What a Mardi Gras! I should write it all down...
Saturday, 19 January 2002: Sonya and I go to see Krewe du Vieux parade through the French Quarter. Normally they viciously mock politics and politicians, but in the wake of September 11 they decided to belittle the church instead. The most disturbing float: a giant priest giving head to an equally huge nun. Both were naked and obviously aroused. The crowd kind of paused for a minute before they laughed at that one.
On the way back to the car a chick in a limo called me over to her open window. When I got there she gave me a Captain Morgan Mardi Gras t-shirt. My first Mardi Gras goodie!
Saturday, 26 January 2002: After a whirlwind, 24-hour trip to Memphis Sonya and I return to New Orleans. We're stuck on the wrong side of St. Charles by oncoming parades and have to drive through the crowds and traffic. Fun. We get home, drop off the dog and take a bottle of wine to our friend Rebecca's house. Rebecca lives on St. Charles. We drank wine and caught beads as Sparta and Pegasus rolled by.
Sunday, 27 January 2002: I go to get a big box of chicken from Popeye's before we return to Rebecca's house to see Carrollton and King Arthur. Rebecca's making red beans and rice but they won't be ready until hours after we arrive. The chicken is a big hit and totally gone by the time we leave. I also take a six-pack of King Cobra tallboys and they're a big hit, too.
Wednesday, 30 January 2002: I was off on this Wednesday to go to a conference in the French Quarter.I wish you could have been there, dude. It was warm and humid, and the CBD/Quarter area was full of people in town for the car dealer's convention and the Super Bowl. In the afternoon when the conference was over the sun had started shining. I walked over to Walgreen's to get some gum so I'd have some change and could take the bus home. The crowd was bustling. The strippers on Iberville were hanging around outside their bars, getting some fresh air. A saxophone was playing somewhere. I wanted to call Sonya and tell her to come to the Quarter. We'd eat lots of red meat and drink like fishes. Then we'd go home, have nasty, nonprocreative sex and prank call the Vatican to tell them about it.
The urge to sin was upon me.
Saturday, 02 February 2002: Normally there are only two weeks of Mardi Gras. With the Super Bowl in town, though, Orleans Parish pushed the first weekend back into January. Jefferson Parish started at the regular time. My friend Tina lives not far from the end of the Metairie parade route, so we went there for beers and burgers before the parade.
The Krewe of Caesar is one of the big Metairie parades, and the crowd was huge. They threw a lot of fuckin' beads, too. The atmosphere was really different. Uptown is family-oriented, with lots of kids and grandparents, but it is unmistakeably urban. The parade in Metairie kind of reminded me of the Christmas parade back home: lots of people in the backs of trucks, whole families turning out together, all of it much whiter and better dressed than the parades Uptown. The floats were every bit as nice as those in New Orleans, though. I had fun - very different.
Sunday, 03 February 2002: The Patriots beat the communist-loving, goat-fucking Rams 20-17 with a field goal as time expires. For a Rams-hater, it was one of the finest Super Bowls ever. Very satisfying, as they say in the commercial.
Tuesday, 05 February 2002: Cold and intermittent rain as the first two parades of the big week roll Uptown; Druids and Morpheus didn't seem to be having much fun, throwing a few beads to the small and scattered crowd. Cops outnumbered civilians when we first arrived, though a few more people showed up by the end.
Wednesday, 06 February 2002: Cold and rain - sometimes pouring down - greeted Saturn and Muses. There was no way Sonya was going to miss Muses - not after the the rave reviews she's heard about it all year long - so we put on lots of layers and went back to Rebecca's. By the time Saturn was over the rain was coming down in sheets so Sonya and I - along with our friend Alexis - put up our umbrellas and waited for Muses.
Muses delivered the goods, buddy. Sonya, Alexis and I were all Mr. T'ed by the end of the parade, each of us dripping beads and rainwater.
Thursday, 07 February 2002: We only saw the Chaos parade on Thursday. Chaos is basically the members of Momus, parading on Momus floats, all under a different name. Momus quit parading a few years ago due to political reasons, but before that they were one of the oldest Mardi Gras krewes. Therefore, Chaos is actually an old-line krewe. That means Chaos had great, smart, satirical floats and threw almost no beads. It was icy cold with a driving wind - layers didn't help.
Friday, 08 February 2002: I ran like hell all day, trying to get ready for the impending madness and our soon-arriving guests. I had to talk Shawn in - my directions were flawed - and we had a rather strong round of bloody marys upon his arrival. After some takeaway we wandered down to Rebecca's - with beer for the horde - and hung out with our friends, catching beads from Hermes and Krewe d'Etat and drinking beer. Shortly after midnight Glen called in and I had to talk him to the house, too. Bad, bad directions. Smackdown got dropped in the PSs and a cage match for the record books broke out between Molly Holly and the Undertaker. Stirring stuff.
Saturday, 09 February 2002: What a gorgeous fucking day. After a hearty breakfast of sausage biscuits (and a rapt viewing of Best Of The Best 2) we carried our chairs down to St. Charles and set up where St. Mary crossed. The very front of the neutral ground, baby. Iris and Tucks took care of us as we stood outside the whole afternoon - Sonya's little face was a bit sunburned. As the rest of the city headed for Endymion (Endymion is one of the biggest parades, and attracts what I think is the biggest crowd, too. Too big for me, anyway. Fuck 'em) we went to Sake Cafe for sushi and then back to the house to dress up for a Night Out.
We did a little shopping at Virgin first, where we saw Trent Reznor hanging with some buddies. Trent done grown a beard! Celebrity sighting completed we headed for the Shim Sham Club, where we did some chilling in the Satan Lounge upstairs, listening to punk and watching Hedwig. We went downstairs to listen to Rhodes play some glittler glam, and it was as usual very good. The crowd, however, was not. Lots of tourists, all of them grateful to find a semi-uncrowded bar. We were dressed freaky and By God we wanted to hang with the freaks. Off we went to the Crow Bar.
At the Crow Bar we paid five bucks each to take part in Krewe du Boo: for this we each got dozens of beads, big packages of Skittles and a chance to be the king (or queen) of the krewe. None of us won but we did have a fine time marching through the Quarter, flinging beads and Skittles into open windows and at unsuspecting pedestrians.
Funny Story: Our parade - about a hundred people strong - passed in front of St. Louis Cathedral. Also there were hundreds of Jesus people. A chant started. I, thinking my little group had started it, was listening intently, trying to figure out what they were saying.
It wasn't my group at all! It was the Jesus people, chanting, "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!" The Krewe du Boo joined in anyway.
Back at the Crow Bar we drank and danced until it was very, very late. Around five we walked up to Canal and got a cab in front of the casino.
Sunday, 10 February 2002: But we were back up early, making a run for chicken and beer before the day's festivities got underway. There were four - four - parades passing in front of Rebecca's house, and we stayed for all of them. Lots of friends showed up throughout the course of the day and we had a great deal of fun.
Too much fun, in fact. Back at the house Glen was a gibbering drunken idiot, hooting like an animal and making long, heartfelt calls to his ex-girlfriend. He was our only casualty of the weekend.
Monday, 11 February 2002: A quiet day after the ongoing noise and drunkenness of the day before. Sonya and I took Shawn for breakfast and shopping while Glen slept it off. Breakfast at La Peniche was excellent, as usual, and Shawn got some great club clothes at Limbo before leaving town.
We eventually coaxed Glen out of the house to make a run for more groceries and to get him some warm-up pants to complete his costume for Fat Tuesday. More takeaway and then we walked down to St. Charles for Proteus and Orpheus.
Proteus is old-line, too, so the floats were great but the throws were crappy. I finally got a wrapped dozen beads when I applauded the artists at the end of the parade.
Orpheus made up for that, though. Orpheus was started by Harry Connick, Jr. in the early nineties, and for my money it's better than Endymion. And lots of the crowds are gone, too, so it's more enjoyable all around. I made a big sign that just said THROW on it and Glen and I took turns holding it at the back and getting pelted with huge strings of beads. I traded a beer to a rider for a big set of beads with a big tounge sticking out and medallions all around that say "Whaaaaz uupppppp" on them. Sonya got a stuffed animal from Leviathan. Again - very satisfying. We then went home and watched the tape of Raw. In a touching ceremony, Triple H broke up with Stephanie and beat the crap out of her dad. Such drama.
Tuesday, 12 February 2002: Fat Tuesday started early, with our friends Dean and Kelly showing up around ten to go see Zulu.
Glen, though, was far and away the popularity contest winner, being unable to go a few feet without shouts of recognition from pedestrians and, on one occasion, the cops. People had their pictures taken with him, for God's sake. He was a hit.
I made one more sign before we left: BEER FOR COCONUTS. The Zulu coconut is the most prized of Mardi Gras throws (that is, things that come off a float) and they are handed into the crowd, not thrown, very rarely. Our girls made it happen, though, with both Kelli and Sonya trading beers for a treasured coconut.
We went back to the house to stock up on beads and beer before trying to make our way to the Quarter. We'd been planning to walk, but just outside our door we caught a cab. The driver gave Sonya his Stars and Stripes beads.
"Flags for the Statue of Liberty," he said.
He dropped us off near the gay bars, and we pushed our way though the crowd to see some of the Bourbon Awards. Those are big, big costumes. People were hungry by this point - it was well past noon - so we carried on to Deja Vu for gigantic burgers before going over to our friend Matt's workplace, which had a balcony. A balcony!
But Matt wasn't there, so Sonya, Kelli and I went to a little place down the street for baklava and Turkish coffee while Dean took Glen to Bourbon Street. Mmmmm, Turkish coffee.
Matt and Alexis had arrived at Matt's workplace, so we went over there and climbed up on the balcony. Throwing beads at people is totally fun, dude. We did it all afternoon, until it got dark. Glen and Dean eventually showed up, looking a bit dazed from the sensory overload of Bourbon.
And around dark we caught a cab back to our place. Dean and Kelli staggered off into the night and we went home. The night was capped off by the news showing a drunk rolling around in the filth left by a passing parade. They showed this footage twice, each time for thirty seconds or so. Glen and I howled both times.