Mardi Gras Indians – photos (don’t do justice)

The 101 Runners, ostensibly the world’s only current and costumed Mardi Gras Indian band, played at legendary club Tipitina’s a couple nights before the High Holy New Orleans Holiday. Under the majestic portrait of Professor Longhair onstage, they commenced to jammin bout sewing costumes and meeting rival spyboys in the street. Read a detailed history of the influence of Mardi Gras Indians on New Orleans musical culture here. Fun fact: “Iko Iko” is the world’s most recognizable song written in and for Mardi Gras Indian culture. And if you’ve ever listened to the Meters, you already know what Indian rhythms sound like after a generous helping of rum and marijuana (one supposes). Mardi Gras morning, by 6am, it’s on and cooking.

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More Mardi Gras errata

One more round of similarities between Mardi Gras and the Burning Dude and I’m done: You can either pay someone else lots of money to build your floats (theme camps) or get together with your friends and work on them really hard. Your parade can have all the permits and map placements it wants … or it can be as underground and DIY as a basement rave. Except Mardi Gras will always be infinitely cooler than a basement rave, because it’s been going on for a couple hundred years, and the ornate and variegated etchings of tradition have deep-ass roots like unkillable kudzu vines. On big-time fancy parade days, you hang out streetside with the plebes, waiting politely to catch the shiny plastic gifts thrown by “masked” krewe-members atop bus-sized carnival-exhibit floats. And on neighborhood parade and second-line days, you crawl over streets with slapdash costumes and beat-up tuba players, surrounded by 300 regular folx and punks who also “retired early” to New Orleans, all high-stepping around floats made of bikes, shopping carts, and whatever else. Either way, the cars stuck in traffic behind you never honk, either. Never. That’s why I moved back home to Dixie, really: MANNERS. Oh and … The Saints euphoria contributed to the most well-attended and peaceful Mardi Gras on record. Who dat who dat who dat.

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road trip: Fuck Katrina

April 15, 007 The Lower Ninth Ward sits segregated from the rest of New Orleans, stashed in a corner of the city like the messed up cousin everyone pretends isn’t really in the family. You’ve got to drive over a bridge and down, and take a left into the super-ghetto that snakes along the water — along the levee that holds the Mississippi River back from flooding the whole neighborhood and a good portion of the rest of the city.

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road trip: this Capricorn is now a New Orleans fainting goat

April 14, 007 I got the vapors. Yes. Literally. Fainting spells in bars where your friends work can be embarrassing. However, it’s always good when a couple just-off-duty nurses happen to be drinking at the establishment, so they can pick you up off the floor, carry you to the couch, and proceed to give you a frighteningly wide and specific range of potential diagnoses. Abject mortification can at least be tempered by the three or four good people who hover around like ladies-in-waiting for a Southern belle whose whalebone corset stays got cinched too tight.

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road trip: Children of the s(hotg)un

April 5, 007 New Orleans At this place where I’m staying, a dude lives there whom we’ll just call “Tiffany” — not only because he in fact embodies the diametric opposite of a “Tiffany”, but also because if he ever reads this it’ll piss him off, which is really fun and not hard to do. Tiffany’s life gets ruined every day all over again when another dude in the house throws on “Children of the Sun,” an obscure, freaky musical-theatre soundtrack from the ‘70s some acidhead produced at a small theater somewhere (the housemate assumes) and then quickly fell off the map, or the deep end, or both.

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road trip: Babes in punk house boyland

April 3, 007 New Orleans Dogs run wild in and out of the single house. Right now there’s a band practicing in the other room. A couple more bands who were supposed to be going on tour are staying here for the moment — passing out each night in vans parked out front, on the couches, in the captain’s chair on the kitchen floor, and splayed out on rugs or in the back yard. Nobody has been stabbed in the kitchen yet today.

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road trip: X marks the spots

April 2, 2007 Sitting on the stoop at the house I’m staying in in New Orleans, I noticed some graffiti I’d spotted earlier while getting lost near the Superdome … seemed to be tagged on the front of every house in this neighborhood too. My eyes picked up on it because it looks so much like the old Hard Times Bike Club (now Black Label) logo — an “X” with the letters written in all four spaces.

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