Mardi Gras in New Orleans 06: Krewe York

The weather was so perfect. The Saint Anne's parade was one of the largest, longest, and slowest moving versions of its incarnation ever, I'm told by oldtimers. The city's spirit was absolutely stellar. The Krewe York contingent got endless tribute by way of being a photographer-magnet and other revellers coming up close to scope the group out at length. Mr. Twist was highly popular, especially after the first several blocks when more than half his costume all of a sudden disappeared leaving quite a nice bit of tan-able skin on view. I kept hearing people say, "Look at the puppet!" And then their companions say, "Look at his body!" Andrea B rocked in that brassy NYC way, fresh from her duties at a free kitchen in St. Bernard's Parish. Daddy's umbrella was better than having a body guard, the way people would part in front of it. And the Empress, -what do you say? She out gorgeoused whole blocks worth of the gorgeous. The parade was exhillerating and exhausting, I literally passed out afterwards. Truely a post-apocalyptic celebration.

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I second that emotion seven, what a trip!
I guess we should start at the beginning...

Here we are, right after greeting King Zulu and torturing the tortured mayor, at the famous Cafe Du Monde having beignets.

seven, The Empress & Basil Twist
seven, Daddy & Basil Twist

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Here is Basil Twist and Editrix Abby Ehman.
Sitting on Basil's head is our new friend "Debbie". Debbie was a big hit at the parade as you can imagine.

(Don't ever march with Basil Twist because he gets stopped every two feet by a fan wanting a picture. It's like going out on the town with...
Debbie).

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This is seven's winning skull umbrella. You can't tell here but it's like twenty feet high. You could see it for miles (which came in handy).

seven & The Empress
(And I think that is Nancy Isla's gay friend "Jizz Bucket" leaning against the wall but I'm not sure).

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Marching with Krewe York is former New Yorker and downtown tornado... the ever-(fill in the blank) Andrea Booze-Wah!.
Andrea is in New Orleans now with girlfriend Dana feeding the people of St. Bernard Parish.
(When she said that she was marching with us she added, "Mom, make sure you warn them about me, okay?"
We did.)

The Incredible Andrea Booze-Wah!

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Oh how wonderful! It sure looks like Y'all had a ball. I thought of you all and kept having to stop myself from dashing to the airport and joining you as a surprise but alas it looks like you had a great time. Gorgy pics. I can't wait to hear more details. Brilliant look as a group, but Basil's puppet has left me speechless. Welcome home. I sent beams of protection to you all.
aren't the Empress and Daddy beautiful?

for modesty's sake -let me point out my costume at the start of the day...but it was just way too hot for a gorilla suit. thank goddess i had my leopard panties on

thank you for an amazing experience, krewe york, and to the unbelievable city of New Orleans!

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Well! I had a MOST spectacular time in New Orleans! I met a million locals, all of whom were SO grateful that we New Yorkers had traveled for their big bash. SUCH lovely people! And of course, marching in the St. Anne's parade was the high point of my time down there. Positively stupifying costumes! The woman in the handpainted Marie Antoinette gown blew my mind! And I felt like I knew every one of them...truly "my people." I can't wait to go back!
Thanks Chi and Johnny for organizing the march!
xoxo
EA
Epilogue:

Touching, beautiful, joyous, and incredibly well attended – we've walked St. Anne several times before, and seen the crowd reach 1,000, but this was surely 2,000 or more. To do it with friends from New York and Elsewhere and to see old friend meet new friend, my brother smiling again for the first time since "The Thing" (in fact to see almost EVERYONE smiling again)..well, those things are priceless.

To finally appear after the five hour march at Canal Street, and have the Rex parade just beginning ( a salute to Louisiana authors and books including a gigantic float of Ignatius P. Reilly) seemed flawless juju, as did the six straight days of perfect weather.

To be thanked so many times for coming to something that one wouldn't have missed for the world, to tip magnificently and often, to BE IN THAT NUMBER – even in our interesting and bohemian lives there aren't too many experiences like this. I will remember it all.

Like the sign said "N.O. is Eternal"
Read this from "The New Yorker" about what France has done for New Orleans --

This is hot too: "The French are offering six-week residencies in France for artists displaced by the flood."

NEW ORLEANS POSTCARD
CONSULAT D'INFLUENCE
by Dan Baum
Issue of 2006-03-06

At the corner of Prytania and First Street, in New Orleans, stands a brick mansion with a French tricolor drooping from the gable. Eleven days after the levees failed, last August, heavily armed federal agents were banging on doors all over the city to order a "mandatory evacuation," and the residents of the mansion were hastening to comply. A thin middle-aged man feverishly loaded file boxes into the back of a silver S.U.V. He introduced himself as Pierre Lebovics, France's consul-general, and sidestepped the question about whether he felt that his rights had been violated by the evacuation order. "You have your, your"”" he circled a hand impatiently in front of his face. "Your Bill of Rights, your Constitution." He flapped the hand dismissively and got behind the wheel. "I am going to Baton Rouge!" he shouted. "But I will return."

The house stayed empty for weeks, but recently Lebovics answered the door, in an open-necked shirt with a green cashmere sweater draped over his shoulders. Lebovics is fifty-four but looks much younger. He is serious to the point of dour, with longish dark curls and circular horn-rimmed glasses. "France opened its first consulate in the United States right here in New Orleans after the Louisiana Purchase, in 1803," he said as he sat himself primly on a red sofa. "But we have been in this house only since the nineteen-fifties."

Lebovics spent most of his life as a Russian scholar, and after becoming a diplomat he was assigned, with the logic of foreign ministries worldwide, to two non-Russian-speaking countries: Israel and the Czech Republic. He took over in New Orleans less than a month before Katrina hit, and, despite the chaos the storm has wrought, he relishes serving in this most French of American cities. "There is a part of French culture tinged with Cajun and Creole culture," he said. "These roots run very deep in France."

New Orleans has long been a tourist destination for the French, several of whom got a lesson, from Katrina, in how American the city also is. "The Saturday before the storm, I got a call from some French tourists who wanted to evacuate," Lebovics said. They went to the most logical place, for Europeans: the train station. "Someone had decided to close the railway station on the day they were telling people to evacuate. These tourists found that quite extraordinary."

Lebovics enumerated the ways in which France has come to the aid of New Orleans, including sending tons of food and supplies, a team of divers to help assess and repair damage to the port, and funds to reopen bilingual-immersion schools where young teachers from France, on loan to Louisiana, have for thirty years taught what Lebovics called "French French."

The French Minister of Culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, was the first foreign dignitary to visit New Orleans after the storm, and the government quickly decided that France could be most useful in helping to preserve the city's artistic attributes. A "solidarity" concert in Paris raised money for musicians; the Louvre, the Georges Pompidou Center, and the Musée d'Orsay are planning a major exhibition of French art at the New Orleans Museum of Art early next year. And the French government raised a million dollars for Louisiana schools. The French are offering six-week residencies in France for artists displaced by the flood. "The idea is to offer them good conditions"”lodging and a stipend, and contacts with people," Lebovics said. "A fresh oxygen."

Lebovics was looking forward to Mardi Gras this week; the mayor had invited him to be part of the delegation that welcomes Rex, the Mardi Gras king. "As Frenchmen, we are attached to whatever pertains to memory," he said. "When you're raised in a house and you move away, and you pass by forty years later, you remember. It is the same with Louisiana. Katrina provoked an immediate outpouring of emotion in France that came from a feeling that this state and this city"”we are attached to it. Whatever happened after the Purchase, we felt connected. This is a feeling you do not control. It was very fresh."



\http://www.newyorker.com/talk/content/articles/060306ta_talk_baum
Esteemed Empress and members of Krewe York

My apologies for missing the boat at 10 AM due to horrid jetlag and not being able to march with you. The pictures are absolutely splendid. I DID arrive at the Mississppi River for the very end of the festivities and chatted with (I think) Editrix Abby. I was expected to see Chi Chi and Johnny there, but the temperatures were absolutely steamy, and like any true Englishman I wilted and returned to the air conditioned bar where I spent most of that day and night.

I am so glad that krewe york inspired me to go on this journey. I fell in love with a tall Texas girl who could drink JD and coke at a rate even surpassing my own. I had my first jamberlaya and, heeding the old Jackie credo, tipped dollar for dollar on each round of drinks. (After all, its not a city in China..)

But mostly I just fell in love with New orleans - such beauty amidst the ruins. Shall we make it an annual?

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