Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mardi Gras Part I

Mardi Gras took me by surprise.  I'm not a party person, so i just assumed i'd lay low, practice my fiddle, sleep in.....mmmmmm.....

Thursday night, Muses; one of the Big parades that passes through the wealthy uptown neighborhoods.  There's a science to proper parading, involving the logistics of getting yourself through parade traffic to the parade start, and ensuring your transport home at the parade's end. I rode my bike to the parade's end on the glitzed out Canal Street and met up with John David. We took an interminable busride through the parade route traffic to the end of its abbreviated route, a mile from the parade's start.  The final mile was a treat, viewing floats, ogling dance troupes, riding on the mounting energy in the streets.  

Muses Naughty Floats

We made it to the meet up point for Bloco Seirea, the Brazilian drum and dance troupe that i'd been praticing with and began the 2 hour spree of final costume touches-face painting-whiskey to stay warm-dashes into winn dixie for /last minute supplies/pee breaks.  The winn dixie was teeming with feathered folks, sequined, shining in different colors and themed costumes.  It was like a colorful carnival caravan had exploded in the middle of your local grocery store.  

finally we got the word that it was time to fall in; we were the parade's caboose in front of the final float.  the drums kicked off and we launched into our choreography.  people screamed and cheered for us.  We were a cloud of blue, metallic shine, LED lights dancing through the streets.  our supply truck followed behind towing a flat bed truck with a beautifully decorated portapotty and coolers full of snacks and water.  we stumbled through the choreography, then grew more confident and soon we were one united block of drum and movement, ecstatically moving through the street.  For.  four.  HOURS!!!!! of solid dancing.  i took a couple of breaks, sitting on the flat bed and pretending i was a float rider, resting and eating clementines.  people smiled and waved at me, delighted at the quirkiness of riding on a portapotty float.  towards the end we got a block of free dance and the energy surged through me, of this amazing music, of the night, the people cheering us on, LIFE.  45 degrees warm we arrived, exhausted and ecstatic, at the end.  

Friday, rest day.  

Iris Float
Saturday--up early and with a plan and backpack full of supplies. biking through the quiet morning,wheels crunching on last nights beads.  bike locked at the parade's end (today:  Tucks).  a quiet and speedy busride, pre-parade, to uptown.  a bus stop stool seat as i ate my sandwich in sequined booty shorts.  Iris parade gathers, and I enjoyed being a spectator for 30 minutes cheering on the High School bands and ducking under the flying beads.  Then, heading to the parade-start for Tucks to linger with my fellow orange and blue clad dancers.  wandering to the nearby park, a staging ground for at least 10 different HS bands as they battled, breaking into their finest numbers, overlapping one another starting as one concluded.  confident, sassy girls whipping through choreography.  electric.  

High Schoolers on the March

parade kicks off; finding the motley crew of panoramblers, jazz/balkan/klezmer brass brand extraordinaire.  we kick off early in the parade, cutesy choreo in our small band of sass and sequins.  parading and prancing through the sunny day, warm.  relaxed, leisurely breaks on St. Charles.  shakin it.  a pleasant pace, people love us.  Tired and happy, we arrive back to Canal Street and the parade's finish. Seems like the right time to view an entire parade so i linger and cheer on the remaining paraders as they round the final bend; beleaguered High School marching bands, having marched 5 miles with their instruments and their pride.  accidentally catch a throw; giant rubber snake that i wind around my bike.  endless parade--another hour but i'm committed to seeing at least one of these giant spectacle parades despite my aching feet.  finally, chill sets in as evening comes on and i don my layers for the bike ride home, shining and happy.  must.  sleep.  

My fellow revelers at dawn
The Mudlark Theatre
Home; with a plan to sleep early and wake at dawn for Eris, the secret witches parade rumoured to end at The End of The World.   A live wire, I drift excitedly in an out of sleep for a few hours, and eventually awake promptly at 1am.  New outfit; layers and sparkles and flowers.  To the Mudlark Theatre, where folks are cuddled on the floor for the midnight nap time show.  Sweet Harp music and a live reading from Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics.  Around 4am, the mystically costumed creatures begin to gather in front of the theatre.  Grocery

sunrise bagpipes
 cart floats and a somber brass band fall in and we parade through the middle of the night mist and chill, down to the river, through the french quarter  where we briefly merge with the dregs of the middle of the night revelers, back to the river where we get briefly separated by a passing train, then reunite at the river front.  my group remains for the sunrise; as the orange breaks over the Mississippi, a bagpipe's keening wail floats out over the water.  home and joaquin cooks us shrimp and grits.  tired happy rest.  

post eris revelers at dawn

To be continued in next post....

Mardi Gras Part II

and...awake! Just hours later at 11am!  Rallying for Box of Wine, another secret pop up parade that steals the main uptown route briefly, in-between the giant official parades  i bike through town, weaving around tourists and skirting the parade route, spotting other secret revelers painted in gold en route, distinctly separate from the out-of-towners in their green/purple/gold hats and bead poundage weighing down their necks.  a brief biker gang, we separate again in uptown and i abandon my bike at john david's house, changing back into my sequins.  i call out to passing orange-blue bikers if they know the starting intersection for this mini-parade, and john david joins me for the stroll over through the sweetly calm and sunny afternoon.  crossing the parade route madness, I find my way over to the freaks and geeks artistic BOX OF WINE madness.  This parade paves the way for the superkrewe Bacchus by filling everyone's cup from their boxes of wine. Joyful and motely, we steal the route for a brief time with our antics and music.  People are surprised, delighted, reinvigorated for the final parade of the day on this 4 parade marathon.  

The zulu king grants a painted coconut to his fans
Monday, Lundi Gras.  a bag packed and a bike ride to the waterfront park for Zulu fest; bands, and so much soul food.  dancing by the riverboat, fried catfish, okra, peach cobblers. The Zulu King blesses his fans with the most coveted throw: gold painted coconuts.  i purchase my food (catfish poboy, okra and rice, peach cobbler), preparing for a good tuck in before the days adventures.  a towering black man in a track suit says "how you gonna eat all that food???  you'll have to roll down the street afterward!"  we chat about where we're from and his daughters.  after eating, I bike over to the marigny/bywater for the red bean parade;  a sweet and low key local scene.  Intensely creative bean based bead work outfits mingle with a mariachi band, the Treme Brass Band and  parade slowly along, stopping frequently for dance parties in the street.  

terrible shot of the flotilla before my phone died
I break off on esplanade, and head up to city park to catch the Slow Danger Brass Band flotilla parade. John David joins me and a kind boater invites us into his small watercraft. Climbing aboard he offers us brandy, a flag to wave, and endless stream of enthusiasm.  Floating down the Bayou St. John, brass band to one side, surrounded by pirate ships and fellow vessels ducking under bridges loaded with cheering dancing freaks and revelers.  At the final bridge, fireworks are lit and  a couple makes out heavily in the flotilla beside us.  

Mardi Gras Day! An early wake up call from our 9th Ward neighborhood Mardi Gras Indians as they wander the streets shouting “Wake up!!! Its Mardi Gras day!!!” We are a houseful of electric excitement, everyone outfitting, joaquin making eggs and biscuits that we all try and choke down.   I head to the bywater to St. Anne's parade; beautiful costumed people filling the streets.  A stop at Audrey's for a second breakfast of beans and rice.  People wander, parade, linger.  Noah from Noah's arc/bar offers me a bloody mary and i accept.  Later, king cake vodka and sweet chat with middle aged man from buffalo.  I find the bloco seirea mini-groups and free-form samba with those pulsing drums down the street, through the quarter.  We take a break and i get my face painted by fellow Seiriean.  We break off for food, then head up to the Treme and chase the indians where they confronting each other with ritual dance in the streets.  Finally, walking back down to the quarter for Brazilian music and floating home through the endless revelry in the streets.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

part deux

Another noteworthy day yesterday.  i just love the pace of life around here--so friendly, relaxed, yet focussed on creative endeavors with a passion and tenacity that is inspiring.

yesterday began with a stop at the mask and costume sale at the St. Claude healing arts.  AMAZING and beautiful work; head pieces, masks, costumes.  mostly hand made by the vendors.  after drooling over it all for awhile i succeeded in extracting myself and biked over to Armstrong Park, the staging ground for Barkus,  the all dog Mardi Gras parade (the name is a play on the well-renowned Krewe of Bacchus).   \  there was a band, food for sale, and so many adorable dogs decked out in tutus, beads, little costumes; even some luck float-riders!  i wandered around taking pictures for my dog-loving friends. then headed into the garden district/downtown area.
Jackie O.


the day was warm and sunny, pleasant for biking.  pretty soon though i got completely tied up in the downtown parade route--with parade route consolidation, there can be as many as 5 parades that run through the same area, one after the other.  i got trapped on the wrong side of the barricade.  paused for  a minute to check out a high school marching band playing and marching ultra-tight, and to see the baby dolls.  eventually i managed to get across the barricade and make my way over to the levee for the final samba practice.

everyone looked awesome for the dress rehearsal; bright turquoise, silver, gold, with fabulous headpieces and tassels hanging everywhere....we marched and danced through the streets followed by our 25 person strong drum corps and people came out of their houses to watch, whoop, cheer us on.  it was exhausting to keep that high energy dancing going but the people cheering gave me a notable energy boost.

after practice, i caught the bus back to the treme, and couldn't help stopping in at the yellow pocahantos mardi gras indian practice.  the energy in there is just so infections and hypnotizing.  i can't get enough.  then biking back to my neighborhood, there was another surprise mardi gras indian practice outside st. roch market!  they even had an enormous headdress with them.

the culture here is so complex, rich and unique.  people care for each other in very sweet ways; even strangers on the street.  there's a laid back attitude about time that can mean that things start anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour late.  Bars and venues frequently serve free or cheap food, so its hard to go hungry for very long.  AND, many streets aren't fully paved, many houses are still quietly molding or half torn down, healthy food can be hard to come by.  Crime is an issue (though not for me so far....)

But the joy and love that spills out of people is infectious and exhilarating.  i've never felt anything else quite like it, and i'm having pre-nostalgia for it already.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

New Orleans

My life is so special and i am so so lucky.

today, i woke up feeling horrible (physically).  i meditated for an hour, texted with my sister for a bit, meditated for another hour, ate some oatmeal with dates and kumquats and took a hoooot bath.

Then i got hopped on my sweet borrowed 1970's upright fendered bike and road across town, 8 miles on a brusque, sunny winter day.  i met cello friend in uptown, at the live oak cafe---a sweet bustling local foody cafe.  we split new orleans comfort foods--banana pancakes with chantilly cream and candied pecans, huevos rancheros.  talked about plectrum based instruments and harp tunings and just enjoying the good company.  and DELICIOUS food.  a man played harp in the corner. cute dogs outside.  the bustle around us slowly quieting down during the hour.

then heading a few blocks south to the levee for samba dance troupe practice.  it was warm enough to be barefoot.  january 24.  bare soles on grass.  someone gave me a lovely dancey skirt to use for the parade, and we practiced the dances in our formation.  kristina and eze surprised me, delight!

end of practice and a mad dash for the bus--seeing it just pulling away and chasing it on my bike for blocks until it stopped at a red light and i begged the driver to let me on.  aaaahhh so happy to be seated and warm.  to basin st. lounge for mardi gras indian practice, pausing at the bar across the street for fried fish and fries, freshly greased and steaming.  then the intensity and power of mardi gras indian practice, big chief daryl montana and yellow pocahantos.  tambourines banging.  voices raised, arms raised in confrontational dances that contain the seeds of violence but eventually melt into arm-over-shoulder comrarderie.  riding to the french quarter, finally familiar enough with the city that i can find my way around.  and home, chill in the air just cutting through my wool jacket but the promise of a cozy house awaiting.

early bed.  

Monday, November 9, 2015

latin dance

so, surrounding yourself with positive people.  how does that even work?  when the stuipidass ghosts from the past press in close til there's no room for anyone else, positive, negative, or even this bodymind to be.  and who the hell are these positive people anyway, gleaming and shiny with sweet smelling farts.   how to hold compassion while attempting to not be a complete doormat.  problem is i go from doormat to volcano in 10 second flat.  and then i'm the problem right, the non-positive person from whom to unsurround oneself.  i suspect the core of the issue lies in this gleaming toy that taunts me all day, promising connection and intimacy while instead delivering the treacly sweet and deeply dissatisfying candy of distraction.  not to mention pinched nerves in the gleno-humeral joint on my right side.  shoulder, pelvis, brain.  

thanks day for being grey.  so this is it right, this is the moment when i come face to face with my god-given right as a human to choose something other than this same old tired schlock again.  bitter, whine, complain.  unicorn rainbow poo and whipped cream atop a cow paddy then, perhaps.  ach.  

i guess it really is just a giant spoonful of my own meds getting crammed down the gullet.  tasty.  alright well i'll just keep doing my best to mambo with the madness that rages inside.  

i am alive afterall.  breathing, with hair and teeth.   sledgehammer in the occipitals, you can chill the f out.  just gonna keep cha-chaing as the changes keep flying fast and furious.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

richmond day 2

--initiated check-ins for our crew, shared concerns re: kitchen and 'bath'
--first round of organizing my stuffs in mah room
--revamped/set up kitchen to be functional, cleaned out entire set of cabinets
--massive grocery shopping at cheap-ass salvage grocery
--met neighbor, potential laundry solution
--black-plasticked poison ivy spots
--located bike lock and key
--set up practice station for fidl
--bath and dinner
--very successful/gratifying 3 hour rehearsal with my son the doctor
--gathering of more potential massage office options
--making new friends
--kept "omfg what have i done" chasm at bay for another day


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

great grate greightful

skipping over the last two months of:

--blackfire band tour to NOLA, Austin etc
--10 day meditation retreat
--adventures in jacksonville, fl and chicago, IL
--mom visit in MI and 7 day backpacking trip on isle royale national park
--whirlwind visit to richmond, walking miles around the city finding a home and bike
--week of amazing balkan music and dance at the balkan music and dance camp in upstate ny
--amazing weekend of blackfire gigs in NYC
--whirlwind twin oaks visit


first day in RVA:

in which i helped build a porch, got groceries, taught and sang macedonian and croation songs in 2 part harmony, went to a planning meeting for extravagant giant puppet events for gallery 5 and halloween, and visited the gorgeous james river at sundown.

so far, all is going according to plan.