lundi gras is for catching up…

wow, what a whirlwind it’s been.

when last i wrote, it was a few days before the mayoral election and the superbowl, and much anticipation was in the air. well, obviously, a lot has happened since then in new orleans.

first, rachel maddow came to town do a live broadcast of her show from the french quarter, the friday before the superbowl. i went down with d to check out the scene, only to find there really wasn’t much of a scene at all. when we arrived, there were about 20-25 folks hanging out on the corner of iberville and dauphine, chillin. there was a big boom camera in the middle of the street, the traffic was blocked at the corner so only iberville was passable, a big flat screen tv was set up showing the live programming on msnbc, and a small table was set up in the entrance of the ritz-carlton with many cocktail fixins on it. it took us a while to figure out that the majority of the show was actually to be shot on a balcony above us; they were shooting out the balcony doors with an msnbc logo projected onto the building across the street as the backdrop.

rachel did come out to take some photos and check out the set downstairs before the show went live, but she didn’t really address the audience. she is, however, just as dorky and cute as she appears to be on tv. when the show started above us, the crowd had grown a bit, and we all began chanting “who dat” and screaming rachel’s name; at the beginning of the show you can see she is amused and bewildered by our revelry below. every now and then they’d cut to live shots of the crowd down below via the camera on the street. i did manage to make it onto the screen a few times, as i was standing up on a ledge in front of the hotel across the street. (my friend diane in atlanta made this cute, silly video where you can see me and some of our other friends!)

rachel maddow show in the french quarter

at the end of the show, rachel came downstairs and did a segment with ti martin, proprietor of commander’s palace, on how to make a sazerac. that’s them above, in the pic. that was my view of the segment from the back of the crowd. i’m glad i made it down there for it, though it didn’t turn out to be what i expected at all. i got nowhere near rachel herself, but it was still fun to hang out with all the other dorky rachel fans and drink beer while watching the show. it was a great kickoff to superbowl/mardi gras weekend.

BERG in adonis

saturday of that weekend, fae rollerskated with the big easy rollergirls in adonis, a parade on the west bank. i had to drop her off at 9:30am way the hell down general de gaulle, and then kill a few hours before going back to watch the parade later in the afternoon. poor thing – it ended up being an eleven mile slog on a cold, windy, sunny day. she was so exhausted by the end, and got incredibly sunburnt. but it was fun to take in a west bank parade, something i’d never done in all my years here.

saturday was also our mayoral election, which largely got lost in all the superbowl/mardi gras hoopla. as everyone now knows, mitch landrieu won with a commanding 66% of the vote, winning all precincts except one in the city. though i knew my progressive candidate, james perry, wouldn’t probably win, i was sad and a little disappointed he didn’t get more votes. (he came in fifth.) but i am happy to know mitch is looking to bring james in to his administration. though i didn’t vote for him this time (i did the last two times he ran!), i am happy with mitch being our new mayor. i think it signifies a new era in the city’s political landscape, and i look forward to seeing what he can accomplish.

sunday was, of course, the superbowl. two weeks of raucous anticipation all came down to this day. after a quick (and cold!) scooter ride out to old metairie to eat some etouffe at my friend theresa’s tailgating party, fae and i headed to ponce de leon stadium to get our places for the big game. we arrived two hours before kickoff, so the game is a bit blurry to me, frankly, except the bigger plays and the last few minutes. when tracy porter intercepted manning for the touchdown that sealed the deal, i think we were all in shock. the last few minutes of play i was in disbelief, and then, it was over. we won!

it really happened!

after screaming and running around outside for ten or fifteen minutes, we finally managed to collect everyone in the back of my friend heather’s truck and we followed mac in her convertible, also filled with friends, downtown to join all the crazy who dats. we started down canal but soon turned around because traffic was at a standstill, heading back to claiborne and winding through the treme to get to the marigny. it was so much fun to drive through all the neighborhoods and see everyone out on their porches and in the streets, screaming “who dat!” and high-fiving and hugging. folks kept running up to the truck to high-five all of us, sometimes hanging on to the tailgate of the truck, riding with us for a while.

who dat!

that pic above was actually on our way out of the quarter, but was pretty representative of our night. i shot some really short videos of us on canal street, on bourbon street, and when we were leaving the marigny that night, that do a decent job of capturing the energy. it was magical and beautiful and i’m so glad i was here and able to witness it all.

amidst all this chaos, the new orleans craft mafia was afforded an amazing opportunity to do a one-week pop-up shop at 2038 magazine street (former home of winky’s, which abruptly went out of business and pulled out of that space). nocm members unique products have their permanent shop in the upstairs loft of that building, and so offered to the rest of us to do the one-week market in that space for mardi gras/valentine’s shopping, as the new tenants wouldn’t be coming in until the 1st. so monday morning, after the superbowl win, with hangovers, of course, we all schlepped our stuff down and set up in the space.

new orleans craft mafia's mardi gras market

today is actually the last day we’ll be open there, 12pm – 5pm. i’m heading over there in just a bit to help out. i was there a lot at the beginning of last week but haven’t been back since thursday so not sure how it’s been through the busy mardi gras/valentine’s weekend, but the beginning of the week was slow but steady. makes me wish we had a retail outlet all the time.

back to the recap: tuesday night was the saints superbowl parade, which was absolutely crazy. i went with our friend dave who was in town from louisville for a few days; he got to be here for the superbowl and the saints parade, but missed out on muses due to the weather-induced rescheduling. he and i had to park on canal street at galvez and WALK down to girod at st. charles in the cbd to watch the parade. the traffic was insane (estimated at 800,000 in the downtown area for the parade), but i was sure glad on the way out that we had done that. as parades go, the saint parade wasn’t much to speak of – not many throws, nothing exciting, borrowed floats from all the other crews. but it was exciting to welcome our football heroes back to town after gracing us with that spectacular win, and it was just yet one more magical moment in a season of magical moments that i was glad to be part of. (i forgot my camera that night, and cell phone pics didn’t come out, so no photos.)

we skipped the wednesday night parade due to exhaustion, and then everything was cancelled on thursday due to the bad weather. i was actually relieved to have a night off from the cold and some down time at home. but then friday night was a marathon. four parades! i dropped fae off uptown, as she was walking with BERG again in muses, early around 6pm; came back home for a while to kill time and then headed back down when the parade tracker told me the first parade was nearing our girod street location. the parking gods smiled on me and i got a spot two blocks from our viewing spot. despite the biting cold, it was a fun evening of parades, with hermes and d’etat being great lead-ins to muses. (morpheus kinda sucked, but three outta four ain’t bad.)

endymion captain's float

saturday was endymion. it’s been a long time since i watched endymion over on orleans, but this year, thanks to d, we had a private yard that was fenced in to hang out in, on the corner of david street. so fae scootered and heather and i rode bicycles and we had our lawn chairs and some adult beverages and a port-o-let and it was all very civilized. i didn’t catch a whole lot but it was still fun and nice to not be stepped on by the crazy mobs of parade-watchers and bead-catchers.

we skipped parades on sunday in favor of a relaxing valentine’s day devoid of mardi gras.

and that brings me up to date. today i must go work a bit in the shop and then break down my stuff and bring it home, and also figure out if i’m to have a costume for tomorrow. (it’s not looking like it – no time!)

thanks for reading, and i’m sure i’ll have a post-mardi gras update in a few days. happy mardi gras everyone!

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