Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Carnival Memories and Helpful Hints
Our culture is beautiful. Play that clip and learn something.
It’s Mardi Gras time again. It’s time for thousands of people to descend on the city, get totally wasted and show their bodies for pieces of plastic. That has to be the greatest marketing tool for an event in the world. Since we need all the money we can get, I won’t be too negative about how carnival season has been watered down to a drink fest. Anybody that wants to come down and fight for their lives on Bourbon feel free. You won’t see me down there. The best thing about the commercialization of Mardi Gras is that it didn’t trickle over to the neighborhood festivities. We still have a little tradition if you can get pass the pit bulls and the guys rolling blunts right in front of your babies. The one thing that sucks about living in the East is that you can’t go out your door and see Indians walking around at 6:00 AM like the old neighborhood. When I was growing up Mardi Gras was serious stuff. Families would dress alike or have costumes. Every school had a royal court and parade. My elementary school, Thomas Edison had a big ass parade that used to walk the entire Lower Ninth Ward. I always thought that was cruelty to children to make us walk that far. The parade used to pass right in front my door and I wanted to jump out of the line and go lay in my bed. Remember when you had to make those stupid floats out of a shoe box for class? There was always that one kiss ass kid who’s parents spent way more money on the thing and made your aluminum foil and tissue paper decorations look trifling. The kid with the overly decorated float was usually the first jackass to also bring a king cake to class. When you went to a school full of poor kids like I did, nobody wanted to get the baby (that‘s who buys the next one). When I realized that I had the baby I would always chew it like it was a piece of the cake and spit it out later so I wouldn’t have to buy the next one. At least back then you could get a 3ft. cake from McKenzie’s Bakery for five dollars. Now you need to spend at least ten dollars to buy one big enough to feed more than two people. I remember staying up to watch the ball when King Rex met King Comus just to see if I was going to see somebody black in the royal court or Dorothy Mae Taylor charging in to stop the whole event. Me and my boys used to walk the entire Zulu parade route with an ink pen and a sheet of paper for girls’ phone numbers. I don’t think I ever got one. I used to love that day.
Here are some unwritten rules for Mardi Gras:
Mardi Gras day is the only day that heterosexual men are allowed to dress alike and walk down the street together. It’s also the only day you can get away with dressing like a woman or wearing a leather g-string without no one really bothering you.
All kids must save their beads from previous parades so they can ride around the day of Mardi Gras and play parade. If no one in your family has a truck, you are allowed to play from a porch or apartment balcony. If you were raised here and never played parade, please turn in all of your New Orleans paraphernalia now. Your tribal membership has been revoked.
The best strategy for drinking while hanging out is to make friends early in the day with someone near you that has a portable toilet. People are willing to share the facilities with you if you have been talking to them for awhile. Please do not walk up on a group’s private potty and get a beat down.
The best method for getting a Zulu coconut on Orleans Avenue without knowing anyone on the float is to surround yourself with as many little girls as possible. Then, when the float passes, scream out “WHAT’S UP COUSIN !!” No one in New Orleans keeps track of all their cousins. They will think you are one they can’t remember and hand you one for the babies. If the rider doesn’t have any coconuts, you will at least get some stuffed animals to give to the little girls.
Finally, always remember that all drama on Mardi Gras day usually takes place after 5:00 PM. New Orleans people can have a good time together without any problems until there has been too much alcohol consumed. If you are not from around the area, too tipsy to realize what’s going on, or don’t have good running shoes, this would be a good time to go home and rest up for Ash Wednesday. If you are partying with locals you don’t need to be out all night long.