Category Archives: Mardi Gras

Saturday Odds & Sods: Rocky Road

Charing Cross Bridge by Andre Derain

Carnival was alternately exhausting and exhilarating. I love it but I’m always glad when it’s over, especially when the weather is cold and wet. This year was physically difficult for me as I was in pain for the last week of the season. I ended up on the disabled list and stayed home on Mardi Gras day but I don’t regret not resting on Lundi Gras as you can see from this tweet:

Proteus is one of the “old line” krewes and their den is around the corner from Adrastos World Headquarters. They were indeed as drunk as plutocratic skunks. Watching them set up to roll is one of the pleasures of life inside the parade box. Where else can you watch three fake kings-Proteus, Comus, and Rex-toast one another on the street?

This week’s first theme song was written by Nick Lowe and Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke for Nick’s 1990 Party Of One album, which reunited him with his musical partner in crime, Dave Edmunds.

It’s disambiguation time: a different tune with the same title. Our other theme song was written by Steve Tilston but I first heard it done by Fairport Convention. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Fairport live followed by the songwriter.

Now that we’ve traveled down several rocky roads, it’s time to jump to the break.

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Lundi Gras Odds & Sods

I have no idea why that chick is riding a walrus in the poster above. To the best of my knowledge, walruses aren’t indigenous to South Louisiana.

I’ve partied hurt this Carnival season. I twisted my knee on the route while foolishly trying to catch up with these guys.

I have three friends in the group and only saw one so I tried and failed to chase them down during the Muses parade two days before that video was shot. There’s no fool like a semi-old fool.

The conditions have been wet and sloppy, which hasn’t been all bad since it’s kept the crowds down. Of course, we have Chads who are into urban camping so they have tents to duck under when it rains. Heaven forfend that you attempt join them. In Chadland, pitching a tent seems to lead to pitching a fit. It’s the public green, y’all, deal with it.

Today is the day we watch the Krewe of Proteus fall off the bus and eventually stagger onto their floats. We live around the corner from their den and enjoy seeing them arrive after their liquid pre-parade meal at Antoine’s. Our out-of-town guests are excited to have the drunken plutocrat experience.

As you can see, I’m still in the Carnival bubble so I’ve got very little to say about the Insult Comedian hugging the flag or Seb Gorka’s hamburger speech. Gorka seems to believe in life, liberty, and condiments.

In the Odds & Sods spirit, here’s today’s earworm:

Surprise, surprise, it’s a Stones song.

Happy Mardi Gras. On Wednesday we repent our sins or some such shit. I may have to give up Keef and Woody for Lent.

Saturday Odds & Sods: All Down The Line

It’s been a crazy Carnival season as always. Mayor Cantrell’s efforts to keep the Chads and their ladders off the parade route neutral grounds have won plaudits. I realize that nobody outside New Orleans understood that sentence but life sucks and then you die.

We have house guests so my writing time has been limited, which means that an all-out Odds & Sods outing isn’t feasible. I’m even a catblogging slacker this week. So it goes.

I do, however, have a theme song. The Rolling Stones have been my soundtrack for Carnival 2019 so it’s only fitting to select All Down The Line from Exile On Main Street as the theme song for this truncated outing.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the Exile original, a 1972 live version with Mick Taylor on slide guitar, and a 2006 live version from Marty’s Stones flick, Shine A Light. I love me some Woody but Mick kicks his ass on this particular tune.

You’re probably asking yourself: why are the Stones my Carnival soundtrack? I’m not big on seasonal music. It’s an area about which Dr. A and I disagree. She loves seasonal music. Given a choice I’ll take Carnival music over Christmas music but I’d rather have another choice. What can I tell ya?

That’s it for this week. The last word goes to the Valence Street chickens who have yet to watch a parade with us. Let’s hope it stays that way.

 

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Case Of The Shoplifter’s Shoe

I’ve never deliberately repeated a PFT entry before. This was first posted  2/8/18. Why am I doing this? It’s Muses Thursday and half the city is coming to our house. That’s why:

I know what you’re thinking: when in pulp fiction doubt, post a Perry Mason cover. Guilty as charged. It’s also relevant this Muses Thursday. That all chick krewe throws decorated shoes.

I’ve also posted a cleaned up version of the cover that I stumbled into on the artist’s website. Thanks to John Farr.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Al Hirt At The Mardi Gras

It’s that time of year so let’s set the Wayback Machine to 1962 with a live album from Al Hirt. The cover, via Discogs, is a bit old and beat up but so am I.

It’s selected tracks time, baby:

The Bayou Brief: The Zulu Conundrum

New Orleans is one of the few places in the country where a white person can wear blackface in public and not be called a racist. Why? 20% of the folks who ride in the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club’s Mardi Gras day parade are white.

My latest piece at the Bayou Brief: The Zulu Conundrum is an attempt to bring nuance and context to this contentious local discussion. I believe that, as they did once before, Zulu should abandon “blacking up” for all its members, not just white riders. The reason I use the word conundrum is that this is a tricky question in New Orleans even though it’s a no-brainer elsewhere.

I realize that my non-Louisiana readers will find this discussion baffling but it won’t be the first time I’ve baffled you. And it won’t be the last.

It Came From The Catch Basin

New Orleans has a problem with tons of plastic beads clogging up catch basins on the parade route. That inspired the Krewe of Spank’s Krewe du Vieux float this year:

That was, of course, before the bead monster known in these parts as the Beadgaroux hit the streets. This is our official, but not officious, 2019 logo:

Our most coveted throw was a set of nine trading cards “celebrating” clogged drains and bead monsters.

I wish I could take credit but the amuse-douche joke was the handiwork of my friend David Tower. Btw, he lives up to the name: he’s a tall dude.

Spank hit the big time this year. We’re featured in this video. I’m the guy in the green derby/bowler:

One of Spank’s closest sub-krewe friends is the Krewe of Mishigas. Their float was a work of twisted genius:

The RBG figure started off with a full rack, so I suggested that she needed boob reduction “surgery.” It turned out quite well.

The Mishigas button below was one of the most sought after throws of the evening. The photo is via international man of mystery Peris B.

Frank Zappa and the Mothers get the last word with a little ditty that was inspired by the 1956 sci-fi flick,  It Conquered The World:

FYI, our monster was better than the one in the cheesy movie.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Pearl Of The Quarter

Krewe du Vieux 2019

Krewe du Vieux ate my week and the Krewe of Spank whuppped my ass. Today is the big day, which is why this week’s entry qualifies as a placeholder. If you want to re-read Confessions Of A Krewe du Vieux Member to get into the spirit of the occasion, there’s no time like the present.

This week’s theme song was written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen in 1973. It’s one of my favorite Steely Dan album tracks. It’s the touching tale of a man in love with a French Quarter prostitute named Louise. Ooh la la.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the steel guitar driven Steely Dan original followed by a swell 2013 cover by Boz Scaggs:

That’s it for this week. The closing bat meme is a picture taken by Dr. A near the Den of Muses.

The last word goes to the Neville Brothers:

Valentine’s Day In New Orleans

I’m not big on Hallmark card holidays. My mother used to make fun of Mother’s Day and thought Valentine’s Day was silly. Her stock line about the former was: “It’s always mother’s day in this family.” Mom’s attitude about Hallmark card holidays prepared me for Valentine’s Day in New Orleans.

Valentine’s Day typically takes place during Carnival and I think you know what my priority is. The good news is that my awesome wife, Dr. A, agrees. In fact, Krewe du Vieux has marched on Valentine’s Day several times during its history.

We will spend today working on our costumes for the big day. And we will spend tonight with 53 of our closest friends as it’s Spank throws distribution night. Our theme is still top-secret. I wouldn’t even allow Slumlord Jared access. Unless, that is, he bribed me. I am easily corrupted. What else would you expect from a Greek guy who lives in the Gret Stet of Louisiana?

There’s an image going around social media that sums up New Orleans’ relationship with Valentine’s Day:

Holy St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Batman.

Finally a message for Dr. A. As Maybe Cousin Telly would surely say at this point:

Pulp Fiction Thursday: New Orleans Mourning/The Axeman’s Jazz

I rarely post any book  covers released after 1970 but there are always exceptions. These two novels by Julie Smith are set in New Orleans. And 1990’s New Orleans Mourning features a spectacular crime: Rex, King of Carnival, is murdered on his float on Mardi Gras day.

Bayou Brief: Confessions Of A Krewe du Vieux Member

Carnival 2019 is as long as Anthony Davis’ arms. Unlike AD it doesn’t want to be traded to the Lakers. I’m not sure what LeBron would make of this on his home court:

Earlier today my latest piece for the Bayou Brief went live: Confessions Of A Krewe du Vieux Member. It’s a photo essay about my life and times as a member of Krewe du Vieux; something y’all have heard me go on about here at First Draft.

I picked the title because it’s catchy not because I confess to all that much. I must confess that it’s a relief not to write about a certain asshole president* who lied his way through the SOTU. I didn’t watch. Dr. A and I were babysitting our de facto nieces and nephew aka the Child Army. There was, however, snark and shade involved:

That’s why her nickname is the Benevolent Dictator. In the immortal words of Rodney Dangerfield, I don’t get no respect. It’s an open question as to whether I deserve any.

The last word goes to Jay McShann and the Rolling Stones with this confessional classic:

Aretha Franklin, R.I.P.

I grew up listening to soul music. I even remember preachers complaining about its mix of the sacred and profane aka gospel and blues. The greatest soul singer of them all was a preacher’s daughter from Detroit, Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul died today at the age of 76.

Aretha’s career had more highlights than a mere blogger can recount. The most recent of which was singing at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration. Equally memorable was THE HAT:

It had folks in New Orleans buzzing. So much so that my friend Carol knocked it off for herself, Dr. A, and her husband Mark. Speaking of preachers, Mark is my personal minister. Talk about losing battles.

LEFT TO RIGHT: Dr. A, Carol, and Mark. Muses Party, 2009

I realize that this is an odd and idiosyncratic Aretha memory to share but I’m an odd and idiosyncratic guy.

In keeping with this odd and idiosyncratic tribute, here’s an odd and idiosyncratic musical selection:

The Queen of Soul is dead, long live the Queen of Soul.

Bayou Brief: The State Of Carnival

My latest NOLA-centric piece is up at the Bayou Brief. I take a look at two factors that made Carnival a bit less enjoyable in 2018: the Lost Causers and the Krewe of Chad.  If you want to know what the latter is, CLICK HERE.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Papa Was A Rolling Stone

Hesitation Waltz by Rene Magritte.

It’s been a frustrating week at Adrastos World HQ. Every time I think my pernicious and persistent cold is getting better, I backslide. I would have preferred to be really sick for a few days and then better. Make up your mind, cold.

In local news, the lame duck New Orleans City Council has been up to all sorts of mischief: voting to approve a new power plant for Entergy that won’t solve our blackout  problems and allowing taller buildings to be constructed alongside the Mother of Rivers.  I suspect that the presence of Mayor-elect Cantrell on the Council is one reason they feel free to take such votes. It does not bode well for those who hoped the incoming Mayor would be more neighborhood/citizen friendly. Score another win for real estate developers who are the worst people in the world. Exhibit A for this argument currently lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

This week’s theme song is a tribute to Temptations singer Dennis Edwards who died earlier this month at the age of 74. Papa Was A Rolling Stone was written by Norman Whitfield and Barret Strong and was a monster hit in 1972. Here are two versions for your enjoyment: the Temps and David Lindley.

Now that I’ve dissed real estate developers and my stupid cold, it’s time to roll over to the break. I’m too enfeebled to jump.

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Happy Mardi Gras

Dr. A and I are on the disabled list this year. She has a bad cold and I have a gimpy leg; nothing serious or permanent. We were the krewe of the couch and watched parade coverage on WWL-TV. The krewe of kitties named for Perry Mason characters approved.

The fact that Mardi Gras day coincides with the Ice People Olympics means that it’s time to revive a classic moment from the 2014 Krewe du Vieux parade. It’s the Drips and Discharges Skating Dick.

To quote an old proverb, it ain’t over until the dick skates. Did I say old? I meant odd.

Quote Of The Day: Birds Of A Feather Edition

I’m peeking my head out of the Carnival bubble because Josh nails the Insult Comedian and his creepy criminal cohort yet again:

We can start with the simple fact that this President surrounds himself with men who abuse women. Abuse and predation may know no party. But abusers seek out and run together. Trump’s politics are rooted in grievance, both gendered and racial. Trump is consistent if nothing else. He is an embodiment of his politics. It’s no surprise that this isn’t theoretical or merely expressed in political terms but is interpersonal and personally violent as well. Abusers know the President is one of them. They seek him out and he protects them in turn. Few men in the President’s coterie have multiple wives who’ve been willing to take the step of describing their former husband’s violence on the record. But it’s remarkable the number of Trump’s top advisors who have a history of abuse, whether it’s accusations of harassment or sexual assault or chronic physical violence against former spouses or girlfriends.

The Porter scandal is simultaneously appalling and fascinating. We already knew Trump didn’t give a shit about predatory behavior but we’ve had another reminder that John Kelly is just a slightly more polished version of his boss. Spousal abuse doesn’t seem to faze  him one bit. He may be an officer but he’s not a gentleman.

It’s also been fun watching the hapless Hope Hicks flail. It’s what happens when you place a sycophant who is also dating the wife beater in a position that she’s woefully unqualified for. They might bring back the Mooch who is also woefully unqualified to be communications director. Woefully Unqualifed would be a good Trumper band name.

Okay, time to re-enter the Carnival bubble. The real world bites the big one right now.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Box Of Rain

It’s been a somewhat stressful Carnival season thus far. The reason has been the weather: it’s been chilly and wet. The skies opened and poured down rain on the all female Krewe of Nyx on Wednesday night. We braved the elements and watched large chunks of the parade because we have friends in it and wanted to show our support. We can also run home and change clothes if we’re soaked. Props to the ladies who rode and survived the deluge of 2018.

Our annual Muses open house was a roaring success as was the parade itself, which took place on a dry Thursday evening. Half of New Orleans seems to come to Adrastos World HQ every year and 2018 was no exception. We had a record number of children including the legendary child army. New kitty Paul Drake came out to meet company but eventually got spooked by a close encounter with Lagniappe who is the craziest, cutest, and funniest 2+ year old I’ve ever met. Believe me.

Muses is another all-chick krewe who are famous for their shoe throws and marvelous themes. This year’s theme, Muses Night at the Museum, was their best yet. They riffed on masterpieces by artists such as Seurat, Magritte, Matisse, and Hopper and gave them a satirical twist. It was brilliant thematically and beautifully executed. My years in Krewe du Vieux have made me something of a parade critic but I have no criticism of this parade. It was stone cold brilliant. Four stars all the way, y’all.

Muses has a swell slide/show photo gallery of their floats at their Facebook page. Take a peek you’ll enjoy it, even this one:

Here’s the counterpart to that float. It’s as wistful as hell:

I know what you’re thinking: another Grateful Dead tune as the theme song? It’s actually tied to Carnival by analogy. We live inside what is referred to as the parade box. On parade days, except for Mardi Gras day itself, our movements are constricted by the parades. We even have parking wars.  This forecast for the rest of the weekend is a shit ton of rain. Hence Box Of Rain:

I have just two articles to suggest this week, so we’ll forego the break and usual segment format. I’m not sure if it’s innovative or lazy; probably the latter since hosting a party of 100+ people is hard work. I feel as if I was run over by a float.

Dr. A wanted to see the Super Bowl half time show even though we only watched snippets of the game. She was disappointed by it as was Vulture’s Brian Moylan who was inspired to write a list ranking Super Bowl half time shows from worst to best. Moylan is something of an Irish Shecky who is known for his hilarious recaps of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills aka Rich Ladies Doing Things. I particularly enjoy how he rags on one of the husbands. He once called this chap a pustule with legs. Now that’s entertainment.

It’s Black History Month everywhere except the Trump White House. The Failing New York Times published a list of must-see movies:

It’s a great list. I’ve only seen half of the films listed so I have some catching up to do. I am pleased that they like Devil With A Blue Dress as much as I do.

That’s it for this week’s limited edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. I can’t assure you that it will grow in value but it’s mercifully short. That’s something, innit?

The last word goes to the Krewe of Muses:

Everybody Loves A Parade

Carnival swings into high gear this evening. We live inside the parade box, which is even more intense at the beginning of the route where Adrastos World HQ is located. A highlight of every parade are the military marching bands, especially the Marines in their gorgeous dress blues.

Everybody loves a parade including the Current Occupant:

President Trump’s vision of soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington is moving closer to reality in the Pentagon and White House, where officials say they have begun to plan a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces.

Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade, but a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank — a room reserved for top-secret discussions — marked a tipping point, according to two officials briefed on the planning.

Surrounded by the military’s highest-ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive, the officials said.

“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”

Everybody loves a parade including Third World tyrants and the Banana Republican who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue at the moment. I wonder if the Kaiser of Chaos plans to repair the streets that are damaged. Not that he’s thought that far ahead: he’s a tween who wants what Macron has. But that sort of parade *is* a tradition in France, not in America. It’s not a parade to celebrate the military but to celebrate Trump’s ego and prove that his dick is bigger than the handsome young French president’s.

In many parts of the world, tanks in the streets means that there’s a coup d’etat in progress. I heard stories of Athens, Greece in 1967 from my de facto Uncle Lou who was stationed there with NCIS when the colonels overthrew the duly elected government. (A quick personal story. Lou is the reason I cannot watch NCIS: New Orleans despite being a Scott Bakula fan. In his many years of service, he never drew his weapon. He would have considered it a failure to do so. Real NCIS agents are investigators, not action heroes.)

The building on the right is parliament at Syntagma Square. That’s constitution square for anyone keeping score. The score that day was colonels ten, democracy zero.

The Greeks have learned their lesson about tanks in the street. It’s what happens when democracy fails and authoritarianism prevails. Is that what we want to see in our nation’s capital? A parade staged to gratify a vainglorious despot wannabe? No fucking way.

Trump recently called Democrats “un-American” for not applauding him during his desultory state of the union speech. What’s un-American is staging a military parade when we’re not celebrating the end of a war. It’s an act of egomania conceived by an insecure man who is called Cadet Bone Spurs by a real war hero, Senator Tammy Duckworth. Believe me.

America should be secure in the knowledge that our military is second to none. We don’t need tanks in the streets to gratify an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria atop his head.

Everybody loves a parade.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Wild Magnolias

The Wild Magnolias are first and foremost a Mardi Gras Indian tribe. They’re also active when it’s not Carnival with live performances and the odd recording. This week I’m featuring the covers of their first two albums, which were released in 1974 and 1975.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Night and Day

The Night Cafe by Vincent Van Gogh.

Carnival kicks into full swing this weekend. We’re about to have parades and company up the wazoo. I remain uncertain as to what the wazoo is but I think it’s first cousin to the ying-yang or the place where the moon don’t shine.

One downside of Carnival are the creeps who try to appropriate the public green as their own private space. We call them the Krewe of Chad or Chads for short. For the first time in years, the city decided to enforce the existing ordinances against ladders, couches and such being left on the sidewalks and neutral grounds. The Chads were outraged. They’re always either outraged or entitled hence the 2016 Krewe of Spank theme, Clash of the Entitled.

You may recall the mishigas over the Forever Lee Circle beads.  In a fit of hashtag activism, someone decided to do something about it:

Since we have both night and day parades, I picked a classic for this week’s theme song, Night and Day. It doesn’t get more classic than Cole Porter, y’all. We have two versions for your listening pleasure, Ella Fitzgerald  followed by a swell 1995 version by the Temptations.

Now that we’ve heard the boom, boom of the tom-toms, let’s jump to the break. See you on the other side.

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