For Most of the Rest of the World, It Was Just Another Tuesday
I must take this opportunity to right a wrong perpetrated by the media as it related to the portrayal of Mardi Gras. Sure, there's Bourbon Street, with it's drunken college students and beads-for-breasts, a la girls-gone-wild. Somehow, that whole scene developed a life of its own over the years. But it's not what we locals consider real Mardi Gras.
Okay. Drinking is a big part of it for most people, though most locals tend to not get throwin'-up drunk. We start drinking pretty young in this town and by adulthood, most of us have mastered the art of titrating our doses of alcohol such that a happy buzz is sustained for the all-day party that can start as early as 6:00AM for some and last until the midnight curtain call. (Actually, partaking of drink is optional and the day's entertainment value is not lost on the sober, as Renard and I had all of a single glass of wine between the two of us and still enjoyed ourselves.)
Mardi Gras is about more than that. For me, most of the fun is in the creative expression the day inspires- from the Mardi Gras Indians to the costumed folks in the French Quarter (outside of Bourbon Street, that is) and the gathering of bohemians on Frenchman Street. There are no rules. Beauty, humor, cleverness, vulgarity, bad taste, irreverence, all are equally embraced. On this day, we let it all hang out without fear of judgment. Straight men can dress in drag, gay men can wear their most raunchy and scant S&M gear or the garb of a Las Vegas showgirl on the street, the overweight can shake everything they've got. You just do what you want to. Make whatever statement you want to- personal, political or anything else. Just have fun! And if you can make it funny, irreverently funny, and do it in a uniquely creatively way, all the better. Plus, you'll get enough attention on this one day to last you until next year.
Every year, the doom and gloom Christians come down to tell us to repent because the end is near and we're all going to hell. One of my favorite things to do is to visit Jackson Square where there is invariably some activity in front of the cathedral. It's always entertaining to see the heathan response. And if you think you're not going to hell, better think again. Aparently, you're only safe if you're a republican adulterer. (Sorry adulteresses. You're going to hell.)
It's been a while since I've been a Mardi Gras participant, but it is a blast. I hoped to do it this year, but I've been too bogged down by real life to get anything together. However, I did enjoy being a spectator. Maybe next year...
I've got more pictures on Flickr, so feel free to peruse them.
Some people criticized us for having this celebration while so much of the city in still in ruin and struggling to recover from the disaster. But this is precisely why we needed to have it. This Mardi Gras was for us, the locals.
Life here is hard, tiring, frustrating, and depressing on a good day. After everything we've been through, Mardi Gras was a much needed pressure valve for us to blow off the steam we've been building up in the last six months.
Unfortunately, in the next post, I'll be back with the latest ugly developments in my efforts to get my house back in shape. But this was a nice break.