What do you do when you want to be in New Orleans, but you can’t?
That’s been the question on my mind this week. I was supposed to be in New Orleans to explore new projects, catch up with old friends, and, most importantly, celebrate the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus parade, but life is keeping me home in Taos, New Mexico.
I was stumped for an answer, so I did what any self-respecting ex-pat New Orleanian would do when faced with a similar dilemma: I called the Chewbacchus Overlords: Dilithium Crystal Hot Sauce, Space Commander Chewbaccabra, and MC Ghetto Fett.
Now, if you are not familiar with Chewbacchus, let me offer a bit of background:
Eight years ago, three humans named Kirah Haubrich, Ryan Ballard, and Brett Powers met in a dark bar and decided that Mardi Gras krewes should not be limited to people with the right name, the right lineage, and the right amount of money. “F^&k that,” they said, “What if anyone could be in a krewe? Even nerds with zero connections and even less money!”
And, just like that, the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus was born. Chewbacchus was conceived as the socially awkward, but very fun, very silly, and very drunk love-child of Bacchus and Chewbacca. A sacred, drunken wookiee brought to life each Mardi Gras thanks to the talent and passion of every sci-fi, gamer, horror, fantasy nerd who ever called this planet their ( at least temporary) home. For their brilliance, Haubrich, Ballard, and Powers instantly became Overlords.
In the beginning, their galaxy was humble. I was there for the very first parade, dressed as a gay space alien. There were 200 ChewbacchanALIENs, as we called ourselves. At least, I think there were 200 of us. I was on mushrooms at the time, so maybe I was seeing double and the number was closer to 100. Doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that, as Space Commander Chewbaccabra says, “the nerds were hungry.” So hungry that, in a span of eight years, Chewbacchus has grown up to have close to 2,000 marchers and almost 100 sub-krewes, including one that I helped create: the Krewe of PUEWC, which celebrates fans of fantasy and has as its mascot a rainbow-barfing unicorn.
Only in New Orleans, right?
Anyway, now you understand why I reached out to the Overlords. I wasn’t sure if they’d respond. The parade is Saturday. It’s their last one as Overlords, as all three are stepping down. But, being the benevolent, slightly buzzed rulers they are, they got right back to me.
“I want to be in New Orleans, but I can’t,” I said. “What to do?”
“Just geek out wherever you are,” opined Overlord Hot Sauce.
“Chewbacchus is a state of mind,” continued Ghetto Fett. “Everybody has something they really love … Star Trek, Dr. Who, UFOs, unicorns … but a lot of them are in boring jobs all day, so they can’t really do anything about it. Chewbacchus gives people an outlet to express themselves. All of our throws are homemade and, while some are really elaborate, a lot are just repurposed Altoid tins and bottle caps.”
“And you don’t have to be a fan of sci-fi,” added Overlord Hot Sauce. “I love Star Trek, so that’s my thing, but, you know, maybe your fandom world is all about … basil. Chewbacchus says ‘Show us the awesomeness you can create because you’re a nerd for basil!’”
All of this got me thinking. Had I reached out to the Overlords not because I had a question but, rather, a plea? Was I less concerned about not being in New Orleans and more desperate for an antidote to the modern madness that has gripped America?
Was I simply channeling Princess Leia and saying, “Help us Chewbacchus. You’re our only hope!”
“You may be onto something,” said Overlord Chewbaccabra. “If you look at social media, it’s pretty clear that a serious state of mind isn’t going to save us. Silliness and celebratory rituals are the things that will save humanity, all done with tongue in cheek, eyes on the stars, and joy in our hearts.”
I’m ready for that. What about you?
What if, on Saturday night around 9:00 PM. Central, each and everyone of us, wherever we are, celebrated whatever we loved, however we chose? Even if that means simply jumping on your flying unicorn and tossing glitterized basil on the masses.
Couldn’t hurt. Might help.
All hail the sacred drunken wookie!
The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus parade is Saturday, February 3, 2018. The parade begins at 7:00 p.m. Click here for the route.
Brett Will Taylor is a southern storyteller. Follow him on Facebook.