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March 9, 2009

Almost Back... the land of the living.

I'm not actually certain whether I'm going to continue writing this blog. When we got back from New Orleans I'd decided not to. Why? I guess the 2009 Mardi Gras Madness got hold of me like a hurricane and tore the roof off my world. That's not a bad thing. Revisiting New Orleans gave me the slap in the face I needed to say, Ken, time for some changes! I'm still bewitched by the Crescent City and all its surreality. My head is spinning like the needle in a game of naked twister. Paradigms are still shifting.

I can't tell you 99% of what happened over Mardi Gras, not because I can't remember (!) but because, well, Mardi Gras is like Vegas... What happens there stays there. I will relate one story to you, though, to give you an idea of the weirdness that fills my world when I find myself South of I-10. In some ways it's relevant to the continuance (or not) of this site.

The scene: upstairs at a balcony bar. Fat Tuesday. Alcohol. It was getting on for midnight and all the good beads had changed hands. We expected the street cleaners to make their pilgrammage down Bourbon, lights flashing, brushes scraping the pavement. You know that when the street cleaners come, Mardi Gras is over. The drinking doesn't stop, but the MARDI GRAS drinking does. As it happened, this year the street cleaners never made it as far as Cafe Lafitte. A tradition broken in 2009.

So, it's getting on for midnight and I'm amongst friends, drinking, partying, having a damn fine time. Through the crowd I see a ragged looking black (African American) guy staring at me. I smile at him and he starts shuffling his way through the crowd towards me. No biggie, we're all having fun. I strike up a converation with him and he seems grateful of the attention. I'd have put the guy in his 80s, but as we talk he starts in with his story, letting me know that he was born and raised in New Orleans and had lived there for 46 years. 46? If he's 46 then it's been a rough road.

Needing to get back into the scene with our friends I wish him a happy Mardi Gras and give him a hug. He hugs back then deliberately presses what feels like a quarter into my palm. In a low voice he whispers, 'Keep this. Don't lose it. Don't give it away. It'll take you wherever you want to go.'

So, I thank him and give him another hug, pocketing 'the quarter'. You have to understand that this wasn't the strangest thing that had happened to me that day. If you're good I'll tell you about the naked spitting guy with the mouse up his butt... or not... I remember thinking that being given a quarter by a New Orleansean was pretty cool and that I shouldn't get it mixed it with my change so that I could put it in Red's case for good luck.

When I awoke the following morning(ish) I remembered what had happened and fished the thing out of my trouser pocket. It wasn't a quarter... it was a cool-looking transit token from the Westside Transit Company, with the letter W cut out from the centre. On one side it had the operator name and on the other were the words:

"Good For One Fare"

Now, I don't know what posessed the guy to single me out at midnight on Fat Tuesday. I don't know why he felt I deserved to be touched by this mojo but boy, to me the moment that he pressed the thing into my palm was 100% pure Mardi Gras Magic.

1 comment:

Furtheron said...

Touching story.

Hope you continue the blog - we appear a dying breed... I don't get many comments these days but I've decided I blog mostly for me anyhow so what the heck...