Amoeblog

What are the Mardi Gras Indians? (A Quick History)

Posted by Amoebite, February 23, 2011 05:23pm | Post a Comment
Since Mardi Gras is right around the corner, and we are talking about Black History---it seems fitting toMardi Gras Indians talk a little about the Mardi Gras Indian tradition in New Orleans and Louisiana. Still thriving, the Mardi Gras Indians are an important part of the Mardi Gras tradition and are said to have originated from the alliance between runaway slaves and the American Indians who provided a safe haven. It is also said that the African and Indian cultures found a natural affinity for each other as oppressed minorities within the early American settlements. The "Indians" incorporated African and Native American traditions in dress and rituals. Later on when Caribbean influences came to New Orleans, that flavor was also added to the mix.

The tribes of "Black Indians" which grew in Southwest Louisiana were defined by region and neighborhood and they became very territorial. To protect their status as the "reigning" Tribe in the neighborhood very often meant violent showdowns. In the early days of the 20th century, the focus of the "tribes" became less about territory and "turf wars" and became more about status defined by the better and more colorful suits and headdresses, as well as the songs and dances. The "battles" that the various tribes would do in the neighborhooMardi Gras Indiansds were about garnering respect for the amazing costumes and the dancing.

It was an ominous thing to see a group of Indians outside about to do battle with each other, and generally folks ran away. But nowadays, people flock to see the colors and hear the chanting, and to watch the "Big Chiefs" do battle. A Mardi Gras Indian Chief's suit can weigh up to 150 pounds, and he makes his suit each year with the help of his family. The tribe works all year to create a BETTER suit than the year before.

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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.

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Mardi Gras Mambo

Posted by Amoebite, February 26, 2009 04:08pm | Post a Comment
Mardi Gras Sign
Gris Gris Gumbo Ya Ya! It's carnival time again!

Mardi Gras is always a wonderful time at the old Amoeba, but this year the festivities were truly "marmalade!" More people attended than ever before, the floats were crazier, the music was funkier, and the Mardi Gras spirit was so strong some folks still haven't recovered. I saw a guy stumbling down Cahuenga covered in beads two days later... if it ain't the real thing, it's the closest you can get outside the French Quarter. If you were there, we love you; if you weren't, we wanna see you next year!

As usual, it snuck up on us again... we were still coughing from the flu and getting soaked with weeks of rain when we realized it was coming up on the calendar. Preparations kicked into high gear! We decorated the store in purple, gold and green, and then we redecorated it, and then we decorated it so much it was ridiculous. The PURPLE NURPLE krewe flung itself headfirst into float-making... the Yellow Submarine float made a battered but beautiful return, a sphinx & purple pyramid was set in motion, a tribute to recently deceased punkabilly pioneer Lux Interior of the Cramps (1948-2009), as well as an inexplicable float involving a space chicken surfing on a huge Dali-esque piano... at the last moment Karen dropped off a giant psychedelic timbale which this chicken was made to play like Tito Puente, and the floats were complete!


MEANWHILE... secret preparations were underway for the first ever Amoeba Irregular Marching Band! Led by Kim Pryor on trumpet and avant-garde sax player Becca, this motley ensemble worked up the spookiest, freakiest version of "When The Saints Go Marching In" we've ever heard! Augmented by the banjo of Matt Polley, a wheelchair-riding accordionista (Jada) and a second line anchored by Tom Wunder, Kris Konrad and Edythe, a truly celebratory zu-zu sound was pounded forth! It was left only to the Witch Queen of New Orleans, Mama Elicia, to howl wildly through a homemade megaphone and several feet of aluminum tubing and the sound was "ice cream."

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(In which foul language is used.)

Posted by Job O Brother, March 12, 2008 10:02pm | Post a Comment

The author being bullied into gambling. Note the excitement in his face. Note the sarcasm in the previous sentence.

Day two of Las Vegas saw Corey and I doing one of our favorite things: nothing.

After a breakfast of oatmeal so slimy you’d think it was an accessory for your Castle Greyskull play-set…





…we returned to the artificial beach that had been so typhoony the day before. This time it was sunny, sparkling, and crowded. Tacky house music blasted from every nook and cranny, making each action seem like a dull outtake from a beer commercial. We took refuge near a waterfall, which helped to drown out the incessant oomph – oomph – oomph

One feature I totally had a crush on was this thing they called the Lazy River, which was a stretch of pool that ran in a winding loop, with a strong current that was propelled by machines (or black magic – I didn’t actually ask). You get in this thing and you’re gently swept along with little physical effort. I decided then and there, if I’m ever a billionaire, I would buy myself a Lazy River. Then, dear reader, you and I could dive and splash and play all day, and no one could tell us to stop, because we’d just ride the current far away – safe from harm, from the voices, from the voices in our heads that tell us to kill.

Amidst all this carefree luxury, there grew in me a fear, tightening its grip, as hours past and evening drew near. You see, we had tickets to…


Cirque du Soleil.


Now, I had never seen a Cirque show, but I’d never let that stand in my way of judging them harshly. You have to keep a closed mind about things, right?

My fear was tied into my anxiety of all things “clowny”. This is not only about clowns, just behavior that I deem clowny. I don’t like circuses, carnivals, and other, similar events. I love Disneyland, but will go to great lengths to avoid the people dressed as Disney characters. The panhandlers on Hollywood Boulevard make my palms sweat and, confession time, when Amoeba Music celebrates Mardi Gras with a traditional parade, I time my fifteen minute break to allow for me to hide.

It’s nothing against these things. They bring joy and I totally think joy is rad, I just… feel incredibly… notwannabetherey when they happen.

So, when we neared the theatre and I saw ushers dressed in costumes and greeting audience members in character, I froze, and for a second I considered whether or not rushing out into the Nevada desert was an option. My behavior was moderately annoying Corey, so I put my courage to the sticking place and slipped in, careful not to make eye contact with theatre employees.

The show itself turned out to be good fun. There was one scene that genuinely excited me, because it showcased shadow-puppets.


Show-puppetry fucking rocks. It fucking rocks hard. Normally I don’t spell out cuss words in my blog, because I don’t want to offend spiritually bankrupt people, but in this case I have to make an exception and just let it out: SHADOW PUPPETS ARE FUCKING CHERRY.

After the show, Corey and I went backstage to meet Janine DeLorenzo, one of the (heh heh) instrumental people involved in Ka’s live orchestra. She was recently profiled, along with many other GLBT movers and shakers of Las Vegas, in the new issue of The Advocate.

Janine gave us a generous backstage tour. It was mind-boggling to see everything that goes into one of the productions – in some ways, behind the scenes was more astonishing than the show itself. (Though not the shadow-puppet part – that shit rocked harder than anything!)

Corey and I returned to our hotel room and snuggled up to some Mystery Science Theatre 3000, which has become our traditional, romantic, nightcap. Coincidentally, we both fell asleep for the whole night!





I dreamt that I was in a bar that was beautifully decorated with half-walls of colored, glass bottles. Kurt Cobain approached me. We exchanged pleasantries, then he asked me about his suicide and how it affected me. I was honest, and told him it made me very angry, that I hated him afterwards for doing it, though that hate eventually cooled. He listened to everything I said, looking compassionate.

I think the dream meant I need to eat more ice cream.
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