Mardi Gras

Monday, February 17, 2014

Y@ Speak: extreme makeover

Posted By on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Pierre the Pelican underwent reconstructive beak surgery to host The Tonight Show, the New Orleans Arena was Christened Smoothie King Center in time for the 2014 NBA All-Star weekend, Nike rolled out "gumbo" shoes, dachsunds replaced horses in races, and Krewe du Vieux revealed true colors — oh, and Ray Nagin may be wearing zebra stripes. That and more in this week's makeover edition of Y@ Speak.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Watch The Whole Gritty City online

Posted By on Sun, Feb 16, 2014 at 7:33 PM

If you were out NBA-ing and Krewe du Vieuxing last night, you missed CBS News' documentary The Whole Gritty City.

Alex Woodward wrote a feature last October about the making of The Whole Gritty City:

The film follows three marching bands from local schools — O. Perry Walker High School, L.E. Rabouin High School and the Roots of Music — from 2007 to 2010, as the bands emerge after Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods, face violence in the streets and triumph on Carnival parade routes.

  The film also gives an intimate glimpse inside the lives of several band members. There's 11-year-old Jaron "Bear" Williams, a prodigy mourning the shooting death of his older brother. There's 18-year-old drum major Chris "Skully" Lee, who is taking the reins of his school's new band following the death of its director. Then there are the band directors dedicated to putting on the best show ever while helping their students build a better future.

Watch it here.

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Krewe du Vieux went "Where the Vile Things Are"

Posted By on Sun, Feb 16, 2014 at 4:52 PM

"Where the Vile Things Are" — at the 2014 Krewe du Vieux parade. - REX DUKE
  • "Where the Vile Things Are" — at the 2014 Krewe du Vieux parade.

Last night's Krewe du Vieux parade in the Faubourg Marigny and French Quarter was everything KdV is supposed to be — homemade, raucous, joyously obscene, relentlessly satirical and not for kids.

Its 17 subkrewes (Krewe of C.R.U.D.E., Krewe of Space Age Love, Krewe of Underwear, Seeds of Decline, Krewe of Mama Roux, Krewe of L.E.W.D., Krewe of Drips and Discharges, Krewe of K.A.O.S., Knights of Mondu, T.O.K.I.N., Krewe Rue Bourbon, Krewe de C.R.A.P.S., Mystic Krewe of Spermes, Mystik Krewe of Comatose, Mystic Krewe of Inane, Krewe du Mishigas, and Krewe of SPANK) outdid themselves with 17 outrageous themes. All the floats actually seemed to be completed and in good working order, too — never a given at Krewe du Vieux.

"Mitchey Mayor" welcomed the crowd to "Dizneylandrieu," and his "Mitchkateers" distributed maps "to every mayor-approved adventure in the Gentrified Kingdom." - REX DUKE
  • "Mitchey Mayor" welcomed the crowd to "Dizneylandrieu," and his "Mitchkateers" distributed maps "to every mayor-approved adventure in the Gentrified Kingdom."

The evening's gold medal, however (and perhaps Carnival's gold medal) had to go to SPANK's "Dizneylandrieu," a float featuring "Mitchey Mayor" wearing mouse ears and a "New Orleans Will" T-shirt in front of a St. Louis Cathedral that had been transformed into Disney's Cinderella's Castle.

A few dozen "Mitchkateers" accompanied the float, handing out brochures that detailed the many lands in "Dizneylandrieu" (Mitchey's Toon Town, Jacked-Up Square, Crotch Country and HIpsterland among them), with rides like "Big Freedia's Bounce That Ass House," the "NOPD Brass Band Beat Down," "Rich Hippies in WholePaycheckLand," "Marlin's Playhouse," "The Enchanted Mimi Room Angry Neighbor Jamboree" and "It's a White World, Sponsored by Mitchey Mayor."

Below the cut: other images from Rex's camera.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Rex Duke's Mardi Gras photo contest

Posted By on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Mardi Gras parades kick off in earnest this weekend, and I am hosting Gambit's first-ever Carnival photo contest.

It couldn't be easier to enter. Just tag your Mardi Gras parade and costume photos with @RexDukeGambit or #RexDukeGambit on Twitter and Instagram.

We'll publish and retweet some of the best, and all entries will eligible to win the grand prize: a stay at The Saint Hotel.

For complete rules, see the contest page — and be sure to follow me on Twitter at @RexDukeGambit. (Note: I am not responsible for any tweets I may issue due to inebriation or general Carnival excitement.)

Happy Mardi Gras!

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Brewsday Tuesday: Carnival-themed beer just in time for Mardi Gras

Posted By on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Bayou Teche's Courir de Mardi Gras beer is adorned in traditional Carnival colors. - NORA MCGUNNIGLE
  • Bayou Teche's Courir de Mardi Gras beer is adorned in traditional Carnival colors.

Since Carnival is a tradition all over Louisiana, it stands to reason that breweries around the state honor the season by creating beers specifically for the Mardi Gras season.

Bayou Teche’s Courir de Mardi Gras is a biere de mars, which is a variety of the French farmhouse style of biere de garde. First brewed in 2012, its bottle and six-pack holder depicts a rider on horseback wearing the traditional Cajun Mardi Gras costume, and the beer itself has a toasty malt flavor boosted by a touch of refreshing wheat and subtly soft hop spiciness. It can be found on various parade routes at the Avenue Pub, Ole Saint, and Lagers in Metairie.

Abita’s Mardi Gras Bock is the brewery’s homage to the traditional German maibocks of spring. At 6.5% ABV, the malty and full bodied bock kicks off Abita’s annual seasonal cycle of five beers brewed specifically for maximum enjoyment throughout the year. It can be found along the parade route at Samuel’s Blind Pelican, Irish House, and Superior Seafood.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Roman Candy Rum available in groceries now

Posted By on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 4:23 PM

Roman Candy Rum, a liquid tribute to Sam Cortese's nearly century-old molasses taffy treat, is now available at Rouses, Dorignac's and Acquistapace's in the candy's three traditional flavors: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Roman Candy Rum recipes are also featured on the company's Facebook page.

As you may recall, this isn't the first time a traditional New Orleans sweet got a high-proof makeover. King cake vodka, now produced by three distillers (Lucky Player, Taaka and Pinnacle), was pretty popular during Carnival 2012, even though many folks likened it to almond flavoring. Select New Orleans Original Daiquiris locations even sell king cake daiquiris made from Taaka's version.

Gambiteers prepare for the tasting. - JEANIE RIESS
  • Gambiteers prepare for the tasting.

(Drinking suggestions and tasting remarks below the jump.)

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So what are you supposed to be?

Posted By on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 12:48 PM

The Riddles of Existence are new playing cards by Dalt Wonk.
  • The Riddles of Existence are new playing cards by Dalt Wonk.

The writer, illustrator and former Gambit theater critic Dalt Wonk once found himself confronted by a Duena, the Pope and the Whore of Babylon all on a Mardi Gras day. All three of them were male. "It knocked me out," he says. "The Whore of Babylon had a big belly and was fabulous."

Costumes, he explains in a brief introduction to his new set of oversized playing cards, The Riddles of Existence, are visual riddles to solve, and Mardi Gras costumes are some of the most complex and original. The cards can be played in a group or alone and feature original watercolors and quatrains by Wonk, who says, coyly, "I am not a visual artists, but I can do something that has a certain amount of charm if I stay within my limits."

One of the threesome he encountered, the pope (who was really the writer Henri Schindler in disguise), took Wonk to Tulane's Howard-Tilton Memorial Library to see a collection of watercolors from Mardi Gras past. "The crews, up until the great depression, they spent a lot of money, and they used to employ artists," says Wonk. "The same artists would stay with the same crew for decades and they would design the floats, which were much smaller than they are nowadays, pulled by mules, and lit by flambeau. It must have been just amazing."

"These things were sensational," he adds. "You could pick them up and put them in your hand. You had the feeling that the people who did this would be famous if they were in Paris or something."

The trip to the library sent Wonk painting, and without thinking he began letting the characters in his paintings introduce themselves, something they always did in quatrains. "I didn't know what I was doing but I was looking at it, and I said this is very odd," says Wonk. "I thought the character in the drawing was introducing himself but in this difficult way. I came up with a whole bunch of these things and I had no idea what they were."

Soon a friend and his six year-old daughter came to visit, and the little girl drove Wonk crazy with a book of riddles she kept reading from. He realized then that his project was a collection of riddles. "What works for kids always goes deep in some way," he says.

The set of cards is available through Luna Press and Wonk will be at the Ogden Museum's After Hours Thursday, Feb. 20 from 6-8 p.m. to explain the game and answer questions. He hopes people will play the cards and argue about the right answers, something made easier by an answer card included in the stack (though the answers themselves aren't in any particular order; it's more like a word bank). He also hopes the stack of cards will inspire costumes come Mardi Gras day. "Costumes," he says, "Or something original."

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Detours and schedule changes for public transit during Mardi Gras

Posted By on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 5:10 PM


The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has announced its plans for moving people around town during the Mardi Gras season.

On Mardi Gras itself, bus lines will run their Saturday schedules and the Canal and Loyola streetcars will run their weekday schedules.

The Riverfront streetcar will run every 10 minutes. The St. Charles Avenue streetcar will be replaced by bus service, and all bus lines that come to or cross Canal Street will be detoured.

(More details under the jump)

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Krewe of Tucks throws: Bedazzled toilet brushes and more

Posted By on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 4:17 PM

The Krewe of Tucks is back with its signature bathroom-themed throws: decorated toilet brushes, Tucks toilet tissue, a plunger — and a not-exactly-bathroom-themed football. - JEANIE RIESS
  • The Krewe of Tucks is back with its signature bathroom-themed throws: decorated toilet brushes, Tucks toilet tissue, a plunger — and a not-exactly-bathroom-themed football.

You could use the throws from this year's Krewe of Tucks parade as bathroom cleaning equipment, but you wouldn't want to (unless in the case of dire emergency). These jeweled toilet scepters are part of this year's throws and reflect the parade's traditional toilet humor, with a dash of glitz and glam a la the Krewes of Muses and Nyx and the trend of handcrafted goodies.

The krewe's theme is "The Sportin' Life"and among the throws is a fun ball gun with which you might be able to peg some unsuspecting friend if you're lucky enough to catch one during the parade (and you have steady aim). Some of the throws are wearable, so keep them for future parades, especially the light-up headband which will look pretty stellar at night.

Tucks is scheduled to roll at noon on Saturday, March 1.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Rex Organization announces Mardi Gras theme: "Gods of All Ages"

Posted By on Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 2:21 PM

One of the Rex Organization's new beads for its 2014 parade, along with a streetcar-themed souvenir cup and doubloons bearing images from its theme "Gods of All Ages." - REX DUKE
  • One of the Rex Organization's new beads for its 2014 parade, along with a streetcar-themed souvenir cup and doubloons bearing images from its theme "Gods of All Ages."

This year's Rex parade theme will be "Gods of All Ages," the Rex Organization announced this afternoon at its traditional lunch at Antoine's Restaurant.

In addition to the organization's signature floats like the Boeuf Gras ("Boeufy") and the Butterfly King (which was added in 2012), this year's floats (27 in all) will feature deities from around the world through time, including Set, the Egyptian god of wind and storms (represented by a hippo) and Yama, the Hindu god of the dead. "It's a marvelous array of mythological gods and goddesses," said Henri Schindler, Rex's artistic director.

As was first done last year, each float will have its own signature set of beads. Other throws will include streetcar-themed cups, bracelets and pillows ("Rex Transit Authority"). Last year the organization tossed 160,000 pounds of throws to spectators. The 2014 Rex proclamation, created by local artist Layla Messkoub, features the traditional Rex crown but is rendered in multi-media, a first for the organization. 

The Pro Bono Publico Foundation, founded by Rex members after Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods, awarded $750,000 in grants in 2013, mostly to support the renewal of New Orleans' public schools.

Rex rolls on its traditional Uptown route at 10 a.m. Mardi Gras, beginning at S. Claiborne and Napoleon Avenues. This will be the 133rd parade in Rex's 141-year history. In keeping with tradition, the identity of Rex will be kept a secret until the final weekend of Carnival.

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