Happy Carnival, y’all! (Here’s a glimpse at Fat Tuesday in Olympia)
If you’ve been catching my show, you know that carnival season started on January 6. And it ends on Mardi Gras Day (Fat Tuesday), February 17. One last blowout before Lent begins. In the last week alone, over 20 parades have rolled through the streets of New Orleans. There are so many activities and traditions encompassed by the New Orleans carnival season, that its best if you go to the source. To get a feel for a street parade, check out the site’s live cameras.
It’s been a long time since my last Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I was 10 years old. Our family tradition was to camp out at my Dad’s office just off Canal Street and watch the major parades pass.
It was quite a party at the office with a potluck table loaded with fried chicken, gumbo, King Cake and a wide variety of liquor bottles. At that time, in the 60’s, the big parade on Mardi Gras Day was, and perhaps still is, the venerable Rex. However, the parade was referred to as “formaldehyde on wheels” by a character in the HBO series Treme.
The unique Zulu parade was almost mystical to me at the time, an elusive parade with no printed parade route that tossed coconuts and had ass-kicking music. The Times Picayune and MardiGras.com have done a great job of posting photos and videos of parades during the carnival season and I’m impressed by the intimacy of some of the parades. They remind me of of my favorite parades that used to roll down Freret Street and Carrollton Avenue. Parade routes are more limited now but even still some of the parades offer that neighborhood feeling–quite a contrast from the Bourbon street image of Mardi Gras often portrayed to the rest of the world.
One tradition that continues to grow in awareness is the Black Indians of Mardi Gras. Even with the growth in popularity, its still a lucky person who can catch sight of a Mardi Gras Indian gang doing their thing on the streets on Fat Tuesday. I’ll be doing Mardi Gras and party music in general on my show on Monday. If you miss the show, you can catch it later and other episodes, on MixCloud.
Until then, “throw me something, mister!”