This needs almost no explanation. If you are in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and you are watching parades as they roll by and you’d like to have some beads or any other kind of throw, you raise your hand and try to catch the attention of the bead thrower. The old school way of asking for throws is “Throw me something mister.” Now, you do whatever you can since parades are getting more and more crowded every year. Sometimes, you might want something more than just a string of colored plastic beads. Most krewes, these days, usually have throws with identifiers on them.
The 9th Cavalry arrives on the scene. Also known throughout history as the Buffalo Soldiers, they have served with distinction after their formation 1866 in New Orleans, in every war that the nation has fought. All of original the troops came from Louisiana, many of them being former slaves. Without getting into all of the army gobbledigook of how units are combined, taken apart and reorganized, they were among the last troops to leave Iraq as the combat and support troops were pulled out. They are currently based at Fort Hood, Texas. I suppose this post isn’t as much about a Mardi Gras parade as it is about the people in the parade.
The word flambeau means flame torch. Originally, these men were slaves and some free men of color who carried the flame which helped light the dark streets of New Orleans during the early days of Mardi Gras parades. Today, they are seen as almost a kind of performance art because of their wild girations and dance steps. In the early days parade goers tossed coins to the flambeaux who were trying to earn money. This tradition continues today. In any case, this is a great interaction between performers and the crowds.
First parade of Mardi Gras. Sort of. In New Orleans’ French Quarter, Mardi Gras parades are prohibited by law to roll through the narrow and congested streets. The Krewe of Du Vieux gets away with it by rolling more then 12 days before fat Tuesday. So, technically it isn’t a Mardi Gras parade.
This little krewe gets away with walking through The Quarter at exactly 12 days because they are walking from one restaurant to another as a group. They have no floats, but they do throw a few beads.
They are The Krewe of Cork who is supposedly a group of wine lovers. Supposedly? Well, they were downing double shots of Vodka by about 11am. Didn’t look like wine to me. They start at about 11am and hang out until about 3pm when they they start the parade. Need I say more? Pretty funny.
Just in case you are wondering… The Carnival Season is slightly different than Mardi Gars. Carnival Season begins on the Twelfth Night or as Catholics call it, The Epiphany. It is a preparation for the season of Lent. On that night, the first parade rolls — literally — because the Phunny Phorty Phellows — ride a special streetcar throughout the city. Things look a little quiet as people prepare for Mardi Gras. There are social club balls. People are working on stuff. I’ve written about The Krewe of Muses who make their very special decorated shoes. I’ve mentioned Zulu who decorate coconuts. And, so it goes.
Mardi Gras actually starts 12 days before fat Tuesday. That’s when the parties start. That’s when the big parades start to roll. The Krewe of Oshun rolled last night. That’s the first Uptown parade. That’s when people arrive from all over the country and world. In the first few years after Hurricane Katrina that’s when those of us who felt exiled to other places, came home. People party all day on Fat Tuesday. But, when midnight arrives the streets of The French Quarter are emptied and the streets are cleaned.
This little still life is about the colors and shapes of Mardi Gras. The story of its creation is probably better than the picture itself. I was waiting for a parade when I decided I needed a coffee. Since I usually drink espresso, I sat down to wait for it. I generally try to sit near a window in case anything passes by that needs to be photographed. There, in front of me was this little display that was screaming, “picture, picture, picture.” So, I used a 70-200 mm lens and never even moved from my chair. I know. How lazy of me. Right? Sometimes pictures just happen in front of you if you are patient and you open your eyes. Or live mind fully. Or something like that.
I like this picture. I made it on the sidelines while I was waiting for Krewe du Vieux to roll. They were very late and I got bored just like everyone else so I started photographing everyone else. This young woman’s big smile and her use of two phones caught my attention so I started working her a little bit. She saw me and responded by being even more animated. That made for a couple of nice frames. It took a little post production to give the image a contemporary feel, but after a little trial and error experimentation I finally found the look and feel that I liked.
I couple of posts back, I mentioned my friend Jonno’s daughter who was playing at Neutral Ground. Well, she played. And, the music was excellent. She’s a good song writer, a good guitarist and a powerful singer with a comfortable stage presence. Here’s a look at a couple of pictures.
Oh yeah. This might be helpful. Her name is Eva Frishberg. She has recorded on CD which she sometimes sells out of her backpack and she is still in high school.