new Things I Ate in Cambodia: mardi gras: Well, I Lived Anyway

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

mardi gras: Well, I Lived Anyway

Mardi gras be over. Thank God.

Not to make myself out to be a buzz kill or anything (though I totally am) but I'm all done with carnival. I've certainly had fun engaging in shameless hedonism with a million of my closest friends, but partying like a rock-star for four days straight turns from "fun" into "endurance sport."

Some highlights:

- Wolfing down three pounds of crawdads on Fat Tuesday. Freshly boiled and tiny and tender - I haven't had the things in years. I went into a fugue state and just sort of chomped away (heads and all, oh, the head sucking!) for while there. Apparently I had a crawdad leg in my hair. I was rewarded with heartburn from hell for all of today, but the Jagermeister may very well have contributed. Let it not be said that I failed entirely to celebrate.

- Thursday night parades - Chaos, Muses, so on - were low-key, not too crowded, and a ton of fun. I got about five pounds of beads, got so many I was struggling to walk, and of course did not have to flash anyone at all. (That is low and classless.) It did end up getting rather cold. A busted axle held up Muses for a while but eventually it did get rolling, spreading glittery shoes and excitement for everyone.

- Krewe du Vieux - I may have previously mentioned this but I just loved Krewe du Vieux: it's small and in the Quarter and the floats are drawn by extremely freaked-out looking mules, and it's totally lewd - I love it. It's where I got all the throws that can't be shown in polite company. I also loved how half the crowd just hopped into the melee at the end to dance for a few blocks amid a few of our closest (local) friends.

- Walking up the street in the mornings before parades and seeing the families and party contingents cooking up food, drinking beer, and waving THROW ME SOMETHING MISTER signs even in the grips of bitter (55 degree) cold. Giant crawfish boils, tur-duck-hens and an entire roasting piglet made me fervently wish to be adopted. Guess I'll have to find me a spit roast and a football team for next year. Hmmm.

- Orpheus's floats were absolutely amazing, technical works of art. I especially loved the giant four-float long dragon, complete with puffing smoke and heaven knows what else. Just plain awesome and totally worth vying with drunk LSU students and Yankees to see. Also: the Reno 911 float was awesome.


- People really do get entirely too worked up about beads. Worst offenders are small children and little old ladies, who will both unabashedly and fearlessly elbow, push, smack, or otherwise muscle you out of the way for anything shiny or interesting. Avoid grannies and little old ladies at all costs when observing parades.

Driving down to the Marigny off the freeway was amazing: you could see pretty much the whole city down in the streets partying down, following truck floats, barbequing meat, and having a big old time. We drove by a few Mardi Gras indians in full plumed finery (and drove by pretty much everything else.)

- Astonishing quantities of trash and junk are generated during Mardi Gras. To my surprise, it does seem to mostly get cleared, but St Charles really does begin to take on the appearance of a sparkly plastic war zone by around Friday afternoon. It reminded me of India with marginally less wandering cattle but about the same proportion of drunks and naked, badly behaved children.

- Pretty much all of the stuff that goes on in Mardi Gras would be completely and utterly illegal illegal ILLEGAL in, say, California or New England. As I contemplate this it is both good and bad I suppose. Which leads me to....


- The shootings at Second and St. Charles were horrible and a little too close to home: a good friend of mine lives right off Second and I happened to be observing the parades from that corner for three out of the four days. I am very, very thankful I elected not to head up there yesterday and am very distressed and disturbed for the victims. This kind of random, senseless violence is what freaks people out about this city and for good reason. Not to mention the early-morning robbery and rape of a Tulane student right out in front of the main campus building. Truly scary stuff.

- I did not like the feeling of anarchy and total loss of control that came over the city for the past four days. Maybe I just don't get it, but my fun was definitely tempered by a heightened sense of concern for my safety and welfare. Huge quantities of people (many from out of town) getting wasted, disorderly, and crazy together tends to lead to Situations and I was pretty convicted that I wasn't going to find myself in the middle of one. My instincts proved to be good - I made it through A-Okay and so did all my friends- but it definitely was stressing me out. Walking down St. Charles back to my home as it was getting dark on Saturday was really pretty frightening: all these drunk weirdos yelling at me and whatnot, pretty much inescapable. Again, this seems to be part of the essential MAKEUP of Mardi-Gras but that doesn't mean I have to enjoy it.

- Bourbon Street is pretty much Sodom and Gomorrah on a modern stage. Again, this is what Mardi Gras is about I guess, Bourbon Street but only MORE SO and EVERYWHERE and I guess I am glad I did it (pushing through the crush of people, avoiding jesus freaks, LSU perverts, giant scary pendulous bosoms, cracked out nekkid people, so on and so forth) but I don't think I'll feel any pressing need to do it again.

Sum: Interesting cultural experience absolutely, crazy and slightly scary, absolutely and completely, glad it's over? For sure. We've got our city back to relative normal now: I can actually go this weekend and have a good dinner and catch a show and not worry about getting run over by a float or anything. Progress.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now is the perfect time to do it though so enjoy and know you lived through it.