To encapsulate the notion of Mardi Gras as nothing more than a big drunk is to take the simple and stupid way out, and I, for one, am getting tired of staying stuck on simple and stupid.
Mardi Gras is not a parade. Mardi Gras is not girls flashing on French Quarter balconies. Mardi Gras is not an alcoholic binge. Mardi Gras is bars and restaurants changing out all the CDs in their jukeboxes to Professor Longhair and the Neville Brothers, and it is annual front-porch crawfish boils hours before the parades so your stomach and attitude can reach a state of grace, and it is returning to the same street corner year after year, and standing next to the same people, year after year– people whose names you may or may not even know but you’ve watched their kids grow up in this public tableau and when they’re not there, you wonder: Where are those guys this year?
It is dressing your dog in a stupid costume and cheering when the marching bands go crazy and clapping and saluting the military bands when they crisply snap to.
(Now that part, more than ever)
It’s mad piano professors coverging on our city from all over the world and banging the 88s until dawn and laughing at the hairy-shouldered men in dresses too tight and stalking the Indians under the Claiborne overpass and thrilling the years you find them and lamenting the years you don’t and promising yourself you’ll find them next year.
It’s wearing frightful color combinations in public and rolling your eyes at the guy in your office who- like clockwork, year after year- denies that he got the baby in the king cake and now someone else has to pony up the ten bucks for the next one.
Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods and our joy of living. All at once.
And it doesn’t matter if there are super parades or any parades at all this year. Because some group of horn players will grab their instruments and march down the Avenue because that’s what they do, and I, for one, will follow.
If there are no parades, I’m hitching a boom box to a wagon, putting James Booker on the CD player, and pulling my kids down the Avenue and you are welcome to come along with me because where more then two tribes converge, there is a parade.
Chris Rose, “Let the Good Times Roll”, 1 Dead in Attic