Mr. Sacre’ Bleu Sky …

Before the climax comes the foreplay fantastic …

Starting with breakfast.  Being long time veterans of the Mardi Gras it is well known that no meal is as important.  Given the absolute necessity for quality hallucinogens to prolong the day’s festivities beyond the morning sprint, it is paramount to consume as many calories as you can before your body inevitably rejects the notion of food later in the afternoon.  It is known.  And as such, breakfast should be expansive.  We are talking Dr. Thompson-esq proportions:  Eggs, swine in its various forms, hash browns, crispy and golden in hue, coffee, mimosas, bloody marys fully garnished, fresh fruit, pastries of all consistencies and dimensions, biscuits, toast heavily slathered in butter and jam, etc.  Understand also that in the course of the feast you will ingest some amount of glitter, it is unavoidable.  And in some circles it is argued as being an integral step in the conjuring of proper Mardi Gras magic.  Wherever you fall on the matter, just eat. IMG_5980 Ground yourself before you get swept up in the whirlwind rush of the morning swell or regret it in short time because the first wave comes with a quickness.  Flush with a growing anticipation, friends colored beautiful begin to pour in adding their unique charms to the spell being cast.  Hello’s and hugs are administered, last minute costume additions and touch ups are applied with careful abandon, all sprinkled with the most fanciful of glitter left over from the hash browns.

And it’s time to load the float. IMG_4014 Coolers FULL of ice, rations both fluid and solid in nature, diapers, batteries, a choice selection of tools, a baby and his mama.                                               IMG_5981
 

The list continues. Wardrobe changes, umbrellas, rainbow make-up, potions, elixirs, and more glitter dusted into every nook, cranny, crevice and corner.  IMG_4087And the Krewe continues to grow and mobilize as staging points combine from across the neighborhood.  The gates of the castle are swung wide open to accommodate the surge of energy and the rainbow begins to flood out into the street, the sun radiant, the weather, against all odds, holding steady as the spell we weave becomes grand and effortless, marvelously intricate with every laugh and distant drum beat … It has been a long week of prep, but you wouldn’t have rainbows without a little rain, a dash of sunshine, and did I mention glitter?  Throw in a bit of that elbow grease and laughter, beers for good measure, and the magical meteorological phenomenon known as the Krewe de Sacre’ Bleu, the Rainbow Krewe formed in the fashion of clouds and whimsy rolls out to the sound of thunderous brass and drums through the cracked and busted concrete streets of New Orleans on this wondrous Mardi Gras day.IMG_3989

I can say with great sincerity that there is nothing quite like that first dance step, that moment when the beat takes a firm and steady hold on your guts.  It becomes an irresistible urge to move and shake sugaree, shimmy, slide, boogey your way on down the pavement surrounded by rainbow madness, everyone a giddy cain and not so much able or willing to contain the brightness of the surging momentum.  Honestly, why fight it?  The resulting consequence would most likely be a violent, spastic twitch head to toe and back spiked by a brain aneurism.  Bubbles would be pouring out of your ears.  But hey, the kids love them.  And so, we rightly had a ready supply stashed on the float.  Which is now barreling forward at full steam, the day rising to full volume fueling motions of every sort under the sun, lured by the drums and radiance of colors, the symphony of sound and light and texture, glamorous eye candy, hand-made costumes designed for play and hallucinogenic consumption, your attention on a swivel, following a trail of smiles.  It is an all natural high as prelude to the Grand Tickling that will soon begin at the base of the spine and slowly wrap and curl it’s way skywards towards your skull, touching off every vertebrae in an anatomical countdown until …

Blast off.

Turn the corner, round the block and enter a shimmering glitter drenched twilight zone, an alternate reality where gravity is an afterthought and the world is still driven by a positive magic.  It is in this world and on this day that the great iron beasts of New Orleans cower to the will of the people and wait for OUR passing.  It is the day when kids can be kids and adults can be kids, cops practice civility, politicians disappear into their holes and assholes can fuck right off.  Everyone dancing in step, it is the day when the potential strength of a unified human race is on full display and hope is truly restored, if only for a few short hours, while the Seed is planted in the dirt and rhythms of the earth.  In the heart.IMG_5985

And this is why the pace of any parade is never rushed.  The scene is devoured, yes, but savored with a deliberate and meticulous passion.  We are careful not to gorge ourselves on the initial adrenaline kick.  Take a deep breath, slow the blood flow, expand the heart.  No need to expel great amounts of energy, the music will carry the heavy load, provide the muscle for sustained ecstatic movement.  Take full advantage of the natural lulls.  IMG_4055Don’t be a stranger to the water supply.  And maybe, just maybe participate in a push-up contest? Everything is on the table Mardi Gras day.  And there is always time to goof, especially during rest stop breaks, strategically planned detours, off-route and hidden from the swelling crowds, provided by allies to the Cause.  Facilities for the ladies, a densely green backyard for the gentlemen and a shtoop for all to sit and dial down the direct mainline of sensory input in the shade of half a moment, to watch the trees dance slow in the breeze …IMG_5983

“SACRE BLEU!”

The rallying cry, the call and response used the day thru to boost morale, to part the sea of bodies, to mobilize the krewe for departure as we spike back into the main vein. People will and are encouraged to come and go and wander off on tangents of their own design, propelled by any force they deem fit to follow, but there will always be this anchor.  A traveling home base chalk full of provisions and smooth vibrations.  And they will certainly be needed as the day rolls on and the madness that surrounds you intensifies and becomes more parasitic, more blindly aggressive.

It is a tangible shift in energy the closer your come to the French Quarter, the cardiac centerpiece of the table, staked to a platter, dreadful and heaving, giving strength to the diseased, the punch nearby spiked with booze, sugar and adrenaline.  It is the unfortunate reality in any tourist destination as inexperienced thrill seekers bloated with notions of unchecked debauchery swarm upon what they believe is a free-for-all post-apocalyptic babylon, a playground of flashing plastic neon sex and false promises.  Take note of the swirling and deadly undercurrents that carry the mass of bodies, most clutching at the air, struggling in a putrid oil-slick of piss and vomit.  And all those craven faces warped by a deeper fear confused with ecstasy and “good times.”

We are still some safe distance away, but close enough to feel the tingling in our loins.  The Climax is near …

On Frenchman along the outer edge of the Quarter the sensation is a mix of intense elation and paranoia, faces contort in odd fashion, a little death occurs and for most the peak is followed by an immediate hole and a post-coital-like spattering of frustration; that sobering moment when you come face to face with the true absurdness of humankind compounded by the fact that you are adorned in tight bright spandex, vulnerable, weird, and all sticky with glitter …IMG_4001

Magic is a funny thing, a wonderful extension of the heart and widespread as the infinite universe.  But reality, often petty and vindictive like an inconveniently situated mound of fire ants, is keen on pin-point mind fuckings that snap the Expanse back to the immediate here and now.  And when the parade stalls and the cheers start to sound more like calls for blood and retribution for being born, the first instinct is to grab the nearest possible weapon and carve out an exit to the nearest patch of blue sky.  Don’t Panic.  There is a proper spell for the occasion the escape being nothing more than magic cast as time-tested patience.  Breathe deeply.  Spy the gaps.  Work and relax.  Heed the call …

 

SACRE BLEU!

The vanguard has signaled the time to move.  A breach has formed and the mad sea has parted for the righteous.  Wide-eyed and alert, everyone accounted for, the baby still alive, we cross Esplanade and enter the Quarter venturing only a few blocks inward before breaking camp down a side street, nestled in the shade with room to expand.   There will be snacks and such as we stay perched for a time, enjoying the view and rarified air above the madness, occasionally getting our feet wet as some of us explore the further reaches beyond our little rainbow sanctuary.  But mostly, we all stay close and enjoy the afternoon as the sun continues its daily trek, the light becoming softer, warmer, illuminating smiles and stumbling bodies in that magic hour glory.  And yet, we are professionals and it is known that this is the beginning of the long, slow descent down the mountain.  The sinking return to normalcy.  As it creeps through your bones movement begins to feel more like work, complete, well-rounded thoughts harder to come by.  It will not be long before the energy supply returns to pre-mardi gras levels, everyone dipping into their reserves to get the krewe home safe and sound, the float seemingly 100 tons heavier than when we began, the potholes bigger and more frequent, sometimes not entirely stationary.  Gaps widen as stragglers fall behind spouting lost gibberish and are duly left to the beasts of the night.  Watch your footing, tuck and roll when necessary, this is the final stretch, the magic all but spent.  

 

The float stashed, it is now too dark for rainbows.  There is only the bar.  A stabilizing force and place of quiet refuge where one can trade gossip from the day while the jukebox keeps the mood light, prevents the people from slipping too far down from their mardi gras highs.  Time is not long before sleep will be needed, but we are in no hurry to move on, our feet tired, our souls happy.  We stay and admire the sparks still at our fingertips, notch a moment of gratitude across our chests.  And somewhere between beers and the mischievous smiles that covertly form about the eyes, the words between wizards and witches become sparse, the afterglow best served by quiet knowing, by taking pleasure in the still resonate sensation felt in your heart, understanding that the seed has already begun to sprout.     IMG_5979   

 

 

 

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