St. Joesph’s Night 2014

Tonight was St. Joseph’s Night and that means Mardi Gras Indians! We live right on the edge of Central City, the heart of Mardi Gras Indian territory. Lasalle Park is the central meeting place every year for all of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian tribes…which just happens to be about 3 blocks from my house.

I’ve already written about the Mardi Gras Indian culture here in New Orleans (you can read about it here), so I won’t regale you with a long explanation now.

But this year, I got something a little special. Just as we left our house, we ran into two tribes meeting on their way to Lasalle Park.

When two tribes meet, there is an complex ritual of greeting. A great deal depends on whether or not the two tribes are friendly with each other. Even when the tribes are friendly, the ritual of greeting is an elaborate dance and contest of wittiness. This tradition comes from “Playing the Dozens,” a contest of insulting each other in witty ways.

Luckily, these two were friendly tribes. When the tribes are enemies, onlookers back away and the underlying violence of the Mardi Gras Indian culture comes out in a much more hostile interaction. In the past, unfriendly tribes would have reacted with violence, but since Hurricane Katrina, each tribe has worked hard to bond together, which helps the community as a whole. While there are definitely tribes that still don’t like each other, they generally keep their violence to their song and dance.

These two tribes were a lot of fun to watch! Enjoy!

Happy St. Joseph’s Night!!!

 

 

A Love Story for a Mummy

I’m writing a longer blog entry for later, but until then…

As a child, while I was reading Greek and Roman mythology, I was also fascinated by Egypt and its mummies.

The whole idea of preparing a body for an eternal afterlife was (and still is) fascinating. Reading about the magic and ritual involved in the Ancient Egyptian rites of the dead is still a favorite of mine.

I came across this again today. I had completely forgotten about it, but it’s definitely one of my favorite little music videos. Probably not what the Egyptians originally had in mind as a possible consequence of mummification.

A tragic love story of death and rebirth.

Enjoy!

Proteus

Today is Mardi Gras and unfortunately, it is a very dreary, rainy, wet Mardi Gras. While Kenny and I wait to see if the rain will let up a bit so that we can proceed on our usual jaunt through the Quarter, I thought I would share some pictures of my favorite parade this year.

Usually Muses is my favorite parade. It is one of the only, all female krewes to ride the Uptown parade route. (The Uptown parade route is the main one. My house also happens to be right on it). This year, Muses wasn’t as great. This was probably due to the drunken parents we were standing with that kept forcing their children over and under the rest of us to get throws. So…for the first time in three years, I did not get the coveted Muses shoe. (I wrote a guest blog for Kenny last year about Muses, which you can find here. I got some great pictures last year!)

My friends and I at Muses this year.

My friends and I at Muses this year.

So I was surprised when Proteus ended up being my favorite this year. Proteus and Orpheus role on Lundi Gras, the day before Mardi Gras, and are usually mostly attended by locals. All of the super-krewes, like Bacchus which had Hugh Laurie as the Grand Marshall this year, role the weekend before Mardi Gras. Kenny had a gig in Florida over the weekend, so we actually escaped the crowds and the lack of parking to go to West Palm Beach, which was very nice. But we were both very happy to get back home and jump back into our local Mardi Gras activities.

(The beach, however, was perfect!)

(The beach, however, was perfect!)

Proteus roles before Orpheus and usually I really go for Orpheus. Their floats are famous for using lights and they have a lot of big names. In the past I’ve gotten beads from Mariska Hargitay and Harry Connick Jr. This year they had Quentin Tarantino and James Roday of Psych.

Orpheus' famous Trojan Horse float.

Orpheus’ famous Trojan Horse float.

Quentin Tarantino in Orpheus.

Quentin Tarantino in Orpheus. (I ran into QT in a bar one night. We think he meant to go to the Phoenix, a bar known for it’s super risque Bounce nights. Instead he ended up at the St. Roch, a traveling kid hangout which also has a bounce night. I didn’t even realize who it was at first because he had some chick bent over the bar, making out, all night long. He finally came up for air and I realized who I was standing next to. Only in NOLA….)

James Roday, who was just as cute in person as he is on TV!

James Roday, who was just as cute in person as he is on TV!

But this year, Proteus really stole the show. Their floats were gorgeous, their riders were happy and excited and I was thrilled by their theme, which was “Ancient Elements of Alchemy.”

An important aspect of the very Catholic Mardi Gras is Paganism. Revelers become Pagan once more during Mardi Gras so that they can have something to repent for during Lent. Both Proteus and Orpheus (whose theme was “The Enchanted Land”) were very Pagan this year.

Proteus is the second oldest krewe in New Orleans. It started in 1882 and the krewe says of itself:

The Identity of the King of Proteus is never revealed to the public. His Parade float is a giant Seashell and very march part of the New Orleans Carnival scene for generations.

Proteus did not parade from 1993 – 1999 but returned to parading on Lundi Gras (The Monday before Mardi Gras Day, Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday) in 2000. The Parade of The Krewe of Proteus Follows the Traditional Uptown or St. Charles Route ending on Canal Street. The actual Krewe of Proteus parade floats are still using the original chassis from the early 1880’s.

The Mythical Proteus
The son of Poseidon in the Olympian theology ( Homer,Odyssey iv. 432), or of Nereus and Doris, or of Oceanus and a Naiad, and was made the herdsman of Poseidon’s seals, the great bull seal at the center of the harem. He can foretell the future, but, in a mytheme familiar from several cultures, will change his shape to avoid having to; he will answer only to someone who is capable of capturing him. From this feature of Proteus comes the adjective protean, with the general meaning of “versatile”, “mutable”, “capable of assuming many forms”: “Protean” has positive connotations of flexibility, versatility and adaptability.

Proteus is also known as a shape shifter and can assume the guise of anyone or anything he so chooses. When held fast despite his struggles, he will assume his usual form of an old man and tell the future.
The so-called Old Man of the Sea, is a prophetic sea divinity, son of either Poseidon or Oceanus. He usually stays on the Island of Pharos, near Egypt, where he herds the seals of Poseidon. He will foretell the future to those who can seize him, but when caught he rapidly assumes all possible varying forms to avoid prophesying.

Proteus [PROH-tee-us], like all six of Neptune’s newly discovered small satellites, is one of the darkest objects in the solar system — “as dark as soot” is not too strong of a description. Discovered by Stephen Synnott, Like Saturn’s satellite, Phoebe, it reflects only 6 percent of the sunlight that strikes it. Proteus is about 400 kilometers (250 miles) in diameter, larger than Nereid. It wasn’t discovered from Earth because it is so close to Neptune that it is lost in the glare of reflected sunlight. Proteus circles Neptune at a distance of about 92,800 kilometers (57,700 miles) above the cloud tops, and completes one orbit in 26 hours, 54 minutes. Scientists say it is about as large as a satellite can be without being pulled into a spherical shape by its own gravity. Proteus is irregularly shaped and shows no sign of any geological modification. It circles the planet in the same direction as Neptune rotates, and remains close to Neptune’s equatorial plane.

Anyway, here are a bunch of the pictures that Kenny took during the parade. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!!!

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(This float was titled "The Great Work")

(This float was titled “The Great Work”)

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