AKA Abraham Bacoln

Proud to be one of the St. Anthony Ramblers
February 25, 2009, 9:54 pm
Filed under: tidbit

Where to start, where to start? Well, I’ll start here.

This is my fifth Mardi Gras (season) and not once have I ever really done anything on Mardi Gras day. You have to understand that there’s typically a week and a half of parades and insanity leading up to the big day itself, and it’s far too easy to get burned out and fast. As previously stated: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So yes, in years previous I have completely ignored Fat Tuesday and spent it inside being grateful that I was not at yet another parade.

This year since it was Casey’s first Mardi Gras I thought I’d break tradition and actually go do something on Mardi Gras day, maybe actually catch the Zulu and Rex parades (which while not technically the biggest parades are arguably the most important). Instead, our friend Jonah invited us to be part of the St. Anthony Ramblers.


Oh, wait, let’s back up. You know that there are a blue ton of people that dress up on Mardi Gras day and go out in public in their masks, right? And that it’s called ‘masking’? In case … you know, you couldn’t figure out what I was talking about. Anyway, yes, I have never masked for Mardi Gras day – see above re: not doing anything on Tuesday.

[I did not bring my camera because it has a tendency to get heavy and I knew we would be out for a few hours. Because of this I will be linking to the photos of others, not my own, and that’s fine by me. It was better to be unencumbered and enjoy the day – too often the taking of pictures removes me from the moment, and I decided to forego that extrication.]

So anyway the St. Anthony Ramblers are one of several groups who mask for Mardi Gras and go hold their own kind of parade. Several of the Mardi Gras day groups are small, several are big. Turns out the Ramblers eventually gather enough people to fill the street for an entire city block. That, in my opinion, is a big group. PLUS we had our very own band – Panorama. Their instruments are typical brass band, but they played not only Mardi Gras standards but also some klezmer tunes, and if you’ve never heard klezmer being played by a brass band then son, I don’t envy you.

There is nothing like a band being led by El Capitan flying our standard high to let people know that a parade is coming. Every single block we walked down had people lining the sidewalks to hear our delightful music and revel in the sights of our myriad costumes.

Speaking of costumes, here Casey and I are in ours – she with her sequined top, tutu, rhinestoned shoes and mask, and flowers; me with my black pants and shirt, black long-nosed mask, top hat, scarf, and calla lilies. Sorry you can’t see the lilies very well but since you know they’re there then you can use your imagination. This picture was taken at perhaps 9:45 in the morning. When you want to walk all over the Faubourg Marigny and the French Quarter you have to start early.

This shows you about a quarter of the people we started out with – and it only grew from there. You can see the two of us at the right of the SUV as we waited for everyone to show up. It probably goes without saying that as we marched we picked up people until we were so large that we easily filled the street for an entire city block.

Here is the route of the St. Anthony Ramblers – we started in the Marigny, walked to a bar, and stopped for 20-30 minutes. Then we walked to the next bar, and there stopped for 20-30 minutes. At this point you should be able to see a pattern. By the time we parted ways with the group it was 2:00PM and everyone was still going strong. Since Casey and I weren’t drinking (no, seriously, stop laughing, we weren’t drinking) we didn’t hang out the entire day. Who knows how long the whole thing went, actually? I haven’t talked to anyone yet today to find out when the party shut down.

All in all it was one hell of a way to spend Mardi Gras day. I had a pocket full of stars and moons that I handed out to various people along the route, which made them smile. I got to hear fantastic music. I got to be part of the spectacle instead of a spectator.

I will certainly be one of the St. Anthony Ramblers next year.

In closing, here are a few more pictures for your amusement:
Our king and Queen
El Capitan giving the Captain’s toast
Us occupying a whole block in front of the St. Louis Cathedral
Panorama playing
What the heck – one more shot of me in the crowd, mask off because I was too damn hot

… and in case you haven’t gotten enough yet, or aren’t jealous yet, here’s the whole St. Anthony Ramblers Flickr pool which will probably continue to be updated for a few days as people sober up and post their photos.

Carnival is fully upon us
February 22, 2009, 6:27 pm
Filed under: tidbit

Sorry I haven’t been writing much lately. Things are busy here because we’re smack in the middle of Mardi Gras. Two and a half days left!

Um let’s see. Real quick: we still have and enjoy our jobs. The cat is fine. The weather has been beautiful even when it gets below 40°, which is rare. Yes, I’m rubbing it in. We still love love love our house and neighborhood, aside from a few crime incidents (but those happen in every neighborhood down here as far as I can tell). We love walking to the grocery store almost every night to pick up just what we need to complete dinner, and the opportunity it gives us to say hi to all the cats and dogs in the neighborhood.

Mardi Gras (season, not day) can be incredibly taxing. To paraphrase what Jonah said last night, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” There is at least one huge parade every day from Wednesday (three days ago) until Tuesday, and the closer you get to Tuesday the more and bigger the parades get. We’ve seen … oh, I’ve lost count already, let’s see … Krewe du Vieux, Oshun, Pygmalion, Druids (maybe), Babylon, Muses, Knights of Chaos, Hermes, Krewe D’Etat, Morpheus, and part of Endymion. I think that means that so far we’ve missed about six or seven. Each of these parades lasts somewhere between 30 minutes if you’re lucky or two hours if you’re not, so as you can see we’ve spent a LOT of time standing on St. Charles Ave with our hands in the air. We’re probably not going to Bacchus tonight because we’re worn out – even though if we did go we would get to see Val Kilmer.

Anyway, the parades are great fun, and yes, they’re family friendly, at least in the areas of town in which we watch so no, we haven’t been showing any kind of skin. You get to meet up with your friends, stand on the street, make new friends, and occasionally catch one of the hundreds of thousands of strings of beads (or other goodies) raining down from the sky.

Our living room floor is covered in beads right now and that’s not counting the ones that Casey used to decorate the fence outside. We now have a huge stack of extra plastic cups (the krewes throw cups, not sure why that one started) and more useless toys and gizmos than we have any idea what to do with.

So … uh … yeah, that’s it. I figured I should check in and say hi, but I don’t have anything to report other than the fact that Mardi Gras is in full swing, we have yet to have any reason to go to the French Quarter and watch the drunken tourists, the rest of our daily schedule is disrupted because it’s hard to drive across town without hitting a parade, it seems, and it won’t be over until Tuesday at midnight.

I have two more days off of work and then life will finally return to what passes for normal down here. See you then.

More about pics
February 14, 2009, 7:21 pm
Filed under: photography | Tags:

I don’t know if I mentioned but I’ve been thinking about moving away from the domain klophoto.com for storing my vanity best-of-the-best portfolio. I don’t mind the domain name, per se, but so many people think they can add ‘photography’ to the end of their name and try and sell their services, and I don’t want to be part of that crowd. As Clayton Cubitt said:

Having a camera makes you a photographer like having a calculator makes you a mathematician.

I’m not trying to be a pro photographer, I’m just willing to show you some pictures if you want to look, you know what I mean?

Anyway, to try and force myself to action I registered brotheromara.com (Brother O’Mara being my Flickr username). Then I sat on it for a month or two and did nothing with it. Then I tested out a few different back-end solutions and couldn’t really find anything that I loved so I figured that I’d probably end up just rebranding the klophoto site and moving it all over there.

While procrastinating I set up a carbonmade backend and posted some of my best pictures of New Orleans. Since it’s been like this for a few weeks I’ve had time to decide that I like it – it seems really specific and targeted and precise. I think I’m going to leave it that way for now.

So what I’m saying is that if you ever want to show someone the best of my New Orleans-specific photos you can send them to brotheromara.com, and of course I’ve put a link in the left-hand sidebar here in case you forget.

Okay, you can now return to reading about anything that is not my ego.

Mardi Gras, brah
February 9, 2009, 9:57 pm
Filed under: tidbit

Krewe du Vieux

Originally uploaded by Brother O’Mara

Aw geez I don’t even know what to say about this. I think that b sums it up better than I can but I’ll try:

We’ve technically been in carnival season a.k.a. Mardi Gras since January 6th but just now, having seen the first real parade of the season, does it feel official. Casey had never been to a Mardi Gras parade and Krewe du Vieux, the walking parade through the French Quarter, was her first. They are notorious for being amazingly irreverent, satirical, and merciless with regards to their float and costume designs. They certainly did not fail us this year.

One bad thing about being behind the camera is how much you miss because of this piece of plastic and glass separating you from real life, so I made the decision that KdV was going to be the first and only parade to which I bring my camera this year. There may be some pocket point-and-shoot action but for the most part I want to experience the parades, not document them. Besides, all Mardi Gras parade pictures look the same. So yeah, here are six KdV pics for your amusement. You’ll have to go elsewhere for pictures of the rest.

Anyway, point of all this is that It Has Started and I’m sorry, but I’m going to be busy for the next two weeks so if you need me you can come find me at the side of St. Charles Ave watching those krewes roll by.

EDIT: if you want more pictures of KdV, Shanna posted quite a few. Some of those might be borderline not safe for work.

Just go ahead and go
February 3, 2009, 10:44 pm
Filed under: tidbit

Go. Go see Frost/Nixon on the big screen. It is 100% worth it. I have never held my breath more during a movie.

Writing, directing, pacing, cinematography, and especially acting – all stellar.


All it takes is one little thing
February 1, 2009, 3:29 pm
Filed under: tidbit

For years I have thought I didn’t like Cajun music, or zydeco, or whatever you want to call it. This stems from the fact that every bead and t-shirt shop and daiquiri joint along Decatur in the Quarter blasts this horrible stuff out into the street at all hours, trying to suck in the tourists looking for that kind of thing while the real Cajun country sits a three hour drive away into the middle of nowhere.

Well, like I said – it only takes one thing. In reading an article today about what really makes a Cajun a Cajun I saw the name of a musician, Dewey Balfa, and decided to look up some of his stuff. Watching the clip featured below kind of gave me a shock, because it was so different than what I expected, and also was something I had never seen before or even heard of in music:

I mean, really? Fiddlesticks? It just … is fantastic. I might have to actually search for more of his music (in album not Youtube form) and give it a listen. I just can’t believe how different it is than what I expected, and how good it is. It’s … surreal. It reminds me of good old-timey country (which I love) but with some amazing twist. I’m sure Walter could explain all the technicalities of it to me but for now I’ll just say I’m happy I finally made the discovery.

[side note:if you really want to dissect the difference between cajun music and zydeco then this article is a good start – if that’s what you’re into]