The Little Krewe That Could
An interview with Ceasar Meadows, president of ‘Tit Rəx
JEFFERY JOHNSTON PHOTOGRAPH
As Mardi Gras superkrewes grow bigger and bigger, a smaller, alternative Carnival scene with walking parades and niche krewes has emerged. ‘tit Rəx (I’ll get to why the “e” is written like that soon) takes scaling down in response to super-sized Carnival literally: this krewe consists of miniature floats, reminiscent of those shoebox float dioramas all New Orleans natives made as school children – except way better. After beginning in 2009 the parade has gained many fans; not among them was the Rex organization, which threatened to proceed with legal action if the tiny krewe did not change their name. Eventually, the shoebox parade compromised by flipping the “e” in their name. This year the parade rolls on Sat., Feb. 7, before another offbeat Carnival happening, the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, in the Marigny area. We talked to krewe president Caesar Meadows, a cartoonist known for distributing tiny comics in ‘tit Rəx, about the microkrewe.
How did ‘tit Rəx start? The founders, a group of Mid-City residents, were on a porch talking about the big Carnival superkrewes thinking, “What would be the opposite of Bacchus?” Then they started talking about the shoebox floats they made in school and thought, how funny would it be to take those floats out to the street, have police escorts, bands. It would be the antithesis of a big parade. It was a bit of a lark, but it’s proved to be immensely popular.
Veronica Russell, a New Orleans costume designer and performer who was very involved in ‘tit Rəx, passed away this year. Are you planning a tribute for her? There will be a memorial float. She was a seamstress who made costumes, so the float will include some of her actual materials. She was a beloved member and incredible person. Her death came as such a shock to the krewe.
What’s this year’s theme? It’s the French phrase “L’enfant Terrible,” which I think usually refers to a wealthy rock star … it’s sort of open to interpretation. I’m sure there will be a lot of bad puns. One of the great things about the parade is the interpretation of the theme. Because it’s generally one or two people working a float, you get to see all the different visions. With other krewes it’s not so individualistic. Another unique thing is all the tiny throws. And sometimes spectators will make little parade stands and things … they’re clearly showing their love. Another unique thing is the intimacy of being so close and the slow pace – due to our physical nature, we’re probably the slowest parade. Sometimes things fall apart along the way, but most floats are road-worthy. We’re so close that the spectators are almost participants.
Are you and Krewe of Rex still at odds? (The conflict) has died down. The flipping of the “e” in Rex to make a schwa was basically enough for them. We didn’t really want to change our name after parading with it for a few years … but I know some people have a hard time finding the schwa when they write about us. All of the attention felt like a tempest in a teapot. It’s silly that … people would even mistake us for the krewe for Rex.