My Town Wants To Party All The Time

Feb 24, 09 My Town Wants To Party All The Time
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In the town that birthed and raised me, today they celebrate one of the least understood, but most widely admired holidays in the world: Mardi Gras.

Considering the times we are in, maybe we should rename it Mardi Maigre, though I think it lacks the same charm.  Unfortunately, I have missed Mardi Gras in New Orleans for the last few years.

However, every Fat Tuesday, no matter where I am, I wander into the nearest bastardized local version of this awesome day.

While participating in the St. Louis Mardi Gras is like eating at a franchised gumbo restaurant where everything tastes like Tony Chachere’s, you can see that while they haven’t a clue about the pomp and circumstance, many people inherently dig the spirit of what Mardi Gras represents.

Every year since Katrina worked her voodoo magic on a city already at the brink, national stories have focused on the “How can they party so soon after…” storyline.  When the first parades rolled in early 2006 they were still pulling bodies from houses.

Of course, there was vigorous debate within the city about the appropriateness of celebrating in the midst of such widespread devastation.  It was a debate worth having, and ultimately, I think the issue was handled correctly and decisively.

Now that the entire nation is facing an economic apocalypse, the attention again turns toward our little Mardi Gras celebration.  “How can they justify spending all this money in the midst of…”

When I went away to college, I was unable to make it to Mardi Gras for a few years.  During my junior year, one of my good friends approached me with an offer that I couldn’t refuse.  He would pay for my trip to New Orleans if I would merely be his tour guide.

In essence, he wanted the most authentic New Orleans experience that he could get.  Needless to say, he got more than his money’s worth and I got to experience my city through the eyes of visitors.

The irrational exuberance, the pure joy of an entire city shutting down for a day so that the citizens could literally dance in the streets.  We invite the world to our party; and while we sometimes sit back and tsk, tsk some of our more outrageous visitors, the spirit of unadulterated community is so tangible as to be almost visible.

New Orleans has always been a community at the margins of national society.  And while the city has always been plagued by systemic and pervasive problems, New Orleans has always been a place where the communal pot is open to all.

While everyone else is nervous and fidgeting and waiting with bated breath for Mr. Obama’s address tonight (shame on Governor Bobby Jindal for giving the response, he should be at somebody’s parade) my fellow New Orleanians will be doing their best to show the world that everything is gonna be alright.

If Mother Nature couldn’t permanently dampen that spirit, do you really think we are going to let some man-made economic armageddon stop us?  Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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1 Comment

  1. S. Tae Lauder /

    “If Mother Nature couldn’t permanently dampen that spirit, do you really think we are going to let some man-made economic armageddon stop us?”

    Amen to that! Laissez les bon temps rouler! The spirit shall never perish.

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