Feb 132013

The rain-geared tuba section of the Talladega College marching band pauses on Napoleon between raindrops during Orpheus Monday night. (Photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

So this Carnival wasn’t the sunniest, but at least it wasn’t the wettest (or coldest).  All told, it seemed to be a well attended, largely respectable gathering save for the obligatory Bourbon St shooting and other gun / parade infractions.  Unfortunate realities aside, personally my season rounded out into some a-has (3 involving my mother-in-law), otherwise just some observations worth noting:

(1) Napoleon triumphed.  Despite the pervasive drain work uprooting the neutral ground and Rex route, the powers that be kept a fairly tight rein over any possible public safety issues.  Quel surprise.  Kudos to said powers.  I can almost still hear the horns of the 18 wheeler truck parades, but really nothing can drown that out, except – – –

(2) Bad karaoke.  In the 2300 block of Napoleon post parade queue there sprouted a front porch party courtesy (from my lay outsider assessment) a Canadian one man band avec Alberta plates “PIANOMN.”  Pair awful classics like The Outfield’s Your Love with an auto-tuner, turn the volume to 11, and voila: instant auditory regret.  But hey, this was just my neighborhood; I hope yours was spared anything similar.

(3) Millaudon.  Is nowhere near anything parade related.  But somehow my mother-in-law, a native New Orleanian mind you, had never heard of this little stretch in the Black Pearl.  Eyebrow raising information she shared while we were attending a Mardi Gras event there last week.  Moments later as Iko Iko played over the radio she looked at me quizzically and asked “I’m going to set your what on fire!?”

Jean-Paul Villere

(4) My grandma didn’t know she was supposed to set your flag on fire.  This was the second dumbstruck moment for me via my wife’s mother.  Again, her being a native, I didn’t know how to respond.  First Millaudon, now this!  Clearly holes in the fabric of the family I married into were surfacing.  What could possibly happen next, except maybe on Mardi Gras Day as Rex passed she offers – – –

(5) “This is the first time I’ve actually seen the King in Rex.”  Now come on!!  Buyer beware: those engaged to be wed to a local girl take heed my revelation some 15 years later.  Ask now: has your future mother-in-law ever seen Rex, scepter and all, even once?  Does she know the lyrics to Iko Iko, and is Millaudon at least a cursory name in her street vocab?  Important questions I never knew I needed knowing the answers to.

All told, I loved this season.  Even if we donned a poncho once or twice.  Even if my carnival moments may be somewhat tame compared to others and heavy on in-law takeaways, but so what?  Mardi Gras means something different for everyone I think.  Just ask the Canadian with the auto-tuner.

Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

  3 Responses to “Jean-Paul Villere: Come Rain or Come Shine — My Top Five 2013 Mardi Gras Moments”

  1. My personal best of MG week was in Krewe d’Etat. I got my “blinkie” from the Dictators, my Doubloon from the Duke, my medallion from the first real float, then followed the “Prime Time Brass Band” from Rochester, NY as they blew out a block of Napoleon near Perrier with “Do Whatcha Wanna.” It’s those simple pleasures of Mardi Gras.

  2. So was your group the one singing at 1 am on Millaudon Street?

  3. I can relate, two weeks ago my Husband who was raised on Napoleon Avenue asked “What’s Randazzo’s?” in front of a group of people… I almost died.

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