Not so nostalgic for Mardi Gras
I apologize for not posting anything for so long. Then again, there wasn’t much to write about except the stupid Chiefs, who had their stupid little parade last week.
It was Mardi Gras two days ago. Not that it mattered much to me.
The last parade I went to was the Krewe of Thoth the Sunday before Mardi Gras 1994 (13 February). I knew a few of the men riding in the parade. Those men are still riding in it 29 years later. It would be the only parade I would consider attending if I ever went back to my native city for Mardi Gras.
Thoth is the longest parade within the city of New Orleans. It starts further upriver (west) than every other one, commencing at the corner of State Street and Tchoupitoulas (pronounced CHOP-it-oolas) Street near the Mississippi River. It proceeds lakebound (north) on Henry Clay Avenue, downtown bound (east) on Magazine Street, lakebound (north) on Napoleon Avenue, then downtown bound (east) on St. Charles Avenue, the main route for every parade in the city except Endymion, which parades in a different neighborhood.
The reasoning behind its starting point is to bring a parade to many who cannot attend parades.. Thoth takes in several group home as well as Children’s Hosptial, one of the best pediatric facilities in the United States.
When I attended Thoth for three years (1992-94), the parade started at Henry Clay and Magazine, went south on Henry Clay, turned onto Tchoupitoulas, went east to State, then north on State to Magazine, where it followed the current route.
I stood at the corner of Henry Clay and Tchoupitoulas. When the float carrying the men I knew came by, I was bombarded by beads, doubloons, cups and assorted other trinkets. I got pushed by more than a few kids for the cheap stuff. My dad, who was with me for the first two of those parades, just said “let them have it”, and I agreed.
I went to Rex, King of Carnvial, in 1991 and ‘92. Nothing to write home about. Everyone should see it once, but after that, take it or leave it.
I saw Endymion, which is the largest krewe in terms of members and floats, a few times in the 1990s. I wasted my timeevery time.
I never attended Bacchus, which is the Sunday night before Mardi Gras. Too many people. Way too dangerous, as evidenced by a shooting at this year’s parade which left one dead and four injured.
And I never, ever dared venture to the French Quarter. I didn’t go to the Quarter much during my time living in Louisiana, and certainly not during Mardi Gras.
There are things I miss about Louisiana. Mardi Gras isn’t one of them.
Another thing I don’t miss is the Kansas high school wrestling state tournaments.
Kansas can’t get all of its grapplers under a single roof like Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska and several other states. Instead, the boys are split between three locations and the girls at two.
It would not be hard to put six to eight mats on the floor at Bramalage Coliseum at Kansas State or Koch Arena at Wichita State (it is not practical for Allen Fieldhouse due to its construction) and hold the tournament over three or four days.
Instead, Kansas only wants to hold it for two days and forces fans to sometimes choose one site or the other.
I haven’t covered events since the spring of 2015. I don’t miss it one bit. It has meant a lot less stress for everyone. I don’t need any more stress given my myriad of health issues.
Random thoughts: Mardi Gras edition
It’s just another humdrum Tuesday in most of the United States, but in Louisiana–especially the southern part of the state–and southern Alabama, it’s Mardi Gras.
I grew up in New Orleans, so I know all about it all too well. I last went to a parade on Mardi Gras day 25 years ago. I do not want to recall it. It was dreadful. I hated the crowds, I hated having to wait on a hot and muggy day, and then the Rex parade itself was nothing to write home about.
There were Mardi Gras parades in the suburban community in which I lived until 1988. Then my family went to watch the Mardi Gras parade in a western suburb of New Orleans for three years. In 1991 and 1992, we went to watch the Rex parade on Napoleon Avenue.
I will never, ever forget being bullied at school the first day following the week-long Mardi Gras holiday. I was bullied by several people over what I wore. I will not go into detail about it, but it was not a costume. Maybe I should have worn a costume. I might have taken less grief.
I stopped going to parades altogether after graduating from high school. I went to the Krewe of Thoth in 1993 and 1994 because I knew several riders. When they saw me standing at the corner of Henry Clay and Tchoupitoulas (CHOP-i-TOO-las for those of you non-natives), they would bombard me with beads, doubloons (metal coins about the size of a silver dollar) and other trinkets. I would let some of the others standing there scoop up stuff, simply because I had no use for all of that crap.
Speaking of Thoth, it’s the only one of two parades in New Orleans proper which does not follow the traditional route from Napoleon to St. Charles Avenue. Thoth does roll down Napoleon to St. Charles Avenue, but takes a much longer to get there. It starts on Tchoupitoulas, heads west to Henry Clay, north on Henry Clay to Magazine Street, then Magazine to Napoleon. It is the longest Carnvial route in the city.
Thoth does this for a reason. It allows residents of several New Orleans facilities for the mentally and physically handicapped, as well as patients at Children’s Hospital, to see a parade.
The other parade which doesn’t follow the traditional route is Endymion, the super krewe which rolls in Mid-City the Saturday before Mardi Gras.
I don’t miss parades one bit. Not. One. Bit. And don’t ever ask me to go to the French Quarter. Not happening.
If you’re the adventurous type, then sure, it’s worth going to once. But keep in mind what might be permissible (not necessarily legal) in the French Quarter are HUGE NO-NOS on the parade routes. Do that on St. Charles Avenue and you’re going straight to jail. The parades are meant to be family friendly, and if you even think about doing it when young children are present, you’re asking for jail time and a large fine.
There used to be a parade on Mardi Gras evening. I said used to be, because the organization still exists, but it cannot parade due to a terrible New Orleans ordinance which has long since been declared unconstitutational by the United States Supreme Court.
In late 1991, a black New Orleans City Council member named Dorothy Mae Taylor introduced an ordinance which would require all Carnival organizations to list their membership, as well as prove they do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion or sex.
I don’t know how the heck the ordinance passed, but it did.
EVERY Carnvial krewe in New Orleans was opposed. EVERY ONE.
Zulu, the premier black krewe, admitted whites before the ordinance was passed, wanted to keep its krewe all-male. Bacchus and Endymion, the super krewes which always had a celebrity as grand marshal and/or monarch, wanted to stay all-male, too, even though like Zulu, they were racially desegregated.
The big problem came for the “old-line” krewes, which had been all-white, all-male and for the most part, all-Protestant since they wer formed.
Rex, King of Carnival, agreed to admit non-whites and non-Christians and have been parading non-stop.
Proteus, another old-line krewe, refused to acquiesce, but they still held their 1992 parade. They did not parade from 1993-99 before returning in 2000.
Sadly, two of the great old-line krewes, Momus and Comus, have not returned to the streets.
Why the hell should anyone care who is a member of a Mardi Gras krewe? If you don’t like the fact Comus is all-white and all-male, and mostly Protestant, STAY HOME.
Let me put it this way: Bill Gates cannot become a member of Comus. Donald Trump cannot become a member of Comus.
Simply put, if you are not born into the right family, you’re shit out of luck. That includes Archie Manning and his sons, Drew Brees and John Bel Edwards, the current Governor of Louisiana.
I could care less about not being able to join a Mardi Gras krewe. It’s not life or death. Let them choose whomever the hell they want to be a member. Why do politicians care? Crime is rampant in New Orleans, the public schools are horrendous, the city is broke, yet some want to tell Mardi Gras krewes which have been around since the 19th century who the hell can or can’t be in their club.
Dorothy Mae Taylor is dead. Sadly, Comus and Momus haven’t paraded since 1991. That has to change. I won’t be attending if and when Comus returns to the streets, but my native city will be a big winner.