Professor Carl Nivale, Your Professor Emeritus of all things Mardi Gras
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What NOT to Do at Carnival!
Some things are better left undone at Mardi GrasWhile Carnivaltime in New Orleans has always been regarded as a wild and wooly time, there are a number of things that just will not be tolerated by the fine folks of the New Orleans Police Department, or any of the other local constabularies for that matter.  But, how did New Orleans Mardi Gras earn such a reputation?

The answer goes back to the late 18th century when the Mardi Gras celebrations went from being a jolly time of bal masques in genteel Creole homes to all-out donnybrooks in the streets.  Until the mid 19th century, Mardi Gras became known as a dangerous time when people would be attacked for no reason and murder victims (whose deaths would forever remain unsolved) littered the streets on Ash Wednesday.

That is, until the arrival of Comus in 1857.

Today, the impression that Mardi Gras is a free-for-all with no control or reprecussions is also helped along by the ever-increasing innundation of high school and college-aged youths that keep popping up on the evening television news feeds in various stages of intoxication and verbal accuity.  In actuality, there are specific rules concerning such things that the city has been accused of fostering.Don't wear your good shoes!

Right here we have to address a...sensitive issue.  For some reason, when people come to Mardi Gras, they have a habit of...misplacing their clothes.  Now, your humble Professor does not pretend to know just why or how a reveler could manage to misplace his or her clothing; but it does happen, so there you are.
As I have mentioned earlier, the good constables at the New Orleans Police Department have very clear rules regarding what is to happen to those careless souls who discover they are '
sin los trajes'Apparently, they are given blankets and carted along to somewhere called the Iron Bar Hotel where they will spend the rest of Mardi Gras and miss all the parades.  Also, from what I am given to believe, this Iron Bar Hotel is apparently a very expensive hotel in which to stay, so expensive in fact that lots of people vow never to stay there again.
Well, in your Professor's opinion, it seems a great deal of trouble, so I advise you to always watch your clothing.  Otherwise, you will have to spend all of your time in an expensive place with no parades and no fun!

Keep yourself hydrated!While you are here at Carnivaltime, and especially on Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras, you will most likely encounter a great many people who are suffering from one of the biggest problems that revelers have to endure.  A strange disease that is only caught at Carnival, called "mardihydration", or "Thirsty Gras".

Yes, as strange as it seems, a lot of people fall victim to this mysterious condition where they simply forget to drink enough water.  Instead, they end up drinking a lot of other beverages that are NOT water, which only makes them thirstier.  In my studies on the subject, I have discovered that "mardihydration" affects everyone differently;  some people become giggly and goofy,  while some people just go all sleepy.  Still others can become quite cross indeed, and should be left to the authorities to give them a time-out.  And, speaking of the authorities...

The New Orleans Police Department is very concerned with the epidemic proportions of this preventable disease, and therefore patrol the streets to search out those poor souls who have fallen victim.  Ever vigilant, they will escort the affected to an intensive-care unit called the Pokey, where they can recover from their illness.  However, the recovery period is apparently very taxing and usually ends up leaving the victim with painful headaches and unexplained tattoos.  Like all healthcare, the Pokey treatment is very expensive and can go on for days or weeks.

Now, of course, the quickest way to keep from contracting
mardihydration disease is to keep yourself well-hydrated.  Make sure that you have plenty of water, fruit or vegetable juices, and sports drinks handy with you throughout the day.  It's all right if you do drink other things as well (soft drinks, nectar sodas, or those "grown-up drinks" that people over 21 can have), but only occasionally.  Too many of these can cause you to end up with Thirsty Gras!

Don't forget to wear your masque on Mardi Gras!Above all, the main thing to remember when reveling in the streets of New Orleans at Carnivaltime is to be sensible about being insensible.
I shall explain.
The very air of Carnival carries with it the inexplicable spark of fun and frivolity, which Mardi Gras scientists recognize as the essence of celebration.  It is a very powerful agent on the revelers nervous system, causing great joy and merriment. 
It also causes folks to forget the practicalities of the day.  Recognizing this, I have collected the following  "Don't Do Withouts" to keep your holiday in good form:
Wear comfortable shoes and costumes - you will be on your feet and moving around a lot.
Have an arranged meeting place and time if you separate from your group.  For example, hotel lobby, 6pm.  Also, preprogram cell phone numbers before setting out.
Do not carry around large amounts of money - credit cards or traveler's cheques are better in case of loss.
Always obey police officials!  They work very hard during Mardi Gras and endure a great deal of stress.

COMING SOON!!!  A new post-Katrina list of What NOT to Do! 

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