Mystic Krewe of Barkus: Bark Wars

I have this thing where every year I try to go to one festival I haven’t been to before (this year I’m reallyreallyreally hoping that can be the Los Isleños Fiesta in St. Bernard Parish, which I always seem to miss), and every Mardi Gras I try to go to one parade I haven’t been to before. Last year was Krewe de Vieux, and this year I went to Krewe of Barkus. It was yesterday, and they had ridiculously good weather for it in New Orleans, sunny and about 72 degrees.

I didn’t get very many good photos. I could kick myself because I aaaaalmost brought my old digital camera, even started to put fresh batteries in it, then thought nah, I’ll just use my cell phone, this isn’t going to be “art” and it will be one less thing to carry. Well, my phone picked yesterday afternoon to act like a toddler not getting its way. The camera function kept crashing; or the focus would get all weirdly shallow and focus on the wrong thing. Like the crowd behind the parade would be in focus instead of the dogs, or a dog’s paws would be in focus but its face wouldn’t. And almost everything came out blurry, that camera usually has better action capture. It’s not like anything was moving fast. I deleted about 2/3 of the photos I took and wound up with less than 20 worth keeping. Oh well, just means I need to go back next year, right?

Bark Wars

Bark Wars

Bark Wars

Bark Wars

Bark Wars

Barkus’ human handlers must include a small army of discreet pooper scoopers; I didn’t notice any scooping but I walked back to my car along their route and I didn’t see any dog poop either.

I didn’t want to try to drive back through the French Quarter, which was a madhouse getting into–there were like 8 parades happening yesterday–so I decided to skirt the worst of by going down North Peter and getting on the freeway via Elysian Fields. Which I realized would take me past Island of Salvation Botanica, where I haven’t been in… gosh, I think it’s been a couple of years now. I just haven’t been hanging out in the Marigny, I guess. So I checked my phone and it looks like they’ve expanded their hours, they’re now open 7 days a week and even until 6:00 on Sunday.

The place has gotten a little more commercial, everything was slightly overpriced, and it even sells “Voodoo Dolls”, which I know they know is not actually A Thing, but it’s something tourists like to see. I didn’t see as many of Sallie Ann Glassman’s own oils, and the ones I did see had gone from 1 ounce to 1/2 ounce bottles–but the prices were still the same. I can’t really complain, because I know a lot of that money is going to the restoration of the city and the neighborhood–there were a couple of buildings I noticed that had businesses in them that were empty shells the last time I was there–but I think I will be buying most of my spiritual supplies from F&F Botanica when I’m in NOLA from now on.

Lomographers of Acadiana meetup: New Orleans Pharmacy Museum & The Historic Voodoo Museum

I was uploading photos from this weekend to Flickr when I realized that I never posted last month’s meetup. Unfortunately I only have digital photos, because the batteries in my flash were dead and I didn’t realize it until the morning of the meetup. Oh, well.

First we went to the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum on Chartres Street. It’s a museum of 19th century medicine housed in the office/home of the first licensed pharmacist in the Louisiana Territory. All of the displays are authentic, none of the items are reproductions. If you’re in the French Quarter and looking for something a little different I recommend it. It was really interesting, there was a lot to see, and admission is just $5.


One of the things I found fascinating was how so many of the herbal medicines of the 19th century contained ingredients that are used today in rootworking–the apothecary jar 4th from the right on the top contained tincture of asafoetida, a foul-smelling herb sometimes called “devil’s dung” that is used in Hoodoo to both repel evil and harm enemies. I saw a lot of other names I recognized, too.


I really, really want this graduated chest of drawers!

Gold- and silver-plated pills

Pharmacists sometimes compounded silver- or gold-plated pills for their wealthy clients. They knew that the metals had no medicinal properties, but they also knew they’re inert and pass through the system without causing harm, and it got bored rich people to quit whining about their made-up problems for 5 minutes, so what the hell.

Medicinal tobacco and marijuana

This was a display about the medicinal use of cannabis and perique (a type of tobacco grown in Louisiana)–tobacco was apparently prescribed to treat asthma!

Voodoo potions

Display of Voodoo potions. People used to get their spiritual supplies from the same place that they got their medicine. The potions were numerically coded (hence “love potion #9”) so that rich white people could ask for them without admitting they practiced or believed in Voodoo, which officially was only practiced by slaves and free people of color.

(So, to the people who say New Orleans Voodoo is a 20th century invention of people who wanted to make money off tourists, riddle me this: if it didn’t exist before that, how do you explain these bottles?)

Pond's tampons

Tampons in the 19th century contained opium. I demand a return to this practice.

Soda fountain

Early 19th century soda fountain. Soda was invented to get people to take bitter-tasting medicine, they would drown it in sugary flavored syrups and add mineral water.

Afterward we walked to the Historic Voodoo Museum on Dumaine Street. It’s pretty small, just 2 rooms and a hallway. And their air-conditioning does NOT work very well, it was stifling. In addition, the exhibits were filthy with dust, and some of them were a little… exaggerated, shall we say. Kanzos in the bayou, etc. NOLA Voodoo is a non-initiatory religious system (which is why the terms “houngan” and “mambo” are not used), and practitioners who want to be initiated usually have to travel to Haiti for it.


Main Altar

The main altar. The wooden rod in back is where the lwa come down.

Yemaya Shrine

Yemaya is one of the Yoruban orisha that made its way into NOLA Voodoo in the 20th century, probably via Santeria.


new stitching project, charming serial killers, and smelly children


This is one of 3 cross stitch patterns I bought in New Orleans during Christmas vacation. I like the simplicity of the designs on this one, they’re like doodles or a child’s drawing. There’s also a really lovely blackwork border, meant to symbolize the lacey wrought iron balconies you see on so many of the old buildings in the French Quarter, but of course that will be the last thing I stitch.

This is all things you would see in the Quarter — “Vieux Carré” is the old French name for it, it means “Old Square”. There’s a mule-drawn carriage (horses tend to keel over from the heat and humidity); the Café du Monde sign with a cup of café au lait and a plate of beignets; Mardi Gras crown, bunting, and masks; and along the bottom is a crawfish, po-boy, praline, and shrimp. Obviously, not to scale!

While I was working on that, I burned through season 2 of Dexter. I have a Dexter hangover. It really did not follow the second book at all, but I’m not surprised. When I was reading it I was thinking, “Jesus Christ, they can’t possibly use this plot for the show. It’s way too fucking grisly, even for cable.” Pretty much all of it, Lila, the Bay Harbor Butcher, none of it was from the book. I was sad to see Doakes go. All protagonists (or in this case, anti-hero) need an adversary. Plus he made me laugh. “You owe me a new Michelin, motherfucker.” But obviously he had to die. I am kind of bummed that it doesn’t seem like they’re following one particular storyline: At the end of Dearly Devoted Dexter, it’s hinted that Rita’s kids are possibly mini-Dexters. I guess maybe that’s just too taboo for television.

In other news: Are parents today not teaching their kids basic hygeine? This morning there were about half a dozen kids in the lobby waiting to register when I came in, and for fuck’s sake, every single one of them smelled like a moldy old sweatsock. Look, any dumb fuck can wonder around the shower while hot water sprays; but if you don’t make certain parts of your body get real friendly with a bar of fucking soap, you’re still gonna reek. You’re at least 18 years old, you should have figured it out by now.

I swear to fucking god, my entire generation should have been forcibly sterilized, or given practice kids before they were allowed to breed for real. All we teach our kids is how SPESHUL and YOO-NEEK they are and that they deserve a gold star just for showing up. Meanwhile we’re neglecting crucial things like how not to smell offensive or how not to die of pneumonia — I saw 3 kids on the way here walking around in shorts and fucking t-shirts.

Also, we had a small earthquake this weekend; and I went crazy at the drugstore and bought a ton of new eye make-up, including shadows in some crazy-ass colors like peacock blue and aqua green that I NEVER wear. I must be having a mid-life crisis. Those 2 things are unrelated, so I don’t know why I mentioned them in the same sentence.

Oh, and I guess the Oscars were last night, but I haven’t given a fuck about the Oscars since the late ’80s. I assume Slumdog Millionare won everything, including Best Documentary and Animated and Foreign Language, because why the fuck not.

Attention spammers: I have no fucking idea why this entry has been getting so much spam. But since I have both comment screening AND spam filters, you should know that your comments are never, EVER going to be visible. Even on the slim chance that Akismet doesn’t recognize them as spam, they’d still need to be approved by me to show. And since I’m not stupid enough to think that a thinly-veiled compliment about my blog’s name and/or content accompanied by a smiley and followed by a link to some site about car loans or poker is a real comment, I WILL NEVER APPROVE THEM. NOW FUCK OFF AND DIE.

do you know what it means to miss new orleans?