This year the Saturday, February 13 Soulard Mardi Gras Grand Parade Day was the best ever. Nothing but pleasant memories. Of course, it was not the lame parade, consisting of truck floats dragging cargoes of port-a-potties and wannabe celebrities. And it was not the apres parade boozing. The drink prices were through the roof, and only the socially challenged would stand in trash up to their ankles, drinking in the streets of Soulard when the temperature is 35. Get a life.
No, it was the wonderful scandal which erupted within days of the parade.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch February 16, 2010 headline was: "With phone call, police commissioner springs nephew from jail." The lead paragraph read: "A St. Louis Police Board member, Vincent J. Bommarito, said today that a nephew who was arrested under suspicion of drunken driving in Soulard on Saturday was released to him at his request."
So Mr. B, as one poster called him, saved his nephew from spending Grand Parade night in the drunk tank. As a bonus, the nephew’s name was stricken from the police blotter, and he was given a ride by an official to elsewhere. Can you say "abuse of power?"
After publication of this breathtaking news, there erupted a self-righteous, defensive verbal battle between Mr. B, the Honorable Mayor Slay, and the Chief of Police, all indignantly spouting and bombastically beating their chests, just like some alderman caught farting in the cloak room. And all this gassy verbiage and finger pointing was captured, transcribed into sentences and lovingly printed in following editions of the Post-Dispatch.
I mean, you couldn’t buy entertainment like this.
Besides being amusing, the series of newspaper articles nudged aside the much embroidered curtain concealing the illegitimacy of the Soulard Mardi Gras and the incompetence of local government, whose most successful activity is to create a nesting ground for favoritism, cronyism, back scratching and what have you. Thanks to our very own Soulard Mardi Gras, the motto of our local politicians emerges: if you can’t govern effectively, at least be entertaining. In this they have been successful, playing the fools.
The Soulard Mardi Gras Grand Parade Day Drunk, the high point of a faux festival which is struggling to brand itself as the St. Louis Mardi Gras, always brings out the worst from St. Louis (and from miles around), providing an arena for underage drinking, drunk driving, minors in possession of alcohol, false ID’s, procuring alcohol for a minor, and, of course, what we are most proud of: lewd conduct, public urination, assault, property destruction, etc.
This is in addition to the above referenced abuse of power. This is not the first, nor will it be the last, revealing incident spotlighting those who benefit from Mardi Gras and from their official positions in St. Louis.
Someday, maybe somebody with a grain of insight will point out to such people that the Soulard Mardi Gras taints whatever it touches, just as its cancerous growth has disfigured Soulard. Until the St. Louis version of Mardi Gras becomes legitimate, Antoine Soulard will continue to wreak revenge for what it is doing to his namesake historic district.