The SMITH Diaries Project

Krewe Du Vieux 2006

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

By Cree McCree

Joan of Arc lobbies France to buy us back

Hold on! I?m cumming!

Kat fight! Katrina and Rita get down and dirty

“Heckuva Job” Brownie lingered over dinner in Baton Rouge while Rome burned

Friends-of-SMITH Mia and Colin sport “There?s No Place Like Home” Flying Monkey costumes by Cree McCree

One of several variations on the Evacuation/Ejaculation theme

Military mufti was almost as popular as basic blue tarp

The only FEMA check many of us will ever see

My KDV krewe of parade watchers were right in the thick of things in our usual spot on Frenchmen Street, where we were able to snag hot schwag like “Buy Us Back, Chirac!” postcards, stickers from Entropy (”We have the power and you don’t”), and souvenir cards from the Comatose Corps of Engineers (”Destroying New Orleans, one breach at a time”).

And in part due to my role as a local costumier — I costumed Mayor Nagin last Mardi Gras (as an old-time movie director) and outfitted two Flying Monkeys for tonight’s parade — I know a slew of KDV members who lavished me with top-notch stuff like the coveted Police Medallion (”To Loot and $$erve”).

I even scored a commemorative KDV cup hot from the hands of the 2006 King of Krewe Du Vieux: New Orleans native Walter Williams, creator of the Saturday Night Live’s classic claymation character Mr. Bill, whose “Oh, no!” pleas for Wetlands protection fell on deaf ears before Katrina destroyed even more.

That Krewe Du Vieux rose to the historic occasion was no surprise. What makes it truly remarkable is that many of the marchers — some of whom came back from far off lands — lost everything to Katrina’s manmade levee breaches and had to start from scratch. Members worked overtime gutting their homes, cleaning debris, and removing mold (”Got Mold?”), then went straight to their krewe dens to build floats and make costumes.

They dug deep into their own pockets to pay the brass bands, hire the mule carts and make signature throws like the FEMA checks that weren’t worth the paper they were printed on. Their just reward? Crowds Gone Wild for an uproarious spectacle that purged the city of five months of pent-up grief, rage and frustration in the course of a few short hours.

Vive Krewe Du Vieux!

MORE NOLA DIARIES: Stay tuned for more on post-Katrina New Orleans from SMITH Big Easy correspondent, the one and only Cree McCree.

PLUS: Check out Michelle Goldberg’s dispatch in Salon on the city’s big school gamble and her husband Matt Ipcar’s intense and amazing photos.

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