I could, however, get behind this instead:
Petitioning Congress for a national Mardi Gras day of celebration that will occur on Tuesday, February 28 nationwide. And bring New Orleans to your hometown, and to your city.
Sign the petition.
It would be just like those ghouls--and that's what I think they are--taking the Gray Line tours to check out how bad it really was for people who lost everything, including their lives.
I hate to be busting some people's balloons. I know some folks just want to have fun. But have some respect, please, and wait.
Furthermore, people seem to be under the erroneous impression that Mardi Gras is one day in the French Quarter where everyone gets soused enough to expose their mammary glands or their hairy asses. It isn't.
Mardi Gras is a series of celebrations, parades, balls, and events that go on for about three weeks until the grand day arrives. It does not occur just in the French Quarter and Canal Street. It happens across the River, in different neighborhoods, and in other nearby parishes about an hour away. There are the Mardi Gras Indians who march in feathered outfits and have their own celebration and whose costumes should be in the Smithsonian.
Sometimes, the smaller, more downhome, country parades and open houses and bars are better than coming down for three days for the ripoff show in the French Quarter. Frankly folks, you can always get the action in the French Quarter, any day. Get away from the traps, and you'll really find New Orleans or Louisiana culture.
Some of those communities to which I refer, however, may have been wiped out. They too, may be slow to return and to put on a show.
I don't know what these boosters are thinking about when they say that they want to stage Mardi Gras this year. My cousin Junior laughs about the nerve. Can't even identify bodies, but they want to put together a Mardi Gras celebration.
It's like walking on graves.
So I am thinking that even if the petition is not recognized by Congress, have your own show regardless--at home.
The official petition reads:
In recognition of the huge cultural and economic contributions made by the great city of New Orleans to American society, we, the undersigned, call on the Congress of the United States of America to declare this February 28, (Mardi Gras 2006) a National Holiday.
We call on our fellow citizens join us in observing this Mardi Gras 2006 by organizing and participating in benefit block parties, gumbo feeds and concerts to raise funds to build low income housing for the people of New Orleans to insure that when the city is rebuilt, there will be a place in New Orleans for all its displaced citizens.
And this is not limited to just organizing feeds and concerts. If anything, you could probably have a hometown Mardi Gras parade with floats ending up at a favorite big spors bar or restaurant where all things New Orleans will be served for a fee and you could rope off a couple of blocks and have a party, with the proceeds going towards a reputable charity (not the Red Cross) that is doing good for Katrina victims.
The favorite charities of this petition organization?
- Habitat for Humanity
- Heal the Hood
After a moment of thrashing about, America hit the snooze button. No surprise. All the stuff we've tried to forget so many years-- race, class, environment, energy, health, "law & order"-- all our dirty laundry washed into public view for the world and all our kids to see. It was too much pain, too much shame, too much betrayal to handle so close to dawn. Better to dream just a few minutes more.
That's why we're creating a National Mardi Gras. We want to revisit these issues and deal with them, in as inspiring a way as we can imagine. After the shock and the media circus, after the frantic federal response and all the promises made and broken, we will use Mardi Gras as a moment to return and refocus our energy on all the tough stuff we know we've got to wake up and work on. With National Mardi Gras, we can use the best of our shared culture to remind us how to turn sorrow into joy, death into life. We'll put the culture in the front seat and the politics in the back.
Think about it. Wait another year and then go for the real thing.
Frankly, being a veteran of many earlier Mardi Gras holidays as a child and as a young adult, what they had last year is not like it was back then.
I still remember one morning watching a large troupe of young black men, some half in costume, some stripped to the waist, practicing the marching that they would be doing later on as Mardi Gras Indians, down Magnolia Street. It fills me with pride even now. The precision, the beauty, the singing and chanting.
It was a lovely morning.
You're welcome to disagree. But that's what I think.