My experience in New Orleans has always been comprised of one nighters that feel like more like one weekers rolling down Frenchmen street. Or my favorite stop on road trips throughout the southern United States. This time, it was a pleasure to get to experience another side of the city, understand some of its residents, and get to know the quiet side, too.
Getting prepped for Mardi Gras, The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus let me in on their ways. They are self described nerds and sci-fi lovers, but prolific artists and community oriented people whose floats are all powered by human energy (pushing, pulling, peddling, etc). Two days before the parade, they work furiously at their headquarters, sewing patches, glittering up a giant My Little Pony float (they tell me that this is the first year that fantasy characters are allowed – and the fantasy lovers I speak with tell me they are thrilled), putting the finishing touches on their costumes, checking people in (Chewbacchus is comprised of 900 members, 150 sub-krewes, but many, more march in their parade) but they take time to sit for portraits.
A woman shows me her Mardi Gras shoes in the vacant lot outside, a man dressed up as the Wicked Witch sparkles in the dying sunlight, an alien lights up the night.
So-called societal misfits who have found their people.
In my remaining days, I’m entranced by the quiet landscapes and still lives of New Orleans and the history and spirit that objects and places can communicate without their human counterparts…how those things left behind are evidence of humanness itself. The tuba on the floor of the divey jazz club painted in red light, the Mardi Gras beads triumphantly on display year round, the candy colored lights of the Bywater houses in the nascent sunrise. The quiet scenes show me the integrity of the city when no one is watching; perfectly botched together, colorful, exuberant, and proud.
Visit New Orleans and start your story with #OneTimeInNola.