Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Mysteries of the season

Phellows Phavor

That's a "phavor" which was phrown to us by the Phunny Phorty Phellows as we watched their streetcar roll down St. Charles last night marking the beginning of Carnival season. It's just a little plastic baggie containing a printed card and a kitchen magnet made out of a bottle cap and a king cake baby.

One aspect of this that I enjoy is PPP is one of the few remaining Carnival events whose progress is un-tracked by any of the various apps or websites.  This means that if you aren't seeing them off with the ever-increasing crowd of well-wishers at the barn (here is some amateur video I found of that scene) then you'll have to rely on some old fashioned guess work based on the start time and your spot along the route.  I find this refreshing.

Don't get me wrong. I'm certainly no Luddite when it comes to parade tracking.  The rise of, first Twitter, and then the GPS enabled apps introduced by local TV stations in recent years to help parade-goers figure out when and where to be has been a godsend.

But there's a certain nostalgia that comes with having to resort to the old art of guessing. It restores a lost sense of mystery that feels right for this particular occasion. All we're doing, after all, is waiting around to witness a brief moment of seasonal heraldry. There's more ritual in this than party. Might as well add some atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the less welcome mysterious air surrounding the plan for the Uptown parade route finally dissipated somewhat yesterday.
The good news: The parades will roll and the route will remain unchanged.

The bad — if unsurprising — news: “If you’re used to being on the neutral ground on Napoleon, you should start looking for another spot,” said Lt. Col. Jerry Sneed, the city’s deputy mayor for public safety and homeland security.

The city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is managing the massive drainage project known as SELA, are working together to minimize disruptions to the parade schedule and plan to contain the construction zone — which now spreads into the roadway in either direction — so that floats can pass, Sneed said.

There may be minor adjustments to the staging areas for krewes, but other than the fenced-off neutral ground, most paradegoers should not notice much of a difference, he said.

“It’s always inconvenient when you do have construction, but that’s part of the process of rebuilding the city,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said after a ceremonial “Kings Day” event at Mardi Gras World celebrating the beginning of Carnival. “Of course, you know the No. 1 complaint is we need better infrastructure. Of course, now the complaint is that we have too much too fast. So we try to manage all of it, but we’ll be OK.”

Officials are still trying to determine which areas of the neutral ground might be accessible for parade viewers. Corps spokesman Rene Poche said that information should be available in the coming weeks.
The neutral ground on Napoleon is currently a mess of mud and heavy equipment. It's not possible to interrupt that work in a way that will make the area suitable for use by parade-goers.

Napoleon Avenue canal

That much is easy to understand.  But, this week, the construction has pushed on out into the intersection of Napoleon and Magazine.

Digging into the street

One hopes there's a plan to open those lanes back up by the time the parades start to roll.  It's not easy to imagine the plus-sized Thoth or Muses floats making their customary left turn with the intersection in that state. But then, I guess, what fun would this be without at least some small sense of mystery?

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