern food, and such a part of our culture that the legume defines us. Further, the parade rolls on Lundi Gras, the Monday before Mardi Gras; it is traditional to eat red beans and rice on Mondays.

Known almost only to locals, Red Beans is a yearly parade that rolls through the Marigny, and all costumes and props must be made of or decorated with beans. Even the throws are made of beans. It is a huge local favorite; people who don't turn out for the more commercial, larger parades wait eagerly for the beans. And in the spirit of the Mardi Gras parades of old, some make mock protest signs against the political stance of the parade (which is, of course, eating beans).

Rolling Beans...

The parade rolled from Franklin st, and strolled en masse down Royal. There were few spectators: most of the crowd followed the parade, and became part of it.

Music was provided by the excellent Treme Brass Band.

Beans From Behind...

Because all costumes are decorated with beans, the costumes often feature elaborate bean-esque back pieces. Walking behind the parade makes the event even more interesting. 

Above: a parody of our local donuts, beignets; below: an old children's rhyme. 

Now, back to the front of the parade....

Above, Spy Vs. Spy. I have no idea how that relates to beans.

 Above: an ironic costume, as the current pope resigned the day the parade rolled.

Above and below: a bean interpretation of Edward Gorey's the Gashlycrumb Tinies. The fate of each unfortunate child relates to beans.

Above: not only a reference to the occupy movement, but to local celebrity David Roe (who I play music with), who encourages signage in mock protest of the parade. 

One of several Teenage Mutant Ninja Bean Turtles.

Above; the David Roe in question (DR), my band mate in The Royal Rounders, and a local Marigny fixture. Each Lundi Gras, DR throws our gumbo party, creates mock protest signs, and gathers his friends and fellow musicians to the Red Bean parade for signage and amusement. 

Above and below: back and front of a beaner's wardrobe. 

Above and below: as the parade stopped at Frenchmen street, I photographed some faces in the crowd of parade followers.

Above: one of the onlookers touting her bling from Thursday's Muses parade.

 Above: bass player Paul Edmonds, who plays with me in several bands, watching the parade with visiting friend Gillian. Below: the Treme Brass Band plays at our stop on Frenchmen Street.


Today's parade was awesome, and an appetite wetter for tomorrow's festivities. More from Mardi Gras tomorrow! From the Red Beans parade on the streets of New Orleans, this is Kenny Klein explaining it all.

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