Though much of the humor is the local insider sort, Krewe du Vieux and Krewedelusion are far and away the bawdiest sanctioned parades to roll through the French Quarter. Mardi Gras hasn’t officially started but the brass bands and costumes and throws have already begun. Saturday morning, I heard a band coming down the street and ran out to find DancingMan504 leading the second line honoring the recently departed Poppa Neutrino.
Poppa Neutrino was a musician, raft builder and world traveler who’s dying wish was, “That mourners go and do something they were always afraid of, meditate on their dreams and pursue them with reckless abandon or perhaps hold a wild party and toast to Poppa, who has now embarked on what he would consider his ultimate adventure.”
People here really know how to put the fun in funeral.
Saturday night belonged to political satire, sperm references and several renditions of “It Ain’t My Fault,” the city’s post BP theme song. Krewe du Vieux’s theme this year was “25 Years Wasted,” celebrating their 25th year rolling through the Quarter.
My cousin took me last year and said it was one of her favorite parades. When the friends we ran into said the same, I had to ask why the x-rated political satire beat out Muses’ glowing shoes or Endymion’s celebrities and pricey throws. We all agreed Krewe du Vieux is the last of a dying breed – a horse/mule drawn walking parade with a multitude of adult bands (no high school marching bands). As a walking parade, the paraders and the crowd are nearly indistinguishable, an intimate melange of revelers. The music is great, the floats and costumes are funny and shameless, and the throws include things like lube, slices of pizza and condoms.
This year’s king was Don Marshall, the co-founder of Krewe du Vieux and the executive director of Jazz Fest. There were 17 subkrewes, each with their own interpretation of the theme. Subkrewes included Krewe Rue Bourbon who’s take on TSA’s hand’s-on approach to security, “TSA: The Good Hands People,” was especially funny. Krewe de C.R.A.P.S.’ “Running of the Bullshit” featured dozens of “bulls” in white with glowing red horns.
There were several Krewes that used BP oil catastrophe themes such as Krewe of C.R.U.D.E.’s, “Crude Lubes – New OilLands,” Krewe of Drips and Dis- charges, “DRIPILEAKS!” and Krewe of Underwear’s, “Tails of the Silver Sheen.” I liked their oil rig hats with lighted spews.
There were many crowd favorites like Krewe of L.E.W.D.’s “Do Ass, Do Tail,” with a pink camo-wearing commando “riding” a jackass with Obama’s face, and T.O.K.I.N.’s Alice in Wonderland themed smoking caterpillar and teacup entitled, “Tokin’ Tea Party.” But the stand out of the evening was the loud and proud Krewe of Space Age Love’s seed spilling, “Spreading the Love for 25 Years.” A picture is worth a thousand words so enjoy the photos and video.
For those who watched HBO’s Treme, Krewe du Vieux was John Goodman’s character’s favorite parade. As in the show, the parade traditionally ends with the marching of the “spermes,” paraders lofting papier maché sperm in the air on sticks. This year, the Mystic Krewe of Spermes (pronounced spermees) “honored” Treme‘s nod with a float themed, “David Semen’s Treme” (a play on the creator, David Simon).
The fabulous bands included the amazing Jazzmen, Bone Tone, Baby Boyz, Panorama, Storyville Stompers, Paulin Brothers and Treme Brass Band. Watching 80 year old Uncle Lionel beat his bass drum down Royal Street, I felt like part of something older than Krewe du Vieux’s 25 years of political humor, older than Uncle Lionel’s 69 year career. I felt a part of a heritage older than this nation.
Mardi Gras arrived from France to America in 1699. Masking in public was banned when New Orleans came under Spanish rule in the late 1700’s and stayed banned when Louisiana became part of the United States until 1823 when the Creoles got the governor to allow masked balls. In 1827, they won the right to street mask again and Mardi Gras was reborn.
The parade was followed by the second run of Krewedelusion, a new satirical parade. Krewedelusion is a gumbo of groups that declare New Orleans the center of the universe and actor/filmmaker Harry Shearer, it’s head. Apparently, the unifier for the group parading in Krewedelusion, other than a love of fun, parades and political satire, is that the Krewes are primarily comprised of people who moved here after Katrina and fell in love with New Orleans. I was invited to join the Krewe du Muu-Muu (people celebrating the joys of loose clothing in hot weather) but I’m still busy taking it all in. Maybe next year I’ll be ready to participate in a parade.
This year’s king was musician Davis Rogan, the man upon which Treme‘s Steve Zahn’s kooky charismatic character, “Davis” is based. I did have some friends and neighbors roll with Krewe of Bananas, the Pussyfooters, Krewe du Muu-Muu and Krewe du Jieux. We stopped by the after-party on Frenchman’s Street where I heard paraders were being encouraged to “Sweep like an Egyptian.” Apparently, after paving the way for democracy, Egyptians tidied up after their own revolution. Wow.
The weather was insanely beautiful and I’d have to say a good time was had by all. Enjoy the vicarious thrill.