Post-Lockdown Carnival Ennui Blues

While some are feeling revitalized by the return of public Carnival, I’m feeling the opposite. I find myself in the odd position of disagreeing with my late friend Ashley Morris as seen in an image from Krewe du Vieux 2008. The secret word is:

Thanks for reinforcing that message Groucho and Duck. It begs the age-old question:

I said I had ennui, not that I’ve lost my sense of humor.

I try not to take the news personally. As a pundit, it’s best to be detached. But the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine has affected my mood. The news from the battle zone is mostly bad but the Ukrainians are putting up a good fight. In the long run the good guys have a chance to prevail.

A prolonged war will be bad for morale on the Russian home front. Most Russians have ties to Ukraine and its people. If there’s an insurgency Putin’s overreach in imposing regime change on Ukraine could backfire; at least I hope so. The fog of war is as foggy as ever. Stay tuned.

As to Carnival in New Orleans, the things that usually please me leave me cold this year. And the things that vex me, are more vexatious than ever.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad many people are enjoying themselves; universal ennui would be almost as bad as universal malakatude.

I’ve wandered around the periphery of the parade route and watched bits of some parades, but I’m not feeling it.

After an extended period in lockdown, being surrounded by this many people has been disorienting. I have a plus-sized head, so I find most masks uncomfortable but I’m uncomfortable not wearing one on the parade route.

My reaction to the loutish behavior of the Chads and entitled float riders has been amplified by my pandemic isolation. I wrote about the changes in the parade route imposed by the city. That has led to parading krewes sitting on the streets they usually parade on.

While waiting to roll on Magazine Street, the riders of Krewe d’Etat lived up to their nasty right-wing themes by throwing chicken bones around. Some Popeye’s bones were aimed at passers-by. The riders found this hilarious, but their targets did not.

The parade route changes have been a clusterfuck. Even the parades that typically start on time have run late and slow because of the route changes. At least it’s given me a new mantra: How fucked up is this?

The main reason for my Carnival ennui is that the route changes have eliminated our neighborhood Thoth party. The floats and themes of Thoth are nothing special, but the spirit of the parade is. I wrote about it in January:

There’s one krewe that has been rolling up Magazine Street for many decades: the Krewe of Thoth. They’ve made it a point to parade past hospitals and other health care facilities with the aim of bringing good cheer to patients and staff alike, especially at Children’s Hospital.

The neighborhood Thoth party at the corner of Magazine and Valence has been an institution in the 22 years we’ve lived here. Many of the regulars have moved or died. In recent years, the party has felt like a tribute to those missing neighbors; well-known folk like Art Neville, and regular people like Wallace Klein who we called the Mayor of Valence Street. Here he is with another much missed but still alive neighbor, Maggie the former bookseller:

They’ve all been missed as has the route itself. I’m hoping things will right themselves next year, but one never knows in TFC: This Fucking City.

The biggest change is Carnival over the years has been the deportment and behavior of people. They’ve gotten more and more selfish, which flies in the face of the true spirit of Carnival. I don’t have it this year, but I hope to get it back in 2023.

The last word goes to the late Michael Nesmith: