Friday, February 20, 2009

High Heel!

Yesterday was Thursday, my usual work day at Julie Neill. So much has happened in the last week, most amazing and important is that Julie moved into a fab new work and studio space.
We were all bustling a bit more intensely. All the shop owners are trying to get a few days of business accomplished today and tomorrow before shutting down until next Wednesday.
In the rest of the world it's just business as usual. Here In New Orleans this is the last (and best) weekend of Carnival counting down to Fat Tuesday. Everyone who can takes off from work.
I had to get some office supplies at Scriptura before they closed, and before the parade line up would prevent me from getting home because of blocked off streets.

Sweet Meg at Scriptura
I love the sign behind the check out desk

Our first Carnival season was the year 2001. We had moved to New Orleans in June of 2000.
I had mixed feelings about the parades. I thought they'd be plastic and Disney and terribly corny and horribly crowded.
Our friend Sabina was our guide for all things New Orleans, so she gathered us up and took us to the streets.

Grannies Gone Wild!

The parade she took us to was a new krewe (NOLA speak for a group; your posse) of all women, The Krewe of Muses. Their first "ride" was 2001, and they were the first all women krewe to ride in a night time parade on important night, the Thursday before Mardi Gras.

Their symbol is the high heel. They decorate and glitter one-of-kind shoes that are given out to a few very lucky revelers. They also have great trinkets, many with high heel themes.
That first year I felt very non plussed by the parade. Sabina said we just had to get a high heel trinket, and she instructed me to make eye contact with the float riders, and scream and beg, "HIGH HEEL HIGH HEEL!!!" I was like, uh no. I'm a New Yorker, way too cool for this. I thought it silly to beg for cheap beads you could buy on Bourbon Street or in The French Market.

2009 Grand Marshall Kimberly Rogers Roberts
rides in the signature float of Muses

But Sabina was wound up and already getting tons of stuff. She was strutting and dancing to every band that came down the street. She was laughing at all the satire themed floats. Alberto was getting his fair share too. Only cool me was standing on the curb with my hands in my pockets.

I was amazed that the parade was not plastic. In fact the floats are made of papier mache and hand painted, and they are really cool and charming. You can see artists worked on them. And then I was amazed that there are no police barricades set-up, and the people can go right up to the floats and touch them!

One of many Muses walking groups
This is The Pussyfooters

I hope to march with this group one day

Finally Sabina asked me to please, please help her get a high heel. Okay okay. So very gently I squeaked out "high heel high heel". Then a little louder, and still louder, and then I'm running alongside this giant two story high float which is a blur of color kind of making me get disoriented in a groovy way, when all of sudden a rider looks me in the eye and smiles and hands me a HIGH HEEL! In that moment I became a bead whore.

2009 Muses theme: License To Swill
All the floats had a play on words of James Bond movies,
And harpooned politics as only Muses does so hysterically well

Well ever since that first parade, we would not miss Muses. So last night we bundled up, and put on silly hats and wigs, and walked to St. Charles Avenue. You can hear the marching bands all the way to our house, and the aural anticipation puts a giddy up in our step.
As usual Muses was very late. Two other parades go before them, and one of them (Krewe of Chaos), had wagon and horse problems and held up the shebang for over an hour.

Muses dubbed President Obama "Golden Guy"

So we sipped from our flask, and yakked it up with everybody. I met someone who grew up by my house, and knew it inside out! We took a few photos, and looked for friends who said they'd be at this corner (they never showed!).
At one point a great marching band came by, and the chaperons pushed the crowd back to the curb. I found myself standing next to a woman, and we kind of held onto to each other as the crowd surged back. We were dancing along and I was holding her hand, and then I said OMG I'm so sorry for a minute I got swept up in the moment and thought you were my friend Sabina who ain't here no more. The girl laughed and said that's okay honey. I cried a little missing my best friend forever. All night people kept giving me some good trinkets they caught for me to send to Sabina in California.

I held her hand

Because we were out there so long, I kind of drank more than I realized. I was cold and my knees were aching, and I didn't want to be a drag, so I drank enough not to feel cold or pain ha ha. After alll Muses gave us our "License To Swill"!

There are about a dozen riders
The Lady Godivas
Renee we need you next year!

Giant shoes with walking revelers - I just love these!

Catching beads and getting good stuff is an art form. PYTs and kids do real good, as they should ha ha.

Check out this Carnival baby's blinking binky!
This is meaningful because tons of blinking beads are thrown

So geezers like us have to resort to a secret weapon! The red wax lips!

With the big blond wig and the big red lips I open my arms wide and implore the riders with my whole heart and soul. I beseech them in a silence louder than any screaming they hear. When one sees me they laugh so hard, and usually nudge another rider to check me out, and OMG forget to throw me something! I'm glad I entertain them, as they entertain all of us, and don't worry I still get plenty of stuff.
One year I got a red glitter shoe, the most coveted of all objets de Muses!

Of course I gave it to Sabina.


Jan said...

Great post V thanks for bringing us a taste of the parade.
Have you sobered up now ?

ArchitectDesign™ said...

OMG it's so fun! i'm so glad it's not plastic, which is what I figured it would be like too! I imagine I'd be skeptical at first like you then give in! I especially love that photo and the fabulous purple dress!

vicki archer said...

I am lovin' those red lips Miz V - thank you for a fantastic tour of New Orleans Carnival. Wish I was there to dress up with you, xv.

Renée Finberg said...

i would gladly be the 'lady gadiva'.
but i am certain that i will need a super duper flesh colored FULL BODY SPANX !!!!

i am loving the pic of you 2 with the big ted lips !!!
too cute.

i have still never been there for the celebration, and it's right around my b-day.


Suzy said...

That looks like so much fun, I would love to be there. I love those high heels. I'll celebrate with you in spirit, have a great week....

Anonymous said...

Leave it to the Vamp to turn my head in regards to a parade. No, I'm not a parade snob, I want to like them, but they usually make me yawn. So now I must admit that Les Muses and their High Heels make me long to be streetside and at your side Miz V. Oh, and you and Alberto, calmly and matter-of-factly wearing Wax Lips: one of the best photos of all time.

Visual Vamp said...

Still partying! Woo hoo!
Renee you must come next year! We'll tear it for your birthday! Promise me you will! You stay with us darlin'!
Ah the purple dress...more on that in tomorrow's post...
xo xo

Paul Pincus said...

LOVE it!
xoxo, -paul

Renae Moore said... much fun....this Renae want to come too! It reminds me of my days in NOLA...I can completely understand your first days coming from from CA wondering ..."what the heck?... BUT it is great in that blond wig with the bigs lips, you almost look like Dolly Parton!

Do you mind stopping by my blog (after Mardi Gras if need be)? I'm asking for some creativity with my front entryway!


Sabina said...

Oh Renee, don't bother with the spanx, they'll only interfere with the fun. One of my favorite carnival memories was of a really big girl in a sequined leotard and fishnets marching with her highschool band. Everyone around us was screaming "you go girl!" Good advice for everyone. No one does a parade like New Orleans, I wish I was there. HIGH HEELS! I got mine, thanks Val.