Could It Be The Best Mardi Gras Yet??

Posted by Amoebite, February 18, 2010 03:18pm | Post a Comment
We won't know til next time... but we keep topping it every year at Amoeba LA! Just when you thought it couldn't get any wilder and crazier, Mardi Gras 2010 blew the roof off! Maybe it had something to do with the nice weather, or the Saints' Super Bowl win, or all the kids and families that joined us this year, or Doc playing that cello, but something about it was the best darn party jam this side of the Mississippi. If you haven't experienced Mardi Gras at Amoeba, check out these pictures and see what you're missing! And then join us next year!

Mardi Gras at Amoeba always involves a lot of preparation. We spent days decorating the store and hanging more and more shiny purple, green & gold stuff up until it looked like a meltdown at a Brazilian nuclear reactor, which is the effect we desired. We here at Amoeba are very inspired and in touch with the folks and the music in New Orleans and we are proud to pay them as much tribute as we can. For us Mardi Gras is one of the truly great holidays and it deserves some extreme visual expression. Next came the music and the food... we started rockin' the tunes on the stereo first thing in the morning, lots of classic jams from Dr. John and the Meters, the Wild Tchoupitoulas, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (check out their new CD with lots of special guests here). It's hard not to get in the mood when the sun is shining and some second line funk is jumpin'... and when all your co-workers are banging on tambourines and honking on party horns too. Sometimes it takes a while to get all the Amoebites in the Mardi Gras mood... this year folks were into it from the get-go. Just about everyone I saw was sporting ridiculous amounts of beads and crazy party hats. At least one pretty straight-laced floor guy wore a mask all day long! Now THAT is what you must do when you go to the Mardi Gras! And we were helped along by some yummy red beans and rice catered by Chef Marilyn from her fabulous soul food restaurant down on Crenshaw and Adams, which I heartily recommend after tasting this grub.

A little backstory... many Amoebites have lived or spent time or have friends and family in New Orleans, and since it's one of the great music cities of the world, we as music lovers feel a great sense of harmony with the Big Easy. I sometimes like to think of Amoeba as a little bit of New Orleans in L.A.; well, in spirit anyway. When Katrina devastated the city in 2005 (and our crapola Bush government reacted like Louisiana was a foreign country), we felt their pain in our own way, and we've spent five years fundraising through our charity auctions and donation jugs around the store. In this way we've raised around $150 grand for Gulf Coast rebuilding and relief, and we're thrilled to see the city bouncing back more and more every year since then. Even before Katrina we were having our Mardi Gras parade bash, but since then, it's a little more special to know that we can help add to the good energy of the real New Orleans Mardi Gras, and hopefully that good energy will carry everyone a little further through the new year. Having the Saints win the Super Bowl is maybe a sign that good things are happening for the people of New Orleans once again, and nobody deserves it more. So laissez les bon temps roulez!

They did indeed roulez at Amoeba again this year as they always do! DJ Lee "Flash" Gordon and little Joe kicked off the musical madness at 3 p.m. with a smokin' set of New Orleans R&B, from Fats Domino to Champion Jack Dupree. By then Lindsay K. had the store decorated to the gills and the folks were starting to don robes, masks and umbrellas... we rolled out the floats to the general excitement of all. This year we had a New Orleans Saints float with a giant football and helmet, a Yo Gabba Gabba! float to celebrate our favorite kids' TV show, an Egyptian sphinx emerging from a purple pyramid and the traditional Yellow Submarine! Tons of kiddies were in attendance this year (this is pretty much the best thing you can do with your kids of all time), and they were pretty excited about these floats, especially the Yo Gabba Gabba! extravaganza!

As 4 o'clock neared (the traditional parade kickoff time), excitement mounted... folks began banging on cowbells and maracas, and shooting off exploding poppers, as they waited eagerly for the King of Mardi Gras to appear. The Amoeba Town Players came frolicking forth and started playing "When the Saints Go Marching In..." Not your traditional parade band, but they did make a joyful noise with baritone horn, electric mandolin, ukulele, lots of drums and percussion and several acoustic guitars. Doc even brought his cello, though his virtuosity was a little drowned out in all the racket. Finally the great man appeared upon the stairway...The King of Mardi Gras! Terry Smith, our monarch, proceeded down the stairway followed by a band of psychedelic courtesans...confetti cannons went off with a roar and the parade was under way!

King Terry led us around the store and around the jazz room...we passed by Billy and Adrienne on the scissor lift, which was raised up and decorated like a French Quarter balcony...they showered us with beads and confetti and stuffed animals. Unfortunately I forgot to put rear wheel drive in the floats when Lindsay and I were assembling them this year, so steering was a nightmare, but we wrangled everything up and down and around all the aisles without too many fender benders. Then we went up the main aisle and (our favorite part) out onto Sunset Boulevard! Where the rush hour commuters were treated to the strangest, craziest sight of all the many that you do see on that great avenue. You don't see a lot of large-scale psychedelic street theater at that time of day, even in Hollywood...with streamers flapping in the breeze, we marched down to the corner and turned onto Cahuenga, tossing beads into the windows of happy motorists as we went. King Terry was feeling adventurous so he took us all the way down to De Longpre and back up was a pretty incredible journey. Several of the floats kind of fell to pieces and almost blew a tire, but we made it back! And then we partied on Sunset some more. Lots of drivers honked the melody to "When the Saints Go Marching In" in time to our raucous rendition. Finally, as the sun touched the horizon, we danced back inside and took it to the stage for a mega jam with the Amoeba Town Players, playing the one and only song we know. To me and to the many onlookers, it was pretty much as close as you get to the real thing. It was just as wild and crazy and colorful, anyway. From there DJ Humble Bee, aka Bennett, took us out with a groovin' set of New Orleans breaks and beats, while we shoveled confetti and piled up party gear on the stage.

For my money, it was the wildest and best one yet. King Terry was still honkin' that horn and clackin' that clacker all day today from the bag check, which makes me think that he approved of the day's festivities. If America ever returns to a monarchy, I nominate Terry for king, and if you ever need something fun to do on a Fat Tuesday, come to Amoeba and party with the best! We'll see you here in 2011!!! And for larger images, plus more, click here!

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Mardi Gras (24), Amoeba Hollywood (876), New Orleans (56), Fat Tuesday (19)