My Day of Mardi Gras, Part 3: Drawn & French Quartered


Crossing Canal

Crossing Canal

As I reached Canal Street, newly baptized in hot chocolate and ready to cross into the Quarter, I found myself trapped.  The truck parade was still limping along (it had started around noon and it was now past 4pm!) down roads lined with metal barricades.  Emerging from St. Charles, the parade turned up Canal, rolling out of sight and creating a blockade that could take miles to circumnavigate. My feet were already throbbing and my cold certainly wasn’t improving. I’d spent over two hours and countless miles to get this far, so law and order would have to accommodate me at this point rather than vice versa.

Police presence, however, was strong this close to parade ground zero, for there is always a crush of tourists and over-enthusiastic locals on Canal Street radiating up and down the blocks adjacent to Bourbon.  I headed north until I saw that people were beginning to leap barriers and rush up to floats with outstretched arms.  Reaching a point where the breach was large enough to provide cover, I leaned over the iron railing and sat my hobo pack on a discarded, crushed box.  Rain was still misting down and the streets–notorious for potholes in this town–were covered with puddles of rain, run-off, and other substances you’d rather not identify, [Read more…]

Down & Out On Bourbon Street….


Pam Tusa w/her husband--A direct descendant of Serpico & Jesus Christ!

Pam Tusa w/her husband–A direct descendant of Serpico & Jesus Christ!

At the end of our last exciting episode it was early Sunday evening and I was wandering down Poydras in solitude on my way to meet up with Chris and Pam Tusa,  friends from Baton Rouge.  Chris, a writer with an actual published book, Dirty Little Angels (like that means anything!), grew up in New Orleans.  Although locals generally avoid Bourbon Street like day-old crawfish (especially during Mardi Gras) Chris was drawing us into the fray with good reason.

I keep preaching like a vexed televangelist that Bourbon Street, while worth a glimpse into the total breakdown of social decorum and personal restraint, is not New Orleans or Mardi Gras.  A carnival of the bizarre and unrestrained, it’s definitely entertaining for a short while, but unless you’re the type who feels empowered by yelling at strange women to show their boobs for cheap plastic trinkets, you just don’t want to stay there.  Remnants still stand of what Bourbon once was–stoically defying modern comercial opportunism–such as the elegant and locally revered Creole institution Galatoire’s (GAL-a-twah-z) or Preservation Hall, the sparse yet historic jazz club just a few steps off Bourbon; but, for the most part, t-shirt and daiquiri shops and seedy strip clubs long-ago claimed Bourbon for tourists looking for an excuse.  Not to say New Orleans was ever angelic.  The famous Storyville district where jazz was born was known for red light establishments and rough-housing patrons; but it also gave birth to Jazz!, [Read more…]