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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

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Mardi Gras Madness!

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Duke Ellington “Mardi Gras Fever”

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Mardi Gras certainly is a party, but really Marcus? Mardi Gras Madness? Sure, after all Mardi Gras is a time to indulge obsessions and partake in collective manias.

The colors of this madness are purple, green and gold, a combination that's woven deeply into New Orleans's renown culture of revelry. Originally introduced by the Rex organization upon its Mardi Gras debut in 1872, purple, green and gold captured the public's imagination and have become a way for citizens of the realm to revel in decorative frenzies. Throws are another expression of Mardi Gras Madness. The thrill and challenge of acquiring beads and other coveted gewgaws is a competitive sport—and an entertaining spectacle. Madness is, to be sure, also evident in the infamous flesh-for-Mardi-Gras beads barter economy on Bourbon Street.

For many New Orleanians, however, costuming is the ultimate expression of Mardi Gras Madness—the apotheosis of a self-dramatizing indigenous culture, in which creative expression through theatricality and masquerade is a consuming passion and a way of life