My Low Carb Lent, Part 2: From St. Patrick’s Day Temptation To Nerd Croquet Elation


Greg Cartwright Gathers The Nerds While Doing a Nerd's Literal Interpretation of a Keg Stand

Greg Cartwright Gathers The Nerds While Doing a Nerd’s Literal Interpretation of a Keg Stand

Last weekend I attended The All Chewbachus Spring Croquet Invitational and B-B Chew, a Chewbacchusrelated’ (though not ‘officially sanctioned’ as even sci-fi walking parades in the Marigny have gone legit with insurance disclaimers) ‘Gathering of the Nerds.’ Held on the banks of the Mississippi River at a park below Audubon Zoo called ‘The Fly’ (for reasons unknown to me), this picnic and croquet free-for-all included many of the same attendees that were at the St. Patrick’s Day party I attended two months ago just as I was starting My Low Carb Lent. Happily, fifteen to twenty pounds less of me showed up this past Sunday, for that party two months ago had been the first major test I would face.

nerds gather 2Now that Jazz Fest is over, the event this weekend provided a nice gateway through which to return to the early days of my quest to correct the dietary sins of My Year of Mardi Gras. Eschewing New Orleans living may seem an odd direction for this blog, but most transplants I talk to have had a similar experience; it’s like gaining your ‘freshmen fifteen’ in college, only your ‘transplant twenty-five’ tends to come at a time in your life when your metabolism has slowed and you can’t simply lose weight by exercising a bit and skipping the desert line for a few weeks!


What do Star Wars Nerds Do At A Picnic....

What do Star Wars Nerds Do At A Picnic….

Observing Lent in New Orleans is no easy matter, despite the heavily ritualistic Catholic culture. After the mass consumption of Mardi Gras the city may aspire to forty-seven days of fasting (if you count the Sundays, which is apparently a debatable point), but there are just too many good reasons to party here. Forty-seven days quickly gives way to four-to-seven days, and broken Lents come especially quickly in a year [Read more…]

My Low Carb Lent, Part 1: Quitting Pie Disguised As Piety


Puffy Pirate Face (W/Aimee Who Planted Idea For My Low Carb Lent)

Puffy Pirate Face
(W/Aimee Who Planted Idea For My Low Carb Lent)

I awoke on Ash Wednesday feeling exhausted and uncertain. My Year of Mardi Gras had run its course. What next? Should I stick around for another year and see if things finally took off or chalk it up to life experience and move on to the next adventure?

trash-golden-slumbers-and-carry-that-weight-appleAsh Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent—a period of fasting and reflection—and these questions would dominate my soul-searching from the start, March 5th, through its end on Easter this past Sunday. During this seven weeks of calm after the storm of Mardi Gras I made progress but didn’t come to a decision.

My Year of Mardi Gras has certainly been eventful throughout all the ups and down, changing my perspective and giving me memories to carry through life. Unfortunately, it also helped me accumulate some things I didn’t want to carry any longer. Fortunately, I did manage to make some gains (or losses) in this area.


pink_floyd-a_momentary_lapse_of_reason-frontalAnyone who’s read the introductory pages to this online memoir knows that the idea for this adventure originated in the wake of a bad breakup. In past relationships I’ve stayed too long or missed the warning signs or made missteps, but that particular debacle is the only relationship [Read more…]

Lundi Gras 2014: Putting The M In Orpheus & Cowboy Mouth Gets A Cavity


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Chilling Out (Literally) At Orpheus

I’m tempted to describe the final weeks of My Year of Mardi Gras as a steep bell curve of excitement, but that wouldn’t be accurate. There were multiple peaks on this wild rollercoaster ride, not a steady ascent. One of my primary missions in moving here was to ‘imbed’ in at least one Mardi Gras krewe and I wound up both walking with an alternative krewe and riding with a traditional krewe, allowing me to compare and contrast. As expected, these were by far the highlights of my year here, although the entire  Mardi Gras 2014 season has been a blast.

The Crew At Krewe du Brew

The Crew At Krewe du Brew

Carnival actually began January 6th, and the prep and planning stretched far beyond that, leading to a slow build of anticipation. Then there were three weekends of parading starting with Krewe du Vieux which I was able to share with my Treme addicted brother. Even though my ride with Morpheus that Friday and walk with Chewbacchus the Saturday before were the culmination of my ambition, I still had guests in town so enjoyed all the aspects of Mardi Gras to it’s fullest. However, by the time we met up with Chip and Eloy for brunch at Krewe du Brew Monday afternoon where I was finishing a blog post before heading to the Cowboy Mouth Lundi Gras show at the Riverwalk, it was clear we were about to descend the final peak.

Not helping matters, the beautiful weather of the weekend had given way to a chilly Lundi Gras (Fat Monday) on the one Monday you actually care about the weather. So after warming up on coffee and pressed croissant sandwiches, we all piled into Eloy’s truck and bundled up in blankets as we looked for parking downtown.


The Man, Danny Cattan! Lundi Gras 2013

The Man, Danny Cattan!
Lundi Gras 2013

Despite the weather, the downtown was packed so we wound up having to wind our way to the top of the Canal Place parking garage on the border of the French Quarter and the CBD. This put us right between [Read more…]

Mardi Gras Madness: A Sunday Retreat


Thoth Rolls Down Magazine

Thoth Rolls Down Magazine

If I had been dragging Saturday after my huge day riding in Morpheus, Sunday morning I was absolutely spent. We’d been going non-stop since my guests had arrived on Thursday. Heck, my Mardi Gras had actually begun two weekends prior when my brother visited for Krewe du Vieux followed the next weekend by my crazy walk with Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus. I’d been running on pure adrenalin and college levels of alcohol but it was now catching up with me.

Along with the fatigue of revving in the red too long, my legs were swollen and aching after standing all day on that tiny float (though my crappy diet that weekend hardly helped). Fortunately, we had a relaxed day planned. My friend Maggie McKeown, whose bookstore sadly closed in January, had invited us to watch the Mid-City and Thoth parades. Her neighbors host a block party every year and she wanted to share this view of Mardi Gras deep Uptown off the main thoroughfare of St. Charles. Though I’d seen parades from many vantage points, I’d not been amongst a group of tight-knit neighbors who have gathered for twenty years. Now that’s N’Awlins!


Lazily Watching Thoth

Lazily Watching Thoth

Kyle was still clinging to illusions of [Read more…]

Mardi Gras Serendipity: Fried Chicken Grammys, Musical Vegetables, King Cake Krewe Kings, & Jazzy Hoboes


"He Who Pulls The Sword From the King Cake Shall Be King!"

“He Who Pulls The Sword From the King Cake Shall Be King!”

With the start of parading season, the stretch run to Mardi Gras is underway and the whole town is hopping, making social scheduling nearly impossible as everyone adds last-minute touches to their costumes, picks up throws, and completes contraptions and/or shuffles them around town for repair and delivery.

Wait. That’s me!

Which makes me officially part of the local insanity. And into this maelstrom flew my oldest brother, Jerry who, by the end of his first night in town, was already part of the show!


WMSHJerry landed in New Orleans with a blossoming cold so my plan to rush him to Liuzza’s by the Track for a Barbecue Shrimp Po-Boy before the free NOLA Brewing tour was squashed. Instead, we headed home so he could lie down before heading to Willie Mae’s Scotch House, as comfort food sounded more in order than spicy seafood! Willie Mae’s has been voted [Read more…]

And So It Begins: Krewe du Vieux Goes ‘Where The Vile Things Are’ in 2014


2014-02-15 19.08.01Although Carnival season begins on January 6th, the celebration truly kicks off just over three weeks before Mardi Gras when the bawdy and satirical Krewe du Vieux rolls through Marigny and the French Quarter, the first of nearly sixty processions that will roll through greater New Orleans area by Fat Tuesday. Thus, the excitement was palpable as my oldest brother (who’d flown in for this event) and I drove downtown Saturday afternoon through creeping traffic. Betweeen Krewe du Vieux and the NBA All-star Game nearly everyone had somewhere to be!

When we finally reached the far side of the French Quarter, however, Esplanade above Rampart was packed, as was all of Marigny, so we parked deep in a sketchy neighborhood past St. Claude and wound our way towards Frenchmen.

Jerry had decided to come this particular weekend after becoming intrigued by [Read more…]

Christmastime In New Orleans (Do You Know What It Means To Re-Fall In Love With New Orleans?)


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Christmas In Jackson Square

For the past couple of months I’ve been diligently plugging away, trying to remain productive while searching for a way to bear fruit from my labor. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to get so obsessed with the harvest that you lose the joy of gardening in the process. As my frustration grew and I doubled down my efforts to get something back from my writing, I started to fear I was losing focus of the reason I moved to New Orleans in the first place—I was missing the forest trying to harvest the fruit trees. Between my holiday travels I was only in town for two weeks (and one weekend), but it started to dawn on me that I needed to step away from the keyboard and reconnect with all the reasons I began this adventure, searching to revive a bit of my dormant Christmas spirit in the process. [Read more…]

And The (Over)Lord Spoke: There Shalt Be Chewbacchus


Sacred-Drunken-Wookiee-Original2Last week I wrote about my meeting with the Krewe of Really Awesome Parodies (and subsequently caught some K.R.A.P. on Facebook—choose your descriptive verbs carefully.) Despite some good-natured ribbing (at least I hope it was good-natured!), the reaction from Chewbacchus was mostly positive, particular from my new K.R.A.P.ateer compatriots; and even if a Wookie or two got their intergalactic panties in a furry wad, at least they were paying attention!

Wookie loveHaving finally made a few inroads, I headed back out Wednesday night for a Chewbacchus ‘open build’ night where Krewe members gather to create throws (the beads and other freebies tossed out during parades), work on floats and contraptions, or simply drink beer and supervise. There seemed to be a few supervisors at the Den of Muses that night, but that’s the beauty of NOLA: [Read more…]

Halloween Weekend in New Orleans, Part 2: An Epic Krewe de Boo-Boo


2013-10-26 17.26.10Growing up, I often remember my parents saying: “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times . . .” before reiterating some life lesson. Well, New Orleans might as well just come out and say, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, you can’t plan things in this city, you just have to let the magic come to you.”

And Friday had been a magical day with Camellia Grill being an experience my 13-year-old guest will long remember, later followed by an unexpected to bloodletting to add a little real life fright to our night. The day had been more sublime than I could have hoped to engineer, but Saturday I wasn’t leaving things to chance. I had our night at the big Krewe of Boo parade planned out perfectly.

I should have known I was screwed. [Read more…]

Halloween Weekend In New Orleans, Part 1: New Eyes & Old Fears


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A Nightmare on Magazine Street

Halloween has long been my favorite holiday, challenged only when I first came to New Orleans just prior to the turn of the millennium to become a Mardi Gras maniac. Christmas is the sentimental standard-bearer in most of American culture, but I’ve always said that Christmas is for kids, whereas Halloween is for adults to act like kids. Since I don’t have children to help keep my Christmas spirit alive, Halloween wins in a landslide. Still, as I wrote in my last post about the Audubon Aquarium, as much as I nurture my inner child and fight becoming curmudgeon, it’s difficult not to lose some to the wonder of the seasonal celebrations that hold so much meaning in my life. Perhaps that’s why I hold on so fiercely, afraid that if I lose my attachment to that seasonal rhythm that I’ll fade into yet another uninspired drone drifting towards death.

This year in particular, though, is my chance to rekindle the wonder since New Orleans is not only Mardi Gras central but a top worldwide Halloween destination with a history steeped in voodoo and haunts. The weekend before Halloween is as big as the holiday itself, and I had the chance to not only see the holiday but the city itself anew through the eyes of a child . . . err, teenage; after all, what can be more frightening than [Read more…]