Why Mardi Gras is Awful

Since Eve Kidd Crawford and I can never agree, we’re doing another point-and-counterpoint-style blog series this week. Unfortunately for me, that means I had to come up with five things that suck about Mardi Gras, since she got the cake assignment to write about things that are great about Mardi Gras. But since Yankees apparently like nothing better than pissing on other people’s good time, I figured I’d try to live down to the stereotype.

Think of it as Carnival satire. Krewe de Jersey.

And since even I don’t really believe my own baloney, I’ve offered some workarounds to the “problems” of Carnival.

5. Bathrooms.

Finding them is difficult. Surviving them is nearly impossible. Nearly a million people all have to make due with facilities on approximately 15 miles of parade routes. We’ve put together a rudimentary guide to not getting arrested for public urination; we wish you good luck and godspeed.

4. Parades can kill you.

In 2009 a 23-year-old Carencro man was killed when he fell off of and was run over by his own parade float. A 39-year-old Bay St. Louis man was killed while trying to disembark from an Endymion float in 2009. Last February in Bandeiro do Sul, Brazil, fireworks and streamers knocked a power line into a crowd, killing 16 people and injuring 54.

With the exception of that shocking (I couldn’t help myself) death toll in Brazil, most Carnival fatalities are the inexorable result of gravity plus machinery plus alcohol plus carelessness. This item is more cautionary than anything else: Don’t be an idiot around parade floats. Don’t push people into floats trying to get throws. You wouldn’t dick around with a tractor-trailer. Don’t do it with a float. It’s one thing to make yourself a victim of natural selection, but try not to take anyone else out with you, like the 21-year-old Marksville man who in 2008 fatally crushed his 16-year-old brother between a parade float and the pickup the elder brother was drunkenly driving.

3. The rain.

The rain itself isn’t a nuisance. It’s why we have umbrellas and jackets and towels and screw it, it’s Carnival, go get wet. But in the 300-plus years that people on this continent have been celebrating Mardi Gas, we have yet to develop technology equal to the task of shielding a parade float from the elements (I’m talkin’ to you, Endymion). Tulane dumped their mechanical engineering program, sure, but the program at the University of New Orleans is still going strong. Let’s get something together for 2013.

Fortunately, our colleagues over at WDSU have put together a nifty little "parade tracker," complete with tweets and smartphone applications, so you’ll know as soon as a krewe wimps out.

2. The Mardi-Gras-Menu Mentality.

Due to the high volume of tour traffic, restaurants pare down their menus to a select few items and jack up the prices. No gripe; this convenience kept me from committing touristicide (it’s a real thing, I promise) in the decade during which I earned my entire income from restaurants. But the concept has gone viral and jumped the proverbial shark. Take parking. I won’t go too far into this because it’s a bit hackneyed and frankly, we could all use a little more exercise.  But at a time when two to three times the population of the entire city is clamoring for space in only five of its neighborhoods, the number of available parking spaces gets axed by these:

Why Mardi Gras is Awful

Obviously, cancelling parades to allow parking hearkens back to the old nose-and-the-face adage. So far the only solution is forking over your hard-earned ducats to the parking space scalpers in professional lots, although if you’re downtown, you might have better luck with the new pedicab service running in the French Quarter.

1. The entire world thinks we’re ogling boobs.

Thanks, Girls Gone Wild. Thanks a lot.

This isn’t a problem in and of itself, because of all the things one might say against New Orleans, nobody would ever accuse it of having a self-esteem problem or caring very much for other peoples’ opinions. It becomes a problem when people travel here with the expectation of breasts raining from the sky in a mammarian deluge of biblical proportions. This presents two difficulties. First, disappointed drunk people tend to start fights. Second, if breasts actually did rain down from the heavens, they’d have to cancel parades.


Be sure to check out Eve’s much-easier-to-write column on how Mardi Gras is awesome.

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