Monday, February 15, 2016

One last look at Carnival parade season

Usually I write more about what's going on with Carnival season as it happens. This year there didn't seem to be enough time after the first weekend for whatever reason. Fortunately we managed to make up for some of that over the weekend on the fake radio show where we recorded about three hours of Mardi Gras stories and broke it out into three episodes.(Part A Part B Part C) The show notes alone should make up for the lack of Carnival blogging, at least to some degree.  But since we have the space here, I'll go ahead and add a few notes.

Parades: I saw every Uptown parade this year except for Mid-City and Okeanos. I even ranked them on a list.  As we talked about this, it started to feel like more of an exercise in dickishness than it was intended to be. A Mardi Gras parade, like any excuse to go stand around and drink in the street is a fun thing by default.  So the parades at the bottom of the list are still things that a person will enjoy having seen. Let's see if we can say at least one nice thing about each of the bottom five.

Number 22 Oshun: Actually, we covered this already.
2016 Oshun, as it turns out, was a perfectly nice parade. The modest floats looked good. The riders seemed to be having a good time. I don't even remember what the theme of this parade was but it doesn't seem like that should matter very much.  What mattered was that it started to feel and look like Carnival season again.
In fact, when the list made its first appearance, Oshun was pretty high up.  It just happens to be a basic template sort of parade which is fine but it also means the more elaborate groups are going to pass it up by default. For what it was, though, it was perfectly fine.

Number 23 Carrollton:  For the life of me I can't remember why this placed so low. They did everything well. I especially liked that in a parade themed after the seasons of the year, they would have found a way to include Duck and Rabbit.

Duck Season

Rabbit Season

Number 24 Choctaw: Okay well I think we all know what the problem was here.

Grand Marshall Billy Nungesser

Billy Nungesser

But in the interest of having said something nice, Choctaw is a West Bank parade and the people of the West Bank deserve to have their Carnival parades back.  Warts and all.

Number 25 Alla: Well, there was the problem with a day parade having to roll mostly after dark without any lighting on the floats.  And then there was the "American Icons" theme that haphazardly strung together Louis Armstrong, JFK, and The Army.

Louis Armstrong

John F Kennedy

US Army

As Varg said on the show, though, Alla used to be Big Time over in West Bankland. It's probably a great parade in its natural setting.

Number 26 Freret: Again, we covered this already in a previous post. Most of their floats were at least half empty.

Freret's half empty floats

On the plus side, Councilman At-Large Jason Williams seemed to be having a good time.

Jason Williams

Which brings us back to the point. Even the worst parades are good.

But what about the best parades?  Here's a brief look at each of the top five from the list.

Number 5 Tucks:


Even for a Carnival parade, Tucks is always uniquely loose. From the marching clubs that announce its arrival  to the T-P streamers it sprays all over the avenue, the parade's brand is all irreverence and disorder. This can sometimes work to its detriment but not this year. Tucks's presentation was as tight as I've ever seen it. And its theme of taking pointed jabs at various local neighborhoods was hilarious.

Here, for example, is the CBD, or Bensonville, as we sometimes know it.


Or Magazine Street, where the yuppies run wild

Magazine St

Or the Warehouse District where The Rent Is Too Damn High

Warehouse District

Number 4 Orpheus:


Orpheus is gorgeous. It became a major point of contention on our show, though, for reasons we've covered already. So read that and listen to the podcast.

Number 3 Hermes:

Hermes Messenger of Dreams

Always some of the best float design of the year. Hermes isn't huge but it seemed like, pound for pound, they were throwing more aggressively than the "Superkrewe" Nyx had been.  Hermes usually does some sort of a literary theme. Sometimes they're a bit overly obscure with it.  This year they were "The Tempest" so it was accessible as well as beautiful to watch.

William Shkespeare's The Tempest

Full Fathom Five

The Tempest

Number 2 Muses: For all the attention it gets and the high expectations that come with it, Muses still manages to live up to all of it.

Muses Balloon

Their sense of humor was as good as ever.  The floats were themed after different types of candy but with references to current events and pop culture built in.

Donald Trump's Atomic Fired Ball

Fired Ball

Irvin Mayfield's Heavenly Cash

Heavenly Cash

Tom Benson's Gummie Heirs

Gummie Heirs

Muses even made some news of their own as celebrity Grand Marshall Solange accidentally threw her wedding ring from the shoe float.

Solange in the Shoe

The ring is still missing. If found it must be destroyed in the bridge fires of Bonnet Carre.

Muses also showed us something new this year with this float full of Mardi Gras Indian Queens.

Indian Queens

Finally, when it's running well, Muses is one of the most artfully staged parades holding the bulk of its marching clubs, dance teams, art bikes, and other little surprises until the back third of the parade. This makes things start to feel more interactive as the night goes on. Nobody else does it quite this well.

Number 1 Thoth: Thoth is the best parade. It just is.

From the float St Charles

We'd also like to thank NOPD for keeping everyone safe from our beer cooler by warning us not to step too far away from it.  We'd also like to thank the officer on our block for letting us know that Druids was throwing Jello shots and that we should try and catch some.

Everything else is in the shows or in the notes to the shows all of which can be found here, here, and here. God willing, we'll see it all again next year. 

No comments: