23 February 2006

Mardi Gras 2006 (MG2K6)

The opening three paragraphs from the Introduction of Robert Tallant's 1948 classic MARDI GRAS .. . AS IT WAS:

Mardi Gras is a spirit. I believe it is an immortal one. It is certain that it is at least as immortal as Man's ability to make believe, to escape the dreariness of the everyday life that is most men's portion, to have fun, to laugh, and to play. I doubt that many of us want more immortality than that, not if we have much sense.

In our generation we seem to be at an end of an era. We are told that tomorrow there will be another kind of world and that it is highly probable it will be another kind of world and that is highly probable it will be even less pleasant than this one. We are warned, with dire soleminity, that not many of us can even hope to survive the change. We are comforted in regard to that with the assurance that if we do live through what is coming we will be sorry, unless we are monsters with paranoiac tendencies or unimaginative and humorless human automata.

That does not promise Mardi Gras much of a future. Yet I am not inclined to worry. I think if there is any world left in which human beings still laugh and still, even or rare occasions, have fun, there will be a Mardi Gras, and that it will live through whatever catastrophies occur, as it survived the perishing of Greece, the destruction of Rome, the centuries of pain and plague we call the Middle Ages, the perilous journey to the end of the earth that turned out to be America, and all the wars. Men cease to laugh only when they are very ill or when they have become beasts. As for the beasts, they cannot laugh, and I do not imagine they have much fun. That is why Mardi Gras is not a trivial matter but a very important one. In a way it is a symbol of the art of being human, and wherever people are still human, wherever they enjoy living, it will exist in some form.

Some New Orleanians expressed the opinion that Mardi Gras 2006 should be cancelled. Those holding this opinion were mostly displaced to places such as Atlanta and Houston and whom lost their homes to the post-KTMB flooding. Their general opinion was that staging Mardi Gras within the City of New Orleans in 2006 was a waste of limited resources, an illustration of misguided priorities, and an indication of an indifference by those able to be here towards their plight. I have nothing but empathy for my fellow citizens currently not able to be back in New Orleans and believe everything should be done to expidate getting those that want to return to New Orleans the ability to do so. I don't question such concerns are legitimate ones, however it is imperative Mardi Gras 2006 happens. I think the above piece is as relevant now as it was when it written in 1948. We are lucky--unlike the rest of our country as New Orleans has an intact 150 year old tradition of annually celebrating life and being human. We need to have this celebration this year more than ever after the past six months we've all been through.

But like everything else with New Orleans either you get it or you don't get it. Our displaced get it, but many just feel like they are being forgotten about or even worse purposely forgotten about. Most outsiders cannot and don't get it because what they know of Mardi Gras is limited to images of beads for breasts and drunken college students (both mostly consisting of non-locals, by the way). That's generally as in-depth as the Mardi Gras story is presented to them each year via television. Last week, GAMBIT WEEKLY penned a commentary entitled "Getting It" which I believe acurately confronts the message/perception issue. No, the outside will never get us--and to be honest that's part of the allure of New Orleans.

To use the only vernacular most Americans seem to understand post-11 September 2001, if we do not have Mardi Gras the hurricane has won. Instead, having Mardi Gras 2006 shows that hurricane and the rest of the world that the physical condition of our home might broken but our city's and it's people's spirit refuses to be broken. It's really just that simple.


Last week's warmup weekend is behind us and tonight the real deal begins . . .

Hopefully the weather will cooperate . . .

Thursday, 23 February
5:45pm KNIGHTS OF BABYLON, 18 floats
6:15pm CHAOS, 18 floats
6:45pm MUSES, 25 floats

Friday, 24 February
5:45pm HERMES, 25 floats
6:30pm LE KREWE D'ETAT, 19 floats
7:15pm MORPHEUS, 14 floats

Saturday, 25 February
11:00am IRIS, 32 floats
12:00pm TUCKS, 26 floats
3:30pm ENDYMION, 22 floats (3:30, jeeeezzzzzz)

Sunday, 26 February
11:00am OKEANOS, 14 floats
11:3oam THOTH, 38 floats (likely minus the HC/Magazine portion of the route)
2:00pm MID-CITY, 12 floats
5:15pm BACCHUS, 27 floats

Monday, 27 February
5:15pm PROTEUS, 20 floats
5:45pm ORPHEUS, 22 floats

Mardi Gras, 28 February
8:00am ZULU, 26 floats
10:00am REX, 27 floats


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