Monday, February 20, 2012.
Lundi Gras. Kevin Kelly's Party. Trapped At The Windsor Court.
Today is Lundi Gras. Because it comes between the weekend and Mardi Gras, every year more New Orleanians take the day off. More than usual this year, because it's also President's Day, and if the government is goofing off, why shouldn't the rest of us?
Well, because I do a lot of my work for its own sake, is my answer to that. I put out a full Menu Daily, and then went into town to do the radio show. I knew in advance it would be a slow one, what with many of my listeners out of their cars, and my just having returned from vacation.
Mary Ann and I went to Kevin Kelly's nightly Carnival party, which she has enjoyed for the past couple of days. Chef Jeremy Langlois from Houmas House Plantation (which Kevin owns) cooked up a buffet of parade food: red beans and andouille, crawfish etouffee, sweet potato curry soup, hot dogs, meat pies, and the like. All good. Two bars were open. So was the balcony, where a lot of people watched the passing of the ancient Krewe of Proteus, a fixture on Lundi Gras for longer than anyone could remember. As always, it was a beautiful, restrained parade.
Kevin owns (or is owned by) two beautiful golden Labrador retrievers who are rarely far from him. They were in Carnival regalia, and watched the parade from the balcony along with everybody else. Suddenly, they started barking a challenge to something below. My first thought was that they were alarmed by the flambeaus, but when I took a look I saw a better explanation.
"Your dogs don't care much for horses, do they?"
"From up here, they think horses are big dogs!" Kevin said.
That contrasted with the flashy, lengthy, thoroughly modern procession of Harry Connick Jr.'s Krewe of Orpheus parade. We watched the singer go by on the lead float, followed by the second of what would prove to be a great program of marching bands.
We moved back and forth from the balcony to the buffet, talking along the way with Peggy Scott and Errol Laborde, p.r. lady and longtime friend Bonnie Warren, and Kathleen Calhoun Nettleton, who has become the head of Pelican Publishing. Her recently deceased father Dr. Milburn Calhoun built that business into what it is now. (The publisher of Lost Restaurants of New Orleans, to name one minor thing.)
On the way out, Mary Ann and I ran into George Schmidt, the lead singer of the New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra and well-known artist. In the late 1970s, the extinct weekly newspaper Figaro published a Guide To Yats, classifying prominent Yats: Yats In Politics, Yats In The Arts, Yats in Media, etc. George was one of the two Yats Passing As Cultured People. I was the other.
MA and I thought we could head for home, but Orpheus wrapped itself tightly around the parking garage. We would have to wait for it to end completely before. We walked to the Windsor Court, where MA's brother Lee and his family were still in residence. We watched Orpheus in its entirety there. I must say that it's an excellent parade. My favorite part of it was the Smokey Mary float--six floats tethered together like the train for which it was named. Magnificent!
As I said, it was a long parade. I was falling asleep in one of Lee's folding chairs. I went up into the hotel's Polo Lounge to see if I could get a cappuccino or two. The Windsor Court again is reliable in its mission of supplying its guests with whatever they need. First came one cup of powerful espresso with its floating cloud of milk, then another. That perked me up, and let me run up enough of a bill that I didn't feel guilty about coming in here and not ordering a drink. And this is the very spot where I had the last glass of port before I collapsed and broke my ankle in the elevator last Lundi Gras.
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