Monday was a house chore day, waiting on the termite inspector most of the afternoon and making groceries. I made it out of the house for red beans at Buffa’s and an hour or two with the Hank was Here group. I was invited to join the party on the Rbar balcony on Mardi Gras Day, a premium spot as half the city, everyone from Marigny and the Bywater, passes by on the way into the Quarter sometime that morning.
I read in the paper that the Brad Pitt and Jude Law rode masked in the Krewe d’Kanaval two floats behind our little marching group on Saturday. Kanaval is the Haitian themed krewe co-founded by Arcade Fire and the Preservation Hall Brass Band. That explains why Tipitina’s was closed to the public that afternoon. A brush with fame, or at least the famous. I looked at applying to that krewe, but it was $1000 to join and there were also fees for every party and event. A 1%er krewe. I formally joined the Krewe du Fool, paying dues and everything, and got invited to an Endymion party at a krewe member’s house on St. Charles. These guys might be better connected than I thought.
After coffee, I walked through the preternaturally quiet Quarter and sat for a late lunch and a set of music at Bamboula’s. A fried oyster po-boy hit the spot and put me in line for a nap, which unfortunately was a longer one than planned. I woke up and tinkered with the Mardi Gras costume, adding a little bling to the pith helmet and washing the white Chucks. Now I have to start wearing the costumes I have put together.
The semi-official start of the weekend is noon on Wednesday and we go straight through until Tuesday at midnight. There are 35 big permitted parades, most on the Uptown route, and countless smaller ones running through the neighborhoods. Apparently if you don’t know to look for them, you just miss them. So far, the hidden marching parades I will be seeking out are the Krewe of Lafcadio on Saturday, chefs from the high end restaurants walking through the Quarter handing out spoons and condiments; the Krewe of Red Beans marching through Marigny, right past Buffa’s, on Lundi Gras with tremendous home sewn costumes made of red beans; and early on Mardi Gras Skull and Bones, the traditional Treme krewe that goes door to door dressed as skeletons waking people up to get on the street for Mardi Gras. 5 AM will come early, but Skull and Bones is the counterpart culturally to the Mardi Gras Indians and second line groups. A good place to have a camera. And of course, the Queen Anne marching parade on Mardi Gras marches through the Bywater, Marigny, and Lower Quarter to the steps on the river before noon.
I haven’t started on the music calendar but the New Orleans royalty are coming out to play at all my favorite clubs. This year I have received a couple of casual invitations to the house parties along the parade routes that may turn into wristbands to the more exclusive places, so I will keep my options open.
Wednesday night was cool and windy, and I took a walk across the quarter with Seker to catch part of Nyx. We made it, barely after a stop at the Chart Room to meet his friend Keith, to Canal in time for Druids and a couple of the dancing groups. The Green Faeries were the highlight of the evening. Nyx was supposed to follow on but there was a delay of over an hour, and it was too cold to hang out. We learned later a woman had slipped between two halves of a big tandem float and was crushed to death by the float, causing the parade to stop. We retreated to the Chart Room and the long walk home. Chris ran into a homeless guy he and Cecile had helped out over time, and sat with him for a bit.
I spent a rainy Thursday with Cecile’s Muses float group of 20 women at her house, shooting a bunch of photos in the low light. They were in purple this year, which made for some fun photos. They left the house in pedicabs, and ten minutes later the city canceled the parade for the evening because of a high wind warning. I think it had as much to do with an accident the previous night. I didn’t fight the weather and spent the evening processing photos.
Friday I went out for the Greasing of the Poles ceremony on Bourbon Street in the morning. The crowd was huge, filling the street in front of the Royal Sonesta. The idea is the poles holding up the balconies are greased so that people can’t climb them on Mardi Gras day. It has evolved into a burlesque dancer show in which dancers get up on ladders and pole dance while liberally smearing Vaseline over the poles and themselves. I couldn’t get close enough to photograph the event, but the crowd was entertaining in itself. I went through the Mask Market on the way home, and selected an elaborate horned mask, similar to ones in the retail stores that sell for $200, for $70. It is a good topper for just about anything. Mollies was fun, with the Iris pre party just up the block so beautifully costumed Uptown women were mixing in with the tourists and punkers in the bar.
I took a break for a home made salad and a rest in the courtyard, and then headed back out to Bourbon. Jill and the Touro Street Irregulars were meeting at Orleans Grapevine, and I joined them after seeing the Prima Donnas throwing decorated bras from the balcony to an enthusiastic crowd. That krewe hand decorates bras and raises money for breast cancer awareness. Perhaps not the most effective PR strategy, but entertaining none the less.
The Grapevine was fun, with flights of wine for tasting and good tapas. They serve a basket of bacon for the table at happy hour which proves to be a surprisingly good palate cleanser. We had a good conversation over a few glasses of wine, and I had a decent boudin. The other dishes I saw were seared scallops, beef medallions, and barbecue shrimp. All of the sauces were on point, and it is a place to go back to. We went from there to Touche on Royal Street, and then back to Touro.
The Rbar was serving crawfish, and I got the last of it with Scott, thoroughly sliming my pants, but you haven’t really done Mardi Gras until you’ve eaten crawfish in costume on the sidewalk in front of your neighborhood bar. Only four more days!
Check out more photos at https://bobclaus.myportfolio.com/work