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Posts from the ‘New Orleans’ Category


Mardi Gras 2009: Wrap Up

Creative Commons License photo credit: Toast to Life

Mardi Gras 2009 is over. At 12:01 AM this morning local time, the police swept Bourbon St., shutting down the celebrations and bringing on the coming of Ash Wednesday. Another Mardi Gras is in the books.

Some people asked what I thought of this year’s Mardi Gras, unfortunately though, I don’t have a lot to say about it. I was sick the entire week before and most of the weekend before too. My revelry was limited to a bit on Sunday and Monday evening and most of the day Tuesday. I wasn’t able to go to any of my favorite parades, save Krewe Du Vieux early in the season, and it really feels like I missed most of this year and I don’t even have any pictures to share (be thankful for Photodropper).

Which, unfortunately, is a terrible shame. It was a very good Mardi Gras. In my estimation, it was the first Mardi Gras since Katrina that felt like the holiday was “back”. The 2006 one was a very bittersweet one, largely for the locals and the workers rebuilding the city. The 2007 one was still too early after Katrina. 2008 was just too early in the year (early Mardi Gras are always more tame) and this was the first time the city has both healed enough and has had a good date to work with.

On that front, 2010 looks very promising, with a mid-February date and 2011 even more so, with an early March date. I think we’re poised for a good run of Mardi Gras years coming up. Read moreRead more


Why Boycotts Fail

Oh no!!! Don't club the baby seals!!
Creative Commons License photo credit: EDgAr H.

Last week, the The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology announced that they were going to boycott the state of Louisiana due to recent laws passed in the state that has opened the door for creationism to be taught in the state’s schools.

As a result of this, they will not be holding their 2011 meeting in New Orleans, instead, they will be taking it to Utah.

No matter what you think of the politics of teaching creationism in schools, one can easily see why an organization like SICB would be opposed to it and why they might want to do something about it.

But boycotting Louisiana, in particular New Orleans, isn’t going to solve the problem and is only going to hurt good people who work hard and likely agree with them politically. After all, New Orleans is a very liberal city (a bright blue dot in the deep red south) and one of just four parishes to vote against Jindal in the 2007 gubernatorial election.

However, the problem with boycotts runs deeper than that. With only a few exceptions, they are just lazy, ineffective means of protest that do more harm than good. They are misused, especially in modern history, and almost never achieve the intended goal.

The reason is pretty simple when you look at the math. Read moreRead more


Mardi Gras Monday: Beads

Creative Commons License photo credit: DoctorWho

Truthfully, I’ve been loathing this article. Keeping this site-family friendly and discussing an item so rightfully associated with very adult activity is a challenge.

So, rather than discuss what one does with them, which is a very personal choice, I’m going to talk about what they are and where you can get them. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

So this brings us around to the main question: What are beads? Beads are strands of cheap plastic spheres and shapes strung around a thin cord. They come in all colors and are typically worn during carnival season that you can find them pretty much year-around on weekends in the French Quarter.

So where do you get them and how do you know which are the best? Those questions aren’t nearly as simple. Read moreRead more


Mardi Gras Monday: Alcohol

Creative Commons License photo credit: nyki_m

If you want to learn about “portion distortion”, head to Bourbon St. on a Saturday night.

Between the “Huge Ass” beers, fishbowl hurricanes, giant hand grenade glasses and much more, “only having a couple of drinks” is even more meaningless to the nice police officers than usual.

Alcohol is entwined with Mardi Gras in a way that no one can deny. From drunken revelry in the French Quarter to the wine tastings in the Garden District, alcohol is practically the gasoline that fuels Mardi Gras.

Now, I have to plead a little bit of ignorance. I’m not really much of a drinker, I much prefer a glass of wine at home to a pair of hurricanes in the quarter. However, I’ve brought in a little bit of help (from both Google and harder drinking friends) and am going to bring you the need-to-know information about drinking during Mardi Gras. Read moreRead more


Mardi Gras Monday: Sleeping and Parking

hello honda, nice parking job. I was here first (hi) over here... next to you... parked nicely next to the wall in a COMPACT spot. Were you *really* in that much of a hurry to park like this? KTHXBYE
Creative Commons License photo credit: mil8

This is part of an ongoing series of Mardi Gras-related posts. You can follow the rest of the posts here.

If you’re visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras, you’re going to face two challenges, finding a place to stay and finding a place to park.

It may not be the most pleasant things to think about when visiting New Orleans, but if you don’t put some planning into them your time here is going to be ruined and they are two very easy things to mess up.

The problem is pretty simple. Though New Orleans is a tourist town, Mardi Gras is the absolute peak of its season. Though the entire time between Halloween and Fat Tuesday is active in general, in the last weeks, the city gets slammed. Hotels fill up quickly and parking, already scarce in the city as it is an older one (much of it laid out before automobiles), becomes prized.

So how do you overcome these obstacles? There are a lot of ways, but here are some of my tips. Read moreRead more


Mardi Gras Monday: Food

Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Creative Commons License photo credit: Photo Mojo

This is part of an ongoing series of Mardi Gras-related posts. You can follow the rest of the posts here.

Granted, food is not the most common thing that people associate with Mardi Gras, but New Orleans truly is a city that cherishes its cuisine and, as a result, there is a great deal of food that goes with the holiday.

However, the food of Mardi Gras, and of New Orleans in general, can seem a bit odd to people not from the region. Though those from Louisiana, especially the southern part of the state, make this kind of cooking a part of their daily lives, it’s going to seem a bit odd to those who are just visiting.

So what kind of food should you been on the lookout for or try when you’re in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Here are some of my picks. Read moreRead more


Mardi Gras Monday: Parades

Creative Commons License photo credit: Toast to Life

This is part of an ongoing series of Mardi Gras-related posts. You can follow the rest of the posts here.

Parades are one of the most overlooked parts of Mardi Gras. Since they don’t (for the most part) take place in the French Quarter these days (due to the combination of large floats and narrow streets) many outside of the region even forget that they are a big part of the festivities.

However, locals and die-hard Mardi Gras fans never forget it. Every Mardi Gras comes with over 50 parades in the region, most of them in the immediate greater New Orleans (GNO) area. They range in size and include such famous Krewes as Rex, Zulu, Morpheus, Orpheus and Endymnion.

With the parade schedule about to start in earnest for the 2009 year, I felt it worthwhile to go over some general tips and tricks beyond the ones you find in most parade maps and calendars.

If you want to enjoy parades like a local, here is what you need to know. Read moreRead more


Mardi Gras Monday: Bourbon Balconies

bourbonst lights.JPG
Creative Commons License photo credit: Lyndi&Jason

Note: This is the first in a series of weekly columns about Mardi Gras. Between now and Lundi Gras, we’ll be covering some of the basics of Mardi Gras, including tips, tricks and suggestions from a local on how to survive Carnival in New Orleans. I’m trying to keep this series as family friendly and as broad as possible, since many people come to Mardi Gras for many different reasons, I want this to serve everyone’s needs.

There are a lot of “B” words that come to mind when one things of Bourbon St. Beads, beer, breasts, bars and booze name just a few. However, “balcony” is the only one that is part of the Bourbon St. architecture.

As you walk up and down the street, balconies literally line the road on both sides, as they do with much of the French Quarter. Apartments have them, bars have them, stores have them, hotels have them and nearly every establishment on the street has at least one.

During Mardi Gras time, these balconies become centers of activity. Revelers, not wanting to be in the crowd below, fill them to capacity. They participate by throwing beads and watching the party below. It comes with an air of exclusivity and it’s a chance to drink and have fun without being jostled by the crowd below.

But is it worth it and how does one get the most out of their balcony experience? The answers are below. Read moreRead more


Haunt Review: The Mortuary

The Mortuary is the anti-thesis to the previously-reviewed Camber of Horrors. Where the CoH is a low-budget, high-heart affair, The Mortuary is a high-budget, low-heart one.

You can tell from the second you drive by the two-story buildings with its large columns and lighted facade that you entering into a haunt that has spent a great deal of money on their setup. As you tour through their winding corridors and narrow hallways, that belief is reaffirmed with their high-end animatronics and decorations.

This haunt cost a lot of money and it shows. However, money can not buy a great haunted house experience, only the toys to build it with. The question for The Mortuary isn’t whether they have neat stuff, but what they did with it.

It’s a tough question with a rather complicated answer. Read moreRead more


Cone of Stupidity

If you live in New Orleans or any place else along a cost potentially impacted by tropical storms, you need no definition for what the forecasters call the “Cone of Uncertainty”.

For those who have never had the good fortune of a rushed evacuation from the latest “Mother of All Storms” allow me to take a moment and explain.

When a hurricane or other tropical storm is out in the ocean, the nice people at the National Hurricane Center do their best to try and predict where it is going to go. They use all kinds of computer models, forecasts, voodoo magic and dart throwing to come up with a forecasted track, meaning line.

They try to predict where the storm will be in roughly five days and make the best guess they can. However, they admit they aren’t very good at this and that nature has a way of making them look like idiots. So, they hedge their best some and create what they call a “Cone of Uncertainty” that goes out from either side of the track.

Since they are pretty good at the 12-24 hour range, the cone starts off very narrow but, by day 5, grows to approximately 350 miles on either side, meaning 700 miles across.

Now, that really isn’t that bad. If you’re within 350 miles of a big hurricane, you’re going to feel it. So anyone within the cone should be paying really close attention. At worst, the storm could make it personal and hit them directly, at best they’ll need to reschedule their boat race and bar-b-que.

Useful it may be at times, I’ve undertaken the decision to, in my household, rename this aforementioned cone the “Cone of Stupidity”. Why? I’ll explain. Read moreRead more