My first Mardi Gras experience was a blast. I owe a huge debt to Maitri and Derick for hosting me, and prodding me to head down and be a part of everything (parades, hanging with their friends, parties with their coworkers, etc.).
I also owe the Krewe of King Arthur thanks. It’s an amazing group, and diverse, which not all Krewes can claim. If there’s a spot available next year I could probably be convinced to ride again with almost no effort. Back in November Derick told me that I’d spend a bunch of money to buy a ton of cheap plastic stuff to throw to people I don’t even know, and I’d love it. He was right. Turning the corner into the parade route and having hundreds of people yelling and waving for beads is a real trip. It’s a blast making people smile by throwing them something, from kids to grandparents. To all the people who said thanks, or gave me a thumbs-up, or especially a big smile after I threw them something, I say “you’re welcome.”
As for places to go, food to eat, stuff to drink, I partook in:
- Juan’s Flying Burrito. A creole taqueria? What? Their burritos are messy but good (necessarily finger-licking good), and the staff is incredibly friendly. I also met Michael Dingler there and learned about his plight versus the “Grey Ghost,” a city-sanctioned painter who defaces private property to cover up graffiti. What a bunch of B.S., and I hope reason prevails.
- Slice, a pizzeria on St. Charles. I ate there twice (it was convenient), both times having the Trucker calzone. Pretty tasty. Who knew ground trucker was so good?
- Fahy’s, a bar in the French Quarter. I’ve been introduced to many of the locals there and it’s fun to hang out with a friendly crowd. I successfully avoided Mind Erasers this trip (tasty but deadly). w00t!
- The Abbey, another bar in the Quarter. I didn’t have a drink but did get a new beer drinking t-shirt (to complement my “Drunk Bob No Pants” shirt). This one features the phrase “Repent You F***ing Savages, Repent!” How could you go wrong with something like that? It’ll probably look nice with my camo shorts.
- Dante’s Kitchen. Their menu mentions that cell phones and diets should be left at the door. Two words: hell yeah. If you go get the barbecue shrimp appetizer, and extra bread to dip in it.
- Central Grocery, for their muffulettas. Derick picked up two muffulettas on Saturday to eat Sunday while we were waiting to roll in the parade. They’re the size of dinner plates, and they get better with age. Mmm mmm mmm.
- Landry’s Seafood House, still serves their shrimp embrochette, and I still love eating it. Can’t argue with shrimp stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon.
No rider in the Krewe of King Arthur can be without a costume and something on their face. Rather than face paint I opted to get a mask, and I velcroed it to my sunglasses for the ride. My mask came from New Orleans Madness Masks, purchased from Jim himself, made locally by him and his colleague Conway. He helped me try a whole bunch on and had good advice for me, with no pressure to get anything I didn’t absolutely like. Since it was my first one and I was unsure about my glasses I went for the low-end ($30, but they go into the $200s), but with a little more planning I would probably get a fancier one.
I like the effect with my sunglasses underneath. My costume is sort of sci-fi meets demented clown:
More of my photos are up on Flickr. In the end I had a great time. If you ever get the opportunity to go to Mardi Gras, and especially if you can ride with a Krewe, I wholeheartedly suggest it.