Last night was Krewe de Vieux here in my fine city, which means that carnival season has truly begun. I mean technically, carnival season kicks off on Epiphany and rages on until the sober morning of Ash Wednesday, which, for those in the know, is the beginning of Lent. Fat Tuesday goes into Ash Wednesday, you can connect those dots. Part of my theory on why people go so hard during carnival and especially the weekend before mardi gras is because they want to want to give things up, so if you've been drunk for a month straight, you're going to wake up and feel 100% compelled to go to church and get yourself cleaned up. From where I'm standing, the logic is flawless. This year will be especially, ahem, fun because the Superbowl will be held in our fine city the weekend before Mardi Gras weekend. Do the math. It's about to get real. Krewe de Vieux is the kick-off of all the parades and is the only one held in the Quarter--all the other Krewes' floats are too big to fit through the streets, so KdV is heralded as the only non-mechanized crew, which throws mules into the mix of normal mardi madness. Questionable? Absolutely. Krewe de Vieux is also the most obscene parade of them all--don't bring your kids to this one, folks. This year's theme was Krewe de Vieux Came Too Soon. I won't go into too many details, but at one point a well-endowed Energizer Bunny float came rolling through with a very inventive slogan. The upside is that the Krewe is terrifically clever and makes fun of all the wild things that have happened in the city in the past year--for example, former Mayor Ray Nagin being indicted on 21 counts of corruption, or how Entergy is the only option for electricity in this city...one of the throws we got were small paper envelopes with ENTERGY'S BACKUP GENERATOR printed on the outside...inside the envelope were three small birthday candles. If you've lived through a hurricane in NO, you'll get the joke. Sometimes I think about the tourists who could potentially come to the city during KdV weekend and not realize what they were getting themselves into. All I know is that if I stumbled upon thousands of people cheering on a parade that at one point featured papier-mache sperm waving ephemerally above the crowd, I'd be a little confused. And probably concerned.
But! You can't beat them, and so we have no choice but to join in. It's easier to do than one might think--I get how mobs can get unruly, even with the most responsible of people. There's a weird energy with that many people in one place, screaming and waving and dancing for the same thing. One time I heard an interview with a guy who has taken pictures of Mardi Gras from a helicopter for years, and he said that to him, look down on the roiling broiling mass of people was like watching an enormous blind animal take over the city. When I first heard that, I thought he needed to work on his metaphors, but it sort of makes sense--there is a collective mass mentality that I could see being a thing. Anyway, we had a blast. Someone gave me a dreidel, I rode a mechanical bull. Same old same old.