Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Won't You Take Me to the Mardi Gras?

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Or as the great (GREAT) B.B. King says: Let the good times roll!

Today is the last day for all of the Mardi Gras celebrations. The literal translation of this French term, coincidentally, is "Fat Tuesday". For those of you who are not familiar with Fat Tuesday, today is the day that you gorge yourself with all of the pleasures of the flesh (food, music, booze, etc) that you've been enjoying all year. But you do it with much more vigor and, perhaps, reckless abandon.

Indulgence. Hedonism. Excess.

I love all these things.

And then you stop. Pow.

Because tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. The first day of Lent. The forty day atonement period Christians tend to indulge in to pay for the sins of the other 325 days of the year.


My question is this: In a city the size of Chicago, with all that is offered in terms of entertainment, where are the actual Mardi Gras celebrations?

You know, with live music, spicy food, and outrageous merriment.

I mean the real ones. I'm not particularly interested in the fact that Seamus McCool O'Gimmeabreak's is turning into the cajun corner for one night only, with overpriced (and underpotent) hurricanes, plastic beads that never actually encourage girls to show us their, um, assets, and gumbo that is as flavorless and slimy as the republican party (you really don't want all of that stimulus cash, Bobby Jindal, Louisiana governor?)

There was a time, not so long ago, that Chicago actually had viable options for your own little slice of Carnevale (the Brazilian equivalent of Mardi Gras). Several, actually. Gulf Coast, which was in Lincoln Park, was pretty cool. Another place in Wrigleyville, A Slice of Heaven, was good too. The best bang for your buck, though, was a place downtown called the Red Fish. It was actually a New Orleans-themed place; a rarity in these here northern parts. The menu was (fairly) authentic cajun, definitely tasty, and all around good. It was also a lot of fun. There was live music 5 nights a week, and there was not a cover charge.

Live music with no cover. Righteous. Rare.


All gone.

Fat Tuesday was, essentially, the equivalent of New Year's Eve for that place. Rockin' and rollin'. Definitely a good night to be taking cabs and buses and all. And if I had a gig there (which I did quite a bit, actually), then that was a nice little bonus for yours truly.

My own personal economic stimulus. Hooray.

So, that's it. No ranting and no raving. Just movin' and groovin'. But I'm still asking where the good times are rolling.

So it goes...

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