Here is a New Years’ party invitation that someone sent me, not to invite me, but to show off the humor of the host who created it. Another great example of the humor that we use to deal with Katrina.
I normally don’t care for New Years celebrations: funny hats, confetti and the group countdown followed by drunken cacophony. But I had a nice New Years this year. Me and some friends were going to go to Jacques-Imos but when we got there they said it was a set 5 course meal. We all love that restaurant so normally we’d be happy to gorge ourselves, but none of us were that hungry. We went next door to the Maple Leaf bar to reassess our strategy.
As we were enjoying a bottle of Abita Restoration Ale (proceeds go to charity), a ragamuffin group of costumed musicians came into the bar. The leader was a guy with a furry ram horn hat and a saxophone. He ushered the bar patrons outside and then began to play some typical New Orleans jazz music. As he was playing people started drifting over, most were not musicians. But every once in a while a new instrument would appear about a block away and start making its way toward the center of the throng. I kept looking around for Federico Fellini. He wasn’t there, but there was a fat bearded guy wearing a diaper and a sash that had the letters "MMVI" emblazoned on it.
After enough people had arrived and there were enough people dancing in the streets the musicians began playing ‘Down by the Riverside’ and proceeded marching down Oak St. They took a left at the corner and headed down a formerly quiet residential street. A black woman was sitting by the window in her house talking on the cellphone as we passed. She raised the window and held her phone out so her friend could hear the music. People laughed and started chanting ‘Happy New Years.’ The parade paused when it arrived at another neighborhood bar, The Carrolton Station.
Carrolton Station is near the barn that houses the streetcars. As we approached a young man came whizzing by on a rickety bicycle. He was standing on the seat with his arms outstretched, a beer in the right hand. The crowd cheered. I scanned the horizon, looking for clowns and elephants. Ah, yes, the circus was back in town.
And, of course, all of this is a small scale warm up for February 28th, which is the date of Mardi Gras. Apparently, there are still hotel rooms to be had (at least that’s what my friend Ruth who works in a hotel told me the other day).