Friday, March 25, 2011

The Mardi Gras Indians

I had never witnessed the Mardi Gras Indians before this year, but now I'm hooked. I had always heard of them but never really paid attention. To be honest, I thought they were just a bunch of drunks hopping around in cheaply made suits. It wasn't until I read Dan Baum's book Nine Lives that I started to gain an interest in this truly unique tradition.

This past Sunday was "Super Sunday", the Sunday closest to St. Joseph's Day each year when all the different Indian tribes meet in the street to have a giant dance off. Apparently it used to be quite a violent affair until Chief "Tootie" Montana came along and changed the entire culture and tradition of the Indians. Now, instead of violence, the different tribes challenge each other with the "prettiness" of their suits.

These men will spend the better part of the year constructing these elaborate suits, and these suits are by no means cheap. In fact, they're beautiful pieces of art. These pictures will not even do them justice. It is something that needs to be seen in person.

I was only able to make about 20 minutes of it but was able to see a lot. It is a whole family affair. Little kids we decked out in full dress...entire families marched and chanted. It was really cool to witness. And the atmosphere was really great too. There were a ton of people out, and the police were everywhere but stayed out of the way (something that has not always been the case).

Anyway, here are a few photos from Super Sunday 2011. Unfortunately these pics cannot do these suits justice, so plan to see them on your own one day. More can be seen here. And read the book Nine Lives- it is a really great insight to some really interesting people who call New Orleans home.

Ice blue.


Beautiful colors.

Little Indian man.

Butterfly suit.

Raging bull.

Little Mohican.

I'll fly away...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Characters of Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras means many different things to many different people. Some people love the tradition. Some people love the parades. Some people love the boobs (typically manchildren). Some people love any excuse to get drunk during the day. Some people love the brass bands (who doesn't?). And some people who live here can't wait to get outta town for the week. Let's face it- so many years of the crowds, belligerently drunks, piles of horse dung, and puddles of vomit can be a bit much.

But something that never gets old is the age old sport of people watching. It never fails to amaze me the lengths people are willing to go to dress up and impress other Mardi Gras goers. The people in this town
never need an excuse to drink or dress up, but if there ever was a need for one, Mardi Gras would be it. This is my favorite part of carnival...the crazy characters.

Here are a few of my favorite characters from Mardi Gras of this year.
You can find many more in this collection here.