On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

On The Road and In Your Backyard is a weekday feature spotlighting reader submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, please share your part of the world, whether you’re traveling or just in your locality. Share some photos and a narrative, let us see through your pictures and words. We’re so lucky each and every day to see and appreciate the world around us!

Submissions from commenters are welcome at tools.balloon-juice.com


Folks, we’re fixing some issues with the form that were first/most-reported by otmar. Order for submissions will be corrected, but for new posts only. Sorry for the issues so far.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!


Today, pictures from valued commenter raven.

These are from our recent trip to the Big Easy. We went to the Backstreet Museum and The Petit Jazz Museum in the Treme neighborhood. The pictures are of Mardi Gras Indian costumes that are hand made by and used for just one year’s celebration. There is so much to know about the Mardi Gras Indians and I confess I really didn’t know anything until we watched Treme on HBO. There are several storylines woven together but it is anchored by Clarke Peters as Albert “Big Chief” Lambreaux. The thing that worried us came from a scene in the first season where the tribes are preparing for the funeral of a chief who died in Katrina and a “Katrina” tour bus pulls up and the driver says “what’s this about”?? Is it cultural misappropriation to go to an area to learn more about the culture. After reading reviews of the two location we decided that by paying admission we were doing a small part to keep the history alive.
I think we made the right decision. Mr Al Jackson at the Jazz Museum was wonderful collection of photos, painting and documents that trace the development of Jazz from Africa and the Caribbean. He has a no photos policy and we certainly respected that. The Backstreet Museum is around the corner in another shotgun house.
“The Backstreet Cultural Museum’s permanent exhibits, from displays on Mardi Gras Indians, to social aid and pleasure clubs, and jazz funerals, reveal a particular view on life. The exhibits illuminate African American history in the struggles against slavery and disenfranchisement and for freedom. The artisans who created the objects know hardship, yes. But they also know how to live triumphantly and express the beauty of life; something that no hardship can ever take away.”
The visit there was more looking at the artifacts although Dominique Dilling was readily available to answer questions. All-in-all it was very rewarding to get a first-hand look at
“The Treme”.

Backstreet Museum

Mardi Gras Indians


Mardi Gras Indians

Treme, New Orleans

Mardi Gras Indians

Treme, New Orleans

Mardi Gras Indians

Cootie Fiyo



Big Chief video clip from Treme

Treme, New Orleans

Albert “Big Chief” Lambreaux


Thank you so much raven, do send us more when you can.


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28 replies
  1. 1
    Mary G says:

    Wow, I’ve never seen any of those costumes up close and the details and craftsmanship are gorgeous. Thanks, Raven

  2. 2
    p.a. says:

    Great stuf. Dr. John does a traditional ‘Indian’ song, “My Indian Red” on Goin’ Back to New Orleans. Liner notes say there are many.

  3. 3
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  5. 5
    Amir Khalid says:

    These things always remind me of Iko Iko.

  6. 6
    raven says:

    @Amir Khalid: @Amir Khalid: Yep, there were flagboy and spyboy costumes there.

  7. 7
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Great, 2 more places to visit on my upcoming NOLA trips. Thanx Raven. I think.

  8. 8
    Elizabelle says:

    Amazing. Thank you.

  9. 9
    debbie says:

    Wow, I had no idea of the costumes’ intricacy — and that they were only used once!

  10. 10
    arrieve says:

    These are beautiful! Thanks, Raven.

  11. 11
    JPL says:

    @debbie: Neither did I. Thank your Raven for showing the costumes to us.

  12. 12
    raven says:

    @debbie: I’m pretty sure they are used for one season.

  13. 13
    Quinerly says:


  14. 14
    Elizabelle says:

    Musical accompaniment for Raven’s photos: Louisiana’s radio station KBON Live.

    Best of cajun and zydeco. Accordion up right now. Song about being fired up.

    Local NPR station is out this morning for, so no classical and timid NPR hourly news recaps. KBON for the win.

  15. 15
    satby says:

    @raven: Great photos raven!
    I didn’t realize Treme was set in post Katrina NO. Last time I was in NO was then. Going to have to watch it now.

  16. 16
    Baud says:

    Very cool.

  17. 17
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Great pics about stuff I didn’t know.

    If Alain’s around, the submission form doesn’t seem to be working, or not for me, anyway. Do people submit via that form, or e-mail? Bill’s photos yesterday prompted me to put together a few of the Sydney Opera House (an incredibly photogenic building), inside and out, but I can’t upload them.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    Raven says:

    @satby: This is pretty interesting, we loved it but it may not be for everyone.

    Treme’s Big Problem: Authenticity
    The HBO series, returning Sunday, obsessively works to prove it’s not a tourist in New Orleans. It ends up losing the city—and the viewers—in the process.

    The contentious notion of authenticity—and how to best identify and maintain it—is intrinsic to Treme, which begins its fourth and final season Sunday. As the drama follows a group of characters attempting to rebuild their lives in the months and years after the city’s levees collapsed, it probes complicated questions of where New Orleans stands in relation to its deep-seated cultural traditions, and who has the right to determine its civic future. As often as not, the show channels the strident insider sensibilities evoked by Sonny—celebrating the type of folks who are intimate with obscure blues ballads, and ridiculing the semi-informed interlopers who arrive in the city as tourists, developers, and do-gooders.

  20. 20
    Hildebrand says:

    Heading out for a short trip to Israel/Palestinian Territories – mostly research in and around Jericho.

  21. 21
    mapaghimagsik says:

    I bring greetings from murdercorp, where I find myself daily gobsmacked that a company that has made so many mistakes can be so painfully arrogant. At the same time, I find myself strangely moved by a fish.

    A coworker on another floor has a beta fish in a small tank. Over the last month, I’ve watched the tank get more and more cloudy, until the fish kind of drifts through a yellow-grey haze. I’ve even gone as far as to suggest to the owner that I could help clean the tank, and have read up on how to gradually trade out the water to not stress the fish. “Oh no, I’ll get to it” they say. And the water gets murkier.

    As a child, I didn’t take perfect care of pets either. Maybe its those echos of those past failures that make me feel so bad about the fish. Maybe its the fact that ETTD isn’t just about T.

    On a plus, one of my favorite bars now sells Wray and Ting.

  22. 22
    stinger says:

    Fascinating! Thanks for the pics and the commentary. What did the local Indian tribes call themselves before the French arrived?

  23. 23
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    Thanks for sharing those, raven. Clearly you had a better trip than the Dawgs.

  24. 24
    J R in WV says:

    That little clip of the old “chief” in his costume, all alone in the predawn, was all the more moving once his son told us of the bodies in the attics of some of the remaining houses in the 9th Ward. I’ve been to NOLA many times, for work and play, but not since the Great and Dreadful Bush Flood of Katrina.

    Interesting that the storm had a Russian name, non? And now we’re hip deep in Russian “meddling” — or a coup attempt still underway. I still can’t figure out how working for a bunch of foreign spooks trying to take over a country via a coup can’t be treason! Maybe the no-treason folks are just afraid of the truth?

  25. 25
    Miss Bianca says:

    I know a lot of people dissed “Treme” for various reasons but one of the things I loved about it was how much it highlighted the Mardi Gras Indian culture and of course…the music. Love the photos, Raven!

  26. 26
    J R in WV says:

    Also, Raven, great pictures of the costumes!

    I think NOLA is so photogenic, the Voudoun shops, the bars, the old buildings, the garden district, on and on, so beautiful.

  27. 27
    The Golux says:

    Neville Brothers.

    Raven, did you ever make it to Longway?

  28. 28
    KSinMA says:

    Thanks, Raven!

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