Old and New, Uptown and Down, Big and Small: Two Carnival loops

Update on Sunday: after posting this on Saturday morning, we heard last night that another fatality has happened on one of the mega float parades, this time during Endymion. This is a terrible situation for the victim’s family and also for the driver and the riders. It is clear that we need to do something more to protect everyone.
Update #3 and #4: Over the weekend, at least 2 riders fell from Uptown floats and 2 people fell from balconies overlooking St. Charles parade.) #dumpsterfireofaCarnivalseason


Now, back to the original post:



Two-Loop-Theory copy

Image of the Berkana Two Loops theory



First, Happy Carnival to all.  We are now in #deepcarnival which is the time between Muses Thursday to Fat Tuesday, where everything we do has something to do with preparing for guests, working on costumes, visiting with friends, or making plans for Tuesday.

I am most definitely a downtown Carnival person although I have spent many happy days over the last 40 years of my Carnival era on St. Charles and Magazine, catching float parades. I was also known to be regularly on MidCity parade routes with fond memories of Krewes of Mid-City, Carrollton among others  – although not in the more recent Chad-filled years (shudder).

So even though I will always be a downtown girl,  I do appreciate some of the parade energy that now transpires above and on Canal Street, and would love to see small parades come back to all neighborhoods – altho with limits to the number of riders and the height and length of floats. I even considered joining Muses in its first year and I continue to be impressed by their verve and design sense, including their prized, handmade throws made from recycled shoes, their inclusion of exciting dance troupes, and especially their parade in 2006 which was beautifully appropriate to the grief that we were all feeling. And like Muses and Zulu, some of the other krewes do try to do their part in supporting public needs. However, real community effort from others is often murky or their pro bono work pretty brand-new, especially considering their long history.

Notwithstanding what the float parades contribute in return for the use of our public space, one should still read this post as in favor of the downtown Carnival that emerged post-1972*, and in opposition to the mega float parades held Uptown of recent years.

(*That date, by the way, was chosen as it was the last year of the old-line float parades traveling through the French Quarter which is what led to the new.)

I’m linking to a wonderful piece by Charles Cannon written for The Lens about this being the golden age of carnival, which I wholeheartedly agree with. We both also agree that it is mostly a downtown golden age, especially in terms of addressing diversity, in its DIY attitude, in reducing the explosion of cheap, Chinese-made trinkets thrown that clog our waterways, and in powerfully satirizing the powerful and ridiculous which, by the way,  is often the same group.

From his piece:

Krewe du Vieux is quite conscious of itself not just as an insurrection, but also as a resurrection, an effort to recover from the anti-carnivalesque aspects of the 19th century Uptown Carnival model. Their mission statement expresses this ambition explicitly: “We believe in exposing the world to the true nature of Mardi Gras — and in exposing ourselves to the world.” Since Katrina, Krewe du Vieux has been joined by several other downtown parading clubs — ‘ti Rex, Chewbacchus, Red Beans — each of which follows the Krewe du Vieux model far more faithfully than the Uptown one, especially by keeping dues affordable.

But the ultimate expression of the carnivalesque instinct in our time is what happens downtown on Fat Tuesday itself. Here the line between spectator and performer is almost totally erased as thousands — whether costumed, masked or merely bystanders — converge in the streets in a utopian vision of mass civic participation. And on this day — if only for a day — we also witness New Orleans’ idealized sense of itself come down to earth to shape the city’s social reality.


(And as much as Charles is right in that KDV has a significant place in the origin story of post-72 Carnival, I’d say that the gay French Quarter Carnival community, the Society of Saint Ann, the revival of the Baby Dolls, the Skull and Bones Gangs, and the continued development of Mardi Gras Indian tribes are truly the founders of this golden age. And I know he’d readily agree with me.)

Let me now address the image I have at the top of this post and link it to Cannon’s theory. The two-loop framework (which I use with farmers markets and food system leaders quite often) is focused on how “change happens in human systems out of a spontaneous series of local actions, and how these actions facilitate the development of integrated networks of relationships in the pursuit of mutual interests and goals.”

Each loop has a growth side (i.e., germination, innovation, maturation, and rejuvenation) and a death side (i.e.stagnation, disintegration, and decomposition).  It is also important to remember that the “new” loop is not always seen as a positive development, especially by those who feel the need to “give hospice” to the old. In fact, the new is not even “seen” for a long while by many of those focused entirely on propping up the old.

Two-Loop-Theory copy

In terms of Carnival, the two-loop theory is clearly in play and can be seen roughly in line with the uptown/downtown traditions. Uptown Carnival, which centers almost entirely around float parades, and flags hanging from mansions denoting “royalty” grows larger, more unattainable, and ever more cumbersome. This year, they had to cancel an entire night of parades because of high winds. It is true that a walking parade might have also canceled due to discomfort or even danger from flying debris, but the fact that the authorities noted that the high profile of the tractor-pulled floats is what made them too dangerous to roll was telling. Additionally this year, a pedestrian has been killed on the Uptown route by a float.

Over the last few decades, in the name of safety and capacity, the police have asked almost all float parades to move to the St. Charles route, leaving only one mega-parade still in MidCity: the aforementioned Endymion which arguably should also move to that route as its size seems to be more than the police can handle downtown, based on recent tragedies before, during, and after its parade, and especially with the St. Charles route also in action on the same day. (On that note, it is my sense that for now, the Uptown route should be expanded and alternate streets used for alternate nights so that the crowds can move and stretch out more.)

Even as the massive parades grow larger and louder, my favorite downtown parade honors a New Orleans tradition of school-aged children making shoebox floats this time of year.  By going small, the ‘titRex krewe is a wonderful example of the new and the innovative while it also ensures its own sustainable future by having rules about its size and design.


Caesar Meadows’s annual comix for tR; part of the beauty of this is each has to be handed directly to a person.


2020 tiny treasures from ‘titRex, honoring two New Orleans musicians lost in 2019.

Moving past the danger from the size of the floats, the mega parades’ throws are most often made of cheap plastic or toxic plush and thrown from high above at groups of people, leading to a frenzy of grabbing and angry responses from those stepped on or pushed aside for these handfuls. Whole bags of toxicity are often thrown, or the plastic bags they are packed in tossed to the ground in the thousands without regard to the damage to the waterways and fragile infrastructure of our city. In contrast, downtown walking parades pride themselves on handmade throws (see above). Below is a picture of the 2020 version of the annual Fitzgerald Letterpress MG Day postcard that is shared with all passersby during his Fat Tuesday meandering.



Finally, in terms of paradegoers, the takeover of public space for days or weeks by families and clans who believe they have the right to spray paint grass and to set up entire, cordoned-off cities is clearly in lockstep with the megafloat parade system. The brilliant writer Maurice Ruffin pointed out the two versions along the Uptown route this year in a series of tweets:

Those entitled encampments, and the bleachers available only for fees or through contact with “connected” people,  illustrate the one central issue with the old and why more and more people are moving to the new. The divide between those who feel exclusivity or overindulgence is the goal of Carnival (or of any public resource really) and those who think revelry (or insert “social contract” here instead) is at its best when it is critical of unchecked authority and human-scaled is at an all-time high, maybe the highest since the national crisis years of the 1850-1890s. Speaking of that era, many of those newer to the area are clearly as shocked to see the old version of Carnival still as prominent just as they were in finding the number and visibility of the pro-Confederacy statues and names that remained (and remain) in public spaces around the area.

Even younger generations of those families native to the area have made it clear that they have no interest in appearing at their family’s secured space Uptown or in participating in the roles allotted to them at birth. One example was Rebecca Snedeker’s documentary By Invitation Only which showed her own Uptown royalty clan’s tone-deaf response to the racism inherent in their traditions. Interestingly, Snedeker’s mother, who took her turn as a Carnival “queen”of a old-line krewe, has also just published a book and had an interview, sharing her admiration for the new and moving the curtain aside a little more on the long-simmering issues with those traditions. Those women are also part of the new loop.

So the evolution of Carnival, as seen through the tension of old and new, continues and will no doubt exist for generations side-by-side.  Let’s just hope that the new that is centered downtown continues to influence the old Uptown version, and leads to another golden age that spans the entire region.






RIP Leigh Harris


Our Darlin’ Leigh.


Thursday September 26 at 11:45 AM CST: WWOZ 90.7 FM New Orleans and Jimmy Anselmo remember Leigh Harris aka LITTLE QUEENIE 


We’ll hollla at ya later, Mac








Rickie Lee Jones’ tribute to Dr John:


Michael Tisserand,, the biographer of Krazy Kat’s creator, also got it so right:


The great Jon Cleary said many wonderful things in his post about Dr. John, but this one really got me:

I was standing next to Earl Palmer and Mac several years ago at Earl King’s funeral and I said something banal along the lines of ‘we lost a good one’ and Mac shook his head and said we ain’t lost him, he’s still here.
I’m glad he said that.

Scandinavian Jazz Church closing

as reported on NOLA.com:

The church plans to continue with regular and special events through December, including the Scandinavia Festival, which takes place Nov. 2-3 this year, and its St. Lucia Celebration in December, according to the release. Jazz services will also continue on the first, second and third Sundays of each month, with a piano service on the fourth Sunday of the month. The church will also have a Norwegian service on Oct. 28.

The Scandinavian Jazz Church will officially cease operations Dec. 31. Mikalson said in the release the building is under contract to be sold to a new owner by the end of the year. The buyer was not disclosed.

Little Queenie

update: September 21, 2019 at 7:45 pm, Leigh passed.


From singer Debbie Davis on FB 09/21/2018:

I have few words for this. My mentor, my confidant, cheering section, intellectual ninja, emotional gibraltar, musical beacon, one of my truest and bluest friends Leigh ‘Lil Queenie’ Harris is going into home hospice today…How we will ever tell her how much she did? How much it all meant? How grateful we are? How?
Goddammit. How.



mid year 2019 update from LH’s partner:

After the last entry’s set back on Leigh’s hydro issues she has, in the spirit of DST, sprung forward. Her core muscles are responding, and she is more able to hold herself upright from a sitting position. While she needs to hang onto something to stabilize herself, she can hold her spine straight. So, huge step forward – one of the basics to restoring her ability to walk.


A 2019 pic of our beautiful Leigh sitting in the NC sunshine:54233815_10156877766063617_1947335577846153216_n


2016 post:

Leigh Harris is a legend in the New Orleans music scene and a lovely, funny, fierce woman. Let’s show her how her home town loves her in her difficult time.

As of September 2018, the GoFundMe page has been joined by The New Orleans Musicians’ Assistance Foundation which now has a fund setup for Leigh Harris. They are a non profit, and donations to the NOMAF are tax deductible. The donations will help her family with the costs.

They will accept checks – mail them to:

New Orleans Musicians’ Assistance Foundation
1525 Louisiana Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70115
Attn: Lizz Freeman, Donor Advised Funds

and include a note of “donation to the fund for Leigh Harris” on the check.

They also will accept credit card and paypal donations.


Thursday FQF music

Alex McMurray , Alvin Youngblood Hart’s Muscle Theory, Bag of Donuts, Banu Gibson, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, Cupid and the Dance Party Express Band, DeJan’s Olympia Brass Band, Deltaphonic featuring Khris Royal, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Fredy Omar con su Banda, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue, Irma Thomas, Soul Queen of New Orleans , Juju Child, Lisa Amos, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Nathan Williams & the Zydeco Cha Chas, New Breed Brass Band, New Orleans Suspects, Panorama Jazz Band, Partners N Crime & The Big Easy Band featuring DJ Jubilee, Preservation All-Stars,Rechelle Cook and the Regeneration Band,Robin Barnes &  The  Fiyabirds, Sweet Crude , “Terrance “”Hollywood”” Taplin leads the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, The Irene Sage Band, The Pentones, The Quickening , T’Monde, Tuba Skinny


Main Stages – Thursday
Abita Beer Stage
  • The Irene Sage Band
    Presented by Original New Orleans Po-Boys
    11:00 am – 12:15 pm
  • New Breed Brass Band
    Presented by New Orleans Social House
    12:35 pm – 1:50 pm
  • Sweet Crude
    Presented by Aloft New Orleans Downtown
    2:10 pm – 3:15 pm
  • Irma Thomas, Soul Queen of New Orleans
    Presented by YPO
    3:45 pm – 5:00 pm
  • Dirty Dozen Brass Band
    Presented by Acadian Ambulance Service, Inc.
    5:20 pm – 6:45 pm
Tropical Isle Hand Grenade Stage
  • Juju Child
    Presented by GW Fins
    11:00 am – 12:10 pm
  • Alex McMurray
    Presented by Andrew & Rebecca Kelly
    12:30 pm – 1:40 pm
  • The Pentones
    Presented by F.E.S.S., Inc.
    2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
  • Lisa Amos
    Presented by Councilmember Ramsey, District C with Harrah’s
    3:50 pm – 5:05 pm
  • Bag of Donuts
    Presented by Tropical Isle
    5:25 pm – 6:45 pm
GE Digital Big River Stage
  • Panorama Jazz Band
    Presented by Sal Borelli
    11:00 am – 12:10 pm
  • Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue
    Presented by Sal Borelli
    12:30 pm – 1:40 pm
  • New Orleans Suspects
    Presented by Sheraton New Orleans Hotel
    2:00 pm – 3:10 pm
  • Partners N Crime & The Big Easy Band featuring DJ Jubliee
    Presented by The Penthouse Club New Orleans
    3:30 pm – 4:55 pm
  • Cupid and the Dance Party Express Band
    5:20 pm – 6:45 pm
Jack Daniels Stage
  • Tuba Skinny
    Presented by Dew Drop Jazz Hall
    11:00 am – 12:15 pm
  • The Quickening
    Presented by Event Producers
    12:30 pm – 1:45 pm
  • Deltaphonic featurinig Khris Royal
    Presented by Mid City Pizza
    2:00 pm – 3:15 pm
  • Alvin Youngblood Hart’s Muscle Theory
    Presented by JAX and The Berger Company
    3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
  • Rechelle Cook and the Regeneration Band
    Presented by Perkins A/C & Heating
    5:15 pm – 6:45 pm
Chevron Cajun/Zydeco Showcase
  • T’Monde
    Presented by Toulouse Royale
    12:30 pm – 1:45 pm
  • Nathan Williams & the Zydeco Cha Chas
    Presented by Windsor Court Hotel
    2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
  • Lost Bayou Ramblers
    Presented by Rolland Safe and Lock
    3:45 pm – 5:15 pm
  • Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band
    Chevron Evening Concert Series
    5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Hilton Tricentennial Stage
  • Preservation Hall-Stars
    Presented by Lucky Dogs, Inc.
    11:15 am – 12:25 pm
  • Banu Gibson
    Presented by The Bombay Club
    12:45 pm – 2:00 pm
  • Fredy Omar con su Banda
    Presented by Jesters
    2:20 pm – 3:30 pm
  • Robin Barnes & The Fiyabirds
    Presented by Vinson Guard Service, Inc.
    3:50 pm – 5:10 pm
  • Terrance “Hollywood” Taplin leads the Uptown Jazz Orchestra
    Presented by The Derbes Foundation






Read more about it:


Friday FQF music


Gypsy Elise, Jamal Batiste Band, James Andrews, Jamey St. Pierre & The Honeycreepers, Joe Krown, Joe Lastie’s New Orleans Sound featuring Kid Merv, John Boutté, Jon Cleary, Kumasi, Leroy Jones & New Orleans’ Finest, Louisiana’s LeRoux, Love Evolution, Luther Kent Quartet, Lynn Drury, Magnetic Ear, MainLine, Marc Stone, Mario Abney , Marshland, Meschiya Lake and the Little, Big Horns, Mia Borders, Naughty Professor, New Bumpers Jazz Band (France), New Orleans 4T’s (Japan), New Orleans Cottonmouth Kings, New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Party Gators (International), Red Hot Brass Band, Rory Danger & the Danger Dangers, Sean Ardoin, Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs, Smoke N Bones Stooges Brass Band, Thais Clark & her JAZZsters, The Catahoulas, The Crooked Vines, The Revealers, Walter “Wolfman” Washington and the Roadmasters, Water Seed, Waylon Thibodeaux Band, Yung Vul, Zachary Richard, Zena Moses & Rue Fiya, Zydeco Dance Lesson w/ Mary Burns.
To learn about each artist:
Main Stages – Friday
Abita Beer Stage
  • Mia Borders
    Presented by Friend of Fest
    11:00 am – 12:15 pm
  • Cha Wa
    Presented by The Westin New Orleans Canal Place
    12:35 pm – 1:45 pm
  • Louisiana’s LeRoux
    Presented by Zapp’s Potato Chips
    2:10 pm – 3:25 pm
  • Bonerama
    Presented by Patrick Gros, CPA, APAC
    3:45 pm – 5:10 pm
  • Walter Wolfman Washington and the Roadmasters
    Presented by Friend of Fest
    5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Chocolate Milk
    Presented by Pennington Lawson LLP
    7:30 pm – 8:45 pm
Tropical Isle Hand </br> Grenade Stage
  • Marc Stone
    11:00 am – 12:10 pm
  • Joe Lastie’s New Orleans Sound featuring Kid Merv
    Presented by ALT 92.3
    12:30 pm – 1:40 pm
  • Love Evolution
    Presented by Windsor Court Hotel
    2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
  • Joe Krown
    Presented by Ralph’s On the Park
    4:00 pm – 5:25 pm
  • Water Seed
    Presented by The Westin New Orleans Canal Place
    5:45 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Big Frank & Lil Frank and the Dirty Old Men
    Presented by Ruth’s Chris Steak House
    7:20 pm – 8:45 pm
GE Digital Big River Stage
  • Smoke N Bones
    Presented by Love at First Bite
    11:00 am – 12:10 pm
  • Marshland
    Presented by Crescent Bank
    12:30 pm – 1:40 pm
  • Lynn Drury
    Presented by Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith
    2:00 pm – 3:25 pm
  • MainLine
    Presented by AOS Interior Environments
    3:45 pm – 5:10 pm
  • Bill Summers & Jazalsa
    Presented by AOS Interior Environments
    5:30 pm – 6:55 pm
  • Jon Cleary
    Presented by McLoughlin Family Foundation
    7:15 pm – 8:45 pm
Jack Daniels Stage
  • The Catahoulas
    Presented by Sal Borelli
    11:00 am – 12:10 pm
  • Jamal Batiste Band
    Presented by Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant
    12:30 pm – 1:40 pm
  • Zena Moses & Rue Fiya
    Presented by Café Beignet
    2:00 pm – 3:25 pm
  • The Crooked Vines
    Presented by Gray Line
    3:45 pm – 5:10 pm
  • Naughty Professor
    Presented by Caballero & Adams Attorneys
    5:30 pm – 6:55 pm
  • Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs
    Presented by Park First
    7:15 pm – 8:45 pm
Chevron Cajun/Zydeco Showcase
  • Waylon Thibodeaux Band
    Presented by Voodoo Harley-Davidson
    12:30 pm – 1:45 pm
  • Academy Sports + Outdoors Dance Lesson
    Academy Sports + Outdoors
    1:45 pm – 2:00 pm
  • Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble
    Presented by Sheraton New Orleans Hotel
    2:00 pm – 3:15 pm
  • Academy Sports + Outdoors Dance Lesson
    3:15 pm – 3:45 pm
  • Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers
    Presented by New Orleans Social House
    3:45 pm – 5:15 pm
  • Sean Ardoin
    Presented by Acadian Ambulance Service, Inc.
    5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Zachary Richard
    Presented by Chevron Evening Concert Series
    7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Hilton Tricentennial Stage
  • Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns
    Presented by Spotted Cat Music Club
    11:15 am – 12:25 pm
  • Ellis Marsalis Quintet
    Presented by Court of Two Sisters
    12:45 pm – 2:00 pm
  • John Boutté
    Presented by Linda & Mark Caplan
    2:20 pm – 3:30 pm
  • Leroy Jones & New Orleans’ Finest
    Presented by The Derbes Foundation
    3:50 pm – 5:00 pm
  • James Andrews
    Presented by Rolland Safe and Lock
    5:20 pm – 6:45 pm