So we in L.A. are 1,700 miles from Bourbon Street, but that doesn't mean we can't laissez les bons temps rouler. As an expatriate, this time of year is always strange for me. I can't understand why no one is costumed, why no parades are making the turn from Sunset onto Vine, why no people are wandering aimlessly down Hollywood Boulevard weighed down with plastic beads.
But then I never understood why anyone goes to see the Rose Parade, when the float riders don't throw beads and trinkets to the crowd.
Be jealous L.A.
In New Orleans, people will leave work on Friday and begin a four and a half day bacchanal. While some will avoid the whole scene, most will make plans to take in dozens of parades that will roll through New Orleans and its suburbs from now until Tuesday. They'll eat pounds and pounds of boiled crawfish. They'll cart around some potent beverage they begin consuming when the rest of America is in line for coffee, and no doubt they'll laugh and dance with strangers as the music seductively oozes out of every window and doorway.
I often wondered what happens to Alocoholics Anonymous during Mardi Gras. Is every meeting packed, as the tempation of liquor gets as wide as the Mississippi River? Or do they just close up shop, and surrender the program to the parade?
So, if distance keeps you from the that party we call Carnival -- where the boozy smells mix with perfume and sweat, where that woman dressed as a nun really did just strip off the top half of her habit to expose her chest for the promise of a colorful string of plastic beads, where men dress like women, women dress like men, the sound of jazz clashes with hip-hop, and those seasonal tunes only described as Mardi Gras Music echo through your head like a Top 40 tune you hate, but can't shake out of your head -- then try the next best thing.
Mix up a Sazarac (little Rye, little Herbsaint, dash of bitters, simple syrup and muddled lemon and Maraschino), click on the webcams, drop a little Dr. John or the Wild Tchoupitoulas on the CD player, and click on some of these cams. If you feel the need, take off your top and expose yourself to the monitor. You won't get any beads, but you won't regret it when it shows up on a Girls Gone Wild video either.