Sunday, February 12, 2006

I Broke the Float

What a pleasant hangover and trust me, I earned it big time last night in Krewe du Vieux.

Our entire Krewe was a spectacle of frenzied debauchery, loathsome baseness and well deserved laughs - and there's no way in heck that this city didn't need us and all the parade goers to come out and revel. We are not a city flatlining.

As I drained another cocktail nearing the turn onto Frenchman Street, I got this and rediscovered a few truths about Mardi Gras and New Orleans that really seem so obvious, yet for some reason I had forgotten. That maybe a lot of New Orleanians had forgotten.

Mardi Gras and New Orleans are not spectator sports.

The people standing along the parade route are not there to mutely witness a Rose Parade or a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade oohing and awing amongst themselves. Instead, they are easily 80-90% of what constitutes a New Orleans parade, and I think this is actually one of the purest examples of how New Orleans is so different and apart from the rest of America.

When you really look at a New Orleans parade, whether it's Mardi Gras, Halloween, St. Patrick's Day, whenever - there is no difference between the Krewe marching (or stumbling) down the street and the thousands of people lining the route. They are one and the same. They interact. They mingle juices. They combust and completely feed off of each other. Together they are the Krewe.

Other than Canal Street, we don't line our routes with barricades - how else would you walk over and accept a kiss from some hot twenty-something? How else would you grab your bottle of whiskey from the back of the float, take a pull and then offer it to some random woman standing next to her husband who doesn't even hesitate to take a swig? How else would you make eye contact with a thousand other people and in that brief moment where you are both smiling or laughing or cackling know exactly that you're both connected, that you're actually not feeding off of each other - but more like lifting or raising each other.

A New Orleans parade is not about being viewed or forcing pretty little things down the eyes of people standing controlled by barricades and cops - it is in fact, a representation of life itself. There is comingling.

It is a caricature of life that somehow becomes life. It is a definition and a moving target. To try and define the energy and will of New Orleanians to celebrate, especially in this time of times would be like trying to quantify sub-atomic particles. You can either know it's speed or trajectory but not both at the same time.

Are the people there because there's a parade or is the parade there because there's people.

Now not only do my kidneys hurt, but I have a headache. Nevertheless, I give you one of my favorite Mardi Gras stories...

It was Bacchus Sunday several years ago and I was at a house party on St. Charles Ave. that had Re-Birth Brass Band playing on the front porch to the many thousands of people walking by. Hours later as the parade was rolling, a few of us were standing on the upper balconey drinking, eating Popeye's, catching longbeads and cranking up the stereo really loud in between the marching bands. Bacchus had a breakdown somewhere down the street and the Krewe was stalled for about 30 minutes, with a high school band from Iowa and a NOPD cruiser parked in front of the house. The band had stopped playing so we cranked up the music. From the balconey I watched as the crowd merged with the band of lilly white kids from the midwest all dancing and carrying on. Some lithe girl got on the hood of the police cruiser and basically did some sort of suggestive snake charming dance. To my mild amazement a cop walked into the yard, shined his flashlight at us and motioned for us to crank it up.

Oh yeah, I really did break the float last night. I was on the oversized tricycle pulling the float and kept spinning the pedals backwards. It actually took three times for the chain to fall off for me to discover that it was I who was causing some of the small delays... One real mule did breakdown though.

Cheers and Happy Mardi Gras.

Above: Somehow I ended up on stage with one of the bands...

AP Article on KdV
More pictures of KdV from the Times-Picayune



Anonymous Frolic said...

What happened to the mule (wasn't it a white horse)? I was standing in front of it when it fell. Damn scary. Killed my Mardi Gras spirit for a good hour.

6:31 PM, February 12, 2006  
Blogger TAG said...

Your guess is as good as mine. I was several floats back and only heard through the grapevine.

7:01 PM, February 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good time was had by all, well maybe not the mule yall are talking about. Im missing mardi gras this year but will be there for St Paddies in the Irish Channel. Looking foward to those kisses from the guys and catchin some potatoes.
Greenwell Springs,La

7:33 PM, February 12, 2006  
Anonymous trainfromchampaign said...

I was in the sub Krewe which had the mule malfunction. Amazingly, our band (the one and only Rebirth Brass Band) began playing a dirge and the mule got up and took off like a 3:1 odds at the Derby. This left the band and most of our Krewe about a quarter mile back!

3:35 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger dillyberto said...

It's good to hear the mule was okay.

Thanks for the blog as I was unable to make the parade this year! Good pics and story.

3:46 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

was mick jagger there?

and why wasn't i at this party 3 years ago?


4:34 PM, February 14, 2006  

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