California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Chapter 5 – The French Quarter – Part 1

We are driving along highway 10 headed West. Frank suggests we take a little detour into New Orleans. I’m down. It’s Mardi Gras so we kind of have to go there. Should be interesting. We check our guidebooks and settle on staying at the YMCA. That wouldn’t be too gay right?  It’s situated in the heart of the French Quarter. I remember the room costing us $14 for the night!

The room was like a jail cell. Just a door leading into one room with two single beds pushed against opposite walls. There was a bureau and one window with bars on it. The walls were just cinder blocks painted light green. Best part was the parking lot was gated and they locked it at night so the van with all of our stuff was safe.

We drop our bags and head out into the over cast afternoon. A lot of cities and towns look alike in America. The French Quarter looks like you’re somewhere else. All the beautiful French architecture is incredible. But lying beneath and around all of that is Sodom and Gomorah with a two drink minimum.

We stop in the first bar we see and grab a couple of beers in plastic cups and head out to explore the madness.

After waving at the parade and skillfully dodging (sometimes) beads flying past my head we entered the most epic street of all, Bourbon Street. From there, an oddly religious themed Mardi Gras began.

I saw the Pope! Ok not the real Pope, but a guy on a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street sporting the Pope hat and robe. He tossed beads to the crowd and blessed all the sinners below in jested fun.

As we continued to go down the street we ran into the infamous Jesus group. There is always one at every “sinful” event. They were continually shouting that we were sinners and preaching their faith to all the drunks in the street. Everyone proceeded to take pictures as if they were a tourist attraction. What I would like to know is do they ever get one person to come over and say, “Ya know, you’re totally right! I’m going to leave Mardi Gras right now to go home and repent.” Now I have nothing against any religion or how people choose to practice and share their faith…but I’m not entirely sure in the middle of Bourbon Street halfway through Mardi Gras day is the most effective way to go about i

Afterwards we entered a bar with a small half circle stage in the front where about five girls were booty shaking like no tomorrow on the stage. I don’t think I could get that much of me to wiggle if I tried. Then lo and behold a large woman dressed as a tri-boobed nun took the center of the stage and started busting her own moves to the music. Then she proceeds to put her leg up on rail, thrust her pelvis towards the crowd, whipped out a cigar and started to smoke it. The scene unfolding in front of me was like Sister Act gone wrong and it doesn’t end there.

As we’re laughing at the hilarity of the situation, three topless yet painted chest girls walked on stage. One of the girls looked like she just had a baby with the belly drooping down low. That didn’t stop her. She was a brave one. Then in the middle of all the dancing came the ultimate shocker of the night. The nun went up to post pregger lady and they started full on making out right in the middle of the booty shaking.

My mouth just dropped as I was trying to process what was going on. It was hilarious and shocking and definitely a memorable highlight of the trip.

Mardi Gras is full of shocking sights and stories but it’s an experience I would definitely have again. There are a lot of brave people sporting the goods, (if you know what I mean) but you can have just as much fun observing as you can participating. Provided you do not have virgin eyes or ears and wish to keep them that way, Mardi Gras New Orleans is definitely an event that shouldn’t be missed.

The next day…

We watched the Lundi Gras parades from Canal Street. We got there kind of early to get a decent spot, and so we waited for at least an hour for the floats to arrive. Two guys selling merchandise set up behind us, selling shirts that said, “I’ll suck your titty for a dollar.” The entire time we were there, they were yelling this at people passing by. “Suck yo titty for a dollar! I’ll suck that titty for a dollar!” Entrepreneurial spirit at its best.

Some lady in her 40’s or 50’s was set up a little way down from us on the neutral ground before Endymion. She and her friends started taking shots of whisky from this contraption: a wooden plank with slots in it for shot glasses. Before too long, she was karaoking and dancing enthusiastically while her teenagers tried to pretend they didn’t know her. It went on for hours. Great people watching.

We chanced a walk down Bourbon during the day time, before it got too crowded. Frank went in to use the restroom, leaving me under a balcony that had a direct view of many girls flashing for beads. There was this old guy set up there, and every time a girl looked ready to flash, he’d run forward and take pictures of it with his camera. We saw him get about a dozen shots in 10 minutes. I wonder what he does with the photos.

Two things that give me a grudging respect for city employees:

1) watching a completely destroyed, trash-filled Canal St near Carrollton made near pristine in under an hour by the street cleaning crew. Good job, y’all. That’s some serious business.

2) Shortly after overhearing a couple of girls arguing in the bathroom line and a threat about “gettin yo ass beat in a Popeye’s!” A fight broke out at the Wendy’s next door on St. Charles. (We think maybe it was the same girls who’d wandered over there to find friends.) Swarms of teenagers started running over there exclaiming about a fight, and within a minute, a bunch of cops in neon yellow vests and about half a dozen mounted officers were there. There were shootings near Lee Circle at a recent Mardi Gras, if I recall correctly, so it was encouraging to see the police were taking crowd safety seriously.

So far I’m loving this odyssey on the road to California!

 

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Author: phicklephilly

Copyright © 2016 by Phicklephilly All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. All stories and characters are based on real people and events. The names and images have been changed to protect their privacy. Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation!”

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