Over the last week, people in New York asked me why I was headed to New Orleans. They asked if I was going back to see family or if I was homesick (I moved to NYC five months ago after a twelve year stint in New Orleans). I stared back at them dead-eyed, agog in the same way as when a doorman asks me what I think I’m doing taking my drink outside. Then I remembered that to the uneducated, this is just the second Tuesday in February.
It is not.
It is Mardi Gras, the apex of Carnival. This Boeing 737 is flying me at unfathomable speed toward Muses Thursday, Morpheus Friday, Endymion Saturday, Bacchus (not Super Bowl) Sunday, Lundi Gras, and finally Mardi Gras. It is a marathon not a sprint. Like those eager and of youthful leg, the first timer may break into the parade route screaming for beads then beeline it to Bourbon Street, slow to a drag following a local to The Spotted Cat, and finally find himself spent and vomiting from exhaustion—and drinking—long before Tuesday.
But if done right, you can rally—or stay awake—to catch Krewe of Zulu Parade roll at 8 am on Fat Tuesday then march from Canal Street into the throngs of the French Quarter. Halfway through the journey, on Bourbon Street, you can find Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, where multiple generations of alumni of UNO’s writing workshops will dance in the street.
If you’re stuck in a city that hasn’t shut down for a five-day party, you should quit your job and come to New Orleans. Otherwise pour Bacardi into Hawaiian Punch, call it a Hurricane, and read these books.
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