Monday, March 7, 2011

Jake's first Mardi Gras

I hate Mardi Gras. I hate it because it’s something that could be so much more than it ultimately is. I hate it because all of these huge floats roll by, making fun of blatantly corrupt politicians and pundits and awful corporations (BP) and everyone yells for beads and then they go home and they don’t do anything. It’s hollow as hollow gets. The party is about getting drunk and paying too much for things you don’t want, screaming for things you don’t need, meeting people you don’t care about, and ignoring the rest of the world in favor of your own hedonism. It’s a genuinely unique and interesting part of New Orleans culture, but it’s only as popular as it is because people expect it as a part of the New Orleans culture. It’s tourism. It’s about creating a space for tourists to get drunk and spend all their money. Ultimately all of the larger parades are aimed at people that aren’t me, but worse, people I can’t stand. Drunken louts. Boorish thugs whose only real method of relaxing in life is downing poison until their minds can’t inhibit them from relaxing any more. And this is okay. This is the point of the parades and the food stands and the Mardi Gras edition Bud Light. The whole point is to reduce people into screaming children, clamoring and fighting over plastic facsimiles of necklaces. That’s what they’re here for. That’s what they paid their good money for.

That’s not why I live here. I don’t hate parades. One of the first things I did when I got here was go on an underwear march with NoiseCo. It was an absolute blast, and convinced me that there really is a good reason to live here. I went to Petit Rex and saw all of the awesome little floats. I went to Barkus and watched dogs with adorable costumes go by. I saw Chewbacchus and all of the amazing outfits they put together for that. I saw both Krewe du Vieux and DeLusion and loved the way they were both put together. These things are great! I love costuming, and I love parades where people go all-out with a theme and make it look cool. None of these other parades so far have represented that for me. They’re tourist magnets, and little else.

Really, the biggest problem I have with the parades is the same as every problem I have. I hate people. I watched Chewbacchus at its start (because that’s the only parade I planned on seeing today) and then decided to follow it for a bit to see how it worked out. It turned into a clusterfuck almost immediately after the start, with a bunch of fucking retarded drivers trying to go down St. Charles right in the middle of the goddamn parade; tons of idiot spectators either walking into, with, or through the parade, ignoring it entirely and bumping into the more elaborate costumes and then heckling them for not watching where they’re going when the people in costume can only see forward; kids fucking everywhere harassing the costumers for throws and shit and banging on the robots; people squishing them in too far as a parade; just awful shit. And the only police presence was at the beginning and end, just calmly driving through ignoring the unmitigated chaos in the line. It was awful, and it made me angry. It still makes me angry. How dare these people sit there and behave fairly rationally for a big to-do and then turn into complete dickheads for this tiny alternative parade? I can’t handle that shit and I refuse to even remotely support it, so I pretty much walked home after that, wading through crowds and crowds of people I don’t like and wish were dead. I won’t be going to any more big parades. I don’t care how fancy they are, I don’t care that ultimately Chewbacchus should have been a parade in the quarter or the bywater or anywhere that was somewhat quiet, I don’t care what they all dress up in and put up for floats. I refuse to support this bullshit aggregation of a fantasy about New Orleans as a city. If this is really what the city does for its economy and culture, no wonder it’s so goddamned fucked up.

The big parades, the so-called “Super-Krewes” exemplify nearly everything I dislike about America/Humans. There’s the mindless, get-a-buck greed on display by every single idiot with a food stand or a shopping cart full of blinking crap. There’s the careless, pointless, soulless waste of tons and tons of plastic imported from China made by people who couldn’t afford to watch them being thrown, let alone attend a parade. There’s the shallow concept of “relaxing” or “partying” by consuming gallons and gallons of alcohol because the populace is incapable of “having a good time” without a few drinks. It’s just everything that sickens me and depresses me about people. I like the parades anyway because it’s nice to see floats and anything out of the ordinary makes me happy, but I can’t stand anyone at them, from the crowds upon crowds of tourists to the rich white assholes on the floats. I can’t stand that this is what passes for a crazy and happening holiday here. I can’t stand tourism and tourists and anyone who ever says “only in New Orleans.” I want to kick the teeth in of every asshole I hear who says that.

The worst part of it is that I know there’s going to be people who tell me that I’m overreacting or that none of the things I’m saying are true or that I’m being an uptight asshole. Some of these people are even going to be people whose opinions I am very interested in. I know just because I’m not attending doesn’t mean I’ll put even a fractional dent in these parades’ popularity. Hell, they might even make more money because now my spot is being filled with someone who actually buys light-ups and chicken-on-a-stick. But god damn, I don’t have to support any of this, and I won’t. I’m not a vegetarian because I really think it’s going to make a huge difference. I’m a vegetarian because I don’t have to support your crowd-mentality food consumption bullshit. I don’t have to support the crowd-mentality parade bullshit. You can all go to hell; I’ll live how I want.


Past the anger. Back to something else. I like symbols (you do too) and I like using symbolism to understand events. The problem I had with the response to the Chewbacchus parade was that the parade conceptually represented something I cherish and value, namely nerds dressing up and wandering around and putting together their own throws made of nerdy things (I got a comic book!). The crowd for the other parade, Bacchus and later Endymion and earlier Thoth, did not respect the parade, or otherwise my joy in seeing the people in the parade. This angers me because I did not, nor did Chewbacchus, go out of my way to disrespect or disrupt their enjoyment of their parade (or tail-gating party or whatever it was for why there were there). It was rude and ultimately unjust. What really affected me was my incapability to rectify the injustice and that the people charged with maintaining order were also incapable (or unwilling) to do so. I could not stand this and can not stand for this and will not willingly support a system (the larger parades) that does/will. I know that I am only one person and incapable of rendering similar injustice to the larger parades (what am I going to do? Slash tractor tires? Bang on floats? Drive a car through the dozens of barricades set up for them? [not for Chewbacchus, though]) so instead I will do the only thing I can. Avoid them like the plague.

That said, I'm looking forward to Zulu. Hopefully that'll be a bit better.

P.S. All that “first Mardi Gras” and “Popping the Mardi Gras cherry” can go fuck itself. It’s people getting drunk and watching a parade, not a legitimate transition between life phases. I’m an angry asshole before attending Mardi Gras, and I’ll be an angry asshole afterward. The creation of the narrative that this is somehow an initiation into a cabal of Mardi Gras knowledge only serves to perpetuate the pointless and insipid waste that it is. It was made by people, not by demigods or spirits or by nature itself. Might as well celebrate “Baby’s first Bris.” Oh wait.


  1. disregard all of the stuff below as I'm an idiot and don't know what I'm talking about, although I'd like to hope there is something worth reading in this (as to why I didn't just delete it, which I was tempted to do >:T )

    I am not an idiot, I swear


    Rant or not, I really enjoyed this, but not because you're my fran and I'm biased to begin with. I've never been to Mardi Gras personally, simply heard about the tittyshowin's and the beads and the tourism and all of that, but it does seem like an awful large amount of hype over something that is pretty basic.

    I did visit you and we walked around New Orleans (at least a little bit, but I think I saw a lot) and it all seemed rather run down and neglected. To think people mistake this neglect, ruin, and just apathy for the place as it having history and culture (I am guilty of this myself, admittedly) is a little annoying (don't get me wrong, the place certainly has history, but as a country we've only been around for rough 230 years, compared to the rest of the world, we're nothing)and I dont

  2. New Orleans as a city has actually been around for something like 300ish years (established in 1718). It's historically and culturally relevant because it was originally a french colony, then sold to the spanish, then sold to America. It's basically one of the most European cities on this continent. We didn't actually get you going around a whole lot of places (sorry) so you pretty much got to see Treme and the quarter and some of Marigny and that was about it (wasn't sure if you wanted a tour or what). We never did get to the garden district or bywater or any of that.

    Yeah, everything is kinda run down. People have been really slow to rebuild. There's a lot of cool stuff here, lots of artists and pretentious hipsters and nerds and whatnot. I love the costuming culture here. I really wish we had made it to the art house. Do come again some time.

  3. I'll try, sorry for posting a stupid comment, don't think less of me. :T

  4. Gat dang yankee, a-spittin' on our traditions. Buncha drunk bubbas will be around to visit y'all later.

  5. Jake...Could you maybe just stop being such an elitist snob (for no reason whatsoever), swallow your pretentious little attitude (that every antisocial channer nerd like yourself on earth has), accept that you are young and actually just enjoy yourself?
    Or are you still that uncomfortable with yourself that when you find yourself out of your element with people who are confident and don't care about what others think of them that you have to go out and complain about how "omg everything sux because I'm above it"?

    Really. Yes "the masses" are ignorant and stupid but if maybe if you weren't so afraid of simply indulging yourself in some mindless fun, you wouldn't be such an incredible douche. You're not a member of the AARP yet to where you can disapprove of the "Youngins", according to this blog you barely have a life that you actually enjoy. Getting drunk and playing Magic followed by a night of writing essays criticizing everyone else who has a life may make you feel like you're better than all of us but really I think you're just incredibly bitter and I hope one day you can be comfortable with yourself enough to not have to bash other people to make yourself feel better. Because once you're happy with yourself, you really don't give a fuck about what other people think about you or how they act because it really doesn't affect you.

    This whole post just sounds like you're a New Orleans fangirl hanging out with people who "just found out" about New Orleans and now it's too five minutes ago for you.

    I too use my blog (It's private mind you) to complain to myself about everything and that I too get depressed and bitter sometimes, and, Hell, you can feel free to talk shit forever about this, but you really need to realize no one gives a shit about how much you disapprove of ANYTHING. Just go fucking be happy and confident in yourself for once and you'll see how much better your life is. You depend WAY too much on the opinions of others to make yourself feel justified or happy.

    You're actually a really good person and really cool...just stop fucking caring about what everyone else thinks so much. None of us are that important that we have to be THAT self-conscious.

    And feel free to dismiss this comment as sarcastically, blandly, or meanly as you wish. I just had to say it.

  6. I'm totally at a loss as to what the hell you meant by all of that.