Sunday, February 23, 2014

So how is it so far?

And as the parades begin, so does the city’s new Carnival rules. 

Some of the biggest changes: ladders, chairs and grills have to be six feet from the street, private port-a-lets cannot be on public property, and no one can cordon off an area.

But with a shrinking police force, some wondered whether they would actually be enforced.

“I'm going to push it as far as a I can until they tell me I can't, and then I'll do whatever they enforce,” said Uptown resident Nick Moncure as he set up his tent.

But Friday night, police did enforce the rules. They told groups to move their chairs six feet from the curb, but Dale Fortner said that made it possible for others to stand in front of him and block his view.

“It kind of takes away some of the pleasure of watching the parade, because I’m not a young man anymore and I don't like standing up for a couple hours,” said Fortner.
Poor Mr. Fortner. It's just not the same if he can't sit just five feet over there for some reason.  Speaking as someone who is grappling with the early signs of age-induced not wanting to stand so much, (man my back is stiff after just two days of parades)  I still don't understand what is the matter with keeping your chairs to the back.  If the chairs and other obstructions are placed away from the curb, there's more room for everyone to move about.  This way, if you feel like being in the front, you can get up and walk there for a while and then come back and sit some more.  The chairs and ladders in front are what keep the crowd from sharing space easily.

Anyway, I'm glad WWL found signs of rules being enforced because I didn't notice much of anything different out there Saturday.


Does the ordinance say anything about tents specifically?  They're probably the worst thing you can put out there.  Here we see a tent set up with some chairs and ladders and other items roped together to form a barricade around a huge piece of neutral ground where people would otherwise be able to stand or pass through.

Tents, barricades, structures, hammock

One or two of these isn't a problem on the first weekend but, come next Sunday, they'll be lined up one after another effectively canceling anyone's access to the neutral ground.

No one on Orleans Avenue seems to have gotten the memo either.
But people are already making preparations. NOPD already has the barricades out, and Orleans Avenue is already being marked off by Endymiongoers— and has been since Wednesday night. No sign of tents, stakes, port-a-potties or the Krewe of Chad yet, but these folks have already made their reservations:
Follow the link to see Gambit's photography of the marked territory.

There's a bit of rain today so the crowds will probably be too thin get a good feel for how jammed up the route might get next weekend.  On Friday and Saturday, though, with moderate crowds, it was pretty comfortable out there.

Friday, Menckles and I had to split early so we didn't catch much of Oshun or any of Cleopatra.  I did manage to get a couple minutes of video from the St. Mary's Academy Marching Band.

After that we went to see a rock show.  And then we broke a carnvial rule by hitting the town a little too hard on the first night.  I still don't know how I managed to rally in time to catch any parades on Saturday... or even if it was a good idea to try... but the 39th Krewe of Pontchartrain was coming down that road one way or another.  And, for some reason, we were there.

King and Queen Pontchartrain XXXIX

See the look on the tractor driver's face?  That's pretty much how I felt.

Anyway, Pontchartrain's theme was "What's Eating New Orleans?"  And that could have been really clever if they wanted it to be.  But sarcasm isn't really for Pontchartrain's matinee audience.  So, instead, they just themed their floats after "iconic" New Orleans foods.

What's Eating New Orleans

The Pontchartrain float titles are always little fill-in-the-blank puzzles.  They are very easy.

Soft Shell Crab Po-Boy

Cafe Au Lait & Beignets

Did you get them? Please remember to return your pencil at the desk when you are finished. It was fun and all, but when a badly hungover person stands and watches a parade of giant foods roll by, that person's stomach begins to do funny things.  So as soon as Pontchartrain ended, we went in search of remedies.

Luckily we didn't have to search very long before we came upon just the thing.

Pho Orchid

Pho Orchid is the latest in a string of ventures to open in the space next to Igor's on St. Charles.  None of its predecessors has had much staying power, though.  Hence the blank space on this sign.

Please leave now

If they keep making soul restorative bahn-mi like this, though, maybe they'll stick around a bit.

Pork Bahn Mi

Feeling a bit better with  full bellies, we spent Choctaw just trying to walk it off a bit. Choctaw is one of the krewes recently sucked over to the Uptown route from the Westbank.  Of these immigrant krewes, this year, I've managed to miss Cleopatra entirely and catch only glimpses of this one from across the street.


I can't keep up with this. Are teepee floats something you might find listed on Airpnp?   I'm still having a hard time coping with the fact that Airpnp is apparently not satire so who knows?

Choctaw's theme was... something about travel, I think.  I don't know, I was in recovery. Anyway, here's a picture of a pumpkin float.

The most anticipated event... okay, well, the biggest curiosity of the day was the first voyage of the new Krewe of Freret.... not to be confused with the old Krewe of Freret which stopped happening back in the 90s long before most of the organizers of the new Krewe even lived in New Orleans much less knew how to work a Mardi Gras.  They're starting to figure it out, though.  Kind of.  Here's what they did Saturday.

First, they put a candidate for city council on their king float featuring a giant sign with his name on it.

Jason Williams King Freret

I'm still not sure if this technically violates the prohibition against carnival krewes making political endorsements in their parades but it clearly breaks that rule in spirit, at least.

Their theme was, "There's a first time for everything" although it wasn't really very clear how the floats fit the theme.  This one says, "Have we lost our head?" and features the headless horseman.

"Have we lost our head?"

According to Uptown Messenger, Freret was going with a (sort of) horror theme because they were "lampooning their own return from the grave."  But this is kind of weak since the new Freret doesn't really have any connection to the old Freret so it's not appropriate to describe this as a "return."

But the keen observer will have recognized these as the floats from this past October's Krewe of Boo.

Here's Krewe of Boo's "Brides of Dracula" float at the French Market.

Brides of Dracula

And this is the same float in Freret as... well.. something.

Freret crowd

This is completely normal, by the way.  Floats are often shared and recycled among krewes every year.  If you look closely at these, you can see precisely where they will appear this season.

Float schedule

Of course, if you're going to do this, the trick is to theme a little more creatively than Freret did.  Also it's a good idea to have all the floats at least 50 percent filled with riders.  Too many Freret floats were largely empty.

Despite all this, it's important to remember this is the group's first ride.  They'll figure it out.   Anyway, they seemed to have a good time out there.

Freret masker

They also featured a couple of marching clubs.  This is Dames de Perlages. They make little beadwork costumes.

Dames de Perlage

This was.. some sort of Mexican wrestler inspired thing. I didn't catch the name.

Mexican Wrestlers

Here is the first ever doubloon printed by the (new) Krewe of Freret.

Freret Doubloon

The WCBS, I am told, stands for "We Can't Be Stopped." Ok.

We didn't catch much else from Freret.  I was interested in seeing some of these "locally produced" greener throws they kept telling us about. As far as I could tell, though, they were still throwing plastic beads... if fewer of them.

They did get these folks from ARC to follow the parade with bead recycling bins, though. So that's pretty cool.

ARC Bead recycling

All in all not a bad day, nasty hangover not withstanding.  So we went back out to see the night stuff too.

Sparta Captain

Sparta's theme was "Isn't it Romantic" They were throwing these plush champagne bottles. Sorry about the blurry photo.

Sparta plush champagne

Their floats depicted famous couples and bad puns.

Napoleon and Josephine

Sparta puts on pretty parade that mixes some traditional elements like these kerosene flambeaux carriers,

Flambeaux carrier

with some creative variety including some of the more popular marching clubs and dance teams.  Here were some folks playing bagpipes.


And this here is a source of gathering frustration for me.  These mini-horses show up every year.

Mini horse

But every year they are maddeningly difficult to photograph.  What few pictures of these things I haven't deleted over the years all look pretty much like this one.   It's like they have some magic that defies photography. Adrastos suggests they are in the unicorn family.  I'm starting to believe that.

Pygmalion followed Sparta and also put on a pretty nice parade for a first Saturday night. Their theme was, "Some of our favorite songs."  None of these first weekend parades takes many risks with their theming. There was a "Monster Mash" float, a "They All Asked For You" float, and such. 

In recent years, Pygmalion has also introduced some signature floats including The Jester, which looks like a big rolling daiquiri shop.

Jester Float

Here's the "Pygmammoth" I don't think the pterodactyls were part of this float last year.


Meanwhile, on the other side of town, two of the more innovative events to come about in recent years appear to have really come into their own.  I won't be surprised  if the schedule stays the way it was this weekend,  people come to know this as "t'it Rex/Chewbacchus Saturday"  NOLADef got some great photos of these parades here.

What's really gratifying about the growing popularity of these little DIY krewes is that we've arrived at a point where we're starting to be confident in our ability to have two separate but comparably popular carnival events happening in different parts of the city at the same time. Moreso than any ordinance, this is the best way to keep the crowds manageable at any one event. Of course this also means that it's impossible for a person to see everything but that's hardly new.

Another way to keep the crowds under control, of course, is shitty weather. But we'll do Sunday in the next one of these posts.

1 comment:

Nolaresident said...

Those tents are really over the top. They are taking up a nice chunk of real estate for someone's exclusive use.