LET’S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN….AND AGAIN….AND AGAIN….
For someone who has a reputation of frequently being late, I sure am aware of time. Some people create a distraction by rolling in to family dinners and public functions infuriatingly late and blissfully unaware. I’m that guy that’s always just ten minutes behind and hates it. I think I have plenty of time to get where I’m going and lose myself in preparation. At some point, though, I inevitably hit a time warp where ten or twenty minutes just disappears into a black hole and suddenly I’m rushing and fussing and stressing and cussing until I roll in at my pre-determined ten-minutes-late time, all apologies and frazzled to the core. So, as usual, last night the Krewe was scheduled to have its first event at 7pm to watch Muses parade during a meet and greet at the upstairs of Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar (I had no idea surfers could retire let alone why flat & muddy watered New Orleans would be their final resting place!), and I thought I had plenty of time to write and post an entry beforehand; yet at ten till seven last night I was down in the Hilton Starbucks begging and cajoling my computer to upload my photos and text just a bit quicker. Once it posted, having been barely edited (so apologies for typos), I dashed back up to the room, stowed away my laptop, grabbed a beer, dashed back to the elevators, and power-walked to the bar afraid I was going to miss something. Ten minutes late as always.
Yet I was one of the first ones there. The Krewe trickled in over the next hour or two and Muses, our guest of honor, didn’t roll down Tchoupitoulas till around 11pm. I forgot to account for the fact that my ten-minute time warp is nothing compared to Mardi Gras time. I’ve been here before and, though not in tune with the rhythms of particular parades at particular viewing spots, I should remember from my long wait for Orpheus to arrive at their ball in 2011 that the parades creep like inflation. So for the rest of Rocckus I pledge to relax and go with the flow. Ten minutes, sminutes.
The fact that I had to go downstairs for connectivity is an issue for another blog—you wouldn’t think a hotel whose posted rate (though Rocckus rate is much lower but still insane) is over $400 a night during Mardi Gras would have the audacity to charge for wireless in your room. For what I’m paying a sexy bell hop-ette should be in my room massaging my shoulders as I post on my free in-room wifi from my internet connected in-room hot tub! Then I read that they want to charge to use the fitness center so I just took around along the river past Jackson Square and the French Market. So far Krewe of Rocckus earns a solid A but the Hilton, though very nice, gets an F…for F U and your price gouging!
ASS IN THE ROAD, WHALES IN A CUP, AND CLOSE FROM AFAR
The upside to my four-hour wait for the parade was that I got to meet and mingle with the Rocckus crowd. And the upside to an event like Rocckus is that, though you are hanging with strangers, you are amongst a group of common with interests. We were all there because of a fascination with Mardi Gras and long-time enthusiasm for the same band, so conversation was easy. Better Than Ezra is known for crafting intelligent lyrics with unique phrasing, a sense of irony that never crosses the line into smug, and a goofy sense of humor that rides the fine line between funny and corny without ever completely caving (and multiply their humor and spontaneity a tenfold during live shows) so it makes sense that the crowd they attracted reflected this smart but fun aesthetic.
The first people I met were Vince-not-Vinnie and Pete-rhymes-with-toilet-seat, two fun-loving fire fighters from Ft. Lauderdale. We quickly fell into some back-slapping laughs as they assured me that Rescue Me is the best and most realistic fireman show or movie made. (Score! I love that show!) The wouldn’t answer which one of them was like the character Mike, though one did confess his last name was ‘Road-ass.’ Skeptical, I made him produce a driver’s license. Spelled Rodas, he assured everyone in his firehouse pronounces it with this American inflection rather than with the intended Portuguese tongue roll. Well, everyone except for new recruits. Both guys are crew leaders and new ‘probies’ are afraid to use his name thinking, like me, they’re being punked.
Soon a couple of girls wandered over to show off their fluorescent blue drinks with plastic whales plunging down the rims—apparently the bar was out of about everything else and this is what resulted from “Make me what you like.” These Rocckus-ers soon admitted to being attorneys from DC and dared us to joke about their exciting specialities of tax and banking law so I swallowed my sarcastic tongue and simply enjoyed the fact that the group was growing. Heck, we already had firemen and lawyers. We could save your Rodas and sue your Rodas all in the same breath.
After this initial icebreaker the connections came quick. I soon met folks from all over Texas, a group from New Jersey, a healthy Mississippi crowd, a couple from Denver, and one guy from Arizona who was there ‘with’ a lady from Austin. Being unafraid of being rude, I pried as to their arrangement to which they declared being “Really close friends from far apart.” There seemed to be layers beneath the way they said ‘friends’ and further probing revealed that they get meet up a few times a year, primarily at festivals revolving around food, music, and beer. My eyes misted just a little. I was still unsure of exactly what their connection was, but it sounded like a beautiful thing!
RAVE REVIEWS & CATCHING SHOES
As attendees mingled, the guys from BTE were there making their rounds too. Taking the initiative, drummer Michael Jarome came over the a group I was chatting with and introduced himself. Taking his time to chat, he was was easy-going and funny. As we talked I gave him my reconnaissance report: The crowd was filled with returners as opssosed to first timers at a ratio about three to one and everyone had nothing but rave reviews to offer. I’ve looked forward to this event for some time and was having a blast, but as everyone I met assured me this was just the tip of the iceberg, my excitement skyrocketed. Two brothers from Chicago insisted Rocckus 2012 was the best weekend of their lives, and these guys of clearly Irish descent acted like this wasn’t their first party. A trip like this isn’t cheap and the fact that so many people has come from so far with so much effort to do it all for a second and, for some, third time spoke volumes of what was in store.
By the time Muses finally rolled, the party was winding down and some of the crowd departed. I felt a little in the know, having already previewed the floats, but did stay out to see what kind of ‘throws’ they were offering. Muses, as I said before, is all female and their symbol is a high heeled shoe. The prize throw from this float is a hand-decorated shoe, though that held little appeal for me, though I did land some shoe-shaped beads and a plastic ice-cube shaped like a shoe. The one throw I aim for at every parade is a medallion. Every floats throws tons of beads and some people go for quantity. I prefer quality. Medallions are beads with a unique plastic plaque attached that is different for every krewe and often different from year to year. These make great souvenirs for each parade and I caught several. Among other unique throws were flashing plastic diamond rings, Muses shoelaces in plastic vials, and a stuffed toy of the Cajun cooking trinity (onion, green pepper and celery.) I’ll have hours of fun playing with those stuffed veggie tales. Of course, I’m sure the fact that these two bulbs and one stick vegetable looked like a flying phallus as it hurled through the air at your wasn’t lost on these satirical sweeties. Oh, those silly Muses.
Well, I better run. We have an 11:00 brunch at Archie Manning’s restaurant. After all, I wouldn’t wanna be late!
PS, Boxer Update: Back in the “All You Need Is Love.” Appropriate for the show tonight at the Joy Theatre!