Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mardi Gras Chronicle Installment One: Muses

Pre-Mardi Gras Weekend (Sat, Sun, Mon, Fat Tues), there were a handful of parades I attended. Krewe de Vieux in the French Quarter on Saturday, February 7, in throwback style with lots of costumed paraders on foot, smaller floats, and raunchy satire ("Stimulus Package," "Stocks and Bondage"), celebrated by me and Betsy and Ellis, as we indulged in our own shout-out to the past (passing around a flask of Taaka vodka and orange juice, sick, wandering the quarter feeling like we were stumbling around the set of a play); a couple laid-back uptown day parades on Sunday, February 15, lots of little kids and middle-aged ladies; Wednesday, February 18, my first uptown night parade, quiet but foreboding with the chilly breeze and sound of drums in the darkness; and finally, the highlight, Thursday, February 19's Muses! I left work early because we had no business and walked briskly from Prytania and Robert down to St. Charles and Jackson Ave.

From Jackson Ave. to Lee Circle, nine streets are named after each of the nine Greek Muses. My dad taught me an acryonym to remember them by: CUTECTEMP. Calliope, Urania, Terpsichore, Erato, Clio, Thalia, Euterpe, Melpomene, and Polymnia. In New Orleans, they're pronounced in goofy local versions, like CL10, Terp-si-chore, Call-i-ope, and Mel-po-mene. Muses the parade has an almost all-female crew, some of the most aesthetically-pleasing floats, extravagant throws, and eclectic array of entertainment. The Pussy-Footers, the Bearded Oysters, and the Camel-Toe Steppers were among the alternatives to high school dance teams. I really want to be a Camel-Toe Stepper, but apparently they are very elite and exclusive. Apparently they think they have better camel-toe than anybody else. Betsy and Jude were in the 9th Ward Marching Band; Betsy held the mallet to Jude's gong. Jude hit the gong once a fifteen minute song-cycle. Elvises on motor-scooters soliciting kisses on the cheek cracked me up. People on stilts, little boys on unicycles, and random walkers with butterfly wings made up the inter-float entertainment. The Hot Eight Brass Band and Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes performed, the former on foot, the latter on a float. Antoinette K-Doe rode in a giant red sparkly shoe, with her Ernie K-Doe doll; and she died the night before Mardi Gras Day, to spend an eternity in the Elysian Fields of Carnival. The Muses throws are girly and fantastic; they throw sparkly spangled life-size high-heeled shoes, necklaces with mini shoes, martini glasses, and lip-gloss. We were all reduced to little kids, whining for throws and getting pouty and competitive (Mel caught two shoes! That's so unfair! And she indiscriminately gave one away, meaning, she didn't give to me.) Muses is definitely one of my favorite parades, certainly one of the most dazzling and creative.

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