Feb 15, 201012:00 AM
The Editor's Room
Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde
Errol Laborde: The Throw
At 7:14 p.m. Marty’s arm acted as a pivot, sending a stash of throws from his spot on the float toward the crowd standing along the St. Charles Avenue sidewalk. An instantaneous jerk of the float caused the throw to be erratic. From his bag Marty had pulled five pairs of beads and two doubloons. By 7:14:01 the stash was ascending toward the apex of its arch before beginning its descent. The jerking motion had caused the different items to take varying directions so that one doubloon’s course was toward a storm drain at the curb. The other doubloon gained a bit more trajectory and was heading toward a crash landing on the sidewalk.
For the beads the aerodynamics were different so that by 7:14:02 three pairs seemed to briefly hover over the crowds as hands reached mercilessly to snatch them.
By 7:14:03 the throws had experienced their first fatality. An errant pair of beads had been grabbed, at each end, simultaneously by two different people. Each person, unwilling to concede their catch to the other, yanked at the plastic necklace, hoping to capture it but instead causing the string to break. Its individual beads, having made the long trip from China, ended their journey by bouncing unnoticed on the sidewalk only to be mindlessly stomped on by those in pursuit of other rewards.
Fate was no better for one of the doubloons, which, by 7:14:05, had ricocheted into the drain, never to be seen again. The other doubloon twirled on its edge momentarily once it hit the sidewalk until it was stomped on by a parade- goer who kept it imprisoned under his boot.
Of all the missiles launched by Marty on this winter night, the greatest journey was made by one big-beaded necklace that the float’s sudden jerk had propelled toward the sky. It might have reached the stars had it not been abruptly snagged by a branch from an overhanging oak tree. The throw’s impact, however, was forceful enough that, by 7:14:09, it caused another pair of beads, which had been captured by the tree a year earlier, to be dislodged and to fall around the neck of Hector, a resident at the nearby Salvation Army facility, who was witnessing his first Carnival parade. Hector was both stunned and delighted at his sudden fortune.
By 7:15 the float that carried Marty was two blocks down the street, and the booty from his toss was largely forgotten as barrages from other floats reached the crowd. Of Marty’s throws, three captured pairs of beads were put in a bag with the catcher’s intent to toss them again in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The surviving doubloon was eventually lifted from beneath the boot and later that evening placed in a shoebox filled with a decade’s worth of other doubloons.
Hector’s pair of beads was faded and its string frayed, but it was prized jewelry to him. He draped it on a lamp near his bunk that night, and it would forever travel with him wherever he went.
By most measures, the journey of Marty’s bounty had taken about two seconds –– except for the pair of beads now dangling from a tree. Its fate was now up to the wind or to the oncoming throws from the next parade.
Krewe: The Early New Orleans Carnival - Comus to Zulu by Errol Laborde is available at all area bookstores. Books can also be ordered via e- mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or (504) 895-2266.
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 P.M. ON WYES-TV, CHANNEL 12.
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