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Filtering by Tag: Mardi Gras

Alabama Oddities Weekly Rundown Monday February 1st- Sunday February 7th

Amanda Herman

We here at Serpents of Bienville have a lot of different projects currently running.  One project that we are particularly excited about is the Alabama Oddities pieces that Amanda is writing for our social media sites.  She is doing daily updates, bringing you a new story every morning, of something strange and odd from our Southern home.  Not everyone has social media, so we will be doing weekly rundown's of her stories, which we will be publishing every Sunday.  We hope you guys enjoy, and remember to follow us on our social media sites to get daily Alabama Oddities stories.  With the opening of the new Serpents of Bienville Art Gallery we have been a little behind on the rundowns so here's one a day or two late. So enjoy!

Monday February 1st - 150th Anniversary I think…

According to numerous accounts written in the early twentieth century about Joe Cain and the first time he stepped out of the streets of Mobile as Chief Slacabamorinico, this Sunday will mark the 150th anniversary of the Joe Cain Mardi Gras celebration. Each account differs drastically, however, and each stands firm in being the absolute truth. Some say Old Slac was parading by himself, on foot. Another says that he was followed by the Lost Cause Minstrel Band. One more states that Joe was pulled in a coal cart with a handful of other comic friends. As the Mobile Mask (mobilemask.com) has revealed, however, 1866 may not even be the actual date of his first appearance. The parades and celebrations that Joe Cain was fabled to have witnessed in New Orleans and brought back to Mobile the following year, didn't even take place according to newspaper reports, until 1867. Yet, a newspaper clipping obtained by the History Museum of Mobile is supposedly written by Joe Cain himself, and states that he attended a fire department parade in New Orleans in the year of 1866, which would mean that he couldn't have paraded in Mobile until 1867, though that particular parade actually took place in 1867, bringing the party back to Mobile in 1868. So, just to be safe, let’s just celebrate the 150th anniversary of Joe Cain’s legacy for the next three years.

 

Photo taken by Mobile County Sherriff Deputy's Cell Phone. 

Photo taken by Mobile County Sherriff Deputy's Cell Phone. 

Tuesday February 2nd - LaShe’s Roll On

With their emblem based on a Broadway showgirl, the Order of LaShe’s prove time and again that the show must go on. In 2008 as float 10 was passing through the intersection of South Claiborne and Church Street, the giant koala caught fire. The “LaSheilas Downunder” themed float seemed to fall victim to an electrical fire, and firefighters responded within minutes. The revelers awaited so impatiently, that as soon as the last flame was extinguished, the women ran back onto the float and returned to throwing their goodies to the crowds. The firefighters had not even finished their inspection of the area. Moments later, the parade rolled on. Check these ladies out and join the party tonight in Downtown Mobile at 6:30.

 

Wednesday February 3rd - Wragg Swamp Stomp

 Wragg Swamp is the area that Chief Slacabamorinico, Grampa Gator, the satirical Comic Cowboys, and their burly Queen Eva call home. This legendary folk ground is all but a tale to tell nowadays. The swamp was filled during Mobile’s westward expansion in the 1950’s to build Springdale and Bel Air Malls. Filling in that area, that once caught and cleansed runoff from the surrounding areas, has proved to be devastating to the nearby ecosystems and waterways. But I’ll let the Wragg Swamp Band tell you the story themselves:

 

Wragg Swamp "Wragg Swamp Stomp"

1st verse: We grew up on the edge of the swamp

Steamin' heat and Spanish moss

Creeks and critters, skeeters and snakes

Screeched and hummed the night away

2nd verse: One cold day during Mardi Gras

A strange parade came from the swamp

Grandpa Gator led the line

Slacabamorinico close behind

Chorus: Doin' the Wragg Swamp Stomp

Wragg Swamp Stomp

A bunny-hop with a cool be-bop

That's the Wragg Swamp Stomp.

3rd verse: When the morning mist began to clear

Comic Cowboys did appear

Following the merry troupe

Telling tales, some tall, some true

4th verse: I saw them dance down Emogene

The chief was red, the gator green

When Eva stopped to straighten her hose,

She dropped her stogie down a crawdad hole

(CH)

Bridge: Now the plaza pavement simmers

They filled that swamp to build a shopping center

But Gator, Chief and the Cowboys, too

Live forever like legends do.

Copyright 2010, Windy Holler Music, ASCAP

Check it out here.

 

Thursday February 4th - Slapstick

The imagery of Folly chasing Death with a large stick and inflated pig bladders tied to it is not a modern carnival tradition. The wooden pole folly carries is actually the object that spurred the idea of "slapstick" comedy. Slapstick is of the Italian "batacchio," a wooden, slatted pole used to create a comical slapping noise in stage performance. The bladders tied to the end also made a hilarious noise, later detached and used as, the prank we all still childishly amusing, the whoopie cushion. "A style of humor involving exaggerated physical activity which exceeds the boundaries of common sense," if your Mardi Gras celebration cannot be described as slapstick, you're doing it wrong. 

 

Illustration by Sean Herman

Illustration by Sean Herman

Friday February 5th - Boyington Oak

On Joe Cain Day, this Sunday, as the widows are circled around the famous grave of Old Slac and the Excelsior Band blasts it's beautiful funeral jazz, keep your eye out for the dark and gnarled oak tree lurking at the back of the graveyard. Amongst its crawling, knotty roots of are the bones of Charles R. S. Boyington. He was put to death for the murder of his friend, a murder he swore on his near ready grave, he did not commit. Boyington vowed that from his body, when dead and buried, an oak would sprout. He knew that oak would be a reminder to all that thrust those pitchforks and flames to his brow, that their hate and haste stole the life of an innocent. Look for the oak before the Mistress procession takes off, the moss covered obelisk, the pillar of truth: The Boyington Oak.

Read Sean Herman's  eerie blog on this tale here.

 

Saturday February 6th - Under the Malaga Inn

Reservations to stay in the Malaga Inn, located in the Downtown Historic District of Mobile, during Mardi Gras season, sell out faster than chicken on a stick. It's picturesque courtyard and its "genteel southern living atmosphere" will float you back in time, a time when the souls that haunt its halls were still free to leave. The Malaga Inn is actually two twin houses built in 1862. These two townhouses were constructed by the husbands of two sisters during the Civil War. As wealth became unstable, the houses were sold off, eventually being renovated to connect by a three story addition of rooms, and the doors opened to travelers, vacationers, and honeymooners of Southern Alabama nearly a century after the War. From the legends told by guests and staff, though, many of its wartime inhabitants never actually left. Room 007 seems to be a favorite of a woman in a white hoop dress. She has been seen entering and leaving its quarters, with chandeliers swaying and objects moving in her wake. Although this is the most famous haunting of the Inn, it's certainly not the most disturbing. Ask one of the staff members to give you a tour and if you're lucky, they may just take you underneath the original houses. Tunnels were built to provide cover and shelter to Confederate Soldiers, and with so many Americans killed in battles nearby, some may still be taking advantage of its protection. People have reported, on quite a regular basis, dark shadows and light orbs following them, rushing past them, or even "standing" still in the corners of their rooms. This beautiful Boutique inn is a staple for a Mardi Gras pre party, or a place to escape the chaos for a while, as long as you're aware that you may not actually be alone in the Malaga Inn.

 

Sunday February 7th - Haunted Fort Conde Village

When people picture a haunted fort in Southern Alabama, they picture men in Confederate uniforms marching the perimeters for eternity, or women in white flowing dresses searching for their love that never returned to them. But what if the fort was reduced to rubble? Where do the ghosts find comfort when the last home they knew is gone? Well, not entirely gone. Downtown Mobile is riddled with secret underground tunnels and passageways from the original Fort Conde to facilitate secretive cover and escape from attacks. What still lies under the streets of Mobile doesn't always stay hidden. The Fort Conde village is a block of historic homes from the 1800's turned bed and breakfast or offices, that have been restored and protected behind the smaller replica Fort Conde, built to house the 1720's original structure's history and artifacts. Many paranormal teams have investigated this historic ground that people have found shelter, comfort, and security in, reaching back before the original fort's construction, when the natives called this sacred port area home. The most thorough investigation has been done by Beyond Sight (beyondsightparanormal.com) who have spoken with at least 7 different souls still inhabiting the area. They encountered children aggressively shouting and warning one's father to run. A gentle soul thanked them for returning to the village, because the gentlemen promised her they would come back. Ghosts followed them on their journey exclaiming their presence, confused as to why they couldn't be seen, saying over and over, "I am right here!" A woman was asked about another inhabitant, to which she offensively replies, "We're not ghosts." So when you're wandering the scenes of Mobile today, don't forget about those hiding beneath the streets. Take a walk through Fort Conde Village and say hello to the unseen residents. Just don't tell them they're already dead.

Top 5 Mardi Gras Movies: Honorable Mention "Mardi Gras Massacre"

Vernon T. Hightower

There are a lot of horror movies set during the festive Carnival season, which isn’t surprising as the setting lends itself to horror. Masks, skeletons, excess, debauchery. How could a crazed killer resist such temptation?

If you go to imdb, type in “Mardi Gras” and see what pops up. Some of the search results may surprise you, but as a guy who actively seeks out films about, and set during, Mardi Gras, a horror film with Mardi Gras right there in the gotdang title is too much to resist.

Being one of the UK’s infamously banned 39 “video nasties” moved “Mardi Gras Massacre” straight to the top of my list of “must-see” movies. Unfortunately, it was almost impossible to find a copy, and has still never been released in the UK.

It was hard to find, that is, until a company called Code Red released the “Maria’s ‘B’ Movie Mayhem” version on dvd, which is easily obtainable via amazon.

The Maria in question is Maria Kanellis, who apparently is famous as a wrastling “diva” but also has tried her hand out as a “horror host”.

mardi5.jpg

On this dvd, you can “watch the movie with Maria”, which is where she does her best (but not very good) Elvira impression and makes comments throughout the film. If you like that sort of thing, it’s ok, but personally I can’t recommend it.

It also includes a music video for her original hit single, “Fantasy”, which I could only make it through about 5 seconds of, and is shot in Los Angeles and has absolutely zip to do with massacres or Mardi Gras.

mardi1.jpg

Thankfully, you can just “watch the movie only”, which makes it sound really boring, but clearly is the best option.

So without any more introduction than that, let’s watch it!

mardi6.jpg

 

Super cool title screen. I think that is supposed to be blood? “Mardi Gras” is written all festive, but “MASSACRE” is very matter-of-fact, and adorned with blood. I think.

mardi4.jpg

The movie opens with this weirdo, immediately identified as the antagonist by his bad guy voice, his fancy suit in a bar full of ‘tutes, and his persistent desire to meet the “most evil” prostitute in New Orleans. Here he is approaching two willing ladies and asking about which gal in the bar is the “most evil”.

mardi3.jpg

 

He is then introduced to, supposedly, the most evil woman in the bar.

You would almost think that this guy is going to turn out to be a “Se7en” style biblical avenger, the way he is going after evil women and prostitutes. Turns out, not so much...

mardi2.jpg

Due to the nature of the film being a "video nasty", you will have to check out the rest of Vernon's Rundown of "Mardi Gras Massacre" at his blog, bayoubabylon.com.  CAUTION: There are a few scenes from the film that are NSFW, and he goes over them on his blog, so it's not for the easily offended or too young of eyes, for there is some 1970's nudity and violence in "Mardi Gras Massacre".  Enjoy!

Check out the rest of the posts in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5


Top 5 Mardi Gras Movies, Part 5, "All On a Mardi Gras Day" and Finale

Vernon T. Hightower

#1 All On a Mardi Gras Day (2008)

This is, to me, the best Mardi Gras movie because it’s the most fun! Sure, there are some bummer moments, like when they talk about how Claiborne Street is now the home of the I-10 overpass, but for the most part, this short documentary is very positive.

It also shows how the black community in New Orleans, excluded from participating in events like those shown in “By Invitation Only”, took Mardi Gras and made it their own.

There’s something very punk about that, and I feel like it’s something I can identify with, even though I’m on the outside here, just as much as I am with the King Rex and Felix Society types.

You also get to see a side of Mardi Gras that a lot of people don’t get to see. A side that is so far removed from “Boobs on Bourbon” that it may as well be a completely different holiday.

Here in Mobile, there are very few Mardi Gras Indians, and there are no “Skull and Bone” groups or “Baby Doll” groups. The few Mardi Gras Indians that do exist here, I have never even seen in person.

A Skeleton Group

You can order this film from amazon here

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

So those are my top five movies to watch for Mardi Gras. I know some of them are not that fun, and downright depressing, but I’ve always felt there was a sad side to the revelry. It’s Folly chasing Death because we would rather not think about the depressing sides to life.

In this case, Death has just as much room on the float as Folly.

Check out the rest of the posts in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Honorable Mention.