Friday, February 28, 2014

Memories of The French Quarter with Xana & Parade Schedule for Mardi Gras 2014!



There was a time when I really wanted to and even secretly believed that I'd end up living in New Orleans. Then Hurricane Katrina happened and the fantasy was ruined.



Here is what I can tell you about my time there. I was having an affair with this amazing neon artist that had the most beautiful breasts I have ever seen on a woman, to this day. And trust me, I've seen a lot! Okay, I'm getting off track. So, I used to go over to her house and help her construct her neon art. She was a well known and successful artist and did some historic installations like this one below, which sits above Santa Fe, New Mexico. I actually had photos of me here but I can't find them at the moment. 


She made these incredible crosses out of bleached driftwood, old plastic flowers from graveyards. Sometimes antlers or bone would be added.  Then, a loose line--a simple strip of cobalt blue, or tangerine neon would be applied . All tied together with antique barbed wire.  They were truly beautiful and unique. Some sold for thousands of dollars and each one was different. 



Grace lived in one of those little dreamy hidden away 
Santa Fe homes off Canyon Road that you just can't 
help but feel creative in. Art was just part of everyday life


 We went on lots of adventures and road trips, including several with another crazy artist -- the famed Madrid, New Mexico photographer and certified crazy person, 'Chamisa.'  Chamisa was a mutual friend of mine and the big-breasted artist. Her name was Grace, by the way. What I liked about Grace was that her southern drawl was subtle and she was smart as hell. She liked adventure yet didn't party a lot. She was a white wine girl. Chamisa on the other hand, was a wild one. She had this bright red hair, straight and then with these doll curls at the end. She lived on the edge of town with her 2 kids who ran wild with long hair, the boy's longer than the daughter's.  I remember driving out there one day around sunset and she was out in her garden in this long white dress with that red hair, it was quite a sight. She was exotic with a capital X. 



She didn't keep a lot there, she wasn't like me, If I lived out on the plains or in the country, I'd have all kinds of art projects and indoor and outdoor would be filled with candles and art and books and instruments. You know, hippy shit. She kept her place more like a guy would, really simple. Clean but bare, like she was always ready to hit the road.



 I remember she had one thing on her wall above her bed -- a huge Guns n' Roses poster. That always made me laugh. She also had a new Jeep that she didn't know how to drive. She'd say, "You drive it, Xana... Let's go." And we'd go. No screwing around, we'd just leave. One day I'll be in the mood to tell my Telluride road trip stories... let's put it this way, Hunter would be proud.



Telluride was our favorite place to road trip to
But New Orleans off season was the plan 
that summer.

New Orleans was Grace's home town. Well, Baton Rouge, to be exact. But her alternative lifestyle had led her to New Orleans for obvious reasons. One weekend,  she had a gallery opening there and so we decided to drive down for it and stay and make it a road trip / vacation.



The gallery opening was one of the sexiest events I have ever been to, anyplace. I've been to tons in L.A. since then, and still they were boring compared to the characters and art at this show. As we drove into the city, She told me, "Do you have a little black dress?"  
"Of course," I said!



The theme for the show was New Orleans graveyards. It's one of my most vivid memories from that time period. And as I said, I've been to many gallery openings. This was something really special, a night where all the stars were lined up to make it intense and yet controlled. I never felt like I was out of place or uncomfortable like I normally would in large crowds. The art was stuff I'd not seen before. Different renditions of the graveyards. There were sculptures and huge paintings and tiny models like in the movie Beetlejuice. Rooms and Rooms of various artist, and music that I'd never heard before. 




Along with walking around the graveyards that night, and meeting some of the most colorful and interesting people I had ever met.... I was completely enthralled with the city and with The French Quarter and in no hurry to return to the rain in Seattle!




Then we set off to eat. And eat. And eat. The restaurants in New Orleans are some of the finest in the world. I have not been there in many years, but I sincerely hope that the French Quarter has been restored and boasts the same divine cuisine. It occurs to me now that as I sat in silence alone at Cafe Du Monde night after night, something in me may have known I would never see this place again. 




I got the luck of a lifetime too, and the woman who we stayed with for the weekend was leaving town and needed a house sitter. The house was right in the middle of the French Quarter, with baby blue painted wood floors and banana trees in the yard. It had a tall wood fence that locked. I remember feeling very safe and yet I could wander around the quarter if I wanted to. And I did almost every night. Can you believe I stayed loyal to my boyfriend this entire time!? You do realize this was the '80s, right?!




I'm pretty sure this is the dress I was wearing. 
I know, I know, I was kind of foxy.

I remember asking this guy in an all night cafe --   Are there really vampires here? he replied,  We believe there's a similar force. Having read Interview with the Vampire and being all of 18 years old, I was definitely intrigued!



 I had an extraordinary opportunity to see a different part of the world and experience their culture, and I took it. I let my boyfriend in Seattle be the one worrying for a change! It was probably one of the best times in my life and I'd do it again and again if I could.


Nowadays, I luckily have a best friend living there and can live through her vicariously. I get to see the re~building of the city and the celebrations from someone else's view. It's time to let someone else's life there tell a new story....



For the record, I never danced the tables in the French Quarter. 
You know how these stories get embellished along the way!
Part Two of the story? Patience Grasshoppers! 



Cheers and thanks to large-breasted artists and crazy hippys with jeeps! 

If you are in New Orleans this weekend for Mardi Gras, be careful and have a wonderful time! 

Here are the parade schedules for 2014: 




Mardi Gras takes place 46 days before Easter. While some see the celebration as a particular day, for New Orleans locals it is a season that begins in January and culminates on Fat Tuesday in March.
This year, the Big Easy hosted more than 60 parades in neighborhoods across New Orleans. The long weekend from Feb. 28 to March 4 will see a plethora of the most popular parades, where both locals and visitors can join forces in the revelry.
"Mardi Gras is just like Christmas, Mother's Day and Thanksgiving," native New Orleanian Kevin Kelly says. "It's a chance to get together with friends and family, to enjoy your own traditions of food and drink and all of the spectacle that goes along with the parades and costumes."
A popular time for visitors to join in the Mardi Gras festivities is the weekend before the big day – this year the dates fall from Friday, Feb. 28 through Tuesday, March 4. Some of the largest parades take place during this time.
For those that want to get their party planning in motion, below are a list of popular parades, their times and routes to make sure you don’t miss a beat or bead.
Friday, Feb. 28
Krewe d'Etat, 6:30 p.m., Uptown Route.
detatKrewe d'Etat, 6:30pm, Uptown Route.  Google
The 22-float parade follows the Hermes parade. This year’s theme is kept secret until the parade but it is known to satirize current events. Throws include doubloons, cups and beads.
- The Krewe d'Etat parade will start at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Magazine Street in New Orleans.
- The parade will head east along Magazine to Napoleon Avenue, where the krewe will turn north.
- The Krewe d'Etat will follow Napoleon north until St. Charles Avenue, where the parade will turn east.
- The krewe will follow St. Charles all the way to Lee Circle, around the circle and back on St. Charles northward to Canal Street.
- At Canal, the parade turn left and follow Canal to intersecting with Burgundy Street where they make a U-turn.
- They travel back down Canal Street until reaching Chartres Street, where the parade ends.
  •  
Saturday, March 1
Krewe of Endymion, 4:15 p.m., Mid-City Route.
endymionKrewe of Endymion, 4:15pm, Mid-City Route.  Google Maps
A 27-float parade will carry the theme, "An Evening at the Opera." Throws include medallion necklaces, doubloons and more.
-The Krewe of Endymion parade starts at the intersection of City Park Avenue and Orleans Avenue.
- From there it travels down Orleans Avenue to the intersection with N. Carrolton Avenue.
- They take a right onto Carrollton and take that street until it intersects with Canal Street.
- The Krewe travels down Canal Street through Mid City until they reach St. Charles Avenue.
- At St. Charles Avenue, they take a right and follow it until the intersection with Howard Avenue at Lee Circle.
- They take Howard Avenue until taking a right Loyola Avenue.
- There is a left turn on to Dave Dixon Drive.
- Their next turn is a left on to Liberty Street
- That is followed by a right onto Julia Street.
- They take a right on to Le Rouge Lane.
- There is another right on to Dave Dixon Drive.
- Their last turn is on LaSalle Street and into Champions Sqaure at the Superdome.
  •  
Sunday, March 2
Krewe of Bacchus, 5:15 p.m., Uptown Route
bacchusKrewe of Bacchus, 5:15pm, Uptown Route  Google Maps
Actor Hugh Laurie will lead the superkrewe's 34-float parade that will carry out the theme, "Bacchus Explores Our Sportsman's Paradise." Popular floats include the Bacchagator, the Bacchasaurus and the Bacchawhoppa whale.
- The Krewe of Bacchus parade will start at the intersection of Tchoupitoulas Street and Napoleon Avenue in New Orleans.
- The parade will head along Napoleon Avenue north until St. Charles Street, where the parade will turn east.
- The Krewe of Bacchus will follow St. Charles all the way to Lee Circle, around the circle and back on St. Charles northward to Canal Street.
- At Canal, the parade turn northwest. At the intersection of University Place and Canal Street, the krewe will turn around and head southeast.
- At the intersection of Canal and Tchoupitoulas Street, the parade will turn south down Tchoupitoulas.
- The krewe will proceed south to the intersection of Tchoupitoulas and Julia Street, where the parade will head east until Convention Center Boulevard.
- The parade will end at the intersection of Julia Street and Convention Center Blvd.
  •  
Monday, March 3
Krewe of Proteus, 5:15 p.m., Uptown Route.
proteusKrewe of Proteus, 5:15pm, Uptown Route.  Google Maps
A 20-float parade that will carry out the theme, "Ancient Elements of Alchemy." Throws include doubloons, and plush tridents and seahorses.
- The Krewe of Proteus parade will start at the intersection of Napoleon Avenue and Magazine Street in New Orleans.
- The parade will head along Napoleon Avenue north until St. Charles Street, where the parade will turn east.
- The Krewe of Proteus will follow St. Charles all the way to Lee Circle, around the circle and back on St. Charles northward to Canal Street.
- At Canal, the parade turns left and travels to Burgundy St.
- At Burgundy St., the parade takes a u-turn and travels back down Canal St. until the intersection of Chartres Street, where the parade will end.

Krewe of Orpheus, 6:00 p.m., Uptown Route.
orpheusKrewe of Orpheus, 6:00pm, Uptown Route.  Google Maps
Quentin Tarantino will lead the 32-float parade that will depict the theme, "Orpheus: The Enchanted World." Signature floats include the Trojan Horse, the Dolly Trolley and the Leviathan. Throws include beads, cups and oversized doubloons.
- The Krewe of Orpheus parade will start at the intersection of Napoleon Avenue and Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans.
- The parade will proceed north until St. Charles Street, where the krewe will turn east.
- The Krewe of Tucks will follow St. Charles all the way to Lee Circle, around the circle and back on St. Charles northward to Canal Street.
- At Canal, the parade will turn northwest on Canal and follow the road to Burgundy Street, where the parade will turn around and proceed on the opposite side of Canal Street southeastward.
- The krewe will follow Canal to the intersection of Canal and Tchoupitoulas Street, where the parade will south.
- The Krewe of Orpheus will follow Tchoupitoulas to Julia Street, where it will turn east.
- The parade will end at the intersection of Convention Center Boulevard and Julia Street.
  •  
Tuesday March 4
Krewe of Zulu, 8:00 a.m., Uptown Route.
zuluKrewe of Zulu, 8:00 a.m., Uptown Route.  Google Maps
This popular parade will feature more than 50 floats set to the theme, "Zulu Salutes Nelson Mandela." Signature floats include the Big Shot and the Witch Doctor. Throws are the elaborately hand-decorated coconuts that are handed to parade-goers.
- The Krewe of Zulu begin at S. Claiborne and Jackson Avenue.
- They parade down Jackson to St. Charles Avenue where they take a left turn.
- They follow St. Charles Avenue around Lee Circle and then continue back down St. Charles to Canal Street.
- At Canal Street, the Krewe takes a left turn.
- They follow Canal until Basin Street where they take a right turn.
- The continue on Basin Street to where it becomes Orleans Avenue.
- The parade follows Orleans Avenue until it concludes at Broad Street.

Krewe of Rex, 10:00 a.m, Uptown Route.
rexKrewe of Rex, 10:00 a.m, Uptown Route.  Google Maps
An almost 30-float parade set to the theme, "Gods of All the Ages." Signature floats include the King's Float and the Boeuf Gras. Throws include doubloons and medallion necklaces.
- The Krewe of Rex parade will start at the intersection of Napoleon Avenue and S. Claiborne Ave. (Highway 90) in New Orleans.
- The parade will proceed south until St. Charles Avenue, where the krewe will turn east.
- The Krewe of Rex will follow St. Charles all the way to Lee Circle, around the circle and back on St. Charles northward to Canal Street.
- At Canal, the parade will turn southeast follow the road to the intersection of Canal and South Peters Street where the parade will end.

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