To me, the combination of marshmallow. graham cracker and chocolate means S’mores. But, it seems that in the South, this magical combination also equals the ever-popular Moon Pie. Don’t roll your eyes, but I have never had the pleasure of enjoying a Moon Pie, and even though there are Mardi Gras krewes that are known for throwing this treat out to avid parade-goers, I’ve never caught one either.
It was within the pages of books that my love affair with New Orleans (and the South in general) took root. Inhaling the scent of ink and bound paper, I would loose myself in stories like Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. But perhaps the most influential author of all would have to be Anne Rice. Her descriptions of New Orleans in Interview with a Vampire, Feast of All Saints and my favorite, The Witching Hour, painted a city that I didn’t believe could exist in the real world, especially not in the U.S.
And then I came to see it for myself.
Although it took moving here to discover all the city has to offer (as a tourist I was stuck on Bourbon Street), it wasn’t long before the depth and soul of New Orleans revealed herself to me in all of her splendor. Rice’s descriptions came to life under my feet and before my eyes, and I thank her for sharing it with me. Everything she so thoroughly painted was actually real and I’m still not convinced her vampires and witches are fictional.
Well, enough of all that emotional blather. My whole point in telling you all this was that it seems that one of Rice’s former abodes just happens to be for sale. Located on St. Charles Avenue on the corner of Amelia Street lies this awe-inspiring, 130-year-old Victorian mansion with six bedrooms, seven bathrooms and over 7500 square feet of living space. The house features a large porch and gallery, super-tall ceilings, hardwood floors, vintage stained glass windows, detailed mouldings and woodwork and stunning crystal chandeliers. The expansive, green and growing grounds are enclosed by a classic wrought-iron fence and includes several fountains surrounded by well-kept gardens. The house is smack on the parade route and right across the street from some of the strongest margarita’s in the city. Only $2,650,000 could buy you one of the most luxurious, entertainment-centered abodes in town and who knows what celebrities might swoop in for a visit. Any takers?
I realize I haven’t posted in quite a few days. I suppose I could blame it on all sorts of things; work, errands, an irritating, yet lingering bout of depression and self-hate, angst, a sooner-than-expected beginning of allergy season, money troubles, car problems, the rain…
Can I just blame it on Mardi Gras?
Krewe du Vieux was the first Mardi Gras parade I had ever experienced. A guy I had met online (and whose name I cannot recall) finally convinced me to go out with him and for our first date, he wanted to take me to see Krewe du Vieux. Still a little wary, I asked my friend Shalom to meet us down there for the parade. The fellow (let’s call him “Joe”) picked me up at my apartment on Harmony Street and drove excitedly, vibrating, eyes alight with what was in store. His sweaty hand would grip mine at stoplights to get my attention as he described yet another aspect of his favorite parade. Much to my dismay, he also had no qualms about telling me to “try and act like a local” or I wouldn’t be taken seriously.
As the car inched ever closer to our destination, I couldn’t help thinking I had made a gargantuan mistake. Joe was starting to freak me out with his crazy level of anxiety and demanding nature which was never previously evident through text. I heaved a huge sigh of relief when we got out of the car and rushed (he was almost speed-walking) to where we were going to meet Shalom and her husband Kevin — in front of what was the Matador on the corner of Esplanade and Decatur. Joe was practically hopping from foot-to-foot and complaining that we would never “score a good spot” if we were late, even though (as I later discovered) we were only a block from our destination. I tried to encourage him to go ahead and that we would catch up with him later, but he was emphatic about how we might never find the spot without him.
To my great relief, Shalom and Kevin arrived in a few short minutes and we proceeded to the bar of Joe’s choice, Aunt Tiki’s (although it wasn’t Aunt Tiki’s then…does anyone recall it’s former name?). From there my “date” went even further downhill as Joe not only proceeded to ignore me, he drank drinks we all bought for him and never offered up a round and never even offered to buy me a drink!
What saved this evening, you ask? The parade! Krewe du Vieux was so much fun with their sexually explicit costumes, flaunting mammoth phalli and politically incorrect quips. I later learned to appreciate the intimacy of the parade, where the Krewes walk behind the small, horse-drawn floats as opposed to riding superciliously on top. Hands reach out to grasp hands in the crowd, offer a high-five or perhaps a throw while some of the best brass bands in the city set a funky beat for the erratic marchers and watchers to dance in the streets and revel in the beginning of Carnival season.
Regardless of my terribly rude date, it was not difficult to have the time of my life sharing cocktails with my friends and offering up my best “WOOHOOO!” for the KdV. I have only missed one Krewe du Vieux parade since that fateful day…
This year’s theme celebrated the Krewe’s anniversary with the theme “25 Years Wasted” with Don Marshall, Jazz & Heritage Festival Executive Director, as King. Though I took a ton of photos this year, here are a few of my favorites:
|Don Marshall – King of Krewe du Vieux 2011|
|It wouldn’t be KdV if they didn’t poke fun at the spill…|
|I mentioned the huge phalli, right? WOOOOO!|
There are a whole slew of reasons I am excited about Mardi Gras this year. For example, my weight loss combined with the skills of the most wonderful chiropractor in the world (Ky’s Chiropractic Clinic, 2926 Canal Street) has enabled me to walk for a minimum of ten blocks without any back or hip pain. HOORAY! For the first time in years I will be able to enjoy the parades without being an ornery ass (John is all smiles about that) and without the need for alcohol to numb the pain. Now I can just drink to get drunk!
Additionally, since my work schedule has drastically altered and I am not stuck in an office all day long, I can get out to the route early, save my spot and scream for beads till my voice gives out.
To start the season right, for this week’s cheat, I have already planned my dessert! Ziggy Cichowski, the master of pastry at Maple Street Patisserie (7638 Maple Street), has created some gorgeous King Cakes that are already selling off the shelves. I have pre-ordered a Bavarian Cream beauty for this Thursday, but they are also featuring other flavors like cinnamon, praline pecan and some fruit-filled wonders like strawberry and blueberry. Let King Cake season begin!