New Orleans — Even though I spent a few years in The Crescent City I never got to really experience Mardi Gras, until this year. No 18 hour work days, no being annoyed by all of the revelers, I was one of them. And man, was I missing out. I had the advantage of having friends and knowing my way around. Traversing the city is still a bit difficult. Many traffic signals are still out of order and man do I miss the St Charles street car line. Definitely makes those uptown-downtown trips more difficult.
I arrived on Wednesday, which happened to be Valentine’s Day. Like every other holiday, I was pretty much oblivious to this. Took a little Uptown driving tour and checked out the damage from the previous evening’s toranadoes. Had I not known about the storms, the destruction and clean up wouldn’t have even been noticed. I performed at Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar. It’s a great venue and my other shows there had always gone over gangbusters. Not the case on that particular evening. The crowd was mostly comics, and the few civilians in attendance were more of a hindrance than a help. Most of their responsiveness was ill timed (shouting out answers to rhetorical questions and the such). It was great seeing and performing with the old crew: Dane Faucheux, Jeremy Alexander, Sean Patton, Neil Stasny, Vydra, Bil Dykes, Scotland Green and the world’s best door girl Renee. After the show was the usual migration to Vic’s Kangaroo Bar. Laughs were shared and unsuspecting people were ridiculed. I had the always awkward situation of meeting “MySpace friends.” But it was nice to see Erin and Georgia in all three dimensions. I then went and hopped around the French Quarter for a while. Nice to run into old friends and hit the familiar haunts. I ended up hanging with Amber (one of my temporary roommates in the months after Katrina) at Alibi. With a few imbibements in her system, Amber has a tendency to want to wrestle with me. This particular evening, she was in more of a boxing mood. By the morning, I was covered in bruises. She packs a pretty mean punch. It was nice to get in from a night drinking at 9:00 AM. My first day back in New Orleans usually hits me a bit harder. Spending a few nights before I arrived drinking myself back into shape paid off.
Friday was lunch with Erin at Juan’s Flying Burrito. I know New Orleans is chock full of five star restaurants, but it’s my little neighborhood places I miss and always have to eat at on on return trips. She had just interviewed for a new job at Zoo. I wished her well, not just for her own personal success, but so one day when she is at work I can call and ax for her at the Audubon Zoo. That evening, we got ready to hit the parades. The local Rite Aid was running short on canned beer, so we loaded up on High Life tall boys and rounded out the selection with some Steel Reserve High Gravity (it’s like a dorm party in a box). As sparse as the beer selection was, the cooler and ice selection was nonexistent. We crapped out on things to keep beer cold in and with at Walgreens as well. But, sometimes, desperation leads to invention. While the drugstore didn’t have coolers, they did have buckets. These worked out nicely. They’d hold the beer, were lightweight and had a convenient handle. We then decided we had the making of a new Mardi Gras tradition. These buckets could be decorated and become the preferred way to carry beverages of parades. All full of ourselves with our bucket genuineness, we headed to St Charles and Constantinople and met Matt. He was really excited because he had just gotten approval for a new project at NASA. As interesting as space travel seems, the process of getting the shuttles into space is quite uninteresting. The spot on the route we chose was apparently where riders reloaded or grabbed a drink. We did however discover another advantage of the bucket. I reached down for a beer and found a light up throw sitting in the ice. Big score. Hermes was fun and Krewe d’Etat was all I had hoped for. The floats had the expected targets of Nagin and Blanco, but also hit up the local media with a float dedicated to Garland Robinette and one lampooning Vince Marinello. Later we ran into Kerri. It was nice to see her, even if this time she was wearing clothes and wasn’t wearing handcuffs. After hanging out at some friends houses we went to Magazine Street and hit up Balcony Bar where we ran into Sean Paton (a recurring theme). Then my friend Nikki picked us up to head down to the French Quarter. In an unexpected twist, Nikki and Erin actuallym knew each other, as Nikki’s roommate was Erin’s friend Jamie. Snack time at Angeli On Decatur was all I remembered (yes I got to eat at Angeli and Juan’s in the same day). The group then struck stopped by Johnny White’s Sports Bar and Rio before heading to Alibi. Billy met us there looking like a street urchin as usual. Then the night just took off. Swung by to see Ramzey. Hung out with various groups of random strangers. Then spent entirely too long hanging out with Kris at Jemini. Then I made my way around to a few of my favorite morning bars. When I finally turned in about 2:00 PM the next afternoon, my body needed much more sleep than I had scheduled… to be continued
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