Mardi Gras Day: I cover the King’s Breakfast, the Queen’s Breakfast, and drive downtown to The Advocate.
Our Advocate office happens to be on the parade route. Randy in circulation is cooking outdoors, and no one barbecues like he does. Zeke Zimmermann looks like Sylvester Stallone is Cliffhanger, only taller. I make the mistake of wearing a biker jacket to the parade and get hit in the head so many times I start to wonder WWGD. What would Gemma do.
My daughter drops by, steals my cup and a good time is had by all, especially The Advocate.
Second week in February: My daughter has her birthday and I take her to lunch at Charley G’s. Owner Charlie Goodson still thinks I moved to Baton Rouge.
Queen Evangeline Ann-Riley Lane and King Gabriel PJ Voorhies III meet the press at her parents’ house. It takes almost an hour to drive there due to an accident on University and another one on Cajundome Blvd. in addition to the barricades. Her Majesty says the best part for her will be Tuesday’s presentation by her father. King Gabriel says, “We have police. All of the lights and sirens are neat.”
Xanadu has its ball at the Cajundome Convention Center. Sometimes Mardi Gras is not such a difficult job.
Triton has its ball at the Cajundome. Then there are other times.
First Week in February: Troubadours has its past kings party, its queen’s luncheon, its ball and its après king’s party. It’s all Troubadours, all of the time.
Xanadu holds Princess Day at the Petroleum Club and the court wears formal gowns at noon by royal decree from Queen Donna Olivier. Like any queen, she says “Let them eat cake.”
“Voice of the Cajuns” Don Allen invites me to the Ragin’ Cajun Men’s Basketball Reunion celebrating coaches and players from 1974-1986. You only think you’ve seen kings and a court.
Last week in January: Don Allen gets measured for a tuxedo at Mary Ellen’s Tux Shop and becomes The Most Interesting Man in the World. Mardi Gras Kings bow to him, float riders throw him real jewels, and French Quarter women call him by name.
My daughter invites me to Townsquare Media’s Red Hot Vixens & Villains Ball at La Marquise. Queen Rouge II Michele Ezell and King Cayenne II Moon Griffon, the Voice of Louisiana and conservative radio talk show host, reign together.
Apollo holds its ball at The Cajundome. There are red hot vixens here too, but no one conservative. There were several moons, however.
Late January: Mardi Gras continues, and emissaries send pictures from Washington D.C. Mardi Gras, although the Hilton D.C. ballroom is notorious for zero cell service. It has steel reinforced walls suitable for presidential stops. Thursday evening is a very loud party, Friday is a formal sit-down dinner, and Saturday, the actual Mardi Gras, is an extreme party for select VIPs. Several years ago a doctor died and they simply dragged the body bag through the faux New Orleans “street” with the floats and out the side door. No one noticed.
Attakapas holds its ball at the old Heymann Center. Attakapas is a highly secret women’s krewe whose members dress like Indians. Daniel Snyder would like them.
Triton’s Queen has her luncheon. Triton used to bounce me out the door when I showed up in my Armani tuxedo on ball night. God, I miss those days.
It was an evening like so many before. Mardi Gras, that time of the year when fools can be king and often are if they’ve got the money. I was driving home in the dark after another endless day when the phone rang. It was the Italian.
“Come by Marcello’s on your way home– if it’s not too late. We’re in the back.” She made it sound like an invitation, but there was little doubt in my mind The Italian was doing business.
The restaurant was one of those little Italian places she liked and as usual, The Puerto Rican was with her. Okay, enough was enough. Now I needed a drink.
“I’ll have what he’s having,” I told the waitress, gesturing to the glass of pinot noir and then to The Puerto Rican. “And on his tab.”
It was a moment before I noticed The Sicilian had joined us as well, making it a foursome. I had no problem entertaining visitors, especially this one. That was too bad for the other men in the room.
It was a strange dinner, lots of risotto and bread and salad and coffee, but strange. The Italian smiled as she recounted unloading the body-sized coolers in her driveway earlier and the curious neighbors. “There’s no telling what they thought,” she laughed. Probably the same thing I thought. Apparently among her many business interests, the Italian raised her own veal. “You have to if you want the really good stuff,” she explained. “The family has done this for years.” She was looking to expand the operation and had pictures on her phone—I briefly wondered why and who they were supposed to convince.
The Sicilian disappeared into the kitchen and The Italian sipped the last of her cocktail. “Let’s go,” she said. They emerged at the dark end of the parking lot. “I’m not in my own car tonight,” she said. So, she’d left the $120K Mercedes at home. When you have to haul meat, you haul it in something else. She opened the trunk and I had a flashback.
At least I think it was veal.
Early January: Mardi Gras gets underway as both Xanadu and Triton hold their 12th Night parties. The ladies of Victoria schedule their ball for the same night and time as Les Brigands de Lafitte, a secret men’s krewe named after pirate legend Jean Lafitte. “Well, shave me belly with a rusty razor, they’re screwed,” says one.
January 10: Carnivale en Rio has its ball. Women like Rio because you can wear either a long or a short dress. The invitations this year look like a court summons and there are people in orange convict suits, police uniforms, and other things. One guest stops me to complain about a newspaper mistake until I explain I did not attend the Symphony Tea but The Daily Advertiser is sitting right over there. Another gentleman walks over to say I misidentified his wife in print, she is Beth Guilbeaux, not Carolyn Guilbeaux. Sorry, all Guilbeauxs look alike to me.
The Chamber of Commerce has a members’ social at La Marquise. No one is wearing an orange jumpsuit.
New Year’s Eve: The Advocate runs a list of Happy New Year wishes from every one of their 429 employees and my name does not appear. They tell me it was an oversight in marketing, but I’m not so sure. I may not be in The Rapture when it comes.
The Petroleum Club is one of the few establishments left that throws a glamorous New Year’s Eve gala. There are enough fur coats for a PETA raid.
My daughter and her boyfriend stay home with friends and fix oysters. An oyster’s beard can be gotten rid of.
Matt Chiasson holds a classy NYE at La Marquise in honor of his brother John and The Grouse Room, Parc Lafayette’s new upscale nightclub. Among the guests is The Lafayette Swing Dance Association. Dance is an important word here.
The Grouse Room is going to specialize in pre-Prohibition cocktails, most of them scotch. There is an exclusive Scotch Room and other classics, including the Champagne Cocktail. They drank those in Casablanca.
Here’s lookin’ at you, kid. Happy New Year.
Late December: I order myself a grey leather motorcycle jacket for Christmas. It arrives and looks better on my daughter, who gets it as an early birthday present. She eyes other things in the house.
I go out for the 23rd time this month to cover a society party on Kings Road. The cobblestone walk to the door is a deathtrap. The home has been luxuriously landscaped and decorated by Perry Stelly, the head of horticulture for the Windsor Court New Orleans, who is tending bar and also policing the plants. Everyone needs a good orchid man.
I arrive home alone in the dark to find the cat has treed herself and can’t get down.
But then I receive a call from Prof. Mary W. Quigley, New York University, Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism, who wants to interview me for a blogpost she’s doing right after Christmas. She said she liked a column of mine and thought I made some good points.
There is a Santa Claus.
Mid-December: Erin Turner emails and says she read the post about Richard Young’s party in After Dark, and they have a Girls Scouts exec retiring at the Hilton this evening– would I come? It’s a long way from Richard to the Girl Scouts. Mayor Joey Durel is there. I didn’t realize he was a girl scout. I have gone out a total of 20 times in 12 days.
Penny Edwards emails and says she is having guests for gumbo after the Le Triomphe holiday golf cart parade. The golf carts also do this at Halloween. Nobody likes an idle golf cart.
My daughter calls to tell me I’m doing Christmas Day at my house and yes, the pets must get presents. I buy her dog a Brett Michael “Pets Rock” hoodie. Nothing says Christmas like a skull hoodie.
The ArtWalk crowd is disappointingly light because of the parties. The see-and-be-seen are elsewhere. Then suddenly there’s Brandi Lyles and Pastor Ty Cook of The Lighthouse Family Church. Lyles sings “O Holy Night” in the still open air and even downtown stops to listen. Because it only takes one voice to make church and one man to bring peace on earth. Tonight The Rev. Ty Cook’s your man.