fat tuesday started for shawn and phil at 5:00 a.m. they had generously offered to go save a spot for the zulu parade on st. charles, across from t & p's old apartment. so, up and out they went, at the asscrack of dawn after about 2 hours of sleep. this is what shawn looked like when we got there at about 7:00.
definitely not thrilled. but they were not the only ones out there by any stretch of the imagination. there were tons of people out with their camp chairs and bbqs and ladders. so, we people watched, ate popeyes, and waited. and waited. t & p's old neighbors stopped by in costume. i unfortunately don't have a pic of mike. mainly because the pants he was wearing were borderline pornographic. mike is a man secure in the size of his package. so, we waited some more. eventually, a walking krewe approached.
and zulu began.
and i have to say, it was pretty great. a little long. but great. shawn got me a zulu coconut. teena got a zulu coconut, after hanging onto the side of a float in a way that could be compared to indiana jones being dragged by a tank or a truck. she came to get a zulu coconut, she wasn't leaving without a zulu coconut. (a note on zulu coconuts from wikipedia: "One of the most famous and the most sought after throws, is the Zulu
Coconut, also known as the Golden Nugget, and the Mardi Gras Coconut.
The coconut was mentioned as far back as 1910, where they were given in
a natural "hairy" state. The coconut is a cheap alternative, especially
in 1910 when the bead throws were made of glass. Before the Zulu Krewe
threw their famous coconuts, they threw walnuts that were painted gold.
This is where the name "Golden Nugget" originally came from. It is
thought that Zulu switched from walnuts to coconuts in the early 1920's
when Lloyd Lucus started to paint coconuts. Most of the coconuts have
two decorations. The first is painted gold with added glitter, and the
second is painted like the famous black Zulu faces. In 1988, the city
banned Zulu from throwing coconuts due to the risk of injury; they are
now handed to onlookers rather than thrown." we were talking with a woman who had been to the zulu parade 46 times. she had never caught a coconut. shawn didn't seem to get what a big deal catching a coconut was. until thursday afternoon in ponchatoula. we were in an antique store and the owner asked where we were from, were we down for mardi gras, did we see zulu and rex? "yes we did," i said, quite proudly, "and he caught a coconut." her jaw dropped and she said, in the sweetest southern accent imaginable, " you did?!")
after zulu was rex.
i have to say, as great as zulu was, rex was the opposite. it felt same old, same old after the mad chaos that was zulu. but we did it, we saw rex. the one and only. the king of mardi gras. oh, and rex beads - completely lame. and not a coconut in sight.
the truck parade started. pretty funny. but we'd been in one place long enough. teena was getting hungry. i wanted to take more pics. shawn and phil were amenable to just about anything. so, t & p left in search of food and shawn & i started to walk to the quarter. canal street was absolute madness.
crossing canal was a little like what i'd imagine falling down the rabbit hole would be like. we were on chartres between iberville & bienville and there were hundreds of superballs bouncing every which way. it stopped everyone who came upon them dead in their tracks. and there was a father and son standing on a balcony, with a bucket on the ground between them, laughing hysterically.
we then made our way to jackson square, where the scene intensified. there were protestors. what were they protesting? sin in all its forms.
and as you can see, the "sinners" were a plenty. the energy was absolutely explosive. there was a man dressed as god and a woman dressed like a gilder, topless mary. she was holding a sign that read, "don't let them fool you. the jesus freaks are here to see tits too." and there were still superballs following us.
and then there was this guy.
we stopped at the alpine for po' boys where we served by joe. joe is my waiter every time i go the alpine. and joe had been working since the wee small hours, pulling a double shift. and yet, service with a smile.
we then wandered some more, marveling at everything we were seeing. it seems we'd unwittingly crossed paths with the krewe of saint anne.
we walked up to bourbon, meandered for a block, were grossed out and returned to chartres and royal. finally just popping a squat to people watch on someone's stoop.
there were some great musicians with great tattoos playing a few feet away.
by this time my battery had died in my camera. this is terribly unfortunate because as we were sitting there a man came out of the building next door. he appeared to be 70 or so. he was wearing a penguin costume. he waited a moment for what appeared to be his children and grandchildren to file out behind him. he took a few steps to the street and then began to waddle like a penguin. his wife who was the last out was also dressed as a penguin. he stopped in the street for a moment, she joined him, the held hands and waddled off together. seriously excellent.
that evening shawn & i found ourselves back in the french quarter - with a charged camera battery. bourbon street was still out of control disgusting. and the rest of the quarter had died down so we had a drink or two at molly's and then walked to the marigny.
oh. my. god.
there was music. there were people dancing in the street. it was nuts.
we went to dba for a few drinks and then returned to the street. for tacos and more people watching. there was a guy with a shopping cart he'd fashioned into a mobile dj booth. he had megaphone with lots of reverb. there were people everywhere. talking. laughing. dancing. everyone wishing everyone else a happy mardi gras.
it may sound ridiculous but after everything i've seen in new orleans and read or heard about new orleans since katrina - it felt great. to see people being raucously happy. not a care in the world. for one day.
you put on a costume. you take on a persona. you do ridiculous things. for one day.
i get it. and if its at all possible, it made me love new orleans even more.
at midnight, my inner carriage turned back into a pumpkin. we headed back to teena & phil's and i fell right to sleep. i dreamed of bouncing balls.