Mardi Gras Madness


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North America
February 20th 2010
Published: February 20th 2010
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Ready for Mardi GrasReady for Mardi GrasReady for Mardi Gras

We're ready for the French Quarter on Fat Tuesday. I had my regular costume while Grace dawned a wig, Carina a mask with go-go boots and Eric had the silver face.

Fat Tuesday Finale



Mardi Gras is French for Tuesday Fat, so technically you should only say Mardi Gras for the grand finale of Fat Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, but this is the south and close enough counts. Carnival is the technical term for the season leading up to Fat Tuesday, but I haven't heard carnival or Fat Tuesday used down here at all. Everything is Mardi Gras - Mardi Gras beads, Mardi Gras parades, Mardi Gras Madness.

This Mardi Gras will forever have the distinction of being known as Lombardi Gras. That's the combination of the Lombardi trophy (that you win in the Super Bowl) and Mardi Gras. The most popular costume I saw was to dress up like the Lombardi Trophy and get liquored up and walk Bourbon Street to Frenchman Street.

I never really understood getting dressed up like an inanimate object like a banana or a hot dog. How is a Lombardi Trophy supposed to act? You either have to be a really good actor or you just walk around and people say - Oh, you're the Lombardi trophy. Next. I much prefer a fun costume.

Another costume that is famous in Nawlins is
King Cake CutKing Cake CutKing Cake Cut

Liz is cutting into the New Orleans traditional King Cake. It has a small, pink baby inside that you can bite into for a prize. Carina got it.
the naked costume. I've heard legends of men walking around with nothing but a string of beads on, but I didn't see that costume. I saw several topless women with body paint on, and caught a picture of one for you. I also lead our fivesome (Liz wasn't up to wandering Bourbon one more time) into a loud daiquiri bar on Bourbon Street where a small, hairy man in a G-string was dancing around. He needed a body wax but didn't seem to care much. I wondered why no one was dancing with him. He had his own section of the bar and was all alone amidst the sea of humanity. I didn't think much of it, but it seems like others was fixated on his near nakedness and hairy back.

I'm getting a little ahead of the story, so let me back up to the start of Fat Tuesday.

Zulu Parade



Eric and Carina arrived on Monday night after the parades, so we got up the first thing on Tuesday morning and went to the Zulu parade. This parade starts closer to the French Quarter, so we had to drive down to Lee's Circle again and
Zulu KreweZulu KreweZulu Krewe

This Zulu Warriors paint their faces black with white outlines.
get a parking spot. We found one and when we saw that it was $30 to park, we said screw it since we were only going to stay for an hour.

We walked to the parade and it was packed in like sardines. The Zulu parade is mainly run by a black krewe, but black and whites paint their faces black in Al Jolson style. Since the population of New Orleans is 2/3 black, the crowd was quite a bit different for this parade. We crossed the street and stood right in front of some locals that were sitting back a ways. We got the stink eye from a one-toothed wonder, but she worked her way to the front in short order. She continued to give us dirty looks and made disparaging remarks to Grace, but we ignored her and the parade soon came to redirect her attention.

When the floats finally rolled around, many of the bead racks were already empty since we were farther along the parade route than usual. They threw a very small amount of beads to the masses and we were getting hungry for shiny objects. While floats in Bacchus and some of
Colorful HeaddressColorful HeaddressColorful Headdress

I liked the way the sun caught the head dresses of the Zulu.
the other Super Krewes had up to 200 people on a float throwing masses of beads like crazy, the Zulu floats only had 10-12 people - occasionally tossing a strand to the crowd that was several rows deep. I didn't have my bead catcher either, so it was a hopeless situation.

The combination of fewer beads with more people lead to near starvation and we only had a few strands after 30 minutes. What we really wanted was one of the prized coconut throws that are hand painted and handed out with great care. We didn't have a chance. At about 1 strand of beads per 10 minutes, I wasn't very encouraged to stay so we decided to leave - without a coconut.

To add insult to injury, we got back to Brian's car and found a boot on the car. The parking attendants did work on Mardi Gras so we had to pay $90 to drive our car away. I thought it was a decent gamble since we were only staying for an hour, but the parking lot turned out to be right next to the Parking Lot Office, so they patrolled the parking lot regularly. I
Above the MississippiAbove the MississippiAbove the Mississippi

Eric and Carina pose from the top of the parking lot overlooking the mighty Mississippi.
ended up paying for the brunt of the fee since I suggested that the attendants wouldn't be working on Mardi Gras. Doesn't the Big Easy shut down on Fat Tuesday? Obviously not when you can get $30/spot and $90 for suckers who don't pay up front.

Frenchman Street Block Party



We went back home so Eric could get his mandatory nap and some food. Liz cooked up some red beans and rice with some delicious summer sausage on the side. We ate it up and then got dressed up for the evening's activities. I had the simplest costume with my purple hat and jacket. Grace matched me with her wide, purple wig and round purple glasses with disco-ball earings. Eric went for the urban cowboy look with a sequined shirt, 10-gallon, psychedelic, cowboy hat and a silver face. Carina put her new go-go boots on with some groovy tights and a pink dress she's had since she was 14. She topped it off with some beads and a big display of fuschia feathers for a mask. Fat Tuesday is the only day that you're supposed to wear a mask, so Carina was well disguised and anonymous. Brian threw
Having FunHaving FunHaving Fun

Grace was in a mood for a good time on Fat Tuesday. We all had a great time.
on his sailor costume and we were ready for the ball.

Brian got some free validated parking above Gordon Biersch, so that saved us $40 to make up for the earlier fiasco. We were off to Bourbon Street and stopped off at Ryan's Pub for a few car bombs. I thought Brian was just going to say hi to his freinds, but he bought 4 bombs for us and watched us gulp as he has been sober and in AA for a few months now - good job Brian! I chugged mine and inhereted Eric's since he doesn't drink either.

The road to perdition is on a steep downhill in New Orleans.

We were soon wandering down Bourbon Street with drinks in hand and besides the inordinate amount of beads on the ground, it wasn't much different than an ordinary night on Bourbon Street. It was only about 6pm, but it didn't even have as much energy as a normal Saturday night. It wasn't even close to the energy of the other nights I've written about - especially the night of the Super Bowl victory. Maybe we were too late and the Quarter was probably more happening
Body PaintBody PaintBody Paint

Quite a few girls went wild with the body paint. Fleur-de-lis boobs are very welcome. I saw a few others, but not too much nudity.
the night before or in the morning, but by the time we were there, it felt like the party was over.

This Mardi Gras was reported to be milder than most. Most people think it was the result of the Super Bowl blowout the week before. Many people shifted their vacations to be here Super Bowl weekend instead of Mardi Gras, so by the time Fat Tuesday rolled around, the party was dwindling on Bourbon Street.

The Fox news station interviewed us on Bourbon and we all made the 9:00 news except Brian. Brian said he was from Amsterdam and then he said he was from Deutchland, so the interviewer was on to him and edited him out of the final cut. We saw a few good costumes in the gay quarter, but Bourbon Street wasn't my destination.

Where I wanted to go was Frenchman Street where the locals go to hear music and party. Frenchman is just east of the French Quarter and we could hear it from blocks away as we approached. Ganja wafted through the air and most people were in a crazy assortment of costumes. Many impromptu bands were set up and it
Local StarsLocal StarsLocal Stars

We got on the local news program when we happened to be at the right place in the right costume.
was the perfect storm of a block party, music festival and rave all held together with the moniker of Mardi Gras.

We got some beers and while Eric was eating at a taco stand, Grace and I were getting wound up on the street. Grace called it Freeman Street. I haven't seen Grace have so much fun in a long time and she was in rare form. We danced and sang and cavorted on Frenchman to Brazilian Samba, rave music, DJs and classic rock. We were in and out of bars and joined in some local marching bands. This was the ultimate block party and we were in the thick of it.

Grace made friends as easy as she cooks up a delicious meal. When she would throw down the "I'm from Taiwan" card, people would go gaga over her. In the past when people would ask where Grace was from, she would sheepishly say Kansas City. On this night, I told her to never say that again because she can't handle KC. Now she's proudly saying Taiwan.

When she told this to a guy on the street corner, he said, "Wait right here, don't go anywhere!"
Colorful CostumesColorful CostumesColorful Costumes

Three of these girls had the same wig as Grace, but they are in different colors.
After a couple of minutes, he came back with a golden, Zulu coconut. Grace had her nut. I took a picture of him with Grace and she was in the upper stratosphere with the most prized throw from Mardi Gras. We started walking back towards the car and saw a window full of coconuts and Grace had to get a picture with them.

Easy Come, Easy Go in the Big Easy



After listening to some street corner bands and making more random friends on the street, we made our way to the Touche bar. I ordered a round of drinks and put Grace's wig on the table with a couple of feather boas that we caught near Bourbon Street. Brian found a table downstairs and I couldn't carry the drinks and the boas while Grace was in the bathroom. So I made a quick trip to the basement to drop the drinks off and made the wrong choice. When I went back upstairs not 30 seconds later, the wig and boas were gone. That's when I remembered that Grace's coconut was in the wig as well. I guess the thief thought they'd get a camera or wallet in
Baby Grocery CartBaby Grocery CartBaby Grocery Cart

This guy was having fun in his shopping cart that he'd done up.
the boas, but the only thing valuable was Grace's coconut.

I ran outside and looked around, but I didn't see any boas flying away or anybody with a purple wig. Brian helped me look, but the thief was long gone. I thought Grace would be upset, but she took it very well. We'd gotten it all for free -except the wig - and our booty was gone with the wind. I feel bad that it was my responsibility to carry our stuff, but we still had a great time.

The block party on Frenchmen Street made our night and encouraged me to stay through Jazz Fest, but California is calling my name.

Happy Lent,
Scott

PS. Note that I have two pages of photos again.


Additional photos below
Photos: 29, Displayed: 29


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Lombardi GrasLombardi Gras
Lombardi Gras

Lombardi trophy + Mardi Gras = Lombardi Gras. This limp trophy was filled with a rather inebriated young man. I saw 3 other trophies walking around.
Street DancingStreet Dancing
Street Dancing

Frenchman Street was rocking and Grace lead the festivities.
Our friend Bob MarleyOur friend Bob Marley
Our friend Bob Marley

Jeff is one of the locals we met a few days earlier at the Bacchus staging ground. He took a beer cart down Bourbon and onto Frenchmen and gave a couple cases of beer away.
Silver SurferSilver Surfer
Silver Surfer

This guy had a cool costume and would dance with his skateboard balanced on his head.
Dancing with BoasDancing with Boas
Dancing with Boas

We collected a couple of boas from a balcony off Bourbon Street, so we added to our costumes in the night. I put Eric's makeup on my facial hair and it managed to make me look even older than usual.
Eric Getting DownEric Getting Down
Eric Getting Down

Carina and Eric got free boas as well and got down on Frenchman Street.
Dance the Night AwayDance the Night Away
Dance the Night Away

Grace and Carina are dancing in DBA. A DJ was laying down the tracks.
Booth LoveBooth Love
Booth Love

I took this picture from outside of the booths in DBA. Eric and Carina were putting on a show.
MArdi Gras BikeMArdi Gras Bike
MArdi Gras Bike

Carina couldn't resist this custom bike and had to take it for a spin.
Gilligan with crabGilligan with crab
Gilligan with crab

Brian got crabs off Bourbon Street and was having a good time.
Relaxing at ToucheRelaxing at Touche
Relaxing at Touche

We stopped into Touche for a drink where someone stole our Boas, wig and coconut. Carina is stretching out after a long night.


20th February 2010

great blog
Scott, Great blog really captured the essence of Mardi Gras and what goes on, are you sure your not a native? :-) YOU COULD PASS FOR ONE!
21st February 2010

o.m.g.
dear scott way to go my dear. what a let your hair down blow out! do you work during the day? are you two in the rv? seems that you have friends all over the world...thank you for the up close view of mardi grassss... yucky weather here, snow, sleet, slush...soon to be solid with temps dropping... gave walley the boot this weekend, very sad, but he had to go go go and fetch marshmellows for his diabetic wife...shit that sounds aweful, but it is true in a symbolic sense. work at school is really challenging still, but better now that i have room...we have 13 weeks left before summer and all of us are counting down. glad grace is happier now that she is out of kc. forbes magazine has a list of the most miserable 20 cities in the states, and kc ranks number 13! keep the blogs coming or e-mail sometime. breakfast club misses the likes of you two... kate continues to struggle with her masters assignments..alan is doing well being retired and so kind, hilary is in france seeing her sister in law for probably the last time as she is terminally ill...hilary and tom are no longer dating, you probably knew that. pam's mom passed late last year and she is planning a trip to mexico to settle her mom's estate late march. some of us are dreaming of joining her...checking air fares and etc. am going to check out the sidewalk situation and see if it is shovelable... you are missed and i will always look forward to swimming with you again in some distant body of water! cheers dear man seasi
22nd February 2010

Great times
Hello Scott (& Grace), I wanted to thank you for a wonderful time in NOLA both walking the St's of NO and spending time in your neck of the woods, enjoying a sample of RV living. Thank Grace again for a memorable meal our last night in NOLA. Hope to see you in San Luis Obispo or Sta Barbara sometime soon. Cheers! Carina PS: Please add me to your distro list... I love to read your updates!

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