Archives for January 2014

. . . Or Mor-pheus Fun To Shop For Your Mardi Gras Throws?!

Krewe Dat!

Krewe Dat!

Our January Morpheus meeting, like the October meeting mentioned previously, was held at Plush Appeal—a Mardi Gras warehouse that supplies the costumes and throws for Morpheus and other krewes. Imagine those corner party stores that have a tiny section for every holiday imaginable but come to life for Halloween, only expanded to the size of a warehouse and dedicated solely to all things Mardi Gras. Yikes! A Mardi Gras junkie like me could go broke here in a hurry. No wonder riders spend thousands of dollars every year on throws. There are beads of every theme imaginable, stuffed toys, plastic instruments and novelties, decorative eye glasses, hats, masks, cups, goblets, light-up and bouncy balls, Saints cowbells, LSU plush footballs, Frisbees, whistles, penis whistles, boobs in any form that can accommodate two mounds, signs, decorations, and anything else you can imagine in a Mardi Gras theme.

While it’s a blast making your own throws, I must admit that I’m a sucker for the plush and plastic kitsch that flows like Abita Springs during Carnival. Any other time of year I’d decry such mass-produced Chinese trinkets as [Read more…]

Is It Better To Make Mardi Gras K.R.A.P. To Throw . . .


Sacred-Drunken-Wookiee-Original2Last post I compared and contrasted the DIY approach of Chewbacchus, a walking krewe with homemade throws and costumes, with Morpheus, a modern krewe with super-floats and pre-fab beads and novelties. Participating in these radically different organizations is a great way to experience Mardi Gras in two popular manners, though there are a thousand different ways to celebrate Carnival.

Morpheus patch blueOf all the differences, however, the issue of throws is one of the biggest and has concerned me most. Both approaches require a substantial investment: of time with Chewbacchus and money for Morpheus.



Sew-Meister Zennie

Sew-Meister Zennie

I previously discussed cutting up burlap sacks into bandoliers—the sash worn by Chewbacca—and following this ‘open build night’ at the Den of Muses I have attended two K.R.A.P. craft nights hosted in members’ homes. The first night I helped cut and attach Wookie fur to the bandoliers, but spent most of my time with another member,Bryan,’Rocksteady,’ gluing Wookie fur onto [Read more…]

Read Beans On Monday: Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite



by Poppy Z. Brite

For a previous Read Beans On Monday I reviewed Prime by Poppy Z. Brite, the second in a line of books detailing kitchen culture in New Orleans restaurants. Having picked up that book at random (it was the only one checked-in at the library), I found it a fascinating read and commented that I couldn’t wait to go back and read its predecessor: Liquor. I’m glad to announce this week that, if anything, Liquor is a superior prequel to the fascinating Prime.

The strength of Prime was its glimpse into the lives of those who work behind the scenes to keep the ever-present party in New Orleans alive, yet, being the second in this series, Brite felt the need to add a little of a mystery to the mix to keep the plot moving. Although intriguing and well constructed, I’m not a big fan of climatic brawls and/or gunfights that often work in movies but usually let me down in literature. Liquor, however, focuses on the process of the two protagonists, Rickey and G-man, working with a wealthy celebrity chef who’s taken an interest in them (an Emeril by any other name, I’d venture to speculate) and decides to invest in/assist them open an upscale restaurant called Liquor where the namesake is an ingredient in every dish.

Sometimes Rickey and G-man’s path to success seems a bit too fortuitous even though Brite tosses many obstacles in their path to push the narrative along, and the guidance of their benefactor take an uncomfortably dark turn near the end, but a few minor flaws in no way dampen my overwhelming enthusiasm for this tale. Plenty has been written about the extravagance and indulgence of the New Orleans upper crust, yet all of this revelry rides upon the backs of the cooks, servers, and musicians (and writer?! Lol) that barely make a living wage. Thus, Brite’s peek behind the swinging doors of those opulent dining rooms is priceless. I’ve never read Dinner at Antoine’s, but I’ve gobbled up Brite’s tomes on gastronomic goings-on like steaming plates of Oysters Rockefeller. I always was more a Grapes of Wrath than Great Gatsby guy, anyhow. The tribulations of the people interest me much more than the malaise of the privileged.

I can’t attest to how well Brite’s Rickey and G-man series will stand the test of time. The language isn’t poetically seductive nor the themes complexly intertwined. Brite‘s prose is, however, compulsively readable without feeling simplistic or spoon-fed, and the portrait he paints is vividly planted in the here & now. I don’t know what more I can say about these books. They may not be the best New Orleans novels I’ve read, but with their glimpse at the gears that keep this eternal party rolling, they strike me as perhaps the most New Orleans.




Mardi Gras Season Begins With An Epiphany (The Modern Tradition of Morpheus & Nouveau Traditional Chewbacchus)


King Cake

‘Tis the Season. Of Yuuuuuuuuum!!!!

January 6th was Epiphany which not only marks the arrival of the Three Wise Men to the manger but the annual arrival of Mardi Gras season to New Orleans (and the arrival of king cakes to local bakeries and groceries! Yippee!) Although Mardi Gras day changes in relation to Ash Wednesday, which changes in relation to Easter, which changes in relation to . . . well, I’m not really sure why Easter hops around like its furry mascot . . . Epiphany is always on the 6th. Thus Mardi Gras season is rushed when Easter falls early, sometimes wrapping up in barely a month, whereas this year’s late date of March 4th provides two full months of revelry.

"Hey, guys. Who brought the cake?"

“Did anyone remember the cake?”

If you’ve been following this blog, however, you know that my preparation and planning started early last fall as I have become increasingly active in Krewe of Morpheus and Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus. While I’m excited about rolling with both krewes, they couldn’t be two more different organizations.


Morpheus Rider in Mask & Robe

Morpheus Rider in Mask & Robe

Morpheus operates in what has become the traditional fashion in modern times, though large parades with elaborate floats only date back to [Read more…]

Read Bean On Monday: Neon Rain by James Lee Burke


Neon Rain

by James Lee Burke

James Lee Burke lives part-time in Louisiana and his most famous character, Dave Robicheaux, is an ex-New Orleans cop turned private detective who probes the dark side of the city and surrounding bayou. Burke has won two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America and has a huge readership, churning out a book a year for nearly three decades including 20 Robicheaux novels. During this successful run Burke’s Cajun crime solver has become one of the most famous and beloved characters in mystery and crime fiction today. Upon learning about Read Beans on Monday a close friend recommended I read a Robicheaux novel, so, having observed how large this character looms in not only local but national fiction, I dug back to the character’s debut in 1987’s Neon Rain.

Unfortunately, the best I can say is this was not for me.

I’ve said before I’m not a huge fan of genre fiction, and Neon Rain hit all the clichés that turn me off: stylized violence that adds little to the plot, poorly drawn characters that are mere pawns to move said plot along, a convoluted plot that serves as an excuse to move the pawns from one over-wrought encounter to the next, and dialogue that would drop like a rock if ever uttered from real human lips.

I know this sounds harsh, and I’m not trying to be a snob—obviously there’s an audience for this work and I don’t want to trash anyone’s literary tastes. If you’re reading books, it’s a win for writers. Still, I had high expectations for Neon Rain yet ended up finding it a chore that I finished merely for the sake of this blog. When I reviewed The Axman of New Orleans by Chuck Hustmyre, I said that although not my taste I found plenty to value in the work. It had it’s flaws, but I genuinely enjoyed reading it. There was enough depth  to pull me along plus it had the fascination of true crime origins. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same here.

Robicheaux so iconic a character that I expected to uncover something truly unique. Instead I encountered all the standards of the genre: tortured ex-military—check; self-destructive alcoholic that manages to, despite his tortured inner dialogue, subtly make slow suicide through liquor seem masculine and ruggedly romantic—check; painfully emotionally unavailable so that vague, beautiful younger women can’t resist trying to fix him—check; tormented good guy under gruff, violent exterior—check; a maverick who can’t help but antagonize authority while wielding his own freely—check; lives on a houseboat—check. (This last one puzzles me the most. Why do so many detectives live on houseboats? Do they meet up at different marinas and have hard-boiled private eye conventions?!)

At least light fare like the DaVinci Code offers a clever puzzle for its stock characters to pontificate about in starched sentences while unwinding it in entertaining if unbelievable fashion. In the end, I’m not even sure what this book was about. It started with Robicheaux pulling the body of a black prostitute out of a bayou on a fishing trip. It is out of his jurisdiction (he is still an active cop when the story begins) but, being the noble rebel, he can’t stand by while local authorities ignore her death. Asking questions, though, leads to confrontations  with the New Orleans underworld, dirty NOPD cops (though his excessive force is excused, which I find frightening), Iran-Contra style conspirators, the CIA, the mafia, and Robicheux’s own brother, though none of the connections quite made sense. And I’m still not sure what this poor black prostitute had to do with any of them?!

Perhaps the beginning was the wrong place to start in this case. Some day I may pick up a novel later in the series and give it fifty or so pages to win me back. Obviously there is something worthwhile here to carry Dave Robicheaux through 20 books. Tin Roof Blowdown in particular was a much-hailed post-Katrina novel, addressing the storm through crime fiction–a different take. Otherwise, I may just have to accept that this isn’t my cup of tea shot of whiskey (with a beer chaser in a dive bar until sunup.)