Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras!

Well, this isn't exactly food-related, but I can't tell you a time when I wished more (outside of the Katrina semester, of course - that was a MISERABLE five months ...) that I was in New Orleans. The city, during its already most jubilant time of the year, is currently celebrated a historical win on a general basis. No hurricanes or evacuations this past season; the city won against the greedy mitts of the NFL (long story short, the NFL claimed to own the phrase "Who Dat?!" and the gold fleur de lis. Louisiana's governor responded with a "fuck you" letter and the city rallied their support around the small business owners -- which is pretty much everyone -- and won. Only in New Orleans!); the Saints won over the Colts (what a weird game that must have been for New Orleans native, Peyton Manning!); and Mardi Gras is around the corner. How much better can things get for that fair city?

This Tuesday marks the end of a record high for New Orleans, and it's with deepest regret that I was not at the Super Bowl parade of the only Super Bowl I've ever cared about, have not been at the weekend parades of the past three weekends, and was snowed in rather than rained out.

Around this time last year, I was strategizing parking alongside the parade route and debating getting a bike (is drunk-biking as illegal as drunk scootering?). I was thinking about the advantages of woo!-ing for beads and throws nearer to my apartment versus being near Popeye's and VooDoo BBQ. I was buying tiny bottles of cheap wine that could be recapped or exchanged for a cool tomahawk or spear, and I was getting out my many-pocketed "concert pants" (I wonder where they got to in the hubbub of moving...), readying them for a weekend of wear in the mud and frigid air of a New Orleans winter night. Coconuts (Zulu), shoes (Muses), and stuffed animals were my primary focal points as Mardi Gras fever burned throughout the city.

Granted, there were negatives. Insane amounts of traffic down our one-lane streets. Drunk tourists spilling beer, pissing on lampposts, and yelling for someone, anyone to "show their tits." Plastic bags would litter the streets, torn apart in the frenzy for beads. The crunch of said beads would grind underfoot and under car tires, or they'd glitter from the treetops of the live-oaks that lined St. Charles Avenue, festively adorning them until natural elements would cause them to biodegrade.

But most of the negatives could always be avoided, whereas the positives could not. The camaraderie of the people, grilling on portable grills in the neutral ground, beer being tossed from one stranger to another. In years past, Super Bowl parties being held on that selfsame neutral ground, with people setting up outdoor living rooms and celebrating with the random passersby and the other people milling around awaiting the start of each parade. There's just something magical about Mardi Gras that can bring out the best or the worst in people.

So happy Mardi Gras, everyone, to the people I used to know in the city I still love. Have some king cake for me, or inhale a big ol' po-boy. Drink cheap wine and cover yourselves in purple, green, and gold feather boas and jester's caps; adorn yourselves with glitter and whatever it takes to be noticed by the top level of the double-decker floats of this weekend. Share your buckets of the late Al Copeland's Popeye's chicken, and throw your cheesy beads at the tourists drunk in the Quarter. Grab some stuffed animals for the children or the dog, and above all, be merry.

New Orleans, this is your year.

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