There are a lot of moments that kick off Mardi Gras season, whether it’s the first bite (or sip) of king cake, Twelfth Night, or simply the final sequin being affixed to a costume. But for me, Mardi Gras doesn’t officially begin until I get my copy of Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide. There are a lot of apps and junk out there, but if you’re not rocking a print copy of this annual publication on your bead-strewn coffee table, you’re not doing it right. This year marks their 40th anniversary and to celebrate, Arthur interviewed himself about the last four decades of putting the mag out (and by the way: the only other writer I’ve ever known to do this successfully was Kurt Vonnegut, another mustachioed man of excellence). It’s quite the gritty tale and if you were ever curious about what it’s like to run a publication, definitely check that out. Did you know that one year the Mardi Gras Guide included a flexi of “If Ever I Cease To Love,” performed by his brother Benny’s band? Kinda punk rock.
After two years of bitter cold Fat Tuesday mornings, here’s to hoping we have a really pleasant Carnival season. It’s always a chaotic time, so indulge my inner grandmother as I suggest a few things to keep your season safe and stress- free. One: don’t make plans. Mardi Gras is best enjoyed as a free-wheelin’ activity, and any plans you do make will be summarily destroyed by the Mardi Gras spirits, who will laugh in your face and put you smack dab in the middle of an epic traffic jam—one not just relegated to cars either. Two: take it easy. Mardi Gras is a time of great negative energy. The crowds, drugs, lights, and aforementioned traffic jams will test your every last nerve and those around you. Some will fail that test, and tensions will run high. So just try to breathe it away and cut your losses (also, as Jules Bentley points out this month, the Feds will be watching). Three: when the marching band chaperones tell you to step back, step back. Easy enough. We’ll get through this Mardi Gras business yet!