Friday, February 19, 2010


Out of the blue, Jim and I got a call from a guy named Craig Kraemer, a native New Orlean, who does podcasting. In my personal realm, I already have people who say blogging? What's that? know the routine. So, now I'm going to try and explain podcasting.

Craig, pictured with me above, does audio on-line interviews with people about his favorite city. He is passionate about New Orleans and his card reads: New Orleans, His mission is: Rebuilding New Orleans One Voice at a time. The Chamber of Commerce ought to hire this one man cheering squad! He feels deeply the pain and frustration the whole city went through after Katrina, because he had to fight the same brick wall, dealing with insurance, Fema, and so on. Voila! New Orleans was born out of that tragedy.

Podcasting is like a local public access event where you and your neighbors turn the spotlight on yourselves and listen to and network in a positive way with your friends and neighbors-your community. Normally, he interviews locals but got wind of our blog and asked us to communicate on his Podcast. We sat on a sunny bench near Cafe Du Monde and talked with him about our visit here. Its simple really. He has an affordable device, an Ipod with inputs to take your audio, then uploads it to a computer. He can edit the information if needed, then post it on-line for anyone with a computer to listen in. Sort of like blogging, only live audio instead of reading. He has a whole library of podcasts that you can select from once you are on-line. Groovy! His phone number is 504.944.8879 if anyone is interested in contacting Craig. He is going to email us a lead so we can listen to it when its posted.

The great part of this experience for us was learning about podcasting, plus he gifted us with a coveted, decorated coconut shell offered during Mardi Gras by the Zulu Krewe, and a Zulu Medallion. He asked us if we'd seen the Mardi Gras Museum? We told him we had. Not true! What we saw was Mardi Gras World, a huge difference.

The Mardi Gras Museum is a treasure. It has videos, great photos and a fascinating history of Mardi Gras as it developed over the centuries.

With coconut in hand, we read with heightened interest the struggle black Americans had to simply organize themselves to march in a parade that leaned heavily on black culture, their music, ritual masking, colorful costume and joy de verve.

In 1781 authorities forbade slaves and people of color to wear masks or feathers, or mimic white people during carnival season. The carnival celebration went through several metamorphosis' from mud slinging disgust, dismissing the parade as a low class exhibition, disallowing women to participate in Krewes and more. The parade and the fancy balls that are part of Mardi Gras had their own changes reflecting various mores of society as well. The Zulu Krewe insinuated themselves into the parade by dressing in black face. They mocked white society and got away

with it. It opened the door for black participation.

Elaborate costumes are a treat for all of us to behold. These were worn by the chosen queens of the parade. The selection of a king, called Rex and a queen is explained in the museum. A later krewe began a hollywood flavored entry, where a celebrity is chosen each year to head their cortege. A great place to visit before your first Mardi Gras.

The first king from 1902. Today a king, called Rex, is selected by his contribution to New Orleans Society rather than his money or influence in the Krewes. America lacked royalty, so they made up their own. An interesting take on that, when British royals, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were guests at the Rex ball in 1950, they were escorted to Rex's throne. Then the confusion in protocol, who would curtsey to whom? The Duke and Duchess graciously curtsied and acknowleged Rex and his Queen.

The Indian's costumes are so elaborate they can cost thousands of dollars to make. Without knowing the costs, we ran into the Indians playing in the French Market and got a photo of this years orange feathered costume. They are works of art, embroidered, beaded, bejeweled, with silver, leather, feathers and all manner of elaborate decoration. As soon as Mardi Gras is over, they begin work on the next year's costume.

Why do they do it? Because they enjoy it, being central to the celebration, exhibiting their work and talent, sharing it with others, having their work recognized and photographed and participating in the grandest party in the U.S.

Jim and I visited the New Orleans Mint and, a very different laundromat, the St. Louis Cathedral and Cemetery, and bought tickets for the Cabildo. Louisiana Museum employee Jimmy Jackson gave us a vivid run down of this place and promised that we will be visiting a museum where we can dance?

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