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“Do you know what it means…


…to miss New Orleans, and miss it each night and day?” That sad sweet jazz refrain is haunting me this morning. Oh yes. It’s unspeakable what’s happened to the Gulf Coast communities.

And in honor of the Big Easy, unique in all the world, and a city that may never be the same after this, I am running some photos from my trip to Mardi Gras in 2004. Call it an antidote to images on today’s front page.

My friends Chuck and Iris and their daughter Lianna, New Orleans residents for more than 16 years, are refugees now, but luckily they escaped. Like all the others they’ll be homeless for several months, on the road staying with friends until the city is ready for them to come back.

Let’s keep all those people in our hearts.

Here’s my original post on Mardi Gras 2004 with other pictures.

All the pictures below are on my flickr site and you can see them bigger here. (Click on the picture to make it bigger.)
Iris and Stella. Photo taken on their back deck. Look at that lush backyard foliage.

Live oak trees, pictured in a photo taken from the rear window of the car while on route to a parade.

Mississippi River.

Some of signage down here is pretty quirky. “Gasolines” says the sign on the big three phone towers or whatever those are.

“Simurgh” says the label on this parade float. I believe this is from the “truck float” parade. That’s the community parade option — any group can get together and have a truck float (they’re on flat-bed trucks). The ambiance is unlike that of the “club” parades which are more obvious big-bucks extravaganzas sponsored by select organizations you have to be invited to join and get “vetted” into before being allowed to participate.

Music is such a part of the city. And art as well. Mardi Gras is very arty as far as I’m concerned. This gentleman was singing his heart out at 11 am in a place with a handful of customers eating bagels and drinking coffee. He was great.

Waiting for more beads. I have a trunk-load of beads and I’m going to bring them with me tomorrow night when I go to First Friday. Ask me for some if you see me. I’ll be giving them out.

In what seemed to me like Medieval pageantry, the night-time parades include marchers carrying kerosene torches. I’m not sure but I think the people carrying them are called torchieres. The pre-neon idea is that they were lighting the way ahead of the floats. Tradition is to throw money at them and they bend down with a swoop of those fiery torches and pick it up. This was the best part for me of the night-time parades.

Handicap-accessible, Bourbon St., Mardi Gras, 2004. It’s a town for everyone.

Silly, giddy, happy. Will it get back to this? I heard somebody say yesterday that this is New Orleans’ equivalent of the great Chicago fire or the great San Francisco earthquake. (Nothing great about either of those.) Those cities came back, in time. New Orleans will, too. We miss you New Orleans.