Last night Xy and I rode our bikes uptown for the Midsummer Mardi Gras celebration. This takes place every year in late August. I guess that qualifies as “the middle of summer,” never mind the fact that midsummer is technically the first day of summer, which falls in late June. It’s confusing enough even if you’re sober, and nobody’s sober at Midsummer Mardi Gras. For sure it’s the hottest, sweatiest, stickiest time of year in New Orleans — in other words, perfect time for a pack of half-naked drunkards to strut through the dark uptown streets accompanied by a funk-blastin’ brass band. It’s the Krewe of O.A.K second line parade. O.A.K. stands for “outrageous and kinky.”
What freaked me out more than anything else was how big this thing’s gotten. I guess it’s been going for 18 years or so. When I did it a couple years ago, it was relatively tiny. Now it’s huge. There were motorized vehicles: a bunch of golf carts with giant heads on top. And there were political ads: Una Anderson is running for re-election to the school board, and she had signs and literature all over. And there was a “real” brass band there: the Li’l Stooges.
Somehow the whole thing seemed a little crazier and a bit more fun when it wasn’t so massive. But it was still a good time. The coolest thing I saw a guy (Frenchie?) with a light strapped to his head and a canvas mounted in front of him via a chest harness; he was dancing and painting a picture of the parade. I saw Heather Weathers there with the Pussyfooters. There was a also a large contingent of scantily-clad women called the Bearded Oysters. A Xavier prof was with the Not-So-Swift Boat Veterans for Bush. And of course there was an Olympic Synchronized Drinking Team.
My friend David Bryan was dressed as a priest. He decanted Jesus Juice all night: red wine spiked with Skol vodka. Every bit as nasty as it sounds, I’m sure, but I was already too anesthetized to care.
The parade starts at the Maple Leaf and proceeds to Carrollton Station, then to Snake & Jake’s, then back to the Maple Leaf. Xy and I got some grub, then rode our bikes back to Mid-City.
We got to bed around two or three o’clock Sunday morning. Then, around five o’clock, Xy heard sirens, and discovered that the house across the street was on fire. Yikes! It’s been divided into four apartments, and huge flames were shooting up from the back of an unoccupied unit. It was really quite terrifying, but the fire was extinguished in short order and no one was hurt.