Last spring I met with New Orleans chessmaster Jude Acers for a follow-up interview for the lengthy profile and interview I would eventually write about him. It was dusk and the darkness was coming on fast. We were sitting at Jude’s chess table on Decatur near the Gazebo Restaurant and along strolled “Uncle” Lionel Batiste. I wrote up the moment for my profile of Jude, but I ended up cutting it since I couldn’t see figure how to fit in the larger piece.
This year we’ve had more people than ever park at our house to catch the Carnival parades and I feel I am growing substantially in my capacity as Carnival Facilitator. Remember, I’m just a Midwestern tourist who never left New Orleans, but since 2005 when we “bought” a house a block and a half from the Uptown parade route, I’m out there for every parade.
I’m thinking a Carnival Facilitator uniform might be in order next year. Ideally, I’d have one of those pedicab deals to ferry folks back and forth. Maybe a jumpsuit and optional headgear with a cupholder and an MP3 player and speaker playing carnival music. Light saber to direct traffic. Mobile charging station for cell phones.
I enjoy Carnival for all sorts of reasons and one is how it makes space for people to find each other, either for the first time or for friends and acquaintances to renew bonds. George Williams, aka Loki of Humid City and Social Gumbo, with roots in New Orleans going back to the 18th century, returned a few months ago after three years in Cincinnati, Ohio. During the Pontchartrain parade yesterday, he walked up St. Charles Avenue and found us at First Street. His first Carnival as a resident again, he was trying to get his Carnival legs and find as many friends along the route as he could. He grabbed some beads, made a point to complain that our daughter had passed him in height. Here he is documenting the good times before he rolled along …