Diehard Better Late Than Never
Carnival 1996

Downtown Rio Effect Spoiled by Northeast Wind

Paris:- Saturday, 30. March 1996:- At this time of year, with the wind blowing from the northeast, you might think anybody who thought it might be a good idea to have carnival for the school kiddies early on a Saturday morning, should be condemned to... say, 40 years of hard time in northeastern Siberia - no, somewhere 1476 kilometres from worse than that.

There we are, just like on any other weekday morning, but a hour later - going out the door and the cape of the costume detaches itself from the neck, hanging shawl-like across the back - so send the elevator off and back into the flat; finding the sewing box and just a big sausage of a safety pin. Just this really big one, puts a hole like a corkscrew through the material. By the time the elevator hits ground, the sleave stitches are detached; but no turning back.

Whistle through the village on our very own railroad, all level-crossing-bars virtually down, the usual hard-charge pedal-to-the-metal with elbows out. Near the school, all the moms and dads are here today, with all of their cars plus spares; so many that 'elbows-out' is highly anti-social and sheer cunning is required - but it is sheer luck instead lands us a semi-legal parking spot within 200 metres of the place - this guy has a no-parking on the opposite side of the street from his driveway exit so he won't have to steer his car too much to get out, and I half fill it. Probably knows carnival is on and went to Calcutta for the weekend.

One kid hot-foots it into the elementary school part and I get dragged to the kindergarten part by the little bullet and the place is up to the rafters with the moms and dads who normally don't do this run, clogging up the place, and I realize I haven't been briefed for this and have no idea of the drill.

So I leave the bullet there and get onstage, out into the street; and some of the revelers are there before me and I wonder if it was right to leave the bullet back there by himself with all those ratlos moms and dads ogling the kids' daytime office - but the bullet is with his class the next time I see him, because he is in fact clutching my hand and was all the time; but I didn't realize it because I am in the middle of this parade of carnival midgets - bracketed by sound trucks front and back screeching noise never heard south of the equator - just awful, sickening, and the northeast wind is blowing seriously in our faces. Fun carnival.

Kids enjoy carnival parade
while seeing lots of parents' kneecaps.
The whole parade has to go at the speed of the smallest carnivalista and these are three years old, and it has to stop for stop signs; and on top of that there are these two parallel ropes running from front to back on either side like a moving corral to keep us... focused? But instead of that, the two 'holders' in front keep getting closer together so we keep getting squeezed into the nose of a funnel, but by the time we are in the village proper I am stepping on the rope if I can to try and make the pullers drop it - because I need more elbow-room.

To dodge the confetti and ribbon-bands of paper being tossed about and all of this goes on for days, except the so-called music, which goes on for years and the northeast wind never stops, and all the moms and dads are burning up film and videotape like they're shareholders of Kodak and Fuji.

Inelligible underage voters accepting gifts
from Mayor, paid for by parents.
The whole ball of lunacy turns into the parking lot of the Hotel de Ville - it is a 'chateau' but it is hardly a 'ville' but there is no lesser term for city hall in France - and this is going to be bad because what goes in here, is going to have to come out the same way. The mayor comes out and hands out candy like Santa up for re-election and this is when the bullet gets lost. Man, all these towering moms and dads and the little bullets you can hardly see, never mind identify - so I range around covering the exits that herds of cows could get through - and finally find the missing bullet as the procession begins its exit. He is planted, staring at the sky, savoring the taste of a monster wad of pink glob; and we fall into the train.
No, we do not go the short way back; we go the long way - past ex-neighbor ex-resident Johnny Hallyday's house (note improved spelling of what's-his-name's stage name) - around and back up the hill, to around the back of the condemned part of the school - where the carnival garbage statue

Garbage statue is the piper;
carnival music is the pits.
They have the sand buckets and a firehose and 500 moms and dads and dead-tired kids watch the garbage statue being removed from the city truck, quaintly called a camionette, and carefully placed in a sandbox, about 500 metres from the nearest civilian eyeball. They sprinkle on lighter fluid and light the thing as if it were an evil bomb and the city guys and our two part-time cops stand in front of it taking their souvenir photos and when they're finished, we see a pile of ashes lying on the ground. Doesn't matter, I forgot to bring my Russian cheapo binoculars.

Then it's ta-tah! candy, cakes and sticky drinks time as they down the barricades and the moms and dads charge the buffet, squashing what's left of the little bullets' costumes. Mine takes on sip of apple juice and needs a toilet bad and I take him across the street behind a car and tell him to do it; I need a convenience too but clamp my teeth tight shut. It is essentially over though and bullet is willing to go home and I am willing to take him, so we go.

At home, I finish my interrupted breakfast and take the last chance to read the weekend's paper. While doing this, I feed the bullet some more - I mean, he helps himself to baguette, nutella, fish fingers, a litre of apple juice and finally off to watch a bit of telly, reunited with teddy - and within a short time is sleeping off carnival 1996. And so can I. So I do it.

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