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Krewe du Vieux celebrates New Orleans' birthday with 'Bienville's Wet Dream' 

Richard Campanella reigns as the satirical krewe’s king Jan. 27

click to enlarge Krewe du Vieux celebrates New Orleans' birthday with 
'Bienville's Wet Dream'

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

Krewe du Vieux celebrates New Orleans' birthday with 'Bienville's Wet Dream'

In 2016, Krewe du Vieux celebrated its 30th parade with a profane, triple-X rated birthday party. In 2017, its post-election catharsis gleefully mocked the new administration. This year, under the rule of King Richard Campanella, the satirical parade (dis)honors the 300th anniversary of the city's founding with "Bienville's Wet Dream" — a three-way pun saluting Campanella's book Bienville's Dilemma, the Frenchman who discovered the Mississippi River's crescent bend to be named La Nouvelle-Orleans, and, of course, nocturnal emissions. The parade's 32nd annual procession begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27.

  Campanella — a geographer and historian whose work across 10 books and roughly 200 articles explores the complex relationships among people and places, and how one often influences the other — tells Gambit his royal decree is "that we make it to 400 years. Hell, even 350."

  "Frankly, after all the turmoil of the past 12 years, after all the tragedy and triumph, all the lows and highs, I think stabilization will be the tone for the next few years," Campanella says. "The 'new normal' is no longer new; now it's just normal."

  Krewe du Vieux's 17 subkrewes will satirize the city's landmark occasion, from Spermes' "300 Years in the Wet Spot" and Underwear's "300 years of Ineptitude" to Seeds of Decline's "The Besh is Yet to Come." Others explore our more modern state of dysfunction; Krewe of SPANK will tour our "SPANKtuary City," and CRUDE salutes our permanently clogged bliss with "Wee Wee Mon Sewer." (Campanella won't reveal his float's details: "If I told you, I'd have to guillotine you.")

  The krewe's 2018 route begins at Chartres and Marigny streets, moves to Franklin Avenue and up Royal Street to Frenchmen Street before winding through the French Quarter and ending at 517 Toulouse St. for its ball, featuring Khris Royal and the Big Booty Express and Morning 40 Federation (tickets $50).

  Despite his royal role in Carnival history during the city's tricentennial celebration, Campanella says he sees himself "as an observer and documenter of this place and society" more than an active participant. "So yes, it does feel strange," he says, "as if local culture finally got ahold of me and pulled me in."

  For a hangover cure, Campanella recommends "plenty of water — which, not coincidentally, is also what our deltaic soils need."

  For information about the parade and ball, visit www.kreweduvieux.org.

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