Letter From New Orleans: A Tale Of Two Krewes

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell was elected in 2017 as a progressive. After four years of an increasingly incoherent mayoralty, it’s hard to tell what if anything she stands for. She was easily reelected but without any opponent of stature with the money to mount a serious challenge. Mayor Teedy believes she has a mandate but for what? Beats the hell outta me.

I realize that this post may qualify as inside-New Orleans baseball to some readers. I started out as a hyper-local New Orleans blogger in 2006, after all. Sometimes I revert to that form.

New Orleans is among the most interesting cities in the world and Carnival is central to our local culture. I have oversimplified at points to make this post comprehensible to those who are, as we say in the 13th Ward, from away.

Carnival disputes have often served as proxies for political warfare in New Orleans. In 1992, a Mardi Gras anti-discrimination ordinance passed shaking up the staid, stuffy, and often racist Carnival order. It led some of the snootier all-white krewes such as Comus and Momus to stop parading for good. It was a much-needed shakeup that led to the birth of some new and more diverse parading krewes such as Orpheus and Muses and eventually to quirky marching groups such as the 610 Stompers, Pussyfooters, and Laissez Boys to name a few.

It’s happening again. The city has decided to press on with Carnival even with Omicron raging. Ironically, the only thing Mayor Teedy did right in her first term was combat COVID. City Hall has announced that parade routes will be compressed and altered supposedly because of an understaffed and overwhelmed police department. In fact, this is a change  that has been long sought by the NOPD and they’ve managed to accomplish it under cover of COVID. They’ve wanted to consolidate the peak parade route onto St. Charles Avenue, and they’ve gotten their way for at least 2022.

The changes directly impact the parades that roll up Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans. It means that these krewes will no longer parade around the corner from Adrastos World HQ. That’s no big whoop for me this year: I plan to stay away from the parade route. I’ve managed to go this long without getting sick during the pandemic and while I love Carnival, it’s not worth getting sick over. Nothing is.

There’s one krewe that has been rolling up Magazine Street for many decades: the Krewe of Thoth. They’ve made it a point to parade past hospitals and other health care facilities with the aim of bringing good cheer to patients and staff alike, especially at Children’s Hospital.

Thoth is the parade I will miss the most. There’s an annual neighborhood party at the corner of Valence and Magazine Streets. It was missed last year but it will be impossible this year as the parades will begin nine blocks away. I hope to feel safe during Carnival 2023 but it’s uncertain if Thoth or the other Magazine Street parades will return.

City Hall consulted with some of the parading krewes. Thoth was not among them.

One krewe that was not forced to move its route is Endymion. They parade across town in Mid-City. They’ve been allowed to stay on their customary route with a few tweaks That’s why this post is called A Tale Of Two Krewes.

Endymion is an obnoxious parading krewe with political clout and money to burn. Most of its members live in suburban Jefferson and St. Tammany Parishes. The latter is the reddest and richest parish in the Gret Stet Of Louisiana. Yet, they have more clout than Thoth, which is based in the bluest parish with an allegedly progressive mayor. What’s wrong with this picture?

A personal note: I hate Endymion and the people who camp out for days on its route. Hardcore New Orleanians call these creeps the Krewe of Chad because one year some jerk named Chad painted his name on the neutral ground of Orleans Avenue. I am not making this up:

Chads are selfish, shallow, and usually politically conservative. In 2022, that means Trumpy. I won’t even go into Krewe d’Etat, which has a dictator instead of a captain and specializes in overtly right-wing and ofttimes misogynistic satire.

Back to Endymion. As if to perfect its image as the parade of moneyed white flight, Endymion has named Raymond Arroyo a right-wing teevee host as its grand marshal:

Arroyo hosts ‘The World Over with Raymond Arroyo’ on EWTN and is a frequent guest and occasional substitute host on ‘The Ingraham Angle,’ the Fox News program hosted by Laura Ingraham.

Oy, just oy.

I guess Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson were too busy to ride with the wingnuts of Endymion.

This is the regressive krewe that the ostensibly progressive mayor of New Orleans has favored in pre-parade planning. It’s nauseating but not surprising. Mayor Teedy has never liked Carnival and presided over the worst Carnival in recent memory, 2020. I called it The Cursed Carnival. It happened right before the pandemic exploded and foreshadowed the dark days of 2020 and 2021. The problems had nothing to do police understaffing or long parade routes. It was the vibe: 2020 was the Altamont of Carnival seasons.

Mayor Teedy does not think of Carnival as a cultural event but strictly as a money-maker and something to draw tourists. This year’s Carnival has a chance to be a super-spreader event, but concern about COVID is so 2021.

Thoth is a krewe made up of public-spirited New Orleanians. Endymion is a krewe made up of suburban jerks who shout “Show your tits” at the crowd. I know which side I’m on and it’s not the same side as Mayor Teedy.

I suppose I should thank Mayor Teedy for making it easier to stay away from Carnival 2022. But, as always, I look at the big picture. I believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It was broken in 1992 when City Councilmember Dorothy Mae Taylor introduced the anti-discrimination measure that resulted in a more inclusive Mardi Gras. Carnival is not broken in 2022, it’s just battered by the pandemic. New Orleans has been called “the city that care forgot.” LaToya Cantrell is the mayor who forgot to care about Carnival.

The last word goes to Dr. John with a Mardi Gras anthem:

2 thoughts on “Letter From New Orleans: A Tale Of Two Krewes

  1. I’m not holding anything against the Endymion people — good for them, actually, for not letting the city push them into giving up their tradition, such as it is — except that if the city feels like they can manage allowing Endymion to stay with their traditional Mid-City route then it’s grossly unfair for them to turn around and say “no, no, no” for any of these others who have had routes in the Uptown Magazine St. corridor. And then on top of that we need to be speaking up for the many businesses in that area who are going to be suffering a blow, another blow, on top of the effects of the pandemic, on account of this latest rearrangement. And then also speak out against squeezing people, who won’t be able to spread out and relax and enjoy the Magazine St. corridor part of the route, into the part of the route that’s being kept intact.

    1. I completely agree. City Hall not only dissed Thoth, it flipped the bird to locals. The Magazine route is for us.

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