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.