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treme big chief

Jazz funerals were a part of Chief Drew’s life as far back as he can remember. Toward the end of the route, recalls Chief Drew, “I say, Damn. “I enjoyed it,” he relates, “because I felt as though the gang was my family.”, All the while, Chief Drew attended church. “We dress different from any Indian gang in New Orleans.”. “Why just let the neighborhood see ya?” he reasons. But alas, nothing in Chief Drew’s charmed pre-teen life could have prepared him for the abrupt turn of events triggered by the break-up of his family. We share in hopes of keeping this celebrated tradition alive. A prolific artist specializing in Mardi Gras Indian and second line regalia, he is driven by a passion for paying homage to Native Americans and the cultural traditions he grew up with in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans. Movies. He fashioned “bongo” drums out of oatmeal boxes and Community Coffee cans. He imported the blade from Kenya, had it triple-dipped in chrome, and then mounted it on a broomstick. His grandmother, who’d promised his parents that she’d look out for him, insisted on it. His ivory-colored, plumed staff stick, symbolizing purity, features a beaded image of a dream catcher. Seen up close in the sunlight, he says, “it’ll blind you.”. Aesthetic rivalry having displaced violence among Mardi Gras Indians, even "weapons" become objets d’art. More generally, the term denotes a parade involving a brass band, Mardi Gras Indian gang or second-line club. The black horse, says Chief Drew, represents “destruction.” “He’s the one that’s riding right now, ’cause there’s so much violence in the world.”, The Biblical motif continues on the back apron. Because I’m the prettiest.”. Considering that most Mardi Gras Indians make their suits with help from friends and family, the fact that Chief Drew single-handedly made Mardi Gras 2000 suits for both himself and his son is no mean feat. The outside of his left cuff depicts the African continent. Like a painter who explores specific motifs through a series of works, Chief Drew, in designing his son’s electric pink Mardi Gras 2000 suit, elaborated on the themes portrayed in his own suit. Perhaps most striking, though, was the suit’s glittering multitude of diamond-like glass crystals—Chief Drew calls them Aurora Borealis, or “AB,” stones—and larger, colored stones—Italian crystals, as they’re known in the trade. Come home with class.”. The Lord will always take care of babies and damn fools, and you’re at the top of this list.”, As it turned out, the trappings of gang life proved more alluring than the gospel. Then one day in his back yard, where he often prays underneath a tree, he gazed up at the sky as a bird flew by. He shared Chief Drew's vision for having second liners parade in tandem with a Mardi Gras Indian gang, in the limelight of the Zulu parade. They first hit the street, with a live band, as part of the LA LA event in 1988. The public, says Chief Drew, “wasn’t ready to accept it in California—a bunch of adults shakin’ their behinds.”. Sewn onto the front of each boot was a beaded tableau, or “patch”—one depicting an African warrior, the other an African woman. Harrison, in turn, invited The Wild Tremé—six Mardi Gras Indians, plus Hothai—to share the stage. There’s also a large stone surrounded by ivory beads, representing slave ships en route to the United States. Albert Lambreaux is a Mardi Gras Indian chief, well-respected in his community. “I was inspired,” he says, “because I used to watch ‘em fight.”. His late father, memorialized in the sign carried by a second liner, mentored Chief Drew, insisting on high standards and encouraging the upstart Indian to bring his art “home” to New Orleans. Helping to distinguish the look of the Wild Tremé from other Mardi Gras Indians, Chief Drew procures pelts and accoutrements direct from the Navajo. Second lining grew out of traditional African-American parades—specifically, jazz funerals. Then there were seven teal-blue outfits—accentuated with sequins, beadwork and ivory-colored pearls—for the Shake ‘Em Down Second Liners. It was his brother-in-law, an attorney living in Los Angeles, who originally suggested moving out west. Squatting buck naked in a darkened sweat lodge, as elders poured water over red-hot rocks, Chief Drew underwent what he describes as a “manhood test.” “They take a plume, like rub it on you, and tell you: ‘Don’t move, my warrior. I tried to give it to a wider community.”. And I’m gonna brag. 'Treme': Love at first sight with Big Chief Lambreaux. Shortly after he arrived in New Orleans, it became so inflamed that he wound up having to go to the VA hospital. “When he used to see me,” Chief Drew recalls, “he would call me ‘snotty nose.’ He said, ‘Man, when you gonna join this gang and stop runnin’ like that?’ ”. A year-and-a-half would pass before he divulged his idea for putting a gang on the street to Shake ’Em Down Grand Marshal Don “Doc” Robinson, a physician and New Orleans native who, at the time, maintained a practice in Los Angeles. Wherever you go, it’s in your blood, it’s in your heart. The material, each bead, each image, each stone is carefully selected and added to the Indian Suit with not only precision  the Mardi Gras tradition in mind. It was, according to Chief Drew, an arresting performance, what with “drawers goin’ everywhere, butts goin’ this way and that.”, The group also strutted their stuff at church parties and other functions involving L.A.’s African-American community, often raising eyebrows. God bless you.”, “I told him I’m a Mardi Gras [Indian], and he thought I was a real Native American Indian. “Cray-za means people think you’re crazy, but I’m not crazy. He enrolled in the National Educational College, in Commerce, Ca., eventually obtaining a degree in biomedical electrical technology. Anna and her sister Pauline Guillemet were Baby Dolls. Then, in December, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was determined to roll with Zulu, pass the torch to his son and experience one last time the high that goes with leading a gang on Carnival Day. In 1995, a Los Angeles-based organization, Women in Film, arranged for Harrison and his Guardians of the Flame Mardi Gras Indians to perform at an Academy Awards event at the House of Blues. “Man, it look like they have rubber in their behinds, the way their cheeks be shakin’,” he says. In Egypt, relates Chief Drew, “our Lord and Savior freed the slaves, fast and swift.”, At the top, spelled out in green crystals, are “Zulu” and “Y2K”. Take a trip to Mardi Gras anytime! I look like that?’ ”. Then I turned militant against society.”. When he “opened up,” spreading his arms to reveal the insides of his elaborate cuffs, the crowd oohed and ahed. An hour or so later, with Chief Drew now perched atop the back seat of the convertible, The Wild Tremé and the second liners arrived at the Gallier Hall reviewing stand. Then, as Mardi Gras 2000 was approaching, his left knee started acting up. “When our Lord Christ Jesus came into the Jordan River,” explains Chief Drew, “John the Baptist told him: ‘Who am I to baptize thee who’s so pure?’ ”, The Four Horses of the Apocalypse, from the Book of Revelation, emblazon the bottom of the tableau. They called themselves the New Orleans Shake ‘Em Down Second Liners. The details, upon closer inspection, suggested their procreative powers. “And I left that shit right there in the middle of the street,” says Chief Drew. You got some ragged-ass people in blue jeans—ain’t doin’ shit.’ I say, ‘I’m gonna show you some real second liners.’ ”, The initial Los Angeles incarnation of the Shake ‘Em Down Second Liners consisted mainly of members of Chief Drew’s extended family who lived in the area. Why is my crown so hard to pull?” Some of the younger members of his extended family, who were tagging along with the gang, were laughing. “But I kept rollin’.”, When The Wild Tremé and the Shake ‘Em Down Second Liners returned to New Orleans to parade with Zulu again in 1998, Donald Harrison Sr., who had stopped masking Indian at Mardi Gras, was waiting at the corner of North Galvez St. and Orleans Ave. Chief Drew spun around and sang a song for his mentor which included the lyrics “I’m pretty in the front, I’m pretty in the back/I’m a Wild Tremé Indian, and I dress like that.”, Eyeing his protégé’s knock-out lime-green suit, Harrison said “Damn.

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