Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sportsman's Paradise


When in Louisiana, best to rent a boat.

After short flight from Memphis, I disembark in Alexandria (pop. 50,236, in the heart of Louisiana's Rapides Parish).  "Big man like you needs to go inSTYLE," says the guy behind the Hertz counter, handing me the keys to a white Mercury Grand Marquis.  It's a boat, and I pilot it into town.

My gracious hosts, Dr. David and Ms. Nicole Holcombe, make sure I've been liquidly fortified before spiriting me away to Alexandria's Taste of Mardi Gras Ball.  It's Saturday night, so we go out amongst 'em.  

In the main hall of Alexandria's multi-storey conference center, I squeeze and dodge among hundreds of partying citizens -each decked out in their Mardi Gras best and in a par-tay mood. Local restauranteurs serve up crawfish and crab and gumbo and king cake, and all is washed down with Bacardi or Bud. 

Dr. David Holcombe introduces me Mayor Jacques Roy, and to Prof. Greg G., King of the local Krewe of Boogaloo.  Decked out a neat red jacket in honor of Otis Redding, festooned with beads and B.B. King buttons, Daddy G (Ph.D.) explains that the Krewe exists to raise funds for the city's needy - and to celebrate Louisiana-inspired music.  

And there's plenty of that to go around.  Legendary blues harpist Little Walter grew up right nearby; in past years, soul greats Eddie Floyd and Irma Thomas and bandleader Grady Gaines have all played with Krewe Boogaloo.  Daddy G lays it all out for me - somehow managing to mention Jimmie Davis and Little Richard in the same breath - then inexplicably disappears in a puff of blue smoke as the band kicks into a very funky version of Sugar Boy Crawford's Jock-o-mo.

The Holcombes introduce me to dozens of folks, and do their best to talk up tomorrow night's screening.  

Somehow I don't think my little indie doc stands a chance against this Bacchanalian onslaught.