Mardi Gras Marches On: The Gravitational Center of the NOLA Calendar


Me, Aimee, Reid, & Mark at the Morpheus Captain's Crawl

Me, Aimee, Reid, & Mark at the Morpheus Captain’s Crawl

I have written many time about how Mardi Gras is a year round event. Even though 2014’s Carnival Season ended with Ash Wednesday on March 5th, minds immediately turned to 2015’s festivities. In fact, only a handful of days into Lent my ever enthusiastic float mate, Don, posted the first of his now regular countdown updates on Morpheus’s Facebook wall: Only 342 days until we ride! Mardi Gras—not New Years or Christmas—is the epicenter of the New Orleans calendar, drawing all other days and events into its orbit.

In the opening pages of this blog I asserted:

Mardi Gras isn’t a few weeks of planning followed by a big blowout.  It’s a year of preparation and perspiration that unfolds over several weeks like a military campaign hell-bent on spreading heaven throughout the darkest months of the year.

This thesis was confirmed last summer during my visit to Mardi Gras World—a tourist attraction that provides the public a behind-the-scenes view of how Mardi Gras is built. During my tour I learned most krewes hand the facility’s conceptual artists their theme for next year’s parade on Ash Wednesday—or sometimes before. Even in the more informal and DIY Chewbacchus my sub-krewe of K.R.A.P. was bouncing around plans for a Jabba the Hut’s Barge float next year before the final parades had rolled. (Since I’d yet to embark on My Low Carb Lent to shed my ‘transplant twenty-five,’ I offered to play Jabba but co-leader Rachel Unger shot back that [Read more…]

Fat Tuesday 2014: The Curtain Falls On My Year of Mardi Gras



Later That Night At Blue Nile….

After a joyous and unforgettable climax to a momentous and often tumultuous journey, My Year of Mardi Gras ended with a whimper. Granted, I still live in New Orleans and this ‘year’ lasted nearly thirteen months as my journey began with my arrival in town on February 7th for Mardi Gras 2013 on the 12th while Fat Tuesday fell a month later this year on March 4th; however, in a narrative sense my self-selected year-ish time clock wound down on a cold, rainy, muted Tuesday.

The Purple, Green & Gold Pirate at the French Market

The Purple, Green & Gold Pirate at the French Market

Carnival Season 2014 had seen some of the most dramatic temperature swings in New Orleans history, and the excellent weather of the preceding weekend had turned chilly on Lundi Gras. Then that night a heavy, frigid rain began to fall. The rain had stopped when I awoke Mardi Gras morning, but the ground was damp and the sky heavy with gray clouds threatening the next deluge.

Lovely Lady Pirate Sidekick

Lovely Lady Pirate Sidekick

I only had one guest left in town by now, and we were planning to walk with the KOE, an online organization that used to parade as [Read more…]

Mardi Gras Guests & Playing Host: Paying It Forward


Beads Hung To Tantalize The Crowds

Mission Accomplished

By riding in Morpheus the Friday before Mardi Gras and walking with Chewbacchus the weekend prior I was able to compare and contrast the two approaches and fulfill one of the main goals of this blog: To experience and write about Mardi Gras as an insider and host rather than an observer and guest.

My Three Guests: A Late But Memorable First Night

My Three Guests:
A Late But Memorable First Night

Although these two parades were certainly pinnacles, my Mardi Gras 2014 adventure was far from over. Moreover, it was enhanced by not only playing host in the larger sense of participating in parades, but in the more personal sense (as is traditional) of opening my home to three friends whom I’ve already introduced. Inviting Mardi Gras guests and playing host holds particular resonance for me as I look back to the hospitality extended to me as I first experienced this amazing festival which shocked me with its breadth and scope. Like so many others, I came in believing it was merely the world’s biggest block party where flashing and drunkenness were practically perquisites. I was shocked to find this was the exception, not the rule, and so as I write about how it felt to now extend this hospitality and education to Carnival newbies, I feel the need to take a trip to the Way Back when I arrived in town wide eyed and undereducated.


Melvin Back to Volunteer In 1996

Melvin Back to Volunteer In 1996

I first fell in love with New Orleans when I drove from Tallahassee for Jazz Fest 1998, returning the next year and having an even greater time though I wouldn’t have thought that possible. Just after Jazz Fest 1999, though, I moved to Richmond, Virginia to attend the Occupational Therapy program at VCU and wouldn’t have a break (or a dime) during Jazz Fest 2000. I was bummed out, but Karen Walsh, a friend who lived outside of New Orleans that I knew from Camp Easter Seals, had extended an open invitation to come stay during Mardi Gras. When I realized at the last minute [Read more…]

Riding In a Mardi Gras Parade: Morpheus 2014, part 3


Around the time my guests who’d I barely glimpsed receded behind our Jefferson Avenue float at the mouth of Lee Circle, fellow rider Debbie Cleary Rayor (who provided the video last post) experienced a particularly awesome moment of magic connection between crowd and rider:

I had several moments like that even from the top-level. By far my favorite was when I saw an elderly woman with 2 toddlers standing back from the crowd. I somehow managed to throw a Morpheus sheep far enough so that they could catch it. The woman was SO happy as she handed it to 1 of the kids. Due to the space/time vortex we’re in as the parade rolls, I was able to throw a Morpheus moon as well. She handed it to the other child & the 3 of them went crazy! Jumping up & down, DANCING, laughing, & having fun. They had no idea who threw the stuff & I didn’t care. It was just awesome that they were so happy.

Debbie & Her Krewe

Debbie & Her Krewe

Thus is the magic of Mardi Gras. Part of the impetus for this blog was to shed light on all the misconceptions floating around the non-Delta parts of this great nation, for it truly is a life affirming, community binding, spiritually nourishing beacon of light during the darkest part of the calendar. Yes, like our great nation its roots were intertwined with racism, violence, and condensation of the wealthy on the working class and poor. Like our great nation, it continues to struggle with many of these issues. Like our great nation, there are plenty of crass and classless citizens eager to besmirch its reputation while exploiting it for the lowest common denominator. But like our great nation, it is so much greater than a sum subtraction of its flaws, providing an oasis of hope and light in a harsh and unforgiving world.

And that concludes the soapbox portion of the program.


Lee Circle During Mardi Gras

Lee Circle During Mardi Gras

Past the wide open expanse of Lee Circle (a traffic circle housing a statue upon a giant staired pedestal at its core) St. Charles Avenue narrows to a one-way street that flows Uptown except for the two weeks during Mardi Gras when a flood of parades rush down its final 8 block to Canal Street. Whereas St. Charles is the main artery running through Uptown, Canal is the other of the city’s two main cultural and commercial arteries (Bourbon is more famous, but carries little traffic and serves as more a [Read more…]

Riding In a Mardi Gras Parade: Morpheus 2014, part 2


Jefferson Avenue Rolls Down St. Charles

Jefferson Avenue Rolls Down St. Charles
(Courtesy of Kyle Pantuso)

As we turned away from the river onto Jefferson Avenue (our float’s namesake!) a small crowd was waiting, though we wouldn’t ‘officially’ be underway until we turned back downriver along Magazine Street. By now, though, the anticipation was killing us and we began tossing beads and a few specialty items to the modest crowd as we passed these four ‘unofficial’ blocks.

Magazine Street, like St. Charles and Tchoupitoulas, runs the entire length of Uptown paralleling the river, housing the main commercial artery of Uptown. We would follow it for nearly a mile, turn away from the river again onto Napoleon for seven blocks, and continue upriver via St. Charles for three miles back to Canal Street which divides the French Quarter from ‘downtown’ or the Central Business District. After turning down Canal towards the river for four blocks we’d turn back on Tchoupitoulas, ending where we began. (This should give you an idea of the parade box trapping much of Uptown that I’ve spoken of previously.)

Although Secure In My Manhood, I Must Admit Don's (Right) Was Bigger Than Mine

Although Secure In My Manhood, I Must Admit Don’s (Right) Was Bigger Than Mine (Left)

As we crept along Jefferson waiting to make that final turn past ‘Go,’ my mind raced trying to figure out how to ration my seemingly modest pile of throws. Don’s and Kim’s, were double mine in size, though I did note they had a lot of medium-sized inflated balls, fleur-de-lis footballs, and long toy spears that took up a lot of space but would go quickly. I’d collected bags of plain beads in all sizes and colors with a little help from my friends (Kyle, Kelly, & Aimee; K.R.A.P. at Nyx; Krewe du Brew; and two bags left over from Mardi Gras 2011 via my Jacksonville friends) and these are compact and small so I should be able stretch them out. Still, as we at long last we made that critical turn I tentatively threw plain beads along with a few blue & sliver Morpheus moon & star strands, terrified that in my excitement I’d blow my multi-colored load before we were halfway through!


My Bead Magnets (& Kyle) Back At Work At Lee Circle

My Bead Magnets (& Kyle) Back At Work At Lee Circle

I don’t now if it was the VH1 incident or a flat tire on a float or something else, but it was around 8:30 by the time we started to roll. Kyle and Aimee would text from Lee Circle where they were waiting at 10:08 (though I wouldn’t see the text until after the parade) to see if we had in fact been cancelled. Apparently there was a long wait after Krewe D’etat and much of the crowd was leaving. By then, though, we were well underway.

In 2011 My Jacksonville Friends Lustily Catching Beads I'd Throw Back in 2014

In 2011 My Jacksonville Friends Lustily Catching Beads I’d Throw Back in 2014

As we now crept in motion, I was definitely in full party mode. Even after a year of living in New Orleans I rarely drink to the point of true intoxication, yet had sailed through Chewbacchus three sheets to the solar wind and had lustily hit the open bar at Generations Hall while I rocked out to Bag of Donuts. On the float I had kept the spirit alive with beer and Jello shots. Once we were rolling in earnest, however, I wouldn’t even pause to think of taking a sip, completely oblivious that I had a beer open. In fact, once we started I didn’t think we were ever going to stop!

K.R.A.P. Lends A Hand

K.R.A.P. Lends A Hand

I’ve seen enough Mardi Gras parades to know that most of them cruise along for a while, get held up for a few minutes, start back up, and soon stall again. I don’t think this is by design and can be frustrating to viewers caught up in a frenzy of bead lust but provides time to reload and regroup if you’re a rider. Or so I guess. Perhaps it was that we were late or maybe we had unusually good fortune and a clear path, but once we hit Magazine we didn’t stop until we were almost downtown.


I beg forgiveness for any distortions of time or space that have occurred in this recounting so far. They’re only going to get worse from here on out!

My heart was pumping with excitement as we began to greet the crowds, and my mind raced trying to soak it all in, struggling to process the instant bombardment of pleas from the people piled several rows deep on the sidewalk. It felt like we were doing 70 mph as we zoomed past the eager faces and outstretched hands, yet in actuality we would travel a paltry 5 miles in about two and a half hours, which is slower than I walk!

Footage of Frantic Crowds Taken From Atop Our Float: Courtesy of Debbie Cleary Raynor

I had been advised to [Read more…]

Riding In a Mardi Gras Parade: Morpheus 2014, part 1


Beads Hung To Tantalize The Crowds

Setting Up In Tight Quarters

For our theme of Morpheus Cruises the Streets of New Orleans I was riding on float #6: Jefferson Avenue. To add a little extra flair to our Jeffersonian theme (and surely surpass the minimum required 15 pieces of flair), float lieutenant Kim Morgan glued a glitter outlined replica of the Declaration of Independence to the top of each hat. As I boarded the float in front of Generations Hall, though, there was a minor problem. I couldn’t stand up!

Although I didn’t have a tape measure, I’m pretty sure the clearance on the bottom level was about 6’6” between the horizontal rafters which hung much lower. I’m 6’4” so when I tried to stand my Declaration pushed against the ceiling, and I was certain I was going to knock myself out before the end of the ride on one of the low hanging impediments.

Jefferson Avenue Parked Outside Generations Hall

Jefferson Avenue Parked Outside Generations Hall

Waving in Kim’s direction, I informed her I needed to perform surgery, but she was so frazzled trying to wrangle the krewe in place that she just shrugged with a look of exasperation. “Do what ya gotta do!”

She’d used some mighty powerful glue, though, and the thick foam board wouldn’t detach so I finally ripped it in half. Even with the document removed, the top of my Shriners-style hat scraped the ceiling. And such are the tight quarters on a Mardi Gras float.


Where Do The Riders Stand?!

Where Do The Riders Stand?!

I didn’t realize until Thursday loading day how tightly packed riders are, having little room left to stand once they load aboard all the goodies they’ll throw back to the crowd. Yet we’d be squeezed on here for at least six hours with nowhere to sit while wearing itchy costumes, plus masks for about half that time. (Legally masks must be worn during the parade, but the wait is just as long as the ride!)

Floats Under Construction At Mardi Gras World

Floats Under Construction At Mardi Gras World

Back in August I witnessed the actual construction of such a float while visiting and posting about Mardi Gras World. These giant jolly rolling boxes are framed with steel I-beams atop a trailer chassis, then the sides and center stairwell are filled out with plywood. Mercifully portalets are also built into the frame.

The upstairs is open above the waist-high wall but the floor creates a low ceiling below lined with hooks for hanging beads. Although convenient for storage, these bead repositories are really meant to tantalize the crowd so they can view the specialty beads that many will beg for but few will receive; however, an unintended but equally important function is served as the beads create a barrier and visual cue that keeps you from knocking yourself out on an I-beam, as I feared!

Aimee and Blue NinjaThe barrier is also waist-high below and is drilled with holes where you can screw in additional hooks, though I learned you needed to purchase these yourself. Eye hooks are sunk at regular intervals atop this wall for attaching your harness–you must remain strapped during the route or police can pull you from the float. (And that past Sunday two unharnessed riders had toppled off, as mentioned previously.)

Being strapped in such a tiny rolling box in cloying costumes while on your feet all day serving an encroaching mob of screaming strangers almost sounds like punishment. At the very least you’d think it was a crummy high school summer job at some local theme park; yet we had all paid good money for this privilege and were psyched out of our minds to do so, some traveling from all corners of the country. Again it’s good to note that Mardi Gras is [Read more…]

Mardi Gras 2014: Fueling Up For Krewe of Morpheus Parade With A Bag of Donuts


Welcome to Bourbon Street!

Welcome to Bourbon Street!
(No Wonder We Were Moving Slow!)

The night before my big day with Morpheus my friend Aimee had driven from Jacksonville for her first Mardi Gras, bringing nephew Kyle who is in law school there. His girlfriend, Kelly, flew in from San Antonio where they’re all from (though she was born in Baltimore) and it was the couple’s first trip to New Orleans at all. Thus, I’d rushed them to the Muses parade and then took them for their first (and only of the trip) obligatory stroll down Bourbon Street as is legally required of first timers. I wanted their first night in town to be memorable—mission accomplished (more on this in future posts)—but we stayed out much later than was wise before such a monumental day, for I’d been warned that riding on a Mardi Gras float was the longest—though greatest—day ever.

Thus Friday morning we missed the ‘Greasing of the Poles.’ Pole Greasing

For 44 years now the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street has been greasing the poles supporting their balcony to discourage onlookers seeking a better view, and I wanted to take the gang to see this spectacle although I was skeptical before they arrived that we’d actually get moving in time. The Greasing of the Poles began when parades used to roll through the narrow streets of the French Quarter before they grew too big and moved Uptown, yet the ceremonial ‘greasing of the poles’ continues. (And, besides, there’s still plenty to see on Bourbon, per the much publicized flashing that is mostly contained to this area.) New Orleans loves an excuse to party, so the suggestiveness of [Read more…]

Chewbacchus Mardi Gras Parade 2014, Episode 3: Return of the Truck Guy


Chewbacchus Masterminds Ryan Ballard and Brett Power Powow at Chewbacchanal (Courtesy of Franzia Ellers)

Chewbacchus Masterminds Ryan Ballard and Brett Power Powow at Chewbacchanal
(Courtesy of Franzia Ellers)

Earlier as I’d marched with Chewbacchus I’d periodically run into—sometimes quite literally—a darting and jumping Spiderman who’d apologize before swinging off again. No offense taken. We were all stumbling by that point! As I arrived at the Trash Palace, though—so named because it was a disposal company warehouse before purchased with plans (plans, not reality yet!) to make it an events space—where I was supposed to take money from public entrants into Chewbacchanal, I found Spiderman already frantically trying to keep up with the steady stream of public partygoers. I was supposed to start at 10:00 but had rushed straight from the parade so figured I’d be fine, yet the public was arriving before we’d even quit rolling. I worked the door for two hours and the procession remained so steady that I never learned Spider Man’s secret identity!


Chewbacchanal Babes (Courtesy of Franzia Ellers)

Chewbacchanal Babes
(Courtesy of Franzia Ellers)

I’m not sure what folks thought, having a giant in drag taking their cash, but it gave me a chance to extend the gag. Admission was $10 in costume and $15 without and sometimes it was difficult to tell the difference. There is so much obscure fandom out there that I gave the discount to every offended entrant who was affronted by my ignorance. There were also a lot of people on the guest list, and if I couldn’t find their name it was a judgment call. If they were a douche it was no dice, but if they were cool and convincing Spiderman just shrugged and we let them pass. I’d had zero seconds training, so it was all spontaneous crisis management!

Despite a few double D-bags, I was enjoying meeting folks and checking out the outrageous costumes, for some parade fans were as decked out as the participants. I would often ask for $15 from people in the gaudiest, most outrageous costumes just to see the reaction of the half that didn’t instantly get the joke.


Red Shirt Volunteers Gather Around Their Complimentary Keg (Courtesy of Franzia Ellers)

Red Shirt Volunteers Gather Around Their Complimentary Keg
(Courtesy of Franzia Ellers)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Chrissy is tour manager for Galactic—one of the first New Orleans bands I came to love and still a favorite—and this expertise led to her recruitment as Event Planner General for Chewbacchus; thus, she was the one coordinating this party and who’d recruited me to work the door. Therefore it shouldn’t have been a surprise when a guy came up and said, “My name’s Robert Mercurio—I should be on Chrissy’s list.” I did a double take. “Hell, yeah, you are.” It was Galactic’s phenomenal bass player. “Of course you’re on the list,” I gushed with a lack of coolness—but, hey, I was in a dress and wig so I added: “I’m a big fan.” He did a double take at Lt. Uh-the-horruh and thanked me for listening as I waved him and his group through. I’m sure he was hoping I never made it back stage.


Spiderman and I continued to furiously take wads of cash and slap on wrist bands since our reinforcements never arrived. Chrissy finally showed up and apologized profusely, but I didn’t mind. I was still working the crowd. Sometime after 11:00 she returned with replacements and I wandered into the large, unadorned warehouse where a brass band was playing on a portable stage to an enormous crowd. No wonder we’d been so busy!

Chewbacchanal (Courtesy of Franzia Ellers)

(Courtesy of Franzia Ellers)

Without a parade or people handing me wads of cash I’d lost my permission again, so I wandered the floor lost. I chatted with a couple of K.R.A.P. members, was handed a shot of something that glowed, and got knighted with a special Chewbacchus medallion by another Uhura who declared my consumed most beautiful of the night.

By now, though, these expensive cheap costume boots (why are specialty costumes so costly and yet be made so cheaply?!) were wearing unbearable blisters on my feet so I wandered outside for some air where I ran into some friends from the pre-party. When they wandered off, though, I started the long trek back to my truck.


A few years ago I learned about the futility of catching a cab during Mardi Gras the hard way. After Better Than Ezra’s annual show that my Jacksonville friends had skipped, I started at 1a.m. trying to get a cab alone to Metairie. Stranded in the CBD late at night, I was in full panic mode after a few hours, but met a girl also trying to get to Metairie so we joined forces. When a taxi finally stopped at 4:30 we offered to pay any cost to get us the hell out of there!

Starfleet, We Have a Problem!

What? You Won’t Stop for THIS Guy!

As I left Chewbacchanal and walked down Elysian Fields, dressing in drag didn’t help change my past luck. Giving up on a cab the time I turned down St. Claude, I pulled up a map on my phone and almost cried when I saw how far away my truck was. It was after 1 a.m. but fortunately the streets were fairly busy for I wasn’t sure how safe it was here on the edge of Bywater in the 9th Ward.

As I stumbled along gingerly, several panhandlers approached me, apparently nonplussed by my drag. I merely huffed, waved a hand down my dress, and said, “Do you think I’d be walking if I had cab money?” Considering the hour and my location, it was a justifiable lie.

The boots soon began to hurt so bad that I took them off and walked barefoot in my hose, but the asphalt shredded my feet into hamburger. In truth, it was only a couple of miles walk and normally I scoff at people who act like a mile or two stroll is epic. As I hissed with every hesitant, slow, and painful step, though, two miles was a daunting distance that would easily take an hour. I just kept telling myself ‘This too shall pass,’ and almost cried with joy when my truck finally came into view!


Chrissy, Event Overlord, Takes a Break From Breaking Down To Share Stories

Chrissy, Event Overlord, Takes a Break From Breaking Down To Share Stories

I’d quit drinking at the party since I had to drive and my scar trek was definitely sobering, so my system was cleaned out by the time I hit the pillow. The next morning I didn’t feel too bad.

I didn’t feel too good, either!

As I lay in bed sipping coconut water and watching LA Confidential, I dreamed of the amazing pancakes I’d had at the Frost Stop when my brother, Jerry, was visiting, yet could barely stand on my hamburger feet. I settled for cereal instead.

Bryan 'Rocksteady' (Left) Checks His Phone To See Who He'd Drunk Dialed

Bryan ‘Rocksteady’ (Left) Checks His Phone To See Who He’d Drunk Dialed

I’d told Chrissy I’d help clean up, though, and had gotten caught up with the parades Friday and missed setup, so soon sucked it up. It meant missing Sunday’s parades, but I couldn’t walk and the weather was horrendous, anyhow. I hope you weren’t waiting for photos!

Although salvage began a noon it was 1:00 before I rolled in, but there was plenty left to do. I quickly located Chrissy, who had somehow twisted her ankle and was limping so good thing I didn’t wimp out, and she put me to work lifting and loading, soon pressing my NOLA christened truck into service. Everyone was still in a good if subdued mood, and as we shared stories apparently I was one of many that commented on seeing Bryan ‘Rocksteady’ Tibbets wandering around in a smiling daze. Everyone seemed to remember but him!


My Figurative Train Wreck Housing Search Becomes A Literal Truck Wreck

My NOLA Christened Truck

Still, after the amazing night that had passed, it was hard not to feel let down that it was over. In most trilogies, it’s common criticism that the middle installment is the weakest—a mere transitional vehicle—although the franchise that inspired ChewbacchusStar Wars—is the famous exception. I’d guess a narrow majority of fans [although I’m sure my Facebook and blog comments are about to blow up!] and lion’s share of critics rank Empire Strikes Back as the best installment. (I’d have to admit Star Trek II is the best, as well, despite the fact that IV was my favorite film as a teen. But that’s more like a baker’s dozen than a trilogy!)

This Star Wars inspired trilogy of posts is also such an exception, making me almost want to skip part III, though I’m too obsessive to leave loose ends! I’ve spent a year working up to this and wanted to document what it’s like before, during, and after. The after, though, is all bittersweet memory.

Thus it was with a mix of satisfaction and longing for next year that we hauled our heavy equipment to the Den of Muses where I picked up the K.R.A.P. trike and grocery cart. All I wanted to do by then was find food and take a nap, but first had to run by Danielle’s house to pick up my left over black-eyed peas and collards and then drop the trike and cart off at Rachel’s. This endless list of chores soon began to feel as long as my trek to the truck as my headache returned, but it was a small price to pay for the high of the night before. As my head finally hit the pillow sometime after 5:00, my phone beeped with a message from Rachel: “Thanks for being the truck guy.”

The truck guy.

I was a man again.

THANK GOD!!! That would surely make me sleep easy.





Chewbacchus Parade 2014, Episode 2: The Empire Struts Back


2014-02-22 18.14.13As Chewbacchus slowly groaned to life along N. Peters Street a few onlookers gathered along our forming line. K.R.A.P.’s segment of this weaving serpent nearly 1000 people strong (800 paying members, over a hundred red shirts, and several marching bands) was smack dab in the middle, but finally followed the head in motion. After taking an awe-struck moment to soak it in I started experimenting with my crowd flirting technique, throwing a few beads and an occasional furry koozie or some merkin panties. (The bandoliers were the big guns, so I was saving those.)

The Parade Lines Up

The Parade Lines Up

It took me a few minutes to warm up, but I’m as much an actor as a writer at heart and may have missed my calling. Performers tend to be quiet and introverted, but give them a stage and your attention (ie. permission) and they spring to life in bold Technicolor. Thus, by the time we rounded the corner to travel the block up Esplanade by the French Quarter before turning on Frenchmen Street, I was fully in character and struttin’ my stuff. This quiet, reflective writer that had tentatively poked and prodded at the Chewbacchus ranks trying to find a pocket of quiet inclusion suddenly became a [Read more…]

Chewbacchus Mardi Gras Parade 2014: Episode 1, A New ‘Ho


Sacred-Drunken-Wookiee-Original2So my Carnival cherry has been popped, and in a red dress and support hose, no less. After seeing dozens of Mardi Gras parades in my life and having fallen in behind a few second-lines (next best thing to joining a krewe!) I rolled through the Marigny on Saturday night with the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus for my first ever Mardi Gras parade as participant rather than spectator. Like the movie trilogy that inspired Chewbacchus (I’m still in denial about the three prequels), it was an epic production of thrilling and inspiring grandeur.

Rolling with the oft mentioned sub-krewe of K.R.A.P. (Krewe of Really Awesome Parodies), I embraced their theme of Star Wrecks whole-heartedly…everyone seemed to agree that my costume was a glorious wreck of epic proportions. We’re talking Edmund Fitzgerald worthy Star Wreck.



Chilling at Danielle's

Chilling at Danielle’s

At last writing, I was hastily posting prior to rushing to K.R.A.P. member Danielle Wheeler’s house for some early afternoon pre-gaming as we donned our cringe-inducing parodies. Although my costume idea had popped into my head the moment I read the 2014 Chewbacchus theme on their website: The Wrath of Khan-ival, it took me a while to identify an opening to assimilate into the group. I’d been handed a K.R.A.P. recruitment card, though, at the kick-off party back in September, and the name caught my interest. Thus, I rushed back from a Florida visit in October to attend a sub-krewe meeting where Rachel Unger and Chrissy Gross—our fearless leaders—announced the theme of Star Wrecks; and the grumbling began. Folks said they didn’t understand it or that it gave them no ideas. Hell, it made perfect sense to me: A hung-over, disheveled, half-drunk, morning after, walk-of-shame parody of your favorite sci-fi character. Baby, you’re singing my song.

It wasn’t that my costume fit K.R.A.P.’s theme, but that [Read more…]