NOLA: Super Sunday

Super Sunday has nothing to do with football, let’s get that straight right away. It’s the Sunday before St. Joseph’s Day, when all the Mardi Gras Indian tribes mask together in Central City. The neighborhood used to be the Magnolia Projects, notorious for violent crime even amongst New Orleans housing projects. Post-Katrina, it’s been “rejuvenated” into Harmony Oaks, a mixed-use development. It still contains low-income housing so it hasn’t been gentrified, and it looked pretty nice. I hope it’s successful.

I arrived about 11:30 (there’s plenty of street parking in the area if you get there before noon) and left soon after 2:00. It was starting to get too crowded to get good photographs, but by then I had shot a roll of Ektar and lots of digital, so I was content.

PICT0691, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

A lot of them lay out the suits in AL Davis Park before they get started. Indian suits are all made entirely by hand, and are only worn once. Those patches are thousands of tiny beads. Again: ENTIRELY DONE BY HAND.

PICT0697, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Of course I had to check out the neighborhood cemetery (St. Joseph), which seemed awesomely overgrown and run-down even by NOLA standards.

PICT0720, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0715, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Officially, I am still a childfree old hag. Unofficially, AHHH SO MANY ADORABLE BABY INDIANS!

PICT0713, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

A lot of the kids drop out of masking when they’re teenagers because it’s so time-consuming. If they keep doing it past 15 or 16, chances are they’re “lifers”.

PICT0740, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

This was my favorite suit that I saw all day, unfortunately I have no idea what tribe this guy belonged to. By then I’d been there a couple of hours and seen so many eye-searingly bright pinks, greens, and yellows; the black and white with just touches of gold and red really stood out. And of course I love the skull/skeleton motifs. It’s like an Indian interpretation of Baron Samedi.

PICT0730, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

This was Wild Magnolia, they’re the largest tribe that I saw–at least 12 or 15 people–and they all had color-coordinated bright green suits. Possibly because someone looked at a calendar and realized that super Sunday was also St. Patrick’s Day this year?

PICT0752, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0750, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

This tribe was also pretty large and contained a lot of children. I think it was either Creole Wild West (the oldest tribe) or Yellow Pocahontas.

PICT0707, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Wild Tchoupitoulas’ wild man is a wild woman! There are a lot of women in the tribes, and not just as queens.

PICT0739, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

This is definitely the best facial expression that I captured all day.

PICT0757, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I was just starting to feel hungry when I realized I was standing literally 3 feet from Ms. Linda Green’s booth. If you’ve ever seen the No Reservations episode where Anthony Bourdain goes to south Louisiana, you’ll recognize the purveyor of the best yaka mein in the city. Yaka mein is a NOLA version of a Chinese noodle dish, slow-cooked brisket and spaghetti in a beef broth with green onions and a hardboiled egg. I’ve made it at home (although I sometimes use udon noodles) and this was recognizably the same dish, but that stuff she’s squirting into it must have crack in it or something. I could have dived into that pot and eaten my way out.

So, Super Sunday AND Ms. Linda Green’s yaka mein. That’s 2 things I can cross off my NOLA bucket list. Oh, and lagniappe: I also had my first sno-ball of the season.

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