Mardi Gras: Krewe of Muses

I shot 2 rolls of high speed Fuji Superia during the parade and 1 roll of Kodak Ektar in St. Louis Cemetery #3 the next day. These are just some shots I took with my digital Polaroid or my cell phone.

Tuesday is Mardi Gras, but the preceding Thursday is the day I’m starting to look forward to the most. This is the second year I’ve gone to see the Krewe of Muses parade and spend the night and following day in the city, and I hope to do it next year. The hotel where I stay used to be the Iberville Suites but it’s now a Marriott Courtyard. They made some much-needed improvement to the rooms (especially the bathrooms), and they also have complimentary wi-fi now. I had a great room with a view of St. Louis Cemetery #1, and far away from the elevators and ice machine–I didn’t hear a peep from any of the other guests all night. They have valet parking in an inside lot, so I don’t have to worry about my car, and it can’t be beat for convenience because it’s only a pleasant 10 minute stroll from the parade route. (Actually less, but I like to walk a few blocks down St. Charles, away from the crowds and police barriers at the intersection with Canal.)

PICT0468, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

These kids were actually part of Babylon, the first parade. Muses rolls with Babylon and the Knights of Chaos, but Muses is really the only reason I’m there. Anyway, I thought they looked like Village of the Damned kids.

PICT0481, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Camel Toe Lady Steppers.

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610 Stompers.

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Cherry Bombs.

PICT0495, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Bearded Oysters.

SSPX0091, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I caught what I thought was just a keychain penlight–what’s cool about Muses is they don’t just throw beads, and even their beads are usually unusual or fun, they have light-up medallions, fun shapes, Muses logos. Anyway, this seems to be some kind of Muses bat signal.

SSPX0090, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Still haven’t caught a shoe–I only saw one or two all night–but I did get some shoeLACES, so…progress? They say your chances of getting a shoe are better if you hold a sign, but I’d need a 3rd arm, unless I want to forget about taking photos. Maybe next year I’ll try it.

PICT0507, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

The following morning I had breakfast at Elizabeth’s, then went to St. Louis Cemetery #3, on Esplanade in Bayou St. John. It’s one of the cemeteries they built during the bad yellow fever epidemic in the 19th century, like Cypress Grove; like that cemetery, it’s big enough to drive around in.

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This person died in 1893, and look at how decorated their tomb is! That blows my mind when I see it.

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I’ve never seen a variation of my name in a Louisiana graveyard. And the only person entombed in it died about 6 weeks before I was born! DUN DUN DUNNNNN.

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I knew EJ Bellocq was buried here, so I drove around looking for his family tomb but couldn’t find it. But there was an office, and a very nice woman working there knew exactly where it was and pointed it out to me on a map. I’d actually been taking photos right next to it!

PICT0515, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I left him a photograph.

I took a brief trip over to Magazine Street to buy some stationery at Scriptura, then went to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. There was an exhibit by Deborah Luster that I really wanted to see called Tooth for an Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish. She took long-exposure black & whites of homicide scenes, they were really haunting. (One of them was a photo of the Danziger Bridge, which nearly made me start crying.)

That was the only reason I went to the museum, but there were a couple other exhibits that were new since I last went and that I really enjoyed. One was oils by New Orleans painter Micheal Deas; painting isn’t really my thing but some of them were amazing. And there was a collection of Alonzo Wilson’s costumes designed for Tremé, mostly the Indian suits worn by the Guardians of the Flame, but also some Mardi Gras costumes worn by other characters.

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I never noticed before, but most of the Indian suits in the first season employed the meteorological symbol for hurricane. And the Big Chief’s breastplate is obviously inspired by the search party graphics spray painted onto houses after Katrina. 8-29 being the date of the storm, ? being the unknown date when recovery would be complete. I’m not sure that date’s ever going to arrive.

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another weekend, another trip to New Orleans

It’s been noted that I’m in New Orleans so much that I might as well live there, but I like the country, too. I love visiting cities, I don’t necessarily want to be in them 24-7.

Anyway. Saturday was the Piety Street Holiday Market, and a friend of mine in the New Orleans Photo Alliance had a booth, so I decided to go. They have the market every 3rd weekend in the Old Ironworks in Bywater; there are 2 in December and I think they have extra vendors as well. It’s a combination craft fair/flea market, and I think there’s sometimes live music. And of course food, because this is New Orleans we’re talking about.

christmas cactus, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I love Bywater. It’s the Berkeley (or Red Hook) of New Orleans. If I WAS going to live in the city, I’d want to live either there or in Marigny.

I just went for something to do–I’m done with my shopping anyway–but actually I was really surprised with the quality of the stuff being sold.

old checks, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

My friend was selling, among other things, “paper ephemera”: old checks and bills. These are from 1895, 1899, and 1907. People had such cool handwriting back then, all spidery and curlicued.

I also bought a mixed-paper journal made from an old French-language children’s book (I’m always meaning to do something like that myself, I have enough paper craft supplies), and a couple of 4×6 matted prints from a local artist. (One for me, one for a friend.)

nola doorway (filter), originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

The one I’m keeping is a photo of a doorway on Rue Dauphine. Clearly, I like photos of doorways in New Orleans. I take dozens of them.

snowballs, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I also had a key lime snowball. Snowballs are a southern Louisiana thing, and they are miles better than a grainy, gritty snowcone. They’re more like Hawaiian shaved ice, with a very fine, snow-like texture. Lots of places are seasonal, opening around either Mardi Gras or Easter and closing around the time the clocks are set back. But some places are open year-round.

rooster graffiti, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

There was a really cool mural on the outside of the Old Ironworks.

saint lucy, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Afterward, since I was in the neighborhood already, I drove to St. Roch to take some photos of that delightfully morbid body part chapel with my Z2300. I also realized that last time I neglected to take any photos of the statue of St. Lucy. Yes, those are eyeballs on a tray.

Then I drove over to Magazine Street. There’s a stationery store called Scriptura that a friend told me about, I bought some stationery and a pocket notebook and replenished my NOLA postcard stash for Afterwards I went to 2 galleries on the same street to see a couple of different photo exhibits that opened as part of PhotoNOLA.

I really enjoyed the Contemporary Antiques exhibit at the Octavia Art Gallery. It was curated by Frank Relle, but a lot of the photographers are amateurs, and most of their photos were taken with cell phones. It’s fun to see the kinds of things that catches other people’s eyes, and the sheer amount of photos–blown up to 6×6 (I think, I didn’t measure them), with identical white mattes and mounted floor-to-ceiling–was dizzying. I’m an old school film photographer, but I like that literally everyone carries around a camera with them on their phone now. I think it encourages people to pay attention to their surroundings, to look for beauty and fascination in the mundane, and I think it probably teaches them things like composition and framing without their even knowing.

I also went to the Leslie Addison and George Yerger exhibit at the Cole Pratt Gallery. I’ve been interested in these artists since shortly after I moved to Louisiana and they were featured in an issue of Louisiana Life. They use plastic cameras (Holgas, mostly) like myself. In a way they encouraged me to start taking my own work more seriously, because I looked at their photos and thought “Hell, I could do that. I DO do that.”

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