words, photo and sounds by:Telegraphy
The crocuses start to rear their wonderful heads up from the ground, the robins coming back from a long winter hiatus, all of which signals the start of spring. These suttle hints of the changing weather is in no comparison to the events that occur on the third Sunday of March. A march as you will in the month of March. Coincidence? Hum....maybe, but in this case the Marche Du Nain Rouge is Detroit's way of signaling the start of the warmer weather seasons by vanquishing all bad things the devil as kept during the cold winter months. Marching down the Cass Corridor, Detroit's citizens chase the devil and all of his negative thought's out of the city by dressing up in strange and confusing costumes.
The many years I have attended this charade of confused costumed colleagues bent on only doing good for a city buried in negative stereo-types, I have never seen so many people dressed to impress. What I'm saying is, Detroit put it's freak on when it came to outer wear. Not only were the costumes out there but the people as well. I heard of cabin fever, but I never knew it effected Detroiters on this level. The freaks were definitely out on this day.
Blessed with glorious spring sunshine, this Sunday in Spring was a repeat of last years weather conditions. Nice and warm in the sunshine but cold and formidable in the shade, like it was reminding use that on a moments notice the Michigan climate could change for the worst during this time of year. But this wouldn't happen here on this parade, not when the weirdo's are strutted their stuff. I arrived in the Cass Corridor, Detroit's premier college community of hipsters turned punk. The DIY movement was quite apparent in the part of town. Off the bat, while walking down the main drag I came across an old run down Victorian house with a curious looking small vehicle that looked like a toy sized "Mystery Machine" with equally sized trailer fitted with industrial grade propane tanks mounted on. The show it put on for a passing photographer was the reason why it had built in tanks. 50 foot high flames blow out of a tall pipe protruding from this flambeaus micro bus
Strolling down the street making my way to the crowd, I past numerous twenty-somethings dressed up in alternating red and black costumes. A cross between steam-punk and just play'en punk, most of which are hand made apparel that shouted "I am here to party and to through out the Nain Rouge from Detroit". But every once in a while you come across someone that make such a statement outside the boundaries of accepted interpretations, that you can't help but only take photo's of, knowing full well that you many never see a sight like this for the rest of your life
Dancing on the edge of the sidewalk where it meets the street was a gentlemen dresses as a angel. White gown, halo, wings and all. Dancing to the sounds of modern funk blasting from a radio stuffed inside a tipped over trash can with garbage pouring out all over the ground, this heavenly soul made a show for passer-byers. Slowly swinging his arms from side to side, all the while not having care in the world about making such a scene with parade goers. Not to mention the trash he was trampling over while wearing a spotless pure white gown
Finally making it to the crowd, I pulled my trusty Canon 35 mm SLR out from the depths of my wool over coat. Hastily loading a fresh roll of black and white film into my camera, hoping not to miss a great photo op (kind of difficult to do around here) I begin noticing the variety of characters flaunting their colors of red and black in one's own individualistic way. From old Victorian "Steam-punk" to post modern fairy tail cartoon, it was all here. The customs sent the innocent by-standard on a visual acid trip. Was it the mild sunny day in spring that triggered this hypnotic reality? Or was it the alternating colors of red and black that confused the mind? In any case, I was mesmerized by the shear complexity of humanity out on display
Walking through the crowd, grabbing numerous photo's of strange and weird people. "Yes, I do believe the abbreviated theme of this years marche is - weird", I thought to myself as I was looking through the viewfinder at a clown juggling bowling pins. Weird might not be a tenacious enough statement. Maybe elderly man turned yellow "Sunflower king" weird might be more appropriate. But then again the people around here love the basking attention they receive from their handcrafted outer ware.
The D.I.Y. concept is one of the staples of this marche. Homemade four wheeled bikes, flame throwing mini cars, and horror/syfy film insect vehicle. You won't find any prefabricated cookie cutter parade floats here. Only handcrafted in some ones basement or garage. Have a steel drum band - no problem, just build a trailer to fit - ten of them. Two person tandem bike to crowded for four of your friends - add two more wheels for a foot power car
So what can I say! This years Marche Du Nain Rouge was a trip