Sunday, January 29, 2017

My turn

This one's for Jack and Uncle Earl.

When Jack died, just a few days before Christmas, I was lucky to have the support of friends. My friend Scott helped me by carrying Jack's 65 pound body out of my house and putting it in my car to take to the vet; my friend Linda helped me by driving me to the vet, taking me out for food, cleaning my house and putting away all dog-reminder items while I showered, and then taking me out to Vaughans's Lounge and getting me drunk.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Words cannot describe

The Women's March in New Orleans yesterday. Crowd estimates from the NOPD were 10,000 to 15,000 - I personally think there were more. It looked like 10,000 were assembled in Washington Square Park, where the parade began, but there were hundreds and hundreds more people outside the fences, standing on the neutral ground at Elysian Fields, and thronging on Frenchman Street.

Pre-parade gathering.
I went with a friend, Jennifer, from my neighborhood. We stopped off at another woman's house for some pre-parade socializing. When we arrived at the Park, it was about 1:45 pm, with the parade set to start around 2:00.

I must confess that I did not feel comfortable with the set-up - the Park is surrounded by high iron fences, with only narrow gates at the four corners. I did not feel comfortable going in there with that many people inside. So Jennifer said, "Screw this, let's go find a bar on Decatur Street and let the parade come to us."

We headed down to The Abbey, a dive bar on Decatur between Ursulines and Governor Nicholls, where Curtis, the bartender, told us the story of how he broke his arm. Within a few minutes, we could hear the drums of the parade approaching, and went outside with our go-cups.

The parade stretched on. There were people filling the street from curb to curb, but also people rushing down the sidewalks, watching from the many bars and storefronts, and also from the balconies overhanging the street. 

I will let the photos and videos tell the rest of the story. I will simply say that it took 1 hour and 15 minutes for the entire assembly to pass us.

Thank you, ladies and all, for sending a message to Washington. Movement? I'll give you a movement, Mr. Trump. THIS is a movement.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Who thought this was a good idea?

It's Mardi Gras season, and people are talking about costumes.

Although Twelfth Night kicked off the season on January 6, the first real parades start rolling on February 11 this year, with Krewe de Vieux and Krewdelusion in the Marigny and Bywater.

So - costumes. I am NOT a costume person; I've never enjoyed Halloween, and I have a natural reluctance to dress in a manner that calls attention to myself. But here in New Orleans, the person who doesn't wear a costume is the one who stands out. So I'm trying to ease my way into this.

I've got a few ideas that I'm working on; maybe they'll work out. But there is an inherent danger here, in a city that celebrates creativity, a little naughtiness, and a tolerance of indulgence.

Do not go shopping on late at night after having a couple of glasses of wine!

Somehow, I managed to buy two corsets. What a great idea, right? Made in China, they arrived yesterday. They are quite pretty and sexy, but, despite the fact that I carefully studied the size chart, they don't even remotely fit me.

I tried to cram myself into them, unlacing the laces all the way. I even managed to get the zipper on one of them to start. But the quality of the zipper is so poor that I feared to zip it further. It strained against my bulging cellulite. What if it jammed? I would have to find a scissors and cut myself out of the damned thing.

So I have had to admit defeat. Fortunately, the quality of the corsets match the price - they were about $12 each. Which should have told me something.

I think this year I'm going to dress up as a Snuffleupagus.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Night skies and soundtrack

The twilight skies over the Mississippi River in January. This is the Mazant Street Wharf, most often inactive but this week a huge ship has been moored here, unloading.

This is just a block from my house. I can hear the faint whine, thrum and quiver of the cables running through the sheaves as the cranes unload. It goes through the night, a soundtrack.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

In passing

This seems to be a time of people passing. Here in my neighborhood, yet another loss. I did not know John Sipos, but if you read his obituary at the link, you will feel, as I do, that you wish you had.

His memorial, held at Vaughan's Lounge yesterday, drew a huge crowd of friends and family that spilled out into the street, danced and sang, and marched around the block.

Big Chief Honey Bannister of the Creole Wild West led the throng, who waved white handkerchiefs through the streets of the infamous "Barmuda Triangle" in the Bywater.

There was food, drink, joy and laughter. What could be better?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Cold but hot

Saturday it was so cold in New Orleans - 31 degrees Fahrenheit, even during the day! It was also crisp and clear, with a hard breeze blowing.  It was the annual second line parade for the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Perfect Gentlemen, and the cold didn't hold them off.

I stood on the corner of Simon Bolivar and Martin Luther King, Jr. and felt the wind whipping at me. But on marched the Gentlemen!

And Ladies, dancing!

The cold of the day was belied by the warmth of the company - people were happy to be out on a joyous day.

A lady festooned with Mardi Gras beads stopped and saw me taking photos. She pulled a handful of strands over her head and handed them on to me.

Another lady was strung with feathers matching the colors of one of the marching groups. She unclipped one strand and gave it to me.

The capacity for joy and generosity of my fellow New Orleanians never fails to amaze me.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Dressed to the dozens

Last night the temperature dipped down into the low 30's (Fahrenheit), and by midnight it was below freezing.

The cold and rain forced a reschedule of the St. Joan of Arc parade to this evening, but the revelry of Twelfth Night went on. Vaughan's Lounge threw its annual costume party. Costumed revelers entered for free, but if you were a costume scofflaw, you had to pay a $20 cover charge.

I wore a combination of odds and ends - a purple wig I bought last year for Mardi Gras, a mod-patterned tunic, black leggings and my witchy boots. At the last minute a friend lent me a mask, which seemed to put the finishing touch on things. I put on make-up for the first time in over a year!

The funny thing about wearing a costume is how well you recognize people you know. Some folks, no matter how crazily dressed they are, are immediately recognizable. Other people, you have no clue.

Last night two people who I see almost every day totally did not recognize me. Yet at the same time, another person immediately knew me. Later I asked him how he knew me when they didn't. He said it was my voice he recognized.

Other time, I had people come up to me and say hello like we were old friends, and I did not know them.

The band is the Storyville Stompers
And it's also an odd costume phenomenon that you can strike up a conversation with a stranger much easier when you're both in costume. Funny!!

I decided it was time to go when the tie-ribbons on my mask began to relax and the thing started slipping down my face, no matter how many times I re-tied them. Also at some point my wig started getting crooked and wonky. I finally plucked the thing off my head and called it a night.

This weekend is yet more revelry, marking the season to come!

Friday, January 6, 2017

A fine tradition

January 6th is Twelfth Night, Epiphany; the date the Three Kings supposedly visited the Holy Family and the Christ child. It is celebrated in the Catholic tradition, within which the city of New Orleans is deeply steeped.

What Twelfth Night really means here is the start of the carnival, or Mardi Gras, season. The first parade and celebratory events of the season take place on this night. There is the Joan of Arc Parade*, which celebrate the birthday of the martyred girl saint - the 6th of January being her birthday. But that tradition, begun in 2008 is much less venerable than the heralding of the arrival of Mardi Gras season by the Phunny Phorty Phellows, a costumed and masked krewe that have been riding the St. Charles streetcar on this night, a tradition of celebration that goes back to 1878.

There's also a new krewe on the block - the Société Des Champs Elysée, who ride the brand spanking new Rampart Street streetcar line in a similar fashion to the Phellows.

It's all rolling tonight, though our weather is cold and raining, with thunderstorms and wind.

One of the traditions of Twelfth Night in New Orleans is the King Cake, which is a special pastry baked to celebrate the night. Traditionally, a bean is baked into the cake. Traditionally, whoever finds the bean is crowned king or queen of the night. However, in modern times, the bean has been substituted by a plastic baby doll, and whoever finds it is supposed to buy next year's cake!

Vaughan's Lounge is throwing a Twelfth Night Party tonight, and in preparation, some of the organizers brought several boxes of King Cake into the bar this afternoon, baked by a new bakery that has just opened here in the Bywater. The cake was sliced and offered for the day-drinkers to sample.

Several years back, I purchased a Rosca de Reyes cake from a little Oaxacan bakery in Santa Monica, on the west side of Los Angeles. This cake is part of a similar tradition in the culture of southern Mexico. Surprisingly, the first slice I cut from it held the baby!

Tonight, as I ate my slice of the delicious egg-based yeast pastry filled with chantilly cream, I bit down on something solid. Guess what? It was the baby!

Guess I'll have to bring a King Cake to Vaughan's next year.

*Latest update, the Joan of Arc Parade has been rescheduled to January 7 this year due to weather.