„Get up, it’s Mardi Gras Day!“ I hardly slept during the night, not even two hours, I was so excited to see the local Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the traditional promising black part of it, you were telling me about since I arrived. Nevertheless I woke up, when I heard the call of the loudspeaker from the street. It was 3:20 early. Too early. I still had the pervasive picture from your gig last night in my mind, the thrilling beats of the medley of indians still were drumming in my ears, I was almost hypnotized by it, and needed hours to come down from the trance I was settled in only through the intoxicating rhythm. I took a cold shower, drunk my coffee in a hurry and was ready to hit the streets to meet you there. „Be someone else. Colors.“ I never had owned a mask, or been costumed. Not even as a child. But now I took for all cases a red nose with me in my pocket. You showed me the place already before, where all the indian tribes will get together about five o’clock in the morning. So I turned into the Claiborne Avenue from the Canal Street and went under the brigde, above me the elevated interstate. It was still deep dark night, I just could see the beaming lights from the quick running cars on the road next to me but I haven’t seen anybody. No orphaned soul on the street, no one under the bridge except of me. I walked and moved ahead passing the forest of painted oak tree columns, and hoped by every crossroad to meet the indians, but there were only some silhouettes of homeless people to suspect. I couldn’t detect any sign of prearrangements for the big day. It was uncanny listening to my own steps, and to my racing heartbeats, to the only sounds, I could hear in the enwraping silence. It was like the eerie silence right before the storm. A desperated shout of a male voice disrupted the cold air of the mystical black night „please, don’t kill me!“ „ Boooom!!!!!!!!!“ The echo of the following silence was even more shocking, than the gunfire itself. I felt like floating in a nightmare of reality, I couldn’t believe it, it sounded more than surreal being a witness of a homicide, since there was nobody to see in my immediate vicinity. No killer, no victim. (First three hours later I got to see the puddle of blood.) I didn’t get really scared, but I left the scene as I got to see on the corner a small, inspiring confidence house all over with iridescent graffiti, Ernie K-Doe’s Mother-In Law Lounge. The bar was closed, but the door to the adjoining backyard was open. I’ve thought, I’ve found the perfect place to call you, so I entered the funny, lovely garden, full with flowers, planted in blue, green, purple painted bathtubs and toilet bowls. Slowly the day brightened, the rising sun reddened the sky, as I woke you up with my early phone call. Instead of good morning you said „all my bones hurt“, which sounded very plausible and all too human after the four shows you had in a row yesterday, on Lundi Gras Day. The hundred years of Zulu with his Elements (Mr. Big Stuff, The Governor, The Ambassador, the Province Prince, and so on), was celebrated yesterday all day long along the river. I saw hundreds of funny masked black people, painted on even more black, but I didn’t get THE coconut. During I was waiting for you to pick me up from the garden, I couldn’t anticipate, that the lady of the house, Ernie K-Doe’s widow, the mother of all Baby Dolls of the city, Antoinette K-Doe got a heart attack and died in the house, just a few steps away from me. Days later as I attended her visitation, right after Snooks Eaglin’s funeral (you sang there in jam with Clarence „Frogman“ Henry and Al „Carnival Time“ Johnson my most favorite gospel „ Hush, Somebody’s Calling my Name“ , ((which is since years the ringtone of my phone)) and lead after jamming the second line), I only learnt, what had happened days before on that Mardi Gras morning, a heavy strange feeling was overcoming me. My whole stay was tainted with the very End, it was like taking an endless ghost tour around the cold gravestones of the crypts at the cemetery. I could feel and suddenly I did understand the second spirit, the woodoo of this city, which is /I think/ the sense of the second lines - the Death lurks around every corner here, but we praise the life, we are dancing and singing and are happy, it did not caught us yet. I felt the smooth breeze of Death, it sounded like, he would whispering to me „I took him, I took her, but I don’t intend to take you yet“. /Saved by the bell./ Anyhow, I saw Him on this Mardi Gras Day though, coming along on the street balancing himself on stilts, with his skull touching the sky where the sun was rising, followed by several bone men gangs dressed up like skeletons, with huge bones, bone-chilling tambourines and hissing whips in their hands. He paced up and down on the street, got tired from it, then set down and played on conga only one monotonic song of dumb da dum, dumb, dumb da dum, dumb, dumb. As he finished, he got up on his long feets, he touched somebody’s shoulder, the man looked scared up at him. On his skirt stood written „YOU NEXT“ . We were waiting in front of the Backstreet Cultural Museum for hours, but no one indian tribe showed up there. No trace from any Flag or Spy Boy, Wild Man, no Game Flash, no Big Chief. I just got to see a caped unknown God imitation, leading a bizarre ritual with earth and flooting water for some masked people lamenting together some kind of a loud prayer on a never-heard language. Clamor, singing, tambourines, cowbells, drums. A lot of fuss abouth not much. I hardly could get closer to shoot my videos, actually there were more sightseeing tourists, and camera crews, than natives. We were freezing, you left soon, short after I left too. I went through the French Quarter. There I got finally some really imaginative costumes to see, and a happy crowd of drunked tourists coming from the Big Parade of Rex, bejuweled poundwise with multicolored beads, proudly, they could get hold so many of them. I’ve been tired, the sun could not warm me up, the cold was sitting in my bones. I needed something to drink. I started with some Hurricanes, it tasted sweet and fine (much better than Bloody Mary, or Houma-Houma), I drunk more of it, so I can’t remember anymore, how I got back to my hotel. I immediately fell asleep for sixteen hours. I think I was the only one who didn’t get to see any Mardi Gras Indians or Baby Dolls In New Orleans on that certain Mardi Gras Day. Due to the death of Antoinette K-Doe, they all assembled at the Lounge and were holding there a vigil by the body.
MARDI GRAS INDIANS • INDIAN RED (WILD MAN MEMORIAL)