The sounds of Mardi Gras

There are voices in the Quarter–loud, laughing, arguing. People woohooing, still, which will likely go on ’til midnight, Tuesday, when the police declare Mardi Gras over, and en masse, make everyone get off the streets and go home. The voices surge and fall, a tide that will rise and ebb again toward morning. Everything from, ‘Ma’am, are you okay?’ to someone who fell, to someone yelling at someone else to meet them at Tippitina’s, to the Jesus contingent who are roaming around the Quarter with signs, alternately singing hymns or screaming at the people that they are sinners. Lots of people milling the streets, pausing often to catch beads thrown (by tourists, mostly) from the upper balconies of the hotels, and cops every other inch, the clop clop clop of horses hooves as they patrol on their giant beasts. Someone is singing now, slightly drunkenly out of tune, and funny, and helicopters keep making rounds overhead–several, from different agencies, keeping watch. Everything gets punctuated every few minutes by the crackle of glass bottles in garbage bags being thrown out of the Hard Rock restaurant onto the already overflowing garbage bins set perpetually on the curb.

It’s like living behind the scenes of the big top, knowing all the magician’s tricks, and enjoying the show anyway.

Benches at dawn in the French Quarter

It was a rare morning in the Quarter — it had rained, and so no one was moving around or sitting on the benches. The sidewalk washers had just finished the slate where I’m hunkered down to take this shot–those are suds you see under the bench. They wash the sidewalks and the Square every morning, about 4 a.m., and if it hadn’t been raining, I’m sure those benches would have been filled by six. As it was, I got lucky with the light coming in, and the fog that was starting to drop in the background.

a shot of the benches in front of the St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter