Feb 122012
 

Benjamin Morris

Everyone has their own personal Mardi Gras. The longer you live in New Orleans, the more you learn about how to live in, and love, this city, a form of love that includes strategies and skills you never dreamed of learning prior to living here.

Carnival is one of the best times of the year to enjoy those skills; this week, following on from Jean-Paul Villere’s recent master classes, I’d like to share one of my own personal forms of love for the season: where to watch, and catch, the parades.

A few basic principles hold dear: one, bring as many children as you can, for no rider loves an open hand more than a hand that can barely clasp a shoe, a peacock, or a coconut. Two, if possible, pick a corner location so you catch the floats as they round a bend — all the more time to run up to them, babe in arms, and haul away the loot. And three, pick a spot that you know has access to all the amenities you need — including, among other resources, food, drink, and bathrooms. Not necessarily in that order.

Looking ahead at the parades this week — our own highlights include Nyx, Muses, d’Etat, and Chewbacchus — several spots in particular on the routes stand out. For the parades which begin upriver from Napoleon, and turn onto it, the corner of Napoleon and St Charles will be busy but fun — extra work for the crews at Superior Seafood and Fat Harry’s, sure, but a great spot to see everything in detail.

If you’re less interested in beads and boisterousness than in good company and open-air options, the stretch between Aline and Louisiana is also ideal. The neutral ground is easily navigable during and between parades, and the access to nearby drugstores, bars and restaurants can provide for nearly every need you might have. (Touro Infirmary will too, but let’s hope that’s not a part of your Mardi Gras experience.)

Third, and last, the stretch of Magazine downriver from Le Bon Temps — between Bordeaux and Napoleon — is great for those parades that begin further upriver, because the crowds are thinner and the riders are fresher, being at the start of the route, and as a result, often more generous with their throws. Not that you heard that here, of course — it’ s just something we’ve heard over the years.

That’s it! We hope you have a great week, and we’ll look forward to seeing you out on the route. Stay safe, well hydrated, and aware of all your personal belongings — children and all. Have a great time, and write your own stories to share with us here at UptownMessenger.com. We’ll see you on the other side, decked out in whatever flashes wild and brightly in the night.

Benjamin Morris is the author of Coronary, a poetry collection, and The Bella, a novella. Around town, he can be found catching music on Frenchmen, crawling the galleries on St Claude, playing soccer in City Park, or tending bar at the Sovereign Pub Uptown. His column appears on Sundays. He can be reached at benjaminmorris@nolamessenger.com.

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