Sunday, April 03, 2011

No-Tsu-Oh Needs to Come Back: A Late Fall Mardi Gras for Chemical City

Recently, the idea of a Houston Mardi Gras has been floated. But instead of a new tradition, may I suggest the revival of a uniquely Houston one.

Houston used to have a Mardi Gras-like festival called No-Tsu-Oh. It started in 1899 and ended the outbreak of WW1. To quote the Handbook of Texas Online,

"The festival, designed to stimulate commerce by bringing people to the city, customarily filled a week in November and featured parades, balls, and a football game between the University of Texas and the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University). The carnival was characterized by much backward spelling. No-Tsu-Oh, for example, is Houston spelled backward; black citizens celebrated the De-Ro-Loc (colored) Carnival; and King Nottoc (cotton) reigned over the early festivals until King Retaw (water) replaced him to celebrate completion in 1914 of the deep-water channel to Houston..."

Like Las Vegas' Helldorado celebration, a modern No-Tsu-Oh has the promise to contain all the eccentricity and strangeness that Houston has to offer. Combine the Art Car Parade with debauchery of St. Pat's and the guilt-free paganess of Halloween and that would be my dream.

With backwards spelling part of the tradition, I offer up these suggestions as a starting point for the new festival.

Sir Buh
Y Loc Nolem

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    Robert Boyd said...

    I agree--having a Houston Mardi Gras would be lame--it would inevitably be seen as nothing more than a copy of New Orleans (and Galveston), but less fun. Not-Su-Oh is an actual Houston tradition, not an uncreative import.

    That said, Houston is hardly lacking for festivals of various sorts already--though none with plastic beads and drunken outs shouting "Show us your tits!"--so I guess we're missing out on that...

    Sara Cress said...

    I love that you dig up stuff like this. Keep up the good work!

    Mr. Kimberly said...

    Sara, thanks for the compliment. I've got a follow-up to this post with an even more promising description of No-Tsu-Oh.

    Robert, as a former New Orleanean, it is true that most cities do not do enough to celebrate women making poor decisions. Which is mostly what Mardi Gras in the French Quarter is all about. So, what part of Houston would most likely induce the ladies to show em?