Feb 27, 200911:30 AM
The Editor's Room
Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde
Notes From Carnival ’09
We came really close to having a perfect Carnival. The krewes did their part (Zulu even ran a little ahead of time). The weather was great. The crowds were large. The parade quality was improved. Police and sanitation did their part. All it took was two miscreants with guns to put a pall on the event, but damnit, we cannot empower thugs to ruin something that is so grand and such a celebration of the city.
Congratulations to the police for apprehending them so quickly. Kudos to medical workers for dealing with the victims (thankfully no fatal injuries). Shame on the criminal justice system for allowing two guys with records to be on the streets unchecked, though there is new evidence of reform within the system.
We know that the solutions to crime are long-term, though that won’t help us for next Mardi Gras. But if we want to take a stand against the bad guys and to save our city, lets look hard at why guns are so easily available to those who are so willing to use them.
MOST IMPROVED PARADE
The Krewe of Pontchartrain provided proof that you do not have to be big and rich to have a good parade. It is more important to just do the little things right. The krewe had a parade with style and wit.
BLESS THEM FATHER
Archbishop Alfred Hughes has distinguished himself in one way compared to his predecessors. He is the first bishop to be satirized on Carnival floats. The church-closing controversy got the barb on two floats, one in the Ancient Druids parade and again with Chaos. A marching group in Le Krewe D’Etat also spoofed the church arrests. In the Quarter, there were several masked groups that carried the same theme.
BEST SUPER KREWE
As always, a toss-up. We’ll give the edge to Bacchus for its fanciful “Creatures of the Imagination” theme, but Endymion is looking a lot better and Orpheus remains as one of Carnival’s prettiest parades.
BEST WALKING GROUPS
Muses is like a grand meal made better with lots of great appetizers. No krewe has as good of a mix as Muses with its various groups including the Rolling Elvi, the Pussy Footers and the Lady Godivas. The groups are fun to look at without being distracted by a barrage of beads.
BEST SATIRICAL PARADE
Chaos had lots of good material but suffered from wagon breakdowns. (That is one of the problems with having three parades on one night. A delay in a parade effects the one behind it, though Chaos’ ancestry is one that certainly lays claim to the Thursday night slot).
Muses had a good idea with a James Bond theme (Muses 009, “License to Swill") and I loved the theme float with the silhouette of a live gun toting Bond Woman.
I will give the edge to Le Krewe D’Etat for the quality of its design and the wickedness of its messages.
Add in the wit of the Krewe of Tucks and we are indeed in the golden age of satire.
BEST TRADITIONAL NIGHT PARADE
Proteus presented a pretty and elegant parade that was so old style that it even borrowed from its 1909 theme about Welsh Folk tales. The parade was a visual wonder for those who appreciate the early Carnival.
BEST TRADITIONAL DAY PARADE
Thoth is doing a great job, this year evoking a nautical theme. I give the nod to Zulu, however, for having an extremely colorful parade and for, (thank you, thank you) moving efficiently and on time. When parades move well they become more enjoyable for everyone involved.
CATEGORY OF ITS OWN
Mid-City continues to look spectacular with its unique style utilizing foil in a way no one else does. It is not the biggest or most opulent parade, but in its own way it is the prettiest.
A JOKE GONE LIMP
I have always been a big fan of Krewe du Vieux. It comes closest to depicting what the early carnival parades were like when they were smaller and moved through the French Quarter. Because it marches early in the Carnival season, it is not governed by the same laws that the other parades must follow, hence it gets to parade in the Marigny and the Quarter, where the audience is a bit more adult. I have no problems with biting satire and sexual suggestiveness. Both themes have long been a part of Carnival tracing back to its ancient roots, which include the Roman orgies. What I do object to is stale humor and that is what has happened to Krewe du Vieux, where penis depiction has been so common that it has long lost its shock value. The krewe is really a confederation with individual groups building their own floats, some of which are truly clever without relying on genitalia for a cheap laugh. Other groups need a shot of creative Viagra. I am still a fan of the krewe. Just show us something different.
BEST COSTUMED GROUPS MEANDERING THE QUARTER AND MARIGNY ON MARI GRAS
Here is where the real spirit of Carnival resides. Praise to:
• Society of St. Ann
• Ducks on Dixieland
• Mondo Kayo
• Cosmic Debris
BEST OVERALL PARADE
Rex remains best. No one does it better than the King of Carnival. The parade was well timed, smart and a visual wonder. Rex’s signature floats including the Boeuf Gras, the bandwagon and His Majesty’s throne float are among Carnival's best. The sight of the Rex riding lieutenants in costumes of purple, green and gold is one of my favorites in all of Carnival. The theme, which celebrated spring, was joyful. Rex’s Web site, the best in Carnival, has become an educational tool for developing the theme. Rex does it right, presenting a parade fit for a king.
BEST DATE TO REMEMBER
MARDI GRAS, 2010
ERROL LABORDE'S BOOK, KREWE: THE EARLY NEW ORLEANS CARNIVAL- COMUS TO ZULU
Books are now available at most area book stores and can also be ordered via E- mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or (504- 895-2266)
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7PM, REPEATED AT 11:30 PM.WYES-TV, CH. 12.
N OW ON WIST RADIO, 690 AM, THE ERROL LABORDE SHOW, 6PM FRIDAYS; 7AM SATURDAYS; 8AM and 5 PM SUNDAYS.