The Thursday before Mardi Gras is one of my favorite times to catch some parades. This year we had a multiplicity of invitations Thursday from a variety of friends who live in the vicinity of the uptown parade route. With so much hospitality on offer it was a tough call, but we eventually made our way to hang with the infamous G-Bitch and DSB NOLA and their lovely daughter. It took just over half an hour to drive to their place from our home in Mid-City, and we were mighty surprised to we learn one of their other guests lives right around the corner from us.
In short order we were on St. Charles watching no fewer than three parades in rapid succession: Babylon, Chaos and Muses. For the next three hours we were entertained by a total of sixty floats, perhaps fifty marching bands, and I’m guessing twenty-five dancing/walking/marching/scootering clubs, to say nothing of the mobile jazz and rock bands, the flambeux bearers, and the horses. The whole show was free, and not only that, we walked away with enough dolls, toys, beads, and other assorted “throws” to stock a small boutique. This morning, Persephone played with her magnetic Muses dress-up doll while I played with my light-up Muses yo-yo. Hard to say who was having more fun.
It wasn’t all fun and games, though. Carnival has a dark side.
For example: I caught a small white box from one of the first floats in Muses. When I opened it, I found it contained one of the Muses balls which I’d seen on the front page of the paper. It appeared to require a minor amount of assembly, which a crafty young boy next to me offered to perform. I foolishly allowed him to do it. In short order he had the ball glowing and cycling through all the colors of the rainbow. Of course, he kept the damn thing for himself.
Also: A horse bladder can hold a truly astonishing volume of urine. We got a visceral reminder of this fact when one of our equine friends let it rip on the street directly in front of us. The subsequent riparian deluge of urea headed down the sloping asphalt right toward us, and we enjoyed the aroma for the remainder of the evening.
On a more serious note, anyone deluded enough to think our school systems are desegregated need only observe the racial makeup of the fifty-odd high school marching bands that passed by us last night. They tended to be either all-white or all-black, and any exceptions to this rule were minor enough to be missed completely.
Nevertheless I think of Carnival as a time when New Orleanians of all races come together to celebrate. Even though I’m not the most ardent parade-goer, I do love the idea and the pervasive spirit of festivity.
Or maybe the fumes from that horse urine have addled my brains.
610 Stompers / skooksie / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 see also: video
” a time when New Orleanians of all races come together ”
add saints games and hurricanes to that list.
sucks that we only become one when it’s a party or a disaster.
at least we have a foundation to build on.
We have updated our parade modeling software to include the horse bladder phenomenon (think: road grade) and already we’ve seen dividends! We’ve been horse urine-free for two days of parades (caveat: we left Iris early today because of the rain, so who knows what COULD’VE happened?).
I think the races will be coming together again tomorrow. There’s that Endymion race that has me a little worried, though (let’s just say I find their purple blinding). That said, I feel for Mid-City. That’s real cash and a unique communal event its losing.
I have one soapbox riff: A civic goal should be the return of neighborhood parades. I understand the current system creates savings in terms of police force deployment and so forth, but at what point can we again disperse Carnival to the whole city?
Personally: Loved having y’all and hope you come again. I was going to encourage y’all to come back tomorrow as there’s weird event that happens in our neighborhood. At 1st and Carondelet streets between 3-3:30 the members of Rex gather before driving away in a little limo-bus. Here’s a set of pictures from last year: http://www.flickr.com/photos/derek_b/sets/72157623437178800/with/4358535840/ [Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.] Email if you want to park, etc. …
Hey, I have a Muses ball (new in box, never been thrown) I will happily bring/send to y’all. I ordered some w/my Friends & Family package since I’m a non-riding Muse at present. I probably won’t be back to NOLA until May (as I’m attempting to afford airfare to L.A. to see my beau in April), so posting it to y’all might be more timely. 🙂