Getting mauled by a shooter girl at Mardi Gras!
Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
150Trip End May 16, 2008
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"The history of Mardi Gras began long before Europeans set foot in the New World. In mid February the ancient Romans celebrated the Lupercalia, a circus like festival not entirely unlike the Mardi Gras we are familiar with today. When Rome embraced Christianity, the early Church fathers decided it was better to incorporate certain aspects of pagan rituals into the new faith rather than attempt to abolish them altogether. Carnival became a period of abandon and merriment that preceded the penance of Lent, thus giving a Christian interpretation to the ancient custom. Mardi Gras came to America in 1699 with the French explorer Iberville. Mardi Gras had been celebrated in Paris since the Middle Ages, where it was a major holiday. Iberville sailed into the Gulf of Mexico, from where he launched an expedition up the Mississippi River. On March 3 of 1699, Iberville had set up a camp on the west bank of the river about 60 miles south of where New Orleans is today. This was the day Mardi Gras was being celebrated in France. In honor of this important day, Iberville named the site Point du Mardi Gras." See Mardi Gras link.
As the saying goes, "When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do!", and so off I go to celebrate Mardi Gras....without the wild abandon (well...that was the plan...wink...wink).
Whenever I'm going somewhere I try and take a different route. Today I planned on parking in the Central Business District to the west of Canal Street. So instead of coming from the north as per the other days I decided to come from the west. What I hadn't planned on is that the Parades take place in the various neighbourhoods. Driving cross country, so to speak, I ended up on a Parade route. My timing was right on again as the Parade must have just ended. The street was covered with beads. It felt like driving on a bed of multi coloured marbles. If you look at a map of New Orleans the major streets in this southwest side quadrant branch out like a spider web from a central point towards the river with interspersed cross streets in a half oval configuration. I had planned on taking one of the streets down towards the river when I noticed that that was the street the parade had headed down and was still partially blocked. I head down to the next major street and take that one. I almost get to St. Charles Avenue, a major west-east connector road, and realize that the parade is wrapping up on that street. The crowds still fill the street. I turn down the street before and slowly make my way downtown. This was very slow going as a lot of people were leaving the parade and cars were parked everywhere. A few blocks from Canal Street I find a recently vacated spot and park the truck.
Today was experiment day. Harrah's Casino is located in downtown New Orleans. This is a Las Vegas style casino. It's huge. A while back I had a notion that perhaps the solution to my dwindling funds was available this way. Actually, the notion was that it was in Las Vegas but I figured I would test the theory here. I get to the Casino and the place is packed. I wander a bit and then grab a seat at one of the slot machines. I haven't the faintest idea how to play any of the other games so why try. If you've studied probability theories you know that in the long run you always lose in a Casino...whether it's a slot machine, baccarat table, poker or roulette. Probability theory also shows that the odds of having a winning streak increases, in the short term, if you play the same slot machine for a while. First off, I've spent more time in a Casino in my life volunteering then I have actually playing games. The slot machine I picked is a dollar machine. If you're going to test a theory might as well go big. I put my money in, won some, lost some, played full credits, played one credit, varied things around. Was down a lot, won a lot, but never back to where I started. Then was down to nil. What did this prove? That winning money is not part of who I am. Why do I say that?
The probabilities are that during the length of time I played I should have won at some point in time to be over where I started. How else will the casinos get people to come back and get hooked. Win once and you think you can do it again theory. Not once did I get over what I started with. Why not? It comes down to who I am. Others honestly believe that they can win the big one. They do! Though they also lose it all. For some reason it's not "in me" to get addicted. If I don't believe in getting addicted, then why would the "addictive activities" ever benefit me? I know all about the physiological reasons that people get addicted. The brain receptors do get a "high" from the release of these chemicals. Then they want more. My brain doesn't work that way for whatever reason. Maybe I'm just "High" on life. It counterbalances these other addictions. So today I played (ie. spent/lost) more then I have in my entire life from gambling. It wasn't much of a loss for the knowledge I garnered. Watching the other people was also part of the experience.
That done it was time to experience Mardi Gras...Bourbon style. I walk up Bourbon starting at Canal Street. The atmosphere is different from the other days. The people here, today, want the full experience. Most of the people are in a costume or dressed up in some form. Masks are worn. Faces are painted. The "tourists" or those who have come to just see are not as numerous as the other days. It's participation day. I walk a few blocks taking it all in. I come to one bar and the band is playing some great rock n' roll. I go in and get a beer. I get two. Not by choice. That's what I'm given. I listen to the music and watch the people dancing and coming in and going out of the bar. One woman comes in with the top part of her body all painted. She dances with anybody and everybody.
I finish my beers and head just outside one of the doors. Check out the street to see how things are there. I hear the band start playing a good song. I walk back in and lean up against a wall. Then I get mauled. Out of nowhere the shooter girl pushes me up against the wall, thrusts her body up against mine and starts ravishing me. You know, like in the movies where the beautiful girl attacks the handsome guy, rips his clothes off, then wants to get carried off into the backroom.
Sorry, got distracted there. No ravishing. She grabs a couple of shooters and suggestively pours them down my throat. Takes a couple others and indicates I do the same to her. I wasn't going to say no to that. Then she wants to do it again. That's when I declined. I do have a reputation to uphold. Don't know what that reputation is, but I did try to uphold it. Of course I have to pay for the 4 shooters. She also wants a tip. Well..for being so persuasive in her selling tactics I gave her a decent tip. Then she gives me a big kiss and leaves.
I walk back into the bar and grab a stool to listen to the band. Then I see Kim standing next to the bar. She's just a spectator. I go over and we start chatting. She lives here. Comes down every night to take a few pictures and observe. She's an artist. Designs angels. She's designed the angels for the Katrina Memorial they're building. She used to work for a radio station in the promotion department. She was very popular. She's the one who gave away the prize packages. She got tired of that a few years ago, after Katrina, and started her design studio. Check out her website. We chat for a while then she suggests we check out the balcony. We head upstairs. We find a spot on the balcony and have a bird's eye view of what's happening on the street. There's a couple there with a bag full of beads they are trying to get rid of and a single guy "egging on" the crowd below.
The crowd below. Things have definitely been taken up a notch from the other night. Halloween for adults. Dress up and act out. Or no dress at all and attract a lot of attention. There were numerous woman with body paint on their upper body, and even some with body paint all over their body. The artists are pretty good because in some instances you had to look pretty hard to see that what was painted on wasn't actual clothing. The crowds below constantly eyeing the beads hanging from the sides of the balconies. It was no longer a power thing to try and get beads. Everything was done to have a good time. Beads were being thrown down to the crowd below, the crowd below would throw them up to those on the balcony and those on the balcony would throw to the balcony across the street. Everybody was having a good time.
Every so often the shy women would come by. Sheepishly they would lift up their shirt. Or be a tease and just show a bit more skin. Kim and I talked some more. The shooter girl from earlier came by. We chatted with her for a while. Kim took a picture of her with me and is suppose to email it to me. Then Kim had to leave. She was getting a ride home and whomever was leaving. I stuck around with the other people. Throwing some necklaces down and observing everything going on down below. I go inside to the upstairs bar and get another beer. Make that two. That's what you get. I walk around the balcony and talk to a few other people there. There I meet a young woman from Minnesota. She's celebrating her 30th birthday this year. She's wearing a t-shirt that says "Girls Gone Wild, Panama City, Florida 2002". She made a promise to herself that she was coming to Mardi Gras the year she turns 30. At 11h30 she's going to rip her shirt off. The final act to end her wild years of partying in her 20s. Now that she'll be 30 it's time to tone it down a bit.
Back at my old spot a young guy has joined us. He's collecting beads for his nieces back home. His second Mardi Gras. He indicates that this is the first year they do the body painting here. He has a few nice necklaces and is trying to lure the pretty girls from below to come and join us...without success. There's the constant parade of wild, sexy, suggestive outfits. Male and female. Some wear masks to hide who they are. Others have their face painted to do the same. After seeing what we've seen so far, nothing should come as a shock, but then we see someone completely naked walking by...no body paint. Looks like the person in front of them is pulling them along, like on a leash, with the beads. The shocking part? This woman was at least in her sixties, if not in her seventies. Ewww!
I'm tired of standing. I go sit at the upstairs bar. Chat a bit with the bartender. I had noticed this gorgeous long haired blond around all night. But she wasn't spending any time outside. She had given me some necklaces earlier to throw. She's sitting at the bar. We start chatting. Her husband owns this bar and a couple others on the strip. She has an Australian accent. She's been in the U.S. for about 5 years. As we're chatting the shooter girl shows up at the end of the bar. She goes and talks to her. The shooter girl doesn't look good. I believe her selling tactics were a little too successful. She's had too much to drink and she's feeling the effects. I go back to the balcony.
All night long there have been a few Preachers at the street corner with their crosses and signs. Now there's a whole procession of them. Five wide and I don't know how many deep. They are breaking up the crowds as they walk down the street, one hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them. I notice some people purposely trying to break up the procession by cutting through them. Then you wonder how riots get started. A bunch of people who think they are right trying to make a point against a bunch of drunk people. That over, the crowds continue flowing down below. I notice inside at the bar that the bombshell blond is with her husband. He's not that great looking. One of those, "How did he get HER?" couple.
I find out that as Lent starts at midnight, that the street sweepers come down the middle of the street at that time and spray everything and everybody in their way down. Everything moves indoor at that time. Mardi Gras officially over.
At 10h30 I decide to take a walk. I head up to the end of the party district on Bourbon Street. There are a lot of people and it's difficult to get by in some places. I turn around and head back for Canal Street. There I come across a couple of preachers with their bullhorns. Then I realize that one guy is preaching and the other guy with a bullhorn is just going, "Blah, Blah, Blah" to drown out the other guy. Two year olds. One no better than the other.
Then I get to a part of the street that is really congested. The "flashers" are no longer in the street but on the balconies. The crowds below are throwing beads to those on the balconies. The hunter becomes the prey...a reversal. I make it out of that zoo and find my truck. Exhausted.
The weather this evening was awesome. It was over 20 celsius all night. A brief shower put a damper on things for a few minutes but that it. It spit more than actually raining. Was a perfect evening for an outdoor party. Especially for those who wanted to wear as little clothing as possible.