Random Flotsam 4: Gimping Into Mardi Gras

Feb 10, 2012 by

This Carnival season, I will be taking in the parades sitting down. Mostly. My bum ankle is still achy from the crack it took when I fell on my ass at the skating rink near the beginning of this past October – we humans as a species, much as we want to go rushing on at the paces modern life demands of us, are slow to heal when it comes to the big breaks.

Since I live only a block and a half from the parade route, it’s pretty simple for me to take a folding chair to the sidewalk side when I want to take in the rolling spectacles, and then take the chair with me when it’s time to head out…but I have noticed in recent years – pretty much ever since we moved back from NYC in 2006 – that the tendency to camp out (even on the sidewalks) has increased, the territorial roping, taping, and blocking off of public space has gotten out of control, and parade ladder placement is getting dangerous and just plain wrong. Part of this could be blamed on the days when Endymion and Bacchus were on the same route for a few years, but the insanity has continued since Endymion has gone back to its Mid-City perambulations. I’d bring out scissors regularly and start slicing the ropes and caution tape, but I’ve seen too many arguments that nearly came to blows over that kind of thing, and I don’t want to end up in the hospital again.

Jeffrey’s been harping on this for years, and I agree that sloughing the responsibility for enforcing the parade paraphernalia rules onto Parks and Parkways isn’t entirely the answer. When one considers the staffing problems the NOPD is having, though, it may behoove the city crews who do try to enforce the law to bring along some pepper spray. I think the Zamboni company should also create a special machine that will simultaneously clear away the detritus on both sides of the parade route while paving over St. Charles Avenue – the patch job currently being done on it is ridiculous, plus it eliminates the dotted line denoting the two lanes on either side of the neutral ground once you go downtown of Louisiana Avenue, which makes driving it especially dangerous at night. Also…no one has satisfactorily explained what happens when the floats run the red lights at Louisiana & Washington Avenues and get camera tickets. Do the krewes have that line item inserted into their budgets?

I did manage to partially march in Krewe du Vieux last weekend on a nice, uncharacteristically warm night and had a lovely time. Judging from marching in the parade until Frenchmen Street, then waiting for it to come around again so that I could rejoin it, the pace was not as frenzied and 5-K run-like this year as it has been in past years, but I was still not going to test my ankle like that. One of my personal favorite floats was the Krewe du Mishigas’ Jewpocalypse float, the construction of which can be seen here. Sure, the names of the tires were priceless (Firestein, Putzirelli, Mishigaselin, and Good Yontiff), but seeing them turn a Mercedes into a badass Road Warrior-esque death machine recalled how great satire can be. One rallying cry for survivors of the Shoah in this country that has been often (and sometimes unfairly) lampooned in the Jewish community is that the consumer dollar never go to supporters of the killing of six million Jews in Europe – and the most visible products boycotted were the vehicles produced by Mercedes-Benz. “I’m NEVER buying a German car!” sympathizers and survivors would cry, prompting even Alan Dershowitz to tell his parents that his first brand new foreign car was actually made by British Motor Works. It was something to see an evocation of that history coming down from the Marigny. The way world markets are intertwined these days makes some boycotting effective in some unintended ways, hitting the people further down the corporate totems first and leaving the parent companies still fairly strong. It’s worth it to consider how we are all entwined in these systems…and how we can create effective change.

Some change takes a long, long time. A federal probe is finally being aimed at the former Hizzoner the Walking Id C. Ray Nagin and the favors that were bestowed upon him in exchange for he and his family favoring certain city vendors. Yes, a certain zombie was onto this five years ago. Yes, it seems every half-decade or so, this city will be subject to attempts to crack that monolith on Perdido Street. Yes, if anything actually comes of any of it during my lifetime, I will be fairly pleasantly surprised.

It’s too bad this has happened too late for my krewe to have come up with a Stone Age-themed float – we’d likely have been passing out tiles to everybody and telling them to send their checks to City Hall. Talk about crimes against nature…this city’s citizens’ better natures, that is. All most everyone wants to do here is live. Stealing from New Orleans during a period when it could have really rebounded much better than it has from one of the largest man-made tragedies in the history of this country is still hurting us…and it is probably still going on regardless of who is in the mayor’s office. It’s why we’ve got to pay attention to who and what we vote for.

This weekend, however, I vote for doing whatcha wanna, but being mindful of others who also want to participate in Carnival. Maybe I will head out with some scissors, after all, or in a getup that recalls the UC Davis pepper-spraying cop. Anyone who doesn’t like it can kiss my tuchus…

Be safe this weekend, everybody.


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