Big Day here in NOLO, that is New Orleans, Louisianna. The bells are ringing, its six am, the bells are ringing madly, a song and a chime, urgently, wake up, your time is winding away. The trains at night call, sing me to sleep, and an errant bird, too. But now the morning is here, a dove coos in answer to the church bells.
Today is the Krewe de Vieux parade. This Krewe is evidently the most obscene and irreverent of the crews, rather detailed butt holes as politicians bend over to kiss the oil companies ass, that kind of thing. I had the chance to see some of the old floats last Halloween time, kind of or close to it, and so I am prepared.
I am invited to two houses for the parade, gumbo and such at one house, the other are the friends who helped me get started here in New Orleans, and their family. I will stop by both places as I stroll or push my way through the sidewalks making my way the six blocks the covers the difference between the two houses. Both are a block from the parade float route.
So for those of you who dont know, and I certainly didnt, the Mardi Gras celebration is a series of parades here in the Big Easy. They are designed and built by different “Krewes” around the city. Im new here, but a few Krews are the Muses, an all female Krewe, the Krewe de Vieux, the Zulu’s, which is maybe the most famous, a “Black Indian” krew that claims some historical connection between the indigenous population and the black slaves that were set free and then lived with Indians, and name themselves after the south African tribe.
I like it alot, its American, using what we find and making something new out of it. The Zulus where fantastic feathered costumes, like great South American birds, and theirs is perhaps the most prestigious and exclusive of the parades, at least as far as street reputation goes. The great Louis Armstrong was made ambassador to Europe in the early twentieth century, a kind of entertainment ambassador, and among his many awards and honors he was made King of the Zulus in a Mardi Gras parade. There is a fine photograph of him on the float, in white face and black face, a spook that is both comical and serious, and that friends is the tone and timbre of Mardi Gras itself. Comical and serious, the serious business of celebration, the comical themes that require serious adherence to rule and tradition.
We dont have much tradition here in the US. I guess ‘come on down’ is about as close as we get to tradition, Lets Make A Deal, and the tick tock of Jeopardy, thats a tradition. But outside of television, Americans simply dont gather together, at least not on purpose. Starbucks costs a lot of money for a bad bucket of milk and coffee, and the people there, while certainly gathered in the tradition of British pubs, are not speaking to one another and would be rather offended if you interrupted their web serfing and writng and whatever it is they are doing that they could do at home, taking up the table so no one can sit and drink a coffee with a friend. so no tradition there.
Nope, New Orleans is one of the few and definitely the greatest upholder of tradition in America. This is a city that loves itself, and the people who live here are proud of being the New New Orleaners. I know I am. I will up date you on the parade, what I eat and who I see, what we say, and what we saw tomorrow.