|Cajun Boy: by Bill Sawicki 1975|
I was walking one of the shelter dogs in the grassy area along the railroad tracks yesterday when something suddenly reminded me of Mardi Gras. It may have been all the dog crap and dog pee. I've only been to Mardi Gras once in my life, but the one thing that stands out in my memory is the aroma of New Orleans during that time. It wasn't the aroma of magnolias, jasmine, or shrimp that I remember. It was pee. There is good reason why New Orleans smells like urine much of the time, drunks tend to piss in the street. In fact one of my Mardi Gras traveling companions wandered off, only to show up a couple of hours later a little weepy and traumatized. In a case of severe bladder overload, he had decided to let it go against a wall down a short alley. What he didn't know was that the wall was Saint Louis Cathedral, and just down the alley were two New Orleans cops who made him wipe up that piss with his jacket.
I'm pretty sure I had a good time at that Mardi Gras. It was 1977, and I do remember that one of the bars on Bourbon Street had its pool table turned into a den of iniquity. Honestly, things were happening on that pool table that it was never designed for. I also remember walking from the home where we were staying on Carrollton Avenue, through a notorious housing project, to the French Quarter with my friend Bill. Bill had invited me to Mardi Gras, he was an artist from Chicago who I hung out with a lot. Anyway, here we were, two pasty white guys from Chicago walking through a very bad place. I was scared shitless, while Bill seemed to think we were strolling down Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It turned out that I had nothing to worry about. While we did get a lot of looks and stares, nobody, not one person bothered us or said anything to us and I think I know why. Bill had Tourette's. I was quite used to it. Bill's sudden jerks and twitches were invisible to me. His bleating, snorting, and sudden outbursts of cursing were nothing more than punctuation as far as I was concerned. I don't know what the residents of that public housing thought they were looking at. Two white guys walking straight through the neighborhood, one of them twitching and hopping along while making wild noises, the other looking like a sacrificial lamb, but I'm told by Mark that black people don't mess with crazy people, especially crazy white people. That's good to know.