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So you've watched The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and have been left with all the Wilson family feels. You want more, and you know that fanfic is the way to get it.
But! Sam and Sarah and their newly adopted former assassin live in Delacroix Louisiana and you know nothing about that. How can you write a story which gets those local details right when you don't know what you don't know?
I'm here to help.
Hi! Former New Orleans resident here. Also former tour guide, which means I spent years teaching people about the area after passing tests proving I knew what in the heck I was talking about. Also person who has been cited as an expert source in books about the area including books about understanding it from the POV of a writer. (COUGHahemCOUGH)
Also a fanfic writer so I know what you need. You're not looking for the dry historic information like locations of battles during the War of 1812. You want those little details. The sights, the sounds, the smells that you can pepper into your fic to make it come alive for your readers.
Don't worry, I've got you.
Now of course the ideal solution is to find someone familiar with the area and get them to give you a Louisiana beta. But if you don't have one of those or you at least want to cut down on the work they have to do, I'm going to give you everything you need to make it sound like you've actually hung out with Sam and Sarah on a Saturday afternoon.
And, not to be too click baity about it, but if you're a Sam/Bucky shipper I can guarantee there's at least two things in this list that are going to make you go OH MY GOD WHY HAVEN'T WE BEEN INCLUDING THIS IN ALL THE FICS EVER????
Let's get started.
"But wait!" I can hear you say. "Didn't you just tell us you weren't going to get into the dry historic details?"
Yes, I did. But this won't be dry and it will be important.
You see Louisiana is a weird place. Wonderfully weird, don't get me wrong, but it's not like any other place in America. The closest I can compare it to is Texas: yeah sure geographically it counts as the South but it's not really the South it's its own creature. And you need to understand this in order to write about it.
In Louisiana's case, the thing that makes it different is that, unlike the majority of America, it was not founded by English Protestants. It was founded by French Catholics. And if you are American I can guarantee you do not understand how much that English Protestant influence is baked into our culture until you've lived somewhere where not only was it not there from the start, but it was violently kept out.
(Yes, even people from New York City where Catholics have a strong political and cultural presence but they do not make the city on a molecular level like they did in Louisiana.)
When it was founded by the French the Catholic thing was strictly enforced. If you were not Catholic when you arrived at the docks they had priests there happy to baptize you. Not being Catholic wasn't an option.
Though these days you do have many cultures and religions living there, the Catholic influence is still very strong. There are a lot of things done there where the answer to why is "Because Catholic." You'll see this as I talk more about the day to day details.
The other factor is the French of it all. Louisiana started out French, was then given over to the Spanish (who were also Catholic), back to the French for a hot minute, then sold to Americans. Because of this, with a notable exception, French influence in language, culture, and laws is very strong. If you lived there you either wanted to be French or pretend you were (such as was done by a famous architect family of the time).
Another key component of the French influence is how France brought with it the Napoleonic Code. Again I promised no dry details so I won't bore you with how laws work. Instead suffice it to say when you're sitting there wondering how on Earth Louisiana gets to do X, the answer is "Because Napoleonic Code and/or France" when the answer isn't "Because Catholic."
(Though me being me I would be remiss if I didn't point out that things such as the Napoleonic Code paved the way for some fascinating aspects of history for both women and people of color, such as the life of the woman responsible for why the French Quarter looks the way that it does. Well worth a deeper dive if you're curious.)
The other thing about Louisiana history which cannot ever be forgotten is that Louisiana, New Orleans in particular, was a key component in bringing enslaved people to America. New Orleans was and is one of the largest port cities in America. Before the Civil War the biggest import/export in America was enslaved people. Period. Do not white wash this, do not romanticize it.
Human beings came into the port of New Orleans and were either sent to work on plantations right there in Louisiana or they were sent to work on plantations elsewhere in America. The next biggest things that relied on the trade that could be done from the port of New Orleans were things like indigo and sugar, which were crops only made possible by the work of enslaved people.
This history is still there and still shapes the culture and the look of the area, which I'll get into. But it's important to know and it is important to respect.
Delacroix Louisiana and the Wilsons
I've discussed this in my analysis of episodes one and five of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier but to recap for those of you who haven't read it (why? they are delightful and informative) the location of the Wilson family combined with the history of the area (still not dry! I promise) shape what we know about Sam and Sarah.
Delacroix Louisiana is located 45 minutes away by car from New Orleans (keep that in mind for your fics btw). Historically this trip would've been done by boat.
Though it is not right on top of New Orleans, New Orleans was the central location of the colony. It held the local French government and, as mentioned before, it was the central location for trade.
Delacroix was built on trade: first fishing and fur trapping, but later sugar plantations. So it did have to deal with New Orleans. However its island location and at the time comparatively remote nature meant that it didn't feel the strong pressure to be French that people living in New Orleans did. In addition to that, Delacroix had a stronger Spanish influence from the start. We then see this result in things like Sam referring to his aunt as his Tití.
The other thing to bear in mind is that when we are told in episode one that the Wilson family has been in Delacroix for generations, that means that Sam and Sarah are direct descendants of enslaved people. The harsh reality is that, unless the MCU is going off of a vastly different Louisiana history than the real world's, there is no way that a Black family living in Delacroix generations ago was there for anything but as enslaved people working the plantations.
And, as I said in talking about episode five, this also adds meaning to the importance of the Wilson family fishing business. Because we know they also had the business for generations, that means that it was the first thing the Wilson family claimed for themselves once they were freed from slavery.
Worth keeping this in mind as you think about why it would mean so much to Sam and Sarah to keep the business going, and also as one of many factors in Sam's debate with himself about whether he felt like he wanted to be Captain of a country that brought his family into it against their will.
Language and Not the Kind Steve Got Teased About
Okay, we're done with the brief history lectures, I promise! Now let's start hitting the details you need for your stories. We'll start with the ones that make it obvious why I had to give you the historic context: Local vocabulary! And to be clear: this isn't "Oh how cute they have alternative words for things." It is no, for real, these are the words you use.
The fastest way you can make your fic stand out as glaringly inaccurate is for Sam and Sarah to not be using the language of locals. Remember how Bucky and Zemo had to nudge Sam a few times before he caught the hint and realized he needed to say aunt instead of Tití? Think like that. Sam and Sarah would absolutely be using these words first, foremost, and need to be reminded that maybe others not from the area (like Bucky) don't know what they mean.
- The biggest one is that Louisiana does not have counties it has parishes. (Remember when I told you "Because Catholic?" Yeah. That.) I can't tell you how many fics I've read in just the past few days that have had Sam saying things like "the next county over" when talking about a place in Louisiana. This one isn't even a local color vocabulary, it is literally what they are called by the government. Delacroix is located in St Bernard Parish.
- The grassy strip that can be found in the middle of the street which most people call a median is, in Louisiana, called neutral ground. So much so that I literally just now had to google what other people call it because neutral ground is embedded in my brain.
- Indulge me because the history on this is hilarious: This one dates back to how much the local French speaking Catholics were not happy about being taken over by English speaking Protestant Americans. The New Orleans natives basically told the newly arriving Americans to fuck ALL the way off and don't even think of setting foot in the city of New Orleans, which is what we now call the French Quarter. The Americans had to make their own city, then called the city of Lafayette and now called the Garden District. The divide was on Canal Street and thus the grassy divider on Canal Street was neutral ground. I swear to God I met someone in New Orleans whose grandmother refused to cross Canal Street because she still held a grudge against the Americans. No joke.
- Instead of sidewalk say banquette. As in "Sam jogged along the banquette." (See below for more about banquettes.)
- However if Sam was jogging along an open stretch of land by the water you would say he was doing so on the esplanade. (Not to be confused with the avenue of the same name.)
- Instead of neighborhood or suburb say faubourg. As in "Faubourg Lafayette is part of New Orleans parish."
- If Sam or Sarah was calling a friend on the phone instead of saying something like "Hey, how's it going?" they'd greet them with "Hey, where y'at?"
- What other places around the country would call a hero or a sub sandwich is a po'boy. If you want your po'boy with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and the other usual sandwich condiments you would ask for it to be dressed.
- Giving somebody a little something extra, not unlike the thirteenth doughnut in a baker's dozen, is lagniappe (pronounced "lan-YAP" for you podficcers).
- The two-level exterior structure at the front of the Wilson House is a gallery. If they are sitting outside on the ground level they might say they were sitting on the porch, but if they are sitting outside on the second level they would not say they were sitting on a balcony.
- Galleries are extensions of the structure of the house. Looking at the photo of the home you can see how the structure is made by extending the already existing floors forward and putting railings on it. Put some walls around them and these would simply be rooms.
- Conversely balconies are add-ons. If that ugly side porch off to the right side of the house was up on the second floor that would be a balcony. Also a crime because yikes. (YEAH I SAID IT.)
- If the French influence obvious from things like banquette and faubourg hasn't been enough for you, there is how, if Sarah sent AJ and Cass off to run an errand to buy food for the house the boys would be making groceries. (From the French which uses faire or "to do or to make" in the same context. Such as faire son marché or "to do one's market shopping.")
- Creoles are people whose parents or ancestors were born outside of Louisiana and they were born local. Cajuns are descendants of people from the Acadian region of Canada who moved down to Louisiana. (Say "Acadian" in your thickest attempt at a Louisiana drawl and you'll hear the connection. "Ah-kay-dee-UN" becomes "kay-JUN").
- No generalization is worth a damn including this one, but broadly speaking Cajuns were located in the swamplands and Creoles were in the city. Again broadly speaking historically Creoles were rich and respected (like that Baroness I mentioned earlier) and Cajuns were poor and looked down upon.
- Though in theory Sam and Sarah, as the descendants of people who were forcibly brought to Louisiana from Africa, would technically count as Creole, they probably would not self-identify as such. They would also not consider themselves Cajun.
- Finally, the other dead giveaway that someone is not a local is if they use the wrong directions when telling someone where to go in New Orleans. Because the Mississippi is so twisty turny there (hence the nickname "Crescent City") directions such as North/South/East/West are useless. Instead they use the landmarks of the river and Lake Pontchartrain as the touchpoints.
- So first up you have Riverside or Lakeside. Those are obvious, it's whether the place you're giving directions to is, comparatively speaking, closer to the river or the lake (even if "closer" is the difference of what side of the street you're standing on).
- Then you have uptown and downtown. This one is a little trickier because, unlike the river and the lake which don't move anywhere, these are relative. So if the river is to your right and the lake is to your left, you are facing downtown. If the lake is to your right and the river is to your left, you are facing uptown.
- The confusion comes in because, as mentioned before, Canal Street was considered the original neutral ground or starting point between the New Orleans locals and the Americans. So from that point of view the French Quarter is always considered to be Downtown and the Garden District is Uptown, and you'll see them referred to as such. But when giving directions it is always relative to the river and the lake.
- So for example, even though this cross street is in the French Quarter, Sam could still say to Bucky "Meet me on the uptown lakeside corner of Bourbon and St Louis."
- Do remember that this is New Orleans specific. It would not apply to Delacroix.
Now that you've got a feel for the language, let's talk about what details you can add to your narrative to help your readers feel like they're standing right next to the Wilsons. We'll start with the weather.
- First up, Louisiana is humid. It is swampland. 100% humidity is common. On good days the air feels almost friendly, like you're getting a gentle caress as you walk along an esplanade. On bad days it's like you open your front door and are slapped hard in the face with a wet towel.
- Likewise it is hot. Temperatures in the 90s-100+ degrees Fahrenheit are the norm.
- There are a few ways locals survive the heat:
- Ducking into air conditioning whenever possible. Think like every few blocks you pause in front of the open door of a store or a hotel and soak in the cool air coming out before you resume walking.
- Taking multiple showers during the day. Not full on soap and water showers but 2-3 times a day getting fully undressed and rinsing yourself off with cool water.
- Wearing very light clothing. Not to harsh on the costume department which I have waxed rhapsodic about on multiple occasions but one of the quickest ways to tell the show didn't film in Louisiana was the way Sam and Sarah were dressed in episode one. No way would locals be wearing those close fitting, long-sleeved, multiple layers. Think lighter: linens, cotton, loose fitting. You want enough cloth to protect you from the sunlight without it being so much cloth that you feel the weight of it on you soaking up your sweat, the humidity, and the heat.
- Drinking lots of water or other hydrating liquids.
- Another thing which helps with the heat is that, in the summer, there is a drenching downpour of rain sometime between 2 and 3pm. This happens just at the time the heat truly starts to climb into the 100s and is exactly what's needed to stop that and drop it back down to the 90s. God help you in the years when climate change or other weather patterns prevent that rain from coming as the heat keeps climbing and climbing and is absolutely brutal.
- While Sam was doing that hot and sweaty workout he would absolutely have been looking forward to that downpour hitting him to help cool him down so he could keep going.
- (You're welcome for that mental image, by the way.)
- The area does get cold from time to time. But it's not like, say, New England where around October it enters a cold time of year and doesn't emerge into warmer temperatures until around April. Instead in the late fall and winter you have the chance of getting cold temperatures for brief periods of time. Think like literally just a day or so and then it's gone, back up in the 90s-100s again. But it is cold enough that warmer clothes can be helpful, and it's not uncommon for places to have things like gas fireplaces to help offset the cold. Remember: that humidity that makes the heat stick to you also makes the cold seep right into your bones.
- (It's an excellent plot device for snuggling, in other words).
- Another big thing is that the area, New Orleans and Delacroix in particular, is frequently hit by hurricanes and flooding. Understand I mean frequently not just when it becomes a situation bad enough to make national news. Case in point, one year I lived there we had a hurricane or tropical storm literally every week of hurricane season but only two of those were bad enough for the rest of the country to be aware of them. Yeah, I said every week.
- The reason why this normally doesn't make news is that in general the places are built to handle this weather. It's no more newsworthy than Los Angeles having traffic or Montana having cattle. Case in point, during one storm while I lived there it started raining in the morning, flooded the entire city of New Orleans up to about three feet of water by lunch, and by six that night, after the rain stopped, the streets were bone dry thanks to the pumping system that handles floodwaters.
- Conversely, the reason why Hurricane Katrina was so bad is because it managed to hit the failure point of every single safety mechanism in place to handle hurricanes. Louisiana saying "Holy shitballs this is a bad hurricane" is like Keith Richards looking at a party and going "Holy crap this is a lot of drugs." You know it's bad if they say it's bad.
- For fic purposes, be aware that during hurricane season it would be on Sam and Sarah's minds to make sure that they and their neighbors were set up for the weather. Unless things were bad they wouldn't be panicking about it. For them this would be the same thing as how New Englanders would be getting out their snow blowers and salt to get ready for winter.
- Also for cultural context, understand the frequency of hurricanes is one of many reasons why locals don't automatically think of evacuating when one is coming to town. There are many reasons, mind you. Do not get me started on the rant I have for people who say it is stupid for locals not to evacuate because we will be here all day. For now point being just know that if a hurricane is coming the first instincts for Sam and Sarah would be to batten down the hatches like they normally would, not flee to a shelter or get out of town.
Buildings and Structures
Flooding leads nicely into architecture because another "Tell me you didn't film in Louisiana without saying you didn't film in Louisiana" moment is that the Wilson house should be higher off the ground. One of the easiest ways to deal with flooding is to make sure your home isn't there to be flooded. That house should be at least three feet higher than it is and if you write your fics to fix that instead of reflecting what we saw on the show I will thank you for it because frankly my anxiety can't take the alternative.
However, again going back to the humor you get when you know the history: when you are looking at homes in the area one of the fastest ways to "Tell me this was built by an American without saying it was built by an American" is to check if the home has any of the hallmarks of being built for the weather: high off the ground, floor to ceiling windows, flat roofs. If it doesn't have those? 100% American made.
You know why? Because the feud between the Americans and the locals was so bad the Americans refused to take any lessons from the Creoles on how they should build and the Creoles were happy to let the Americans suffer in their own stupidity. This is what I mean when I say I am not kidding about how Louisiana was literally built on hatred of Americans. From the city of Lafayette to the buildings to the language is all because they haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated each other. It's kind of awesome.
Anyway, more details for your fics:
- Because of both flooding and being located below sea level, underground basements are not a thing. EVER. Sam is not going down into the basement to do laundry unless he's wearing SCUBA gear and the washing machine was donated by Namor.
- Walk out basements are sometimes a thing, though. Basically if a house is high enough off of the ground that you could stand up underneath it sometimes people will turn that into a basement type space for storage and even washing machines. I lived in a house like that myself, once, but that was a rental. I would've never put washing machines down on a flooding level if I owned them. I definitely did not store any of my possessions down there.
- Likewise there is no underground anything. There is no subway, no trains, nada. (ETA: By which I mean local trains which go underground. There are train tracks and both Amtrak and cargo trains go through.) Public transportation is buses and the streetcars.
- The exception to the "built high" rule is the French Quarter, where it's not uncommon to have buildings with active ground level floors (usually stores with residential areas upstairs). The reason why the Quarter can get away with this is that it doesn't flood as bad due to being three whole feet above sea level, unlike most of the area which is six feet below sea level. Try not to get a nose bleed from that elevation.
- Related, there are no hills. None. The only time Sam is going to run up something is some stairs.
- In "you can't make this up" news the only real hill in the whole area is in Audubon Zoo. It was reportedly built so that the children of New Orleans would know what a hill looked like.
- This is a hard one but it's true: Hallmarks of the history of slavery are everywhere. For example in places like the Garden District it's not uncommon to see huge mansions on one side of a block and then tiny, impoverished shotgun houses on the other side of the same block. Reason being, the shotgun homes are where the slave quarters used to be.
- Likewise you still see signs in the Quarter for the old Slave Exchange, and plantations still exist with their slave quarters intact, and there are many architectural features built into homes which were there because of slavery (for instance short floors at the top of a home for the enslaved to live in because it was hotter up there and who cared how uncomfortable they were?)
- These are things the Wilson family, and others like them, see every day. There is no point where the history of slavery would've been an abstract concept for them. None.
- If you want to learn more about this, and the delicate balance of should these reminders be torn down or left up so that the lessons of these horrors are never forgotten, I recommend following historian Michael Twitty who has done a lot of work in that area.
Flora and Fauna
I know, I know. You want the words to fill in when you write things like "Bucky took a deep breath, noting the scent of [PLANT NAME] in the air." Don't worry, I've got you!
- Common plants include but are not limited to: magnolias (both local and Chinese varieties), live oaks, ginger, jasmine, roses, camellias, wisteria, banana trees, elephant ears, crepe myrtles, bamboo, palm trees, azaleas, sweet olive, and oleander.
- There is a year-round floral scent thanks to being in a Tropic zone. Something is always blooming. Roses, sweet olives and camellias bloom in cold months. Magnolias, azaleas, oleander, and jasmine bloom in hot months. Wisteria and crepe myrtles bloom in cooler months.
- Animals commonly seen include, but are not limited to: squirrels, newts (very small lizards that change color and eat bugs), palmetto bugs (HUGE flying roaches, four inches long or longer), fire ants, termites, blue jays, doves, pigeons, cardinals, owls, bats, ducks, and mocking birds. Along the water it is also common to see huge rats (think the size of a small dog) and seagulls.
- The giant green reptiles that live in the swamp are alligators, not crocodiles.
- Living in swampland - which is the entire state, more or less - means that vegetation is lush and grows quickly. AJ and Cass probably hate how often they're told to take care of the weeds in the yard because if you ignore them for a day a tiny sprout turns into a sapling.
- In general a good rule of thumb is that the place was originally swampland and the swamp would like it back, please. Mold and mildew are common. No building, no matter how expensive or new it is, stays pristine for long. You're either constantly repairing things or you're accepting a certain level of peeling paint and cracking foundations or both.
- Similarly, and much like myself, no banquette (aka sidewalk, remember?) is straight. Because of the high water content in the ground plant roots can't go down. So they hug the top of the dirt which means shoving aside anything that gets in their way. The smartest building material in this case is bricks laid in a herringbone fashion because those will undulate with the upturned ground. The result isn't flat, but neither is it straight up broken and dangerous like ripped up cement would be. However there are banquettes made of flagstones, slate, and the aforementioned cement. They are also frequently broken and you are likely to trip and fall if you don't keep a close watch.
- The roots hugging the top of the dirt also means that trees aren't very secure. They blow over very easily during hurricanes. In general you're not going to get too sentimentally attached to a tree unless it's one at Oak Alley Plantation, for obvious reasons.
Sam/Bucky shippers in particular will like this section, trust me.
- Though they would not identify as Cajun a lot of the food Sam and Sarah would like is Cajun. Like the song says, Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie, Filé Gumbo would rank highly. Also Étouffée and Red Beans and Rice.
- Traditionally red beans and rice is made on Mondays. Reason being that in ye olden times Monday was laundry day. In the days when you took your laundry to the river to clean it, laundry took a really fucking long time. A meal that you could dump into a pot and ignore during the hours you were breaking your back trying to clean dirty clothes was perfect.
- Of course you can, and people do, eat red beans and rice whenever they feel like it. But you'll still get jokes about how if you're eating red beans and rice it must be Monday or what have you.
- The Louisiana seafood industry, of which Sarah is a part, catches shrimp, oysters, crabs, crawfish, and alligators. Based on what we saw on the show Sarah seems to focus on shrimp (we saw her cooking it on the grill in episode six), possibly oysters (common to Delacroix), and crawfish.
- I know, I know, we all love that in episode six Bucky was the white guy invited to the cookout. But I submit to you that the proper term for what we saw in episode six is a crawfish boil. TRUST ME YOU WANT THIS. Allow me to explain:
- First of all, Anthony Mackie himself wanted it to be a crawfish boil. The only reason why it wasn't is that crawfish wasn't in season when they were filming.
- Bucky does not know how to eat crawfish.
- The instructions for how one eats crawfish are, I shit you not, "Pinch dat tail and suck dat head."
- Yes, everyone in Louisiana knows how that sounds. Yes, they put a stool next to that joke and milk it to death anyway.
- Ergo, it is 100% in character for Sam to walk up to Bucky wearing this t-shirt:
- Yeah. YOU'RE WELCOME. I told you I had two things Sam/Bucky shippers would especially appreciate. Just wait until you see the second one.
- (On a more serious note, though, if you want to learn more about the history of food in the area, I will once again point to the work of Michael Twitty, who goes deep into the various cultural influences with a focus on how much of African cuisine shaped what we know as "Southern" cuisine today. He's got two books, The Cooking Gene and Rice which I highly recommend.)
I'm saving Mardi Gras for its own section for obvious reasons so this is going to be more of a catch-all on the overall flow of life.
- Kids typically wear uniforms to school, even the ones who go to public school.
- Though as I say things are predominantly Catholic, the mix of different cultural backgrounds and the vibe of the place means that spirituality and belief in things like magic and ghosts are very common. Like hum drum, every day, even the guy who works at McDonald's can probably tell you about the ghost who hangs out by the fry-o-later.
- Something to keep in mind is that Voodoo is a religion. Yes, there are totally fake shops set up to take advantage of tourists who don't know better, but there are also actual practitioners there as well. Treat it as respectfully as you would any other sincerely held belief system. (I worried saying "as any other religion" might get some jackass going "Well I don't respect any religion so..." Shut up. Just be respectful.)
- On that note, death is handled differently than in most areas. You have the above ground tombs which exist because, as mentioned earlier, there is no such thing as "below ground" except water*. I could get into a whole thing about how the cemeteries work and happily will if you ask but in the interest of hitting the highlights that might touch a fic, such as Sam and Sarah interacting with their parents:
- You don't just have when the person is put into the tomb. You come back after a year and a day to put them fully to rest.
- Families also visit the tombs throughout the year. For example birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and of course All Soul's Day.
- During these visits families will clean the tombs, leave presents such as flowers, and so on. Yes, the cemeteries have caretakers, but the families would make an extra effort on these days.
- This culture of honoring the graves on certain days is so much a part of it that there are groups who take care to do it for abandoned graves or those who have no one person to care for them. For example in Lafayette No 1 there's a tomb for orphan boys where the group that takes care of it comes by and leaves balloons (because little boys would love balloons more than flowers).
- In general, cemeteries have a park-like atmosphere and are treated as such. So in the same Mother's Day trip when you cover Mom's tomb with roses, it wouldn't be unheard of to pack a picnic and make an afternoon of it sitting in front of the tomb.
- The exception to this is St Louis No 1 which has been built up too much to be park-like anymore. But that's the exception, not the rule.
- (*On the odd chance any of my Jewish readers need closure, for Jewish graves they build the dirt up to get around the water problem.)
- In spite of the Catholic influence - which sadly shapes what laws get made - culturally there are places where being LGBTQIA+ can be done openly. As you might imagine, a lot of them are found in the French Quarter. If you wanted to write about Sam taking Bucky to a club on a date, he'd probably take him to the Quarter. There are openly queer friendly clubs, diners, and even pet shops. There's also Southern Decadence if you're feeling up for a big party. (No, that's not the second thing I said Sam/Bucky shippers would be grateful for. Just wait.)
- Other non-Mardi Gras but big events in town that would appeal to Sam and Sarah in particular are Jazz Fest and Essence Festival.
- Given his taste in music, Sam probably also frequently hangs out at Preservation Hall. There are plenty of other jazz clubs around, but Preservation Hall is for true jazz lovers. If you were trying to gently introduce someone to the genre you might take them to another club first. Based on what we know of Sam's personality I could totally see him shoving Bucky through the door of Preservation Hall at the earliest opportunity and telling him to shut up and listen if he knows what's good for him.
- When in doubt on how something looks, especially things like the French Quarter, Google is your friend. The architecture is unique and luckily highly picturesque. Take advantage of how others have done the work for you.
It's not that I expect every fic to include Mardi Gras, but at the same time I'm sure some of you want to use it. So let me help give the local's view. And yes, this does include the second thing Sam/Bucky shippers will love and I promise it's worth the wait.
- Mardi Gras season starts January 6, the Epiphany. Traditionally people from Louisiana take their Christmas decorations down and put the Mardi Gras decorations up on January 6.
- The actual date of Mardi Gras changes every year. But Mardi Gras itself is always on a Tuesday because Mardi. (Yes, I have had people ask me this.)
- What most people think of as a single weekend of drunk college students acting like fools.... is a weekend of drunk college students acting like fools.
- The "Oh dear god can this be over" part of Mardi Gras for locals is the Friday before Mardi Gras though Mardi Gras itself, otherwise known as Mardi Gras weekend. And not to put too fine a line on it, though the parades are wonderful during that stretch the tourists are awful.
- Reason being, unlike things like Jazz Fest, Essence Festival, Halloween, and so on, the crowds that come into town are frankly not there to celebrate the joy of something. They're there because they think the weekend gives them permission to get drunk and act like assholes. And I mean assholes. If I had a nickel for every time some dickwad from out of town thought they could sexually harass me or my friends that weekend and, when called on it, replied "Lighten up, it's Mardi Gras!" I could've retired back in 1999. I can guarantee you Sarah grits her teeth and is glad she doesn't live anywhere near the Quarter when Mardi Gras weekend hits.
- BUT! Before that weekend? It is amazing. That's when the locals love it.
- Because like I said, it's a season and it starts January 6. So that's when people start eating King Cake, the clubs get together to plan for their parades, and the actual enjoyment is had.
- In fact the parades before Mardi Gras weekend are family friendly affairs. Like for real. The typical plan is that families bring out lawn chairs and grills onto the neutral ground (see? Again with the vocabulary) and cook and eat watch the parades and catch throws together.
- As a point of reference, here's Anthony Mackie himself talking about seeing the parades as a kid: "Every Mardi Gras, we were the scavengers, the kids who were under your legs, scraping up cups and doubloons."
- That is absolutely a thing and 100% what AJ and Cass would be doing. Little kids are known for darting through the crowd and snatching throws out of the air, very often just before it hit your hand. It's small wonder Sam is so good at catching the shield now. He grew up trying to get a moon pie before somebody else grabbed it.
- During these family friendly parades, it is not cool to flash for beads or act like a drunken asshole. I mean it's never okay to act like a drunken asshole but sadly it's expected during Mardi Gras weekend. Similarly, even during Mardi Gras weekend the further away you get from Canal Street the less acceptable it is to flash for beads.
- New Orleans is, of course, the central location for Mardi Gras celebrations but the other parishes have their own parades as well. Sam and Sarah would most likely stick to any Saint Bernard Parish parades, especially if they had the boys with them. For them the New Orleans parades would be more like New Yokers outside of Manhattan going to Times Square for New Year's Eve: Yeah maybe you do it once or twice to experience it and say you've done it, but it's too loud and annoying and hard to find a place to go to the bathroom to make it a regular thing.
- So yes, if you wanted an excuse to write a "Sam and/or Sarah with their newly adopted former assassin at a cookout" fic, them doing it on the neutral ground during a parade would be a good way to do that.
- Parades, by the way, are run by clubs known as Krewes. The silly spelling, much like the entendre in the crawfish joke, is deliberate. Mardi Gras is a satirical holiday. It shows off the creativity and artistry of the people who build floats and costumes, but it also shows off the sense of humor of everyone participating. That's why in addition to Krewes with very fancy sounding names like Krewe of Thoth and Krewe of Proteus you also have names like Le Krewe d'Etat. If your Krewe can somehow find a way to tweak the nose of people in power, so much the better.
- For example, after Hurricane Katrina there were many Krewes, costumes, and floats which lampooned the horrific lack of aid which was received. This was by no means done to disrespect those who suffered and died because of the hurricane. These were the people who suffered and lost loved ones. Instead it is using humor as a way of saying "Fuck you, you tried to break us and we are STILL HERE. We won't let you forget it."
- Therefore I can guarantee you that during the five years there were parades which made fun of the Snapture, and likewise depending on the timeline there either have been or will be parades which make fun of the Blip.
- The Krewes all have different themes to them. Sometimes the theme is as general as "We wanted to make a Krewe and liked this name" but others can be much more specific. For example the Krewe of Orpheus focuses on entertainers.
- Related to that, and because I can easily see someone googling something like "Mardi Gras Krewes important to Black History" or something like it with the best of intentions for their fic, there is the Krewe of Zulu and the Mardi Gras Indians. Yes, they are incredibly significant to both Mardi Gras and the local Black Community. However, as their names and traditions suggest, there is a lot of history, reclaiming of stereotypes and slurs, self-referential humor, controversy, and more which makes these organizations extremely complicated to understand. I'm going to gently and respectfully suggest that unless you personally are a part of these organizations, do not write about them as anything other than a brief reference, if that. And I mean like "So after the Zulu and Rex parades on Tuesday we'll head out of the city..." type brief reference. Yes, it could be possible to make some educated guesses about whether Sam and Sarah have friends or family in these groups, or do they go to those parades and so on, but frankly these are not for fanfic fodder. There's plenty of other material to use.
- Speaking of material you can use, there are Krewes which have celebrity guests during their parades. Which got me thinking about which Krewe, if any, would Sam accept the invitation of to appear as Captain America.
- If there were parades running in St Bernard Parish he'd probably try to do one of those to give a nod to his community. But I could see him being open to doing a New Orleans based parade in addition to that because he'd know it would be symbolically important both to locals and to outsiders.
- Of the Krewes which invite celebrities, the top candidates to my mind are Bacchus, which Anthony Mackie was king of in 2016 (check out the link, his picture is awesome) and Endymion. Between the both it's a tough call.
- On the one hand Bacchus is typically the one most known for its celebrity host, but at the same time its culture is a bit... bro-y. Put it this way, if you asked me which Krewe John Walker would accept the invitation of I would say Bacchus without hesitating and that's only because Tucks doesn't usually have guests (Tucks' most famous float is a giant toilet. 'Nuff said.)
- On the other hand Endymion's vibe is... meh? I mean depending on the year it's either the largest or one of the largest parades. It's fun and I've seen it in person many times but it lacks a je ne sais quoi if you're a local. I don't want to say that it's the Krewe version of saying Sbarro is your most favorite kind of pizza to get when you're in New York but it's not not that either. But the flip side is that Endymion is the parade most commonly featured on travel channels and other media outside of Louisiana, so if Sam's goal was to have outsiders see Captain America appear in Mardi Gras, that might be the one he picked.
- Frankly it could go either way. Flip a coin or follow your heart.
- Back on Mardi Gras in general, it's important to note that it ends one minute after 11:59pm on Mardi Gras day. As in the clock strikes midnight and it is DONE. Not gently wind down. Not "You don't have to go home but you can't stay here." DONE.
- You know why? Because once midnight comes it's not Mardi Gras, it's Ash Wednesday. As in a holy day and the start of Lent.
- Remember "Because Catholic?" Yeah. If you didn't get yourself back to your hotel before midnight came there are fire trucks there happy to turn the hose on you to get you the hell off the street. Seriously, DONE.
- Yes the locals adore seeing the most obnoxious of tourists discover this. They've earned it, trust me.
- The other thing to note about Mardi Gras is that, with notable exceptions, there are no parades in the French Quarter. Reason being is that the Quarter is very teeny tiny with streets that have not been made wider since the days when all they had to accommodate was a single horse drawn carriage. They don't have room for floats.
- The exceptions are the Krewe du Vieux because it is very small, and the Mystic Krewe of Barkus because it is a walking parade dedicated to dogs.
- Sorry, lemme back that last one up and say it again: It is a QUEER COMMUNITY RUN MARDI GRAS PARADE FOR PEOPLE AND THEIR DOGS.
- Remember earlier when I mentioned LGBTQIA+ friendly pet stores? Remember when I said there was another tidbit Sam/Bucky shippers would love? Yeah. Mystic Krewe of Barkus is a parade largely sponsored and populated by local members of the queer community. Each year the parade has a theme of some kind and the people who walk the parade dress up themselves and their dogs to fit the theme.
- And I'm talking fully dressed up. Drag queens in their best Cruella de Ville walking their pet Dalmatians dressed up.
- So, with all due love to Alpine who of course can also appear in your fics (and be an honorary member of the Krewe of Meoux), I am letting you know that there is a real world reason for you to have Sam and Bucky adopt a dog together, dress that dog up in an adorable costume, and then walk said dog through a parade while possibly also wearing costumes themselves.
- If that is not the exact sort of thing we write fanfic for, what are we even doing here? I ask you.
And that is it! Or at least that's as much of it as you're getting because I realize I have written an encyclopedia here and that's even before you start clicking on all my references and citations.
But I wanted to make something which was a good reference. Something you could bookmark and keep handy for when you're typing away at 4am trying to get your final paragraphs done before the fic exchange deadline is due and you need that one tidbit and there's no one around to ask and...
Yeah. Hopefully this helps. Or is at least a good start.
If you have any questions feel free to hit me up on any of my various forms of social media. I'll be happy to answer and if there's enough of them I'll be happy to make a part two.
With that, bye for now and thank you in advance for writing Wilson family feels fics that I personally look forward to reading.