Shoulda Been in NOLA: The Glory of (and Troubled Backstory to) St. Joseph's Day

People who talk about New Orleans from afar, who long to be in New Orleans and get there whenever they can—people like me—talk about Mardi Gras. They talk about jazzfest. They book their flights and set their sights on hitting the ground running for these and other moments.

My sacred pilgrimage?

St. Joseph’s Day, once the sun is setting and on into the night. When Mardi Gras Indians do the inscrutable, essential and brilliant things they do, and have been doing for a long time.
It’s been that way since I first experienced the event in 2006.
And it’s killing me that, for the first time in nearly a decade, I didn’t make it on Thursday night. Luckily, a lot of friends and associates sent photos, including the one above, from Bryan C. Lee Jr, at the Arts Council New Orleans, and this one below, from Katherine Cecil, a wonderful filmmaker and photographer.

The best context came via an article in The Advocate by Katy Reckdahl, who has deep knowledge of her city and its culture (and how the two relate), and is my favorite reporter to read on any topic concerning New Orleans. Her piece begins with some unfortunate but important history: Continue reading “Shoulda Been in NOLA: The Glory of (and Troubled Backstory to) St. Joseph's Day”

Bo Dollis, Big Chief Of The Wild Magnolias, Dies At 71

Anytime a Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief dies, there is cause to gather those immersed in this perhaps least-widely understood and yet most essential tradition—in order to slap tambourines, and sing ritual songs like “Shallow Water” and “Indian Red.”
In the case of Theodore Emile “Bo” Dollis, the longtime Big Chief of the Wild Magnolias, who died at his New Orleans home yesterday, at 71, the mourning, honoring and celebrating should reach deep within the local community and well beyond : Dollis was a Big Chief on the streets of New Orleans; he was also, in 2011, awarded a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship.
I’m hoping to get funeral and memorial information.
I’m sure there will be an outpouring in print and online, remembering Dollis, For now, there’s been a nice package of coverage about Dollis at the website of the Times-Picayune, Continue reading “Bo Dollis, Big Chief Of The Wild Magnolias, Dies At 71”