Just a few days before my father’s operation, two of my closest friends received news that their own fathers were coming, abruptly, to the end of life. Michael went to Nebraska to be with his father. He passed away yesterday. My other friend’s father has stomach cancer and I gather the prognosis is not good. My heart goes out to both these guys and their families.
Meanwhile, here in New Orleans, it’s Lundi Gras, Fat Monday, the penultimate day of Carnival. It doesn’t feel very festive in our neighborhood. Endymion was once again displaced to the Uptown route this year. So no party at our house. We have no house guests. I haven’t heard from many of our friends.
The big weekend got off to a bad start Thursday night. There were two shooting incidents in which nine people were injured. Two brothers were killed in a car in the Bywater/Upper 9th Ward; closer to home, six people were shot in a Mid-City nightclub. One of the victims lingered on for a day or so but eventually died.
Of course I can’t help but think of Helen’s passing last month. I am also thinking of Donna’s son Manny, who was killed in the wee hours of Mardi Gras morning last year. And that reminds me of little Bilal who fell off our roof and died on Mardi Gras five years ago.
It might sound like I’m not in any mood to celebrate tomorrow, but that’s not the case. Xy and I aim to hook up with the mysterious Societé de Sainte Anne as we’ve done for the last few years. Maybe next year we’ll have our own marching club that departs from Mid-City, but I doubt we’ll be able to muster anything as mystical and mind-blowing as St. Anne.
There is a connection to all the ruminations on mortality. Every year, the Societé makes its way to the Mississippi and conducts a ceremony to honor those who have passed away, commending their ashes to the waters of the river. We’ve never managed to make it that far, usually getting peeled away by the chaos. But I remain impressed by the gesture, even if I’ve never actually seen it.
There seems to be some controversy over where St. Anne will start this year. (It was mighty confusing last year.) According to Ken, there’s some Bywater/Marigny factionalism at work. This has crystallized in the following directions, just published today on the Societé’s website:
The exact starting point for the parade is uncertain. There may actually be 2 starting points, and the separate subunits will hopefully unite at some point in the route.
So I’m not sure where we’ll be tomorrow morning, probably somewhere between Chartres and Marigny and Clouet and Dauphine around 9am. I’m sure it will be chaotic and cosmic and cathartic.
If you see us, say hi, and help me keep Xy away from the booze.