Mardi Gras 2013: Saint Anne parade amazes in the Marigny

Mardi Gras in the Marigny
(Gallery by Chris Granger, | The Times-Picayune)

Here's my Mardi Gras 2013 wish: When I croak, scatter my ashes at the corner of Royal and Kerlerec streets, so I can always be there when the Saint Anne marching parade passes by on Fat Tuesday morning. New Orleans is a great town to be an artist (or an art critic for that matter). The Saint Anne parade (and Mardi Gras in general) is part of the reason. In other places, laboriously producing a hand-made costume for a one-day event might seem to be a waste of valuable time. For the hundreds and hundreds of Ste. Anne marchers who clustered near the aforementioned corner today, it seems to be an imperative. Today everyone in sight was an artist … everyone. And so, for the rest of the year, those who commit themselves to being full-time artists don’t seem odd or frivolous … to anyone.

New Orleans is always a fecund field of folk art, but today it was its annual blossoming. I hope you were there to bathe in the visual poetry of hot glue, duck tape and spray glitter. If not, here are a few snapshots of the chaotic costume cornucopia.

In the topical costume category …

A pair of “Funky Gas Crackers” expressed their misgivings over hydraulic shale fracturing. More than one pope announced retirement, as did a Monopoly game flat iron. And two or three versions of poor Lance Armstrong bicycled through the throng adorned with various pharmaceutical accouterments. All in all, I found Ste. Ann 2013 to be far more surrealistic than political. Would you agree?

In the best use of cardboard category …

I was impressed by the Claes Oldenburg-esque full-body adjustable wrench costume. The large Abraham Lincoln head was a gorgeous piece of cubist sculpting. The stovepipe-shaped, bearded blue man mask was charming and the farmer with the tall staff adorned with a flock of cardboard blue birds was truly beautiful and transporting.

In the seafood section …

I watched a lobster girl ride a manual mechanical bull contraption that was overseen by a group of tattooed cowboys who required the crustacean to sign a release form before climbing aboard the unstable 55 gallon oil drum suspended from a pressure treated lumber framework by bungee chords above a pad of hay bales and foam rubber – people who don’t live in New Orleans almost never get to write a sentence like that. The beautifully sculpted sushi hand-roll costume was excellent as were the quite realistic oyster shell headdresses and the funky blue whale doing battle with the giant orange squid.

In the inspired use of found objects category …

I admired the bald man whose head was sprinkled with googly eyes, the tuxedo jacket studded with rear-view mirrors, the feathery costume created from multi-colored concert wristbands, the incomprehensible Q-Tips-coated man, the bubble pack octopus and the expectant mother who decorated her belly with Rhinestones. Best use of colored duck tape goes to the cartoonish white alligator.

In the art historical category …

The man made up as a Vincent van Gogh self portrait was amazingly convincing. I can't be sure, but I also imagine that the young women dressed in the attractive black on black on black costumes were paying tribute to Louise Nevelson.

In the miscellaneous category …

I loved the subversive female 610 Stompers dance group, the Hollywood South-devotee (attention Mike Scott), the reciprocating saw mini-float (maybe it went with the adjustable wrench) and the couple dressed in elegant matching French Quarter architecture outfits. Truth is, I loved it all.

Review: The Saint Anne parade and all the sub parades that flow together in the Marigny on Mardi Gras morning.

Favorite float: Loved the Gothic Trojan Horse, complete with confetti cannons and an especially dour selection of Johnny Cash songs. True, there aren’t many floats to choose from, but I love the horse anyway.

Favorite costume: The one you made. Of course there are costumes that rise above the rest, but the really interesting, amazing thing is the collective costume consciousness.

Favorite throw: Throws aren’t a big part of the pageant.

The rating: Doug MacCash rates select 2013 Mardi Gras parades. From best to worst, the ratings are: Ruler of the Route, Rolling in the Right Direction and Lost its Way. The Ste. Anne parade is a Ruler of the Route.