Monday, February 27, 2006


The Monday before Mardi Gras.......

I allowed Daisy to call the shots this morning as to whether I would go to work or not. First of all, I went to bed last night with the beginnings of a sore throat, congestion, etc., but I have a strong work ethic and I usually have to be nearly half dead to stay home from work.

This morning was different. I was awake fifteen minutes before the alarm was set to go off, at which time Daisy left her pillow and crawled under the covers comfortably nesting against my chest. The deal was... if she gets up and goes back to her pillow, I get up. Otherwise, I do not leave this bed.

Daisy began snoring, "can I hear you say AMEN", I went back to sleep.

Today, I'm focusing on one of the most significant parades of the Mardi Gras Season... the first to parade tomorrow, directly before the Krewe of Rex is the ZULU SOCIAL AID & PLEASURE CLUB

Hardest hit by hurricane Katrina was the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, an African-American group. Ten of its 600 members died in Katrina and the subsequent flooding. Eighty percent of members' homes were destroyed, scattering Zulus around the country. The Zulu clubhouse took six feet of water.

"I lost everything -- house, car, clothes," says Naaman Stewart, Zulu vice president. His New Orleans East neighborhood was inundated for over six weeks. "But the spirit of New Orleans is much more important than crying about what we've lost, so you just keep trying."

For some, the idea of celebrating on the heels of catastrophe seemed wrong. One member sued in a failed effort to keep Zulu from the celebration. Stewart says he can understand, yet he feels Zulu has an important role to play. This year's parade, with a half-dozen fewer floats than last year, will roll under the theme, "Leading the Way Back Home."

"We want to be instrumental in bringing the city back," Stewart says. When the club holds its coronation ball, at the Hilton, television viewers will see 1,200 people from the city's black community "getting together dressed to the nines, looking good, feeling good," Stewart says.

Zulu will march on the shortened route from Uptown to Canal Street and the convention center as requested by the city. Afterward, they will leave their floats at the Superdome and "second-line" through the streets to their rebuilt clubhouse in the Mid-City neighborhood.

The second line is a jazz funeral tradition in which marchers start somberly, then "cut the body loose" and dance to celebrate those who remain. It took some doing to get the city to permit the second-line.

"It was necessary to go back," Stewart says. "There's too much history and tradition. We are Mardi Gras."

1 comment:

BostonPobble said...

During WWII, the suggestion was made in England to stop all cultural events ~ afterall, there was a WAR on! churchill's (poorly paraphrased here) response was "If we cancel everything, then what are our boys fighting for?" What better time for the Zulu ~ and all of New Orleans ~ to celebrate than now? Otherwise, the city is truly dead. 'Course that and a buck fifty...