All on a Mardi Gras Day February 21, 2012Posted by The Typist in Carnival, cryptical envelopment, Mardi Gras, Mardi Gras Indians, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
“Don’t be fallin’ out of your house with no needle and thread in you hand.”
I heard that on WWOZ back in the early 1980s one Monday before Mardi Gras, before Lundi Gras and before Orpheus, when that night we stayed home and put the finishing touches on costumes. I don’t know who it was. It might have even been the great Tootie Montana. I like to think so.
I knew about Mardi Gras Indians back then, something that happened deep back in neighborhoods were we never ventured. I saw them first as a very young boy, young enough to remember watching Rex pass from my father’s shoulders. I think it was the corner of Galvez and Canal, but it could just easily have been the corner of Claiborne, back before the expressway. We saw them on the corner as we drove down to the French Quarter early to spend the day at my great aunts Gert and Sadie Folse in the 800 block of Royal Street. My father pulled over to the side in mid-intersection for a moment and to a boy that small they were something monstrously wonderful.
As I sit on my stoop and smoke a cigarette and the first neighbors come out. A young woman climbs into her car in tights and a tank top with a garbage bag of costume. A car pulled up at my neighbor’s. Jimmy said he has to cook 200 pounds of meat today down on Broad. I can hear the cars down on Gentilly Boulevard. I am tempted to jump into the shower and emerge a boneman just as the sun comes up, to go down to street to give the people on Gentilly a proper boneman greeting. I may yet head out the door and do just that. I don’t think most of my neighbors here on the sketchy edge of the Fauborg St. John understand it is a boneman’s role to wake the neighborhood on Carnival Day, but perhaps I could give some child in the back of a car riding up to Mardi Gras on Claiborne Avenue a memory they will recall some Mardi Gras morning when I am gone down the river.