When Lynes Sloss was born six weeks before his due date, he was so tiny that his mother — the designer and antiques dealer Nina Sloss — took a peek at him and nicknamed him on the spot.
“She was fond of doing that — devising exotic names for people,” said Sloss. “She called me ‘Poco,’ and Poco it has been ever since.”
Poco Sloss may have been tiny when he was born, but come Tuesday, he’ll play a gigantic role in New Orleans’ Carnival tradition when he dons the mantle of Rex, King of Carnival.
A self-confessed “nerd” who adores everything mechanical, Sloss said he was stunned to have been selected for the position.
“I’ve been a member of the Rex organization for 35 years and eventually became a lieutenant (one of the masked and plumed men on horseback), and for the past few years, I’ve served as ball chairman. I had a terrific candidate for Rex in mind when we met last fall to talk about choosing a king, but suddenly everyone around the table turned in unison and pointed at me,” he recalled. “They must have rehearsed it, because their timing was perfect. I was so surprised, I probably blushed.”
Sloss, 65, is the co-founder and owner of Bellwether Technology Corp., a company that started in 1980 as a retailer of personal computers and has developed into an outfit with an expansive and diverse portfolio of clients who rely on it for networking, cloud support and just about anything they need in the realm of information technology.
It isn’t easy to fool Sarah Jane Freeman. The University of Virginia junior has made the Dean’s List every semester in her first 2½ years of c…
Sloss employs 50 people in his downtown New Orleans office, a number that has grown as the field of technology has advanced.
“Looking back, I can’t think of another Rex who was involved in an IT-based business like this one. I think it gives me a slightly different perspective on things,” said Sloss, who admitted that he still loves to tinker with machines.
“When I was a kid, you’d come in my room and there would be televisions, phones — all sorts of things — that I had dismantled. If you came upstairs in my house today, it wouldn’t look any different,” he said.
The crowd watching the monarch wave from his throne Tuesday may have difficulty picturing the man before them in tights and ermine working away like Morgus in his home “laboratory” on his personal “IOT” project.
“IOT stands for the Internet of Things, and it’s based on the idea that we can improve everyone’s quality of life if we can get objects — the oven, the clock, your cellphone — to ‘talk’ to each other,” he explained.
From his perch on the king’s float, Sloss will lead a procession of 26 additional floats that embody the theme “New Orleans, the First 100 Years.” Designed by Henri Schindler and built by Barry Kern, the floats pay tribute to those who helped mold the fundamental character of the city.
There are floats dedicated to explorers Iberville and Bienville, the Chitimacha Indians, the Ursuline nuns and Marie Laveau. Others mark events in the city’s early history, including the Good Friday fire of 1788, yellow fever epidemics, the Louisiana Purchase and the Battle of New Orleans.
The procession even includes a float featuring Alejandro “Bloody” O’Reilly, the Irish-born Spanish governor of the Louisiana territory who quelled a French rebellion against Spanish rule by executing the six Frenchmen who led the uprising.
A native of New Orleans, Sloss has proved himself an able and committed civic leader. He served as chairman of the Bureau of Governmental Research, a member of the City Planning Commission and, most recently, president pro-tem of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Commission. He has chaired the boards of both the Audubon Nature Institute and the Louisiana Children’s Museum and is a member of the Board of Liquidation, City Debt.
Sloss and his wife, the former Eugenie Elizabeth Huger, have three children: Merrick, Alexander and Nina. When he isn’t chairing boards, reassembling toasters or rehearsing his royal wave, he enjoys spending his leisure time hunting ducks and flying airplanes.
He and a cadre of close friends built a duck hunting camp in Arkansas, only for the season to be the worst in nearly 30 years. His flying adventures have been more successful, as he has logged 1,000 hours and is instrument-certified.
“Most of the time when I fly, it isn’t to get from point A to point B,” Sloss said. “I just love the experience of being up in the sky, looking over the marshes and the coast.”
Having said that, Sloss allowed that on Ash Wednesday — when the parade is over and the ball is done — he does indeed have a destination in mind.
“I am going to take Liz on a trip to Florida for some relaxation,” he allowed. “Then on Monday, it’s back to work.”