Feb 7, 201205:00 AM
The Lighter Side
Exploring the humor and peculiarities of the Big Easy
A Yankee's Guide to Carnival Season, Part II
As I'm writing this I'm still recovering from Krewe du Vieux. It seemed like my whole neighborhood was abuzz all weekend with celebratory energy ... except on Sunday. I think the whole of Bywater and the Marigny was hungover on Sunday, its denizens having partied all day on Saturday for the parade kickoff that was Krewe du Vieux - float after float of political satire. Also, every single float seemed to relate to the theme that everyone is getting screwed by someone, because nearly every float depicted screwing. Even the Superdome (sorry, Mercedes-Benz Superdome) was getting screwed. But my favorite was Humpty Dumpty screwing Mother Goose on a float entitled "Nursery Crimes." I'd post a pic of it, but I think this blog is supposed to be at least PG-13.
Here is the only PG-rated float from Krewe du Vieux 2012:
I can't wait to take my future children to this parade.
In my last blog I covered the beginnings of Carnival Season, and now since we're in full swing I'll talk about the next couple of crazy weeks. At this point in the game, the parades are starting up and everyone will be excited to go see them ... until parade fatigue sets in and you just can't see yourself standing there anymore as float after float inches by with their intoxicated passengers trying to nail you in the head with a full bag of beads. Also, at this point every office in New Orleans will have daily King Cakes in their kitchens waiting to be chowed. At the beginning of Carnival, the King Cakes go in seconds, but around this time you've got a while to get your piece. Honestly, I'm already over them. If I see a King Cake that doesn't look like it's been puked on in purple, green and yellow icing and sprinkles, I might try it ... but only if it's something different, like a nice apple-pumpkin-orange-vanilla-cheesecake flavor.
Here is a list of the good parades. There are a ton and there's no way you can see them all, so I just pick a few cool ones and go with them. My favorite is Muses. It's a girls-only parade that is famous for throwing decorated high-heeled shoes from its floats. I've yet to catch one but here's hoping to this year! I honestly think they have the best throws of all the parades. These girls really take the time and effort to come up with some cool stuff. Last year I was thrown a huge diamond-shaped light-up ring that I wore for awhile in place of my engagement ring. Kim Kardashian would've been jealous.
With parades, it's easy to get really excited about all the stuff you get thrown at first, but take the time to think about what you're going to do with all that crap. Beads are only fun for a night, and only a few strands at a time. They start weighing down on you after awhile, especially if you've been drinking. At some point in the evening you'll realize that walking around is thrize as hard because you've added 50 pounds of cheap plastic around your neck. Also, make sure you have a bathroom plan.
The other throws I like to get are the plastic cups or "fine china." I like being thrown things that serve a purpose and plastic cups are always useful. I have a nice collection at home.
Endymion, Bacchus and Rex. These are the big ones. They seem to last for forever and have the biggest spectacles and also the biggest crowds. I tend to show up for these, hang out for a little while and leave for somewhere much less congested. If you don't claim your spot early, you're not going to get a decent spot. And I mean claim your spot early ... a lot of people will claim spots days in advance and leave ladder after ladder all along parade-routes for the kids to sit on so they can see and catch teddy bears. Usually I'm paraded out by the time Bacchus rolls around, but this year I hear that Will Ferrel will be the king, so I might have to make it out for that. Also, if you're in need of a good laugh, take a look at pics of the past "Kings of Bacchus." Hilarious. If I'm having a bad day, Val Kilmer's epic portrait always puts me in a good mood.
Lundi Gras (Monday before Mardi Gras)
I recommend having a chill Lundi Gras. There's a fun festival to go to on the Riverwalk, but I'd recommend making it an early-ish night. My first year, I was so excited that I didn't have to work on Tuesday that I went out on Monday night and played shuffleboard until the wee small hours of the morning. Some of my local pals warned me that staying out too late before Mardi Gras was an amateur move, but I didn't listen.
And I should have listened, because they banged on my door at 6 a.m. the next day to get me out of bed. Which is what happens. Mardi Gras day starts early, folks. Plan ahead.
Mardi Gras Day
So after a few parades and two weeks of drinking and stuffing your face with King Cake, Mardi Gras Day finally rolls around. If you've never partied on Mardi Gras Day in New Orleans before, you are in for a crazy day, and I mean that in the awesomest way possible. It's amazing. It's like a whimsical Halloween, that's the only way I can describe it. My advice is to wear a costume or you'll feel terribly under-dressed. My first year in New Orleans, I had no idea you were supposed to dress up and I felt like an idiot. All of my good friends were recent transplants as well and had no idea about costumes either. And my fiancé (boyfriend at the time) is from the West Bank and apparently lived under a rock before he met me, so he didn't know either.
Last year we all did our own thing for costumes but we noticed the coolest ideas were group costumes. This year we are going as Batman villains. So if you see The Joker, Harley Quinn and The Penguin hanging out for Mardi Gras make sure you say hi ... I'll be Poison Ivy, trying to "poison" everyone with my stash of green sparkles. I love a good glitter-bomb.
Back to work. Time for some rest and relaxation and for your liver to recover. If you're Catholic you get some stuff put on your forehead (I'm not Catholic so that's my very basic explanation of what happens). You might give up something for Lent. You eat seafood on Fridays and wait patiently for Jazz Fest. It's never quiet around here for too long.
I so love it here.